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- Cowboy Bebop Ending Explained
Netflix's reimagining of anime classic, Cowboy Bebop, is finally here and there's a lot to break down regarding its big finish and future.
By Daniel Kurland | |
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This article contains spoilers for Cowboy Bebop, both the anime and the TV series.
There are certain pop culture totems that the public is incredibly protective over and Cowboy Bebop is a prime example. Shinichiro Watanabe’s masterwork continues to be considered one of the very best anime series ever made. Netflix’s live-action riff on the classic anime caught many people by surprise, but ended up as a passionate product that doesn’t try to replace the original series, yet also finds rewarding ways in which to expand the series’ universe.
Spike Spiegel (John Cho), Jet Black (Mustafa Shakir), Faye Valentine (Daniella Pineda), and their lovable Corgi, Ein, make up the eclectic crew of the Bebop, a team of bounty hunters who are just as concerned about procuring their next meal as they are about any upcoming target. Netflix’s visually ambitious Cowboy Bebop does an exceptional job across its ten episodes, but its conclusion unleashes massive revelations that will result in some seismic changes for what lies ahead in the series. The first season of Cowboy Bebop throws a lot at its audience and it’s easy to get lost in the carnage of the finale and be left scratching your head over what it all means.
What Becomes Of The Bebop Crew?
One of the most rewarding things about Cowboy Bebop is the found family that’s forged among Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, and Faye Valentine, as these outcasts and outlaws cultivate an understanding and appreciation towards one another. At the same time, nothing feels permanent in Cowboy Bebop and each bounty seems like it could also be the last time these characters work together. The collective crew of the Bebop accomplish amazing things throughout the season, but they end their story separated and at their respective rock bottoms.
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The biggest fracture that occurs is between Spike and Jet, after the latter learns the truth about Spike’s history as a Syndicate assassin. Jet can’t get past this omission and the only reason that he lets Spike get away with his life is because he helps Jet rescue his daughter, Kimmie. Jet callously tells Spike, “Death follows you wherever you go,” which is a sentiment that’s originally expressed by Vicious. Spike can’t argue with this and as hurt as he is to lose Jet, he understands that he’s likely brought him more trouble than relief.
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The final pillar of the Bebop crew, Faye, also bids her new friends goodbye, but her motivations for this departure have been steadily brewing all season. Faye finally has a lead on where she grew up on Earth and a chance to get some real answers about her past and family. This was supposed to be a journey that the Bebop goes on together, but there’s too much pain that lingers in Jet and Spike, so Faye’s forced to tackle this search for answers on her own. It’s a difficult, albeit necessary decision for Faye to make.
Faye learns to embrace Jet and Spike as her family, but she can’t ignore her history. Cowboy Bebop continually plays with the idea of characters’ pasts being in opposition to their present, but Faye is just desperate for any clarity on her roots. Her voyage to Earth likely won’t take up the entire second season, but it’ll keep her displaced from the rest of the cast for at least a brief period.
What Remains Of The Syndicate And Who’s In Charge?
An important aspect of Cowboy Bebop is the volatile history that exists between Spike, Vicious, and Julia, with the oppressive assassin Syndicate as their equalizer. The smoke and mirrors behind this organization results in most of Cowboy Bebop’s melodrama and eventually an insecure and paranoid Vicious rebels against the Syndicate’s Elders and wipes the slate clean. Rather than praise Vicious for his impulsive actions, Julia reaffirms her love for Spike and pledges that they both run the Syndicate together.
In the anime, Spike must come to grips with Julia’s death, but the Netflix series presents him with an even bleaker proposition. Julia attempts to kill Spike and move on when he refuses to support her plan. Spike makes it abundantly clear that he’s left the assassin’s life behind and he’s too consumed with guilt over the past lives that he’s taken. Julia, on the other hand, has only grown more hardened from years of manipulation and abuse from Vicious.
Julia cuts her losses and locks Vicious away as a prisoner while she ascends as the true head of the Syndicate. Vicious’ role as an Elder means that he’s hidden away in secrecy, which allows Julia to assert her power and emphasize Vicious’ uselessness. It’s ultimately irrelevant if he’s alive or dead since she keeps him confined to this morbid purgatory. It’s possible in season two that Vicious might be able to get back in Julia’s good graces, but what’s more likely is that Julia pushes an even more brutal version of the Syndicate that’s focused on Spike’s destruction.
