The Ending of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones Movie

Director: Harold Swart

“You have an incredible gift and we need you…I need you”
Jace Wayland in City of Bones

 The book ending of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones was rather confusing and we think that the director tried to streamline the ending to make it clearer, but this back-fired (badly!). The movie ending of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones was even more confusing!


Book Ending:

In the book, Clary retrieves the Mortal Cup and gives it to Hodge. Hodge summons Valentine and hands the cup over to him in exchange for his (Hodge’s) freedom to leave the Institute. Valentine kidnaps Jace and Clary is knocked unconscious. When Clary wakes up, Luke explains to Clary that Valentine is her father. Together, Clary and Luke, along with Luke’s werewolf pack ambush Valentine’s lair. Most of Luke’s werewolf pack dies in the ambush and only Luke and Clary make it inside. Clary finds Jace who tells her that Valentine is also his father. After a fight between Valentine and Luke, Valentine escapes to Idris where he has hidden the Mortal Cup, the first of three mortal instruments needed to create an army of Shadowhunters. Clary takes her mother, who is in a coma, to a hospital to recover.


Movie Ending:

In the movie, the ending is rather different. Clary retrieves the Mortal Cup and gives it to Hodge. Hodge opens up the portal in the Institute to allow Valentine in. Valentine then summons his army of demons by embedding a series of swords and things into an emblem on the floor of the Institute. This allows the demons to enter the Institute which was supposed to be impossible because the Institute is on hallowed ground and demons can’t step on hallowed ground. This just didn’t make sense. There was no explanation as to how this worked, the audience was just supposed to accept that it worked.

Valentine tells Clary that he is her father and tries to make her drink his blood from the Mortal Cup. We really have no idea why Valentine tries to make Clary drink his blood from the Mortal Cup. As far as we know, the children of Shadowhunters are born Shadowhunters and the Mortal Cup is used to make new Shadowhunters. This just seemed random and creepy, and his mentioning that she did this as a child doesn’t fit with the timeline of events from the book (i.e. Clary’s mother left when she was pregnant with Clary, so Valentine has never met Clary before).

Clary manages to put the Mortal Cup back in the tarot card, keeping it from Valentine, and she escapes by jumping through the portal, landing at Luke’s place. In the book, this would have been fine because you simply have to imagine where you want to go and then enter the portal. In the movie, only those who have had training in how to use the portal are safe to use it because untrained people can end up stuck in limbo. Clary somehow manages to use the portal without any consequences.

Luke confirms that Valentine is Clary’s father and there is a cut-away to explain Clary’s family history. This is fairly consistent with the book, although there is no mention of Luke and Clary’s mother’s relationship/friendship. Luke then takes Clary along with his werewolf pack to the Institute and they break in.

In the meantime, before Hodge leaves to lurk around the Institute (we don’t know why because in the book he just leaves), Hodge tells Valentine to pretend that Jace is also his son in order to hurt Clary and Jace, and make them submit to Valentine. Hello! Spoiler Alert! We had only read book one of the Mortal Instruments series, so as far as we knew, Clary and Jace were siblings. It is not until the third and final book in the Mortal Instruments series that we find out that this isn’t actually true (with hints in the second book). Way to spoil an entire trilogy!

Isabelle and Simon head down to the basement for weapon when they realize demons have entered the institute, and Jace heads off to find Hodge and Clary (not knowing what has happened). When Isabelle and Simon arrive in the basement, they find Clary’s mum in a coma, floating in the air. We have no idea how Clary’s mother’s body got there because Valentine didn’t bring her through the portal with him. We assume he has cast a summoning spell, but this is not mentioned. She could have been there the whole time for all we know. There is also no mention as to why she is floating, and why she suddenly stops floating.

Simon and Isabelle run into Clary, Luke and the werewolf pack just as the demons arrive in the basement. They manage to barricade themselves into a room, but it’s only a matter of time before the demons break through. Suddenly, Clary steals Isabelle’s stele and begins drawing a rune on her hand. She then uses the rune to freeze the demons. We have two issues with this scene. First, Clary is suddenly able to write a powerful rune that Isabelle, a well-trained Shadowhunter doesn’t recognize (a spoiler for the next book). Then, the casting of the rune takes forever, with Clary’s hair dramatically flowing out behind her. They then slowly walk past the demons, which were slowly beginning to wake up from the rune. We expected some more action once the demons were frozen, rather than slowly sneaking past them.

