Why Did Mikey Kill Himself In The Bear?

By Klein Felt Posted:
The Bear Jon Bernthal as Mikey

Mikey's suicide in FX's The Bear is the inciting incident of the entire series, yet remains a moment in the show's canon that remains largely shrouded in mystery. 

The hit FX and Hulu dramedy primarily explores the theme of legacy, following a world-class chef who inherits a greasy-spoon Italian Beef restaurant from his brother after he killed himself. 

This central dearly departed older brother, Mikey (Michael Berzatto), is played by The Walking Dead actor Jon Bernthal, who - despite being dead by the time the series picks up - plays a major part in the show's proceedings. 

[ Full Cast of The Bear Season 3 - Every Main Character & Actor Who Appears (Photos) ]

What Happened to Mikey In The Bear?

Jon Bernthal as Mikey standing in a kitchen in The Bear

One of The Bear's biggest throughline plots is what exactly happened to Jon Bernthal's Mikey before the series' events. 

In Season 1, audiences pick up with Jeremy Allen White's Carmy Berzatto after he has bequeathed the family's humble Chicago hole-in-the-wall restaurant, The Original Beef of Chicagoland (The Beef for short). 

Not much information is given beyond that initially other than that his brother (played by Bernthal) killed himself, and the entire community around The Beef and Berzatto clan is grieving.

Fans eventually find out - thanks to a gripping monologue at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting from Carmy - that Mikey committed suicide by jumping from Chicago's State Street Bridge, leaving Carmy the restaurant as well as any of its problems. 

This act of taking his own life seemed to be premeditated. Mikey had a bit of a plan as he was ready to hand over The Beef to his younger brother. 

This grand scheme also included hiding cash to pay off the debt to their Uncle Jimmy in tomato cans in the restaurant.

This move saved the business from going under in Season 1 and gives Carmy the inspiration (and financial backing) to flip The Beef from being the blue-collar everyman spot it once was into the high-end fine dining establishment it would become in Seasons 2 and 3. 

Why Did Mikey Kill Himself?

JKon Bernthal as Mikey in the Bear standing in the pantry holding a jar of tomatoes in The Bear

No explicit reason for Mikey's suicide has been given in The Bear yet, but the creative team behind the series has left breadcrumbs for why he would make that decision. 

Several flashback moments throughout the show's first two seasons make it clear that things were not going well for Mikey. 

His business looked to be failing, his mental health was deteriorating, and he developed a dependency on painkillers. 

This all seemed to combine into a deadly concoction of negative brain activity and (eventually) suicidal ideation for the Chicago resident. Fans can see glimpses of this in episodes like "Fishes" (Season 2, Episode 6). The episode is a one-hour-long flashback of a heated Christmas dinner in the Berzatto household. 

Mikey can be seen throughout the episode putting on a brave face (as many people with severe mental health issues tend to do) but showing moments of weakness, including breaking down amidst the chaos in the house before dinner and snapping at his mother's on-again-off-again boyfriend Lee Lane (played by Bob Odenkirk) over the family meal itself. 

As demonstrated in the episode, the Berzatto house is not the best place for somebody suffering in silence, as it has become this unique pressure cooker of anxiety, angst, and animosity. 

One can see how this familial environment and several extenuating facts (like his painkiller addiction) could result in someone like Mikey taking his own life.

All three seasons of The Bear are streaming on Hulu. 

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- In This Article: The Bear (Season 3)
Release Date
June 27, 2024
Ayo Edebiri
Ebon Moss-Bachrach
Jeremy Allen White
- About The Author: Klein Felt
Klein Felt is a Senior Editor at The Direct. Joining the website back in 2020, he helped jumpstart video game content on The Direct. Klein plays a vital role as a part of the site's content team, demonstrating expertise in all things PlayStation, Marvel, and the greater entertainment industry.