The Rules of John Wick’s World of Assassins: What We Know So Far (2023)

John Wick: Chapter 4is about to continue the story that began in the original John Wick film in 2014. Keanu Reeves headlines the franchise as the title character, a former hitman who was dragged back into his former profession. And so far, John’s return to his old world is not going very smoothly. For repeatedly daring to defy the rules of the criminal underworld, John Wick has been marked for death by the very organization that he served for years.

But are the rules of the underworld? The three previous John Wick films have offered only brief and tantalizing glimpses of a world that resembles our own, but is in fact very different.

There’s a hierarchy in place that controls almost everything that John comes into contact with, as well as an apparent unwritten pact with the general public that keeps anyone on the outside from directly acknowledging that their lives are governed by something more than they can perceive.

Ahead of John Wick: Chapter 4, we’re taking a look at everything we know about the rules of John Wick’s world of assassins. And it won’t even cost you a gold coin.

(Video) The Rules In John Wick's World Explained

World of Violence

The Rules of John Wick’s World of Assassins: What We Know So Far (1)

There’s a particularly telling scene in John Wick: Chapter 2 in which a gun fight between John and a vengeful Cassian is almost ignored by the civilians around them. The ordinary people aren’t immune to the violence around them, but they seem to be turning an intentional blind eye to it. This may be the unofficial agreement between the underworld and the civilians who live outside of it. The ordinary people pretend not to notice the underworld killers, and in turn, they are largely left alone by the truly dangerous individuals who kill for a living. It’s an implicit admission that the police and government mean nothing in this world. The real power lies in darkness.

Additionally, it’s pretty notable just how many assassins there are anywhere at any given moment in the world of John Wick. Supposedly, hired killers are hard to find in the real world, but apparently not so in this mythos. There is such an abundance of guns for hire in these movies that they can seemingly fill up a park at a moment’s notice! It must be a pretty popular vocation in this world.

Live By the Coin

The Rules of John Wick’s World of Assassins: What We Know So Far (2)

As seen in the first three movies, almost all transactions in the underworld are done via gold coins which are untraceable and unlinked to the currency of any world government. To anyone on the outside, they may appear to be simple coins of moderate value. However, their true worth seems to be far greater than the amount of gold they contain. A single gold coin can cover an assassination, or criminal missions. They are also exclusively used by the underworld guests of the Continental Hotel, which offers complete sanctuary from any outside threats.

John and others have been known to keep these coins on their person at all times. No bank could be trusted with the coins, nor would ordinary civilians understand their true purpose. The real currency of the underworld is favors, and that’s what the coins have come to represent.

(Video) High Table Origin - Secretive Supreme Organization That Controls All Assassins In John Wick Universe

Honor Every Marker

The Rules of John Wick’s World of Assassins: What We Know So Far (3)

John Wick: Chapter 2 established that there are two unbreakable rules of the underworld. The first unbreakable rule is that every marker must be honored, no matter the price. It is literally a blood oath medallion, and the pact is sealed with a bloody thumbprint from the person who requested the favor. When the return favor is complete, the holder of the medallion will add their own bloody thumbprint to it as a sign that it has been honored.

Within Chapter 2, John’s attempt to return to his retirement was thwarted by Santino D’Antonio, the crime boss who helped John earn his freedom from Viggo Tarasov five years before the events of the first film. John had been able to escape the consequences of that promise because he was truly out of the game. By taking his vengeance on Viggo and his son, Iosef, John was effectively out of retirement and once again bound by the oath.

Winston warned John there was no other option: “You dishonor the marker, you die. You kill the holder of the marker, you die. You run, you die.” The pull of a blood oath marker is so strong that John went out of his way to retrieve a marker that he held over Sofia Al-Azwar early in John Wick: Chapter 3. Even then, Sofia only reluctantly aided John while he was on the run.

Everything is Continental

The Rules of John Wick’s World of Assassins: What We Know So Far (4)

The other unbreakable rule of the underworld is simple: “No killing on Continental grounds.” The hotel staff are quite serious about this rule. In the first film, Winston executed Ms. Perkins for trying to kill John in the hotel. And in the second movie, John found himself in hot water for the same crime when he killed D’Antonio inside the hotel. In fact, that’s the primary reason why John is still in danger two movies later.

(Video) John Wick's Entire Backstory Explained

But what is the Continental? It’s a sanctuary for the underworld, and also a high-end hotel chain for ordinary visitors. Although the movies primarily deal with the New York Continental, there is also a Continental hotel in Italy in Chapter 2, and Sofia was the manager of the Continental in Morocco in Chapter 3. It is truly a home away from home for hired killers, with unique amenities including black market medical attention, body armor, gun service, and even pet service courtesy of the New York concierge, Charon.

