John Carpenter’s The Thing has become a cult icon, with fans from around the world getting deeper and deeper into the mythos of the film. Like many Carpenter films, the ability to create a couple of memorable “everyman” characters and some truly grisly horror elements that work together so seamlessly, allow just about any moviegoer to enjoy the film on some level. What really makes this 1982 film work is all the mystery and intrigue. Some 31 years, video games, comics and even a prequel later, we still don’t have the most pressing answer… Is it Childs or MacCready?
The brilliance is that we don’t know. Still, here are five popular theories.
1. It’s MacCready. At the end of the film, MacCready shares a drink with Childs. He smiles, telling Childs that they should just sit and watch what happens. While there’s no doubt MacCready would be worn out and facing him own inevitable doom, it’s MacCready who essentially gets Childs to lay down his arms. What better way for an alien lifeform to get the chaos to subside, before claiming his last victim? Then again, it makes sense for a human MacCready to prevent himself from being killed by Childs no matter what Childs is.
2. It’s Childs. One popular theory revolves around the like of breath sceen from Keith David at the end of the film. If you watch the last few minutes, huge puffs of breath can be seen erupting from MacCready as he speaks, but none is seen from Childs. This however is actually due to the lighting of the film and presumably, could be explained away by Childs being closer to some of the fire and thus his breath might not be seen. It can also very briefly be seen in one exchange of dialogue.
3. It’s Childs. Most the evidence seems to point to Childs, as he has a few random disappearances in the film and is wearing different clothes at the finale. In the Dark Horse comic adaptation, Childs is revealed to be the creature.
4. It’s Childs. MacCready hands Childs a drink. If Childs was a human, he would be concerned about being infected. He probably wouldn’t take that drink. When Childs takes the drink without a second look, he is revealing to MacCready that he doesn’t care if he gets infected, because he’s already the creature.
5. It’s Nauls! Nauls is the only character not seen at the end of the film. It’s speculated that he is killed in the blast or by the “thing” at the climax of the movie, but it’s never actually shown. Both Fuchs and Nauls die off screen but we see what we can presume is Fuchs body. Nauls is never seen again. It’s very possible that he was infected and both Childs and MacCready are both human at the end.