Warning: This article contains spoilers for the ending of the HBO series "Succession."
Four seasons of Emmy-winning television came to an end Sunday with the series finale of "Succession" on HBO.
The central premise of the series was answering the question of which member of the Roy family would succeed patriarch Logan Roy as CEO of the family media conglomerate, Waystar Royco. The obvious contenders were always his three children from his second marriage: Kendall, Siobhan (Shiv) and Roman.
Viewers finally got the answer in the finale, and — we cannot stress this spoiler alert enough — it was none of those three. Instead, it was Shiv's opportunistic husband, Tom Wambsgans.
For most fans, the turn of events was a surprise. Others, however, more than saw it coming. They expected it thanks to a fan theory that circulated in the week prior identifying Tom as the likely candidate based on an unusual argument: his last name.
The World Series 'Succession' theory
The basics of the theory went like this: Last names matter in "Succession." The Roy surname means "king," etc. The Roy daughter was named Shiv — well, of course. In Tom's case, the literal meaning of "Wambsgans" works out to something like a goose down coat, but the bigger idea is that one of the only other famous people with that name (or something like it) is the late baseball player Bill Wambsganss.
The career of Wambsganss spanned from 1914 to 1926 and is obscure save for one fact. Wambasganss completed the only unassisted triple play in World Series history in 1920. In other words, a person named Wambsganss eliminated three people at the end of a season. Kinda like how Tom beat out the three Roy children on Sunday.
You can watch the whole theory explained here:
This theory about Tom in Succession is wild. 👀 pic.twitter.com/xoOXJV90iF
— Christina Garnett (@ThatChristinaG) May 25, 2023
This connection had been noted well before last week but really took off as the finale rolled around.
It wasn't a perfect metaphor. After all, Tom became CEO only because his wife sided with him over her brother in the final board vote. However, Tom was an unexpected enough choice that the theory seems difficult to deny at this point.
It seems series creator/writer Jesse Armstrong might be a baseball fan, enough to give a character a name that would bear fruit five years after the show premiered in 2018.