- "Janson: I've never seen such a menacing bunch of thugs! I have to admit I'm terrified!
Minho: Just shut your shuck mouth and lets get this over with!
- — Minho and Janson before the climactic battle begins
The Death Cure is a young-adult dystopian science-fiction novel and the third and final book in The Maze Runner Trilogy written by James Dashner. It is preceded by The Scorch Trials and is followed by The Kill Order. It was published on October 11, 2011.
It's the end of the line.
WICKED has taken everything from Thomas: his life, his memories, and now his only friends-the Gladers. But it's finally over. The trials are complete, after one final test.
Will anyone survive?
What WICKED doesn't know is that Thomas remembers far more than they think. And it's enough to prove that he can't believe a word of what they say.
The truth will be terrifying.
Thomas beat the Maze. He survived the Scorch. He'll risk anything to save his friends. But the truth might be what ends it all.
The time for lies is over.
After the events in The Scorch Trials, Thomas is locked up in solitary confinement for four weeks. He is then released, and Assistant Director Janson (aka "Rat Man") reveals to him and the other subjects (including Group B) that there is no cure for the Flare but that most of the Gladers and Group B are immune. Janson then announces that some people, including Newt, are not immune to the Flare. He also warns them that many people in the outside world hate them because of their unnatural resistance to the Flare and that if they escape they will most likely be in more danger.
Janson then gives the Gladers a chance to get their memories back and everyone, except for Newt, Minho, and Thomas, agree to get their memories restored, especially Teresa, who still believes "WICKED is good". As a result, while everyone gets their memories back, Newt, Minho, and Thomas are kept in confinement under the watch of guards and more cameras. Even though Minho, Newt, and Thomas say no to it, they are eventually forced to get their memories back the next day, as Janson (or Rat Man) thinks that they would be of no help to finding the cure without their memories. Luckily, Brenda, who manages to convince him to let her help sedate Thomas, helps them escape before they are given their memories back.
They discover the test subjects who received their memories were also able to escape, thinking that the other Gladers had abandoned them (it is revealed later on that the other Gladers had instead thought that they had already escaped before them). The gang raids the armoury and gather guns and ammunition. Newt is unusually short-tempered. He had attacked Rat Man before, and, in the weapons depot, starts a petty argument with Minho, resulting in a brawl. Before leaving, Newt gives Thomas a note, telling him that he must not read it until the time is right. Shortly after that, Thomas, Minho, Newt, and Brenda escape onto a Berg, a massive airship; while under fire from WICKED guards. Jorge reveals himself to be a skilled pilot, and that Teresa, Aris, Frypan, and the other test subjects had knocked him out and have escaped on one of the other 3 Bergs.
Some guards break into the hangar, wielding Launchers (which fire electrical stun grenades), and pistols. Jorge manages to get all of them into the air, but both Thomas and Brenda are struck by Launcher grenades. After their escape, Brenda tells Thomas, after his realization that she is a WICKED employee, (He had learned this upon first seeing her in the facility and was dismayed to learn this) However, she says only joined WICKED for survival reasons, as she agrees with Janson that the alternative is a literal death sentence with more cranks popping up all the time. Thomas tells her about Chuck's death and Teresa's betrayal against him and uses them as the two main reasons why he hates WICKED; they used them, they constantly lied to them, and they never bear the consequences, instead always claiming it's for the greater good. Although Brenda empathizes with Thomas, she reasons that Teresa's reason behind her betrayal was that she did it because they threatened to kill him if she didn't do what they wanted, and by doing so, she saved his life.
They fly to Denver, where Teresa and the others have escaped to. They pretend to be people looking for a job when they are there to see Hans, a former WICKED neurologist who has escaped, to get him to help them remove the Swipe in Minho and Thomas' brains. The Swipe allows WICKED to control them, therefore they have to remove them as soon as possible.
Upon arriving at Denver, Newt is left behind in the Berg as he is the only one who is not immune to the Flare. While they are on their trip, a mysterious man hands them a note which reveals an address where they meet up with Gally, a previous Glader who tried to kill Thomas, but killed Chuck instead, and also a member of the Right Arm, an underground organization dedicated to destroying WICKED.
After which, at Hans', WICKED finds a way to control Thomas with the implant still in his brain, to kill Hans and prevent him from removing the implant in Thomas's brain. As Thomas is held down by the others, Hans manages to perform an operation on Thomas, removing the implant in his brain that allows him to telepathically talk with Teresa and Aris and that lets WICKED monitor where he is. When the operation is completed, Brenda, Jorge, Minho, and Thomas go into a coffee shop to eat. There, Brenda points out a man who is infected with the Flare but taking the Bliss. When the infected man is discovered in the coffee shop, Thomas stupidly decides to stay and watch what is happening, accidentally revealing himself to the guards that he is immune to the Flare and that he already knew that the man was infected but still did not do anything. The man is revealed to be a WICKED bounty hunter who captures immunes, he captures Thomas and intends to take him back to WICKED for a huge payment.