Simon and Isabelle head up to the conservatory to try and close the portal. Isabelle gets out her flame thrower and this somehow keeps the demons at bay. Simon flails around trying to fix the lever to close the roof. Luckily, Hodge has been lurking in the shadows watching and he decides to help fix the lever, which he broke allowing the demons to enter. He takes over and Isabelle and Simon leave…we don’t know where.

Clary heads to Jace and Valentine and learns that Jace is also Valentine’s son. This is hard to swallow for both Jace and Clary because they are in love. Valentine tries to convince Jace and Clary—Jace in particular—to join him. Clary immediately refuses, and Jace eventually also refuses. Jace and Valentine then fight while Clary…we don’t know what she did. Watch? Talk to her mother’s prone body, which we can’t remember how it entered the room?

Clary does manage to outsmart Valentine while he is distracted. She gets hold of a fake Mortal Cup and holds it in the portal. Valentine tries to take the Mortal Cup from Clary, but he has no idea where she is thinking of. This is where things get hazy… Clary gives the fake Mortal Cup to Valentine and manages to kick Valentine into the portal. Then, somehow, Valentine starts to come back and Jace then attempts to stab Valentine. This freezes the portal and it smashes. Then it snows as the frozen pieces fall to the ground…this goes on way longer than that would have taken so essentially, it snows. Clary has the real Mortal Cup still inside the tarot card.

In the end it is rather a blur and not a lot makes sense. The final bits are cheesy and try to wrap things up. Clary and Jace have an awkward sort of love scene at the end where they try to figure out how to feel about actually being siblings (As they believe they are). There is an especially cringe worthy moment where Jace implies Clary is an angel. Then she awkwardly hugs him as they ride off on a normal motorcycle (it was supposed to FLY! Lynne is still mad about this!).


13 thoughts on “The Ending of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones Movie

  1. Zahra kd says:

    They stay wish each other?? Like a couple(lovers)?? Please I need answer please!!! Thank you!!!

  2. Meagan says:

    Bit of a late reply here but I’m just quite interested in what others like to say.

    To the readers of The Mortal Instruments trilogy, for City of Ashes I do agree that the spoiler alert when it showed Hodge telling Valentine to trick Clary and Jace was a bit faulty, but think of how it would seem if you haven’t read the book. If you didn’t read the book and the spoiler alert was never shown, ‘incest’ would be the word in the heads of the viewers and then the reviews for this movie would have been even worse!

    For the confusion of how Valentine manipulates Jace onto his side, he did. They just showed it in a more complex way. In the movie when Clary has Valentine in a headlock with the blade, Jace didn’t haven’t to pull the blade away, he could have just left them there and told her to let him explain, but he didn’t. And as for the fight scene between Jace and Valentine it was brought on because Jace is in love with Clary and Valentine was being rather harmful towards her.

    Agreed with the fact that the motorcycle part was rather lame and should have been flying, but instead they focused more on the romance factor of the movie. 90% of the movie was about the romance between Jace and Clary, the director was trying to successfully fill the needs and wants of society today and to feed the hunger of the romance fanatics and cravers.

    Yes yes Valentine is supposed to have white hair we get it! But it’s not supposed to be like Jace’s, because Valentine isn’t actually his dad. Did anyone ever read the whole series?

    What I’m noticing is that we are seeing it from our perspective, the readers. We need to remember that we are not the only ones paying to watch the movie to compare and contrast. The viewers only watch, we compare and contrast. We are the ones to ruin it and to change the minds of the others. We need to remember that there are others and that they see it from a different angle than what we do. Sorry, it was just on my mind.

    • Frances says:

      Hi Meagan,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m going to reply by responding to your last comment first of all and then by responding to your other points in chronological order. I’d just like to say that the aim of comparing the ending of the book and the movie for The Moral Instruments was not to ruin the movie and change the minds of viewers who have not read the book prior to watching the movie. Lynne and I both adopt a rational approach to reviews and we also write fair reviews in that there is usually always something good to be said. The aim of writing the comparison of the ending of the book and the ending of the movie was to help enlighten viewers who had not read the book as to what exactly happened. We watched the movie with a viewer who had not read the book and he didn’t understand what had happened. Many of the search terms that come through to this page of readers that are specifically asking what happened at the end of the movie. Lynne and I believe that by drawing a comparison between the book and the movie, some of this confusion is alleviated. Also, we think the fact that a sequel to the movie is looking unlikely suggests that we are not the only ones with the views we’ve aired on the blog about the movie.

