Atlanta Season 4 Ending Explained (In Detail) (2023)

Warning! SPOILERS for Atlanta season 4True to form, Atlanta season 4 ends in a way that is both understated, absurd, and deceptively moving — here's where the show leaves its main characters, and what that ambiguous final shot might actually mean. In its final season, the FX series has given time to three of its four characters: Earn (Donald Glover), Vanessa (Zazie Beetz), and Alfred (Brian Tyree Henry) have each led their own individual stories. The one exception, the one main character that hasn't received much of a focus, is LaKeith Stanfield's Darius. He gets the spotlight in the series finale, anchoring an episode that's only occasionally tethered to reality.


In the Atlanta season 4 finale, titled "It Was All a Dream", Earn, Vanessa, and Alfred have made plans to eat at a Black-owned sushi fusion restaurant. Darius says he'll join them eventually. First, he has an appointment at a sensory deprivation tank. As he explains to a woman he meets on his way there, his dreams in the tank do get pretty intense. If he ever feels too overwhelmed, he just looks to Judge Judy. Her show is always playing on one screen or another. If he sees that she looks thicker than she usually does, with a more pronounced backside, for example, that means he's still in the tank and has to remember to wake himself up. As the episode progresses, however, it becomes harder for Darius to distinguish what's real and what isn't.

Related: Why Atlanta Has So Many Anthology Episodes

Why Atlanta's Series Finale Focuses On Darius

Atlanta Season 4 Ending Explained (In Detail) (1)

Atlanta has encompassed many things over the course of its run: it's ridiculous, yes, with semi-frequent references to Chris Evans and daring cameos by Liam Neeson. It's an alternate world, where Justin Bieber is a bisexual Black man, and where there was for a brief time a Black CEO of The Walt Disney Company. It's also plainly real and profound in unexpected ways. Those three competing ideas don't really apply to Earn, Alfred and Vanessa. They do apply to Darius. For all of his mystery and all that's unknown about him, he approaches life very much like it's a dream. He walks the line between reality and something beyond. It's only fitting that he's the central POV for a very ethereal goodbye.

Why Atlanta Season 4's Ending Cuts To Black

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The finale, written by Community's Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino) and directed by Hiro Murai, follows Darius while occasionally cutting to Earn, Vanessa, and Alfred. They're having the worst time at the sushi place. However, the episode primarily sticks with Darius. Whenever things get too dangerous or too emotional, as when Darius meets up with his dead brother, the character finds a way to wake himself up in the deprivation tank. Sometimes, he sees Judge Judy and that reminds him of his dream-reality. In other instances, he just returns to reality with a terrified scream.

That is until the very last scene in Atlanta. Darius is left alone with the TV episode playing an episode of the celebrity judge. He stares and stares, waiting to see if she looks any different and to confirm that it's all a dream. Except viewers never get an answer. Atlanta fades to Black on Darius' face as he lets out a reluctant smile. Is he smiling because he realizes it's a dream? Is he smiling for the opposite reason? The ending is inconclusive.

(Video) Atlanta Season 4 Ending Explained | Episode 10 Finale Recap & Review | "It Was All a Dream"

Throughout its run, but especially throughout Atlanta season 4, the show has been resistant to providing concrete answers. Which family member assaulted Earn when he was a child? Is Vanessa an elitist snob for looking down on Tyler Perry? Will she live happily with Earn, or is she choosing love over her own pride? The show does offer glimpses of the truth, but the audience mostly has to fill in the rest. The finale simply restates the kind of series Atlanta always has been.

Related: Atlanta Season 4 Delivers The Perfect Halloween Episode… By Mocking Tyler Perry

Was Atlanta All A Dream?! What The Final Shot Really Means

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In a sense, the Atlanta finale is a dream. Consider what happens in it: Darius and a former flame named London (Naté Jones) get stopped by a police officer, and they get through the situation unharmed. At another point, Darius makes a scene and the worst thing that happens to him is that he's asked to leave. As the episode closes, Darius rescues his friends from eating potentially poisonous fish. He arrives in a stolen pink Maserati and the group enjoys some Popeyes after. It's this last caper that has Darius declaring to his friends that they're all just characters in his dream.

