Especially since:

John does not die at the end. In fact, he dies at the beginning, and then comes back to life.

Is there a reason the book was named like that?

  • 8
    It's a catchy title that generates interest, John does die, and in the end, we all die. The absurdist humor of giving a big reveal away in the title is probably the main reason. It certainly got MY attention. As these ideas have just always been my "guess" I did not list it as an answer proper. I'm pretty sure it's just supposed to be funny, shocking and make you pick up the book (or now movie) and wonder what it's about. SPOILER Also, I suspect it is fun misdirection as he's NOT the one who dies in the end. Sep 15, 2013 at 11:21
  • Also asked on Movies.SE
    – Izkata
    Sep 15, 2013 at 23:26

1 Answer 1


In Chapter 1, when Arnie meets Dave: ...Arnie says, "You don't look Asian, Mr. Wong." '"I'm not. I was born in (undisclosed). I had the name changed. Thought it would make me harder to find. You know Wong is the most common surname in the world?"'

Later in the same chapter: '"Tell me about John." "Like what? In his mid twenties. We went to school together. That's not his real name, either. Did you know John was the most common first name in the world? And yet there's not a single person named John Wong."'

John Dies at the End is called that because Dave's real name was John. He changed his last name to Wong to try to gain anonymity, but keeping John as his first name would have nullified this attempt, as he would have been the only person with the name John Wong. But as John is the most common first name in the world it couldn't hurt to use that for the name of his companion. At the end, Monster Dave learns he's a clone and that he probably killed the real Dave. John doesn't actually die at the end, but the end of the book is where the reader learns that Dave is dead. In a Shrodinger's Cat sort of way, the moment the reader discovers that Dave is dead is the moment, in the reader's eyes, that Dave--whose real name was John--dies.

  • Just saw this answer, and it is a lot better than the one on Movies.SE. Though I've read the book, I hadn't connected the dots. Thanks, accepting your answer now. Sep 28, 2018 at 9:07

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