Sleeping Dog Ending, Explained: Who is the Killer?

Created by Christoph Darnstädt, Netflix’s ‘Sleeping Dog’ is a German crime thriller series revolving around an amnesiac former cop trying to put the pieces of his last case together. After Mussa Basher commits suicide during his imprisonment, Mike Atlas, the now-retired cop who put him behind bars, starts questioning the details of Basher’s case. Likewise, rookie DA prosecutor Jule Andergast also looks into the death, suspecting foul play. As their investigation progresses, several murders occur, all hinting at a complex conspiracy that may just have something to do with the city’s entire justice system. If you’re curious to learn what secrets Jule and Atlas unfold about the case and Atlas’s past, here is everything you need to know about the ending of ‘Sleeping Dog.’ SPOILERS AHEAD!

Sleeping Dog Plot Synopsis

Eight months ago, Mike Atlas quit the force and ran away from his wife and daughter after supplying damning evidence against Mussa Basher in the case of Judge Herres’ murder. Now after Mussa unpredictably commits suicide in his prison cell, his brother, Abou, seeks out Atlas, attacking him and burning his RV down as revenge. While attacking Atlas, Abou accuses him of setting Mussa up for the murder. Due to the same, Atlas starkly realizes that he has no memories of finding the evidence: Mussa’s hairs in Herres’ driveway.

After digging around, Atlas starts to believe the evidence was planted and that Mussa was actually innocent. Meanwhile, legacy hire Prosecutor Jule Andergast works on Mussa’s report and looks for the event that may have triggered his suicide. During her investigation, Jule finds a connection between Mussa and one of his last visitors, Idris Kouri. Although discouraged by her boss, Steck, Jule investigates further and discovers that Idris had an alibi for Mussa on the night of Herres’ murder. Nevertheless, some cop blackmailed Idris out of testifying during the trial. Eventually, after Jule sets a meeting with Idris, someone kills Idris before he can reveal the whole truth to Jule.

Unwilling to give up on the case, Jule tries to pursue Private Investigator, Jürgens, who also visited Mussa right before the day he died. In turn, Jürgens tries to seek out Atlas, contacting his daughter, Tinka, to get to him. As Jule and Atlas’s paths cross, they work together and find picture evidence connecting Zaric, Atlas’s close friend and old 49th KDD partner, to Herres.

At the prosecution office, Steck encourages Tom Schlesfski from the Homicide Division to arrest Abou for Idris’ murder, driven by her prejudice and hatred for the Basher crime family. However, when Jule looks into the case, comparing it to Harres’, she starts to see a pattern. Afterward, she meets with Jürgens, who tells her about his outlandish conspiracy that the Russians were covering up Herres’ death because they didn’t want him to become the Chief Judge. Nevertheless, he shadowed Herres before his death and has some images, but someone shoots him through his car window before he can share the specifics. Jule manages to escape and later calls Tom for help.

Meanwhile, as Atlas looks into Zaric’s connection, his memories return in fragments. Atlas realizes he never found Mussa’s hair at the crime scene since he was high on pills the night his team found the evidence. Later, Jule also makes a discovery when Tom discloses his identity as an internal affairs officer who came here to look into Steck and the 49th KDD, suspecting them of covering up Harres’s murder. However, when Tom tries to meet with Atlas through Jule, he gets shot by the same 9mm bullet that tied the murders of Herres, Jürgens and Idris together.

Sleeping Dog Ending: What Happened To Atlas’ Memories?

Atlas’s memory loss is established early in the story and acts as the primary drive behind his actions. Atlas can’t remember anything about the damning evidence that led to Mussa’s imprisonment and later suicide. Therefore, he cannot come to terms with it and move on. Moreover, Atlas has a nagging feeling that he’s done something wrong but cannot remember what he did. However, as he pieces things together and through unwanted yet fruitful professional help, Atlas begins to remember his past.

Atlas starts to disconnect from his family and turns into a shell of a man, even before he quits the force and abandons his family to live on the streets. Due to his job, Atlas deals with violence and immorality regularly. Eventually, the pressure and trauma of the job get too much for Atlas to handle, so Zaric gets him hooked on some trauma pills. The pills soften his anxiety but also numb him to his surroundings.

When a terrorist attack occurs on the Christmas Market, Zaric, Atlas, and Socke rush to the scene with a high Atlas behind the wheel. On their drive over, Atlas accidentally hits a homeless man, Polyphem, with his car. Polyphem dies, and the trio starts to panic. However, when Atlas tries to report the incident, Zaric stops him and instead starts covering up the incident.

