Ripley: Why Does Tom Ripley Kill Dickie Greenleaf? Is Dickie’s Body Ever Found?

A terrible streak of events happens in Netflix’s ‘Ripley,’ with the titular character at the center of it all. It begins with a man’s desperation to bring his son back home from his long vacation in Italy at any cost. When no one listens to him, he takes the help of the only man who does: Tom Ripley. He sends Tom to Italy to bring back his son, Dickie, but little does he know that Tom is something else entirely. He has no intention of bringing Dickie home. Rather, he ends up doing something that forever severs Dickie from his family, leaving them in a permanent state of grief and unable to find out what truly happened to their son. But why does Tom do it? Does Dickie’s tragic fate ever come to light? SPOILERS AHEAD

Dickie’s Murder was a Result of Tom’s Greed

Image Credit: Lorenzo Sisti/NETFLIX

When Tom Ripley met Dickie Greenleaf, he didn’t just want what Dickie had, he wanted to be Dickie. It didn’t take much for Tom to see why Dickie was refusing to go back home, and when he succeeded in befriending the wealthy young man, Tom found himself being drawn towards the lavish lifestyle that Dickie was living. According to Tom, Dickie had it all. He had the money, the looks, the charm, and that carefree attitude about life that only comes when you haven’t had to work a day in your life, and you probably never will. For Tom, this was the epitome of the kind of life he wanted to have. So, it makes sense that when he came so close he could almost touch it, he couldn’t bear to be torn apart from it.

In all the time that he spent with Dickie, Tom learned how to be Dickie. It wasn’t just an obsession or something born of a sexual attraction. It was Tom’s deep desire to have everything that Dickie had and have it even better. He enjoyed the taste for finer things; he loved having the freedom to study art and live languidly in the coastal town of Atrani without a care in the world. He didn’t care for Dickie’s friendship, but he held on to it because it brought him close enough to what he wanted. So, when he discovers that it might all slip away from him, sinister things go through his mind.

As a conman, Tom knew he could, with some effort, pass off as Dickie for a while and maybe cash enough cheques in his name to get a head start. But for that to happen, Dickie needed to be out of the picture. He had served his purpose anyway. If he was going to drop Tom, then Tom didn’t have any use for him either. And so, he killed Dickie. Abrupt as it might seem, it was a calculated act on Tom’s part, one that he had been preparing for since he got Mr. Greenleaf’s offer in New York.

Dickie’s Missing Body Makes it Easy for Tom to Get Away With Murder

It wasn’t necessarily Tom’s plan to kill Dickie, but when he did kill him, he knew that he needed to get rid of the body at once so the murder couldn’t be traced back to him. Tom throws his body into the ocean, weighing it with an anchor so it doesn’t float up and be found by someone else. He knows that if the dead body is gone, he has a better chance of not just getting away with the murder but having what he wanted from Dickie all along: to be him. Once the body is disposed of and Tom is safely back on the shore, he goes about becoming Dickie and making everyone think that he is still alive.

When the boat is eventually found, Tom fears that the truth about Dickie will come to light, but the unexpected happens. He doesn’t realize that in becoming Dickie, he inadvertently made Tom Ripley go missing, and that’s who the cops look for. If Dickie never died, why would they look for his dead body? Eventually, Dickie does die for the world, but it happens somewhere far away, where they are unable to get to him or even be sure if he’s really dead. They convince themselves that he is gone for good, dead or not. Once again, because the body is not found, there is no murder and, hence, no investigation.

By that time, months have passed since Tom threw Dickie into the ocean, which means that either his body has decomposed or it has been eaten away by the fish in the water. In any case, barely anything remains of him, and it will never find its way to the surface. He will remain in the ocean, and no one but Tom Ripley will know what truly happened to him.

Read More: Was Tom Ripley a Real Con Man?