The Dead Ringers TV Series Changes One Major Thing From The Original Film

The creator explained why *that* twist was the right choice.

Rachel Weisz in 'Dead Ringers.' Photo via Prime Video
Niko Tavernise/Prime Video

Spoilers ahead for the Dead Ringers film and the Prime Video series. Thirty-five years before Prime Video debuted its Dead Ringers limited series, filmmaker David Cronenberg first brought the psychological thriller to life. While the gender of the twins in Cronenberg’s film is different, many details remain the same — down to the names, Elliot and Beverly Mantle (played by Rachel Weisz in the 2023 series, and Jeremy Irons in the film).

In both versions, the Mantle twins work in the field of gynecology and struggle with their close, twisty relationship when an outside romantic interest is introduced. The film and the Prime Video series both explore what happens when the twins’ medical career is on the outs, too. But you can’t substitute one version for the other, because the endings are very different.

In the show, Beverly decides to essentially give her life to Elliot — dying in a C-section so that Elliot can assume her identity (and her newborn twin children) and live publicly as Beverly. By the end of the show, the plan seems to have worked out: the new “Beverly” is happily living her life in New York.

But in Cronenberg’s version, neither twin survives. In lieu of the C-section switch, their climax happens during an apparent drug-fueled state of confusion shared by both Beverly and Elliot. They refer to themselves as “Siamese twins,” and talk about separating. Beverly takes this to a dangerous, literal level, cutting into his brother’s abdomen for an impromptu “operation.”

The next day, Beverly realizes what he’s done: Elliot is dead. While Beverly initially goes about his day, he returns to Elliot’s body — and ultimately dies in his lap, seemingly unable to live without his brother.

Compared to the Prime Video series, this conclusion is a bit closer to the reality of the real-life twin doctors who inspired Dead Ringers. As Esquire reported at the time, Cyril and Stewart Marcus’ bodies were found together in the same apartment — though their respective causes of death are unknown (and in real life, there are no reports about a botched surgery).

The Dead Ringers TV series keeps many details the same, so why does the ending look different? Creator Alice Birch explained the decision in an interview with io9. “We wanted to make sure that it was inspired by the Cronenberg film, but it’s so iconic, you know, we never wanted to do a straight retelling of it,” she said. “So we wanted to find the ending that best served our twins and our story.”

Birch also told Games Radar that she and the show’s writers “didn't want to just mimic the film ... but we wanted to borrow from it and be respectful towards it.”