‘Dead Boy Detectives’ Ending Explained & Series Summary: What’s Next For Edwin And Charles?


DC Comics characters have now been adapted for the screen in Netflix’s new detective comedy thriller series Dead Boy Detectives. With eight episodes, each about an hour long, the series revolves around two teenage ghosts, Edwin and Charles, who have refused to move on to the afterlife, staying back and working as professional detectives in the mortal realm. When the pair come across a couple more friends during their detective cases and are resultingly stuck in a small town in the USA, a series of misadventures follow. While Dead Boy Detectives is definitely not to be taken too seriously, it does a fair job entertaining with its quirky characters and plotline.

Spoiler Alert

What is the Netflix series about?

Dead Boy Detectives begins in modern-day London, with two teenage boys running for their lives as a third man wearing a peculiar gas mask and an old uniform is chasing them. The reason for this pursuit becomes clear within moments, and although it is taking place in the mortal world, none of the three individuals are living humans. The two teenagers, Edwin Paine and Charles Rowland, are ghosts who work as professional detectives, and it is their current case that has brought them against the gas-masked man, also a ghost from the past. Edwin and Charles, who are also the protagonists of the show, had taken a job investigating a case of hauntings at a museum to identify the culprit as the man with the gas mask, who had been traumatized by his experiences during World War I. As the teenagers are able to get rid of the haunted mask and let Death take the man to the afterlife, one more case is solved by the dead boys. 

Edwin and Charles intend to open up their business to more potential ghost clients and are soon led towards the case of a psychic named Crystal, who is a living human being who has gone missing. They start the investigation with the monetary remuneration in mind and are able to track down the woman, Crystal Palace, in a possessed state, for she has been taken over by an ancient demon. The boys manage to free her of the possession, with the demon very visibly leaving her body and walking away, but this experience takes away Crystal’s memory from her mind. With no recollection of herself or her family from before the demonic possession, she suffers from an identity crisis. Charles, who had already taken a fancy to the young woman, decides to keep her as part of their team until she gets back at least some of her memory. Because of her supernatural powers, Crystal can see and speak to teenagers at all times, unlike other living humans. Although Edwin is not very excited by this new addition, Crystal’s abilities as a psychic are of great help to the duo, as she can easily communicate between the living and the dead worlds.

When the protagonists receive a new mission from the United States about finding and rescuing a missing young girl named Becky Aspen, they decide to travel to the country, despite the distance. It is in this small American town called Port Townsend that the fates of Edwin and Charles push them towards grave danger. Although they are able to find little Becky and rescue her from the control of an evil witch, the teenagers are stuck in the town for the next few weeks because of an unusual curse. Meanwhile, trouble brews for the duo on all sides as the evil witch, Esther, plots a plan of revenge against them, while another figure from the afterlife authority starts to investigate how they were still living in the mortal world without any formal permission.

Why did Edwin and Charles not move over to the afterlife?

The reason for Edwin and Charles’ very existence in the mortal realm becomes an important issue in Dead Boy Detectives within the first few episodes, as the Night Nurse starts searching for them. Although they are both teenagers, as they had understandably stopped aging after their deaths, both Edwin and Charles originally belonged to old timelines. Brought up in Edwardian England, Netflix’s series introduced Edwin Paine as a student at St. Hilarion’s boys boarding school. In 1916, a batchmate named Simon evidently wanted to be close friends with Edwin, which the latter found a bit odd, especially since Simon wanted to be with him alone at most times. The matter of characters being confused about their queer desires and persuasions is a common element in Dead Boy Detectives, and Edwin is often at the center of it.

Even at present, Edwin is extremely confused by other men pursuing him, even more so by the fact that he too feels homosexual urges towards some of them because of his conservative upbringing. Back in his time, such a relationship between two men was disallowed by society, and so he cannot bring himself to think of it either. Therefore, when Simon wanted to be his friend, with the clear indication that he had some romantic interest too, Edwin ignored the advances in a very bold and direct manner. Simon later admits that he felt Edwin to be queer too, just like him, which is why he had made the approach, but Edwin’s reaction had hurt and angered him terribly. As a result, Simon gathered a group of bullies, and together they played a fatal prank on Edwin one night by holding him captive and summoning a demon to take him as a sacrifice. The boys obviously did this as a joke, not knowing that a demon would indeed show up and drag Edwin to Hell, where the boy spent many long years.

