Johnny Ending, Explained: Does Father Jan Kaczkowski Die?

Directed by Daniel Jaroszek, Netflix’s ‘Johnny’ is about rehabilitation and empathy. It stars Dawid Ogrodnik in the titular role alongside Piotr Trojan. The Polish film revolves around the story of an ex-criminal who meets a catholic priest while serving community service hours and how the experience completely changes his life for the better. It’s a biographical drama about real-life bioethicist Jan Kaczkowski and highlights the positive, life-changing influence his compassionate and empathetic ways had in the world. The movie involves sensitive topics like addiction, terminal illness, and a character’s abusive childhood. Regardless of the grave issues explored in the story, ‘Johnny’ still presents the audience with a heartwarming tale about second chances through a lens of light-weight, appropriate humor. Due to the real-life inspiration behind the movie, the characters of Jan and Patryk both feel authentic, and it’s incredibly easy to get invested in their lives. If you’re wondering what happens to them, here is everything you need to know about the ending of ‘Johnny.’ SPOILERS AHEAD!

Johnny Plot Synopsis

The movie starts with Patryk breaking into someone’s house and getting caught. After being sent to prison, Patryk takes over as a narrator while we see snippets from Father Jan’s life. Father Jan helps around at the hospital, with a soft spot for “lost causes.” He cares for the people no one else wants to care about. Eventually, he starts running a mobile hospice out of his van with the help of his contacts from the hospital. However, Father Jan realizes he needs a more firm solution in order to make a significant difference. His clergy superior, the Archbishop, is against such an idea, but Father Jan defies him and continues regardless. He applies for a loan, buys some land, and starts a stationary Puck Hospice dedicated to St. Padre Pio. But then, a brain cancer diagnosis puts a ticking clock on the priest’s life.

Meanwhile, Patryk soon gets released from prison. However, steeped in a life of crime as he was, he gets served with community service hours shortly after and starts working for Jan. As Patryk continues to work in the hospice, he experiences a drastically different approach to life. At first, he tries to slack around but soon starts enjoying working with the patients. Similarly, where the patients had at first been suspicious and judgemental of Patryk, they eventually realize the goodness inside of him and become fond of him in return. With Father Jan’s help and guidance, Patryk’s life starts to change in ways he had never imagined. The two travel around the country, spreading Father Jan’s message of empathy and kindness while Patryk pursues his culinary skills. However, Patryk’s past life soon catches up to him, and his rehabilitation efforts are brought to question by the court. At the same time, Father Jan’s condition starts to worsen.

Johnny Ending: Does Father Jan Kaczkowski Die?

Father Jan is diagnosed with Glioblastoma early on in the movie. Though the inevitability of his death is mentioned frequently, it does not take center stage in the narrative. Instead, the focus is on Father Jan’s legacy and the complications that terminally ill people face in their lives, other than mortality. When Father Jan initially learns about his diagnosis, the doctor doesn’t believe he will live longer than a few months. However, Father Jan doesn’t let it put a stop to his dreams and continues to build his Hospice. He dedicates his time to caring for people that are reaching the end of their lives and ensures that they receive a comfortable and gentle death.

After Patryk enters the picture, he has a hard time dealing with death. When a patient he had grown close to dies, it highly affects Patryk. Patryk hasn’t yet learned how to let people go and wants to hold on to them for selfish reasons. Father Jan helps him understand that loving and caring about people cannot come with any conditions. As the story progresses, this message of prioritizing unconditional love for people with terminal illnesses and dealing with death in a healthy unselfish way is present throughout the narrative. Father Jan works towards spreading his ideas by doing interviews and talks. Patryk accompanies him for some of these events and visibly cherishes his friend’s success.

However, one day Father Jan does not show up for a radio show he had previously arranged. When Patryk finds out about his absence from the show, he goes on to search for him. Patryk finds Father Jan in his office, with his condition having gotten worse. When Jan is put on bed rest, Patryk goes to visit him and sits with him in silence. He’s not frenzied like he has been before. Instead, Patryk is calm and present for Jan and holds his hand. Patryk tells him about his kid and how he’ll name his firstborn after Jan. Ultimately, Jan Kaczkowski dies years after his initial diagnosis, surrounded by his family.

What Happens to Patryk in The End?

Patryk goes through a drastic character development arc throughout the movie. At the start of the story, when we meet Patryk, he’s in an extremely dark place in his life. He has a drug addiction and regularly gets sent to prison after getting in trouble with the law. At home, he has a neglectful father who has done an awful job raising him. However, once he starts working in the Hospice— first as court-mandated community service and later volunteering— he’s shown kindness and empathy by Father Jan and finds a friend in the priest.

Through Father Jan’s help, he discovers his passion for cooking and works on developing the skill. Additionally he also forms bonds with people around the hospice and learns how to have empathy for others. Witnessing the suffering as well as joy of other people and helping them through it brings a significant change in Patryk’s character. This kinder way of life helps Patryk shed his criminal habits and overcome his addiction. Father Jan also essentially presents Patryk with a future plan by helping him enroll in culinary classes and hone his skills.

However, towards the end, he’s called back to court for unpaid fines. The court questions his recovery and, despite Father Jan’s testimony, ultimately decides that Patryk has manipulated people into thinking he had a change of character. Patryk is sent back to prison with a sentence of three years. Still, Father Jan does not give up on him. He visits Patryk and tries to work with the prison to establish some agreement where Patryk may be allowed to leave and work for the hospice. In the end, Father Jan has to resort to reaching out to the Archbishop but eventually manages to get Patryk’s sentence cut short.

Patryk’s story is one of rehabilitation. Through Patryk, the narrative expresses the possibility to change in people, given they receive understanding and support. Father Jan provides that support and companionship to Patryk and, as a result, brings out the best in him. After Jan’s death, Patryk continues to live a safe and happy life. He marries his girlfriend Zaneta and starts a family with her. He uses his culinary skills to find honest work and starts a fresh life.

Read More: Is Netflix’s Johnny Based on a True Story?