If you feel the need to regress to a simpler time when you could revel in the clichés of being an angsty teenager, you're in luck, because The Perks of Being a Wallflower is now streaming on Netflix.
Based on the 1999 young adult novel of the same name, The Perks of Being a Wallflower follows teenager Charlie (Logan Lerman) through his freshman year of high school and touches on serious subject matter like sexual abuse, depression, anxiety and bullying.
In fact, its frank depictions of drugs, sex, and suicide are so intense that it's one of the most frequently banned books in school libraries.
However, the book and movie’s final reveal can be confusing and if you were left wondering what really happened to Charlie at the end of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, we’ve got you covered.
Stay with us while we explain the ending.
'The Perks of Being a Wallflower' ending, explained.
By the second half of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Charlie has fully embedded himself within his group of friends and is busy living the fun life of a high school freshman.
However, a running thread throughout is Charlie's building anxiety, and while most of the story revolves around his freshman year, there is a pivotal incident from his past that continues to haunt him in ways he doesn’t even realize.
This is revealed in a final confession towards the latter half of the movie.
One of the first incidents that reveals a small inkling of Charlie’s painful past is the New Year’s party, where he takes LSD and has flashbacks to the night his aunt died. Charlie eventually passes out in the snow and is found by the police, but it’s clear that his anxieties are worsening.
As the weeks go by, Charlie’s flashbacks to the night of his aunt’s death become more intense. They come to a head and culminate when Charlie blacks out during a fight against the school’s jocks, while defending his friend Patrick (Ezra Miller) against them.
Charlie's final and most serious breakdown comes towards the end of the school year. At a graduation party, Sam (Emma Watson) and Charlie make out, but Charlie becomes extremely uncomfortable when Sam puts her hand on his inner thigh. Although he brushes it off in the moment, it’s clearly a repressed memory that Charlie hasn’t come to terms with.
The next day, Sam leaves for college, which is too much for Charlie.
After saying goodbye and returning home, Charlie starts to have flashbacks of his Aunt Helen (Melanie Lynskey) touching his thigh, just as Sam touched his thigh the night before. Charlie calls his sister (Nina Dobrev) in a panic and tells her that he blames himself for their aunt’s death, which is when his sister recognizes he's in trouble and calls the police.
Charlie blacks out by the time the police arrive and when he wakes up, he’s at the hospital. There, he and a psychiatrist work together to bring out Charlie’s repressed memories, which reveal that his aunt actually sexually abused him throughout his childhood. After working through his issues, Charlie is discharged and allowed to go home.
The movie ends with Sam and Patrick visiting Charlie and taking him to their favorite restaurant. Later, while driving through the tunnel that they drove through on their first night together as friends, Charlie climbs into the back of the truck, kisses Sam, and they both have a life-affirming scream as they exit the tunnel.
Stream The Perks of Being a Wallflower on Netflix and in those moments, we swear, you too will feel infinite.