A Man in Full’s Ending Is Truly Bonkers

Here’s how the popular Netflix legal drama ends on a bizarrely lethal note.

A Man in Full. (L to R) Jeff Daniels as Charlie Croker, William Jackson Harper as Wes Jordan in episode 106 of A Man in Full. Cr. Mark Hill/Netflix © 2024
Photo: Netflix

This article contains spoilers for A Man in Full.

One of May’s biggest original series premieres on Netflix is the star-studded limited series A Man in Full, adapting the 1998 novel of the same name by Tom Wolfe. The adaptation stars Jeff Daniels as Charlie Croker, an Atlanta real estate mogul whose unscrupulous and reckless business dealings have put his entire career and finances at risk of completely crumbling around him. As Charlie desperately tries to stave off his empire from imploding, banker Raymond Peepgrass (Tom Pelphrey) is among the figures trying to not only dismantle Charlie financially, but also through his personal life as he romances Charlie’s ex-wife and business partner Martha Croker (Diane Lane). 

Unfolding over six episodes, with a concurrent legal drama narrative led by Aml Ameen and Jon Michael Hill, the Charlie Croker saga takes center stage in the final scene of the series. Filled with a surprising amount of gratuitous sex, A Man in Full suddenly switches up to an oddly murderous twist, that leaves at least one major character dead on a darkly comedic note. Here is how A Man in Full ends, including the build-up to this absurdist climax and what the implications are for a potential follow-up.

The Build-Up to the Climax

Throughout A Man in Full, after Charlie begins to default on his sizable loans he made with Raymond’s bank to build his empire and live an especially opulent lifestyle, he begins to exhibit signs of severe cardiovascular problems. As the mounting stress and Charlie’s less than healthy daily habits catch up to him, his muscles begin to involuntarily spasm, his joints lock up, and his perception is altered whenever he suffers from a cardiac event. After Charlie learns that Martha sold her stake in his company, the one potential financial lifeline he had left, he rushes off to surprise Martha at her home over this.

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However, Martha has her hands full with something else or, more accurately, someone else. Raymond had quietly been romantically involved with Martha for some time, and the two decide to consummate their relationship after Raymond convinces her to sell her shares in Charlie’s company to his bank. The two lovers are entangled in a comedically prolonged sex scene when Charlie decides to make his unwanted house call, entering after finding Martha’s hidden key and going upstairs to confront his ex-wife. This is, of course, when all hell breaks loose, with a surprising body count.

What Happens in A Man in Full’s Final Scene

After Charlie barges into Martha and Raymond’s tryst, Martha goes off to call the police on the unexpected intrusion, leaving Raymond and Charlie to argue over this latest development. For Raymond, who started the series being openly and mercilessly ridiculed by Charlie, this moment is the ultimate triumph, having destroyed Charlie’s business and finances and hooked up with his ex-wife. Gloating over having upended Charlie’s life, Raymond literally flexes his masculinity by proudly showing off his fully erect penis in front of the increasingly enraged Charlie.

For Charlie, this is the last straw and he puts Raymond into a chokehold up against the wall to prove he isn’t as impotent and defeated as he has been made out to be. This is when disaster strikes as Charlie’s cardiovascular issues flare up, causing his hand to seize up and involuntarily strangle Raymond to death. Realizing what’s going on outside of his control, Charlie suffers what appears to be a fatal heart attack. Paramedics arrive on the scene, carting off Raymond’s corpse, identifiable by the erection that stands like a lone flag, while Charlie lays in Martha’s bedroom, with the prosthetics in his knee causing his leg to twitch.

How A Man in Full Changes the Novel (and Sets Up a Sequel)

Charlie’s death is telegraphed in A Man in Full’s opening scene, which had him leaving on the floor asking the audience in a voiceover “When you die, will people notice?” before launching into its main narrative. Given that Charlie’s final moments on this mortal coil involved him accidentally murdering a naked man with a raging hard-on, it’s safe to say that Charlie’s death definitely got people talking.

Of course, the entire idea of Charlie and Raymond dying is something that wasn’t in Wolfe’s novel at all. Charlie has a change of heart from his unscrupulous ways and decides to become a televangelist in Florida instead, finding a surprising amount of success. Raymond and Martha end up getting married, spared of Charlie’s wrath. And though Charlie and Raymond may not be around to continue the story in a meaningful way for any sort of follow-up, there are characters that could star in a continuation.

Throughout the series, Charlie works with an attorney named Roger White (Aml Ameen) who is working on a separate case involving a wrongfully imprisoned man, Conrad Hensley (Jon Michael Hill). Unlike the novel the series is based on, Roger succeeds in getting Conrad’s charges dropped, in what is the more compelling story told in A Man in Full. Any presumptive follow-ups could follow the adventures of Roger as he takes on other legal cases.

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As a television adaptation, A Man in Full goes in a darker direction than its source material for its protagonist while giving its legal drama narrative a happy ending that the novel avoided. This means that the entire bizarre post-sex scene murder is something crafted entirely for the show, and certainly an odd way to cap off the story.

A Man in Full is available to stream on Netflix.