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The Ending Of Succession Explained

Contains spoilers for "Succession"

From its premiere episode on June 3, 2018, until the series finale on May 28, 2023, "Succession" has been an audience favorite and a critically acclaimed hit for HBO. The first episode of Season 4 brought in its highest ratings ever with 2.3 million same-day viewers and proved the show's popularity still surged — even as its ending loomed on the horizon. The antics of the Roy family and the hangers-on at Waystar Royco (along with their witty one-liners) capture the zeitgeist well. Show creator Jesse Armstrong developed nuanced characters with rich character arcs that kept audiences tuning in season after season. Alas, the wild ride has come to an end. After four stellar, fast-paced seasons of "Succession," it's hard to believe that we won't see any new backstabbing or infighting from the broken and dysfunctional Roy siblings. Connor (Alan Ruck), Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Siobhan "Shiv" (Sarah Snook), and Roman Roy (Kieran Culkin) are mostly despicable characters, but they're often hilarious and compelling to watch.

Brian Cox, who portrays the larger-than-life patriarch billionaire, Logan Roy, spoke with Deadline about the end of the series and said, "I think it's one of the best shows on television, and I think for a reason, because of the integrity of the show, and the discipline of the show. Also, you know, I think Jesse [Amrstrong] was at a point where he was done." As the sun sets on the world of "Succession," let's take a look at how the show ends.

What you need to remember about the plot of Succession

The characters in "Succession" reach Shakespearean heights with their tragic quests for power. Within the Roy family, the three siblings from Logan Roy's second marriage — Kendall, Shiv, and Roman — long for their father's approval ... and for his business empire. The eldest Roy sibling, Connor, is the court jester of "Succession" — especially after he decides he should run for president, despite possessing no knowledge of politics or even a smidgen of work experience. The Roys have passionate love-hate family dynamics and would steamroll over one another if it meant Logan's approval or a larger chunk of the power pie. The core characters are rounded out by Shiv's bumbling yet conniving husband, Tom Wambsgans (Matthew MacFadyen), and the Roys' awkward and equally bumbling second cousin, Greg Hirsch (Nicholas Braun). Logan's sycophantic colleagues, general counsel Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron), chief financial officer Karl (David Rasche), and chief operating officer Frank (Peter Friedman), are fascinating supporting characters who switch allegiances more often than they change clothes.

From the first episode of Season 1 through the last episode of Season 4, every character in the Waystar Royco hierarchy is endlessly trying to grab power: Each thinks themselves worthy of becoming Logan's heir. Fans who think the Roys may have some basis in reality are correct. Jesse Armstrong told HBO that the characters were inspired by "famous media families like the Hearsts, to modern-day Redstone, John Malone, Robert Fitz of Comcast, Murdoch, and Robert and Rebekah Mercer, who founded Breitbart. Lots of real-life moguls."

What happens at the end of Succession

In "Church and State," the penultimate episode of "Succession" Season 4, Kendall realizes his sabotage-filled schemes against Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård) may not have as much support from his younger siblings as he imagined. Matsson is set to purchase the entire Roy empire, but after Logan's untimely death in Episode 3, "Connor's Wedding," Kendall wants one last run at commanding his father's legacy. Betrayals and breakdowns abound, and by the end of Season 4, Roman has retreated to the tropical sanctuary of his mother, Lady Caroline Collingwood (Harriet Walter).

During the show's final episode, the siblings share momentary, authentic tenderness. At Lady Caroline's vacation home, Kendall and Shiv join Roman to discuss the company's future. They collectively decide Kendall should become Logan's successor after all. Roman and Shiv blend a disgusting concoction that they force Kendall to drink to "anoint" him, and laughter ensues. The siblings then join Connor and his wife, Willa (Justine Lupe-Schomp), at their father's penthouse apartment, which Connor bought from Logan's widow, Marcia (Hiam Abbass). Together, they quietly watch a video of their dad. However, all hell breaks loose once they enter the Waystar offices. Kendall lies to his siblings about his involvement in the accidental death of Dodds (Tom Morley). In the end, all of the Roy siblings lose as Tom is crowned the new CEO of Waystar Royco.