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Does Spike Spiegel Meet The Same Fate As His Anime Counterpart?
Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop would be completely unnecessary if it just copied the original anime series, beat for beat, and some of the most compelling aspects of this adaptation are the elements that get changed. The anime of Cowboy Bebop has an iconic and unconventional conclusion where Spike Spiegel burns everything down and faces a bittersweet finish, albeit after dismantling the Syndicate and taking care of Vicious.
The finale for Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop begins in an incredibly similar fashion to the anime, only for it to quickly flip the script. Spike passes out in an alley and the visual is thematically reminiscent of the anime’s conclusion, only here Spike is just heavily inebriated, not deceased. This is a crucial change, but one that makes sense since Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop plans to keep running, which means that it needs to keep Spike along for the ride. It’s possible that the big finish for Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop might go out with a “bang” in the same way that the anime series does, but so much of Spike’s story has already changed, including him moving on from Julia.
Who Is Radical Ed And What’s The Significance Of The “Butterfly Man?”
Cowboy Bebop is quite the lofty anime property to adapt into a live-action series and one of the biggest concerns that fans faced was how the anime’s eccentric ball of energy, Radical Ed, would be brought to life. Cowboy Bebop wisely displays restraint and fleshes out the full crew of the Bebop, yet the absence of Ed led many to believe that the character is just too, well–radical–to transition into the live-action series. The character gets briefly name dropped earlier in the season as someone who provides the Bebop with questionable intel on one of their bounties that goes belly up. It seems as if this fun Easter Egg might be Ed’s only appearance in the series, yet the season’s final moments feature Spike receiving a sobering (and loud) reality check by none other than Radical Ed.
Radical Ed, formally known as Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV, is one of the galaxy’s most impressive hackers, yet the character’s skills can be hard to detect through Ed’s heightened, manic, and unassuming demeanor. Ed attempts to motivate Spike to help him take on the mysterious “Butterfly Man,” Volaju. This name may sound familiar to fans of the anime series since Vincent Volaju is the central antagonist of the Cowboy Bebop feature film, Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.
Volaju has a tortured past as a soldier within the Mars Army who valiantly fought within the Titan War, where he allegedly “dies.” Volaju arises as a deranged terrorist who is plagued by hallucinations of butterflies and becomes convinced that he can locate a gateway to heaven, since he considers his uneventful life on Earth as merely purgatory. Volaju plans an ambitious terrorist attack that involves the release of a nanomachine virus on Mars during the planet’s Halloween parade.
Ed’s appearance and his references to Volaju give a very strong indication that the plot of Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door will function as season two’s introductory arc, if not the focus of the entire season. Season one pits the crew of the Bebop up against dangerous challenges, but a planet-wide terrorist attack is exactly the type of bold scenario that could pull the members of the Bebop back together. It’s unlikely that Spike, Ed, and Ein will face the Butterfly Man on their own and it’s a strong premise to kickstart the new season.
Cowboy Bebop season 2 has yet to be confirmed, but audiences are hoping that this won’t be the last time that they see this space cowboy.
