The Number 23 (2007) Explained

the number 23 explained

Last updated on April 5th, 2024 at 10:03 pm

The Number 23 (2007) is a crime-thriller movie in horror flavor directed by Joel Schumacher and starts with Jim Carrey as Walter Sparrow. This movie has a multilayered plot story with a bunch of plot twists & suspense which desires a linear explanation in the viewer’s mind.

Walter Sparrow starts reading a novel named ‘The Number 23’ and believes the book is written about him. He becomes obsessed with the connection between murder, unsolved puzzles, and the mysterious bond with 23.

The Number 23 Movie Plot Story and Ending Explanation in Details

* * * Spoiler Alert – If you haven’t seen the movie yet, turn back now! * * *

The movie starts with an animal control officer Walter Sparrow. Today is his birthday and he has a scheduled party with his wife Agatha. But at the last moment of ending duty time, an emergency task is given to him to catch a dog.

Walter goes to catch the dog and finds that the dog has a name, Ned. Resulting in him getting late to meet Agatha.

The scene cuts to Agatha and she is waiting for Walter. She visits a bookstore in front of her and notices a book named “The Number 23” written by an unknown writer Topsy Kretts. She buys the book for Walter as a birthday present.

Later that night Walter starts reading the book. The book is a detective novel and the main character’s name is Fingerling. Interestingly Walter notices that Fingerling’s life is very similar to his past life.

There are 23 chapters in the book and as he reads more, the similarity raises. In the book, Fingerling has a girlfriend and their relationship is very much familiar to Agatha.

Fingerling encounters a blonde girl who is obsessed with the number 23. She gets connected with the number 23 variously in almost all situations of her life. She suicides by jumping from her apartment in front of Fingerling.

Pink is my favorite color. Do you know what pink is? Red 27, white 65 … 65 plus 27 = 92. Pink has four letters. 92 divided by four, 20-fucking-three!

– Suicide Blonde

Strangely after the event, he also finds himself in the number 23 circle. He starts finding 23 everywhere he goes.

Walter checks the number 23 facts for himself and he is amazed that he is also inside it. The next day he goes to the bookstore to get more information about the writer of the book. But the book was self-published and it is a pseudonym.

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Fingerling becomes more obsessed with the 23 matters. He realizes all the events are connected directly or indirectly with the number 23.

In reality, Walter’s obsession increases, and getting nightmares about killing Agatha.

Walter talks about the nightmares & his obsession with Agatha and she refers to her psychiatrist friend named Isaac. Walter takes a session with Isaac.

Isaac explains the phenomena happening to him. This is called the magical number in psychology where victims’ brains unconsciously search for the number they are obsessed with. Isaac suggests he finish the book as soon as possible. This will lead him to the conclusion of the story and his obsession will eliminate on his own.

Walter starts reading and finds that Fingerling also tells Dr. Phoenix. He suggests he take a break. Fingerling discovers that Fabrizia is having 23 pairs of shoes. He put fire on all of them and destroys them. Later when Fabrizia backs to the apartment and finds the incident, she calls him insane.

Fingerling discovers that Fabrizia is in a secret relationship with Dr. Phoenix. In reality, Walter sees Agatha & Isaac talking closely and he suspects that they are in an affair.

That night Walter wakes up dreaming that he murdered Agatha by stubbing her. He then goes to hotel King Edward and takes the room number 23. There he wishes to finish the book and clear his mind fresh.

In the book, Fingerling kills Fabrizia, stabbed to death. In the meantime, Phoenix arrives at the place and takes the crime knife. So, police arrest Phoenix and charged him with the murder of Fabrizia.

Walter walks to the balcony and he gets a subconscious image that the suicided blonde girl was jumped from the same balcony.

Walter notices Ned staring at him from the street. Walter starts chasing him. After some time he arrives in a cemetery where Ned indicates a tombstone. Walter finds that the tombstone is for a missing girl named Laura Tollins. She died on her 23rd birthday. Her murderer is captured and now in prison but her body was never found.

Walter concludes that Laura Tollins is involved with the book story. The author is none but the killer and it was his confession novel.

Walter goes to jail to meet Kyle Flinch, the murderer of Laura. Kyle denies the murder accusation. When Walter calculates Kyle’s, the name does not connect to 23. Therefore, Walter believes in Kyler’s speech.

Robin also reading the book and he finds a hidden address in the blank pages. The sparrow family then decides to send 23 boxes to the address. They will track the guy who takes the 23rd box at the delivery office. According to Walter’s theory, that man is involved with enigma & murder.

The next day a frightened man comes to take the box. Walter goes to him to talk but the man tells him that Walter shouldn’t be alive. Then the man cuts his throat with a box cutter.

Agatha comes to the scene and tells Walter to take Robin home and she would take the man to the hospital.

Later Agatha finds the man’s working ID card and when she goes to the institute that was abandoned. She sees a box labeled Walter Sparrow but before opening it someone attacks her.

On the other side, Walter finds a secret message by collecting every 23rd word from every 23rd page. He gets a location of a park. Then Walter & Robin visits there and they discover a skeleton digging after 23 steps forward.

They both become scared and run from the place. They return to the place with the police but the skeleton was gone.