Roman regains a sliver of humanity

On "Succession," Roman Roy is crude, mean, dysfunctional, and often hilarious. However, he's also the only Roy to show genuine empathy. For example, in Season 4, Episode 4, when Logan's mistress, Kerry (Zoë Winters), comes to collect her belongings after his death, even Greg treats her with callous cruelty. After Kerry drops her purse, it's only Roman who genuinely asks if she's okay. Nevertheless, when Logan dangles the carrot of succession in front of his youngest son, Roman begins to make moves that shove his subtly empathetic nature aside. He backs the presidential run of white supremacist Jeryd Mencken (Justin Kirk), and when Shiv pleads with him to turn his back on Mencken, Roman doubles down instead.

In the final episode of Season 4, Roman is not okay. His emotional breakdown at his father's funeral was witnessed by the world. However, he authentically bonds with Shiv and Kendall and seems relieved that their united front is temporarily restored. Alas, Kendall's lies blow up the sibling alliance, and Roman feels hurt and disgusted. When we last see Roman, he's sitting alone at a bar, sipping a martini. In a wordless moment of self-reflection, a smile slowly spreads across his face: Roman is unburdened. The fight for the throne and the looming shadow of Logan's abusive rule is over. Perhaps losing his claim on the Roy empire can fully restore Roman's humanity. There's a glimmer of hope for Roman outside of his father's empire.

The de-evolution of Kendall Roy

Although none of the Roys shine with exemplary character, Kendall Roy may be the worst, most irredeemable character on "Succession." Jeremy Strong portrays Kendall with nuanced complexity and irreparable brokenness. After Logan cruelly snatches the throne from him in Season 1, Kendall spends the rest of "Succession" either in the throes of self-pitying destruction, desperately trying to win his father's approval, or trying to thwart Logan's plans.

During his Season 4 unraveling, Kendall decides to support Jeryd Mencken, though he doesn't agree with his politics and a Mencken presidential win could put his daughter, Sophie (Swayam Bhatia), in harm's way. Kendall's always been a navel gazer — his narcissism colors all of his choices, but this is the first time he seems willing to put his kids in jeopardy. In the final moments of the last "Succession" episode, Kendall lies to Shiv and Roman about his vulnerable Season 3 confession and solidifies his self-serving motivations. "If I don't get this, I feel like I might die," he pleads, in a last-ditch effort to snag the Waystar crown. "I'm the eldest boy!" he exclaims and instantaneously erases any small character growth he's experienced over the course of the series. In an exclusive interview with Vanity Fair, Jeremy Strong said about his character, "It's a disaster in slow motion for him and it's excruciating for me to see it all unfold the way that it does."

Shiv is still the smartest Roy

Siobhan "Shiv" Roy has spent each season of "Succession" wading through a sea of undermining misogyny and trying not to drown. As a former political consultant, she's the only Roy with a proven professional track record, yet her ideas are shot down and she's betrayed at almost every turn. She fights a fruitless battle, but Shiv still keeps herself in an important position throughout the show. Sarah Snook spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about the motivations of her character and said, "I think Shiv is only really ever going to align herself where the truest amount of power is."

In the series finale, Shiv finally admits to Roman what she's known all along — Logan didn't want any of them to inherit his legacy. Yet she still promises Kendall she'll back his bid for the company. However, by the episode's end, she recognizes that even if Kendall's plan succeeds, she can't let him run things ... he's a terrible person, and thus, she changes her vote. When Tom confesses that Matsson has named him Waystar CEO, Shiv realizes he didn't stand up for her, but he's still her best shot at any semblance of power. She also truly loves Tom. In her last scene, Shiv holds her husband's hand — at least she'll have power by proxy. She's the only Roy who can think five steps ahead.

