Originally based on the 1990 science fiction novel by Michael Crichton, the 1993 film “Jurassic Park” spawned one of the world’s most successful franchises, one that includes books, theme park rides, TV shows, mountains of merchandise, and of course, multiple movie sequels.
Centered around a dinosaur theme park — featuring actual dinosaurs, which have been cloned back to life by ambitious and groundbreaking scientists — “Jurassic Park” is a tense, adrenaline-fueled tale of wonder and terror, as the site’s first visitors scramble desperately to escape the isolated island of the theme park after the security systems break down and the dinosaurs begin to roam free. Sequels to the film followed similar premises, with visitors returning to the abandoned world of the dinosaurs and encountering the wild creatures or, eventually, buying tickets to a new dino-themed park that goes similarly awry.
With five feature films (and one short film) spanning nearly three decades at this point — and more on the way – that’s a lot of characters and stories to keep track of. Yet even though the modern “Jurassic World” films have served as a sort of soft reboot of the original franchise, they’re all still set in the same world, with each film chronologically following the last, even if many years sometimes pass in between. So in order to understand the ongoing story in each of the “Jurassic” films, it’s important to recall what happened in the ones that came before. To that end, here’s a look back at the ending of every “Jurassic Park” and “Jurassic World” film.
The original “Jurassic Park” introduces audiences to the concept of a theme park centered around living dinosaurs … and all of the deadly flaws in such an idea. After using modern technology to resurrect the long-extinct creatures, modern technology turns out to be the park’s Achilles’ heel when a hacker’s software command, combined with a tropical storm, knocks out the island’s power grid, which controls everything from the dinosaur paddock fences to the visitor center door locks. Once the park goes offline, the various human visitors spend the film’s next act trying to stay alive long enough to reconnect with one another and turn the power back on.
The film culminates in the park’s state-of-the-art visitor center (spared no expense), where paleontologist Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and paleobotanist Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) work to reboot the park’s computer systems while also watching over the park creator’s teenage grandchildren, Tim (Joseph Mazzello) and Lex (Ariana Richards). However, the refuge of the visitor’s center proves not so safe after all when Velociraptors get inside and begin hunting them.
Fortunately, Lex is a computer fanatic and figures out how to reboot the system herself. As Ellie and Grant hold off the freakishly smart apex predators, Lex resets (among other things) the phones and the door locks, which buys them just enough time to alert park creator John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) to call the mainland for rescue … before they have to run from the raptors again. But right when they seem cornered by the raptor pack, the escaped Tyrannosaurus rex comes crashing into the lobby of the visitor center, drawing the raptors’ attention and giving the humans the chance to escape.
The group meets up with Hammond and a badly injured Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), who are driving one of the island’s few gas-powered jeeps to the helicopter pad, where Hammond’s company has a chopper waiting. As they fly off the island to safety, theoretically leaving the dinosaurs far behind as they head for civilization, Grant sees a flock of birds soaring over the water, calling back to an earlier line in which Tim asked him about his theory that dinosaurs evolved into birds. The scene reminds viewers of the film’s theme that “life finds a way” and begs the question of whether the dinosaurs really are as well-contained as the characters think.
The sequel to “Jurassic Park” begins with mathematician Ian Malcolm being persuaded by John Hammond to return to an island inhabited by wild dinosaurs — this one a neighbor to where the original park was built — in order to document the beasts. Hammond hopes Ian and his new ragtag team can build a strong enough case to encourage everyone to leave these creatures alone, especially as a group of unscrupulous businessmen and scientists plan on using the animals to make some serious stacks of cash.
Of course, no part of this mission goes according to plan, and it eventually becomes clear that Hammond’s hubristic nephew, Peter Ludlow (Arliss Howard), intends to transport dinosaurs off the island and take them to the mainland, with the intention of opening a new park in San Diego. And before Malcolm and his girlfriend, paleontologist Sarah Harding (Julianne Moore), can persuade Ludlow that said park is a terrible idea, nature takes matters into its own hands when a boat carrying an adult T-rex crashes into the docks and the dinosaur is accidentally released into the city.
As the T-rex cuts a bloody path of destruction through San Diego, Malcolm and Sarah head to the site of the new park, where the dino’s injured infant is being held. They use the infant to lure the adult T-rex back to the boat, then jump off the ship. Unfortunately, Ludlow remains on board, where he tries to recapture the infant, only to wind up incapacitated by the adult and then used as the object of the infant’s hunting lesson.
Meanwhile, coming back onto the ship after the T-rex takes the bait and enters the cargo hold, Malcolm and Sarah work together to tranquilize it and trap it there, allowing the vessel to take the creatures safely back to the island. The plans for the San Diego park are abandoned, and the T-rex is returned home, this time with a sizable naval escort. The film closes with John Hammond arguing in a CNN interview that the dinosaurs will best be served by humans keeping their distance.
Of course, humans prove incapable of leaving the dinosaurs alone for long. Not long after the island where most of the dinosaurs live, Isla Sorna, is declared a nature preserve by the Costa Rican government, a tourism industry springs up around it. Thus, it’s the basis for the plot of “Jurassic Park III,” which sees a desperate set of parents luring Alan Grant back to the island under false pretenses after their son goes missing while parasailing nearby.