Later Walter sees Agatha’s muddy fingers and realizes that she moved the skeleton. He concludes that Agatha is the writer of the book and she murdered the girl. Now when the murdered body goes exposed by police, she moved it to save herself.

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Then Agatha tells Walter what she learns at the institute and here the main twist of the movie reveals.

The author of the book is none other than Walter himself.

At a young age, Walter’s mother make suicide for the same 23 enigma as his father who was an accountant. He also made suicide and left a note only writing the enigma of 23.

After this incident, Walter also starts to see the connection with 23. At college, he got a relationship with Laura Tollins. But she wasn’t happy with Walter. She got involved in a relationship with her teacher Flinch.

One day Walter goes to Tollins apartment and there they fight. At a stage, he stabbed her with a knife. She died there and frightened Walter took the body to the park and dug there.

Later that night Flinch went to Tollins apartment and took the murdered weapon. So his fingerprint stuck to the knife and police considered him the murderer.

Then repentant Walter went to the King Edward hotel and took the 23-number room. There he started writing his confession with a typewriter but it become book-sized. Then lastly Walter changed his mind to convert the writing from confession to a novel and took the pseudonym Topsy Kretts for the author.

He also wrote the last chapter of the book which is the 23rd chapter on the wall of the room and covered with wallpaper. Then he jumped from the balcony to made suicide. But luckily (or unluckily) he survived. Although he survived, he lost most of his memories.

He was sent to a medical institute and after lengthy treatment, he was cured with severe amnesia. He is discharged from there and starts a new life.

Later he meets Agatha and is married.

Back in the present, after hearing all of these Walter become obsessed and goes to the street. A speedy bus is coming toward him and he almost allows it to run over. But at the last moment, he moves when he notices Robin is watching him. He doesn’t want to repeat the cycle anymore that his father created.

Agatha, Robin & Walter finally hugged each other and tells them that just a number and this Walter is different from the previous one.

In the last scene of the movie, we see Walter admits his guilts to the police and wait for sentencing. He believes that he will go easy by the Judge since he was handing himself. On the other side, Tollins body is implied in her grave and a funeral is processed for her. Finally, everyone is resting in peace.

The Number 23 Movie Explanation Step by Step

Well, so much has been said for so long, now let’s explain the movie in linear order.

  1. Walter Sparrow is a young boy and his father is an accountant who is obsessed with the number 23 enigma.
  2. Walter’s mother committed suicide because of his father’s insane behavior at about 23.
  3. His father also committed suicide after seeing his wife’s dead body and left a note only writing about the mystery.
  4. The incident affects Walter so much that and becomes obsessed with the 23 riddles.
  5. At college, his girlfriend Laura Tollins involved in an affair with her teacher Kyler.
  6. One night Walter is involved in a fight with Laura and is killed by a knife. Then he hid the dead body put in the park.
  7. Coincidently Kyler comes to the crime scene and takes the murder weapon. This inadvertently led to him being considered the murderer and sentenced to put in jail.
  8. Remorseful Walter takes room number 23 in the King Howard hotel and starts writing a suicide note where he confesses all his life story. But the letter becomes insanely large as a book consists of 23 chapters.
  9. Then he decides to keep the mysterious secrets and turns the letter into a book. But he writes the last chapter which is the 23rd chapter of the book on the wall of the room and covered it with wallpaper. He uses the name Topsy Kretts as the author. Which sounds like ‘Top Secrets.’
  10. Then he jumped from the balcony of the room to commit suicide. But he survived with amnesia and forgets his sins.
  11. He was sent to medical and recovered. Back to normal life as a new man.
  12. He married Agatha and they get a boy Robin.
  13. Middle of these, maybe someone finds the writings and published them with a red cover.
  14. On one of Walter’s birthdays, Agatha coincidently buys the book ‘the number 23’ and gifts it to him as a birthday present.
  15. Walter starts reading and finds out the similarity between the main character’s life with his own life.
  16. As the story goes deeper, he discovers the whole truth that the book is written by him.
  17. Finally, he confessed his crime to the police and wants to lead a good life after his punishment.

How Did the Number 23 End?

The movie ends with a good ending where Walter confessed his murder & waits for a judicial sentence. Agatha & Robin waits for him too. They believe Walter is now changed and he is not that murderer anymore.

The ending of the movie spreads a good vibe that no matter how worse you were before; you could be back as a good person anytime; the only thing you need is courage.

Is the Number 23 a True Story?

No. The Number 23 (2007) is a fictional movie written by Fernley Phillips. But he is very much inspired by Robert Anton Wilson’s article in the British magazine Fortean Time. There he cites William S. Burrough’s belief about the 23 enigmas.


Original Title The Number 23

Other Titles Le nombre 23 (Canada; french title), El número 23 (Mexico)

Genre Horror/ Mystery/ Thriller/ Crime

Runtime 01hr 38min

Original Language English

Directed by Joel Schumacher

Written by Fernley Phillips

Tagline The truth will find you.

Release date February 23, 2007 (USA)

Origin Country United States

Official Website Warner Bros. – The Number 23

Brainless Pen Rating!

Cast of Characters

Actor/Actress Name Characters Name
Jim Carrey Walter Sparrow
Virginia Madsen Agatha
Logan Lerman Robin
Rhona Mitra Laura Tollins

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