All hail King Wambsgans

On "Succession," Tom Wambsgans is just as conniving and cutthroat as his Waystar Royco counterparts. However, his bumbling Midwestern veneer masks his aptitude to play the power game. Matthew Macfadyen portrays Tom with such authenticity and so many subtle layers, the character comes across as genuinely ineffectual and spineless (but a deep well of comic relief). Throughout Season 4, Tom worries that if Matsson takes over the company, his head will be on the chopping block. He tries to angle back into Shiv's good graces and win Matsson's approval, too.

In Season 4, Episode 10, Tom breaks bread with Matsson on the night before the final vote on the Waystar Royco acquisition. When making his case to keep his job, Tom tells Matsson his position entails "cutting heads and harvesting eyeballs" and surprisingly, Matsson offers him the CEO gig (a move foretold by many fans of the show). He says that he needs a frontman, a "pain sponge," and Tom's his guy. Years of abuse from the Roys, the ability to double-cross anyone, and an unassuming public persona make Tom the ideal candidate. Macfadyen told The Hollywood Reporter that saying goodbye to the character "was sort of awful. But I will say that I think it's a good ending. I think it works."

The Disgusting Brothers will remain strong

In the Season 4 premiere of "Succession," Greg and Tom come up with the terrible nickname "The Disgusting Brothers" for their friendship. Ostensibly, they hope the moniker will create a threatening air and change the personas they exude. Nicholas Braun joked with TV Insider about Greg's take on "The Disgusting Brothers," "It's Greg-Tom disgusting. Maybe as men, maybe not so much physically." He said, "It's more the concept of them [being] disgusting."

In some ways, the name epitomizes the awkward duo. Neither seems to have a cutthroat persona, but both will do whatever they think it takes to climb the ladder of wealth and power. "Cousin Greg" is Tom's protégé, and when he commits any dastardly, seemingly out-of-character deeds, his mentor beams with pride.

During the last episode of the series, it seems Greg's friendship with Tom may be in peril. Greg shares information about Matsson's plan with Kendall, and Tom is not happy. Later, at Logan's apartment, Tom confronts his lackey on this disclosure and calls him a prick. A skirmish ensues as the two come to feeble blows. However, Tom remains loyal to those who are loyal to him — he tells Greg he still has a place in the company. As Tom declares in Season 2, Episode 9, "You can't make a Tom-lette without breaking some Gregs." Tom can't cut his whipping boy loose, and he sees himself in Greg. The duo's comedic antics (and their friendship) will live on.

Connor still hopes for an ambassadorship

Poor Connor Roy is never taken seriously on "Succession." As the only child from Logan Roy's first marriage (and the true "eldest boy"), Connor doesn't quite fit in with his siblings. He reaps the financial bounty of Waystar Royco but otherwise remains uninvolved with its operations. Connor doesn't possess the moral corruption of his siblings, but he shares the same sense of entitlement and narcissism. When he suddenly chooses to throw his hat in the presidential ring, everyone thinks he's a joke. However, he decides to double down on his famous Season 2, Episode 4 line — "Connor Roy was interested in politics at a very young age." When Jeryd Mencken becomes the obvious GOP frontrunner, Connor angles for an ambassadorship ... to Slovenia. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Alan Ruck imagined that should his character receive the position, he'll definitely have "buyer's remorse."

In Season 4, Episode 9, Connor still assumes he's going to Slovenia as a U.S. ambassador. Although Mencken didn't save the Roys' family-run operations and has never really had a relationship with Connor, the eldest Roy truly believes the potential president-elect will do him a solid. He and his much younger wife, Willa, are already making enthusiastic plans for their long-distance relationship. Will Mencken avoid Connor? Will Willa avoid him too? There may be heartache ahead for Connor Roy.

What fate awaits Gerri, Frank, Karl, and Hugo?

