Did Frank Really Do It? The Reality Behind the Ending of 'The Irishman'

Is ‘The Irishman’ the true story of what happened to Jimmy Hoffa? Here’s the new film’s ending, explained, as one of the many conspiracies.

Jacqueline Gualtieri - Author

Apr. 24 2020, Updated 5:23 p.m. ET

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Jimmy Hoffa is somewhat of a legend in American history. He often doesn't get much coverage in the history textbooks and, if we do learn about him, it's usually through movies. The Irishman is the latest example of a film that takes on Hoffa's history. But, although other films follow Hoffa and his crimes, The Irishman does something different and sets out to address how he died. 

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For those that watched the film and didn't know the history behind Hoffa and Frank 'The Irishman' Sheeran, here's a look at that ending, explained. 

Why did Frank do it? Here's the ending of The Irishman, explained.

The Irishman follows the story of mafia hitman Frank 'The Irishman' Sheeran (Robert De Niro), who worked with both Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) and the head of the Bufalino crime family Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci). As time wore on, Frank became close friends with the notorious Hoffa, who also developed a close relationship with Frank's daughter Peggy (Anna Paquin).

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As a friend, Hoffa trusted Frank in way that he didn't trust others. Which was why it was decided that he would have to be the one to kill the infamous Teamsters leader. 

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After Hoffa was arrested and then released, he set out to reclaim his title as the president of the Teamsters, despite the fact that he was released on the condition that he wasn't allowed to engage in labor organizing activities until 1980. When the Bufalino family discovered what Hoffa was doing, they feared that the crime families would not like him reclaiming his power. Hoffa knew too much about mafia activity and having him back in a position of power posed a big threat. 

As a mafia hitman, but more importantly as Hoffa's friend, the Bufalinos called upon Frank to kill Hoffa. He was sent on a jet to go to Hoffa and take him to a house, under the guise that they'd be meeting with local mafia leaders. As expected he trusted Frank enough to go with him, but he discovered that the meeting was a set up. Still, he didn't believe that Frank is the one that set him up. In fact, he turned to Frank to worn him, but he was met instead with a gunshot. 

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Is that what really happened to Jimmy Hoffa?

The truth is that we'll never know if that's truly the story of what happened to Hoffa. In the film, Frank leaves the body to be disposed of by other gangsters. If that is what truly happened, then those gangsters did their job well, because Hoffa's body was never discovered. 

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Frank Sheeran was a real man who really did exist and the real man has asserted that he was the one to kill Hoffa. He told his story through deathbed interviews that were eventually published in the book I Heard You Paint Houses which became the basis for the film. 

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Frank had been a person of interest in the disappearance since the late 1970s and the book was looked at as a potential confession. But by the time the book was published, Frank had died and everyone else connected to the murder, like Russell Bufalino, had long since passed and couldn't corroborate on the evidence.

And even The Irishman, if Frank's assertion is true, doesn't give us all the answers because he never finds out what happens to the body. The truth behind the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa is one that will likely never be truly, completely uncovered.

Stream The Irishman on Netflix now. 

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