When Thomas is about to get in the Red Shirt's car, a flying law enforcement vehicle (known as a cop machine) shoots the man down. A video feed appears on its screen displaying a video image of Janson, who tells Thomas to come back to WICKED for the Phase 3 of the Trials. Thomas who needs to escape from him, lies and tells Janson that he would consider, even though he intends to never go back to WICKED and help them. Janson tries to enforce Thomas's lie further by saying that Newt is succumbing to the disease a lot faster than the average person can. Upon hearing about this, Thomas agrees and tells his friends that they should help him quickly, but the city does not allow for its current population to exit, forcing the group to wait until the next day.
When the group arrive back at their Berg the next day, they discover that Newt is missing. They find a note from Newt which states that some people found him and took him to a Crank Palace, where Cranks live before they go crazy. Brenda knows of the place, which is called the Crank Palace, and all of them fly there immediately, in an attempt to bring Newt back. They manage to bribe the guards with money from WICKED (Jorge has access to this from a stolen card that once belonged to the Rat Man) and find Newt in a deserted bowling alley. Along the way, they see that the living conditions of the Crank Palace are not good, though they see a Crank couple that looks somewhat normal. Minho, extremely adamant to not give up on Newt, considering their past, attempts to persuade Newt to come back but is forced to leave at gunpoint. They also find out that a group of the Cranks at the palace plan to break out and head to Denver and Newt intends to join them. During the entire visit, Newt claims that Thomas failed him and openly insults him, though Thomas is confused.
A riot breaks out and a massive Crank escape occurs, with Thomas, Brenda, Jorge, and the others narrowly getting away in the berg. After the berg lands back at the airport, Thomas reads the letter that Newt gave him while they were escaping from the WICKED complex.
The note states, "Kill me. If you've ever been my friend, kill me." Thomas realizes that Newt had been angry at him because Thomas had not followed the note's directions (i;e he wanted Thomas to kill him upon seeing him in his crank state), but this only happened because Thomas had all but forgotten about it and hadn't realized when the 'right' time was to read it.
Once they open the Berg's bay door, the group is captured by four people wielding Launchers and pistols. Thomas and the others assume that they're bounty hunters. Bags are put over their faces and they are driven to an unknown complex. There, the group overpower the guards, and at gunpoint, the bounty hunters tell that they work for the Right Arm. There, they also meet Teresa and the other subjects who were also captured by the same bounty hunters. Thomas talks to Teresa and almost immediately berates for alerting the Right Arm to them and for abandoning them back at WICKED; she fires back, saying that Thomas is too caught up in his anger over people 'betraying' him, which keeps him from realizing these 'betrayals', while hurtful, have ultimately saved his life; She also says she's still his Teresa and always has been and that she escaped WICKED because her memories helped her realize WICKED's true agenda; they believe their first search for a cure has failed and want to restart the trials, all of which went against her reasons for staying with them. Thomas is glad that she is on his side but remains quiet on whether or not he wants to forget the past and move on in terms of their past relationship.
The Female bounty hunter says they took them because a group of Cranks (the ones Newt has joined with) have overrun Denver and are killing anything that moves. Minho demands that they take Thomas and Brenda to their headquarters, where they want to speak to the leader of the Right Arm. A bounty hunter named Lawrence drives them there in a van. Along the way, they bump into a large crowd of Cranks, who are desperate for food. The Cranks attempt to get Lawrence, Brenda and Thomas out of the van by constantly pounding on it and attempting to smash the windows. Finally, however, they get away after Thomas shoots a few Cranks with a pistol.
At the Right Arm's headquarters, they meet Vince, the leader of the Right Arm, and a friend of Gally. The Right Arm has, for a long time, been planning to take down WICKED and use its resources and money to save as many of the infected and disinfected as they can; something that they believe WICKED should've done instead of Hoarding resources, money and people for finding a cure. Thomas agrees to help them and they plan an infiltration plan to get the Right Arm into WICKED's base. They plan to plant a device in WICKED's headquarters, which are just outside Denver, which will disable their soldiers' weapons (pistols and Launchers), allowing the Right Arm, trained heavily in CQC with traditional weapons (knives, swords, etc.) to gain the upper hand. Thomas volunteers to plant the device because WICKED wants him back for Phase 3 of the Trials, and he could take advantage of that to enter WICKED's facilities.
