Spoilers for the A Series Of Unfortunate Events finale ahead! Well, well, well — the Netflix adaptation of Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events is closing the curtains with Season 4, which tells the story found in the final four books over seven episodes. The Baudelaire orphans face many threats, but none quite as threatening as the Count with an eye on his ankle. What ultimately happens to Count Olaf in ASOUE? You may already know how the story goes if you've read the books.
To be frank, a word which here means bluntly bypassing the nuances of storytelling, the same thing happens to Count Olaf in the Netflix series that happens to Count Olaf in the books: he dies. While the ultimate fate of other characters are left unknown, Olaf dies in the series finale. Do the children kill him? Does he die by his own hand?
In The End, Olaf and the three Baudelaire orphans escape together to an island. In a last ditch effort to seize the children and their fortune, a now desperate Olaf dons a makeshift "Kit Snicket" disguise, using the helmet containing the poisonous medusoid mycelium as a baby bump. Then, the island's leader Ishmael (who also turns out to be the former principal of Prufrock Preparatory School and the founder of VFD) harpoons him in the stomach, and the poisonous spores are released. Even with an antidote to the deadly fungus, the harpoon wound is too great and Olaf doesn't live past the hour.
That said — he doesn't necessarily die a villain. In Olaf's final moments, he does a good deed by helping to save the real Kit and her baby. He even recites poetry to her, which considering his disdain for the written word is maybe the most shocking of al. Olaf begins with "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes" by Francis William Bourdillio:
The night has a thousand eyes, And the day but one; Yet the light of the bright world dies With the dying sun.
Kit responds with the next verse:
The mind has a thousand eyes, And the heart but one; Yet the light of a whole life dies When love is done.
Then, Olaf asks Kit "what's that thing your brother used to say," and the two recite a bit of "This Be the Verse" by Philip Larkin.
Man hands on misery to man. It deepens like a coastal shelf. Get out as early as you can. And don't have any kids yourself.
They were friends once, more than that even, and even though both Olaf and Kit moved on, they clearly still love each other, and it's a sweet final moment. One thing that the Netflix series has done a beautiful job with, namely through flashbacks, is showing Olaf's life before the schism. He used to value literature, art, and research once too, but felt betrayed by all of that.
"You took a plucky boy and made him think that books, and poetry, and learning would keep him safe," Olaf says to Ishmael, moments before Ishmael murders him. Who hasn't felt betrayed by a parental or authority figure in their life? Count Olaf did many terrible things, but he doesn't die as black and white/uncomplicated as he first appears, and at least he and the Baudelaires were able to find some kind of closure in the end.