Meaning of the Ending of “The Sixth Sense”

The twist ending in “The Sixth Sense” reveals that Bruce Willis’ character, Malcolm Crowe, has been dead all along.

“The Sixth Sense” is a 1999 American psychological thriller movie directed and written by M. Night Shyamalan. The film stars Bruce Willis as a child psychologist named Malcolm Crowe, who tries to help a young boy named Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) who sees ghosts. The movie was a massive commercial and critical success and is considered a classic in the thriller genre.

One of the reasons for the movie’s success is its ending, which has been widely discussed and analyzed since its release. In this article, we will explore the meaning of the ending of “The Sixth Sense” in depth.

The Plot of “The Sixth Sense”

“The Sixth Sense” follows the story of a troubled boy named Cole Sear, who claims to see dead people. He is tormented by these visions and seeks the help of child psychologist Malcolm Crowe. Malcolm initially thinks Cole is delusional and tries to help him overcome his fears.

However, he soon realizes that Cole’s visions are real and begins to work with him to understand and manage them. Along the way, Malcolm begins to question his own life and relationships, as he tries to help Cole cope with his gift.

Analysis of the Ending

The ending of “The Sixth Sense” is a classic twist reveal that has become famous in popular culture. Throughout the movie, the audience is led to believe that Malcolm is helping Cole overcome his fears and see the truth about his visions.

However, in the final moments of the movie, it is revealed that Malcolm is actually dead and has been a ghost all along. This twist reveal has been analyzed and dissected by audiences and critics alike, with many interpretations and theories emerging.

One of the most significant aspects of the ending is the use of foreshadowing throughout the movie. There are several clues and hints that suggest Malcolm is not alive, such as his inability to open doors or his wife’s apparent indifference to his presence. These subtle hints build up throughout the movie and add to the shock and surprise of the twist reveal.

Another important aspect of the ending is the use of symbolism. The color red is used throughout the movie to symbolize death and danger, and this symbolism is used to great effect in the ending. In the final scene, Malcolm is seen wearing a red jacket, which represents his own death and the danger that he faced while trying to help Cole.

This use of symbolism adds depth and complexity to the movie’s ending, and helps to elevate it beyond a simple twist reveal.

The Director’s Perspective

M. Night Shyamalan has been open about his inspiration for “The Sixth Sense”, and the process of making the movie. He has stated that the idea for the movie came from his fascination with ghost stories and the afterlife, and that he wanted to explore these themes in a unique and meaningful way.

Shyamalan also revealed that the ending of the movie was always planned, and that he wrote the entire script with the twist in mind. He has stated that he wanted the audience to be emotionally invested in the characters and the story, so that the twist would have a greater impact.

The filmmaking process for “The Sixth Sense” was also unique, as Shyamalan was relatively unknown at the time and had to fight to get the movie made. He has stated that he faced significant challenges during the production, including difficulty finding a studio that was willing to finance the movie. However, his persistence paid off, and the movie became a massive success, launching his career as a director.

Critical Reception

“The Sixth Sense” received overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics and audiences, with many praising the movie’s twist ending and emotional depth. The movie was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and won the award for Best Supporting Actor for Haley Joel Osment’s performance as Cole.

Audiences were also impressed with the movie’s ending, with many citing it as one of the best twists in movie history. The ending has become a cultural touchstone, and has been referenced and parodied in numerous movies and TV shows since its release.

Themes and Interpretations

“The Sixth Sense” explores a number of themes and ideas, including the afterlife, mental illness, and childhood trauma. The movie raises questions about what happens after we die, and suggests that there may be more to life than what we can see and touch.

The movie also deals with issues of mental illness, as Cole struggles to cope with his visions and Malcolm tries to help him manage his fears. The movie portrays mental illness in a sensitive and nuanced way, and has been praised for its depiction of mental health issues.

Finally, the movie explores the theme of childhood trauma, as both Cole and Malcolm are dealing with past traumas that have shaped their lives. The movie suggests that the key to healing from these traumas is to confront them head-on and to seek help from others.

Similar Movies and TV Shows

“The Sixth Sense” has had a significant impact on popular culture, and has influenced numerous movies and TV shows since its release. One of the most notable examples is “The Others”, a 2001 movie starring Nicole Kidman that explores similar themes of ghosts and the afterlife.

Another notable example is “Lost”, a popular TV show that also deals with themes of the afterlife and the supernatural. The show’s creators have cited “The Sixth Sense” as an inspiration, and there are numerous references to the movie throughout the series.

Finally, the anthology TV show “Black Mirror” has also been influenced by “The Sixth Sense”, particularly in its use of twist endings and its exploration of technology and the human psyche.


In conclusion, “The Sixth Sense” is a classic movie that has had a significant impact on popular culture. The movie’s ending, with its famous twist reveal, has been widely discussed and analyzed since its release, and has become a cultural touchstone. Through its exploration of themes such as the afterlife, mental illness, and childhood trauma, the movie has resonated with audiences and has left a lasting legacy in the thriller genre.

FAQs on The Sixth Sense

  1. What inspired M. Night Shyamalan to make “The Sixth Sense”?
  • Shyamalan was inspired by his fascination with ghost stories and the afterlife.
  1. What is the twist ending of “The Sixth Sense”?
  • The twist ending reveals that Bruce Willis’ character, Malcolm Crowe, has been dead all along.
  1. How did audiences and critics react to “The Sixth Sense”?
  • The movie received overwhelmingly positive reviews and was a massive commercial success.
  1. What are some similar movies and TV shows that have been influenced by “The Sixth Sense”?
  • Examples include “The Others”, “Lost”, “Joker”, and “Black Mirror”.
  1. What themes does “The Sixth Sense” explore?
  • The movie explores themes such as the afterlife, mental illness, and childhood trauma.
  1. What impact has “The Sixth Sense” had on popular culture?
  • The movie has become a cultural touchstone and has influenced numerous movies and TV shows since its release.
  1. How did M. Night Shyamalan approach the making of “The Sixth Sense”?
  • Shyamalan wrote the entire script with the twist ending in mind and focused on creating emotional investment in the characters and story.
  1. Why has “The Sixth Sense” remained popular over 20 years after its release?
  • The movie’s exploration of universal themes and its famous twist ending continue to resonate with audiences and make it a classic in the thriller genre.

Saurav B.

Saurav is the main content creator at Film Finesse's blog and YouTube. He has six years of experience as a content writer, including writing screenplays for short movies and videos. He has 5 years of experience as a research manager, along with a degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering.

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