Ozark Showrunner Chris Mundy Leaves The Door Open For Possible Spin-Offs

"Ozark" Season 4: Part 2 has finally arrived, capping off the perilous money-laundering saga of the Byrde family. After a quick weekend binger of the final seven episodes, fans have had less than a week for the finale to sink in — which means it's already time to start pondering about a sequel series! What kind of audience would we be if the word "spin-off" didn't immediately follow the credits? Luckily, showrunner Chris Mundy has already beat us to the punch by answering the question in a post-finale discussion with Netflix. When asked if the final season sets the table for more, Mundy responded:

"That's kind of a trick question. I love this world. But it was really important to me, and all of us who were making the show, to have it be complete and not do anything that would be tilted toward this being set up so we could stay in this world. If [a spin-off] could happen on its own, then great, because it's a world that I really love. But we did four — kind of, five — seasons, 44 episodes. And I want them to feel like a whole, not like they were built to go somewhere else. But it's been the last six years of my life, and it's been a lot of fun. So doing more inside this world would almost certainly be a blast."

This isn't the first time Mundy has taken this stance, brushing the question off but not entirely dismissing the possibility of more from the world of "Ozark." When he spoke to THR in January, Mundy said, "never say never" and added, "​​it's certainly something that's been floated by various people." The world of "Ozark" certainly offers plenty of material that's ripe for exploration. Despite starting out as your average suburban nuclear family, the Byrdes become a fascinating bunch to watch as they evolve, revealing the darkest depths of themselves. They're just the tip of the iceberg though — the show also expands to show off various criminal operations with a cast of characters each looking to thrive in their own ways. 

We've seen the internals of Navarro's drug cartel and peeked at the complicated nature of the FBI. When it comes to characters, whether they be the newly introduced private investigator Mel Sattem (Adam Rothenberg) or long-timers like Ruth Langmore (Julia Garner), "Ozark" tosses in flashbacks and backstory enough to flesh out their stories and help us make sense of them. This is a virtue of the show that makes it wonderfully expansive, but it also means there isn't much ground left unexplored. "Ozark" tells a very complete story and offers all the background info we need, so it's hard to see where a spin-off would come in ... But in the age of undying IP, it's certainly not impossible.

The rest of this post contains SPOILERS for the ending of "Ozark."

The next chapter of Ozark

Now, if you've already seen the ending of "Ozark," I know exactly what you're thinking — "Ozark" spinoff? Who the hell is left?! The Byrdes arrived to the Ozarks and brought chaos with them. When at least they departed in "A Hard Way To Go," they didn't leave very much in their wake. They managed to take down most of their enemies across the seasons, accidentally led to the downfall of various allies, and by the end, it kinda feels like the community population is starting to dwindle. They've buried pastors, sheriffs, and innocent locals alike. One possibility would be for a spinoff focusing on the community they leave behind, but other than Rachel and the kindly funeral director (whose business must be booming), there wouldn't be too much to delve into.

The obvious spinoff route for this show was always Ruth Langmore, arguably the show's most compelling (and tortured) character. Ruth was a criminal long before the Byrdes sunk their talons in, but her life changes drastically under Marty's tutelage. By the later seasons, she begins to break free from both her past and the Byrde family, as she considers ways to build something of her own. The prospect of seeing where Ruth goes from there — with her wit, criminal experience, and complex moral compass — was always a point of fascination. As she takes over the Missouri Belle in the final season and starts construction on a house, she's well on her way to becoming a legitimate power in the Ozarks. Plus, she starts moving forward from the ghosts of her past with her cousin Three and what the show hints is a budding relationships with (of all people) Frank Cosgrove Jr. (Joseph Sikora). When Sikora spoke to EW about season 4, he hinted at this possibility himself, noting the evolution of their character dynamic. 

 "Him and Ruth, I mean, do I sense a spin-off there? There's some love growing in the air. Let's see if Frank Jr. survives the season first."

Turns out Frank Jr wasn't the only one to worry about. The "Ozark" finale rendered this route impossible with Ruth's tragic death. With Ruth out of the picture, what's left? Maybe a slapstick comedy about the trials and tribulations of Baby Zeke, as the infant is passed from one insane tragedy to the next. Or an exceptionally bleak look at what Rachel will do next, weighed down by the guilt of a murder and being tied to a criminal enterprise without Ruth by her side. The Byrdes have some compelling prospects themselves — they get to go on and be midwestern royalty, now that they're out of the cartel business and back in Chicago. A sequel series could see Wendy navigating politics like the cutthroat shark we know her to be — but if we stick with the Byrde family, it wouldn't really be a spinoff. And anyway, their story has such a perfect final shot (pun intended) that a follow-up could dull the impact. But consider this — what if instead of flashing forward, "Ozark" delves into the past?

Ozark's potential spin-off routes

On the prequel front, "Ozark" has introduced a lot of possibilities, but there's definitely one that stands above all the others. First, let's make some eliminations. The Byrde past has been pretty deftly explored in flashbacks and the main storyline of the series — while it could be fun to see the courting of Wendy and Marty Byrde (with Wendy as a young politician and Marty as a... mild-mannered financial advisor) there's not much to learn that we haven't already seen in action. Another possibility is the Langmore family, but that also feels like territory the show has already covered. They have a pretty straightforward criminal past and we've already seen their family dynamic at work. Unless a spinoff went way back to introduce some Langmores we've never met, there's not much that's new. Personally, the Navarro cartel doesn't seem like a terribly interesting route to go but could at least offer some Narcos-like drama for those interested. And as for the Snells, we've already seen the major beats but they could always steal the "Yellowstone" prequel route and show the very beginnings of the Snell family legacy.

The best possibility lies with a character we haven't seen in many seasons — our old friend, Buddy. A rare "Ozark" character with much-untapped potential, Buddy Dieker aka Jimmy Smalls (Harris Yulin) has an entire past that includes being a war hero, a chopper pilot, and a great negotiator for the Kansas City Mob. When we meet him, those adventures are long past and he's just a cranky old man with health issues who really enjoys skinny dipping. He lends the Byrdes a helping hand on more than a few occasions and has a major influence on Jonah, but he's a small fraction of their story overall — making him the perfect subject for a spinoff. Better Call Buddy, anyone?