The Pledge Ending Explained: Who Was The Real Killer?


Riya Arya

The Pledge is an American neo-noir psychological mystery drama film. It was directed by Sean Penn. The film stars Jack Nicholson, Patricia Clarkson, Aaron Eckhart, Helen Mirren, Robin Wright Penn, Vanessa Redgrave, Sam Shepard, Mickey Rourke, Tom Noonan, Lois Smith and Benicio del Toro. The Pledge is based on Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s 1958 novella The Pledge: Requiem for the Detective Novel.

The Pledge ending has indeed gained attention with its unexpected leads and what not? In this article, we will talk about The Pledge Ending Explained. Let’s get started and keep reading.

The Pledge: Quick Facts

Based on: The Pledge by Friedrich Dürrenmatt
Directed by: Sean Penn
Screenplay by: Jerzy Kromolowski
Mary Olson-Kromolowski
Produced by: Michael Fitzgerald
Sean Penn
Elie Samaha
Cinematography: Chris Menges
Running time: 123 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $35 million
Box office: $29.4 million
Edited by: Jay Lash Cassidy
Music by: Klaus Badelt
Hans Zimmer
Production companies: Clyde Is Hungry Films
Epsilon Motion Pictures
Franchise Pictures
Morgan Creek Productions
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date: January 19, 2001

The Pledge: Plot

The plot follows Jerry Black, a police detective from Nevada, who gets to know about the murder of an eight-year-old girl named Ginny at his retirement party. Jerry informs girl’s family about the death of daughter. Her mother, Margaret Larsen, takes a pledge from Jerry to find who has killed her daughter. The investigation takes place.

The police team falsely accused a Native American man, Toby, of the murder and also forces him to commit the crime without his fault. As a result, the innocent boy commits suicide. The case is now closed. However, detective Jerry doesn’t get over with the case and seeks to find out who is responsible for the murder of the girl.

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While doing some investigations, he gets aware of more revelations that show that three other girls were also killed in the same pattern. In addition, the murdered girl was friends with a mystery man. Jerry meets waitress Lori and her daughter Chrissy. He feels fatherly love towards Chrissy. The coincidence is that Chrissy has the same mystery friend as Ginny had.

The Pledge Ending Explained

Chrissy tells Jerry that she is supposed to meet her friend. Jerry finds it perfect opportunity to find out mystery man. He keeps on waiting for the mystery friend but the killer never comes. Stan discloses everything to Lori, therefore she decides to leave Jerry for putting her daughter’s life at dangerous.

The Pledge Ending Explained

A lot of viewers aren’t satisfied with the ending as they believe that the ending part has ruined the film. What is the ending? The ending scene features Jerry in a depress state of mind where he is all alone, his love life has ended when Lori leaves him and he is not happy with the case that impacted his psyche state, making him drunk and unhappy. Not only this but the police department has also lost all faith in him and his gas station business has stopped.

Talking about the most interesting part of the film, who is the killer? So the truth is that the murderer has been showing from the very beginning in the film. While viewers were waiting for some incredible face-off between the killer and Jerry. But, the murderer dies in a road accident, making viewers very disappointed.

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The murderer was seen in the shop. The murderer is no one but Oliver, the man with grey hair. The film has given many hints to recognize the killer. He works in a candy shop. He uses chocolates to lure young girls. His black car with a hanging toy porcupine was also featured in Ginny’s drawings.

The ending of The Pledge creates many questions about justice and the consequences. Jerry’s desperation and obsession with this case has disappointing consequences. It explores the idea of justice, especially when it comes to the suicide of Toby, sacrifice of an innocent life.

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The final scenes of the film show that Jerry’s obsessive behavior to find the killer leads to his own downfall in every way. It goes through the feeling of guilt, raises sense of regret among audience.


The Pledge is an American neo-noir psychological mystery drama film. The ending of the film is quite tragic which makes viewers feel disappointed that they missed the face off between Jerry and killer as well it also raises a sense of guilt after watching Jerry’s downfall.

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