1899 ending explained: Everything that happened in the finale of the mind bending Netflix science-fiction mystery series

We're here to clear up any confusion

Aneurin Barnard, Emily Beecham, Andreas Pietschmann in 1899 on Netflix
(Image credit: Netflix/Future)

If you’re wondering what on earth just happened, you’re not alone. Luckily, we have this covered - we break down exactly what happened in that ending of 1899.

Netflix promised that 1899 would be mind bending, and after the series finale, our minds are well and truly warped. As the title suggests, the action takes place in 1899, but this isn’t just the usual period drama -  there is mystery, horror, and science-fiction all thrown in for good measure. The story picks up with a migrant steamship heading west, with a diverse set of European passengers hoping for a better life as the new century dawns. The passengers each have their own secrets, but when they stumble across another migrant that’s been missing for some time, their passage becomes a horrifying nightmare. 

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1899: Ending explained

The 1899 season finale begins with Elliot holding the green bug he’s decided to call Alfred. Maura tells him the kind thing to do is let the bug go, and when he does, Elliot appears in front of the pyramid that’s popped up in the dark throughout the season. 

When he wakes, Henry is there to tell Elliot that Maura has been fooling him and the rest of the passengers. However, none of them can escape the sinister happenings on the ship without her help. Henry tells Elliot he can show him the truth, and transports him to Maura’s memory in the hospital. There’s an implication at this point, that Elliot is a recreation of Maura’s son, and is possibly dead in real life.

While this is happening with Elliot, Captain Eyk Larsen has gone to the Kerberos for more information about Maura, who admits the world they're in doesn't make sense and is a simulation. This explains why nobody has any recollection of boarding the ship, while they do realise that they're in this simulation for their own specific reasons. Having been left with their own individual envelopes, they wonder if the answer to what is happening could be inside. Agreeing that Maura is untrustworthy, the passengers leave her with Eyk, while they look for answers and a way to get off the ship. 

On their own mission to find out what’s going on, Maura and Eyk search the ship and uncover a secret panel leading to an undiscovered passageway. While they’re doing this, Daniel takes control of the electricity resulting in the ship distorting, and the strange black substance growing even more rapidly. Meanwhile, Henry has taken Elliot to Room 1011, and injected him with a drug that causes him to see real memories that exist outside the ship.

Daniel messing with the electrics pushes all the passengers into different simulations at the same time, and everything becomes distorted. Once recovered, they recommence their quest for answers, and it’s pointed out that Daniel has actually put a virus through the simulation to distract from the fact he’s changing the underlying code. The First Mate takes Maura's key and kills Eyk - when he’s done this, he reunites Maura with Henry. Tied once again to the asylum chair, Henry reveals it was Maura that built the simulation with Daniel, trapping everyone inside of it. 

Fflyn Edwards in 1899

(Image credit: Netflix)

Henry attempts to use Maura’s key to get out, putting it inside the pyramid to see what happens. When nothing happens, he realises he might be stuck in the simulation forever. What transpires is that Daniel altered the code to prevent the key from working, which then deletes the simulation entirely. Daniel and Maura then find themselves in Henry’s hiding place underneath the moorland hatch, where Daniel explains that he changed the code so that the syringe designed to send Maura back into the simulation, instead took her back out. 

The exit code they need is actually hidden inside Maura’s wedding ring. Both then realise that neither are in charge of this situation like they thought, but it's actually Maura's brother who's in charge in reality. With the ring, Daniel can send Maura back to the real world, pleading with her to stop him when he gets there. Landing back in the real world, Maura wakes to find she’s strapped to a machine with the rest of the passengers who remain trapped in the simulation. 

A real twist comes when it turns out the real world Maura has landed in is not earth, but a spaceship named the Prometheus. The actual date is October 29, 2099, and they’re not living in 1899 at all. It appears that Project Prometheus is a survival mission, and that something very bad has happened to humanity. Explaining the Kerberos simulation, Henry suggests that it runs on an eight day loop - everyone dies when they don’t act rationally, and the ship is destroyed each time before being pulled into a whirlpool and an archive realm. Nobody really dies during this fall into oblivion, as their bodies are kept in stasis on the spaceship. 

Isabella Wei in 1899

(Image credit: Netflix)

Is 1899 based on a true story?

Although the simulation aspect of 1899 is too futuristic to be inspired by a true story, the basis of the ship's passengers being European is inspired by Brexit, and the possible decline of Europe. 

Although mystery is central to the premise of the show, it is also about people from  differing and diverse cultures working together in the face of adversity. Speaking to Deadline, producer Jantje Friese said "The whole European angle was very important for us, not only story wise but also the way we were going to produce it. It really had to be a European collaboration, not just cast but also crew. We felt that with the past years of Europe being on the decline, we wanted to give a counterpoint to Brexit and to nationalism rising in different countries, to go back to that idea of Europe and Europeans working and creating together."

She also spoke of the importance that characters in the series from various countries weren't all able to speak English. She added "We wanted to explore this heart of Europe, where everyone comes from somewhere else and speaks a different language, and language defines so much of your culture and your behaviour". Although there were many shipwrecks documented in 1899, Friese was also keen to point out the story was a totally original idea, and not based on any particular shipwreck event. 

Isaak Dentler, Andreas Pietschmann, Niklas Maienschein in 1899

(Image credit: Netflix)

Is 1899 connected to Dark?

The producers of 1899 have confirmed that the series will not be related to Dark, another series they co-created.

Speaking to Hollywood Reporter, Jantje Friese and Baran bo Odar said "One bad idea we've definitely said is not going to happen is that 1899 is related to Dark. We get that question a lot. So for all the fans out there: Sorry, there won't be any characters from Dark suddenly appearing on the ship." 

When asked if the fan response to Dark shaped the way 1899 was approached and made, Friese said "We didn’t want to copy exactly the way we structured things in Dark. I think the two concepts needed two different kinds of storytelling. With Dark, the story is really so much about time, about using something linear and then making lots of knots, throwing it at the audience and getting them to figure out how to untangle it back into a more linear logic." 

She continued "1899 just has a different structure. But it’s not like what we thought: People didn’t understand Dark, so we have to make this one easier. I think it’s a very individual thing. We’ve talked to a lot of people who’ve had the opportunity to see the first six episodes, and it’s kind of half and half. Some said: Oh, it felt more at ease, like it was easier to comprehend. Others were like: This has so many more complicated puzzle pieces, what are you guys doing? I think it’s an individual experience. We didn’t try to make it easier." 

Lucas Lynggaard Tønnesen in 1899

(Image credit: Netflix)

Will there be a season 2 of 1899?

1899 has been cancelled by Netflix after one season.  Series creator Baran bo Odar confirmed the news via a statement shared to his official Instagram. His partner and series co-creator Jantje Freise also signed the post. 

The post read “With a heavy heart we have to tell you that ‘1899’ will not be renewed. We would have loved to finish this incredible journey with a second and third season as we did with ‘Dark.’ But sometimes things don’t turn out the way you planned. That’s life."

He continued "We know this will disappoint millions of fans out there. But we want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts that you were a part of this wonderful adventure. We love you. Never forget." 

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Lucy Wigley
TV writer - contributing

Lucy is a multi-award nominated writer and blogger with six years’ experience writing about entertainment, parenting and family life. Lucy has contributed content to PopSugar and moms.com. In the last three years, she has transformed her passion for streaming countless hours of television into specialising in entertainment writing. There is now nothing she loves more than watching the best shows on television and telling you why you should watch them.