John Wick 4 Shot A Much More Mysterious Alternate Ending That Test Audiences Hated

This article contains spoilers for "John Wick: Chapter 4"

In many ways, "John Wick: Chapter 4" plays out exactly like the first three films in the series. John Wick (Keanu Reeves) sets out on a killing spree across the world that pits him against some of the world's greatest assassins, dispatching them in a series of beautifully choreographed gunfights and martial arts sequences. Despite following the same basic principles as its predecessors, however, the ending of "John Wick: Chapter 4" undoubtedly left plenty of fans shell-shocked — since the seemingly invincible John Wick finally succumbs to his wounds and dies a warrior's death.

This comes after three rounds of dueling with fellow hitman Caine (Donnie Yen), which leaves Wick fatally wounded since he saves his third and final bullet to kill the Marquis Vincent de Gramont (Bill Skarsgård). Although Wick's death is undeniably shocking, director Chad Stahelski claims that they did try out a much more ambiguous ending that would have left the titular assassin's fate up in the air — and that audiences absolutely hated it.

"There was a different way to do [the funeral scene], and we wanted it to be a little bit more mysterious. That's why you see the puppy look up at the end," Stahelski explained to The Hollywood Reporter. "So we did one test screening, and the audience revolted pretty hard about [the new ending]. So we thought that we nailed it the first time, and to the studio's credit, they didn't even blink." Though Stahelski doesn't clarify exactly what this alternate ending entailed, it's clear that John Wick's heartbreaking death is much more powerful than whatever ambiguous finale they cooked up.

Fans still loved the ending, despite the initial shock

Filming the alternate ending was necessary because Lionsgate, unwilling to kill off its newest flagship action hero, initially balked at the original ending. "The response was, 'What are you f***ing thinking?'" Chad Stahelski told The Hollywood Reporter of reactions to the idea of Wick finally meeting his end.

However, the studio was eventually convinced that ending the movie with Wick's death was the right way to go, and it seems like many fans online had a similar reaction. "This movie, if it's [sic] ending isn't a fake out, was genuinely shocking and I think it worked really well given what has been built up throughout the series," wrote @FutureVisionGem on Twitter. "A shocking, sensational ending. This is why you go to the cinema," echoed @ericbizzarri.

As terrifying as it must've been for Stahelski and Keanu Reeves to kill off one of their most prolific characters (at the height of his popularity, no less), it's clear that Wick's death made an immense impact on fans of the series and was the right decision despite its shocking nature. It's also worth noting that, although Wick's story might be over, the franchise itself lives on, with the Ana de Armas-led "John Wick" spin-off "Ballerina."

Is this really the end of the road for John Wick?

Of course, even though it appears that John Wick has indeed bit the dust, this is Hollywood we're talking about. Especially in the realm of action blockbuster franchises, the mantra "never say never" has endured for decades. There's always a way to write around death if one wants to resurrect deceased characters badly enough. As for Mr. Wick, one has to wonder if he too could cheat death down the line, thus giving Lionsgate the opportunity to make "John Wick: Chapter 5" a reality. After all, Keanu Reeves doesn't seem opposed to returning to the role when the time is right.

"I mean, I wouldn't do a 'John Wick' film without [director] Chad Stahelski. We'd have to see what that looked like. For me, it feels really right that John Wick finds peace," Reeves told Entertainment Weekly about his future in the "John Wick" franchise. Time will tell if Wick will somehow rise from the grave for more gun-toting, sword-clanging action at the movies beyond "John Wick: Chapter 4." Although, Reeves has noted that he'll at least play a small part in "Ballerina," so fans have that much to look forward to.

"John Wick: Chapter 4" is currently playing in theaters everywhere.