Campaign to Remove the Rat in ‘The Departed’ Launches Debate Over Scorsese’s Ending Shot

Only on the internet in 2019 would a Kickstarter campaign to digitally remove the rat from the last scene of Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed” not only go viral on social media but also earn over $2,300 and counting from 87 backers. The campaign’s total goal is to reach $4,000 by March 21, a number it should easily be able to hit with over a month left to go. Why $4,000? Campaign founder Adam Sacks of Brooklyn, New York has exhaustively (and hilariously) listed the steps needed to remove the rat from “The Departed” on the official Kickstarter page.

While the campaign’s Kickstarter page reads like a joke, it has nonetheless launched an online debate about Scorsese’s decision to end his Oscar-winning crime movie with shot of a rat crawling across the screen. The film’s plot centers around two rats: Leonardo DiCaprio plays a police officer who infiltrates the Boston mob and Matt Damon is a mobster who becomes a mole inside the Boston police force. Some fans complain the rat shot is a cringing on-the-nose metaphor, while others have appreciated the unsubtle humor in Scorsese’s final image.

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The Kickstarter campaign has brought out the rat defenders on social media, including Variety’s Guy Lodge, Vulture’s Hunter Harris, and The Atlantic’s David Sims, among others. As reporter Matthew Zeitlin rightfully notes, nothing about Scorsese’s music choices or use of voiceover is subtle either. Using the rat as a metaphor is just as on-the-nose as featuring Dropkick Murphys on the soundtrack of a film set in Boston.

“The Departed” debuted in theaters in October 2006 and grossed nearly $300 million worldwide. The film won Best Picture and Best Director, giving Martin Scorsese his first and only win in the latter category.