Rosaline Ending Explained: How It Adds Modern Twists To A Classic Tale

Kaitlyn Dever in Rosaline
(Image credit: Hulu)

Immediately, the Rosaline trailer made this film a must-watch. It adds another great entry to Hulu’s limited but impressive collection of original TV shows and movies. The film modernizes the story of Romeo and Juliet by telling it from the perspective of a minor character, Romeo’s ex, Rosaline. It offers a fresh take on the story of doomed lovers by adding lots of comedy, a more logical love story, and plenty of pleasing twists, including giving modern songs a Renaissance flavor. The ending also adds one major twist to the story that may make viewers see the classic play differently.

Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is a story that many know well. This is why it’s always exciting when someone tries to give the tale some new layers, and the movie accomplishes this in a way that keeps the essence of the story but reinvents it. The Rosaline ending gives us one final punchy note that’s both funny and realistic. 

Warning: Rosaline and Romeo and Juliet spoilers ahead. Proceed with caution.  

Kaitlyn Dever and Sean Teale in Rosaline

(Image credit: Hulu)

What Happened At The End Of Rosaline 

Juliet (Isabela Merced) decides that she’s going to take a potion to fake her death. Rosaline (Kaitlyn Dever) and Dario (Sean Teale) believe that this decision is one of the dumbest ideas that they have ever heard. Unfortunately, Juliet has already taken it. 

Dario runs to find Romeo (Kyle Allen) to tell him of Juliet’s plan so he doesn’t do anything rash like kill himself when he finds out that she’s dead. Rosaline devises a plan for Romeo and Juliet to pretend to be dead so that they can leave Verona and their parents can leave them alone.

When their parents discover their bodies, at first they begin to argue, but then Rosaline makes them feel guilty that their feud leads to their children’s deaths. The Montagues and the Capulets decide to end their feud to honor their children.

Juliet wakes from her slumber to find Romeo lying on her and people talking. She has no clue what’s happening. However, she figures out enough to pretend that when she kisses Romeo the poison on his lips kills her as well. However, the families are now not convinced. 

Nurse Janet (Minnie Driver) catches on to Rosaline’s plan and steps up. She declares Romeo and Juliet dead. After everyone leaves, Rosaline and Dario help Romeo and Juliet sail away. Meanwhile, Dario attempts to ask Rosaline out on a real date. She kisses him before he can finish and gives him a maybe on the date.

As they walk away, Rosaline wonders aloud if they’ll be included in the story of Romeo and Juliet. Dario says he doesn’t care if they aren’t mentioned. Rosaline agrees. 

Kyle Allen in Rosaline

(Image credit: Hulu)

The Idea Of Romeo Vs The Reality of Romeo 

Both Rosaline and Juliet fall head over heels in love with Romeo. What’s not to love? He’s handsome, romantic, a poet, willing to die for you, and really loves love. On paper, Romeo seems like a dream dude. In reality, he’s a little more fluff than substance. 

He’s also an extremely flawed character. Not only does he cheat on Rosaline with Juliet but he ghosts her. This seems especially harsh, considering that communication is done by letters during the Renaissance period. He couldn’t send her a Dear John/Jane letter? Come on, Romeo.

It’s also shown that he doesn’t really take the time to get to know Rosaline. Because if he did, he would know that being at home with children isn’t her ideal life.

Kyle Allen gave his take on this Romeo during a press conference reported by What’s On Disney Plus: 

Romeo would fall in love with a stick if you’d let him. He’s completely obsessed with the concept and the idea of love. And other than that, that’s pretty much the entirety of his personality. He doesn’t have much else going on.

Romeo is definitely someone who makes their whole personality about being in love. There was even a possibility of Romeo falling for Dario, that’s how much he loves love. This may not make him a great long-term partner. 

Rosaline realizes that she may love the idea of Romeo more than the actual man. This revelation allows her to let him go and help him be with Juliet.

She discovers the flaws in her feelings for him in time to set him free, but Juliet may be stuck with him and that may not be a great ending for the pair. 

Isabela Merced and Kyle Allen in Rosaline

(Image credit: Hulu)

Is This A Happy Ending For Romeo And Juliet? 

The original ends with both of them dead, but Rosaline basically says “what if they didn’t die?” It shows an alternative future for the young lovers. Romeo and Juliet is one of the best-forbidden love stories, but what happens if they no longer have the burden of being a secret? They would have to examine what really attracted them to each other. 

In one scene, Paris (Spencer Stevenson) points out that danger and drama can sometimes be mistaken for love and romance. The ending seems to imply that this might be the case for the typically titular characters. 

They got so swept up in the danger of their secret romance that they never really got to know each other. As they’re seen on the boat together, they already seem annoyed with one another. They also seem to have very little in common. This is where the idea of someone as romantic as Romeo, versus the reality of who he is, can come back to bite that person's partner. It’s hard to say if Juliet has made a huge blunder by marrying and running away with Romeo, because maybe they’ll continue to talk it all out and make it work.

They could also get an annulment and go their separate ways. We will never know. However, we know that Rosaline is playing with the idea of fun and folly being great for a little while, but not enough of a foundation for a long-term commitment. This possibly sober ending for Romeo and Juliet is contrasted with Dario and Rosaline’s ending.

Rosaline becomes a great enemies-to-lovers movie because it starts with Rosaline and Dario making assumptions about each other, but over time, they actually get to know one another. They build a stronger foundation than Romeo and Juliet because of the development of their relationship. 

It’s hard to say if either romance will survive long-term, but Dario and Rosaline have a slight advantage because they haven’t been swept away by the allure of a forbidden romance. 

Isabela Merced and Kaitlyn Dever in Rosaline

(Image credit: Hulu)

A Tale Of Two Heroines 

Many movies that focus on women competing for a man have a tendency to show the women in a catty manner, and Rosaline and Juliet definitely do some questionable things to win or keep Romeo. Rosaline schemes to keep Juliet away from him, and Juliet throws around the word "old" quite frequently when talking to her cousin.

However, the film doesn’t paint either of them as the villain or bad. They’re both interesting, 3-D female characters. In a The Movie Times interview, the director, Karen Maine, explains that Rosaline learns that Juliet is more than this naïve and innocent girl. She further explains to Screen Rant how Juliet learns from Rosaline, and that helps her gain the confidence to voice her own opinions and stand up to her father.

When the movie begins, they seem like very different girls, but as the movie progresses, more of their similarities start to show. They are both strong female leads, but just have different approaches to showing their strength. Isabela Merced nicely sums up the juxtaposition of Rosaline and Juliet in the same What’s On Disney Plus press conference interview:

Juliet is a strong woman, but she’s also very sensitive and emotional and sympathetic and empathetic. I think Rosaline and Juliet do a great job of representing both sides of what feminism and what womanhood really is. You can be strong and you can be sentimental and sensitive, and still be an independent woman. I think it’s nice to see the two extremes of rebellion and then sweetness and kind of a naïveté.

The true villain is the oppressive society that wanted to control and tame the two into being obedient girls. 

Rosaline has been in some stage of development since 2013, so it’s been a long time coming, and it mostly delivers. Make sure to read the CinemaBlend Rosaline review for more insight into the film. Also, check out the upcoming movies schedule for other great movies releasing soon. 

Stream Rosaline on Hulu. (opens in new tab) 

Jerrica Tisdale
Freelance Writer

Spent most of my life in various parts of Illinois, including attending college in Evanston. I have been a life long lover of pop culture, especially television, turned that passion into writing about all things entertainment related. When I'm not writing about pop culture, I can be found channeling Gordon Ramsay by kicking people out the kitchen.