Skip to main contentSkip to footer

Baby Reindeer’s ‘ambiguous’ ending explained: what does Martha’s voicemail and the barman’s gesture mean?

We also finally find out why Martha calls Donny a 'baby reindeer'

Baby Reindeer’s ‘ambiguous’ ending explained: what does Martha’s voicemail and the barman’s gesture mean?
Emmy Griffiths
TV & Film Editor
15 April 2024
Share this:

Baby Reindeer has become a massive hit on Netflix, and it’s easy to see why. The true story follows a troubled comedian named Donny who finds his life turned upside down after he gives a troubled woman named Martha a free cup of tea during a pub shift, only to discover that she is a serial stalker and that he is her newest obsession. 

How does Baby Reindeer end?

After countless emails, texts and voicemail messages, Donny finally finds a way to have Martha arrested for stalking and harassment, and she is sentenced to nine months in prison. Despite the case reaching its conclusion, Donny still finds himself completely taken by Martha, obsessively listening to her voicemails and sorting through her correspondences over the months. 

WATCH: The stalking drama stars the comedian embroiled in the terrifying encounter

He then pays a visit to Darrian, a TV writer who sexually abused Donny, leaving him traumatised. Instead of a dramatic showdown, Donny has a drink with Darrian before accepting his offer to write on a new show with him. Although neither of them discuss the abuse, Darrian promises that it “won’t be like last time”. 

Donny is devastated when he leaves, and goes to the pub to have a drink, listening to Martha’s voicemails once more, where she finally explains the reason behind the nickname she gave him, ‘Baby Reindeer’. 

© Ed Miller/Netflix

“Basically I had this wee cuddly toy when I was young, it went with me everywhere… this reindeer was cuddly, fluffy thing with big lips, huge eyes and the cutest wee bum,” the voicemail said. “I still have it to this day. It was the only good thing about my childhood. I’d hug it when they fought, and they fought a lot. Well, you are the spit of that reindeer. The same nose, same eyes, same cute wee bum. It means so much to me. You mean so much to me.” 

Richard Gadd in Baby Reindeer© Ed Miller/Netflix
Richard Gadd in Baby Reindeer

While listening to the voicemail, Donny becomes clearly distraught, crying as the bartender serves him a drink. Upon realising that he hadn’t brought his wallet, the bartender takes pity on him and tells him the drink is ‘on me,’ paralleling the scene where Donny gives Martha a drink on the house upon their first meeting. 

Baby Reindeer: Martha's obsession in numbers

Richard Gadd as Donny Dunn and Jessica Gunning as Martha in Baby Reindeer© Ed Miller/Netflix
Richard Gadd as Donny Dunn and Jessica Gunning as Martha in Baby Reindeer

Richard Gadd has been vocal about his stalker, named 'Martha' in the show, and just how many messages, voicemails,  tweets and emails he received from her before contact was cut off. It included: 

  • 41,000 emails 
  • 744 tweets
  • 100 pages of letters
  • 350 hours of voicemails 

What does the ending mean? 

The ending of the show is deliberately ambiguous, although we don’t think that this means that Donny was about to copy Martha and become obsessed with the new barman. Instead, the show’s creator, Richard Gadd, opened up about its meaning. Speaking to GQ about Donny visiting Darrian’s home again, he said: “I think that was almost the most truthful scene of the entire show.

Richard Gadd in Baby Reindeer© Netflix
Richard Gadd in Baby Reindeer

“What abuse does is it creates psychological damage as well as physical damage… Abuse leaves an imprint. Especially abuse like this, where it’s repeated with promises. There’s a pattern where a lot of people who have been abused feel like they need their abusers. 

Baby Reindeer. Tom Goodman-Hill as Darrien in Baby Reindeer. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2024
Baby Reindeer. Tom Goodman-Hill as Darrien in Baby Reindeer. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2024

“I don’t think it was a cynical ending, it was showing an element of abuse that hadn’t been seen on television before, which is, unfortunately, the deeply entrenched, negative, psychological effects of attachment you can sometimes have with your abuser.” 

MORE: Baby Reindeer star Richard Gadd admits he 'made mistakes' with real stalker that inspired Netflix series

Jessica Gunning addressed the moment where Donny listened to the voicemails, telling Radio Times: “You see when her voicemails become a little bit of a soundtrack to his life, when he goes back to Darrien’s house, he needs Martha’s reassurance, he needs her compliments to calm him down. I think the voicemails almost represent an ease to his loneliness, and I think that’s what he latched onto - and he found escapism in her words.

Baby Reindeer's Martha is played by Jessica Gunning
Baby Reindeer's Martha is played by Jessica Gunning

“When I read it [the final scene], I actually got goosebumps, because I thought, 'What a clever way to end this.' It’s a broken guy, really, like she was in a sense, being offered this act of kindness, and I think he’s just got an insight into what that meant at that moment.” 

Richard added: “I quite like the ambiguity of the ending, I don't want to put a meaning on it. I think it can be interpreted in a lot of different ways. I know what it is in my head – that ending's my favourite thing in the whole series, the way it ends.

© Ed Miller/Netflix

"From plugging in the headphones to going all the way to the end, hearing the voicemail, looking up, that's my whole favourite bit in the whole series. I think it can be interpreted in multiple ways and I like that it can. I'm quite keen to see what people think actually.” 

So what do fans think? Taking to Twitter/X, one person wrote: “As much as I wanted a happy ending to #BabyReindeer the ending is so raw and reflects the constant and ongoing battle a victim of abuse goes through. Hats off to Richard Gadd.” Another person added: “It was a full circle moment showing how he is now where Martha was at the start. 

“He’s also lost and damaged. Hurt people can see hurt people so it might even be the case that the barman is someone that's also been abused. Donny also sympathises with Martha. Just my take.”

Baby Reindeer is available to stream on Netflix.

Anyone affected by Richard's story or themes mentioned in this article can find support by contacting Victim Support or the National Stalking Helpline.

Sign up to HELLO Daily! for the best royal, celebrity and lifestyle coverage

By entering your details, you are agreeing to HELLO! Magazine User Data Protection Policy. You can unsubscribe at any time. For more information, please click here.

More TV and Film

See more