What Happened to Gus’ Pubba? How Did He Die in Sweet Tooth?

Based on the namesake comic book series by Jeff Lemire, Netflix’s ‘Sweet Tooth’ tells the story of a world where 98% of the human population was wiped out because of a deadly pandemic called the Sick. The cataclysmic event is known as the Great Crumble, which happened around the same time as the emergence of human-animal hybrid children, prompting many to wonder whether these children caused it or are the results of it. The narrative revolves around Gus (Christian Convery), a human-deer hybrid boy who embarks on a perilous journey to find his mother after the death of his father, whom he called Pubba. If you are wondering what happened to the man, we got you covered. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Pubba’s Tragic Demise in Yellowstone Park

Portrayed by Will Forte, Pubba, whose real name is Richard Fox, is an important character in the first season of the series. “Pubba” is what Gus uses to refer to him, believing Richard to be his biological father. Before the advent of the pandemic and the near destruction of humanity, Richard used to work at the Fort Smith Labs, in Goss Grove, Colorado, as a janitor. Gertrude Miller, or Birdie, also worked there as a geneticist. One evening, the co-workers encounter each other at a bar and quickly connect over drinks and games of pool. As the evening gave way to night, Richard accompanied Gertrude to her home, and they shared a kiss.

However, before things proceeded any further, Gertrude received a phone call, letting her know about an imminent military raid on Fork Smith. Deeply worried, Gertrude immediately wanted to leave for the facility but didn’t have the keys. But Richard, being the janitor, did, and he went with her to Fort Smith.

Image Credit: Kirsty Griffin/Netflix

There, Richard was introduced to Genetic Unit System 1, or Gus, the first human-animal hybrid. It is revealed in season 2 that the main objective of the scientists at Fort Smith was to find a way for humanity to age without any disease. It seems that both the Sick and the hybrids are the by-products of that research. Gertrude didn’t want Gus to fall into the wrong hands and handed him over to Richard before going in to get her research. She knew that the research could be used to kill millions of people.

When the series begins, Richard arrives in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming with an infant Gus and finds a dilapidated cabin in the middle of the forest. Gradually, he turns it into a home for himself and Gus. His initial misgivings about the sudden fatherhood disappear as the years go by. They spend ten years there until a tragedy happens, and Richard dies.

Richard Contracts the Sick After Defending Gus

For the most part, Richard succeeds in giving Gus a sheltered childhood, away from a world that quickly descends into death, destruction, and anarchy. Richard celebrates each of Gus’ birthdays and gives him toys to play with and books to read. This includes a toy dog that he makes out of his own socks.

Despite living in the middle of nowhere, Richard is aware of what has happened in the world beyond. He knows that the traditional government has fallen, and various groups and people have taken its place. One such group is the Last Men, a human paramilitary faction led by General Douglas Abbot. Richard puts up fences around their compound to keep the First Men out. He also told Gus never to venture beyond the said fences. Richard teaches Gus a motto to follow whenever he encounters something unknown. “If I hear a growl, I will duck. If I hear a voice, I will run. If I see a human, I will hide.”

Ultimately, driven by curiosity, Gus travels beyond the fences, and the First Men soon appear in the forest. Although Richard succeeds in dealing with the intruders, he contracts the Sick and dies. Gus spends a year in his childhood home until he finds a box containing Gertrude’s belongings. He subsequently decides to go looking for the woman he believes to be his mother.

Aside from being a fantasy and post-apocalyptic series, ‘Sweet Tooth’ is a coming-of-age story. Executive producer Beth Schwartz confirmed that in an interview with ComicBook.com, adding that the audience can expect to see the “protagonist grow and go through different stages of their life.”

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