The Imaginary summary and ending explained

In The Imaginary, Amanda and her imaginary friend Rudger’s adventures come to an end when a sinister adult threatens Rudger’s existence. The film is now streaming on Netflix.

Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers

Plot summary

After losing her father, a young girl named Amanda Shuffleup imagines a friend named Rudger, with whom she embarks on various make-believe adventures. 

Like other imaginary friends, Rudger cannot move real things. He is also invisible to other humans, including Amanda’s mother, Lizzie; Amanda is the only one who can see or talk to him.

When Rudger is three years old, a man named Mr. Bunting visits Amanda’s mother’s bookstore and, surprisingly, can see Rudger. 

Despite being an adult, Bunting has an imaginary friend of his own—a little girl who follows him around. Later, Bunting’s imaginary friend returns to the bookstore to kidnap Rudger.

Although she fails, the incident leaves Amanda and Rudger shaken. On top of that, Lizzie does not believe Amanda when she tells her that Bunting’s friend tried kidnapping her friend.

An upset Amanda then gets into an argument with Rudger, who later witnesses another imaginary friend disappear because their human friend has grown up. 

Rudger now knows that Amanda will eventually grow up, lose her imagination, and stop seeing him, which will lead to his own disappearance.

When Rudger and Amanda are both upset, Bunting attacks them once again. He tries to eat Rudger, but Amanda rescues her friend. 

While running from him, Rudger and Amanda get into an accident. As an imaginary friend, Rudger is unharmed, but Amanda is gravely injured. 

Amanda is taken to the hospital, leading to her and Rudger’s separation. Soon after, Rudger begins to disappear, so he comes to believe that Amanda has passed away.

Then, a cat named Zinzan finds Rudger and takes him to a library through a secret door. Upon entering the library, Rudger stops disappearing. 

The library is full of imaginary friends, but only Rudger and a girl named Emily look like humans. Rudger befriends Emily, Snowflake, and Cruncher-of-Bones. 

Emily explains that humans dream up imaginary friends, termed Imaginaries, who eventually disappear once forgotten. 

In the library, which is full of books and imagination, forgotten Imaginaries can survive. The library turns into the Town of Imaginaries, where they can live as long as they work.

Their work involves choosing a child who wants to play with imaginary friends and being part of their imagination. Once the imaginary scenario is over, Imaginaries return to the library. 

On his first day of work, Rudger is accompanied by Emily, Cruncher-of-Bones, and Snowflake. The three of them participate in a boy’s imaginary scenario.

By the end of their workday, Cruncher-of-Bones transforms into Woobles and becomes the permanent imaginary friend of the boy they played with; he no longer needs to return to the library.

Meanwhile, Rudger loses the ticket to return to the library, meaning he, Emily, and Snowflake must get there physically rather than transport directly. 

If they do not reach the library in time, they will be deprived of imagination and disappear. On his way to the library, Rudger encounters Bunting and his Imaginary. 

Rudger had warned everyone at the library about Bunting, but his concerns were dismissed, as Bunting is considered a myth. 

Bunting did not want to lose his power of imagination after growing up, so he has been eating Imaginaries for hundreds of years to continue living and keep his Imaginary.

Rudger manages to escape Bunting and reaches Amanda’s house. There, he discovers that Amanda is not dead; she is in the hospital and has been unconscious all this while. 

Rudger also learns that he is a special Imaginary because he was created out of Amanda’s grief. Bunting eventually reaches Amanda’s house, and Emily comes to Rudger’s rescue. 

Even with Zinzan’s help, Emily and Rudger fail to find the door to the library. To make matters worse, Bunting uses the power of imagination to create obstacles for them. 

Only real people have the power to imagine and create things; Imaginaries do not have that power, which is why Bunting can overpower them. 

Rudger finds the door and reaches the safety of the library, but Emily loses her life in the process. Once Emily is gone, even the Imaginaries forget her.

Ending explained:

Rudger’s resolve

Rudger is the only one who remembers Emily. She gave him her goggles, which he still has, even though she herself has disappeared. 

An Imaginary named Fridge, who turns out to be Lizzie’s forgotten Imaginary, advises Rudger that everything one wishes to believe is worth believing, even if it is not true.

This encourages Rudger to believe that his time with Amanda was real, regardless of what others say. He now wants to visit Amanda in the hospital, knowing he might disappear or get eaten by Bunting. 

Rudger decides to be part of Amanda’s friend Julia’s imagination for the day to convince her to take him to Amanda. Zinzan and Snowflake accompany him to help.

After facing some challenges, Rudger follows an ambulance to the hospital, while Snowflake and Zinzan escape Julia’s house to reach the library before it is too late.

Remembering Rudger

Bunting, determined to eat Rudger, predicts that he will visit Amanda. He goes to her hospital room and, as expected, finds Rudger there. 

Rudger no longer wants to run from Bunting, so he fights Bunting’s Imaginary. During their struggle, Amanda wakes up. 

Amanda cannot see Rudger or Bunting’s Imaginary, which means she has lost her imagination and forgotten Rudger. However, all hope is not lost. 

When she hears Rudger’s name and Rudger throws her the goggles that Emily left him, Amanda remembers Rudger, enabling her to see him and Bunting’s Imaginary.

War of imagination

Since Amanda is a real person, she can imagine and create things just like Bunting. Inside the hospital room, a war of imagination ensues between the two.

Bunting, with much more experience in creating imaginary things, is able to separate and subdue Rudger and Amanda.

Lizzie then enters the hospital room and sees Amanda struggling, but she cannot see anything else, as she is an adult who has lost her imagination. 

On Rudger’s insistence, Amanda asks Lizzie to call for Fridge. The name brings back Lizzie’s childhood memories, leading to Lizzie seeing all the Imaginaries and imagined things in the room. 

Fridge arrives there and rescues Rudger from being eaten by Bunting. Additionally, Amanda and her mother’s fight moves Bunting’s Imaginary, who takes Rudger’s place and gets eaten by Bunting. 

After eating his own Imaginary, Bunting frizzles away. Amanda and Rudger are now safe from Bunting, which earns the Imaginaries Lizzie’s gratitude.

The time has come for Amanda to grow up, so Rudger starts disappearing. Rudger and Amanda bid each other goodbye, with Rudger promising her that he will always be a part of her. 

Before he disappears completely, Amanda and Rudger decide to go on one last adventure together, bringing the film to an end.

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