Season 4 of 'Barry' Is a Violent Curtain Call — Does the Titular Hitman Die? (SPOILERS)

Allison DeGrushe - Author

May 30 2023, Updated 6:45 p.m. ET

Barry (Bill Hader) talking on the phone in prison in Season 4 of 'Barry'
Source: HBO

Spoiler alert! This article contains plot details for the series finale of Barry on HBO.

The curtain draws to a close in the final season of Barry and the show's violent finale is still burning in our heads. Season 4 follows the titular Barry Berkman (Bill Hader), the depressed hitman who repeatedly tries and fails to put his life of violence behind him by becoming an actor. Having been caught and arrested for the murder of Officer Janice Moss (Paula Newsome) in Season 1, he begins the season in prison as he awaits trial.

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He isn't the only one facing his demons in the final act. Sally Reed (Sarah Goldberg) continues to deal with the fallout of her viral outburst while coping with having murdered a biker who attempted to attack her. Meanwhile, Barry's former acting teacher Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler) fails to keep his cool in the investigation against Barry, and polite gangster NoHo Hank (Anthony Carrigan) pulls out all the stops to rebuild his criminal empire.

When all is said and done, does Barry die in Season 4?

Barry Berkman in the series finale
Source: HBO
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Does Barry die in Season 4?

After escaping from prison, Barry meets up once again with Sally, who immediately suggests that they run away together. Eight years later, the two of them remain fugitives who live under assumed identities. As a born-again Christian, Barry leads a peaceful yet disturbing life with a clinically-depressed Sally and their young and sheltered son John (Zachary Golinger), all while Barry convinces himself that his new religious beliefs absolves him of his many crimes.

However, he almost instantly returns to his old and violent ways when Gene resurfaces after having gone missing for eight years. When Barry discovers his involvement in a biopic being developed about his own life, Barry resolves to kill him so that the truth about his inherent darkness doesn't come to light.

He travels to Los Angeles in his attempt to search for Gene, but ends up captured and interrogated by Jim Moss (Robert Wisdom), Janice's father.

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Upon Barry's interrogation, however, the information that Jim learns somehow leads him to wrongfully implicate Gene himself in Janice's murder, given the mysterious circumstances that surrounded their romantic relationship.

This allows Barry to escape from Jim's home. Unfortunately, he receives a call from NoHo Hank, now a successful Chechen crime lord, who tells him that he has kidnapped Sally and John and threatens to harm them if he doesn't cooperate with them.

Barry Berkman
Source: HBO
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Though Barry prepares to invade Hank's offices guns blazing, he arrives moments after a violent shoot-out between Hank's men and another criminal army led by Monroe Fuches (Stephen Root), Barry's former handler turned hardened gangster. Having protected John from the crossfire, he allows Barry to be safely reunited with his family, ultimately ending their relationship on good terms.

Though Barry is convinced that his faith spared him from death that night, Sally implores Barry to turn himself in, having found a new lease on life during her capture. However, he staunchly ignores Sally's pleas. The morning after, he wakes up to find both Sally and John missing.

Convinced that she sought Gene's help, he goes to Gene's home in search of them. For a brief moment, Barry finally experiences some form of remorse and expresses a desire to turn himself into the cops once and for all.

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Gene listlessly sits beside Barry's lifeless body
Source: HBO

However, Barry never gets the chance to truly make up for his litany of sins. Gene ends up taking Barry by surprise and shoots him twice, once in the chest and once right in the head. In the end, Barry dies at the hands of the person he'd wronged the most, with Gene seemingly fully accepting the gravity of being wrongfully accused of Janice's murder. His nature as an inherently violent man is never truly revealed and he is even laid to rest with full military honors.

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Interestingly enough, Barry leaves behind a tricky legacy. Years later, Sally and a teenage John have made new lives for themselves with Sally having become a successful high school theater instructor. Meanwhile, Gene is serving life in prison for killing Janice and Barry, even though he only killed the latter.

The aforementioned biopic about Barry was even released, though it mistakenly depicts Gene as the villain and Barry as a tragic hero.

For as long as we knew Barry, his whole existence had been marked by murder and violence. In death, he inadvertently ends up receiving the clean slate he had sought out for so long, though it is largely built on falsehoods. In the end, few people end up knowing who Barry really is, which can be said to be the mark of a great actor.

All seasons of Barry are now streaming on Max.

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