John's wife collapses and then dies in the hospital, despite the movie never telling me what's wrong with her. I suppose I'm left to guess...
-Everything Wrong With John Wick In 12 Minutes Or Less

The entire revenge story of John Wick 1 is set into motion by the death of John Wick's wife Helen, who we see collapsing onto the ground by the waterfront before passing away in a hospital bed.

How did John Wick's wife die? Is the cause of death ever mentioned?

John Wick's wife dying

  • The entire revenge story is set into motion when he gets brutally beaten by thugs so they can steal his awesomely cool car, and they kill the puppy/dog that was his last happy memory of his wife (a gift from her). The premise of the question is framed incorrectly. His wife dying has very little to do with it, so her exact method of death isn't particularly important to the story. Sep 28, 2017 at 21:41
  • I would hazard a guess of cancer. It is not uncommon for people to have a fainting or two immediately before their diagnosis and with certain kinds of cancer, this can have as little as a few weeks before death. For a woman, her age, it is the most likely option in my opinion with stroke coming in a strong second place. Apr 22, 2019 at 2:14

1 Answer 1


Aside from it being a terminal illness, I'm not sure if this has any relevance to the plot and the lack of explanation seems to be intentional; explaining the reason might well have affected the pace and emotional impact of that part of the film for no real purpose. John loved, and he lost; that's all that we as an audience needed to know.

The key thing is that John found love and found it so captivating that he relinquished his past life and devoted his future to his wife. This seems obvious from John's interactions with other characters and Viggo had no idea who he was (which implies that John was out of action for some time).

  • Agreed. The elegance of the first John Wick movie was that it told (showed) us what we needed to know, and then moved on. No unnecessary details. I actually really liked how there was no voice over or other explanation in this opening scene. She died of some terminal illness, presumably rather suddenly, and that's all we need to know about that. On with the crazy gun-fu now.
    – Steve-O
    Jul 26, 2017 at 13:14
  • I'm not sure the last paragraph about it possibly being a revenge plot is needed. Aside from that, great answer.
    – Stevoisiak
    Jul 26, 2017 at 22:03
  • Can you remove the "but this would suck (in my opinion)." phrase? It doesn't seem to be relevant to the question.
    – Stevoisiak
    Sep 28, 2017 at 16:35

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