So in John Wick the main plot story is that Viggo Tarasov's son Iosef Tarasov attacks John Wick and kills his dog. Therefore enraging him and sending John on a revenge mission.

My issue is why does Iosef Tarasov or any of the goons not know about John Wick? I mean his dad called him the Baba Yaga and that he was his best assassin, there had to be someone in his crew or even his son that knew who he was? I should mention that he (John Wick) did not quit until very recently, as this is proved by the dog that was killed, it was still a puppy.

Also, it has been 5 years since he stayed at the Continental Hotel. So not that long since he was right in the thick of things.

Is this a plot hole or are we supposed to believe that he did not know? Consider the fact that these guys are used to using assassins regularly and in their line of work, he had to be famous?

  • 7
    We can't be sure that he retired recently, for the puppy part, John's wife presented him because she knows she was going to die and John needs a companion. Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 13:05
  • 9
    Sorry but no, John Wick's not connected at this point. We only saw Marcus because they're friends, it can be assumed because Marcus always had John's back for the rest of the movie. Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 13:15
  • 2
    Appears like Losef doesn't know about John Wick at all, because while his Dad (Viggo) explains about John Wick, he says John Wick is a nobody, that's when Viggo explains that John is the one who sent to kill Baba Yaga. Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 13:23
  • 2
    Agreed. Retired or not, John Wick was a legend. He should have at least heard of him. Maybe not known what he looks like, but he should have heard of him. Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 15:44
  • 5
    (SPOILER obviously) Iosef is depicted as a careless slob in the movie, his only intention: "Having fun". He sees something, he gets it. Wick's car etc. Even when he is being hunted, he parties with people, sitting in the pool & drinking alcohol, and, when put under "special protection", he plays games on a console. I think it's safe to say that all Iosef ever cared about was having fun, which was possible due to the influence and money his father amassed through Wick. Also: He didn't NEED to know.
    – Seth
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 16:07

5 Answers 5


The timeline for John Wick is as follows:

  1. John Wick starts working as an assassin
  2. John meets Helen, his future wife
  3. John wants out, does the impossible for Viggo, setting up Viggo's empire
  4. John and Helen get married
  5. Helen passes away from cancer/illness, gets John the puppy (start of the movie)
  6. John encounters Iosef
  7. Iosef and his goons break into John's place, steal his car and kill the puppy
  8. The rest of the movie happens

The issue is that there's no definition in the movie for how long it has been between points 3 and 5. However, I think it's safe to say that it has been at least a few years.

Also, I think it's also safe to assume that Iosef, the son of the head of a Russian empire, is cocky and headstrong and probably doesn't regard other people as very important. So, he might have heard the stories of John Wick as the Baba Yaga, but immediately dismissed it as his old man telling stories.

The movie was released in 2014. The actor playing Iosef (Alfie Allen) was 28. If we assume it's been 5 years since Wick retired, Iosef would have been 23. If we adjust the age to assume that the character is meant to be younger, it would be easy to assume that Iosef would have been 19-21 years old when Wick retired. Iosef could have been in college, or out of country doing other things that 19 year olds do.

Iosef's two "friends" are depicted to be relatively similar in age to Iosef, so if they had never met Wick and only heard of his stories, they were probably just as likely as Iosef to dismiss them as made up stories.

Also, Iosef and his "friends" are also depicted as some of the youngest people in the movie. They're still the new guys, ignorant of all of the intricacies of the criminal world.

  • How about his goons, would they not have heard stories?
    – KyloRen
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 13:26
  • 10
    @KyloRen Even if they've heard stories of John Wick that doesn't mean they know what John Wick looks like, or would recognise him if they met him on the street. Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 13:49
  • 5
    here's a good analogy: do you know everyone that your mom and dad worked with/for? do you know everyone that worked for them (if they had a higher position)?
    – DForck42
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 13:59
  • 9
    Additionally, John Wick was not a routine goon that performed guard duty or drove cars for Viggo. He was a specialist called in when the appropriate need arose. A man like Viggo would not expose his son to those details until his son was ready to assume a higher level of responsibility. Which we know will never happen. Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 15:31
  • 5
    @KyloRen The goons did hear of Wick. In the first movie's club scene, one of the goons tells Iosef that he should be afraid of Wick - after grabbing the wine bottle from him. And the guard outside the club knew Wick by first name. However, just about everyone who knows wick is portrayed as old, usually with grey hair. So those who know and fear Wick are part of the old guard.
    – Knetic
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 22:18

John Wick had been retired for 5 years, according to this exchange (if you assume his last job used the Continental):

Addy: My God! How long has it been? Four years?