      We agree with you that the director probably chose to spoil the plot about Clary and Jace not truly being siblings in order to avoid having the label “incest” associated with the movie. We also agree that once viewers heard the label “incest”, they may have felt disgust (as indicated by numerous psychological studies examining the emotional impact of incest) and may have left with a negative opinion of the movie. Yet, City of Bones has been incredibly successful even with the ambiguity of whether Jace and Clary are siblings. So, why can the book be successful despite the inclusion of a potentially taboo relationship, but the movie cannot? This, in our opinion, feels like another version of “White Washing” in Hollywood. Instead of changing actors of an ethnicity other than White to White in the movie, a potentially alternative relationship (aka incest) is swapped out for a “normal” relationship. Considering the author stepped outside the box when writing the book, we would have liked to see the director do so as well.

      We’re not sure which of our points you are referring to when you talk about the confusion of how Valentine manipulates Jace onto his side and the fight scene between Jace and Valentine. If you can point me to our points, we can then comment. Just a general comment: We think that the director showed Valentine’s manipulation of Jace in a very nuanced and subtle manner that only a viewer who had read the book would really catch. The scenes at the end of the movie are very fast-paced, so we doubt a viewer who hadn’t read the book would catch this the first time around.

      We don’t believe that the director made the correct decision when appealing to a sub-group of viewers who crave highly cliched and cheesy romance. There are a larger number of viewers who wanted to see the actual story of the book take the center stage in the movie. Too often directors choose to focus so heavily on romance. What message does this focus send to younger viewers? That they need to focus on romance throughout their lives? What about growing as a person? Family? Friends? Learning new abilities? These are all equally important and, yet, these rarely take the focus of a movie in the young-adult genre.

      We hadn’t realised that we’d emphasised how annoyed we were that Valentine didn’t have White hair to such an extent. We know that Valentine’s hair is not supposed to be like Jace’s because Valentine isn’t his dad. However, the fact that Valentine had White hair in the book is a large part of what makes the sibling relationship believable. This ties into our earlier point that by having black hair, Hollywood was able to very briefly introduce the idea that Jace and Clary were siblings in an unbelievable manner (because Valentine’s hair is black) and then take it away again almost as quickly by telling the viewer that Valentine is only pretending.

      Frances & Lynne

      *Also, we removed a small portion of your comment so that there are not spoilers for people who haven’t read the later books in the series.

  3. Dayna says:

    Yeah, too be honest, I wasn’t sure about the whole incest thing, I got it spoiled to me by a friend so I knew straight Away but I thought it was a bit of an odd twist that a lot of people wouldn’t like

    It skipped out the whole part where valentine manipulates jace, I think that needed to be shown

    I actually didn’t mind the romantic moments but in a hopeless romantic haha

    The motorbike was a scene that they could have included both romance and the supernatural it was a disappointed that they just had it convey romance

  4. Dayna says:

    The ending you wrote for the movie is wrong
    Clary gives him the mortal cup and then kicks him in

    However it shows that she actually has the mortal cup in the tarot card

    I think what she was doing when they were fighting, was grabbing the fake mortal cup (showed at the beginning) and that’s what she gave to valentine

    Makes no sense because in the book he does get the mortal cup

    Another complaint I have… Wasn’t valentine meant to have white hair?! It’s the whole point Jace had blonde because of the resemblance

    • Frances says:

      Hi Dayna,

      Thank you for your comment. I will admit that Lynne and I wrote the summary of the movie ending after watching the movie at the cinema, and our memory was hazy at that particular point in the movie because everything happens so fast. Thank you for highlighting that Clary holds a “fake” Mortal Cup inside the portal, and it is the “fake” Mortal Cup that she gives to Valentine before kicking him into the portal. I have edited the summary above.

      To be honest, I don’t think it’s salient enough that there is even a “fake” Mortal Cup that Clary could use to trick Valentine. I think that’s because so much happens in such a short space of time, so a brief glimpse of a “fake” Mortal Cup is easily missed. Your idea that Clary is obtaining the “fake” Mortal Cup during the Valentine versus Jace show down make sense. I so think that even a brief glimpse at what she was doing would have alleviated a lot of confusion about whether Valentine did or did not get the Mortal Cup at the end of the movie. I agree that it does not make sense why Valentine did not get the cup at the end of the movie when he does get the cup at the end of the book. I guess, maybe as a safety net in case they do not film the next book in the series. At least that way, good triumphed in the first movie.

