Outer Banks Season 3 Ending Explained: How Will Death, Destruction And A Big Cliffhanger Impact Season 4

 Sarah and John B. hugging in Outer Banks Season 3 finale.
Sarah and John B. hugging in Outer Banks Season 3 finale.
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If you couldn’t tell from the headline, there are MAJOR spoilers for Season 3 of Outer Banks ahead.

Now that Season 3 of Outer Banks is finally here, fans are devouring the ten episodes, and they are starting to think about what adventures lie ahead for the beloved Pogues. The finale of the latest installment of OBX definitely changed the game with the death, destruction and cliffhanger at the very end, and with all that being said I think it’s time we break it all down, and think about how Season 3's ending will impact Season 4.

John B. holding up a flare in Outer Banks
John B. holding up a flare in Outer Banks

The Pogues Made It To El Dorado, But Things Went South (Literally And Figuratively)

The entire Season 3 finale takes place at El Dorado, as the Pogues and their enemies made the long journey to find the city of gold. Luckily, John B. and Sarah found the treasure first. However, they were being hunted by the season’s big bad Singh and co. so, when they emerge from the cave the city is hidden in they are met with a life-threatening stand-off.

A triumphant moment almost immediately turns into a near-fatal one, as Singh threatens to kill everyone for the gold. While John B. has had his fair share of near-death moments, this one is the scariest and the most important time because of how hard they had all worked to get to this point. While Sarah, John B. and his father Big John eventually get away from Singh by way of a big explosion, the problems don’t stop there, because the moments following them finding the treasure and escaping the big bad are the ones that lead to two major deaths.

From left to right: Big John and Ward in Outer Banks finale
From left to right: Big John and Ward in Outer Banks finale

Two Major Deaths Offer Moments Of Closure For Key Outer Banks Characters

Following the trio escaping the cave, they all have a nice moment to take in that they finally found the gold they had been looking for all season. However, that moment is short-lived because Sarah’s dad Ward shows up, pointing a gun at Big John. Throughout the seasons both Ward and Big John have been major points of turmoil for John B. and Sarah, because both dads are greedy, and have caused their kids a lot of harm. This moment is no different as the Cameron patriarch threatens to kill our lead Pogue's father.

Throughout all Season 3 we’ve seen both John B. and Sarah struggle to make sense of their complex relationships with their fathers, and the final moments of the finale were tragic for them, however, also offered some closure.

For Sarah, her dad has caused her major strife, as he’s tried to kill her and John B. multiple times throughout the seasons. Even though he had malicious intent at the beginning of this final sequence, he ended up sacrificing himself for his daughter, putting himself in front of everyone else and getting fatally shot. While Sarah lost her father, which is tragic, as a viewer I also couldn’t help but feel a bit of relief for her. That is because this evil human who had plagued her life found a way to redeem himself in a way, and show that deep down he really did love her.

John B.’s dad also faced a tragic end, and Chase Stokes has been open about why he felt so connected to John B.’s story with Big John and the complexities of their relationship that ultimately led to this bittersweet end. Their story came to a close as the crew sailed back to safety. Big John had sustained a serious injury earlier, and ultimately ended up passing away before they could get to a doctor. However, while it’s sad he died, and John B. had to deal with his dad’s death again (since he had thought he was dead for the first two seasons), it was also a moment of closure because our protagonist had finally fulfilled the quest his father began so long ago.

While tragic, Ward and Big John caused big problems in their kids' lives, and in these final moments, they were able to redeem themselves, and go out in a heroic fashion. Losing a parent is never easy, however, these deaths signify the closing of a traumatizing chapter for John B. and Sarah and allow them to move on and ultimately heal.

From right to left: Sarah, John B. and Pope looking at a man who is proposing a new treasure hunt to them.
From right to left: Sarah, John B. and Pope looking at a man who is proposing a new treasure hunt to them.

The Final Seconds Set Up The Next Adventure For Outer Banks Season 4

We started with the gold, then it was the cross, then things started to veer toward Pirates of the Caribbean territory with El Dorado, and now we’re moving even further into that realm with Season 4. Why do I say this, you might ask, because, the final moment of the season features our band of Pogues being approached about a treasure hunt involving Edward Teach AKA Blackbeard.

With the dads dead, and the crew growing up a bit, it seems like now the characters are going from kids cluelessly hunting treasure to employed treasure hunters. After seeing the mysterious man show up and present the famous pirate’s captain's log, it seems like they’ll be going on a journey to find something of Blackbeard’s, however, we’ll have to wait to see what happens from there, because the season ends before the crew can say yes or no to this man’s proposal.

While we don’t know what exactly this treasure hunt will entail, it seems like things are about to get even crazier in Season 4, especially considering the small time jump, multiple problematic characters no longer being in the picture and the general trajectory of the show. Josh Pate, one of the creators of the show, broke down what this proposal mean for the Pogues moving forward, telling EW:

We're also setting up the Pogues for this transition as they're getting older into future seasons. We're playing a lot of big cards at the end, put it that way.

So, while this season ends with a sense of closure that Seasons 1 and 2 didn’t have, it’s still a massive cliffhanger. That’s because we know these characters are about to set out on a journey even bigger than the first three, however, we have absolutely no idea what will come of it.

Luckily we know Outer Banks will return for Season 4, because, unlike the cast, the characters will not tap out of the treasure hunt, and Netflix swiftly renewed the series. However, it will be a while before we see the Pogues go on the Blackbeard-based treasure hunt. So, while we wait for and hypothesize about the next installment, you can watch Seasons 1 through 3 with a Netflix subscription, and be sure to check out the 2023 TV schedule to figure out what show you want to binge next.