The Killer: What Does W-W-J-W-B-D Mean?

In Netflix’s thriller film ‘The Killer,’ the titular assassin utters the letters, “W-W-J-W-B-D,” together after missing his target. The killer leaves his hide-out and rushes to the airport to avoid getting caught. Midway through his expedition to safety, he utters these letters, specifically when he gets stuck temporarily about his next step after unsuccessfully concluding his mission with a missed shot. The meaning of the letters sheds light on not only his personality but also his knowledge about the infamous assassins/killers who left a mark before him. The letters are a nod to one such assassin.

The Teachings of John Wilkes Booth

“W-W-J-W-B-D” is an abbreviation of, “What would John Wilkes Booth do.” John Wilkes Booth was the killer who infamously assassinated then-President Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., on April 14, 1865. Throughout the film, the killer mentions other murderers and authors who possibly influenced him and his “art of killing.” Booth can be one of the assassins who left an impression on the killer’s psyche, which explains why the latter would think of him while he is fleeing the city of Paris with the police trying to capture him. It is not insignificant that the killer thinks of Booth.

Like the killer, who tries his best to avoid getting captured by the French authorities, Booth was on the run after killing Lincoln. Along with a man named David Herold, Booth fled Ford’s Theatre on a getaway horse, with southern Maryland as his destination. His pre-planned escape route took him through sparsely settled regions with dense forests and a swampy terrain, which would make the authorities’ pursuit of him hard. After reaching Maryland, Booth crossed the Potomac River to end up in Virginia. With the French police on his tail, the killer must have wanted to learn from Booth’s mastermind which enabled him to escape officials after killing the most powerful and influential man in the country at the time.

John Wilkes Booth//Image Credit: Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons

Ironically, the killer wants to step into Booth’s shoes while escaping officials. Although the nineteenth-century assassin succeeded in running away from the authorities, he was eventually hunted by them. After ending up in Virginia, Booth crossed the Rappahannock River and arrived at the farm of Richard H. Garrett. He was killed at the farm by the officers who tracked him down, putting an end to his life and escape. Since he was caught and killed, Booth may not be the best role model for the killer, especially when he is trying to avoid capture. Still, he seemingly respects Booth’s courage to kill the president of the country.

The killer does a better job than Booth since he avoids his arrest even after killing a handful of people. He finally returns to his girlfriend Magdala in the Dominican Republic to spend his retirement life.

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