Squid Game Season 1 Ending, Explained

Netflix’s ‘Squid Game’ is a survival-game action-adventure series that revolves around a deadly game that 456 contestants play on a remote island. The Game comprises six Korean children’s games. The last person standing after all six games is slated to win ₩45.6 billion (US$40 million). The story predominantly revolves around Seong Gi-hun or Ki-hoon (Jung-jae Lee), a man struggling under the weight of an enormous debt, divorce, lack of job, and gambling issues. He comes across an enigmatic man in the subway who tells him about the Game. With nothing to lose, Gi-hun decides to take part in it. Here is everything you need to know about the ending of ‘Squid Game’ season 1. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Squid Game Season 1 Recap

Nothing in his life has ever worked out for Gi-hun. He lost his job at a car company about a decade ago. He now works sporadically as a chauffeur. His gambling problems have accrued him a large debt. His marriage failed, and now his daughter will leave South Korea with her mother and step-father. He meets the enigmatic man on a particularly bad day. The man offers Gi-hun ₩100,000 if the latter can beat him in a game of ddakji. But if the man wins, he will slap Gi-hun. Desperately needing some money, Gi-hun agrees. He gets slapped several times before winning his first round. As the man leaves, he gives Gi-hun a card, telling him that if he wants to play more games and win more money, he can contact that number.

After learning that he can keep his daughter in South Korea through legal methods, Gi-hun decides to play the game. After he calls the number, he meets with masked agents sent by the Front Man, the game administrator. Gi-hun is subsequently sedated and moved to the island. When he wakes up, he discovers that he is in a large hall with 455 others. Everyone is wearing clothes with their respective numbers stitched on them. Gi-hun has gotten the very last number, 456.

The first person Gi-hun befriends among the other contestants is an older gentleman, No. 001, who claims he has a brain tumor and doesn’t have much time left. Gi-hun spots Cho Sang-woo or No. 218 (Hae-soo Park), a junior from his neighborhood and playground companion. Sang-woo attended Seoul National University and is supposed to be well-settled in his life. In reality, he has mismanaged the money of the clients of the security company he works for, and the police are looking for him.

As it is soon revealed, every contestant there has accumulated debt or some other financial issues. Kang Sae-byeok or No. 067 (Hoyeon Jung) is a North Korean defector who wants to get her brother out of the orphanage and bring her mother from the North. Jang Deok-su or No. 101 (Heo Sung-tae) is a mid-level gangster who needs to pay his own gambling debts. Abdul Ali or No. 199 (Anupam Tripathi) is a Pakistani immigrant who has come to South Korea looking for work.

The six games that the contestants play are Red Light, Green Light; Sugar Honeycombs; Tug-of-War; Marbles; Glass Stepping Stones; and Squid Game. After seeing over 200 people die in front of them in the first game, the remaining contestants vote to go home. However, most of them soon realize that they have absolutely nothing outside, so they come back. The number of the contestants decreases rapidly throughout the Game, and the final two contestants who play the Squid Game are Gi-hun and Sang-woo.

Meanwhile, a South Korean police officer, Hwang Jun-ho (Wi Ha-joon), infiltrates the gaming island after realizing that his brother was a contestant in the game. It is later revealed the Front Man is Jun-ho’s brother, In-ho, who shoots Jun-ho in the penultimate episode. The latter falls and seemingly drowns. But considering that his body hasn’t been found, it’s likely that he is still alive and might return if there is a season 2

Squid Game Season 1 Ending: Who Wins the Game?

Gi-hun, the protagonist, ultimately wins the game. Gi-hun isn’t the best player in the Game. He isn’t the strongest nor the most intelligent. He isn’t even the most moral contestant. He only wins because of his tenacity and kindness and because lady luck finally decides to smile on him. Early in the Game, he befriends the elderly gentleman, whose name is later revealed to be Oh Il-nam. He plays a pivotal role in the survival of Gi-hun, Sang-woo, and several of their teammates until his apparent death after the Marbles Game.

The narrative of the series is quite unpredictable. With so many characters, it is hard to predict who will make it to the end. While Gi-hun, being the protagonist, does have plot armor, the same thing can’t be said about the rest. Ultimately, it’s only fitting that Sang-woo is the other contestant to make it to the final round. The two of them have a long history together, all of which seems to have led them to this point.

They fight each other, and eventually, Gi-hun wins, leaving Sang-woo in the mud. But before he steps into the triangle, he stops and declares that he wants to have a vote to terminate the game, stunning the VIPs, who have been betting on the contestants. Gi-hun only needs confirmation from Sang-woo, but the latter has realized that the things he has done during the Game are utterly irredeemable. So, he makes Gi-hun promise that he will take care of his mother and then kills himself.

When Gi-hun returns home, he discovers that his own mother has died. He spends the following 12 months grieving his mother and those he lost during the Game and dealing with his trauma. After meeting the creator of the Game, Gi-hun decides to bring in some changes to his life. He gets Sae-byeok’s brother out of the orphanage and leaves him in Sang-woo’s mother’s care, hoping they will help each other with their grief. He also gives Sang-woo’s mother half of his winnings, claiming that he owes Sang-woo that.

Who Is Behind the Game?

Oh Il-nam created the Game. After winning the Game, Gi-hun spends a year living as he used to until he gets a similar card as before with an address written on it. When he reaches the apartment, he discovers that Il-nam is lying on a bed, visibly ill and weak but not dead. Gi-hun may not have been the smartest contestant of the Game, but he is intelligent enough to realize Il-nam is the one who is behind everything. He created the Game as a betting sport for himself and his uber-rich clients.

Il-nam tells Gi-hun that some of the things he shared were true, including the fact that he is dying of brain cancer and makes one last wager with Gi-hun, who eventually wins it. But by then, Il-nam has passed away. Later, Front Man comes into the apartment, and it is heavily hinted that the Game will continue even without its creator.

Gi-hun is about to leave for Los Angeles to see his daughter when he spots the same mysterious man, trying to recruit another hapless individual. He realizes that the Game will continue as usual, and it is up to him to do something about it. So, he doesn’t get on the flight and calls the Front Man to tell him that he is coming for them.

Read More: Is Squid Game a True Story?