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Tags: AnimeCowboy BebopNetflix
Daniel Kurland is a freelance writer and comedian, who has also produced and directed short films and pilot presentations for network consideration. Daniel recently completed work…
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Why did Cowboy Bebop end that way? ›
However, a planned Cowboy Bebop season 2 was canceled just three weeks after the first season's premiere. The Cowboy Bebop cancelation was reportedly due to streaming numbers not living up to Netflix's expectations, as well as a mostly negative response from both fans and critics.Is Spike alive at the end of Cowboy Bebop? ›
Does Spike Spiegel die? At the end of the 1998 Cowboy Bebop anime, Spike Spiegel seems to die. But in the 2021 live-action adaptation, Spike Spiegel is alive and well.What happens to Faye at the end of Cowboy Bebop? ›
An accident occurred on the ship, killing both of Faye's parents and severely injuring her. Faye's injuries were so serious they could not be healed with conventional medicine, so she was cryogenically frozen until a cure could be found for her condition.Who was the girl at the end of Cowboy Bebop? ›
When no bullet emerges, she tells him they'll try again tomorrow. The final scene of the final episode of Cowboy Bebop finally introduces fan-favorite character, “Radical Ed” (Eden Perkins) to the proceedings, even though it's only to yell at a passed-out Spike who just stumbled out of a bar.What does Julia mouth at the end of Cowboy Bebop? ›
As she lay dying in Spike's arms, she whispered her last words to him: "It's all a dream," to which he responded, "Yeah, just a dream."Did Faye have feelings for Spike? ›
Do Spike and Faye Like Each Other Romantically? Faye absolutely might have had romantic feelings, but Spike was too caught up in his past to see anything but a hindrance in his longing for Julia. In fact, a major reason why he was so harsh to Faye was because she reminded him so much of her.Why does Cowboy Bebop say you're gonna carry that weight? ›
“You're gonna carry that weight.” A reference to a Beatles song of the same name, it contextualizes the entirety of the anime series in its closing. No matter how hard you try to outrun your trauma or your past, you'll have to confront it, and you'll have to carry that weight.What is the message of Cowboy Bebop? ›
Cowboy Bebop was never about its story. It was about its characters just trying to live their lives in a cruel and uncaring world, and occasionally something plot-related would happen to them.Does Spike regain his soul? ›
In the series finale, though, it's Spike who ultimately earns a soul and saves Buffy and her friends by sacrificing himself. “His redemption at the end was realizing how much he loved her but also that he was not yet good enough for her,” says the actor.Was Cowboy Bebop a dream? ›
Cowboy Bebop: The Movie follows the bounty hunters' attempt to stop Vincent Volaju, but one fan theory posits the animated movie is a dream. A live-action remake of Cowboy Bebop hits Netflix on November 19th, but a unique fan theory explains that 2001's Cowboy Bebop: The Movie was actually just a dream of Spike's.
Did Julia and Vicious have a relationship? ›
Julia never cheated on Spike. She had a relationship with Vicious, but then fell in love with Spike.How did Spike survive the fall? ›
The sequence reveals Spike's desperate if repressed longing for Julia, the woman he loved and lost. Spike survives the fall with the help of his fellow travelers who have brought him back to the Bebop and treated his wounds.What did Julia mouth to Spike? ›
It's always been an upsetting scene, but that thud helps illustrate a disconnect in Bebop, one Julia points out in her final words to Spike: “It's all a dream.” As she dies, Spike mournfully agrees with her.Why did Julia betray Spike? ›
In the season finale's biggest twist, Julia shoots Spike, who is sent tumbling through the chapel window. She blames him for leaving her with Vicious and strikes back in the most devastating fashion after he rejects her plea to rule the Syndicate together.Is Ed a boy or girl Bebop? ›
In a 2005 interview with Anime News Network, Cowboy Bebop character designer and animation director Toshihiro Kawamoto explained that Ed was originally conceived as a boy computer hacker, but, over time, director Shinichirō Watanabe switched the character to a girl.How did Ed know about Bebop? ›
Edward also learned of a ship called the Bebop and wanted to be a part of its crew. She monitored its movements via the outernet, had several posters as well as a remote-controlled model made with a styrofoam cup and layers of cardboard.Why does Ed join the Bebop? ›
Having debuted in the original anime's ninth episode, “Jamming with Edward,” Ed, short for Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV, is a loopy 13-year-old hacker who joins the Bebop team in exchange for helping the crew attain a bounty that turns out to be an AI.Why is Ed not in Cowboy Bebop? ›
The simplest answer for Ed's absence from the live-action Cowboy Bebop is that Ed isn't in the early episodes of the anime either, first cropping up in the 10th episode of the original series after a run of Spike, Jet, Faye and Ein working without them.Who ends up with Spike? ›
Also, Buffy finally realizes she's in love with Spike, and the two start a relationship that remains stable across the season. Despite their extremely toxic past, Spike ends up being Buffy's best boyfriend yet.What ethnicity is Spike Spiegel? ›
In the third volume of the manga, Cowboy Bebop illustrated by Yutaka Nanten and story by Hajime Yatate, Spike is described as "oriental," an outdated term for Asian.