(Video) Atlanta Season 4 Ending Explained

Earn, Vanessa, and Alfred dismiss his claims and leave him momentarily to enjoy a smoke, which sets up Atlanta's last shot. The show sets up a world, ultimately, where Black people can experience life-threatening situations on multiple occasions and survive. It's a world where Earn, Vanessa, and Alfred have achieved more than believed possible in Atlanta season 1, not stopped by the legacy of racism and its limitations on excellence. It's not to say that the FX series lived in a fantasy where racism in America - and elsewhere - doesn't exist. Atlanta addressed those issues and showed them for what they were.

However, Atlanta wasn't defined by those issues. Atlanta was mostly about joy, absurdity, and hijinks. Darius' smile could be his realization that nothing is real, though that's a simple answer. His smile might mean the realization that he's living what Donald Glover described as a Black fairytale with the people he loves.

Vanessa & Earn's Atlanta Ending & Likely Future Explained

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Vanessa and Earn's story comes to an end in the Atlanta season 4 episode "Snipe Hunt," in which Earn confesses his love for Vanessa and his commitment to their daughter Lottie. It's a deeply vulnerable moment for the pair and Vanessa agrees to move to LA with him though she was unsure about the decision at first. She's sure of the fact that she loves him. In the finale, they seem quite happy and at ease with one another. It's an ending that seemed impossible just a season ago, but the duo grew closer since Atlanta's European trip.

Related: Atlanta: Donald Glover's Reparations Episode Is Ridiculous (But Essential)

Alfred's Ending Is Perfect For Him (& Paper Boi)

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In the penultimate episode of the show, Alfred goes to stay at a "safe farm." Ever since the beginning of the series, but even more so as part of season 4, Alfred has repeatedly feared for his life. He takes the advice of a fellow rapper, none other than Soulja Boy, who cameoed as himself, in another clever Atlanta cameo, to buy a farm for safety purposes. Continuing his streak of bad luck, Alfred is attacked on the farm by a feral hog.

Alfred survives the dangerous encounter, but he's visibly injured in the finale. Still, he's in good spirits and his relationship with Earn is in a great place. Atlanta makes a point of showing the cousins laughing and connecting more than they had in the past. It looks like Alfred will continue to make music, but he's also made some sort of peace with the fact that his Paper Boi rapping persona will gradually fade from relevancy. The farm ending, with one last harrowing near-death situation, is the perfect end for a character who has never seemed too much at ease around large groups of people. He gets to live out his days in peace, away from annoyingly adoring fans and the hustle of the rap industry.

Why Atlanta Season 5 Isn't Happening

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Series creator Donald Glover has talked about why Atlanta is ending with season 4. He explained that he actually wanted to conclude with season 2, indicating that he didn't want the story to get to the point where storylines got stale. Nonetheless, he found that the fourth installment offered the show a perfect ending. In the same vein, Glover said he's open to revisiting the series in the future: “If there’s a reason to do it, of course.”

It's too early to say if any revival will happen. What can be said, with certainty, is that there was nothing quite like Atlanta on television. It took big swings, always willing to break its formula and refusing to adhere to expected story structures. Though it influenced many prestige comedies that debuted in its aftermath, it was singularly notable for its talented lead foursome and exceptional creative team.

(Video) Atlanta Season 4 Ending Explained | Episode 10 Recap

Next: Community's Donald Glover Spider-Man Easter Egg Explained


Was Darius dreaming at the end of Atlanta? ›

Fortunately for Darius, this is all a dream. Unfortunately, his encounter with the white women in the tearoom who can't stop saying “tearoom” and laughing while doing so isn't, and him yelling at them to wake himself up only gets him kicked out.

Was Darius in the tank at the end of Atlanta? ›

Darius agrees but reveals his trick to “anchor” himself – by looking at a TV and seeing a “thicc Judge Judy” as a reminder that he's in the tank.

What happened in the finale of Atlanta? ›

Was the show Atlanta all a dream? ›

"It Was All a Dream" is the series finale of the American comedy-drama television series Atlanta. It is the tenth episode of the fourth season and is the 41st overall episode of the series. The episode was written by series creator and main actor Donald Glover, and directed by executive producer Hiro Murai.

Who is the white guy in the picture at the end of Atlanta? ›

It's a photo of actor Tobias Segal, who played the white guy telling the story of the flood at the beginning of the Season Three opener "Three Slaps." In that unnerving opening scene, he more or less turned into a demon after delivering his monologue about whiteness.

Was it all in Darius head? ›

“It Was All a Dream,” the series finale, posits that everything in “Atlanta” took place in Darius' head. “Maybe it's just my dream, and you were just in it,” he tells Earn, Alfred (Brian Tyree Henry), and Van, near the episode's ending.

