Does Spike Spiegel die at the end of either the original Cowboy Bebop anime or the recently released Netflix live action adaptation?
Cliffhanger endings are a double-edged sword…we love them, we hate them.
In the world of anime, one of the most iconic and infamous cliffhanger conclusions was Cowboy Bebop, where the fate of its main character was left unknown.
Netflix’s recent live-action adaptation of the hit series may have taken some artistic liberties, but ended on a similarly vague note.
So, does Cowboy Bebop’s Spike Spiegel die in either the anime or Netflix’s new series?
Spoiler warning: This article will contain potential spoilers for Cowboy Bebop.
Does Spike Spiegel die in the anime?
Whilst many fans believe that Spike dies in the season finale of Cowboy Bebop’s original anime series, the creator of the series Shinichiro Watanabe has never confirmed the characters fate.
On the one hand, Spike is gravely injured and falls the group after a seemingly awesome send-off ‘bang’ and lies motionless on the steps.
The camera slowly pans upwards and towards the brightest star in the sky, only for the final credit to show that star fading away – something many fans believe is referring to Spike passing away.
However, Watanabe has always played innocent when discussing Spike’s fate, intentionally being vague in interviews and even making comments in jest at the fan speculation.
In a 2013 interview with Red Carpet News TV, the creator of Cowboy Bebop acknowledged that he’s “never officially said that he [Spike] had died”, adding that “I’m not sure if he’s alive or dead.”
“In the past, people watching my shows have come up with better ideas than my original intention for the story. So I think it’s good to let people use their imaginations.” – Shinichiro Watanabe, via Red Carpet News TV.
Watanabe even joked at the various theories concerning Spike’s fate, laughing at a sarcastic comment that “I think people who watch [the finale] and think that Spike is asleep are probably right… just sleeping.”
So, in the Cowboy Bebop anime series, Spike may or may not be dead – but this is on purpose as the creator intentionally wanted a mysterious and vague end.
Does Spike Spiegel die in the live-action series?
The answer for the recent Netflix live-action adaptation is thankfully, more definitive: Yes, as far as we are aware, Spike is alive in the season 1 finale.
As anyone would, Spike passes out in an alleyway behind the bar, with many viewers starting to wonder whether this is it for our protagonist – some would argue an appropriate place for him.
However, he is woken up seconds later by a new character, one that anime fans had been wishing entered sooner, the indescribable Ed.
Ed has a particular bounty she needs to hire Spike for, but after trying to move he collapses once again in exhaustion.
The good news is that considering both the finale and the place within the wider Cowboy Bebop storyline, it’s a safe bet that Spike Spiegel is alive at the end of the Netflix series.
John Cho explains the Spike Spiegel role…
Whilst there are many aspects of Netflix’s new Cowboy Bebop series that have been criticised, John Cho as Spike Spiegel is certainly not one of them.
The 49-year-old fan favourite actor recently explained to HYPEBEAST that playing Spike Spiegel had been the “most challenging role of my life.”
“The first thing was getting proficient in martial arts and trying to learn as much as I could in the time that I had. And that then started to inform who the person was, the more I did it. I was like, ‘Okay, I’m now playing a person that’s capable of doing this.’” – John Cho, via HYPEBEAST.
Cho then revealed that whilst the role had “really been rewarding as an actor”, Spike was a character with a unique reputation with fans. “You want to feel that you have the freedom to do your own thing while honoring the original too,” concluding that it “was definitely like walking a tight rope in that way.”
By Tom Llewellyn – [email protected]