Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was the final ride for the MCU’s unlikely group of heroes. But what did the movie mean for the individual characters’ stories? Did some of them bid the ultimate farewell like we expected? Are any of them going to appear in the franchise again? Or was this chapter-ending MCU movie truly goodbye for all of Guardians of the Galaxy‘s heroes? Really what we’re asking is, what happened to all our favorite Guardians of the Galaxy at the end of their franchise?
Well, let’s find out. Here’s the ultimate fate of every member of the team after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Star-Lord Peter Quill Will Return to the MCU
At the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Peter Quill abdicated his title as captain of the Guardians of the Galaxy and left his friends behind on Knowhere so he could return home to Earth and his grandfather. There he quickly established a normal domestic family life full of mundane activities and gossip-mongering. It’s not the exciting existence he knew as a former Ravager, half-god, and Guardian, but it’s the life and ending Peter Quill needed for now. It was time for him to “learn to swim,” and that meant settling down and facing his childhood trauma.
While his love story with (any) Gamora also came to an end, his MCU story isn’t done yet. The film’s final post-credits scene with him and his grandfather revealed “the legendary Star-Lord will return” in the MCU’s future. Exactly how or when he will is unknown. But Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill will eventually be called upon to help save the day once more.
Nebula Will Oversee Knowhere, Fulfilling a Wish
The violent, heartless Nebula we originally met in Vol. 1 was gone by the end of Vol. 3. Gamora’s angry cyborg sister finally revealed the hidden vulnerable side of herself. For a person who once couldn’t even return her sister’s hug, it was quite a change to see Nebula cry in front of others. That newfound softness also led Nebula to leave the Guardians and a life of fighting behind, in the end. Instead, she’ll oversee Knowhere, which suddenly found itself inundated with the High Evolutionary’s orphan children and animals.
By taking on the responsibility of protecting those kids, Nebula also fulfilled a wish the original Gamora had for her sister. At the end of Vol. 2, Gamora told Nebula the galaxy had lots of vulnerable little girls who needed protection the way they once needed someone to protect them from Thanos. Nebula walked away from that responsibility only to fully embrace it on Knowhere, which isn’t a terrible ending for this now former Guardians of the Galaxy member.
Drax the Dad Comes Full Circle in His Guardians of the Galaxy Ending
Nebula isn’t exactly a naturally maternal person, so she knew she needed help raising those kids on Knowhere. She asked for it from a fellow now-retired Guardian, one she had previously called useless. Nebula realized Drax is not a “destroyer,” but a dad. His acceptance, patience, and unquestioned love for others is why he was able to calm those scared children down earlier. It’s also what had made him an important member of a group that too often found fault with one another.
Drax’s own story in the franchise began with him seeking vengeance against the people responsible for the murder of his wife and daughter. It ended by coming full circle, with him becoming a father once more.
Mantis’ Ending Takes Her Into the Unknown
Mantis and her empathy proved to be the missing piece of the Guardians’ puzzle. She saw only the good in her fellow members and in the people and creatures they fought. Because she did, she was able to provide an understanding and compassion the group often lacked.
In the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, though, Mantis also realized her whole life had been in service to others. First, it was Ego, then it was the Guardians. After trying so desperately to get the other Guardians to listen to her, it was only when they did that she decided it was time to go out into the galaxy on her own. She bid the group farewell on Knowhere and headed off into the unknown with three giant Abilisks.
Rocket Raccoon Becomes the Leader of the New Guardians of the Galaxy
After surviving his brush with death and defeating the High Evolutionary, Rocket returned home to Knowhere with his fellow Guardians. There he was dismayed to learn multiple members were leaving the group. That wasn’t the end of the MCU’s Guardians of the Galaxy, though. Quill said the galaxy still needed the group, and Rocket would lead a new iteration as captain.
During the movie’s first post-credits scene, we saw Captain Rocket Raccoon leading his new squad. Joining him on a mission were former members Groot, Kraglin, and Cosmo. Rounding out the group were newcomers Adam Warlock and young Phyla-Vell, the girl we saw the High Evolutionary testing on a treadmill earlier in the film. All of the new Guardians hang on Rocket’s “word.”
Groot Transforms Into His Marvel Comics Self
In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Baby Groot could barely follow basic instructions. While his intelligence improved as he grew, he still wasn’t the sharpest tree in the forest as recently as the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. But he seemed to make a big leap by Vol. 3, where he seemed far more intelligent than even the original Groot had been at an older age.
Swoll Groot also ended up being a lot bigger than his dad, too. When we saw him as a member of Rocket’s new Guardians, he had matured to a naturally giant size (not one he has to grow into like when he went “kaiju.”) His body also had a more cedar-like color. In the end, he resembled his original Marvel Comics’ look more than any MCU version of Groot ever had.
Whether or not Groot actually learned how to say real words by the end of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, though, isn’t clear. During his goodbye with the old Guardians, he said, “I love you guys.” But since none of them reacted to what should have been a shocking moment, that might have been James Gunn’s way of letting the audience hear Groot themselves rather than through a translation.
Kraglin Joins the New Guardians
During the Guardians’ greatest moment of need, Kraglin finally mastered Yondu’s arrow. He managed to successfully control the weapon after a vision of his late captain appeared to him during the High Evolutionary’s attack on Knowhere. Yondu told Kraglin to use his heart before the image of the dead Ravager disappeared.
During Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3‘s first post-credits scene, we learned Kraglin, who did not initially join the team on their mission to save Rocket, was a core member of Rocket’s new Guardians. He was a confident one, too. He offered to stop a massive herd of rampaging animals by himself. Kraglin’s big breakthrough with his deadly whistle arrow was a permanent one.
Cosmo the Spacedog Is a Good Dog and Part of the Team
From saving Kraglin’s life to holding the connection between Knowhere and the High Evolutionary’s ship during the grand escape and rescue, Cosmo proved she was a very good dog. So good that she also joined the new lineup of Guardians under Rocket’s leadership. With her incredible telekinetic powers, she’s a valuable—and adorable—member to have.
Gamora’s Guardians of the Galaxy Ending Brings a New Family
The alternate Gamora from 2014 never formally joined the Guardians of the Galaxy, but she did help them save Rocket and defeat the High Evolutionary. However, that wasn’t enough to make her give up the new family she had found since Thanos’ defeat in Avengers: Endgame. Instead of sticking around Knowhere or pursuing a romance with “Quinn,” Gamora returned to the Ravagers. She had joined them since the last time we saw her on Earth.
She wasn’t the same Gamora we knew and loved, but in the end, she proved to still be a good person. And she got a happy ending of her own in the Guardians of the Galaxy world. She managed to find a family for herself; it was just a different one than the old Gamora had.
No Main Characters Died in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Vol. 3 might have been the final film in the original Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy, but we didn’t have to actually say goodbye to any of them, in death or otherwise. All the original Guardians of the Galaxy found their endings. But they’re all still out there—be it mowing lawns, flying with the Ravagers, raising a bunch of kids in the middle of Knowhere, or still saving the galaxy. And because they’re out there, who knows when the MCU will need any or all of them to return?
Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist. You can follow him on Twitter at @burgermike. And also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings