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Who dies at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3?

It’s the end of an era. Nearly a decade ago, Guardians of the Galaxy changed the MCU forever and introduced the world to a band of a-holes who, over the course of several movies, grew into a family. Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon, Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Groot, Mantis, and Nebula have become sentimental favorites to MCU fans and helped usher in the cosmic side of Marvel that is the dominant playground for Phase 5.

When things come to an end, however, that usually means someone bites the big one. And certainly, in the press and trailers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, there’s a strong indication that death will visit one or more of our beloved Guardians. Zoe Saldana has openly spoken about being done with playing Gamora, one of the MCU’s best female characters, after this movie; ditto Dave Bautista with Drax. And one of the key promo images for the movie has Nebula carrying Star-Lord’s limp body. Did I also mention one of the key plot points involves Rocket being mortally wounded?

It’s a good bet that someone will die in Guardians of the Galaxy, but who? And how many? Digital Trends has all the answers for you below.

Who dies at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3?

Nebula carries Star-Lord's limp body in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Marvel Studios

Well, the answer is a bit complex. Technically, lots of people die, as a whole planet, Counter-Earth, is blown up by the High Evolutionary. As for our Guardians, some members come awfully close to saying “sayonara!” to life. Rocket hovers near death throughout most of the picture, and at one point, flatlines. He doesn’t die, however, through sheer force of will. As he’s hovering in limbo and walking toward the afterlife, a friend from his past tells him that it isn’t his time yet. She pushes him away, and Rocket rejoins the land of the living.

Peter Quill also has a moment where it looks like he will die. As everyone tries to evacuate the High Evolutionary’s exploding ship and jump to Knowhere, Star-Lord tries to usher as many aliens and animals as he can before the ship explodes. He jumps from the ship using his rocket pack, but the distance is too great, and he begins to freeze in the cold embrace of space. Groot tries to help by extending his wooden limbs, but they freeze before he can reach Star-Lord. It looks like this is the end of Christ Pratt’s Marvel career.

Star Lord leading the Guardians.
Marvel Studios / Marvel Studios

Except, of course, it isn’t; Pratt is too big of a star thanks to The Super Mario Bros. Movie, and he likes the role too damn much. Adam Warlock, a cosmic being who can fly freely through space, swoops in and saves Peter, flying him to Knowhere where he quickly recuperates.

So who dies in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 then? Well, Ayesha bites it, but she’s a relatively minor character. As far as major characters go, it seems like only the High Evolutionary dies and even that’s debatable. He’s thoroughly trashed by each guardian, but Rocket, in a major sign of growth, doesn’t land the killing blow.

He’s not the violent animal he was before; he’s learned that blind hatred and death just aren’t the answer. He leaves the High Evolutionary to die on the ship and we do see the ship explode. However, we never actually see the villain die in the ship. I know, it may seem like I’m splitting hairs here, but as every comic book fan knows, if you don’t see a body, then nobody really died.

You can argue the Guardians as a team dies at the end of Vol. 3

'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3' Nebula (Karen Gillan), Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), and Drax (Dave Bautista) wearing black and red uniforms, walking along a metal ship hallway.
Marvel Studios Image used with permission by copyright holder

While it seems that no Guardian died and only the villain died at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, you could argue that the Guardians as a team dies at the end of the film. After Peter is saved and the High Evolutionary is dispatched, some time passes on Knowhere as people patch up their wounds. Gamora has already gone, telling her former teammates her life is now with the Ravagers.

It’s at the point that the original Guardians of the Galaxy team disbands. Star-Lord tells his friends he wants to go back to Earth and find his still-alive grandfather and resume the childhood he never had. Mantis speaks of her desire to find out who she is and leaves with three of High Evolutionary’s animals as her companions. Drax and Nebula want to stay in Knowhere and take care of the new residents from the High Evolutionary’s labs. That just leaves Rocket and Groot, and two people do not make a team. The original Guardians are thus disbanded, and with it, an era truly does end in the MCU.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is now playing in theaters. Here’s where to watch all the Guardians of the Galaxy movies and TV shows. For more related articles, please read the Guardians movies never needed the MCU to be successful and the best characters in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, ranked.

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Jason Struss
Section Editor, Entertainment
Jason is a writer, editor, and pop culture enthusiast whose love for cinema, television, and cheap comic books has led him to…
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