What did Darius see at the end of Atlanta? ›

In the last shot of the series, Darius watches Judge Judy. Her backside isn't shown, but whatever Darius sees, he smiles with relief. As the screen cuts to black, the conclusion is left for interpretation. Whether or not it was all a dream, the connections between these people are very real.

What does Darius represent in Atlanta? ›

Darius' heightened intellect and unusual humor can sometimes present as someone on the autism spectrum. With his sensory disorders and coping mechanisms, fidgeting, self medicating and existential outlook on life. Darius redefines the borders between insanity and genius.

Is Darius still dreaming? ›

Darius usually remembers that he's in reality by looking at Judge Judy (who gave her permission to be included in the finale). If the TV judge looks thicker than usual, he explains at one point, if her body looks different, that means he's dreaming. But if she looks as she usually does, that means Darius is in reality.

Who put the gun in the bag Atlanta? ›

Earn quickly makes sure everyone is packed and ready to go. Al quickly reminds his cousin about the golden gun his Uncle Willy gave him in the season 2 premiere. Earn takes the gun, puts it in his bag and promises to take care of it.

Will Atlanta have season 5? ›

The groundbreaking comedy series 'Atlanta' is ending after four seasons : NPR. The groundbreaking comedy series 'Atlanta' is ending after four seasons FX's comedy-drama series "Atlanta" is ending Thursday after four seasons.

Why was Atlanta Cancelled? ›

Each of the actors have moved on to star in other major projects, but that hasn't been cited as a reason why the show is ending. The creator Glover spoke out on his reasons for ending Atlanta at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour earlier this year. "Death is natural," he said.

What does thick Judge Judy mean? ›

Darius shares that his trick to staying anchored is “thick Judge Judy,” meaning if he sees Judge Judy on the television and she's thick, then he knows he's in the tank.

Who is the villain in Atlanta? ›

In the TV series Atlanta, the main antagonist is Teddy Perkins, played by Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino.

What is the point of the show Atlanta? ›

Atlanta is an American comedy-drama television series created by Donald Glover. The series follows college dropout and music manager Earnest "Earn" Marks (Glover) and rapper Alfred "Paper Boi" Miles (Brian Tyree Henry) as they navigate a strange, seemingly otherworldly, Atlanta hip hop scene.

What show ended as a dream? ›

The final episode reveals that the entire series has been a dream of Dr. Robert Hartley, Newhart's character in The Bob Newhart Show.

Who is Teddy supposed to be in Atlanta? ›

Donald Glover plays Teddy. It is said that he remained in character during the entire filming process. Many on set found it creepy and others had little to no clue it was in fact Donald Glover; he was even addressed as "Teddy" by the director and crew.

Why is Van pretending to be French? ›

In “Atlanta,” that hunger belongs to Van (Zazie Beetz), who becomes so unsure of who she is that she has a nervous breakdown, engulfing herself in a French alter ego complete with an accent, a boyfriend, an apartment and a job in a butcher shop that serves human hands.

Did Donald Glover do white face? ›

Donald Glover Stayed in Whiteface the Entire Time on Set During the Filming of Latest 'Atlanta' Episode. Actor Derrick Haywood, who played Benny Hope in 'Atlanta,' confirmed to 'Vulture' that the outlandish Teddy Perkins character from the latest episode was indeed portrayed in whiteface by Donald…

Who can beat Darius early? ›

What champions counter Darius? The best champions that counter Darius are Quinn, Wukong, Gwen, Yorick and Vayne. You can find all the matchup tips we use in this guide on the Mobalytics App.

What happens in the Teddy Perkins episode? ›

The episode features series regular Darius Epps visiting a mansion to pick up a free piano, where he encounters a strange man named Teddy Perkins. Against the phone advice of Alfred, Darius continues his attempt to leave with the piano, and discovers that Perkins intends to turn the mansion into a museum.

What does Darius see at the end of the vignette? ›

What does Darius see at the end of the vignette, and where does he see it? Darius sees God in a fat fluffy cloud that looks like popcorn.

Do Van and Earn get back together? ›

She's really good and with her grandparents (in the season two finale, Van decides to move back home as Earn struggles, and they learn that Lottie is gifted). Are Van and Earn back together? Nope, she has a new boyfriend. Is Van okay?

Where is Darius now? ›

Darius' ex-wife actress

However, the couple were divorced two years later. The ex-reality star now spends his time between Scotland and Hollywood, where he works in the film industry where he produced the terrorism thriller Imperium in 2016. He has also starred in an episode of Hollyoaks and the BBC show Hotel Babylon.

