Succession ending explained

The perfect end to the perfect series

Jeremy Strong as Kendall Roy in Succession
(Image credit: HBO/Future)

Succession ending explained, as one of TV's greatest television triumphs comes to an intense conclusion. 

After four seasons and 39 episode, Succession has reached an epic conclusion. The dark satirical comedy-drama has won multiple and deserved awards for its depiction of the Roy family, and their fight for control of Waystar Royco at any cost. Now the 90-minute finale is over, what happened to Kendall, Roman, Shiv, and Tom et al.? Expect Succession to be talked about for years to come and appear on many lists of greatest shows of all time, as we break down that spectacular finale. 

The Firefly Lane ending brought tears and wishes for more of Tully's story in the aftermath of a sad loss. The Obsession ending also on Netflix, was not the happy one fans might have been rooting for. Elsewhere on the streamer, The Diplomat ending left the door wide open for a follow up. 

Succession ending explained

The closest thing to a winner of Succession, is Tom. After ingratiating himself with Matsson, he swings it so that he will be made CEO when the GoJo deal is finalized. 

Prior to the vote Kendall also won to some extent for a small moment, by finally getting the validation from his family that he could've taken over the job if he wanted it. Shiv and Roman take him for a meal before they return to New York for the final vote, which turns out to be the last happy sibling memory they share. 

During the vote, As Roman votes for Kendall and Shiv decides she won't actually vote for him after all, the resulting brawl that erupts between them sees the end of any relationship they have left. Deciding they have no choice but to no longer have anything to do with each other, Kendall is last seen looking sadly out across the water, perhaps contemplating everything he's lost.

In the run up to the vote, Shiv tried to align herself with both sides; her brothers, and Matsson. Her brothers catch her out, and Matsson cuts her loose because of concerns over her trying to change too many things. Getting herself back on good terms with Roman and Kendall, they agreed at their pre-vote meal that they'd both vote for Kendall - this of course, ends with Shiv just not able to bring herself to go through with it. This could have been yet another power play to try and get back in with husband Tom, but who knows with Shiv. She is last seen driving away with Tom but despite still being together, they book look pretty unhappy. 

Roman is visited at his mother's house by the gang before the final voting showdown, who try and persuade him where his vote should lay. Apparently with no cares left for the entire voting thing, Roman does agree that Kendall should get the job. Despite actually voting for his brother, he agrees with Shiv when she about-turns and says Kendall shouldn't get it. With the sibling relationship hearing the final death knell with the boardroom vote, Roman is last seen ordering a Martini alone in a bar. 

Sarah Snook as Siobhan "Shiv" Roy in Succession

(Image credit: HBO)

Did Tom betray Shiv?

Yes, Tom does betray Shiv, which becomes evident when he accidentally lets her know her name has already been redacted from the Matsson paperwork, and he will be taking her job.

Realizing he's made a grave error, Tom tries to get his wife to vote for him instead of Kendall. Thinking she hasn't worked out what's going on obviously doesn't work out for him, when Shiv tells her brothers what her husband has done. Despite her husband's betrayal, Shiv still apparently backs him by ultimately voting against Kendall in the final voting showdown.

This could be because Shiv has not only had to compete against her brothers her entire life, but has also faced a battle against misogyny - something her brothers didn't need to worry about. Turning on her brother at the last moment could have been her only chance to wield all the power, something that's always been out of her grasp. Although she displays contempt for Tom, this isn't unusual; he's also the father of her unborn child and she still needs him. Choosing her husband appears the inevitable choice, and as the company CEO, he could still recruit her back into Matsson in the future. 

Kieran Culkin as Roman in Succession

(Image credit: HBO)

Why did Kendall open Roman's stitches?

According to the show's writers, Kendall opened Roman's stitches as a physical demonstration of the sibling's inability to love without hurting.

During the final vote when it starts to look like Kendall won't be the winner after all, Roman became emotional over his own inability to get the top job. Moving in to comfort his brother, Kendall's hug turns violent as he slams his brother's wounded face into his shoulder, reopening some existing stitches. 

Speaking to Vanity Fair about the scene, Kendall actor Jeremy Strong said "Part of the tragedy of the show, part of what Jesse is writing about, is this co-mingling of holding and hurting - of love and violence. When I hold Roman, that embrace is also -what's the opposite of an embrace? 

Yeah, I'm embracing him and I'm crushing him at the same time. Which you could say is part of the love language that they learned in this family. Shiv and Roman can't express love without also expressing a kind of cruelty, and we -all of us -betray our own capacity to love." 

Sarah Snook, Kieran Culkin and Jeremy Strong in Succession

(Image credit: HBO)

Succession finale: Fan reaction

Telling it like it is, one viewer wrote of the Succession finale: "It’s incredible to me that absolutely nothing about these people changed from Day 1. No growth, no moral realizations, no sacrifices for the greater good, etc. Just a story about a group of absolute f***s. #SuccessionFinale #SuccessionHBO" 

Another said "Shiv has finally become her mother. Destined to be the unhappy wife of the powerful ceo. I’m gonna be SICK #SuccessionFinale #SuccessionHBO" 

Of Tom's victory, one viewer wrote "Each “Succession” finale had Tom moving closer and closer to Logan’s throne. Marrying his daughter, showing he has the guts to stand up to him, becoming his right hand man and eventually taking over as CEO."

Praising Kieran Culkin in particular, one fan's opinion was "The #Succession finale was perfect, but I just wanna mention how fucking GREAT Kieran Culkin was this season, esp the last 4 episodes. One of the best performances on TV I've ever seen, oscillating between acerbic snark, stinging vitriol, and heartrending vulnerability." 

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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 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.