Re-imagining the franchise without the death of Daisy the beagle is pretty much unthinkable, and gives us a very different character arc indeed.
Daisy’s death is the catalyst that propels John Wick, played by Keanu Reeves, forward on his furiously vengeful path, pushing him back onto the murky criminal path he had sought to escape.
Daisy is also Wick’s last living, breathing connection to his late wife; a reminder of a life he once had and the profound loss he has suffered. Wick without Daisy’s death just simply wouldn’t be the same character, however it appears we were rather close to getting a far different origin story.
Opening up during an interview with , screenwriter Derek Kolstad revealed the studio had initially been worried about how audiences would react to Daisy’s death scene.
According to Kolstad, directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch had to fight it out with the studio to make sure the heart-rending moment stayed in, with the studio at one point considering removing it altogether.
I think that they wanted to do it right, and so there were elements where [the studio said], ‘Let’s cut the dog out. Let’s just focus on it as an assassin coming out of retirement.’ That kind of thing.
But without that dog connection and without that underlying soul and the heartbeat of that character, and also the levity it brings the character and the levity it brings the humour, it was key.
At certain points, Chad and Dave, they fought for it, they got it and they were right. They continued to fight for the way they see certain stories playing out elsewhere. They’ve done quite well with that. They’re talented cats, man.
Producers were eventually convinced that Daisy’s killing needed to stay after watching the reaction of test audiences.
But there was this pushback and pushback from all different angles until that first screening. We were watching the audience. As soon as the dog died, and seeing their reaction and then seeing the siege in house, we were like, yep, we were right.
[…] But a lot of times, you go into these movies, after so much work behind the scenes, and people take it differently. You kind of have to roll with it.
But this was one of those rare situations where we kind of fought with our gut and it turned out to be right.
The risk by no means hurt ticket sales, with the first movie pulling in a mighty $86,013,056 at the global box office, according to .
The two existing sequels have also enjoyed widespread critical and commercial success, with a fourth outing on the way.
Whether or not Daisy and her tragic demise played a part in endearing audiences to Wick is unclear. However, the moment clearly humanised the character and allowed many a dog lover to empathise with his plight.