Why the ending of Animorphs was everything it should have been.

Written by: Enreeco

            Eight years after the conclusion of the Animorphs, I took the time to reread the series this summer. It was a powerful experience. I loved the series when I was younger; it was a big part of my childhood. Amazingly, I did not feel that the series lost much of anything when I reread it as a young adult. Like any fan of the series, especially those with more of an attachment to Jake, Rachel, or Tobias, the last installment in the series is quite a bit to absorb. It was a tragedy, but it was also the ending that the series deserved.

After paging through a great Animorphs website by the name of Hirac Delest, I found a fanfiction by a JohnDoe entitled “The End”. He labeled it as book number fifty-five. JohnDoe could very well have been a ghost writer with his ability to mimic the style of writing that was prevalent in all of the Animorphs books; however, his added conclusion to the series destroys one of the central themes of the Animorphs – war is an experience that defies explanation. It is an incredibly dehumanizing process, and even the winners pay terrible costs.

Mrs. Applegate constantly alluded to this in the series, especially as it came to an end. Rachel’s bloodlust, Tobias’ loss of his humanity, and the rifts that appeared between Jake and Cassie in their debates over what means were appropriate to achieve victory, as well as their romance, all served to exemplify the horrors of war. Through the books, Mrs. Applegate advanced the idea that these were serious losses that could not simply be bandaged up like a number of readers of the series desired. I know, because I was one of them the first time I read the series.

Admittedly, Tobias and Rachel were never my favorites, but seeing Jake and Cassie pulled apart was just depressing. Jake was never larger than life, but he did have to make larger than life decisions.  He was a human being that had to make decisions that are usually relegated to gods. Using his cousin to kill his infested brother, killing 17,000 sentient beings to increase his odds at winning a battle, and giving the order to bomb his hometown in order to destroy the Yeerk Pool were all decisions that we as humans are not able to make without having serious repercussions. Jake was no different.

After rereading the series, I was just as saddened about Jake’s fate as anyone else. He deserved a fairytale ending where he married Cassie, saved Rachel, and was able to enjoy the world that he more than anyone had done so much to save. Sadly, that would be a fairy tale. Animorphs was a story about real people in adverse, scientifically fabulous situations. To deny those six real people who we grew to love over sixty some books a real ending would be untruthful to the entire series.

History, or at least my readings in it, has more often examined the lives of corrupt and evil individuals – Mao, Napoleon, Pinochet - who have wielded the kind of awe inspiring power that Jake did. Mrs. Applegate examined a subject that I had not been previously exposed to: What happens when a benevolent individual is forced to make decisions that determine the fates of thousands of souls? Surely, Kennedy and Churchill seemed to save face in the wake of these decisions, but I feel that their predicaments were a bit more black and white, and certainly less personal, than the ones Jake was forced to make. The only reasonable historical comparisons that I can imagine are the commanders of relatively small military units who had to make decisions that ended up costing them the lives of their friends and comrades.

Thankfully, Mrs. Applegate took the time to explore this terrible phenomenon. In her short response to her readers after the conclusion of the series, she addressed this very point. I cannot describe the matter better than her, so I will just rely on her words:

"So, you don't like the way our little fictional war came out? You don't like Rachel dead and Tobias shattered and Jake guilt-ridden? You don't like that one war simply led to another? Fine. Pretty soon you'll all be of voting age, and of draft age. So when someone proposes a war, remember that even the most necessary wars, even the rare wars where the lines of good and evil are clear and clean, end with a lot of people dead, a lot of people crippled, and a lot of orphans, widows and grieving parents. "

This was her point. This, among other issues that deserve separate essays, was one of the central themes of the Animorphs series. The ending of the series made her beliefs on the matter quite clear, and the fact that she accomplished this feat with such emotional intensity is a testament to her skills as an author.

Thank you for reading. If you would like to discuss this matter, I would welcome any emails at


K.A. Applegate's Response to #54: The Beginning

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