Mean Girls Ending, Explained: What is the Burn Book?

2004’s ‘Mean Girls’ directed by Mark Waters, is one of the most iconic comedy films of the early 2000s. Starring Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, and Amanda Seyfried, among others, this film delves into the female teenage high school experience through stereotypical cliques and tropes. 16-year-old Cady Heron experiences high school for the first time and quickly finds herself befriending the most popular girls in school, “The Plastics.” However, after Cady falls for Aaron Samuels, an ex-boyfriend of Regina George, Cady schemes to take dismantle Regina as the Queen Bee of North Shore High School.

If you’re curious to learn how the school year unfolds for The Plastics and what lessons Cady learns about teenagehood, here is everything you need to know about the ending of ‘Mean Girls.’ SPOILERS AHEAD!

Mean Girls Plot Synopsis

Homeschooled Cady Heron moves to The States and attends high school for the first time after spending 12 years in Africa. As such, Cady experiences difficulty fitting in among the various social circles of high school. On her second day of high school, Cady befriends social outcasts Janis Ian and Damian, who tell her about the teen royalty equivalent of their school, dubbed The Plastics.

The clique includes leader Regina George, rich Gretchen Wieners, and pretty but dumb Karen Smith. Although everyone at North Shore is obsessed with Regina, Janis fiercely hates her for spreading false rumors about her sexuality in middle school. Later, at lunch, The Plastics invites Cady to sit with them for the rest of the week. Meanwhile, Cady notices a boy, Aaron Samuels, in her calculus class and develops a crush on him. However, soon Gretchen tells Cady Aaron is off limits since he’s Regina’s ex-boyfriend.

Cady continues to hang out with the Plastics adhering to their arbitrary rules about clothing and hair. When Cady considers joining the school’s Mathlete team, Regina calls it social suicide and advises Cady against joining. Soon, Regina finds out about Cady’s crush on Aaron through Gretchen. At the same time, Cady tries to get Aaron’s attention by pretending to be bad at math.

Aaron invites Cady to a Halloween party, where Cady, unaware of social norms, shows up in a scary zombie bride costume, unlike the other girls, who all have sexy costumes. At the party, Cady expects Regina to talk her up to Aaron as promised. Instead, Cady watches Regina kiss Aaron and storms out of the party. As such, she agrees to Janis’s plan of taking down Regina George.

Cady commits to her Plastic persona and tries to build a rift between Gretchen and Regina. By doing so, Cady gets Gretchen to spill Regina’s secrets and finds out Regina has been cheating on Aaron with Shane Oman. Cady, Janis, and Damian try to get Aaron to catch Regina in the act, but Regina manages to evade him every time. Eventually, Cady starts purposefully failing her math classes, and Aaron offers to tutor her.

During their tutoring sessions, Cady kisses Aaron. However, when Aaron hesitates to betray Regina, Cady tells him about Regina’s affair with Shane. As a result, Aaron breaks up with Regina. Next, Cady turns Gretchen and Karen against Regina while tricking her into eating a high-carb nutrition bar that makes her gain weight. Eventually, Regina breaks a cardinal Plastic Rule by wearing sweatpants on a Monday due to her sudden weight gain. Therefore, Gretchen and Karen, who are both already annoyed at Regina, shun her away from their group.

Following Regina’s downfall, Cady takes her place and turns into a mean girl herself. After lying to her parents and Janis, Cady hosts a party at her house to impress Aaron. Regina, who isn’t invited to the party, learns about it and arrives at Cady’s house. After discovering Cady with Aaron and learning the truth about the nutrition bars Cady gave her, Regina decides to take her revenge against The Plastics. As such, Regina spreads the contents of the Burn Book throughout the school.

Mean Girls Ending: What is the Burn Book?

Early on in her friendship with The Plastics, Cady learns about the Burn Book. It’s a scrapbook where Regina, Gretchen, and Karen write mean comments and rumors about the girls from their school. When Cady tries to fit in with The Plastics, she quotes Janis and calls Damian “too gay to function.” Regina finds the phrase funny and adds it to the book. At that time, Cady feels awful about it.

However, as Cady’s transformation into a Plastic starts to become real, she complains about Ms. Norbury. As such, she writes a rumor about Ms. Norbury in the book, calling her a “drug pusher.” Cady doesn’t feel remorse about her actions this time, thus solidifying her status as a mean girl in the narrative even further. After Cady successfully overthrows Regina and takes over as the Queen Bee, Regina adds a page about herself in the Burn Book.

