This Is What Happens To Glen Kryger At The End Of Netflix’s ‘Painkiller’

Netflix’s Painkiller tells the story of the opioid epidemic in America, exploring the role big pharma execs played in the crisis, from green-lighting the release of a painkiller called OxyContin, despite knowing how addictive it was, to pushing sales teams to promote the drug. And while the pharmaceutical industry profited, overdose deaths from prescription drugs rose from around 3,000 in 1999 to over 17,000 in 2017, per National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The series is based on a book called Pain Killer: An Empire of Deceit and the Origin of America’s Opioid Epidemic by Barry Meier, as well as a New Yorker profile on the Sackler family, who founded and owned Purdue Pharma, per Netflix. Purdue Pharma is one of the companies widely blamed for the ongoing opioid crisis. The six-episode series tells a mostly-true story of events and people over the past two decades.

Each of the episodes in Painkiller dives into the stories of individual people whose lives were destroyed by OxyContin. While the characters and details are mostly fictional depictions, they’re based on real life events and the experiences of thousands of Americans. The episodes all open the same way, with a disclaimer that explains: “This program is based on real events. However, certain characters, names, incidents, locations, and dialogue have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes.”

Random House Pain Killer: An Empire of Deceit and the Origin of America’s Opioid Epidemic

Pain Killer: An Empire of Deceit and the Origin of America's Opioid Epidemic

Random House Pain Killer: An Empire of Deceit and the Origin of America’s Opioid Epidemic

One man that viewers meet is Glen Kryger, a father and husband who gets addicted to painkillers. But who is Glen, and is he a real person? Here’s everything to know about Glen and what happens at the end of the series:

Is Painkiller a true story?

Some parts are true. Netflix clearly states that the series is fictionalized, but it is based in reality. In fact, Netflix says online that it’s a “fictionalized retelling of events,” noting that it’s based on “extensive research.”

Some elements, like the opioid crisis, the Purdue Pharma company (which produced OxyContin), and its president, Richard Sackler, are all real.

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In the series, viewers meet Glen, a tire shop owner who has a wife named Lily and a step-son named Tyler. Glen injures his back in an accident at work, causing him terrible, chronic pain. A doctor prescribes him OxyContin to help manage his pain.

While Glen originally felt like the OxyContin helped him to get his life back, he became addicted to the painkiller. His substance use disorder spiraled out of control, and leads to the breakdown of his marriage and fractures in his relationship with his stepson.

In the series, Glen is played by actor Taylor Kitsch. Kitsch prepped for his role by working with an advisor and sending producers notes, per Bustle. He also pulled from his own experience caring for someone who struggled with opioid and amphetamine misuse.

What happens to Glen at the end?

In one of the final episodes, Glen, who has been spiraling deeper into his addiction, tries to turn his life around. He tells his family that he’s done with OxyContin, gets his job back, and is trying to reconcile with his family while temporarily living at a motel.

Unfortuantely, things take a turn for the worse.

Glen stumbles across a bag of OxyContin and ends up snorting some crushed up pills in his car. The audience hears Glen’s heartbeat slowing and sees someone shaking him through the open window of his car, but Glen is already dead, per RadioTimes. The police then call in saying that it’s a suspected overdose.

Is Glen based on a real person?

Glen isn’t a real person, but he’s based on real people. There have been “tens of thousands of Glens” during the opioid crisis, director and executive producer Peter Berg told Rotten Tomatoes. “So when people say, ‘Is Glen a composite character?’ I say, ‘Kind of yes and no,’” he said. “I’ve known Glens. I’m sure you’ve known Glens or if you don’t know them personally, you know someone that does.”

You can catch Painkiller streaming now on Netflix.

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Korin Miller

Korin Miller is a freelance writer specializing in general wellness, sexual health and relationships, and lifestyle trends, with work appearing in Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Self, Glamour, and more. She has a master’s degree from American University, lives by the beach, and hopes to own a teacup pig and taco truck one day.

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