In an interview with Collider, Reeves talked about how he and Stahelski usually travel to Japan to begin fleshing out ideas for a potential next film to see what sticks. With John Wick going up against his biggest challenge by far in “Chapter 4,” there was a natural direction that the story took to remind audiences that there was still a man at the core of the myth. Reeves had this to say:
“We usually come out of Japan with at least one or two ideas … Yeah, so for this one, the idea was, you know, because we have to come up with a ‘why,’ right? What’s the ‘why,’ why make it? And, after ‘Chapter 1,’ well, just after ‘John Wick,’ it was like, the why? Well, he’s on the run, but even before on the run, maybe let’s open up the world. And it was like the marker and all of the friendships …”
Bringing in the coin marker in “Chapter 2” worked to force John Wick back into the criminal underground without taking away from his core desire to just be left alone. After “John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum,” Wick is left without a choice and has to take on the Herculean task of literally killing everyone that could ever bring him back into the fold.
Slowly, Reeves realized that there was really only one semi-plausible direction for a fourth chapter to go in. “And then ‘Chapter 4’ was, ‘Why make it?’ And it was like, ‘Okay, he has to die,'” he concluded. “That would seem like the only reason to make it, you know what I mean? Like, it’s impossible. He can’t survive the High Table.”
If John Wick has truly seen his last battle, technically, he was never defeated by any one adversary. He does the impossible, then just flat out dies of exhaustion.