Many decades later, in the 1980s, Charles Rowland happened to become a student at the very same St. Hilarion’s boarding school for boys, where he too was horribly bullied by his batchmates. Charles actually had an even sadder reality to deal with, for his father was extremely abusive, physically assaulting the boy at the mere drop of a hat. After he suffered terrible injuries because of his batchmates’ prank to drown him and had a near-death experience too, Charles suddenly started to see and hear ghosts, and the very first one he met was Edwin. Incidentally, at this very time, the entirety of Hell was vacated, letting go of all the residents, and so Edwin returned to the mortal realm to the very school where he was killed. Within some time of making introductions, Charles passed away, becoming a ghost like his new friend, and this is when they took the decision to skip the afterlife. Both the boys felt that they wanted to solve the cases of thousands of other ghosts whose deaths were never accounted for by humans, just like their own deaths were overlooked. Besides, both had just found dear friends in each other for the first time in their lives, and going to the afterlife meant that they would most certainly be separated from each other. Thus, Edwin and Charles decided to stay in the mortal realm as detectives and scurried off from the place before death came to take them to the afterlife.

Why does the night nurse help Charles?

The Night Nurse is an employee at the Lost & Found department in the afterlife, which specifically deals with dead young children who have died and yet not reported to the afterlife. As is evident from Edwin and Charles’ backstory, they had remained hidden from the authorities and had lived on in the mortal realm without any permission. The Night Nurse is able to find out about them when Charles possesses a witch in Port Townsend, and she immediately starts the proceedings to go over to the place and bring them to the afterlife, as per the rules of the spirit world. But when she reaches America and gets hold of the boys, wanting to bring them back with her, the plan goes terribly wrong as Charles decides to get rid of her in a rather unusual manner. Since the teenagers were trying to solve a case in which a gigantic fish had to be defeated, Charles pushed the Night Nurse down into the water, and she was gulped down by the devilish creature.

It is here, inside the belly of the fish, that the Night Nurse makes acquaintance with a man named Kashina, or simply Kashi, in short. Kashi is unique in the strangest of ways, for he is absolutely unbothered by his current situation. He has never panicked or feared about the fact that he was swallowed whole by a fish and is literally living inside its body, and he sees the whole matter only as an interesting adventure in life. When the Night Nurse tries to find out more about him, using the power that she has of being able to know about one’s traumas in life, she simply cannot find anything at all. This is because Kashi has never been stressed about anything in life and has faced no trauma at all, making him almost a supernatural being. He is indeed supernatural, though, as he mentions being extremely old but still living, and it is his calm and composed approach that teaches the Night Nurse a valuable lesson. Interestingly, Kashi’s character aligns with the mythological story of Buddha, as an incarnation of Vishnu, being swallowed by the rainbow fish. Kashi’s personality also matches that of a godly figure, for his patience and clarity cannot be expected in any mortal being. 

Instead of fighting the gigantic fish to escape its belly, Kashi simply has a conversation with it, asking it to let him and the Night Nurse leave its body. This surprisingly works wonders, and so when the Night Nurse meets with the protagonists once again, she decides to solve the matter through dialogue instead of enforcing rules upon them. As Edwin had been kidnapped by a demon from Hell just then, Charles was desperate to get into the place and help his dear friend escape. The Night Nurse makes use of this situation, making a deal with Charles that states that he will be granted entry to Hell, but only on the condition that he will surrender himself to her afterwards. However, as Charles returns to the mortal realm after having rescued Edwin, he does not ultimately have to go to the afterlife, and this is only because of the intelligence of their friend Niko. The young woman finds a special rule that mentions that spirits who have recently traveled across different realms, such as the mortal world and Hell, had to fill up a certain form before being taken to the afterlife.