Is Darius also Cyrus? ›

Darius was a member of the royal bodyguard of Cambyses II, the son and heir of Cyrus the Great who ruled for several years before dying mysteriously in 522. Later that same year, Darius took the throne after killing an alleged usurper he claimed had only pretended to be Cambyses' brother Bardiya.

What did Lorraine do to Paper Boi? ›

Having brought Al into the club at nighttime, Lorraine drags him out of the club during daylight before he's set to perform on stage, chastising him about his decisions and the people surrounding him.

Who is Paperboi based on? ›

Since Glover is from Atlanta and the music industry, viewers may think that Paperboy from Atlanta is a real rapper too, however, that's not the case. Paperboy, real name Alfred, is a fictional character, according to Rolling Stone, brought to life by Brian Tyree Henry.

Is Darius good early or late game? ›

Darius is an early to mid game champion and once it gets to the later stages of the game, his strengths become weaknesses. R as soon as the enemy gets into health range. Use Darius' early game aggression to get a lead in the lane.

Is Darius good in ranked? ›

Darius top has a 52.06% win rate in Platinum+ on Patch 13.4 coming in at rank 12 of 95 and graded A+ Tier on the LoL Tierlist. Darius top is a strong counter to Yasuo, K'Sante & Akali while Darius is countered most by Vayne, Wukong & Yorick.

Can you legally carry in Atlanta? ›

Effective April 12, 2022, Georgia now generally permits any “lawful weapons carrier” to carry handguns openly or concealed in most public spaces without any background check or permit required.

Did Clark put the gun in Luke's bag? ›

Instead of panicking, Earn distracts Clark County (RJ Walker), who is behind him in line and headlining Al's tour, and slips the gun in Clark's bag while he's not looking.

What happened with the gold gun in Atlanta? ›

Earn decides to pull the crab down — Luke — and plants the golden gun in his bin so that Earn can get on the plane. This doesn't come as a complete shock, as we know that Earn will let others take the fall for him.

Is Donald Glover leaving Atlanta? ›

He's choosing to end his Emmy- and Peabody-winning series simply because he's told the story he wanted to tell, and it's time for the show to end, Glover said during a virtual Television Critics Association session on Thursday..

What was V doing in Atlanta? ›

If V has taken the Streetkid lifepath, it is mentioned that in 2074 they left for Atlanta to find a better place to live than Night City, but unfortunately it didn't work out and they returned to NC two years later in 2076.

What is Donald Glover doing now? ›

While attending the 2023 Golden Globe Awards, Donald Glover confirmed that he's back in the studio, making new music as 'Childish Gambino. ' The saga of Childish Gambino continues, according to Donald Glover.

Will there be season 5 of Atlanta? ›

The groundbreaking comedy series 'Atlanta' is ending after four seasons : NPR. The groundbreaking comedy series 'Atlanta' is ending after four seasons FX's comedy-drama series "Atlanta" is ending Thursday after four seasons.

Why was the show Atlanta Cancelled? ›

Each of the actors have moved on to star in other major projects, but that hasn't been cited as a reason why the show is ending. The creator Glover spoke out on his reasons for ending Atlanta at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour earlier this year. "Death is natural," he said.

What is the point of Atlanta season 3 episode 4? ›

In episode four of this season, “Big Payback,” what begins as the mundane story of a white man named Marshall Johnson, an NPR listener with a stable corporate job, turns into a tale about slavery, reparations, and historical memory.

Who was Teddy Perkins based on? ›

The character Teddy Perkins, while not entirely, is reportedly heavily based on Michael Jackson. Hiro Murai was nominated for the 2018 Emmy Award in the Outstanding Directing For A Comedy Series category for Atlanta: Teddy Perkins (2018), but lost to Amy Sherman-Palladino for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Pilot (2017).

Who dressed up as Teddy Perkins at the Emmys? ›

Some fans who spotted the character during the Emmys broadcast immediately believed it was Glover. Bro. Donald Glover came dressed as Teddy Perkins. Donald Glover really went to the Emmy's as Teddy Perkins.

Who showed up as Teddy Perkins at the Emmys? ›

UPDATED: Teddy Perkins crashed the Emmys on Monday night. Donald Glover's bizarre “Atlanta” character appeared in the crowd throughout the show, raising speculation that Glover showed up to the ceremony dressed in costume.


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