Solo Leveling season 1 summary and ending explained

The first season of Solo Leveling follows Sung Jinwoo’s journey as he goes from being the weakest hunter to becoming a Shadow Monarch.

Plot summary

In the world of Solo Leveling, gates linking the human world to an alternate dimension appear across the globe, leading to the awakening of magical abilities in some humans.

Those with these magical abilities can choose to become hunters, who are tasked with fighting the dangerous creatures known as magic beasts that reside on the other side of the gates.

These gates that open into dungeons contain precious resources, such as essence stones and mana crystals, which hunters collect after defeating the dungeon boss.

If hunters fail to defeat the dungeon boss, the gate remains open. If the gate is not closed within a week of its appearance, it can result in a dungeon break.

The events of the first season take place ten years after the appearance of the gates. The audience is introduced to Sung Jinwoo, an E-Rank hunter who is known as the weakest hunter among all mankind.

Despite his reputation, Jinwoo continues participating in dungeon raids for the sake of his mother, who is suffering from a condition called Eternal Sleep Disease.

Jinwoo’s younger sister, Jinah, is still in school, which means that Jinwoo is the family’s sole breadwinner.

One day, Jinwoo enters a dungeon with a group that includes his friend Joohee, a healer, and Song Chiyul, the group’s leader. 

After defeating the dungeon boss, they come across a second dungeon within the dungeon and decide to raid it for the spoils.

In the second dungeon, the group faces vicious statues that prevent them from leaving. Jinwoo realizes they must follow the dungeon’s commandments to survive. 

Some of the hunters in the group survive by following the commandments, but when they reach the last stage, the surviving members are given a chance to leave.

Most of them choose to leave against Jinwoo’s advice. As Jinwoo has lost a limb, he decides to stay behind and send Joohee and Chiyul to safety. 

The statues attack him, and just when he is about to die, a screen appears, offering him the chance to become a Player.

Jinwoo accepts and wakes up in a hospital room three days later to find that all his limbs are intact.

He is visited by Woo Jinchul from the Hunter’s Association, who believes that the only way Jinwoo could have survived magical beasts as powerful as the statues is by undergoing a second awakening.

Second awakening, a rare phenomenon, is the only means by which a hunter’s abilities can change after their first awakening.

When Jinchul checks, Jinwoo discovers that there is no difference in his powers; he is still as weak as he was before the double dungeon.

Jinwoo also learns that the screen is visible only to him and is called the System, which aims to help him grow stronger by completing daily quests.

Upon completing these quests, Jinwoo is rewarded with points that he can use to enhance his strength, intellect, and other abilities.

Sometimes, the System allows him to enter dungeons, where he faces powerful magic beasts and levels up.

With the system’s help, Jinwoo grows stronger than ever before. His newfound strength proves invaluable when he joins a raid led by a C-Rank hunter, Hwang Dongsuk.

During the raid, the group tries to kill Jinwoo and a C-Rank hunter, Yoo Jinho. However, they are no match for Jinwoo, who is instructed by the System to eliminate them.

Later, Jinwoo discovers that Hwang Dongsuk’s brother is Hwang Dongsoo, an S-Rank hunter who now seeks revenge on Jinwoo and Jinho.

Apart from facing Dongsoo, Jinwoo’s other motivation for becoming stronger is his desire to acquire the Elixir of Life, a potion that might cure his mother.

The Elixir of Life is in an S-Rank dungeon created by the System, and Jinwoo knows that he must first reach the level required to face S-Rank magic beasts.

Jinwoo’s increasing power brings with it the danger of losing himself. During a raid, he is forced to kill a B-Rank hunter named Kang Taeshik, who attacks Jinwoo and his friends.

Before dying, the hunter warns Jinwoo about the consequences of killing and losing oneself to the darkness. After the raid, Joohee decides to quit being a hunter.

Despite killing a B-Rank hunter, Jinwoo manages to hide his powers from the association, as Chiyul takes responsibility for Jinwoo’s actions. 

In order to level up, Jinwoo eventually agrees to work with Jinho, who comes from a wealthy family and wants to get a guild master’s license because his father is establishing a guild of his own.

Jinwoo and Jinho agree to go on nineteen raids together. In return, Jinho promises to give Jinwoo a building worth 30 billion won.

During these raids, Jinwoo confronts the magic beasts alone and continues to level up. This arrangement eventually catches the attention of Manager Ahn Sangmin from the White Tiger Guild, who learns of Jinwoo’s strength.

Additionally, Jinwoo receives a job-change quest from the System for killing numerous magic beasts while working with Jinho.

Ending explained:

The job-change quest

Accepting the quest leads Jinwoo to a dungeon where he encounters knights, mages, and assassins, including Knight Commander Igris the Bloodred.

Although Jinwoo manages to kill Igris and obtain invaluable equipment and skills, the task is far from easy. It is then that the actual quest begins.

Jinwoo is given a teleportation stone to escape the dungeon when he can no longer fight, but Jinwoo loses it during the battle, leaving him no escape. 

He comes very close to losing his life. He even sees his past self mocking him for being weak.

Fortunately, just before being killed by the knights, Jinwoo is teleported out of the dungeon. 

Jinwoo has not completed his daily tasks, so he is brought to the penalty zone, which allows him to heal and prepare to face the knights again.

Jinwoo buys a weapon from the System’s store and uses the Rune Stone he acquired after defeating Igris, which gives him the power to move objects without touching them.

This time, when Jinwoo is teleported back to the dungeon, he is able to defeat all the knights by killing the mages who are summoning them.

The defeat of all the enemies brings Jinwoo’s job-change quest to an end, allowing him to claim his rewards.

Shadow Monarch Jinwoo

Jinwoo is assigned a new job class: necromancer, a magic-based class that summons undead monsters as servants. 

Jinwoo does not want to be a necromancer; he wants a strength-based job class. Initially, he rejects the job class but accepts it when the System informs him that it is a hidden class. 

As Jinwoo’s earned advancement points exceed the class threshold, he immediately progresses to another class called Shadow Monarch. 

With this new class, Jinwoo acquires skills like Shadow Extraction and Shadow Storage, enabling him to create shadow soldiers and summon them at any time. 

He is asked to designate a command word for Shadow Extraction. Jinwoo chooses the word “arise,” and at his command, a shadow army rises.

His army of shadow soldiers includes mages as well. The mages and knights in his army have different ranks, and there is a limit to the number of shadows he can extract and store.

Jinwoo attempts to make Igris part of his army but fails, as Shadow Extraction can fail depending on the target’s strength and time of death. 

However, Jinwoo persuades Igris to serve him instead of waiting for his king, and in Jinwoo’s last attempt to raise him, Igris finally rises.

Now, as a Shadow Monarch, Jinwoo commands his own army of shadow soldiers, ready to follow his orders without question.

The case of Jeju Island

Towards the end of the first season of Solo Leveling, S-Rank hunter Choi Jongin gathers all the S-Rank hunters for a raid on Jeju Island. 

It is revealed that the island is uninhabitable by humans due to the magic beasts there, and the third raid on the island resulted in many deaths.

As the hunters fly over the island, the pilot senses multiple sources of mana. The hunters are then seen surrounding a magic beast.

Choi Jongin and the others are surprised to see that the magic beast is evolving, something that has never happened before.

Also Read: Jinwoo and Jinho’s partnership in Solo Leveling explained

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