Outer Banks season 3 ending explained, plus everything we know about season 4 of the Netflix hit

Outer Banks season 3 ending went big, and there were huge surprises

Madelyn Cline as Sarah Cameron, Chase Stokes as John B in episode 310 of Outer Banks
(Image credit: Lee Davis/Netflix/Future)

Events took a major twist in the Outer Banks season 3 ending, and beware of major spoilers ahead as viewers bid farewell to more than one character...

Outer Banks has to be one of Netflix's more surprise hits, with not many predicting the action-adventure mystery drama would become of the streamer's most popular shows. Season 3 of the the ongoing hunt for treasure premiered on February 23, 2023, and fans quickly made their way through the 10 episodes available - now they want a breakdown (and debrief) of everything that went down. From The Pogues beginning the third season on their deserted island of Poguelandia, and a dramatic rescue that isn't what it seems, here's everything that happened in the quest to find John B's father and El Dorado, the lost city of gold. 

Also on Netflix, The Strays ending explained ties up any loose ends left by the mystery drama - Ashley Madekwe is excellent as the troubled mother whose final actions shocked viewers. For those asking is The Strays a true story, the film's writer revealed the truth behind the premise. Also on the streamer, Michelle Keegan is confirmed to star in a major new drama - we have the Fool Me Once rumoured release date, as Harlan Coben's novel of the same name is adapted for television.  

Outer Banks season 3 ending explained

The Outer Banks season 3 finale begins with the group flying to South America on a private jet flown by Ward, with Sarah telling Ward to leave them once they've landed. 

Having made it safely to the Orinoco basin because of Ward, John B is still reluctant to trust him. John announces his plan of action is to find a man called Jose in Tres Rocas, before heading to the archaeological site of Solana. He believes Ward hasn't heard any of this plan, but Sarah's untrustworthy father has one ear on the conversation and hears everything.  

John B's father, Big John, has been kidnapped by Carlos Singh and John and Sarah set out to find him. When they find and free Big John from captivity, this enrages Carlos Singh, who sends out his men to hunt them down. On his release, Big John admits he's unable to translate the Gnomon, but does have a letter with a bonus translation key, which turns out to be almost as good. 

Armed with new information, John B, Sarah and big John meet tour guide Jose at the river. Ward hadn't left when Sarah asked him to and after listening to John B's plans, had booked the same boat with Jose. With Singh's men in hot pursuit, there is no option but for Ward to join them on the boat. When they arrive at El Tesoro, Ward suggests he is too weak to make the hike, instead announcing he'll stay behind and warn the group should Singh show up. 

In the jungle, John B finds the Gnomon idol, which reveals riddles for the group to solve. Big John has the answers, but doesn't trust Sarah and won't reveal them in her presence. He does however, help John B and Sarah find El Dorado. As they set off, Singh appears, and it's apparent John B was right never to trust Ward - he'd been working with Singh all along, and had given away Sarah and John B's location to the enemy. 

Charles Esten as Ward Cameron in episode 310 of Outer Banks

(Image credit: Jackson Lee Davis/Netflix)

Singh threatens to kill John B if the group don't translate the secrets of the Gnomon, but even this isn't enough to get Big John to give up the answers. Shots are fired, and it's Big John who is shot. Injured but still alive, he manages to escape with John B and Sarah. 

Ward tries to persuade Sarah to join him on his side, but she responds to this by shooting at him - where her loyalties lay are clear. Making their way to the cave, Big John finally reveals what he's deciphered from the Gnomon clues, but is too injured to make it all the way to the cave and has to let Sarah and John B finish the journey without him. 

Arriving at El Dorado, Sarah and John B find big chunks of gold that they start collecting. Meanwhile, Singh has followed the trail of blood left by an injured Big John, and he again has the pair at gunpoint. As they reluctantly hand over their collected gold, Big John arrives brandishing a stick of dynamite. When Singh refuses to let John B go, Big John lights and throws the dynamite, while Singh makes a desperate attempt to put it out. With Singh distracted, everyone escapes - with the gold in tow. 

Andy McQueen as Singh, Charles Halford as Big John in episode 309 of Outer Banks.

(Image credit: Jackson Lee Davis/Netflix)

With Singh lost in the explosion, the group finally begin to feel safe - until Ward arrives brandishing a gun. Luckily, the remaining Pogues have made it to the scene, and they have machetes. Ward's attempt to take the gold fails, and Sarah takes his gun. 

The war for the gold is still not over, when Singh's right hand man Ryan shows up, trying to make his claim on the treasure. John B surrenders, but Ryan is still angry about those he's lost at the hands of the Pogues, and is out for revenge. As he tries to shoot Sarah, Ward leaps in front of his daughter, taking the bullets flying her way and managing to push Ryan off a cliff. 