Why was Faye frozen? ›
Although appearing to be no more than 22-23 years old, Faye is actually around 77 years old, having been put into cryogenic freeze after a space shuttle accident, wherein she spent fifty-four years in suspended animation.What were Spike Spiegel final words? ›
Spike kills the episode's antagonist, an ageless child named Wen. As Wen dies from his body aging decades in seconds, he gives his harmonica to Spike. Spike tosses it in the air and softly says "Bang," his last words in the "Real Folk Blues."Why is Ein so smart Cowboy Bebop? ›
Ein (アイン, Ain?) is a Pembroke Welsh Corgi and "data dog," meaning that his intelligence was greatly enhanced by a research facility.Why is Ein so important Cowboy Bebop? ›
Ein is a Pebroke Welsh Corgi who was genetically modified in a secret facility and now maintains high intelligence, hence his moniker. He escapes a dognapping attempt and joins up with the Bebop crew, though it's unclear how this story will translate to the live-action show.Why is it called the Bebop? ›
Where Does 'Bebop' Come From? The name bebop is simply imitative in origin: it came from a vocalized version of the clipped short notes that characterized the sound of this new musical language, which was often performed at fast tempos with off-the-beat rhythms reflected in the name bebop itself.Why did they call it Cowboy Bebop? ›
The show's title is a reference to both the Cowboy lifestyle of the American Wild West, and Bebop, an American jazz movement from the early to mid 20th century.What does the rose represent in Cowboy Bebop? ›
Cowboy Bebop often showed a red rose lying in a puddle, representing his doomed love for Julia, and the symbol appears again in the finale. Several petals blow across the ground in the wind shortly before Spike goes on his suicidal mission, but they're in full color.Does Angel ever become human? ›
Angel kills the demon. Its blood, eventually found to be the Blood of Eternity, merges with his own, and he becomes human. Realizing what this means for their relationship, Angel spends the night with Buffy.Does Spike get the chip out of his head? ›
It also helps progress the Kennedy/Willow relationship by featuring their first kiss. This episode marks the final appearance of The Initiative, and the removal of Spike's chip.Is Spike related to Angel? ›
Spike's grand-sire, Angelus, became his mentor (leading Spike occasionally to describe him loosely as his sire): "Drusilla sired me, but you, you made me a monster." Whereas new vampires in the Buffyverse often delight in killing their families once they become evil, William was a notable exception.
Why was Vicious obsessed with Spike? ›
Vicious felt a great deal of love for Spike. Spike was his friend, a person he could be around and smile. Vicious brought Spike into his life and eventually fell in love with him. But, Vicious knew it could never be, so he settled for just being around Spike.Does Cowboy Bebop end on a cliffhanger? ›
Netflix's Cowboy Bebop ended on a sharp cliffhanger before the premium streaming service cancelled the live-action adaptation after only a single season.Why did Spike betray Vicious? ›
Vicious and Spike were partners in the Red Dragon Crime Syndicate and had the same mentor in Mao Yenrai. The two were like brothers, so when Spike faked his own death, left the syndicate, and tried to take Julia with him, it was a betrayal that Vicious sought to avenge with both Spike and Julia's death.Did Julia know Spike was alive? ›
Thankfully, our space cowboy escaped with his life, but, unbeknownst to him, Julia, after she found out Spike was alive, resented him for never coming back to save her when he found out that she was still with Vicious. So, when they finally met face-to-face again, it was anything but a happy reunion.Are Vicious and Spike brothers? ›
Vicious and Spike used to be blood brothers until Spike had an affair with Vicious' girlfriend, Julia. The two had planned to run away together, but nobody leaves the Syndicate alive. Julia had to go into hiding, and Spike faked his own death and eventually joined Jet Black on board the Bebop.Why do Spike and Vicious hate each other? ›
Mao Yenrai took Vicious and Spike under his wing inside the Syndicate where they rise up the ranks. Spike decided to leave the syndicate and attempted to take Julia with him. This betrayal seemingly triggered their blood feud and possibly resulted in Vicious' enlistment in the War on Titan.Are they making a second season of Cowboy Bebop? ›
John Cho Opens Up on Cowboy Bebop Getting Canceled After One Season. Cowboy Bebop ending after just one season was just as disappointing to the cast as it was the fans. Cowboy Bebop star John Cho has spoken out about the show prematurely getting canceled.Is Julia still alive Cowboy Bebop? ›
And although Julia and Spike's reunion in the anime is much more amicable, with the Julia choosing to follow Spike so they can be together, she's killed shortly after.Who does Julia love Spike or Vicious? ›
He thought she set him up and that is why he seemed depressed for much of the series. But she only ever loved Spike.Why did Winston have to betray Julia? ›
Winston betrays Julia to save himself, a human act of self-preservation, even though the self is supposed to be reserved for the use of the Party. By saving himself, Winston commits a selfish act, and thus should be punished for it; however, he is spared. This can be seen as a flaw in the story.