Due to the traumatic nature of the incident and the rest that followed, Atlas suppressed the memories in his mind. As a result, he loses conscious recollection of his wrongdoings but cannot shake off the feeling that he should be held responsible. As Atlas continues to look into his past and finds a connection between Judge Herres and the Benedictis Homeless Charity, an organization Polyphem frequented, Atlas realizes his connection to Harres’s murder.

Who Framed Mussa Basher For Herres’ Murder?

Atlas, Zaric, and Socke successfully cover up Polyphem’s death by dumping his body at the Christmas Market, where people are frantically looking for victims of the terrorist attack. However, at the time of the murder, Polyphem’s friend Aldi witnesses the trio commit the crime. Although people are reluctant to believe Aldi due to his issues, the Benedictis Homeless Charity pays attention to his story after finding Polyphem’s cart half an hour away from his dead body. As such, Judge Herres gets involved and uncovers 49th KDD’s involvement in Polyphem’s murder.

Zaric, incredibly ambitious about joining the LKA as a Detective alongside Atlas and Socke, decides he won’t allow Herres to ruin his dreams. As a result, he tries to intimidate Herres out of going against him and his friends, but to no avail. Herres stands his ground and refuses to drop the case. As a result, Zaric covertly kills the man in his driveway. Once the cops arrive to investigate the murder, Zaric intentionally drives the case where he wants it to go. All this while, Atlas, high as a kite, is none the wiser about Zaric’s plan.

Zaric, who has a connection to Steck, knows she has a bone to pick with the Basher family. The Basher family has a history of crime in the town. However, Steck’s issue with them comes across as more racist than anything else. She believes Basher men are simply born with “macho aggressiveness” wired into them. As such, her first instinct is to question the Bashers whenever something criminal happens.

Zaric uses the same to his advantage and intentionally frames the younger Basher son, Mussa, for Herres’s murder. Although Atlas presents Mussa’s hair as evidence to the court, Socke is the one who plants it. However, Mussa has an alibi. The night Herres got murdered, Mussa spent his entire time with secret lover Idris Nevertheless, Zaric silences Idris by blackmailing him about revealing Idris’s sexuality to his father. With the last knot tied, Zaric successfully frames Mussa for the crimes he and his friends committed.

In the end, when Atlas tells Zaric he will bring the whole truth out into the light, Zaric records his confession and tries to kill himself through an overdose. Nevertheless, Atlas saves his life. Meanwhile, Jule, shaken by Tom’s death, arrives at the 49th precinct to look for Zaric, whom she suspects to be behind Tom’s murder.

Who Killed Tom?

Initially, characters and viewers alike are conditioned to believe Zaric, who’s behind Herres’s murder, must have killed Tom, Jürgens, and Idris as well. All four men are shot from a distance by 9mm bullets, and the latter three are killed to cover up Herres’s first death. However, Zaric doesn’t mention the other victims when he records his confession before attempting to commit suicide.

When Jule visits the 49th precinct, she runs into Socke, who suspiciously enough seems to know her name without her offering the information. As such, she becomes suspicious of him and asks Atlas to meet her at her apartment after informing him about Tom’s death. At the same time, Atlas learns that the hair he had found earlier in the investigation belonged to a groundhog: an animal Socke was particularly obsessed with.

Although Zaric was behind the initial murder, Socke took it upon himself to tie off the loose ends by replicating Zaric’s method. After Idris returns to the country to testify and free Mussa from prison, Socke kills him to keep Mussa’s framing a secret. Later when Jürgens tries to share his information with Jule, Socke shoots him in the underground garage but fails to kill Jule.

Lastly, Socke kills Tom after he figures out the 49th KDD’s connection to the Herres murder case. Additionally, Tom was also looking into Jürgens’ murder and found his dead body dumped in the river alongside his car. Following the discovery, Tom suspects Zaric’s involvement and visits the precinct to confront him about the same, but only finds Socke. Therefore, Socke realizes Tom is another threat to his elaborate web of lies and decides to kill him.

Ultimately, he arrives at Jule’s apartment to tie up the final loose end. However, Atlas and Zaric arrive at the scene before Socke can finish the job. Since Socke has no close family or relatives, his entire life only revolves around Zaric and the 49th KDD. He’s almost obsessively maniacal in his need to keep Zaric and Atlas safe. Therefore, unlike Atlas and Zaric, Socke can’t see the gravity of his actions from the moment he covers up Polyphem’s death.

In Socke’s mind, it’s all justified. Nevertheless, Zaric and Atlas stop Socke from killing Jule, who eventually manages to attack Socke, putting an end to his actions once and for all. Later, Atlas and Zaric come out with the entire truth, and Steck receives significant backlash from the authorities, who deem her to be too pushy in her pursuit against the city gangs. In the end, Atlas finally has the ability to work through his emotions and make up for his crimes.

Read More: Is Sleeping Dog Based on a True Story?