The Rules of John Wick’s World of Assassins: What We Know So Far (5)

Although the Continental hotels appear to be autonomous from outside control, they are also integral to the underworld in several ways. The Continental is apparently the source of the gold coins used for currency, and the basement features a command center where criminal contracts are sent out through intentionally outdated computers that can not be hacked. It was from there that John was declared “excommunicado”, which revoked his Continental privileges and protections for killing D’Antonio. Regardless, Winston liked John enough that he gave him a head start of one hour before this went into effect at the beginning of Chapter 3.

Underworld Authority

The Rules of John Wick’s World of Assassins: What We Know So Far (6)

As established in Chapter 2, the underworld is ruled by the High Table, a council of crime lords from around the world that includes representatives from the Camorra, the Yakuza, the Triad, the Bratva, Cosa Nostra, and more. There are only 12 seats at the High Table, which is why Santino D’Antonio wanted John to murder his sister, Gianna D’Antonio, so he could assume her place in the organization. And once John went through with the mission, Santino placed a hit on him to cover up his own involvement with Gianna’s death.

Although the High Table prefers to remain in shadows, they did dispatch the Adjudicator (pictured above) in Chapter 3 to punish Winston for giving John a head start. The Adjudicator acted with the full authority of the High Table by attempting to strip the Continental away from Winston and by hiring additional killers to target John.

(Video) Film Theory: John Wick Literally CAN’T DIE!

The Rules of John Wick’s World of Assassins: What We Know So Far (7)

There is only one power in this world with more authority than the High Table: The enigmatic Elder glimpsed in Chapter 3. John went to great lengths to find the Elder and beg his forgiveness. And the price of John’s absolution was his ring finger, his wedding ring, his eternal fealty to the High Table, and the death of Winston. John willingly gave up the first three, but he ultimately refused to kill Winston.

Unfortunately for John, Winston was all too eager to shoot him once he received an offer for reinstatement from the Adjudicator. Either Winston did it to reclaim what was his, or it was his way of offering John mercy and even a remote chance of survival when he fell off the roof of the Continental. There’s a degree of ambiguity there that could go both ways, but it’s an open question of whether John can ever trust Winston again.

And that’s where John Wick: Chapter 4 will pick up. John has angered the powers that be and set the world of assassins against him. Fortunately, for John, he’s not alone in this fight. The Bowery King has also vowed revenge on the High Table, and John’s greatest battles lie ahead.

(Video) John Wick Recap Chapter 1-3 | Everything you need to know


What are John Wicks rules? ›

The Continental's manager Winston (played by the reliably superb Ian McShane) sums it up in John Wick: Chapter 2: "You dishonor the marker, you die. You kill the holder of the marker, and you die.

What does 11111 mean in John Wick? ›

It is the same number as President John F. Kennedy's executive order (executive order 11111).

What rule did Ms Perkins break? ›

However, her greed and arrogance would result in her execution after she was killed by other Continental members under the orders of Winston Scott for breaking one of the Continental's important rules: to never conduct "business" on their grounds.

When did John Wick break the rules? ›

John Wick: Chapter 2

After having a $7 million hit placed on him, John Wick killed Santino D'Antonio at the Continental Hotel, breaking one of its rules. Rather than having him executed on the spot, Winston gave Wick a marker and a one-hour grace period before making him excommunicado.

How much is a gold coin worth in John Wick? ›

The gold coins, in and of themselves, have no inherent monetary value. A single coin can pay for many services or products, like a doctor's appointment, a cadaver's disposal, a drink, or a taxi ride, among other things. There is no dollar conversion rate for the coins, as they are more than just money.

What does the coin in John Wick mean? ›

When John Wick needed a sanctuary, he used the underworld gold coin to gain safe haven to the Continental Hotel. The coin reads “ENS CAUSA SUI” (Something Generated Within Itself) and “EX UINITAE VIRES” (Out of Unity Comes Strength).

What was John's impossible task? ›

His superior, Viggo Tarasov, promised to allow John to quit if he first completed an "impossible task": killing all of Tarasov's enemies in a single night. Having succeeded, John retired and lived peacefully for just over five years.

Who is the highest rank in John Wick? ›

6 The Elder

First appearing in John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum, The Elder is the head of The High Table and one of the most powerful figures in the John Wick universe. The Elder is not the specific character's name, but rather a title that is passed down to each subsequent leader of the organization.

