Lightyear Ending: The Truth About Zurg, And What It Means Going Forward

Zurg aiming his canons to shoot Buzz Lightyear in Lightyear.
(Image credit: Disney/Pixar)

Warning: we’re about to go on a secret mission in uncharted space, digging into Lightyear’s ending. If you haven’t experienced the movie for yourself, come back once you’ve taken this trip beyond infinity.

Lightyear, Disney/Pixar’s latest addition to the 2022 movie release schedule, has finally arrived! Telling the very story that Andy himself would eventually choose as his favorite movie, this isn’t the story of toys you’ve been told in the past. We now know the proper origins of Buzz Lightyear (Chris Evans), right down to his first encounter with who would become his archnemesis. Before he became the Evil Emperor we saw in his Toy Story action figure, the beginnings of a much more terrifying Zurg (James Brolin) started in the most unexpected place.

It’s time to learn the truth about Zurg, and what it could mean for potential Lightyear sequels. As such, we’re going to travel deep into the spoilery depths of space, pulling apart a lot of interesting details in the process. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, then you’re going to want to hyperspeed away from here and to another, less twist heavy environment; like our official Lightyear review. From this point on, all will be revealed, as we start with the events that ended this particular story.

Buzz in the trailer for Lightyear

(Image credit: Disney/Pixar)

What Happens At The End Of Lightyear?

After making contact with Zurg, Buzz Lightyear finally meets the foe that will follow him through merchandising, Saturday morning cartoons, and quite possibly some sequels. Hero and villain fight over the fuel that makes hyperspace travel possible, Crystallic Fusion; and they both have some very different ideas on how to use it. Supposedly vanquishing his foe, Buzz explodes the one fuel cell available to make it happen, banishing Zurg into the coldness of space.

With the help of Junior Rangers Maurice “Mo” Morrison (Taika Waititi), Darby Steel (Dale Soules), and Izzy Hawthorne (Keke Palmer), Buzz Lightyear was able to save the day. While his past actions and reckless behavior almost land him a court marshal at the hands of Commander Burnside (Isiah Whitlock Jr.), his superior officer has a better idea.

Reactivating the Space Rangers program, Commander Burnside creates the Universe Protection Division. Giving Buzz the chance to run the program, Burnside also allows him to handpick his team. After serving by their side to defeat Zurg, Captain Lightyear names those Junior Rangers, and his companion robot Sox (Peter Sohn) as his new recruits. Lightyear ends with this team blasting off into Sector 4, in order to investigate a mysterious signal, as a team.

Zurg smashing up a room to get to Buzz in Lightyear.

(Image credit: Disney/Pixar)

Zurg’s True Identity, Explained

All of this talk of endings and new Star Command teams does tie into Zurg’s true identity. For starters, the final post-logos stinger reveals that yes, our Lightyear villain is still very much alive. Which is going to be the largest problem for Buzz Lightyear, because as it turns out, Zurg isn’t his father, despite what that iconic Toy Story franchise moment told us. The reality is more severe, as it was revealed that he’s actually an older version of Buzz Lightyear.

As the story goes, Zurg Buzz’s Lightyear timeline splits off from the moment where he and Hero Buzz successfully travel into Hyperspace. Zurg Buzz lands on Tikana Prime, and is about to be court martialed by Commander Burnside himself. So he uses the Crystallic Fusion crystal he possesses to go as far into the future as he can. Commandeering all the future tech and robots he could want, this version of Buzz is called Zerg because the bots he commands can’t say Buzz. 

Buzz Lightyear piloting his ship to hyperspace in Lightyear.

(Image credit: Disney/Pixar)

Why Buzz Lightyear Is Obsessed With Crystallic Fusion

Both versions of Lightyear’s hero are obsessed with perfecting and using Crystallic Fusion for their own means. These individual purposes align to a certain extent, but Zurg Buzz and Hero Buzz make some vastly different decisions when it comes to their final standings. In the case of the Buzz we’re rooting for, he just wants to get his Star Command team off of Tikana Prime, and back to Earth. Feeling responsible for the mistake that stranded them all there in the first place, it’s what causes him to give up so much of his life testing Crystallic Fusion.

Meanwhile, Zurg Buzz has gone past that point of logic, and leap frogged to another conclusion. Now that he’s proven time travel works through Crystallic Fusion, Zurg wants to go back to the point of the accident that stranded Buzz and his team, and prevent it from happening. If there’s no accident, then Tikana Prime is never colonized, and none of Lightyear’s events had to happen. That’s where the rift forms between Buzz and Zurg. 

The Junior Rangers and DERIC sit or stand ready for action in Lightyear.

(Image credit: Disney/Pixar)

The Big Difference That Separates Buzz Lightyear From Zurg

Lightyear’s conflict between Buzz and Zurg stems from the potential for our hero to go one step too far. As Zurg tells his younger self, he’s already on the path to becoming just like him; he just didn’t know it yet. The big difference between Buzz and Zurg is that the villain isn’t taking anyone else’s existence into account when making his decision.

Buzz abandons his mission to perfect Crystallic Fusion because, after seeing what Zurg is trying to do, he realizes that preventing the crash would wipe out an entire timeline of people. Specifically, it would prevent his best friend Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba) from ever meeting her wife Kiko. That in turn would prevent Buzz from jumping so far into the future that he’d meet his heroic Junior Ranger friends, who also wouldn’t exist as a result of preventing the crash. 

As Angus MacLane said in an interview that CinemaBlend tackled for Lightyear, Buzz basically “chooses to die.” Not in a fatalistic sort of way, but rather our hero chooses to stop chasing the rabbit of his failures, and settle into the life in “the present” he hasn’t had for some time. Cue the huge fight with Zurg, a struggle for the one Crystallic Fusion crystal available at the time, and the temporary vanquishing of a powerful foe.

Buzz Lightyear looks scared as he flees from Zurg in Lightyear.

(Image credit: Disney/Pixar)

How Zurg’s Grudge Could Affect Potential Lightyear Sequels

If you thought Zurg was angry in Lightyear, he’s probably livid when waking up in the cold depths of space. Stewing in his defeat, we haven’t even seen him become the “Evil Emperor” we know of in the Toy Story universe. Just as Buzz Lightyear’s traditional Space Ranger suit and spaceship appear at the end of this movie, the door is open for Zurg’s grudge to affect potential sequels.

The more immediate concern is that Star Command is going to have to guard their supply of Crystallic Fusion crystals pretty hard. Not to mention, Zurg is now one of their own, ready to wreak havoc in a very specific way. Perhaps the most threatening aspect of all of this comes from an observation of how Zurg Buzz and Hero Buzz’s coexistence truly works.

When asked to guess a number, Zurg knows the number Buzz is thinking of. Even during their climactic Lightyear battle, Zurg Buzz says to his younger self that his attempted evasion is like running from himself. What if, from this point on, Buzz’s evil future self knows his every move? How do you get around that sort of pitfall? 

That’s a question we’ll probably have to wait to see the answer to, as this big finale is an optimistic invitation to adventure. Whether you’ve seen the movie, or read through this entire rundown to spoil the ending out of curiosity, Lightyear is currently playing in a theater near you. Don’t forget, if you want to jump back into the old school Toy Story shenanigans, you can do just that with a Disney+ subscription, as that’s where you can find infinity and beyond.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.