The John Wick 4 ending is a fast-paced, action-packed thrill ride through the streets of Paris, so it's understandable if you missed some key details. We've broken down all the twists and turns of that explosive ending right here, answering all your major questions in the process.
It should go without saying, but the following will contain major spoilers for the John Wick 4 ending! Turn back now if you haven't seen the film yet! For everyone else, right this way…
John Wick 4 ending explained
Throughout the movie, the Marquis de Gramont (Bill Skarsgård) has been trying to have John Wick (Keanu Reeves) killed. This leads to him calling in Caine (Donnie Yen), an old friend of Wick's, to hunt down the other assassin – the Marquis gets Caine to do his bidding by threatening the life of his daughter.
All of this leads to a duel being agreed between Wick and de Gramont, though, naturally, de Gramont won't be participating himself. He names Caine as his representative. It's agreed that the duel will be held at sunrise, at Sacre Coeur in Paris, and it will be fought with duelling pistols. If John wins, he's free of the High Table and Winston (Ian McShane) will get the Continental back (and repaired) and be free of his excommunicado status, which the Marquis bestowed upon him at the start of the movie for helping John Wick in the third film.
De Gramont has no intention of allowing John Wick to reach the duel though. If John fails to arrive on time, he automatically loses, which means Winston, as his second, will be killed.
Some seriously epic action ensues, with John pursued through Paris by wave after wave of killers. Of course, in true John Wick style, he fights them all off. Mr. Nobody (Shamier Anderson) is after Wick on behalf of the Marquis, but switches sides when John saves his dog in a fight.
John Wick runs into trouble at the 222 stairs of Montmartre. After fighting his way up them, he's knocked all the way down… and down… and down…
Luckily, though, Caine arrives to help him out – after all, he can only win his freedom and his daughter's safety if John makes it to the duel. They fight their way back up the stairs and arrive at Sacre Coeur in the nick of time, just as the sun begins to rise.
At first, the duel looks like a stalemate. But, as the two assassins get closer and closer to each other, John seems to make the decision to sacrifice himself for Caine. He tells the other assassin that "those who cling to death, live" but "those who cling to life, die," which is a slightly amended version of a Uesugi Kenshin quote.
Wick doesn't shoot in the final round, but Caine does, and his bullet strikes John in the side. The Marquis, jubilant, claims his right to take the final shot and kill John. "Rules," he tells John. Winston, though, has figured out the ploy, and tells de Gramont that John didn't shoot. "Consequences," Wick returns, and kills the Marquis with a bullet to the head.
Caine, a free man, leaves the duelling ground, and Winston agrees to take John home. Wick then walks partly down the steps of Sacre Coeur, sits down, speaks his wife's name, and dies.
Winston and the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) are then seen at John's grave – he's buried next to his wife, and his gravestone reads "loving husband," as he said he wanted earlier in the film. Winston lays his hand on the grave and says "farewell, my son," in Russian, and a Ruska Roma tattoo is revealed on his wrist.
In a post-credits scene, Akira (Rina Sawayama) is seen moving through a crowd holding a knife, about to attack Caine; he killed her father, Shimazu (Hiroyuki Sanada) earlier in the film.
Is John Wick dead?
Although we don't see a body, it seems safe to assume that John Wick really is dead. We see him slump over on the steps and then see his grave, all without a last minute reveal that the Baba Yaga secretly lives to fight another day. Winston and the Bowery King are also certain Wick has died, too. Plus, Wick has tied up all his unfinished business: he's free of the High Table at last, leaving him nothing left to do. With all that considered, it seems the impossible really is true – John Wick is dead.
What does John Wick tell Caine?
Before the final round of the duel, John tells Caine "those who cling to death, live" but "those who cling to life, die." That's a version of a Uesugi Kenshin quote: "Those who cling to life die, and those who defy death live." Uesugi Kenshin was a Japanese daimyō known as the "Dragon of Echigo", who lived in the 1500s. He was a legendary warrior.
What are the rules of the duel?
John and the Marquis meet to decide on the rules of the duel, presided over by the Harbinger (Clancy Brown). The rules are negotiated by each side stating the conditions they want, then turning over a card – whoever has the highest number on their card wins. In this way, the conditions are decided: the duel will take place at sunrise, at Sacre Coeur, with pistols, and there will be no quarter. The Marquis also announces Caine will be his emissary, and Winston earlier negotiated with de Gramont to ensure that, should John win, Winston will be reinstated as the New York Continental's manager, and the hotel will be rebuilt.
In order to participate in the duel, Wick had to rejoin his family, the Ruska Roma; his ticket for help was torn in John Wick 3. He did this by murdering Killa (Scott Adkins), on behalf of Katia (Natalia Tena).
How did John Wick win the duel?
After two rounds of the duel end in Caine and Wick injured but alive, John seems to make the decision to sacrifice his life in order to kill the Marquis. After all, killing Caine would free John from the High Table, but murdering the Marquis immediately after that would get Wick in trouble all over again.
John chooses not to shoot in the next round, while Caine's bullet strikes him in the side. Wick falls to the ground, and de Gramont steps up to fire the killing shot. But, Winston points out that John didn't shoot – and Wick immediately shoots the Marquis in the head. That means Caine is free of the High Table and his daughter is safe (thanks to de Gramont agreeing to this right before his death), and John is free of them, too. His work finally done, John dies peacefully on the Sacre Coeur steps shortly afterwards.
What happens to Winston and the Bowery King?
Thanks to John winning the duel, Winston will get his (repaired) hotel back. The Bowery King and Winston are last seen visiting John's grave together, before they walk off in separate directions – meaning they both survive the movie.
Is Winston John Wick's father?
At John's grave, Winston lays his hand on the headstone and says "farewell, my son" in Russian. A tattoo of the Ruska Roma is visible on his wrist. So, does this mean Winston is John Wick's biological father? Most likely not – we already know that John is an orphan. The Ruska Roma are a crime family, after all, so it's likely that Winston could be John's adoptive father or, at the very least, father figure. That would also explain why Winston is the only character in the franchise to call John "Jonathan."
What happens to Charon?
Very early in the film, the New York Continental is marked for destruction by the High Table. Charon (Lance Reddick) and Winston go to meet with the Marquis, who, to punish them for aiding John Wick in the third film, shoots Charon dead. Winston and Charon bid an emotional farewell, made all the more of a gut punch by the awful loss of Reddick just days before the film's release.
Is there a John Wick 4 post-credits scene?
There is a John Wick 4 post-credits scene. After the credits have rolled, Akira is seen coming for Caine after he killed her father earlier in the movie. The screen cuts to black before we find out what happens next, however, but we can assume blood will be spilled. Whether this will play out further in a future spin-off remains to be seen.
Will there be a John Wick 5?
Director Chad Stahelski has indicated that the movies will "rest" after John Wick 4 – and, with John Wick dead, it certainly seems like the mainline movies have come to an end. But, there are spin-offs in the works. Ballerina is due out later this year and will star Ana de Armas as a woman seeking revenge after the death of her family. Keanu Reeves will reprise his role as John Wick in this movie, too, since the film is set before John Wick 4. The other spin-off in the works is titled The Continental and will follow a young Winston.
If you're up to speed on John Wick 4, check out our guide to all the upcoming major movie release dates for everything else 2023 has in store.