X

Confused by the Hamilton ending? Here's what Lin-Manuel Miranda says

Eliza's last gasp has many interpretations.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Expertise Breaking news, entertainment, lifestyle, travel, food, shopping and deals, product reviews, money and finance, video games, pets, history, books, technology history, and generational studies Credentials
  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper
2 min read
reel-grab-hamilton-06-e3435647

Phillipa Soo, seen here with Lin-Manuel Miranda, gets the very last moment in Hamilton.

Disney Plus

Warning: Spoilers for Hamilton ahead.

Fans who knew Lin-Manuel Miranda's hip-hop musical Hamilton only from its cast recording may have been surprised by its final seconds once the movie version rolled out on Disney Plus last week. In the final scene, Alexander Hamilton's widow, Eliza (Phillipa Soo), sings of living 50 years after his death, during which time she established an orphanage, raised funds for the Washington Monument and strove to further her husband's legacy. Then, in the show's final moments, she looks straight at the audience and gasps, and the stage goes black.

The gasp is an unusual way to end the show, and fans have been debating its meaning. Some say it means Eliza has died, and is seeing her late husband again. Others say she's seeing the audience and realizing her husband's legacy has been preserved.

On Wednesday, Miranda himself weighed in. The playwright responded to a fan theory that when Miranda, playing Alexander Hamilton, walks up behind Eliza, he has transformed back into himself as creator of the show. 

"He takes Eliza's hand, he lets her know that it's OK to go," says TikTok user Mallory Ellis in a video that was tweeted out and brought to Miranda's attention. "She breaks the fourth wall, she sees that he told her story. BOOM! That's why I cry, guys."

Miranda liked the idea, but points out that the theory falls apart when other actors take on Hamilton's part.

"It's a lovely notion," he admits in the tweet, going on to say, "The Gasp is The Gasp is The Gasp. I love all the interpretations."

Last week, the Hamilton cast answered questions from Wired magazine, and Miranda again refused to nail down a meaning.

"I think it's different for each Eliza," he said. "I do think that it traverses time in some way, whether that thing she's seeing is Hamilton, whether that thing she's seeing is heaven, whether that thing she's seeing is the world now. I think those are all valid and all fair."

Actress Phillippa Soo, who originated the role of Eliza and plays her in the filmed version, spoke about the ending in a 2016 interview. 

"People are like, 'Is it Eliza going into heaven? Is she seeing Alexander? Is she seeing God? What is it?' " Soo said in the interview. "And it's kind of all of those things."

To see the gasp for yourself, check out Hamilton on Disney Plus -- and don't miss our six things that may surprise you about the blockbuster musical.

New Movies Coming in 2023 From Marvel, Netflix, DC and More

See all photos