‘Mean Girls’ (2024) Ending Explained & Movie Summary: Does Cady Become A Good Person Again?

Get in, loser; we’re doing the recap and ending breakdown of the new Mean Girls. The original Mean Girls wasn’t simply a cult classic; it was an instant feminist superhit comedy that had all of us young girls in a chokehold. 20 years later, we get to see an “upgraded” version of the film, which is a musical adaptation of the film and also a direct adaptation of the Mean Girls Broadway musical. As a fan of musicals and Mean Girls, I presumed this film would be right up my alley, but alas, none of the music sticks the landing, and as for the best parts, they were all already in the original, so I am left quite disappointed. I suppose one thing remains the same: Regina George is still an icon, and both actresses who play the woman do the character justice in their own way. I suppose Cady’s shoes are the more difficult ones to step into, despite her being the classic “not like other girls” character. Reneé Rapp doesn’t exude femininity like Rachel McAdams did. I suppose this is a new villain in the chick flick scene who isn’t ultra-feminine but still embodies some of those qualities. 


Spoilers Ahead

Who Is Cady Heron? 

Mean Girls begins with Cady Heron, a homeschooled girl from Kenya, moving to the US to assimilate into the real world after spending most of her life with wildlife. Cady’s a plaid-wearing, nerdy girl with a beautiful face (obviously), and she immediately grabs a lot of attention at North Shore High. Even the mean girl of the school, Regina George, the leader of “The Plastics,” as the school likes to call them, the queen bee of the school, immediately takes a liking to her, or so we think. Regina invites Cady to sit with them for lunch every day for a week. On the other hand, Cady’s actually befriended Janis and Damian, the resident outcasts of the school, aka the queer lot (no, I don’t like saying it like that, but it makes things clear). Janis and Regina are sworn enemies, so Janis thinks it’s a great idea for Cady to sit with The Plastics and report back to Janis about everything they say and do. 


As if navigating through school isn’t hard enough already for outsider Cady, she also ends up developing a little crush on the hottie of school, Aaron Samuels, who also happens to be Regina’s ex. Cady tells her new friends that she likes the guy, and from both sides, i.e., Janis and Damian, as well as 2/3rds of The Plastics, she’s warned to stay away from Aaron. However, Cady is too invested in this boy, and Janis comes up with a plan for her. On the other hand, Karen and Gretchen promise not to tell Regina that Cady almost committed this blunder. Rules of feminism, no? 

How Does Janis Get Revenge On Regina? 

At first, Regina treats Cady like a fresh, fluffy puppy whom she cares for. But soon, when Regina learns that Aaron and Cady are getting close, she decides to take Aaron back and hurt Cady’s feelings for trying to mess with the feminist formula. Cady feels hurt and decides she wants Aaron all to herself, and Janis devises a plan to get Regina. From feeding her bars that are meant to help you gain weight to giving her lard as face cream, Cady does all that she can in her power to mess with Regina. At the same time, she uses her mind tricks on Aaron by faking being bad at math. Cady also serenades us with a song about how she’s “stupid in love, but not in math,” which, honestly, I didn’t need to hear as a reminder of how I’m just generally stupid. The final blow for Regina, though, is to have Gretchen and Karen turned against her. 


What Is The “Burn Book?”

During her time with The Plastics, Cady learns that they keep a pink scrapbook where they paste pictures of girls they don’t like and write hurtful things about them. Cady writes about their teacher when she’s really mad at her. In fact, it’s Cady who is failing calculus for a boy, so…I wonder who the real problem is. Anyway, when Regina learns that Cady messed with her by giving her weight-gaining bars instead of weight-loss bars, she puts herself in the burn book and drops it in the middle of the school corridor. Chaos ensues when all the girls get a hand on it, and it reaches the principal’s office, with Regina at the center of the matter. It’s up to Ms. Norbury (Tina Fey herself) to save the day. 

What Happens At The Gym? 

Ms. Norbury makes all the girls realize that this isn’t a one-person problem but that all the girls were being horrible to each other. She has them apologize in front of everyone, but when it’s Janis’ turn, Regina says something mean about her (oh yeah, it’s called Mean Girls), so she flips and reveals everything she and Cady did. Janis breaks into song, and in the meantime, Regina and Cady have a huge fight where they walk from the gym all the way to the street. Just as Janis is belting out a high note, Regina ends up on the street and gets hit by a bus (icons only). This is how Regina dies. (Just joking.)  She does die for 15 seconds, but whatever. Cady realizes she’s been a terrible person and decides to take full blame for the burn book and concentrate on calculus again. On the night of the Spring Fling (prom equivalent, we’re going to be different, you know?), Cady participates in a mathlete competition, her redemption arc. 


What Happens At The Spring Fling? 

Lindsay Lohan comes back to conduct the mathletes quiz, and after Cady remembers that she was stupid in love again (this song again, ugh), she remembers how to do the math and wins the game. The mathletes head to the Spring Fling together, and Cady wins “Spring Fling Queen,” to everyone’s shock. A change from the original movie: we get to see her interact with Regina just before, where Regina forgives her for what she’s done and admits that she needs to be nicer, but it could just be the painkillers talking. Cady makes a grand speech about winning the crown and breaks it into tiny pieces because it’s only plastic. She tells the crowd that there’s a star in each one of them and that being unique is the specialty of their existence. Essentially, what Mean Girls is really trying to tell us is that a little kindness can go a long way. I suppose in 20 years, nothing has really changed, and the feminist problems of the early 2000s linger today as well, so the only hope or solution we have is for us women to be nicer to each other (honestly, we can’t expect anything from the dudes, so). 

In the original film, Janis was made the ultimate villain; she never changed and never got a real redemption arc, but in this film, she’s out and proud and even brings her girlfriend to the “Spring Fling.” Although Janis still has hate in her heart for Regina in the 2024 version, she ends up forgiving her by the end of the film and choosing herself over what other people think of her. I think this is the greatest change in the film personally. Of course, Regina is also just a human, as she reminds us in a song where she also reminds us that her name is Regina George (not as funny as it sounds, sorry). At the end of the day, shaming someone doesn’t make you dignified, as the voiceover at the end of the film reminds us. Cady is reminded that trying to be someone else will not get her anywhere, so she finally chooses to go back to her original self, and Aaron shows up immediately.


During Mean Girls‘ ending, everyone is happy, and everyone is a little bit kinder, so I suppose we can call it “Kind Girls” (sorry, I know that was really bad, but don’t be mean). 

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Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika, or "Ru," is a fashion designer and stylist by day and a serial binge-watcher by night. She dabbles in writing when she has the chance and loves to entertain herself with reading, K-pop dancing, and the occasional hangout with friends.

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