This magical tale about the power of storytelling and faith has so many messages that, like The NeverEnding Story itself, are timeless. Let's hop on Falkor and explore. This is the ending of The NeverEnding Story, finally explained.
The NeverEnding Story takes the tried and true formula of the Hero's Journey and gives it an interesting narrative twist by doubling up on protagonists. Atreyu is tasked with finding a cure for the Childlike Empress, whose deathly illness threatens the fabric of Fantasia while a dark force called the Nothing eats everything in its path. From the Ivory Tower to the Swamps of Sadness, the Southern Oracle, and the ends of Fantasia itself, Atreyu searches for a cure at great personal loss. He loses his horse and best friend Artax, which threatens the courage and resolve that got him on this journey in the first place. Fortunately, he makes a new friend in luck dragon Falkor, who helps him get back on track.
At the first gate of the Southern Oracle, Atreyu faces another test: this time he must confront his own sense of self-worth, proving he believes in himself. He then has to confront the vision of his true self in a mousy little boy named Bastian who is reading a book far, far away. Part of Atreyu's journey is complete when he learns the Childlike Empress needs a new name, and only a human child can bestow it, but there are more setbacks in store. Atreyu loses Falkor and his magical talisman, and is forced to confront the Nothing's minion with nothing but his own wits and strength.
Meanwhile, Bastian has his own part to play in The NeverEnding Story. At first, it seems like a simple framing sequence, with Bastian reading a storybook about the events unfolding for Atreyu and Fantasia. He's grieving the loss of a mother who seemed to support her son's sensitivity and daydreaming, and his escape into flights of fancy are his coping method. When Atreyu loses Artax, Bastian weeps along with him, because he has felt that loss himself.
As he reads, Bastian realizes that he might be the most important hero of them all. And to honor his cherished mother and her memory, he even gives her name to the Childlike Empress, saving her and Fantasia.
If it seems silly that a new name might save someone's life, then you haven't considered the power of what we call things. Bastian is called terrible names by the school bullies, which certainly affects how he feels and sees himself. With the arrival of the Nothing, the Childlike Empress also loses an aspect of herself that must be reinvented. Her new name is a new start, not just for the Empress, but for her whole world.
As Bastian makes his wishes, he ensures that all the friendships made before the Nothing's rampage remained intact. He ultimately gets to experience a ride on Falkor firsthand, and even gives his bullies a taste of their own terrible medicine.
Friendship through trauma
As the Nothing sweeps across Fantasia, a ragtag bunch meets in the Howling Forest on their way to the Ivory Tower: The Rock Biter, the Night Hob and his Stupid Bat, as well as Teeny Weeny and his Racing Snail. They are all members of different Fantasian groups with the same mission of beseeching the Childlike Empress for help restoring their lands. This unlikely group quickly becomes friends as they realize how each can help the others. The Night Hob is able to fly to the top of the Ivory Tower and hear the news. The Rock Biter offers all the little ones protection, and the Racing Snail is here to shatter preconceived notions of what certain kinds of creatures can do. Keep watching the video because we finally understand the edning of The NeverEnding Story!
The Heroes' Journeys | 0:14
Friendship through trauma | 3:05
The fight against despair | 4:21
The Luck Dragon | 5:10
The Swamps of Sadness | 5:48
Apathy and cynicism | 6:49
Triumph of the spirit | 6:39
The anti-bullying message | 8:09
The magic of reading | 8:50
The NeverEnding sequels | 9:58
The NeverEnding Story that never ends | 10:57