Bodies ending explained: Did the detectives break the loop?

With four different timelines and a murder to solve, it's no wonder viewers need the Bodies ending explained

Shira Haas as DS Maplewood in Bodies next to the dead body
(Image credit: Netflix)

Four timelines, four detectives and a never-ending loop that threatens to decimate London. There's a lot to unpack, so here's the Bodies ending explained.

New Netflix series Bodies is a crime drama with a twist, and it's certainly got TV fans talking, and already asking for a Bodies season 2. As well as wondering where Bodies is filmed, fans want to know more about leading cast member Stephen Graham, and for the complicated plot points to be unpicked. To sum up, the gripping series centres on four different detectives in four different time periods: Shahara Hasan in 2023, Alfred Hillinghead in 1890, Charles Whiteman in 1941 and Iris Maplewood in 2053. The twist? All four detectives find the exact same body in the exact same spot, and are stuck in a never-ending loop trying to solve the murder.

With such a complex plot, some viewers are asking for an explanation of the ending, which all comes down to Elias Mannix, a man who'd grown up never feeling loved. He eventually decides to decimate London with a bomb in order to create a new world where he can have things his own way. But after travelling back in time to manufacture his plan, Elias sets off a chain of events that see the four detectives dragged into the loop. Sound complicated? Don't worry, here's the Bodies ending explained...

Bodies ending explained

At the end of Bodies, the four detectives successfully work together to break the loop, meaning that Elias Mannix ceases to exist and the bomb is never detonated. 

Throughout the eight episodes, we learn that Elias had created a time-travelling loop that spanned more than 150 years. This is because he felt rejected by his parents, which leads him to decide to blow up London so it can become a utopia where everyone living there knows love. 

In order to do this, he travels back in time to 1890, altering the past that eventually leads to his own birth. Essentially, Elias Mannix was his own great-great-grandfather, after marrying his great-great-grandmother Polly and setting off a chain of events that led to the Elias in 2023 detonating a bomb in London. 

Meanwhile, the murder that the detectives are investigating is that of a scientist who was shot while attempting to follow Elias through a time portal, meaning his body emerged in the four different timelines. The scientist was part of an anti-Mannix resistance group that rebelled against Elias' new utopian world. 

What happened at the end of Bodies?

The final episode of Bodies sees the detectives collectively convince Elias not to set off the bomb, by sowing seeds of doubt in his mind through the various time zones. 

The episode begins with Iris Maplewood arriving in 1890, where she convinces DI Hillinghead to help her stop Elias, and informs him that that Elias will intercept his carriage and have him killed.

Before Elias commits the murder, Hillinghead tells him what he has learned about his plan from Maplewood, revealing that he will "die alone, full of regret, too weak and afraid to change".

Though Elias still kills Hillinghead, the seed of doubt has been planted, and the ensuing marriage he has with his great-great-grandmother Polly is an unhappy one. 

It also means that when Elias records the tapes for his younger self, in which he tells himself to detonate the bomb, he also records a secret one, going back on everything he had said previously and warning his younger self not to go through with it. 

Then, in 1940, Charles Whiteman arrives to kill an elderly Elias, and Elias gives Charles the secret recording, which he asks Charles to hide. 

In 2023, Shahara finds the hidden tape and plays it to Elias in that timeline, causing him to rip up the number he was going to use to detonate the bomb.

This means that the body never showed up on Longharvest Lane and the detectives are no longer caught up in the loop, so they go on to live their lives as normal.

A collage of the four detectives next to the body

(Image credit: Netflix)

How was the loop broken?

The time loop is broken after Elias is convinced not to set off the bomb. Elias records messages for his younger self to listen to in 2023, but his unhappy marriage to Polly means he secretly recorded one last message.

In it, he says, "Every word you've ever heard from me has been a lie. The sacrifice I'm about to ask you to make will be the most unfair thing of all. Our heart has never healed, Elias. The pain is always there. It's never left, it's unbearable."

He gives this recording to Charles Whiteman, who hides it for DS Shahara Hasan to find in the future.

After Whiteman does this, an older Hasan in 2053 experiences her memories beginning to change, and she knows that a message has been left for her, so she travels back to 2023 to retrieve it. 

She then intercepts her younger self and a young Elias, who is about to set off the bomb. However, once Elias listens to his older self telling him not to go through with the plan, he changes his mind.

Because London never gets bombed, Elias ceases to exist, meaning he doesn't travel back in time to set off the chain of events and the loop is broken.

How did Maplewood end up in 2023?

The only detective who doesn't return to their own timeline is Maplewood, but it is not revealed how she ended up in 2023. In the show's final moments, Sahara Hasan gets into the back of a taxi in which Maplewood is the driver.

It's not clear why Maplewood ends up in 2023, or how she knows who Hasan is, as the other detectives have no memory of what happened.

However, speaking to Radio Times, writer Paul Tomalin said: "What was interesting rounding each character off was finding a way to do Maplewood, the future, in a way that basically didn't say, 'The future's going to be great, guys.' The future now is so terrifying for us all that it felt smug to show Maplewood there happy.

"It was much more intriguing to take her and put her in the present and figure out why she would be there. Also, her character from 1890 is left in the cell - we don't see what happens to her. There's many tantalising ideas. I just love knowing that because she's the most open-ended ending, she's the one that's going to continue it and figure out how to continue it if it were to happen."

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Ellie Hutchings
Features Editor

Ellie is Goodto’s Feature Editor, having joined the team as a Junior Features Writer in 2022, and covers everything from wellbeing for parents to the latest TV and entertainment. Ellie has covered all the latest trends in the parenting world, including baby names, parenting hacks, and foodie tips for busy families. She has a distinction in MA Magazine Journalism from Nottingham Trent University and a first-class degree in Journalism from Cardiff University, and previously Ellie has worked with BBC Good Food, The Big Issue, and the Nottingham Post, as well as freelancing as an arts and entertainment writer alongside her studies.