“Succession” Fans Think Tom’s Last Name Was a Clue to His Fate – Here’s Why

HBO / David M. Russell

In the days after the series finale of “Succession,” many viewers were talking about Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen), who shockingly finished his run in the show as the American CEO of Waystar Royco. On his path, he betrayed his wife Shiv (Sarah Snook) and her brothers Kendall (Jeremy Strong) and Roman (Keiran Culkin) multiple times. All of that seemed to lend credence to a popular theory that Tom’s last name foreshadowed the finale’s epic conclusion – and may have been inspired by Bill Wambsganss, who turned the first (and still only) unassisted triple play in a World Series over a century ago.

Tom’s name theory grew in popularity in the days before the finale, which aired on May 28, when an editor for Nameberry.com shared it in a TikTok, pointing out the clear connection between Tom and Wambsganss. The baseball player was a member of the Cleveland Indians (since renamed to the Guardians), and his team was facing off against the Brooklyn Dodgers when he completed his triple play in 1920. For non-baseball fans, that means in one play, all alone, he got three members of the other team out, ending the inning. It is extremely rare.

“Succession”‘s Tom, too, was a midwesterner facing people from New York City. However, his business “triple play” involves outsmarting Shiv and her two siblings while still keeping his marriage to her intact.

While the TikTok theory has become very popular online, it seems it’s not entirely true. Frank Rich, an executive producer of “Succession,” told Slate in an email on May 29, “I hate to spoil the internet’s fun, but it’s false.” He continued, “Tom’s family name was picked before we had shot a first season, let alone mapped out precise story twists that would culminate 39 episodes later! Not to mention that many of the key writers on the show, starting with its creator, Jesse [Armstrong], are British, live in London, and are devoted to British football.” So obscure baseball history wasn’t on their radar.

Rich added that “if memory serves,” a staff member was related to someone with the last name Wambsgans. “We were looking for something off-key that would be awkward to say/pronounce, befitting a character who arrives as an outsider in the Roys’ world,” he told the outlet.

Armstrong has yet to weigh in on the theory (he’s not doing press at the moment due to the ongoing writers’ strike).

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