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Is Logan Roy Really Dead In ‘Succession’? Why The Creators Say It ‘Had To Happen’

Even Brian Cox was shocked it happened so soon.
Logan Roy, Succession . Courtesy of HBO Max
Logan Roy, Succession . Courtesy of HBO Max

Warning: This article contains major spoilers for Succession season four. It’s the fourth and final season of HBO’s critically acclaimed corporate drama Succession and there were bound to be bombshells but not even the cast was fully prepared for the events of episode three, “Connor’s Wedding”. If Logan Roy is really dead in Succession, it means Kendall, Roman, Shiv, and Connor are emotionally in freefall and there are big questions as to what it means for their business dealings as well.

For those who aren’t familiar with the series, Succession, which premiered in June 2018, follows the moneyed Roy family, who own a global entertainment and media conglomerate known as Waystar RoyCo. When Succession begins, the future of their company is up in the air after family patriarch and aging founder, Logan Roy, experiences some health issues that leave shareholders questioning his fitness to lead—Logan even suffers a stroke in the pilot episode. His four adult children waste no time when it comes to sharing their opinions on who should helm the company in their father’s place but in episode four, which aired on April 9, 2023, they’re remarkably stripped back as they grieve.

Is Logan Roy really dead in Succession?

Is Logan Roy really dead in Succession? Yes, after two near-scrapes with death, the Roy family patriarch passed away in episode three of season four. Logan’s death is told almost entirely off-screen, with details relayed via a phone conversation from the jet to the Roys on the ground. “Even in death, Logan is unobtainable. He’s unreachable, he’s untouchable, he’s at arm’s length, still, to the siblings. There’s an unreal quality to it, because we’re not there, and we can’t really talk to him,” Sarah Snook, who plays Shiv, told Rolling Stone, explaining that the news of Logan’s impending death came as a shock to her and the rest of the cast. “There was a Zoom meeting early on in the season that I thought was going to be more of the Covid protocols, and then turned out to be more of a grenade lobbed in of revelation.”

Fisher Stevens, Kieran Culkin, Jeremy Strong, Sarah Snook
Fisher Stevens, Kieran Culkin, Jeremy Strong, Sarah Snook. Courtesy of Warner Media/HBO

How did Logan Roy die in Succession?

How did Logan Roy die in Succession? We’re not 100 percent sure but it does seem due to heart failure of some kind. In the episode, Logan chooses to close the Waystar Royco-GoJo deal instead of attending his eldest son Connor’s wedding, a high-profile event attended by the other Roy siblings. Somewhere over the Atlantic, Logan goes to the bathroom of his private jet and emerges in a “bad way”, as described by Tom Wambsgans to his estranged wife Shiv over the phone. He collapses and chest compressions are administered until the plane can land and he’s pronounced dead.

Logan’s death happens as it so often does in real-life, without ceremony and different from how you expect. “Big events don’t happen in a perfect way, do they? They always happen sometimes in a hum-drum way. And this idea of taking away all the television cliché’s of the kind of perfect TV death I thought was really brilliant,” the episode’s director Mark Mylod said on HBO’s official Succession podcast. He wanted the audience to feel “hijacked in the exactly the same way the siblings are when they hear the news, so we’re immediately parachuted into their emotional experience.” Audiences were indeed shocked Logan’s death happened so soon into the season, even Brian Cox who plays the media magnate. When showrunner Jesse Armstrong told him, Cox told the New York Times: “I thought, ‘Oh, that’s fine.’ I thought he would die in about Episode 7 or 8, but in episode 3, I thought … ‘Well, that’s a bit early.’” He added, “Not that I was bothered.”

He continued that Logan’s death “does change the stakes. The main protagonist is gone. And the kids are having to deal with it, or not. I think it’s going to be hard next week for a lot of the audience because they’re going to miss Logan. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing — I think that’s actually quite a good thing. Logan was coming to a rest point anyway. He realized that his children were never going to be — he’s got that great line when he says, ‘I love you, but you’re not serious people.’ And I think that is so fundamental. The whole premise is really about entitlement and the rich and the fact that he’s plowed this particular furrow. And the consequences of that plowing are these kids and how [expletive] up they are, not necessarily because of him, but because of the wealth. They all suffer from entitlement in one form or another. And they behave like entitled spoiled brats a lot of the time.”

Then again, the reason for his death is in the show’s title. “The explanation was that the reason was obvious. It’s about succession. You need a corpse. If it was a different kind of show, it could have gone into a more mysterious frame — Is Logan dead? That kind of stuff. But I think Jesse realized it had to be the way it had to be, and he made the decision to do that,” Cox told Vulture. He also recalled what it was like to film Logan’s death scene. “I just lay there and had the phone by my ear. That’s why I think there was a very strong contention and very strong reason to think that maybe he’s not dead at all. Maybe it’s all a ruse! If you think about it, the last image is a body bag. Anybody could be in that body bag … There’s a possibility.”

Despite his character’s reprehensible reputation, Cox told The New York Times that he still thinks there’s some good in Logan. “I think there’s a lot of goodness to him. I think he’s very misunderstood. I think it’s just all gone horribly wrong. We have these little moments of — and they’re not dwelt on — the scars on the back, the story of the mother, the sister, the relationship with the brother. That’s where he becomes a human being because he is full of the foibles and all the problems that we all have on a day-to-day basis and all the horrible decisions that we make or we don’t make.”

He continued: “That’s what we [as actors] do. We reflect, we’re not it. And I think a lot of actors do not understand that. They don’t understand the responsibility of that position. They think it’s about, “Oh, I just subsumed myself in the character and then I live it 24/7.” A real problem that America has — and I think it’s also what our show is about — is that America is only interested in the pursuit of individualism at the expense of community. When you look at the European theater, it’s all about community and groups who have dug in and have kept going year after year after year. America hasn’t done that. It’s the ensemble, the community that’s important in any project that you’re working on as actors. You have to create the community and you have to behave toward the community; it’s not about your, ‘I have to do this; I only can do it this way’.”

Succession is available to stream on HBO Max with new episodes dropping each Sunday. 

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