      Yeah, Lynne and I were confused about why Valentine didn’t have white hair like Jace. We discussed how the decision to make that change undermined the potential for Jace to be Valentine’s and Clary’s mother’s son. I mean, how could a mother with red hair and a father with black hair have a white haired child? I guess that maybe white hair didn’t suit the actor who played Valentine. Really they should have chosen a different actor or made Jace’s hair dark. Also, I hope you don’t mind, but I took out the spoiler. Just in case some readers haven’t read further in the book.


      • Dayna says:

        I was watching the movie as I read this, that’s the only reason i was sure haha

        Yeah, I was suprised that I even picked it up, I think it was because I concentrated on the part when they showed the fake mortal cup and sort of put it together

        They should have atleast shown her glancing at the fake cup while they fought

        That’s understandable about the reason of keeping the mortal cup but if they continue how is valentine going to get it

        It’s really odd that he doesn’t have white hair, they have no resemblance at all
        and I don’t think he plays the character well

        Valentine was meant to be cunning, he was meant to act like he was doing the right thing to sway jace but he seemed evil straight from the get go

        I like the casting of the other characters though
        Lily Collins is amazing as clary

        The actor for Simon is perfect (I think I’ve seen him as the rebel type in another show though haha)

        Luke has been cast well

        I like Jamie as Jace, he has something different about him. However, he has no emotion, when his sarcastic he should atleast smirk a little bit

      • Frances says:

        Hi Danya,

        Yeah, I’m not sure how they are going to have Valentine get the cup. Surely that will take up half the movie, and this could so easily have been included at the end of the City of Bones movies. Sigh.

        Yeah, I wonder if that’s why they included the whole spoiler about Jace not really being Valentine’s son because they new the audience would guess straight away. I liked that in the book, it wasn’t clear because of the physical resemblance between the two. However, it’s Hollywood and incest is such a taboo topic. I can’t even imagine the backlash from some less liberal audience members had they not cleared up the lie almost immediately.

        Yeah, I was really disappointed with Valentine. In the book, he’s persuasive and he twists everything around so that Jace is on his side for a while. That was completely lost in the movie. He was just your typically transparent bad guy. I liked reading the book and wondering whether what Valentine was saying was true. I’m not sure why they cast Jonathan Rhys Meyers. I assume it’s because he’s quite a big name, but it just didn’t work.

        I thought Lily Collins did a good job too. I agree that Jamie Campbell didn’t quite capture Jace’s character, although I wonder how much of that was the director because he acted (and sang!) well in Sweeney Todd. I did think that the romance between Clary and Jace was so cheesy and overdone. What did you think of it? There was one moment where Clary falls on top of Jace and there is an awkwardly long paused on them. I cringed so hard!!



      • Dayna says:

        I also have to agree, I was heaps disappointed that they didn’t have the motorbike scene

      • Frances says:

        Hi Dayna,

        Lynne was particularly peeved about the lack of flying motorbikes! I think they just didn’t spend enough time on the supernatural side of the plot, and spent too much time on the romance. I don’t think they catered properly to their audience.


  5. Iman says:

    You guys literally took the words out of my mouth. All that is exactly what I thought. I wonder if they’ll ever explain what the hell happened. The sibling spoiler really annoyed me in the movie. We readers had to suffer one and a half books, why do the movie watchers get to hope right away?! Well, just felt the need to say something 🙂

    • Frances says:

      I doubt that they’ll ever actually make the second Mortal Instruments movie. Although Imdb says that The Mortal Instruments: City of Ashes is in preproduction, I’m not sure that City of Bones will make enough money for a second movie. I mean, filming was meant to have started already but was postponed to see how City of Bones did in DVD sales. If they do make the second movie, I hope that they do explain what the hell happened. I’m kind of hoping that a different director will pick City of Bones up again in 5-10 years and completely start over because I’m not sure there’s any way to undo what they did!

      I completely agree with you about the sibling spoiler! I guess the director decided that the uncertainty over whether Clary and Jace were siblings was too taboo for the movie. *Rolls eyes* Anything outside the box just doesn’t make it into movie adaptations of young-adult fiction.


      • Iman says:

        Well I mean they said they got enough money from the Coty of Bones… But I agree, I really hope thy pick it up again in a few years. If you didn’t read the books, it was a good movie. But I was looking forward to seeing simon as a mouse/rat!!

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