What is John Wick's code name? ›

John became the top enforcer for the New York Russian crime syndicate, becoming an infamous hitman. He was nicknamed "Baba Yaga" after the supernatural Boogeyman-like entity in Slavic folklore.

What happened to John Wick's wife? ›

John Wick: Chapter 4

After John killed Marquis Vincent de Gramont in combat and was given freedom from the High Table, Wick reflected on his life with Helen before dying from his wounds. John was buried next to Helen and, per his request, had his grave marked with the words "Loving Husband".

Who put the 14 million bounty on John Wick? ›

John Wick: Chapter 2

After John Wick killed Santino D'Antonio on Continental grounds, Winston Scott called the accountants and tells them to process the 14 million dollar bounty on John and that his excommunicado status was to be activated in one hour.

What rule did John Wick break in John Wick 2? ›

At the end of John Wick 2, John kills Santino in the New York City Continental, a violation of the strict rule of no "business" being conducted on Continental grounds. John is fully aware that breaking this rule will bring great consequences, which might make his decision seem difficult to grasp.

Who betrayed John Wick? ›

John Wick 4: Winston Didn't Try To Kill John In Chapter 3 - Theory Explained - IMDb. After Winston betrayed John Wick at the end of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, but when Ian McShane's character returns in John Wick: Chapter 4 his true motives for doing so may be part of a shocking twist.

What is the 7 million contract in John Wick? ›

Quotes. Bowery King : He's offered seven million dollars for your life. Seven million dollars is a lot of money, Mr. Wick.

Why did John Wick owe Santino? ›

In order to retire from his assassin life, John asked for additional support from Santino in order to complete the "impossible task" given to him by his then employer Viggo Tarasov: forcing John to enter into a blood oath debt with Santino through a Marker.

What do John Wick's back tattoos mean? ›

The tattoo across his back reads "Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat," translated from Latin into, "fortune favors the bold." It is reminiscent of the motto for the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines - "Fortes Fortuna Juvat." The meaning is similar. Tattoos with similar slogans are not uncommon in many branches of the armed forces.

What is 999 gold coin? ›

Under this, 999 means that your 24K gold is 99.90% pure and other metal constitutes only 0.1%. Similarly, 999.9 means your gold is 99.99% pure, which means only 0.01% is other metal. Before buying, it is always better to ask your jeweller, bank, or digital platform about the purity of gold.

How many kills does John Wick have? ›

The John Wick Kill Count Is 439

John Wick features 77 on-screen deaths at John's hands — a number that rose to 128 in John Wick: Chapter 2 as John made some powerful enemies. John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum found John on the run with only time for 94 kills along the way.

Why do they call him John Wick? ›

Film had previously been called 'Scorn'

It had previously been titled “Scorn”. “The only reason it's called John Wick,” he said, “is that Keanu kept referring to it as John Wick. “ “Marketing was like, 'Dude, that's four to five million dollars in free advertising so far, so it's John Wick instead of “Scorn”'.

What does John Wick pay with? ›

The gritty world of John Wick is so complex, it even has its own economy — one that runs on gold coins that are often worth more than actual gold among this secret society of gun-toting, black-suited, tattooed assassins.

What does the cross necklace mean in John Wick? ›

The Rosary/Ruska Roma Ticket

Based on what little else has been revealed about John Wick's origin story, the cross or rosary represents a debt owed to him by The Director. The cross is John's ticket to escape New York and secure safe passage from The Director's forces all the way to Casablanca.

What did Santino do to help John Wick? ›

John Wick: Chapter 2. A few days after John came out of retirement to seek revenge on Viggo and Iosef, Santino decides to visit John Wick and presents the medallion to demand service from him.

Why did Winston betray John Wick? ›

Winston's Real Motives For Shooting John Wick

The reason Winston betrayed John Wick could have been to save both of their lives. Throughout the John Wick movie series, John defied the High Table and its Elder's laws, forcing him to fight for his life against the world's deadliest assassins.

Is John Wick Winston's son? ›

While the John Wick franchise is great at world-building, there has been nothing in the previous three movies that hinted toward Winston being John's biological father. Though the pair grew closer with each consecutive release, they were nothing more than allies in the John Wick series.

