SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains massive spoilers for Happy Death Day 2U. If you have not yet seen the film, continue at your own risk.
Happy Death Day 2U is one of the most bonkers sequels you could ever expect out of a franchise that starts with a slasher killer vibe. Shifting most of its narrative to an 80s-style sci-fi comedy, Tree Gelbhorn’s new adventures involve some extra wrinkles that make solving this brand new time loop all the more difficult, and all the more amusing. But by time the story wraps up at the end of the film, there’s plenty of room for a third entry to take place.
What makes this potential Happy Death Day threequel even more exciting is that it’s teased in an end credits stinger that opens the door wide open for a new and even more insane entry in the series. Should Universal and Blumhouse allow writer/director Christopher Landon the opportunity to follow-up, there’s a brand new way for the series to play around with temporal physics, and a new character at the center of a true horror. Last call for spoiler adverse audiences to turn away, as we’re about to talk about how Happy Death Day 2U ends, and what it might mean for the franchise at large.
What Happens In The Ending
After solving the murder at the center of the alternate dimension time loop - courtesy of a shift triggered by the science experiment that created this whole mess in the first place - Tree finds herself back home in the right reality. With Carter still being her boyfriend, and the science experiment from one dimension successfully sending her back, it’s a pretty happy ending. Of course, that’s not where the story concludes.
During the end credits, we see the stereotypical convoy of black government vehicles storm Bayfield University’s campus. An agent introduces himself to Tree and her friends, with a vague request to come along and get whisked away to somewhere unknown. This location is eventually revealed to be a DARPA lab, where the device that Ryan and his classmates have been working on for their thesis project (codename “Sissy”) has been relocated.
Apparently, not only does DARPA know that the Bayfield students have successfully triggered, navigated, and broken a time loop, but they’re interested in running some experiments in such a scenario. The only thing left to do is figure out who the test subject will be, as the government would like to send in a guinea pig of sorts to run their tests. It’s at that moment that inspiration strikes Tree, as she knows exactly who should be used as the test subject.
This leads to the closing shot of Happy Death Day 2U, which sees Tree's sorority sister/not so nice person Danielle (Rachel Matthews) waking up in her bed and screaming. Sounds like someone has a case of the recursive Mondays…
Why They Went With That Ending
Happy Death Day 2U has a pretty hysterical ending, with a pretty nasty character finally getting some just deserts (and possibly an opportunity to become a better person). However, it's not just a one-off joke that we're seeing there, as writer/director Christopher Landon chose the events in that sequence very specifically - as was recently discovered by our own Eric Eisenberg.
During the Happy Death Day 2U press junket, he spoke with the writer/director, who explained the intent of that end credits tease a little further. He admitted that part of his goal was to take a jab at the superhero trend, which are movies made with way bigger budgets, but he also wanted to lay the groundwork for an idea that he wants to execute in a potential Happy Death Day 3. Said Landon,
I think part of what we did with the end credit sequence was, we thought it was just a fun way to nod and wink to the Marvel trend, you know? Because we're such a small movie, for me there was a certain irony in us even doing it. It's typically reserved for much bigger movies. And so to some degree it's kind of a wink and a nod and a laugh, but it also really is meant to key up a third movie, if we get to do it.
Post-credits scenes are far from a given in the world of small-budget horror movies, and there are surely many Happy Death Day 2U fans who didn't think to stick around for a coda sequence, but Christopher Landon wanted to go that extra mile. In addition to playing homage to Marvel Studios’ contribution to pop culture moviegoing, however, Landon has also planted a seed for an idea that could blossom into a third film. And we have just an idea of where it might go.
What The Ending Suggests
With the government in control of Sissy, and Danielle planted in the new time loop, Happy Death Day 3 could see the bullying sorority sister becoming the new protagonist that audiences follow. Much like how Happy Death Day 2U starts off with Ryan being the focus, the second sequel could give us a new perspective of May 18th’s events as they happen again, and again - albeit now from a fresh perspective. If Danielle thought she had it rough with the special needs charity project her sorority was working on, she’s about to have a rude awakening.
Seeing as she’s a relative newbie to the time loop lifestyle, and this franchise is centered around Jessica Rothe’s Tree, there’s the potential for the Happy Death Day star to engage in yet another adventure in time, potentially with a whole new bit of genre exploration. Even better, should this third film be the one to close out a complete trilogy, we’d potentially see Danielle not only undergo her own personality changing voyage of self-discovery, but also possibly Tree completing her journey as a sage guide helping end the loop.
Of course, there’s also the possibility that Danielle doubles down on her villainous ways, creating a dark mirror of Tree’s Happy Death Day storyline and ultimately pitting her against her sorority sister in one final time breaking climax. All of this is pretty speculative, as we don’t even know if Happy Death Day 2U will hit big enough to make this third film a thing. We’ll just have to wait and see.