But, of course, their plan to safely recover their son immediately goes sideways, and Grant spends the rest of the film trying (and, in some cases, failing) to get all the members of the rescue party safely off the island. In the process, his assistant, Billy (Alessandro Nivola), steals two raptor eggs, thinking they’ll help them secure a new round of funding for their research. Shortly thereafter, Billy is carried off by Pteranodons and presumed dead.
The ending of the film sees Grant and the remaining survivors finally able to call for help when they locate a missing satellite phone in a pile of Spinosaurus droppings (which are also the only remnants of a former member of their party). Grant uses the phone to call Ellie Sattler for help, but the call is cut short due to — what else — a dinosaur attack. The following day, the group is surrounded by raptors, but they’re able to use the stolen eggs, along with a sound made using an artificial raptor larynx, to distract them long enough to escape.
Once our heroes make it to the beach, it turns out Ellie understood enough of Grant’s call to send help in the form of the Marine Corps and the Navy. Safely aboard the helicopters — along with Billy, who was surprisingly found alive — Grant sees a flock of Pteranodons flying over the water as they leave the island, calling back to the closing shots of the first film.
Set nearly two decades after the first movie, “Jurassic World” serves as a soft reboot for the series, following ethologist and raptor trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and operations manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) through the disastrous opening of a brand new theme park on the original park’s home of Isla Nublar, spun up by yet another eccentric billionaire with a soft spot for dinosaurs.
This time, the breakdown of the park is triggered by the escape of the Indominus rex, a genetically engineered hybrid dinosaur that turns out to be far too smart and dangerous to remain safely contained. The escape of the Indominus rex kicks off a chain reaction leading to the complete breakdown of the park’s containment systems, allowing all of the dinosaurs to break out.
The end finds Owen and Claire — along with Claire’s two nephews, Gray (Ty Simpkins) and Zach (Nick Robinson) — cornered by the Indominus rex among the park’s gift shops. As a last resort, Claire decides to free the T-rex from its paddock and lure it toward the attacking Indominus rex (a risky move, considering the first film clocked the T-rex’s top speed at 32 miles per hour, making it faster than the fastest human in the world). But Claire’s gambit pays off, and the two dinos decide to throw down. The battle isn’t going great for the T-rex, but that’s when Blue — one of the Velociraptors trained by Owen — joins in the fight, providing enough of a distraction to enable the T-rex to recover.
The two dinosaurs inadvertently drive the Indominus rex toward the Mosasaurus tank, where the massive aquatic beast suddenly emerges from the water to drag the Indominus down into the murky depths below. Owen, Claire, and the two children are successfully evacuated from the park, along with the other survivors. The kids are reunited with their parents while Owen and Claire decide to stick together. Meanwhile, dinosaurs once again take over the abandoned island.
Once again, just because the park closes, that doesn’t mean that humanity is no longer concerned with an island of living dinosaurs.
“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” finds people split between those who would let the prehistoric inhabitants of Isla Nublar perish in the imminent eruption of an active volcano, and those — including Claire — who feel an obligation to rescue them. Lured back to the island with a false promise from Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), yet another wealthy California businessman, Claire and Owen believe their mission is to save the dinosaurs, only to learn that they’ve unwittingly thrown in their lot with a black market dinosaur breeding and trading ring.
Not only is this ambitious billionaire still breeding and selling hybrid dinosaurs — this time producing the Indoraptor — he’s also cloning humans, as evidenced by his young “granddaughter,” Maisie (Isabella Sermon), who turns out to actually be a copy of Lockwood’s deceased daughter. The end of the film sees Owen, Claire, Maisie, and Claire’s coworkers and fellow activists Franklin Webb (Justice Smith) and Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda) eluding the Indoraptor as it hunts the humans in Lockwood’s mansion following an underground auction that ended in catastrophe.
Ultimately, Blue the Velociraptor manages to fight and kill the Indoraptor, but when the other dinosaurs that were being held for the auction are nearly killed in their cages by poisonous gas, Maisie frees them over Owen and Claire’s objections, releasing them into the wild. The end of the movie sees Ian Malcolm addressing the Senate about the new “Jurassic World” they now inhabit, as we see the dinosaurs roaming free in the United States.
Set a year after the events of “Fallen Kingdom,” the short film “Battle at Big Rock” follows one horrifying night through the eyes of a young family on a camping trip to Big Rock National Park in Northern California.
With dinosaurs now reincorporated back into the natural world, the family’s peaceful evening barbeque is interrupted when an adult and baby Nasutoceratops wander into their camp. The family watches quietly from their RV, explaining that in the event of a dinosaur sighting, the park rangers had advised them to remain calm and wait for the animals to go away. But that plan quickly proves untenable when an Allosaurus comes into the camp and attacks the Nasutoceratops family and knocks the RV on its side.
When the family’s baby begins to cry, the Allosaurus attacks the RV, ripping it apart and leaving the humans without any protection. As the parents prepare to defend their children — armed with only a fire extinguisher and a piece of debris — their young daughter finds their neighbor’s crossbow and shoots the Allosaurus in the face, driving it away.
During the closing credits, we see this is just one of the countless encounters between humans and dinosaurs that have occurred following their release at the end of “Fallen Kingdom.” The credits depict scenes of a Stegosaurus causing a car to veer off the road, a Pteranodon eating a dove released at a wedding, and a small pack of Compsognathus chasing a little girl on a farm, making it clear that the world has profoundly changed from what it was before “Fallen Kingdom.”