What The Cheeseburger At The End Of The Movie 'The Menu' Really Means

ralph fiennes and anya taylor joy in the film the menu photo by eric zachanowich courtesy of searchlight pictures © 2022 20th century studios all rights reserved
What Really Happened At The End Of 'The Menu'?Eric Zachanowich

There are many theories floating around about the ending of the horror film The Menu, which was recently released on HBO Max. From cannibalism to a fatal cheeseburger, there's a lot to unpack. If you're pondering the ending just as much as we are, let's discuss. (Note: there are spoilers throughout this story.)

A satire about what's wrong with the food world, The Menu explores the restaurant industry, foodie culture, food media, and their relationships to one another. From sexual harassment and abuse in the kitchen to the idolisation of chefs and snobbery of the rich, the film tells harsh truths from beginning to end.

Like many people, I wasn't sure how the story was going to end as my hypotheses changed with every sudden twist. Just as Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy) escapes the island and we think we've nailed the ending, we're left to theorise about that cheeseburger. The burger is the antithesis to fine dining that Margot asks Chef Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) to make for her. Doing so ultimately allows her to be released.

But why does she stop the boat (or does the engine die?) to eat the leftover burger as she watches the restaurant go up in flames? Eater noted that Margot hears a clap as she takes her bite, signalling another one of Slowik's disturbing courses, whereas I equated the clap with the explosion.

Here are two of the possible hidden meanings of the cheeseburger.

Margot Eats The Rich

One theory outlined by Screen Rant is that cannibalism was involved. As the dinner progressed, this did cross my mind. Mid-film, we find out that everyone—diners, staff, and even Chef Slowik—are going to die as part of the meal. For one course, a chicken thigh stabbed with scissors resembles a violent memory from Slowik's childhood. Then one of the sous-chefs dies, and later, Margot's date Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) dies. Slowik and his team repeatedly say that this is all part of the menu.

After escaping, Margot eats her leftover cheeseburger in the boat. But was she really eating beef? Perhaps it made out of the sous-chef and Tyler, the restaurant-obsessed foodie who had paid her to be his date, knowing beforehand that everyone would die as part of the menu. As Screen Rant theorises, "Putting two patties on the grill, one is reminded of the two people that killed themselves in the kitchen early on—Tyler and Slowik's sous-chef."

The Cheeseburger Is Deadly

Margot escapes, but maybe she doesn't survive after all. Den of Geek writes that the clap we hear as she bites into her burger might hint that the meat is poisonous. That's why Slowik let her escape: he knew she was going to die anyway after eating the burger.

There's a clue that helps support this theory at the beginning of the film when Elsa (Hong Chau) shows the diners the smokehouse. When Elsa says that the meat ages for 152 days, someone asks what would happen if the meat were aged for 153 days. Elsa replies that the bacteria in the meat would kill whoever ate it. Perhaps the meat in Margot's burger was aged too long and killed her.

What are your thoughts on the ending of The Menu?