John Wick: Chapter 4 gave us more than just a great ending to a tremendous film. Chapter 4 also gave us an unexpected post-credits scene that reinforced one of the franchise’s most important themes. But what happened in John Wick: Chapter 4‘s post-credits scene, and what does it mean for the characters involved? Here’s everything you need to know about that moment and why it was so much bigger than just two people.
What Happens in the John Wick: Chapter 4‘s Post-Credits Scene?
The origins of John Wick: Chapter 4‘s post-credits scene began near the start of the film when Donnie Yen’s Caine was forced to participate in the attack on the Osaka Continental. That eventually brought him into a direct showdown with his old friend and the hotel’s manager, Hiroyuki Sanada’s Koji.
After killing countless High Table soldiers, a wounded Koji was attempting to flee with his injured daughter Akira (Rina Sawayama). Before they could escape, they encountered a waiting Caine. Despite both his condition and Caine’s pleas for him to walk away, Koji remained loyal to John Wick. He chose to stay and fight. Forced into battle, Caine struck Koji, leaving the manager weakened further. But the brave warrior believed he was protecting his daughter and attacked even after Caine insisted he did not want to kill him. Ultimately, Koji forced Caine to do just that.
When Akira then went to attack Caine herself, he told her not to and implored her to “live.” However, before he walked away, he told Akira he would hear her coming if she ever sought revenge against him. Akira then made her way onto a train, where she found John Wick. Before the two departed, she told John Wick to kill the man who murdered her father. If he did not, she promised she would, despite Caine’s warning.
Akira attempted to make good on that plea during John Wick: Chapter 4‘s single post-credits scene. With Caine and his daughter now safe from the High Table, Caine no longer had to stay away from his child. So, happy and free of service, he was walking with flowers to meet his daughter in a crowded public square. Whether this was their first reunion since Caine’s duel with John Wick isn’t clear, but it certainly felt that way in the post-credits scene. It also appeared that despite the skilled hitman’s incredible awareness of his surroundings and any danger, he was unaware Akira was waiting in that crowd to kill him.
Before his big duel with John Wick, it seemed impossible anyone could sneak up on Caine. But content with his new life in a way he hadn’t been before, Caine seemed vulnerable in a way he hadn’t been before in John Wick: Chapter 4‘s post-credits moment. With no High Table to worry about and a daughter to make up lost time with, Caine had other things to think about rather than living in fear and being on the lookout for enemies. If there was ever a moment for Akira to kill him, it was then. Did Akira kill Caine in the post-credits scene, though? We saw her take out a smaller dagger and move in for the kill, but the scene ended before we actually saw what happened when they met. The John Wick movie ended with the question of Caine and Akira’s fates unanswered.
What the Chapter 4 Post-Credits Scene Means for Caine and Akira’s John Wick Futures
It’s very possible Akira killed Caine right then and there in the John Wick: Chapter 4 post-credits scene. She had the advantage of choosing the time and place of her assassination attempt, along with a righteous anger to keep her focused. Meanwhile, the easy-going Caine seemed distracted and unprepared for a sneak attack. But despite having given the High Table his eyes, Caine remained as formidable as any hitman on the planet. He’s the franchise’s only real equal to John Wick. If anyone could instantly realize what was happening and save himself—even from someone as dangerous as Akira—it was Caine. In fact, he might very well have killed her with her own knife instead. They might even have both died during the ensuing fight. In that case, neither of them has a future in the franchise.
But it’s just as likely—maybe even more probable considering how incredible both newcomers were in Chapter 4—they both survived the encounter after the credits. Caine didn’t want to kill Koji in the first place. And he let Akira go even though he knew she’d want vengeance against him. And Caine only attacked the Osaka Continental because he was protecting his own daughter from the High Table, something he no longer has to worry about. If he managed to stop Akira in that public square, he might have let her go again, allowing both of them to return for future projects in the John Wick franchise. In other versions of the John Wick: Chapter 4 post-credits scene, Akira did kill Caine. However, director Chad Stahelski ultimately decided that was too dour a note for the final beat of the movie. Stahelski notes about the scene:
Keanu [Reeves] and I are always laughing, it’s like, ‘It should be Hard Boiled. We gotta kill everybody.’ So we tested it with Rina, the Akira character actually doing more than just the intent. And we put it right after the end of the movie, and it was kind of like a downer to a downer to a downer. At the end of it, as you know, despite the body count, Keanu and I are both into hope. We don’t like the dystopian, ‘It’s all bleak’ kind of thing. I know it seems weird when we do this, but at the end of the day, you know, we want you to leave with a positive feeling.
After seeing both Yen and Sawayama’s performances in the film, we feel the best decision for everyone who loves the world of John Wick would be for both to live.
Whether or not one, both, or neither of them survived the John Wick post-credits scene doesn’t change what that moment ultimately means. The fact Caine could be free of the High Table, but not his past, is a reminder of one of John Wick‘s most important themes.
How the Post-Credits Scene Adds to a Major Theme of the John Wick Franchise
“Actions and consequences.” Through four movies, everyone in the criminal underworld—whether below, at, or even above the High Table—has had to accept that their way of life comes at a great cost, both in this world and the next. Every decision they make leads to a new problem, and the more significant the action, the more significant the consequence. It’s why John Wick was never going to be free of his past until he died. He could kill all 12 members of the High Table, but like a hydra, more would pop up to replace them. Just as every corpse he left in his global rampage created new enemies who wanted him dead. You simply cannot live a life of sin without accruing a heavy burden along the way. Not anymore than you can kill the past. It stays with us always.
That was true of Caine, too. It didn’t matter how justified he thought he was in protecting his innocent daughter at all costs. He couldn’t do that without consequences. As the John Wick: Chapter 4 post-credits scene showed us, being free of the High Table doesn’t mean you are free from the hate and grief you created in service. And Caine’s freedom and his child’s safety involved killing a father with his own family.
We might have rooted for John Wick and Caine because they were good people within the world they inhabited. But that didn’t make them good people. They were both merchants of death, and they knew what that meant. Each believed themselves doomed to eternal damnation for their actions. They also knew that damnation would likely begin when an enemy killed them. How could it not? The more people you hurt the more enemies you create. They become the living embodiment of the past you can never escape, same as the ones you love—whether a child, a wife, or a friend—stay with you always.
John Wick couldn’t overcome what he’d done in life any more than Caine could. Everything we do, no matter the reason we do it, has consequences. And if Akira really did avenge her father in the John Wick: Chapter 4 post-credits scene… Someday she’ll have to face the consequences of her actions, too.
Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist. You can follow him on Twitter at @burgermike, and also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.