They agree on the plan and Thomas gets into a vehicle with Lawrence and the pilot (who would pilot the Berg), with Lawrence driving to the hangar, where their Berg awaits them. At one point while driving, Thomas sees Newt among a group of Cranks. He forces Lawrence at gunpoint to stop the van so he can go talk to Newt and see how he is. Newt is angry because he didn't follow the note's orders, yelling at him and saying that Thomas couldn't do the one thing he'd ever asked him to do. He furthermore blames Thomas for the maze and everything he went through; he also reveals that he got his limp after Alby stopped him from committing suicide via the maze walls. After Newt jumps him and forces the pistol to his forehead, begging for death, Thomas ends up shooting him in the head. They continue until they reach the base. They get into the Berg where Thomas rests for a couple of hours. Thomas is dropped off a few miles away from the base at the planned location. He hikes to it and is greeted by Janson. Thomas plants the device immediately when he made an excuse to use the bathroom and has to wait for one hour for the device to finish working.
During this time, Janson brings Thomas to his office, in which are Two WICKED employees, Dr.Lane, the lead Psychologist, and the Head Physician, Dr. Christensen. Janson tells Thomas that he is the Final Candidate and that WICKED needs to perform a fatal brain operation on him to finish the blueprint of the brain, ultimately leading to a vaccine and/or a cure for the Flare. It had originally came down to him and Teresa, but Teresa's sense of obedience and lack of independence led them to choose Thomas, who is also angered to learn that Janson had planned for Thomas's escape and used it to gather more data. Janson reveals that that is the reason for the trials' existence: Their existence is so that they can narrow down the immune candidates and determine which one holds the key to finding a cure. Thomas tries to put off the operation for as long as possible but it is too late. Thomas is eventually saved by Chancellor Paige, head of WICKED, who calls off the operation in favour of a different plan involving getting the Immunes to safety, to preserve the human race. Chancellor Paige also gives Thomas a map to escape from the Maze to the place she wants him to go to via a Flat Trans. Thomas discovers that the couple hundred Immunes that WICKED has gathered, courtesy of the Right Arm, are being hidden inside the Maze. On the way, however, he runs into Janson and a colleague of his. Already desperate as time is ticking, Thomas manages to escape them by throwing a knife and stabbing Janson's colleague in the neck, but with Janson on his tail. While running away, Thomas notices Newt's insane anger on Janson's face and realizing that the Rat Man has the Flare. he discovers that Janson has contracted the Flare and that he is planning to do anything to complete the brain blueprint and counteract the disease. He finds two Right Arm soldiers who inform him that the complex will be coming down with the use of explosives. He runs off to find Vince.
Vince informs Thomas that the explosives have been planted in WICKED already and that if Thomas planned to try and go inside of WICKED once more just to save the Immunes, he would consider that as Thomas going against the Right Arm. Thomas still decides to go back to save the Immunes and complete the mission Chancellor Paige issued him. He asks Gally to come and help him, and while Vince informs Gally the same thing (if they were to go back to WICKED it would be considered as betrayal), Gally agrees to help Thomas. The two soon find the others (Teresa, Brenda, Minho, Harriet and Jorge) and they all set off to save the Immunes.
They make it to the Maze and find about four hundred to five hundred Immunes of all ages in the Glade. They all split into groups, in an attempt to have a mix of ages and strengths in each group. Before they can escape the Maze, however, it starts to collapse from the explosives that the Right Arm had planted. On the way, they encounter more Grievers. Thomas manages to deactivate them by pulling on the handles at the back of their bodies, as Teresa told him to do. At one point, Teresa sacrificed herself to the last Griever in an attempt to let the others escape, but Thomas manages to save her.
They make it to the maintenance room with the Flat Trans that Paige mapped out; where they meet the Flare-infected Janson and 6 other WICKED security guards. The Gladers manage to overpower the guards and Thomas strangles Janson to death. When the maintenance room starts to collapse, a large piece of stone from the ceiling is about to crush Thomas but Teresa tackles him and gets crushed instead. Thomas knows that Teresa cannot survive the massive internal organ damage and is forced to go through the Flat Trans without her before the whole WICKED complex is destroyed.
The Immunes are transported to "Paradise". The only original Gladers confirmed to survive besides Thomas are Frypan, Minho, and Gally. Brenda later finds Thomas resting alone and tells him that "Paradise" would be a good new start, then Brenda leans in and kisses Thomas, who responds by kissing her back and pulling her close to him. Minho is seen taking responsibility and giving groups of people jobs to get the place up and running. It is suggested that once the Flare kills off the rest of humanity, the Immunes will rejoin the world and repopulate it with their immune genes.
In the final WICKED memorandum by Chancellor Paige, she reveals that their "predecessors in government" (revealed in other books to be the Post-Flares Coalition) released the Flare from a quarantine zone as an attempt to control world population after the sun flare catastrophe and that WICKED tried to correct the PFC's wrongdoings by trying to create a cure and a vaccine. She admits that the majority of WICKED strayed from the original goal of saving the human race and their activities of attempting to repeat the Trials were threatening the last resort left to mankind. In leaving the Immues to rebuild civilization, she reinforces the idea that had been attempted to have been planted in all of the subjects of the experiments: WICKED is good.