Shaun of the Dead (2004) Ending Explained – What happens to Ed?

Shaun of the Dead Plot Summary

Shaun of the Dead is a 2004 zombie horror/comedy parody movie by British auteur, Edgar Wright. It takes the zombie genre and turns it on its head with tongue-in-cheek, dry British humour. If it weren’t for people being devoured by mindless zombies and Shaun losing his family and friends, the film could almost be called light-hearted.

The film follows Shaun (played by Simon Pegg, also the co-writer of the film), a down-and-out salesman. His relationship is in shambles, he hates his stepfather and he lives in a London suburban row house which is drab as his life, till his world turns upside down. The zombie outbreak occurs and Shaun discovers a hitherto unknown side to him which transforms the bumbling, stumbling loser into an unlikely hero.

shaun of the dead

When does Shaun realise that he’s in the midst of a zombie outbreak?

Symbolisms and hints apart, there are numerous signs pointing to the outbreak which Shaun fails to see till it’s right in his face. The first appearance of a zombie is when Shaun, buying flowers for his mother, catches a brief glimpse of a man in a park, shambling awkwardly, attempting to grab a pigeon and devour it. Shaun is so stressed with his own problems that he’s blind and deaf to the problems outside.

The night he’s dumped by his girlfriend, Liz, he’s sitting with his friend Ed at the Winchester Tavern, downing his sorrow in drinks. Later when the duo steps out, they notice a couple necking in the shadows but fail to see that it is a woman cannibalising a man.

The next morning, Shaun reeling from the hangover takes his usual walk to the local store. It is similar to an earlier scene when all was hunky dory but now the outbreak has destroyed the neighbourhood.

Zombies walking at a distance, car windshields broken, garbage dumped around, radio news of an impending crisis, blood-stained handprints on a refrigerator door at the store, a pool of blood on the floor with Shaun almost slipping on it, but our protagonist is totally oblivious to it all. He simply picks a diet cola and a red Cornetto (fun fact: Shaun of the Dead is the first of the Cornetto Trilogy) for Ed, puts money on the counter and walks back home.

Later at home, Ed notices a young woman in their backyard with a strange, sad vacant look in her eyes. It takes a while for the duo to realise that the woman is simply trying to eat them for breakfast. While they are struggling to keep her at bay, they see another large-sized zombie.

As they rush back in, they realise all the emergency services are down and the news channels are warning people to stay inside and shut their doors. Now, Ed has a history of never shutting the door behind him. And suddenly they’re shocked to see an elegantly attired zombie looming over them.

A fight ensues and Ed manages to break the Z’s head with a heavy crystal ashtray. Later the two manage to destroy the other two Zs in their backyard. Then they discover that their flatmate, Pete too has turned due to a bite received the previous day. So, the duo rush off taking Pete’s car.

shaun of the dead

What is Shaun’s point of action after witnessing the outbreak?

Shaun’s first agenda is to protect his mother, Barbara. He and Ed rush over to her place where they learn that her husband, Phillip’s been bitten. But Shaun can’t bring himself to kill his stepfather in cold blood. So, he decides to take them to the Winchester Tavern, which he believes is the safest place.

However, they do a quick detour to Liz’s house where Shaun manages to convince Liz and her flat-mates — Liz’s sister, Dianne and her boyfriend, David to come with him to safety. As they are driving, a bleeding Phillip confesses to Shaun that he’d loved him all along, like his own son. Shaun is overwhelmed by guilt and feels a gush of love and affection towards his stepfather.

Suddenly Phillip awakens as a zombie. Pandemonium erupts. And the rest manage to jump out of the car and shut the door on zombie Phillip. Then the survivors start walking towards the Winchester.

shaun of the dead

What happens to Shaun’s mother?

Shaun’s mother, Barbara is a sweet, old lady who is devastated that her husband is no more. As they are walking towards Winchester, she spots an old friend, Derek and goes to greet him, ignorant of the fact that he’s a zombie. She is, of course, greeted with a bite. Barbara admonishes him, and since the zombies in Shaun of the Dead have retained some semblance of propriety, she easily gets away from Derek.

Later in the confines of the Winchester, the survivors discover that Barbara has been bitten and now it’s just a matter of time. After a painful altercation with David, Shaun shoulders the painful responsibility of killing his mother just as she turns.

shaun of the dead

What’s the deal with David?

Every disaster movie’s got to have one rotten fish amongst the survivors and David is that ‘twat’. He’s Dianne’s boyfriend, who’s got a secret crush on Liz, but since she’s rejected him, he settled for her sister and hence hates Shaun. He loses no opportunity to put Shaun down. When Shaun comes to rescue them, he’s reluctant to leave, but when Liz and Dianne agree, he has no option but to tag along. Who wants to be left alone in a disaster scenario?

When the survivors reach the Winchester and find it locked, chaos ensues. Shaun is in a quandary of what to do next, Ed gets a phone call, which acts like a homing beacon for the Zs, and when Shaun yells at Ed, and Liz intervenes and points Shaun in the direction of the Zs, who have suddenly discovered their next meal (whew!!)…David is the one to act decisively. He uses a trashcan to break a window.

Shaun then plays the hero, risking his life to draw the Zs away from the window, so that his friends can clamber inside, while he keeps the Zs busy. Shaun then manages to give them the slip and enters the Winchester from the back door. Of course, once inside the Winchester Tavern, David goes back into his annoying mode.

When the group discover Barbara’s wound, David insists that she be shot immediately which makes Shaun furious. A stand-off occurs. But Shaun finally puts her down as she turns. The horrific silence is broken by David saying that Shaun did the right thing. The latter, already furious with David, loses it, and in a fit of rage punches him. David tries to retaliate, but realises that Liz and Dianne are against him.

He is not a bad guy, just a selfish person but he is mortified with his own behaviour. Unfortunately, before he can apologise, the Zs break the window, grab David and make quick work of him. Dianne is so devastated that she opens the door and rushes out in a fit of frenzy to attack the horde.

shaun of the dead

How do the survivors escape the overrun Winchester Tavern?

The Zs enter through the door, a struggle ensues and Ed gets bitten. Shaun and Liz take cover behind the bar counter. A bleeding Ed too joins them and he sets the bar counter afire which keeps the Zs at bay.

Meanwhile, the survivors discover a trap door leading to the cellar and descend. While the Zs are trying to break into the cellar, Shaun finds an exit leading out of the tavern. Ed stays behind with the gun to hold off the Zs while Shaun and Liz manage to reach safety, by which time the military arrive and vanquish the Zs.

shaun of the dead

What happens to the survivors in the end?

Shaun and Liz survive and get back together. Dianne is MIA. The rest are zombified or dead. The epilogue shows that life has gradually returned to normal and the surviving zombies are nothing more than harmless freaks and even used in gameshows for entertainment…talk about irreverence and insensitivity. But the film was never serious about the issue in the first place.

And there’s a positive spin-off at the end (if one can call it that). The epilogue reveals that Ed has transformed into a zombie and is now locked and chained in the shed by Shaun, unbeknownst to all including Liz. Zombie Ed’s natural instinct is to try and bite Shaun but stops, on being admonished. And he and Shaun often spend time, playing video games.

The joke is that in the first scene Liz is upset that Shaun spends more time with Ed than with her. The second joke is that there’s no major difference in Ed’s intelligence before and after zombification. And their affection for each other is as strong as ever.

Feel free to check out more of our movie reviews here!

Leave a comment