Does Spike Spiegel die at the end of ‘Cowboy Bebop?’

Image via Crunchyroll

Ex-Red Dragon syndicate criminal turned bounty hunter Spike Spiegel roams the solar system on the hunt for bountyheads. But does the suit-wearing, chain-smoking anti-hero finally meet his doom at the end of Cowboy Bebop?

Well, the answer depends on which version you watch.   

In the original Japanese animated series, Spike does seem to suffer the ultimate fate of all living things. After being tracked down by the evil crime lord Vicious, Spike storms the Red Dragon base of operations only to engage in a death duel with Vicious. Despite sustaining enough wounds to kill a lion (including a particularly nasty katana slash across the abdomen), Spike manages to stumble back into the entrance hall, where he collapses. We never see him moving again. To top it all off, a star is shown going out in the cosmos.

But in the Netflix live-action series from 2021, things seem to turn out somewhat healthier for Spike (this time played by Star Trek movie actor Jason Cho). Again, the battle with Vicious leaves him worse for wear. This time he is blasted through a church window by ex-lover Julia. Nevertheless, he emerges from the carnage bruised and battered but still breathing.

Character creator Shinichirō Watanabe gave fans some hope. In a 2006 interview, he spoke about Spike’s final scenes: “I’ve never officially said that he died. At this point, I can tell you that I’m not sure if he’s alive or dead.” He later went on to state that Spike might be “just sleeping.”

If you have yet to encounter the hard-bitten bounty hunter, you can watch the live-action series of Cowboy Bebop on Netflix.