Who is non-binary in Cowboy Bebop? ›
While many in the LGBTQ community have interpreted the character from the anime as nonbinary or trans over the years, showrunner André Nemec overhauled the character's backstory to make Gren officially nonbinary in the live-action series, with help from Park.Who is the pregnant woman in Cowboy Bebop? ›
When Asimov decided to leave the syndicate while stealing Bloody Eye in order to make a living for the two of them, Katerina hid the vials under her dress, making it appear she was pregnant.Who is the red haired kid in Cowboy Bebop? ›
Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV is a major protagonist in the anime series Cowboy Bebop.Why did Cowboy Bebop not continue? ›
Why did Cowboy Bebop get canceled? Cowboy Bebop was not canceled it was a single season series and it ended when it finished its story. Some extra material didnt make it into the the show and became the Movie and basis for the video game.Who Cancelled Cowboy Bebop? ›
Based on the 1990s anime series that premiered stateside in 2001, Netflix's live-action adaptation was abruptly canceled by the streamer less than three weeks after premiering in November 2021. Now, lead star Cho, who played charismatic criminal leader Spike Spiegel, revealed his reaction over the announcement.Why does Cowboy Bebop end with you're gonna carry that weight? ›
“You're gonna carry that weight.” A reference to a Beatles song of the same name, it contextualizes the entirety of the anime series in its closing. No matter how hard you try to outrun your trauma or your past, you'll have to confront it, and you'll have to carry that weight.Can Cowboy Bebop be saved? ›
Unfortunately, Netflix saving Cowboy Bebop is fairly unlikely, especially after considering the fact the series was the fastest-canceled original series in the history of the streaming platform.What destroyed Cowboy Bebop? ›
In the year 2021, an Astral Gate exploded above Earth in an event known as the Astral Gate accident. The explosion destroyed most of Earth's moon, causing a near-constant natural disaster of rock showers falling into orbit and hitting the planet's surface.Is Cowboy Bebop unfinished? ›
Cowboy Bebop is considered one of the greatest anime series ever made, but the show only lasted 26 episodes. What happened, and why did it end it so soon without Cowboy Bebop season 2 ever happening?Will Cowboy Bebop get a season 2? ›
John Cho Opens Up on Cowboy Bebop Getting Canceled After One Season. Cowboy Bebop ending after just one season was just as disappointing to the cast as it was the fans. Cowboy Bebop star John Cho has spoken out about the show prematurely getting canceled.
Why didn t people like Cowboy Bebop? ›
Critics have felt that the show tried too hard to stick to the original Cowboy Bebop anime while failing to capture the magic of what made it work, and at the same time, its attempts at doing something new ultimately fall flat for how they undermine the parts of the show people are invested in.Is Cowboy Bebop controversial? ›
However, Cowboy Bebop also faced its fair share of controversy, owing to varied reactions to its adult-themed content and heavy philosophical themes, when it first aired on TV.Why does Spike leave Bebop? ›
Angered by Spike's unwillingness to help, Jet tells him that if he leaves he will not be welcomed back on the Bebop. Spike accepts this and leaves anyways. Telling Jet that he is going to go in search of his woman (Julia) and that Jet can go search for that other woman (Faye).Did Netflix Cowboy Bebop flop? ›
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the live-action "Cowboy Bebop" is no more after a lackluster reception by critics and fans alike.Why did EDD leave the Bebop? ›
Before the series finale Ed decides to leave the crew for unspecific reason (whether that be her father or something else altogether), and that is it.What was the message of Cowboy Bebop? ›
Cowboy Bebop was never about its story. It was about its characters just trying to live their lives in a cruel and uncaring world, and occasionally something plot-related would happen to them.