The closing moments of the finale show an eighteen-month flash-forward. The group are living the lives they had always hoped for, and everyone seems settled and happy - until a stranger arrives. The unknown old man proffers a manuscript, which turns out to be Blackbeard's captains log. The man says "I would investigate it myself, but I’m too long in the tooth. I need partners, and you all were first on my list,"  and the episode ends. 

Carlacia Grant as Cleo, Madison Bailey as Kiara, Madelyn Cline as Sarah Cameron, Chase Stokes as John B, Jonathan Daviss as Pope, Rudy Pankow as JJ in episode 309 of Outer Banks.

(Image credit: Jackson Lee Davis/Netflix)

Who dies in Outer Banks season 3?

Ward and Big John both die in Outer Banks season 3. Ward dies from the bullets he takes to save Sarah, and Big John dies from blood loss due to being shot by Singh.

The pair are buried side by side in the forest. When John B was introduced in season 1 of Outer Banks, Big John is missing at sea and presumed dead. Always sure that his dad is actually alive, John B does indeed discover he’s alive and living in Barbados. Prior to his disappearance, Big John had been investigating a shipwreck and missing treasure, with fellow Outer Banks resident Ward Cameron (Sarah's father). 

When Big John was the one to decipher where to find the gold, he demanded a larger percentage of the treasure from Ward, after they'd decided to split it. Enraged at this idea, Ward had pushed Big John, and he'd hit his head in the fall. Presuming Big John to be dead, Ward had thrown him overboard. Managing to make it to an island, the alive Big John set off a series of events eventually leading his son to him. Although reunited for season 3, John B only had his father for a short time again before his untimely death. 

Rudy Pankow as JJ, Jonathan Daviss as Pope in episode 309 of Outer Banks

(Image credit: Jackson Lee Davis/Netflix)

Will there be an Outer Banks season 4?

Yes, Outer Banks season 4 was confirmed on February 19, 2023, ahead of the season 3 premiere.

The Netflix Tudum Twitter account revealed the news, in a tweet reading "BREAKING NEWS OUT OF POGUELANDIA: The Pogues (P4L) just dropped a bombshell. @obxnetflix has been renewed for Season 4!" The news had been announced live and exclusively at Poguelandia, an immersive fan event that took place at Huntington Beach, California, re-creating the Pogues’ island paradise. Taking to the stage at the event, Chase Stokes announced the crowd were the first to know "Outer Banks has been renewed for a fourth season!" 

Speaking to Variety about the announcement, show creators Jonas Pate, Josh Pate and Shannon Burke said "Seeing Poguelandia come to life was nothing short of spectacular. The Pogues are enjoying an adventure of a lifetime and we now get to map out more twists and turns as the joyride continues into Season 4 of Outer Banks. Thank you to Netflix, our cast and the amazing fans who helped to make this happen." 

Outer Banks season 3 finale: Fan reaction

On e fan reacted to the Outer Banks season 3 finale with a gushing Tweet saying "#OUTERBANKS Season 3 has big finale vibes in the scope and the stakes for the characters, not to mention the new treasure hunt. FYI: it's NOT the final season. But it is as beautiful, wild and romantic as ever, and brings together threads that have been laid since season 1.

Another responded to fans saying the season 3 ending was perfect, and should end there. They said "Not people saying Outer Banks should stop at season 3 because in the finale they’re all happy and there’s no need for another season.. well let me tell you screw you I NEED to see JJ's story and Sarah’s mom and SO MUCH." 

Another enthusiastic fan wrote on Twitter "Finished #OuterBanks yesterday and was blown away! I think it was the best season so far, and definitely the best season finale I’ve seen from a show in awhile. Best acting as well. Can’t wait for season 4!" 

After most of the finale centred on John B, Sarah, and Big John, one fan had questions. They said "Can't believe that Pope/Cleo and JJ/Kiara are MIA for much of major part of the #OBX3 finale. I don't understand that decision. Both are couples to root for and individually they're all badass. And we didn't even get to see them lay eyes on El Dorado. #OuterBanks #OuterBanks3" 

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Lucy Wigley
Parenting writer - contributing

Lucy is a mum-of-two, multi-award nominated writer and blogger with six years’ of experience writing about parenting, family life, and TV. Lucy has contributed content to PopSugar and moms.com. In the last three years, she has transformed her passion for streaming countless hours of television into specialising in entertainment writing. There is now nothing she loves more than watching the best shows on television and sharing why you - and your kids - should watch them.