‘The Man in the High Castle’ Season 4 Series Finale Ending, Explained

Amazon original series The Man in the High Castle won’t be coming back for a 5th season, leaving fans with more questions than answers after its ambiguous ending. The popular TV show kept fans on the edge of their seats for four seasons. When the show announced season 4 would be its last, fans expected to learn the answers to the show’s mysteries. Read on and beware of SPOILERS!

What is ‘The Man in the High Castle’ about?

Alexa Davalos attends the #IMDboat At San Diego Comic-Con 2018.
Alexa Davalos | Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb

For the uninitiated, The Man in the High Castle is based on a novel that explores an alternate reality where the Allies lose the second World War and Nazi Germany and Japan rise to power.

It begins in 1962 and follows the rise of an American resistance group in the Nazi-controlled U.S. east coast. The show is presented through the story of protagonist Juliana Crane (Alexa Davalos).

The idea originally comes from Philip K. Dick (author of the novel) and, as seen throughout the final season with the mysterious portal, the story incorporates sci-fi elements too. Even though the intricacies of the plot and narrative from Dick’s novel are a bit much to put on screen — those qualities pushed it to be one of Amazon’s best shows.

It’s even made one of our Top 10 lists before.

How did ‘The Man in the High Castle’ end?

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John Smith (Rufus Sewell) is finally dead after becoming the U.S. leader of the Reich. The Black Communist Rebellion sets up shop in a new colony to build a better society.

Japan relinquishes the West Coast, while the East Coast is under new, non-Nazi control. Inspector Kido (Joel de la Fuenta) joins Japanese mafia to pay off his son’s debts. Robert Children (Brennan Brown) is seeing trying to make his way to Japan after sending his newlywed wife back home.

However, after all of this, we get one final scene. The Americans have taken over the place housing the secret Nazi portal. “The Man in the High Castle” himself, Hawthorne, Juliana, and the gang are in the portal’s room when it activates and turns on by itself. 

We then see tons of people emerging from the portal, their faces intentionally obscured so we can’t make out who they are. That’s when Hawthorne bids a final farewell to Julianna and Wyatt and walks off into the light. And that’s the end.

But what does this all mean?

What did the showrunners say about the ‘The Man in the High Castle’ series finale?

When speaking with Entertainment Weekly, showrunner David Scarpa confirmed the ending’s ambiguous nature. Who are these people? Are they from Juliana’s world or from some other universe? Are they victims that were killed in this timeline? Are they ghosts?

The identity of the people walking from the portal is unimportant to the overall ending and the show’s theme. “This is very much in the Philip K. Dick tradition — every answer only leads to more questions,” said Scarpa in the interview.

And as far as the newcomers from the portal, he said: “[p]art of the intention was to invite the audience to have their own interpretation of what they’re seeing on screen.”

He did clarify one thing though: the portal will stay open. It will act as a bridge between worlds, allowing people to travel freely from this one to the next. As Scarpa said, it’s up to us to make our own conclusions.

What fans think the ending of ‘The Man in the High Castle’ means?

Many fans were disappointed with the show’s ending, but that didn’t stop some of them from postulating meanings that make the finale more savory. User greenwoodadam from Reddit surmises that this a story within a story and Hawthorne is our author. They don’t present any evidence, only re-iterating Scarpa’s point that there’s no “correct” answer.

In the same thread, sbatast views the portal remaining open as a symbol of balance. There can only be one person per world. And right as prominent figures begin to die (like John Smith), the portal turns on fully.

He says: “I viewed it as some of the worlds combining back into a single world because their paths had become the same.”

He goes on to point out perhaps Hawthorne is moving on to new worlds to connect them as well.