Who is the deadliest assassin in John Wick? ›

John Wick: 9 Strongest Hitmen In The Movies, Ranked
  1. 1 John Wick. John Wick himself has to be atop the list of most deadly assassins in the John Wick movies.
  2. 2 Caine. ...
  3. 3 Zero. ...
  4. 4 Ares. ...
  5. 5 The Shinobi. ...
  6. 6 Sofia. ...
  7. 7 Cassian. ...
  8. 8 Ernest. ...
Apr 1, 2023

Does John Wick have a weakness? ›

John Wick is essentially a video game character playing in god mode. He has no weaknesses and he always hits his shot.

Who is John Wick best friend? ›

Marcus is a high class assassin who is John's best friend he was also a mentor to John. Marcus is a father figure to John and other hitmen.

What is John Wick's wife's name? ›

Helen Wick, the wife of John Wick's title assassin, has left a substantial mark on the franchise that continues to deepen with each sequel, including John Wick: Chapter 4.

What is John Wick's favorite weapon? ›

17 Glock 26 (John Wick)

One of the simpler guns in the franchise, John uses the Glock 26 in each of the first three movies. While it appears to be quite basic, it is one of Wick's personal favorites, which is not good for anyone who might happen to find themselves on the other end of the barrel.

How old is John Wick? ›

The script's story centered around the character John Wick, a long-retired hitman in his mid-60s to mid-70s who is forced back into his former life. John Wick was modeled on actors such as Clint Eastwood and Paul Newman.

Did John Wick and Sofia have a baby? ›

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

Although John and Sofia got in trouble with Sofia's former boss, Berrada, both of them managed to escape to the desert, where Sofia left John to find the Elder of the High Table. She has a daughter, whose name and location are unknown.

Is John Wick based on a true story? ›

No, John Wick is not based on a true story.

Is John Wick's wife alive? ›

John Wick's wife, Helen, died of an unspecified illness. The exact nature of her illness is not revealed in the films.

Who was the real John Wick? ›

As revealed in John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum, which tackled John Wick's origin story, Jardani Jovonovich is the real name of Keanu Reeves' eponymous assassin in John Wick.

Who is the tattooed girl in John Wick 3? ›

The creative team on “John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum,” out Friday, May 17, liked actor Asia Kate Dillon's trademark neck tattoo enough to let it be seen in their role as the Adjudicator. It's so prominent, Dillon is used to covering it when they act.

Who is the tattooed girl in John Wick? ›

Kitty Crystal is known for Worst Cooks in America (2010), The Drunken Yoga Show (2016) and John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017).

Who was first choice for John Wick? ›

Derek Kolstad wrote the script for the John Wick films, and when producers first read through it, they thought audiences would love to see Eastwood kick some ass. Producer of the John Wick films, Basil Iwanyk, told AS that there were two names to play this role, and Eastwood and Ford were the only two.

Why was John Wick killed? ›

The ending of John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum featured John being shot off the side of the New York Continental Hotel by Winston Scott (Ian McShane) for the crimes leveled at him by the High Table.

Why was John Wick declared Excommunicado? ›

John Wick is making his way through Manhattan before he is labeled "excommunicado" for the unauthorized killing of High Table crime lord Santino D'Antonio on Continental grounds.

Does John Wick's wife come back? ›

Although Helen died before the first John Wick movie, she has actually appeared in every installment of the franchise through flashbacks and photographs, being portrayed by Bridget Moynahan.

Why did John shoot Gianna? ›

She was also the sister of Italian crime lord Santino D'Antonio and the employer and close friend of Cassian. When Gianna and Santino's father died and Gianna inherited his positions, Santino used a Marker to task John Wick with her assassination so that he could claim Gianna's titles.

Is John Wick a spy or assassin? ›

Wick was a dangerous and competent assassin, but there are some other on-screen assassins that could give him a run for his money.

What was Keanu Reeves paid for John Wick? ›

As reported in the media, Keanu Reeves earned a whopping $15 million for essaying the titular character in the recently released flick.

What was the salary for John Wick 3? ›

In 'John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum', it's reported that Reeves was paid between $2 and $2.5 million again along with the box office bonuses.

How much was John Wick excommunicado? ›

Scene Reference: The bonds and certificates could be seen when Switchboard Operators placed the price on the excommunicado contract of John Wick from the High Table at 56.5 million dollars.

What is the rule of John Wick? ›

John Wick earned that would-be death sentence because he broke The Continental's biggest rule: Do not conduct “business” – as in, don't kill anybody – on the premises.

What is the oath of blood? ›

The Oath of Blood is a bond a paladin has with an inner curse. You are part of divine mission to restore honor to your bloodline, whether cursed by hubris or madness - you have devoted yourself to carrying out a divine duty to uphold your honor against your supernatural savagery.