By doing so, Regina ensures to erase herself as a culprit behind the creation of the burn book. As such, after Regina tells Principal Duvall about the book, he confronts only Gretchen, Karen, and Cady about it since they’re the only ones without a page about them in the book. Meanwhile, a huge fight breaks out between the Junior girls that effectively turns North Shore’s “Girl World” into “Jungle World.”

Duvall holds an assembly in the gym for all Junior girls to try and bring order and peace back among the girls. Norbury talks to the girls, making them realize they have all been victimized by their peers and have antagonized other girls. The girls partake in an activity where they apologize to each other and do trust falls. During the activity, Janis reveals her plan to use Cady to ruin Regina’s life.

Afterward, Regina storms out of the school, seething in anger over Cady’s actions. When Cady tries to follow after her to apologize, Regina confronts her in the middle of the street in front of the entire school. Regina tells Cady everyone only thinks of her as a lesser version of Regina, reinforcing the same thing Aaron and Janis previously told Cady. In the middle of this confrontation, Regina gets hit by a bus.

Eventually, Cady becomes a social outcast again. Due to the drug-pusher rumor about Norbury in the Burn Book, the cops investigate her case. As such, Cady realizes the gravity of her actions and takes the blame for the Burn Book. She faces heavy consequences for the burn book and gets grounded by her parents. However, after joining the Mathletes, Cady leaves her house for the Mathlete competition on the night of the Spring Fling.

Who Wins The Spring Fling Queen Title?

Before Cady arrives at North Shore High, Regina George always wins the title of The Spring Fling Queen. A part of Cady’s plan to overtake Regina is to make her gain weight so that she can’t fit into her ideal Spring Fling Dress. However, as Cady becomes popular, she gets nominated for the Spring Fling alongside Regina, Gretchen, and Janis.

After Regina gets hit by a bus, rumors about Cady pushing Regina in front of the bus start running amok. As such, several students feel bad for Regina and vote for her, while others believe Cady is responsible for Regina’s injury and vote for her. By the time Spring Fling rolls around, Regina is in a halo brace, and Cady has decided to skip the dance in favor of the Mathlete competition. Although Cady has a difficult time during the contest, she answers the final death questions correctly and wins the competition.

Later, Cady attends the Spring Fling with her Mathelete teammates. At the dance, Shane Oman gets crowned the Spring Fling King, and much to everyone’s surprise, Cady is announced as the Queen. However, after Cady receives her crown, she makes a speech about meaningless social circles and breaks the plastic crown into pieces.

Cady distributes the pieces among the other nominees and hands some out to the crowd. In doing so, Cady symbolizes her return to her old self, breaking the Spring Fling crown, a plastic symbol of status, much like Regina’s mean girl clique.

What Happens To The Plastics?

After Cady’s Spring Fling Speech, she approaches Janis and Damian and apologizes for her behavior. During her transformation into a Plastic, Cady had started ignoring the pair in favor of her more popular friends. However, by the end, Cady realizes she has mistreated Janis and Damian. The duo easily forgives Cady, and they become a trio again. Soon, Aaron also approaches Cady, and the two get together.

Throughout the movie, Aaron seems to prefer Cady when she acts like herself more than when she tries to copy Regina. For instance, at the Halloween party, Aaron finds Cady’s scary costume endearing. As such, at Cady’s party, when she confesses to pretending to be bad at maths to get Aaron’s attention, Aaron becomes weary of her. Still, following the spring fling speech, Cady solidifies her return to her original self. Therefore, Aaron returns to her, and the two are able to work things out with each other.

As the new school year starts, the Plastics dissolve and go their separate ways. Cady is back with Janis and Damian, while Gretchen joins the “Cool Asians” group. Karen becomes a weather reporter for the local school news, and Regina’s spine recovers from her bus accident. In order to manage her anger, Regina joins the school’s lacrosse team, and the four girls remain friendly toward each other.

However, North Shore High doesn’t entirely rid itself of The Plastics. At the movie’s end, Cady notices a trio of Freshman students reminiscent of Regina, Gretchen, and Karen from the story’s beginning. Although the old Plastics no longer exist, the school has a new Junios Plastic group of mean girls. As such, the movie makes a final statement solidifying the overarching message that “mean plastic girls” are an inherent product of the classic, toxic social circles.

Read More: Is Mean Girls Based on a True Story or a Book?