The Departed – Summary & Ending Explained

Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, released in 2006, is a gripping crime thriller that weaves a complex narrative of deception, loyalty, and betrayal within the gritty backdrop of the Boston underworld. The film follows two protagonists on opposite sides of the law: Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio), an undercover cop infiltrating the mob, and Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), a mole within the police force feeding information to the mob.

Set against the backdrop of the Irish mob led by Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson), the Massachusetts State Police devises a plan to infiltrate the criminal organization. Billy Costigan, a young officer with a troubled family history, is chosen to go undercover. Simultaneously, Colin Sullivan, groomed by Costello since childhood, rises through the ranks of the police force while secretly assisting the mob.

As both Costigan and Sullivan navigate their dangerous double lives, tension mounts on both sides of the law. The intricate cat-and-mouse game unfolds as each man tries to uncover the identity of the mole within their respective organizations. The film explores themes of identity, morality, and the blurred lines between good and evil.

The tension escalates with each passing moment, leading to a dramatic climax where the true identities of the undercover agents are exposed. The film’s unpredictable twists and intense performances from the cast contribute to its status as a modern crime classic.


Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio): DiCaprio delivers a standout performance as Billy Costigan, the undercover cop infiltrating the mob. Costigan’s character is defined by his internal struggle with morality, loyalty, and the psychological toll of living a double life. DiCaprio captures the complexity of Costigan’s emotions, portraying a character torn between duty and personal demons.

Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon): Matt Damon portrays Colin Sullivan, the mole within the police force. Sullivan’s character is suave, ambitious, and ruthless, with a charming exterior that conceals his criminal activities. Damon’s performance effectively brings out the duality of Sullivan’s character, making him a compelling antagonist.

Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson): Jack Nicholson embodies the role of Frank Costello, the ruthless and cunning mob boss. Costello is a formidable and unpredictable presence, and Nicholson’s iconic performance adds depth to the character, making him both menacing and charismatic.

The Departed Ending Explained

Spoiler Alert

The climax of “The Departed” is a shocking and intense sequence that sees both Costigan and Sullivan exposed as moles. Costigan is tragically killed by a fellow officer, while Sullivan, realizing his identity has been uncovered, desperately tries to escape the consequences of his actions.

The film’s final moments are marked by Sullivan’s ironic demise. As he enters his apartment, he discovers that Sergeant Dignam (Mark Wahlberg), a fellow officer aware of Sullivan’s betrayal, is waiting for him. Dignam shoots Sullivan, delivering justice for the betrayal of his colleagues. The film closes with a sense of poetic justice, highlighting the cyclical nature of corruption within the system.

The ending serves as a stark commentary on the complexities of morality and the consequences of one’s choices. The film’s title, “The Departed,” takes on new meaning as characters face the repercussions of their actions, leaving a lasting impact on the audience.

 Frequently Asked Questions

Is It based on a true story? No, “The Departed” is not based on a true story. The film is an adaptation of the 2002 Hong Kong film “Infernal Affairs.” While the premise and some elements of the plot are inspired by real events, “The Departed” is a work of fiction that explores the themes of crime, corruption, and morality.

What Is the Main Idea of the Movie? The main idea of “The Departed” revolves around the moral ambiguity inherent in the battle between law enforcement and organized crime. The film explores the psychological toll on individuals living double lives and the blurred lines between good and evil. It delves into the themes of identity, loyalty, and the cyclical nature of corruption within institutions.

Is this movie worth watching? Absolutely, “The Departed” is worth watching for anyone who appreciates intense crime dramas with intricate plots, compelling characters, and stellar performances. Martin Scorsese’s direction, coupled with the talented cast, delivers a riveting cinematic experience that has solidified its place as a modern classic.

What Is the Symbolism in “The Departed”? Symbolism in “The Departed” is subtle but impactful. The rat, shown in the final moments of the film, serves as a powerful metaphor for the pervasive nature of corruption. As the camera pans over the Boston skyline, the rat symbolizes the systemic corruption within both law enforcement and organized crime, suggesting that no institution is entirely free from moral compromise.

In conclusion, “The Departed” stands as a masterful exploration of crime and morality, featuring a gripping plot, complex characters, and powerful performances. Its intricate storytelling and thought-provoking themes elevate it beyond the typical crime thriller, leaving a lasting impression on audiences and solidifying its place in cinematic history.