Does John Wick break the Continental Rules? ›

At the end of John Wick 2, John kills Santino in the New York City Continental, a violation of the strict rule of no "business" being conducted on Continental grounds. John is fully aware that breaking this rule will bring great consequences, which might make his decision seem difficult to grasp.

What are John Wicks fighting skills? ›

John is a highly skilled judoka, and throughout the franchise often relies on various judo throws to catch his opponents off-guard. John also frequently blends his judo skills with his use of guns, throwing or sweeping an enemy to momentarily incapacitate them before putting them down with a bullet.

What was John Wicks fighting style? ›

John Wick's fight style can be best described as a hybrid martial art style. He is known for his proficiency in hand-to-hand combat, gun fighting, and knife fighting. His fighting style is a combination of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Filipino Martial Arts, Judo, and Krav Maga.

Why did John Wick refuse the marker? ›

Wick refuses the Marker because he wants out of the business. D'Antonio yields to Wick's decision, and then promptly destroys his house with a grenade launcher. Winston, the owner of the Continental hotel in New York, warns John that if he refuses to accept the marker, it'll cost him his life.

Who is the strongest person in John Wick? ›

John Wick: 9 Strongest Hitmen In The Movies, Ranked
  • 8 Ernest.
  • 7 Cassian.
  • 6 Sofia.
  • 5 The Shinobi.
  • 4 Ares.
  • 3 Zero.
  • 2 Caine.
  • 1 John Wick.
Apr 1, 2023

Who is John Wicks greatest enemy? ›

Caine (John Wick: Chapter 4)

Playing the blind killer Caine in John Wick: Chapter 4, his hands move at speeds one might have otherwise thought not possible for a human – and it takes only an instant at the start of the action in the Osaka Continental in the film to recognize that he truly is John Wick's greatest foe.

What martial art does John Wick use the most? ›

Judo. One of the martial arts seen throughout the John Wick franchise is judo, with John himself being its primary user. Founded by Kano Jigoro, judo is well-known for its throwing techniques.

Is it possible to fight like John Wick? ›

This involves practicing parrying, blocking, slicing, and stabbing. So if you're skilled with self-defense, Krav Maga, or any fighting system or martial art, pair it with edged-weapon training you're on target to achieve John Wick status.

Why was John Wick so angry? ›

He killed people for extravagant sums of money, fell in love, got out of the assassin trade, then went on a four-movie rampage to avenge a personal slight. He's not out to save the world, and he's not interested in the morality of his actions. He's just angry.

What knife did John Wick use? ›

Balisong Knife: Also known as a butterfly knife, this weapon is recognizable by its two handles that rotate around the tang of the blade. John Wick uses this knife in films for quick and precise cuts.

What belt is Keanu Reeves? ›

Keanu, a black belt in Judo, has been intermittently training Jiu Jisu under Rigan Machado for the past decade. Keanu reports that it was the intense training for the role of John Wick that got him to engage in BJJ more frequently.

What happens if you break a marker in John Wick? ›

If you break this rule, you die. Every marker is fulfilled. If you give someone a marker, they can ask you for any favor up to and including killing the target of their choice, no matter who it is. You have to do it.

What does high table mean in John Wick? ›

The High Table is a council of twelve crime lords that govern the underworld's most powerful criminal organizations. It is considered the ultimate authority of the underworld and is feared and respected by all, including Winston Scott and John Wick.

What did Santino give John Wick? ›

He presents John with a marker that John gave him when he was completing the task which allowed him to leave his former life behind. The marker represents a blood oath obligating John to perform any service required by Santino.


1. John Wick 1-3 RECAP Everything You Need to Know Before 4
2. The Untold Truth Of The High Table In John Wick
3. The Entire John Wick Timeline Explained
4. John Wick: Timeline Explained
(Screen Rant)
5. JOHN WICK 1-3 Recap | Everything You Need To Know Before CHAPTER 4 | Movie Series Explained
(Recap & Chill)
6. The 10 Rules in the John Wick Universe
(The Curious Collective)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Greg Kuvalis

Last Updated: 16/08/2023

Views: 6185

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (55 voted)

Reviews: 94% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Greg Kuvalis

Birthday: 1996-12-20

Address: 53157 Trantow Inlet, Townemouth, FL 92564-0267

Phone: +68218650356656

Job: IT Representative

Hobby: Knitting, Amateur radio, Skiing, Running, Mountain biking, Slacklining, Electronics

Introduction: My name is Greg Kuvalis, I am a witty, spotless, beautiful, charming, delightful, thankful, beautiful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.