Four Reasons Bojack Horseman is going to die by suicide (and one reason why he won’t)

Tw: While the title of this article is flip, suicide is not. If you’re feeling suicidal, there are places that can help. If you’re in the United States, you can call 1-800-273-TALK. In Canada, you can text HOME to 686868 to chat by text. Youth can also contact Kids Help Phone (they will not ask your age) who are available by chat, text and phone throughout the country. 

Spoiler alert : You’re not going to want to read this if you’re not fully caught up on Bojack Horseman (also do yourself a favour and get fully caught up on Bojack Horseman – what’s wrong with you?). 

By Liz Singh

January 20th, 2020 is a date that will go down in infamy as the end of one the greatest eras in modern television : the brief but powerful reign of “Bojack Horseman”, star of screen and book. Five and a half moving, funny, poignant, brilliant seasons have left little doubt that Raphael Bob Waksberg and friends will knock the final six episodes out of the park but there are many questions left about how our dubious hero will say his final goodbyes.

Besides “The Office” ( the soundtrack of my life) there are few shows I have examined as carefully or studied as intensely as “Bojack Horseman”. It is the only show I’ve ever loved enough to consider a fan tattoo. My careful examination of a show that rewards careful examination has revealed the following : Bojack Horseman’s (Will Arnett) life is in danger.

Bojack lives a precarious existence at the best of times. He’s flirted with opioid dependence, heavy alcohol use, insisted on doing his own stunts and most recently, he drove head first into traffic. In other words, the greatest danger to Bojack’s life is Bojack but it’s a big one. Which is why I believe there is a high chance he will be the instrument of his own destruction.

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Will Arnett in BoJack Horseman © 2015 Netflix

The first half of the last season ended with four bullets headed straight for Bojack’s head. Any one of these scandals on their own would have done in a lesser horse but even Bojack might not be strong enough to withstand these four powerful blows. I’ll recap for less obsessed viewers :

  1. What Happened in New Mexico : The ultimate cliffhanger came from Hollyhock’s chance meeting with Pete (Repeat) at a party in New York. It seems that the one person who still has any faith left in Bojack is about to have that faith tested in a truly heartbreaking way.
  2. What happened with Gina (Stephanie Beatriz): A casual aside from a director reveals that Bojack’s Philbert costar Gina has been in a downward spiral ever since he brutally assaulted her on set. So far, only a select few in Hollywoo know the true story behind Gina’s steep decline but there’s reason to suspect that won’t be true for long. As we’ve seen time and again it’s hard to keep secrets in Hollywoo.
  3. What happened with Secretariat : What was arguably Bojack’s most important role to date wasn’t his role at all. Maybe in the age of technology audiences would forgive an actor for not being an actor but then again, maybe not.
  4. What happened with Sarah Lynn (Kristen Schaal): Recent episodes clarified that Bojack lied to everyone about the degree of his involvement with Sarah Lynn’s death. He told paramedics at the scene that Sarah Lynn was dead when he arrived at the planetarium and that the two had fallen out of touch. Fans will recall that there is photographic evidence of their fatal final binge.
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BoJack Horseman © 2015 Netflix

This is a show that loves a good call back so would they go so far as to have Bojack meet the same fate as his hero? Could be. It would be poignant. It would be meaningful. It would be symmetrical. Sounds tempting to me. 

But why suicide? Let me break it down for you :

  1. This show isn’t afraid to get really dark : Herb Kazzazz died of ass cancer, Sarah Lynn OD’d, that kid with the choking fetish choked himself to death – this isn’t a show that shies away from death, in fact, it seems to embrace it. Bojack himself recently lost his mother. Most importantly, it’s not a show that tries to argue that your accounts must be settled or that your death must have meaning – in fact, as Henry Winkler reminded Bojack at Herb’s funeral : It’s no tragedy to die for nothing, that’s why most of us die.
  2. There may be no way left for him to redeem himself : He’s tried running away from it all (twice) and he’s tried rehab (six times) so unless Bojack is planning on finding religion, what sort of redemption is left for him? Devoting his life to Gerb’s orphans? Massive public apology? Theatre? The fictional universe demands equilibrium – itt may be time for the chickens to come home to roost and for Bojack to let them.
  3. It’s highly possible no one will care : Some of the earliest Bojack supporters Diane (Alison Brie) and Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris) have entirely shifted their focus away from him in recent months. Even Todd (Aaron Paul ) seems to have moved on. Diane seems to be in the first healthy relationship of her adult life and there’s little reason to believe she’d risk upsetting it to run home and rescue Bojack. PC is finally a mother and she and Todd have settled into their own sort of Odd couple arrangement. While both would surely be saddened by the loss of Bojack, neither would be surprised and in fact may be half expecting it.
bojack 2
Will Arnett and Alison Brie in BoJack Horseman © 2015 Netflix

4. Life imitating art imitating life : The final and probably strongest reason is simply symmetry. From go we’ve known that Bojack’s professional ambitions were largely inspired by his hero, Secretariat. Secretariat, of course, met his own tragic end on the Golden Gate Bridge after a horse racing doping scandal. This is a show that loves a good call back so would they go so far as to have Bojack meet the same fate as his hero? Could be. It would be poignant. It would be meaningful. It would be symmetrical. Sounds tempting to me.

No matter how he or how the show goes, the end of Bojack will break my heart but as the great poetess Ms. Phoebe Waller Bridge reminds us our favourite shows must end to remind us that life ends.

All of that said, there are reasons to hope. 

Bojack Horseman the horse may be a cynical hopeless mess but Bojack Horseman the show is not. As Diane tells Bojack early on, this is a show that believes that you are the sum of your actions as opposed to having an essentially good or bad nature. Besides that, there is still one innocent on the show who deserves a happy ending – Hollyhock (Aparna Nancherla) – and the loss of her recently discovered brother would break her pure, pure heart.

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BoJack Horseman © 2015 Netflix

Perhaps most significantly, Bojack dying by suicide might be letting him off too easy. Why should he get to shuffle this mortal coil while the victims of his various misdeeds (Sarah Lynn notwithstanding) suffer the consequences? There’s something too easy, something too pat about Bojack getting to make a graceful exit while everyone he hurt and everyone who, despite his best efforts, loved him is left behind.

No matter how he or how the show goes, the end of Bojack will break my heart but as the great poetess Ms. Phoebe Waller Bridge reminds us our favourite shows must end to remind us that life ends. Whether Bojack survives himself or not, he and all of the gang will live on in my heart forever (and quite possibly in a commemorative tattoo). Bojack Horseman, ICU – thank you for everything.

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