The following contains massive spoilers for BoJack Horseman season 6.
There are few series that wear their blunt honesty and melancholy nature on their sleeves as proudly as BoJack Horseman. It was a show that consistently presented the world as a difficult place full of broken individuals, but in the face of all of that pain, it never dropped its inherently optimistic point of view. This is a show about people wanting to be good and to improve themselves, whether they’re successful in those efforts or not.
BoJack Horseman’s final season contained many breakthroughs and moments of growth for the dysfunctional protagonist, most notably checking himself into rehab and turning away from the egotistical world of acting and shifting his efforts to teaching and bettering others. In spite of that positive slant, if there is any show to go out on a rough reality check, it’d be BoJack Horseman. So when the curtains close on BoJack Horseman, how does everything go down and does the acclaimed star of Horsin’ Around, Secretariat, and Philbert make it out okay?
Most importantly here: BoJack Horseman survives. The episodes that precede BoJack’s final episode seriously toy with the idea that BoJack Horseman is dead. He relapses in the worst way possible and nearly drowns in his old swimming pool in a tragic scene that’s practically been prophesied in the series’ opening title sequence since the very first episode.
BoJack Horseman’s penultimate entry is a powerful installment that’s all in his head as he comes to terms with the many important people in his life who have passed away as BoJack himself gets ready to possibly do the same. If this was the final BoJack episode, fans would be in an uproar over its Leftovers-esque conclusion. Thankfully, there’s one more episode that is practically gleeful over how much it teases whether BoJack is dead or not before it finally reveals that he’s survived.
BoJack may not die, but he does get a one-year prison sentence, which is honestly more appropriate for the character. A death that simply reduces the character to a messy addict would be far too easy of an out for BoJack. This final season heavily examines the worst things that BoJack has ever done and emphasizes that it’s important that he lives with this pain and shame as a way to keep him from hurting more people.
Confinement in prison is a very fitting way for BoJack to be forced to confront his misdeeds in a new way. BoJack may be in jail, but he’s far from a villain here and he still ends this series as a changed person, albeit an exceptionally fragile one. His “reward” in this finale is a day-long reprieve from his prison sentence so he can attend Princess Carolyn’s wedding to Judah.
This setting is a big event to center the finale over, but it’s still rather muted due to how it’s all viewed from the perspective of BoJack, who’s been out of these characters’ lives for some time now. BoJack is grateful to see all of these familiar faces again, but his conversations with everyone only solidify how much everyone has moved on and built lives for themselves independently of him.
Todd has made progress with his family, his asexuality, and even found a stable, hijinks-free job. Princess Carolyn has found the essential balance between work and life and a spouse that perfectly embodies that idea. Even Mr. Peanut Butter has been able to gain some level of self-awareness and become a more perceptive character. However, the most important relationship in both BoJack’s life and BoJack Horseman the series has always been his codependent connection with Diane and that is what is addressed during the show’s final moments.
After so much time apart, BoJack and Diane finally clear the air between each other in a very big and necessary way. They both discuss how much growth they’ve made as individuals and how they’ve always been there for each other, but also how this has turned into a very toxic dynamic between them.
The final straw for Diane was the message that BoJack left for her right before he nearly died and she was left to assume that he basically did and that she wasn’t there for him through it all. Diane’s dealt with her own issues and insecurities, but the series ends with her happily married and about to move off to Houston to start her new family.
BoJack is genuinely happy for Diane, but he seems almost afraid to end the conversation. He jokes that this could be the last time that they ever see each other, but both of them seem to understand that this is likely the truth. For Diane, this is a move that’s necessary for her mental health, but BoJack will likely struggle without Diane in his life.
The final moments of BoJack Horseman focus on the awkward silences between BoJack and Diane as they prepare for their goodbye. “Mr. Blue” by Catherine Feeny plays over the emotional moment that’s highlighted with a sky full of meteors. It’s a song with lyrics that are not only deeply reflective of BoJack’s relationship with Diane, but also BoJack’s personality as a whole. “Mr. Blue’s” lyrics echo the phrase, “I have to go now” and as everyone in BoJack’s life moves on, he has to find the strength to accept that truth.
No one’s lives end in the final episode of BoJack Horseman, but it does feel like a metaphorical death of sorts as these characters—and the audience—prepare for their worlds to be without BoJack Horseman.
Daniel Kurland is a published writer, comedian, and critic whose work can be read on Den of Geek, Vulture, and Bloody Disgusting. Daniel knows that the owls are not what they seem, that Psycho II is better than the original, and that Hannibal is the greatest love story ever told. His perma-neurotic thought process can be followed at @DanielKurlansky.