On "Succession," Logan's old school executives are sycophantic hangers-on, but they've managed to survive decades under his rule. Sure, Frank and Gerri were both fired and rehired, but neither has ever strayed very far from the Roys. After Logan's death, Gerri, Frank, Karl, and Hugo (Fisher Stevens) are still an integral part of the company's decisions. Hugo, Waystar Royco's senior vice president of communications for Parks and Cruises, has aligned himself with Kendall, and Tom plans to cut him loose, along with Frank and Karl. Stevens said he thinks Hugo will turn out fine, though, and told The Hollywood Reporter, "Hugo's got a plan. I can't tell you the plan, because I don't want to give it away. But I think he's going to succeed."

Chances are Gerri, Frank, and Karl will find a way to survive, too. Seasoned actor Peter Friedman, who plays Kendall's godfather, Frank, told The Guardian that "Frank might be a good person. So why is he with these sharks? Why doesn't he join a [nonprofit] and spread good if he's so damn moral?" Perhaps Frank will do just that — maybe he'll start a nonprofit and leave the ruthless office politics of Waystar Royco behind.

What the ending of Succession means

Perhaps for the first time in their lives, the Roy siblings no longer have the enormous pressure of succession pinning them down. At least temporarily, each will have to confront who they are in the aftermath. Kendall will most likely self-destruct. Roman may find a way to become a whole person and mature. Shiv must decide if her love for Tom outweighs her desire to worm her way back into Waystar Royco. Connor will hang out in his father's palatial digs, waiting for a call from Mencken that may never come.

Under Tom's leadership, Waystar Royco will either implode or shed the toxicity that drags the company down. The presidency may have been prematurely called — there's a chance Mencken may not have won after all — which will certainly change the landscape at ATN (the company's right-wing news network) and other company assets. For fans, the ending means saying goodbye to a phenomenally written, intriguing drama. Many have taken to social media to express their feelings about the end of an era. One Twitter user, @wednesdaysadums, summed it up nicely, tweeting, "Roman finally free from the life he was living to please his dad, shiv holding onto tom and therefore some power meanwhile kendall was left with NOTHING."

What the cast and crew of Succession say about the ending

Throughout "Succession" Season 4, the show's cast and crew have shared their feelings about what the show has meant for them personally and how they feel about the end of the series. "Succession" creator Jesse Armstrong told Decider, "I think we all feel really satisfied with the shape of the season. So, sad, but I think it's the right thing to do." Sarah Snook shared with The Los Angeles Times that the cast didn't know that Season 4 was to be the last until they sat down for the table read, and she said that the discovery made her feel "a huge sense of loss, disappointment, and sadness."

The rest of the starring cast shared Snook's sentiments. Jeremy Strong spoke with GQ before the final episode aired and disclosed that saying goodbye to Kendall would "feel like a death, in a way." It's apparent that "Succession" had a profound impact on the cast and crew who brought the show's stories to life, and while it may be time to move on, they collectively seem to recognize the powerful legacy their work has created.

What the end of Succession means for any potential spin-offs or sequels

The end of "Succession" gave every storyline some semblance of closure, but left us with unanswered questions as well. The characters of Waystar Royco are richly drawn and could provide endless, compelling stories in the future. However, there are no immediate plans for a "Succession" spin-off. The head of drama at HBO, Francesca Orsi, told Deadline, "I'll never say never but my instinct and based on a number of conversations about the evolution of 'Succession' and these characters, at this stage, there is no intention of spinning any one character off." Any further stories in the "Succession" universe would likely require the participation of series creator Jesse Armstrong.

That's not to say things couldn't change. Perhaps 2025 will see that "The Disgusting Brothers" spin-off come to fruition, as Nicholas Braun fantasized about in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. "The storyline's pretty funny," he joked. "We go off to Antarctica, and it's just the two of us trying to survive, and then we die pretty quickly. We die after three or four episodes." He quickly said that there isn't much potential in that idea. As for the other characters, in the future, could Kendall try to start again with a new company? A healthier, internally healed Roman could provide endless entertainment for a romantic comedy. Or a prequel series could spirit us back to Logan's rise to power. For now, though, we'll have to remain content with the 40 episodes HBO has produced, which have allowed us a glimpse of the brilliant dysfunction of the Roy family empire.