Why Shiv Roy's Ending In Succession Was The Most Divisive Of All

Was she the most tragic of them all – or one of the most heinous backstabbers?
Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen) and Shiv Roy (Sarah Snook) in their final shot on Succession
Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen) and Shiv Roy (Sarah Snook) in their final shot on Succession

Warning! This article has major spoilers for the series 4 finale of Succession.

The unpredictable ending for Succession’s Shiv Roy has sparked huge debates across Twitter – did she actually have the most tragic character arc, or did she prove herself as the most strategic of them all?

After all, Logan Roy’s only daughter, played by Sarah Snook, one-time high-flying political consultant, CEO-in-waiting, ended up in a stereotypical place, as a wife and expectant mother – a role she clearly never wanted.

But, she wasn’t left completely powerless. She was the final kingmaker, with her vote in the board meeting pulling her brother Kendall’s dream of one day being the CEO to their father’s sprawling firm Waystar Royco’s company apart.

So was she a winner – or a loser?

What happened to Shiv at the end of Succession?

To recap – in case the emotive ending is not completely seared in your memory – the three Roy children, Kendall, Shiv, and Roman, had all decided to vote against the deal which would hand their family business over tech tycoon Lukas Matsson.

But, just as the board vote was tied, with her brothers and four others voting to block the deal and another six voting in favour of it, Shiv got cold feet, and decided to act against her brothers. She voted the deal through, even though that meant the firm would (technically) leave the family name.

She also pivoted from having potentially the brightest future of the whole series at the start of the episode to being subverted by her own estranged husband.

Matsson had promised to hire her Waystar Royco’s CEO if she got the deal through for him. But, by the time the board went to vote, she already knew that Matsson had broken his promise and planned to install Tom Wambsgans as CEO instead.

So when at the end of the episode (and series, sob), we see her leaving quietly with Tom, the newly-crowned king of the Roy empire, it’s a huge shock that she’s happy to take on this seemingly subservient role as his wife.

While her brothers Kendall and Roman now seem to be free of all responsibilities, Shiv seems tied in forever – or is she?

Is Shiv’s ending tragic or strategic?

Twitter was pretty gutted at her ending, considering she had so much ambition but had been relegated to the backseat once again.

Unlike her brothers, though, she had clearly chosen to stay closer to the main source of power by getting back together with Tom (regardless of how difficult that relationship might be).

But, some Twitter users couldn’t help but celebrate how she closed the series. She couldn’t win the crown – so neither could her brothers.

After all, she was underestimated by the other characters throughout the whole series.

Despite having clear strategic abilities, she was cast aside by Matsson as the very last minute – mainly because he thought he might want to “fuck her”.

Her father, who repeatedly nicknamed her ‘Pinky’, refused to give her the CEO-in-waiting title even after promising it to her in private.

Her brothers also rarely included her in various ploys or even stopped to consider her for the acting CEO position, which is why she found herself fighting for the opposite side.

But, Shiv ended up as the one with all the cards. She could decide who got to be the next CEO even if she couldn’t be it herself.

Perhaps it was just a consequence of her identity as a whole – a rich white woman who was not afraid to step on others when it was necessary, even though she presented herself as the show’s most progressive figure.

And then there’s her relationship with Tom, which caused further division online.

The series ended with Shiv being stuck as the wife to the man who stole the role that she had carved out for herself.

Our final scene with Shiv was a moment where she was in the car with Tom. He puts his hand out for her to take it, and she rests her hand not quite on top of his in response – a deeply uncomfortable hand hold where Tom looks on blankly, while Shiv seems equally despondent.

Was this a sign that they were both equally as trapped? Or was Shiv caught in a stereotypical gender role? Again, Twitter couldn’t decide.

And, of course, there were the inevitable questions about whether she was now just going to continue the abuse that her father had passed onto her.

Pregnant with Tom’s child, perhaps she wanted to preserve the line of succession after all – even if it went through her husband rather than herself.

But, whichever way you look at it, her character had arguably the most intriguing conclusion – especially as Succession’s only female lead character lead the way is a testament to the writing.

The series’ writer, Jesse Armstrong, summed it up best when, in an interview broadcast on Max after the finale, he said: “Shiv is still in play, in a sort of, frozen, terrifying, emotionally barren place.

“She has got this sort of non-victory, non-defeat.”

But – he hinted that she had fight left in her yet, saying: “There’s going to be some movement there. There’s still a lot of that game to play out.”