While the Night Nurse had always been a strict follower of rules, it is the very bureaucracy she enjoyed that lets her down at present. The issue of teenagers having to go to the afterlife remains till the end, although it takes a very unexpected turn. At the very end of Dead Boy Detectives, the Night Nurse brings her superior, who seems to be the one running the whole afterlife world. Although she technically comes to take Edwin and Charles with her, the woman is extremely impressed upon learning what they were doing in the mortal realm. Stating how their noble detective work was helping so many spirits who could not move on because of their unnatural deaths, she grants the protagonists permission to stay in the mortal realm and continue with their work, even ordering the Night Nurse to stay back in the realm and help the boys out as their assistant.

How Did Charles and his friends save Edwin from Esther?

The evil witch Esther, a resident of Port Townsend, had been regularly kidnapping young girls and sacrificing them to her pet snake, which granted her youthfulness. There is an unfortunate backstory behind this practice as well, for Esther was originally among the first settlers in the town many centuries ago. While she was extremely hardworking and determined to make a living at the place, her husband turned out to be a vile cheater. Esther’s mother had left her a book of dark magic, and she used it to learn some curses to kill her husband. Learning dark magic and using it soon became a hobby for Esther, and she turned into a witch with evil intentions. At this time, she prayed to Lilith, the goddess of wronged women, asking for immortality. Lilith did grant Esther’s wish, but it meant that she would never die despite growing old.

Esther then naturally wanted to preserve her youth as well and came up with an arrangement with her magical snake. She would have to sacrifice young girls on a regular basis to the snake, in exchange for which she would be granted youthfulness, and her age would remain the same. It was as part of this plan that Esther kidnapped Becky Aspen, but the arrangement was ruined when Edwin and Charles managed to rescue the girl. She had to change her plan soon, and upon learning that Edwin was a ghost who had suffered many centuries in Hell, she came up with her most evil devise. Esther makes a machine that can trap and hurt any ghost continuously, and their pain would be used to create a youth elixir for her. Since Edwin had been through Hell, it meant that he could withstand pain way more than any ordinary spirit, which would give her an almost unlimited amount of youth elixir, and this is why she kidnaps him.

In Dead Boy Detectives‘ ending, Crystal and Niko find out about Esther’s connection with Lilith from the Cat King, and they reach the witch’s house to rescue their friend. Charles, meanwhile, had been kept hostage by Esther, and he was ultimately saved by Monty, the witch’s pet crow, who had understood her deceiving nature after he had been turned into a human. Charles goes down to the underground lair and successfully kills the demonic snake, ensuring that Esther will not be able to sacrifice kids any more. On the other side, Crystal tries to befriend the woman at first, and when it does not work, she summons Lilith, asking for justice for all the little girls Esther had sacrificed, for they were wronged women as well. Lilith ultimately drags Esther away to punish her for her crimes, meaning that Edwin is finally rescued by the lot.

What Finally happens to the friends?

Although Edwin is successfully rescued, Niko gets hit by a curse from Esther as she jumps in to protect Crystal, and she seemingly dies from the attack. Edwin, Charles, and Crystal bid her a tearful farewell, and her body is arranged to be taken back to her mother. The three friends also leave Port Townsend and return to London, and they offer their landlady, Lily, to travel with them as well. Although Lily does not immediately agree to the plan, it is very possible that she will once again team up with the detectives if a second season of Dead Boy Detectives is made. In the very last scene of the show, a hooded woman is seen sitting with Kingham and Litty, the two sprites who had earlier possessed Niko. Incidentally, the woman is holding the same lucky charm that Mick had earlier given to Niko, meaning that she is Niko herself. The scene, which can be seen as a short teaser for a future season of Dead Boy Detectives, probably signifies that Niko has herself become a ghost now, after her death, but she has also not moved on to the afterlife, possibly because she had been killed by Esther’s curse. Her association with the sprites can be seen as both her deflection towards evil and their finally choosing to be on the good side.

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Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya keeps an avid interest in all sorts of films, history, sports, videogames and everything related to New Media. Holding a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, he is currently working as a teacher of Film Studies at a private school and also remotely as a Research Assistant and Translator on a postdoctoral project at UdK Berlin.

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