If you look at Spikes character throughout the series you can tell that he was always going to be a "tragic hero". Everything was shaping up for us to finally learn about him towards the end and then his death.
If you watched the movie where it was supposed to be watched i.e between episode 22 and 23 prior to have seen the upcoming episodes you'll realise the fact that they delve further into his past death and if or not the authenticity of anything he experiences is there or not. It's defenitely building up like raising a bigger question mark.
Also at the end of the last episode you can tell that Spike is dead from what the Indian guy says as someone mentioned above. So you can't really put a question mark over if Spike survived or not. When Gren I think his(her?) name was died in sessions 12 and 13 "Jupiter Jazz" he said something similar about the fallen star etc.
I think that the ending would've been pretty lame if Spike lived and everything ended being happily ever after because to be fair Cowboy Bebop wasn't about that, it was a great show and more than anything Spike lived by the philosophy that life isn't fair. It's somewhat a fitting end.
Although to quote an interview a while ago with the producer he admits that Spike may not be dead even though what has been portrayed. Here's the quote:
I for one would be a little disappointed if he made a continuation of the show, because it just wouldn't seem right. I was a bit sad how it ended but I thought it was a really good ending which tied everything together. As mentioned in the same interview every time Vicious was shown in prior episodes was to give more and more info and add more depth to the ending episode. I watched all the episodes and the movie in the last week, in around another week or two I'm going to have another look at a handful of sessions, Jupiter Jazz, The Ballard of Fallen Angels and the last 2 a couple times to see if I was missing anything which could give even more hidden information.I've never officially said that he's died. At this point, I can tell you that I'm not sure if he's alive or dead. I think probably rather than being yelled at for killing Spike, I think ... people are more upset that I might make a continuation.
Not really on topic, but does anyone else feel towards the end of the series. Like the last 4 sessions or so the prior episodes even the ones which seemed a tad dull really started seeming better because of what was shown at the end?
Cowboy Bebop was good, the ending was one the factors why I liked it so much coupled with that first episode(I thought it was cracking), I can't agree that it had a bad ending.