John Wick: Five and change.

In the mean while, Iosef and his goons never got to meet him face to face. Alfie Allen, the actor portraying Iosef, was born in 1986, and 28 at the time of John Wick 1 release. If he was playing a character his age, he'd be 23 by the time Wick retired. Possibly too young to be rubbing elbows with the most hardened assassins of his father's operation, and even if he came across him once or twice he probably didn't bother memorizing the face of another underling.

Hew and his goons were young, they might have heard the stories, but they'd never think he was the killing machine he is - in that universe no one gets even close to being as unstoppable as Wick. So when they hear tales of a badass, they'd still think he is very dangerous, but still "Only Human" as Agent Jones would put it. On top of that, people called him Baba Yaga, further distancing the myth and human. They might not even realize the tales of Baba Yaga were referring to John Wick. When they get face to face with Wick, they either don't know him, or don't remember him, and they are too young to realize the mistake they were about to make.

We get to see this again in John Wick 2, when some 2nd in command dismisses the danger John Wick presents, and the stories as old men's over the top exaggerations, even being slightly bored at the pencil story (mostly for the purpose of exposition and bringing the audience up to speed, but it goes to establish not everyone believes John Wick to be unstoppable, at least until they start wearing a bullet hole in the forehead).

  • As a self-proclaimed John Wick super fan, this is the best answer :) Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 16:00

@DForck42 already addressed why Iosef didn't know about Wick. Now about his goons, I have a few options:

  • Those aren't the same thugs that worked with Viggo at the time John Wick retired.
  • They didn't need to know.
  • They don't go around memorizing all the faces of people they shouldn't mess around with.
  • They didn't have the capability to memorize those faces.
  • Iosef is their boss, they didn't want to confront the boss by telling him why he shouldn't do something.
  • All thugs that Wick encountered didn't live enough to tell the others how he looked like or didn't have a opportunity to see how John looked like...

Evidently some goons must know about him and/or heard the legend - prior to the breach of the Red Circle, Wick has a conversation with a guard/bouncer. The goon looks visibly distressed and fearing for his life on hearing Wicks voice. He knows whats coming.


Considering Iosef's petulant demeanor, I don't get the feeling Viggo was grooming him to be head of the organization one day. From the start when Viggo calls Aurelio and asks him why he hit his son, it's as if Viggo knows there might be a perfectly good reason to do so. If Viggo isn't looking at Iosef to one day take his place, then there would be no need to divulge any identifying information about such a powerful associate (even if Viggo had ever told Iosef any of the details of his rise to power). Would Iosef know anything of John Wick's reputation other than tales of the man you send to kill the Baba Yaga? It seemed to me just as likely that Iosef would not know the real name of "Baba Yaga" nor what he looks like. From the sound of it when Viggo tells Iosef just how big of a mistake he's made, none of this had ever been discussed prior. When Viggo tells Iosef, "that fucking nobody was John Wick" it seemed to me that Iosef had no idea at all what the name implied. As Viggo continues, Iosef's response indicates that he has no idea that there was anyone referred to as "Baba Yaga" and much less that this person is a former associate.

Given how Viggo is not terribly upset or enraged at the death of his son or when he tells John where to find him also gives credence that Iosef was not Viggo's protege to continue his legacy. So why bother telling Iosef about any details which obtained Viggo his criminal empire? Iosef is a punk: he steals cars, has a crew to run with and keep him safe and who apparently killed some people in Atlantic City. Otherwise he hangs out at the club and lives the charmed life of a criminally rich perennial adolescent. Not the kind of son to rule an empire or be given any "classified" information (like the identity of a super assassin and king-maker) which may become a liability.

I suppose in the assassination business, 5 years is a pretty long time to be out of the game. I didn't find this timeline implausible. Also, the people who do know and recognize John Wick on sight seem to be the people he interacted with doing business (the bouncer, the concierge, Aurelio, etc.), other super-assassins (Marcus, Harry...) Others that respond to his presence (such as the folks working in Aurelio's body shop) seem to be more impressed by the deference their boss gives to him and Wick's demeanor ("John is a man of focus, commitment, sheer will.") I don't get the impression that an assassin in this world really wants to be famous to the average criminal like the sort Iosef associates with. His anonymity would be an asset, no? He might very well even eliminate the threat of people knowing about him that are likely to talk. The cop who comes to his house sees the dead bodies, but Mr. Wick's got that covered, eh? So, Iosef and his goons not knowing about him seems consistent with the world of John Wick.

All that said, the biggest plot hole I see is that such a super-assassin like John Wick would live in a home which a bunch of punk scrubs could break into while he slept without him noticing.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .