The most commonly criticized element of the film is its ending. The film has a more traditional "happy ending" which contradicts the tone of the rest of the picture. This has led to speculation that this ending is the product of John's imagination, caused by hallucinations from his forced coma after he is incarcerated. As one observer mused, "The conclusion of Minority Report strikes me as a joke Spielberg played on his detractors—an act of perfectly measured deviltry."
One critic theorized, "...[r]ather than end this Brazil-ian sci-fi dystopia with the equivalent of that film's shot of its lobotomized hero, which puts the lie to the immediately previous scene of his imagined liberation, Spielberg tries to pass off the exact same ending but without the rimshot, just to see if the audience is paying attention." Film scholars Nigel Morris and Jason P. Vest point to a line in the film as possible evidence of this. After Anderton is captured, Gideon tells him that, "It's actually kind of a rush. They say you have visions. That your life flashes before your eyes. That all your dreams come true." While Vest considers the blissful dream ending a possibility, he questions why Anderton did not imagine his son as having returned.
Buckland expressed disappointment in the ending, but blamed Frank. He felt that given the water theme, and closely tied together tragic parent-child theme, Anderton should have ended the film by taking Agatha in his care if Spielberg wanted a happy ending. Especially since "Anderton kidnaps Agatha from the precog pool just as his son was kidnapped from a swimming pool" and because Anderton could act as a "substitute parent for Agatha, and Agatha...a substitute child for Anderton." This opportunity is missed however, when the precogs are sent to the remote island, and Anderton reunites with his wife; an ending which Buckland finds more "forced" than the "more authentic" path he feels he noticed.