Warning: SPOILERS ahead for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
What happens after Once Upon a Time in Hollywood ends? Directed by Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood takes place in 1969 and concludes with a revised version of the infamous Manson Family murders. In real life, actress Sharon Tate and four others were killed by the Manson Family at her and Roman Polanski’s home.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Western actor Rick Dalton and Brad Pitt as his long-time stuntman, Cliff Booth, with Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate. After a series of events that lead up to the infamous night in August 1969, Tarantino takes this opportunity to change up a few things. In Once Upon a Time in Hollywood's ending, Cliff - tripping on acid - kills members of the Manson family, while an extremely drunk Rick uses a flamethrower to finish off the last would-be killer.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood concludes with a sequence full of comedy and horror, followed by a poignant moment in which Tate invites Rick over for a drink. Tarantino alters history with Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, so what happens next?
How Once Upon A Time In Hollywood's Ending Changes Real Life
During the late hours of August 8, 1969, four members of the Manson Family left Spahn Ranch for Tate and Polanski’s Cielo Drive home in Hollywood. Charles Manson was indeed familiar with the location, as it was previously the home of his music industry associate, Terry Melcher. In fact, Melcher produced ‘60s classics for the American rock group Paul Revere & the Raiders, whose music Tate dances to throughout Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Tarantino stays true to the facts in that Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Linda Kasabian were directed to Cielo Drive by Manson, hoping to incite a race war known as “Helter Skelter.” The late Steve McQueen was scheduled to visit Tate on the night of the murders but ultimately made other plans.
Tarantino strays from the facts in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood when Rick, a fictional character, approaches the Manson Family in their vehicle. Soon thereafter, the “hippies” identify Rick as the star of the (fictional) Western series Bounty Law, and decide to kill the celebrity actor who indirectly introduced violence to them as children. Plot-wise, this sets up a moment of truth for Rick, as the entire film is essentially about him overcoming his personal conflict. After the Manson Family changes their plans, Kasabian (Maya Hawke) takes off in the group’s vehicle. In actuality, she stayed in the car while the Manson Family murdered the occupants of 10050 Cielo Drive. Kasabian was later a key witness during subsequent trials. In Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’s climax, Cliff kills Watson and Krenwinkle, with the assistance of his dog, Brandy. An injured Atkins stumbles outside to the pool area, where she’s eventually burned to death by Rick.
As for the real-life events, Watson murdered 18-year-old Steven Parent, who had been visiting the Polanski guest house and was leaving in his vehicle. In Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Cliff takes a walk with Brandy, and Rick approaches the Manson Family car. These moments seem to replace what happened to Parent. Inside the Polanski home, Tate (over eight months pregnant) was murdered, along with celebrity hair stylist Jay Sebring, Polankski’s friend Wojciech Frykowski, and coffee heiress Abigail Folger - all of whom survive in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. As the Manson Family left, they wrote the word “PIG” with Tate’s blood on the front door. In Tarantino’s film, that’s the exact spot where Robbie’s Tate first sees Charles Manson, who only appears that one time in the film.
What Happens To Rick And Company After Once Upon A Time In Hollywood's Ending
From a hopeful point of view, Rick would theoretically become friends with Polanski and Tate. During Once Upon a Time in Hollywood's final moments, Sebring speaks glowingly of the former Bounty Law star, and suggests that Tate feels the same. Instead of releasing Macbeth in 1971, Polanski undoubtedly would’ve made a much different film, perhaps one starring Rick, Tate, and maybe some celebrity friends, like the aforementioned McQueen. At the very least, Rick would've been immersed into a new celebrity circle, which calls back to an early sequence in which he muses about the “one pool party” that could change everything.
With Cliff, it’s difficult to predict just how long he could work as a Hollywood stuntman. But if Rick managed to become friends with Polanski and Tate, his stuntman certainly would’ve been part of the group as well. And so the Cliff Booth myth - whether or not Cliff killed his wife - would’ve been replaced with a new myth: how he killed Manson Family members while tripping on acid. Because of all this, it's certainly possible that both Rick and Cliff would have experienced a career revival throughout the 1970s, one aided by Polanski's films.
As for those who were killed by the Manson Family in real life, if Tate had survived, she would’ve become an A-list celebrity in Hollywood. And given her marriage to Polanski, she probably would’ve crossed over into European Art House cinema as well. Tate would’ve been competing for roles with American actresses such as Sissy Spacek, Diane Keaton, and Cybill Shepherd, and she would’ve gained the attention of American New Wave directors such as Martin Scorsese, Brian De Palma, Peter Bogdanovich, Steven Spielberg, and even Woody Allen. All in all, everyone would've seen their careers rise higher.
What Would Happen To Charles Manson?
It’s entirely possible that Manson would’ve devised a new plan after his first one failed. He might’ve even planned to target Rick and Cliff the second time around. But Kasabian’s escape is crucial. In real life, she testified against the Manson Family, and she perhaps would’ve done the same in Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The Manson Family really did indeed live at Spahn Ranch, and they could easily pull surprise attacks on unsuspecting celebrities. But the thing is, Cliff knew who they were and where they lived, so it's unlikely that any of them would have been able to avoid the police for too long. And if not for Cliff, then Kasabian's escape itself could foreshadow Manson's future in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.