The following contains major spoilers for season four of 13 Reasons Why
After four years of traumatic storylines that involved teen suicide, sexual assault, gun violence, homophobia, drug abuse, and mental health, 13 Reasons Why has come to an end. On Friday, at a time when hype for the once widely-discussed teen series had long since dissipated, 13 Reasons Why debuted its final 10 episodes, providing closure to Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) and his classmates—who were bonded together in season one after the death by suicide of Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford). In keeping with the previous 39 episodes, season four did not shy away from hot-button topics, including killing off a prominent character who had been diagnosed with AIDS. Here’s how 13 Reasons Why ended.
Who died at the end of 13 Reasons Why season four?
The final season of 13 Reasons Why is structured around the funeral of one of the show’s characters, but it’s not until the finale that the identity of the deceased is revealed: Justin Foley (Brandon Flynn), Clay’s adopted brother. At the end of episode nine, after reconciling with his former girlfriend Jessica Davis (Alisha Bao) at the senior prom, Justin collapsed. As is revealed in the series finale, Justin had not only tested positive for HIV, but the virus had progressed to AIDS. (Justin, who left his abusive home life at the end of season one, lived on the street throughout season two; during that time, he started using heroin and became a sex worker.) After a short time in the hospital, he eventually dies—but not before providing both Clay and Jessica with a chance to say goodbye.
Later, during his emotional funeral, a minister (played by Phylicia Rashad) speaks to the show’s key characters and seemingly the audience itself to offer up a call-to-action for the future. “Justin Foley died of a disease that from its inception thrives in silence. There are a number of such diseases, a number of ills that thrive when we are silent about them. Because we let our fears, our shame, our twisted moral codes keep us in silence as death stalks more children. I say, enough. Enough shifting blame. Enough pointing fingers. Enough confusing those who report the damage with those who cause it.”
But that’s not the end of Justin in the 13 Reasons Why finale. After the surviving characters graduate, Justin appears as a vision to Clay—which sets up the return of Hannah Baker for the first time since season two.
Does Katherine Langford appear in 13 Reasons Why season four?
She does. Despite bidding farewell to the spirit of his first true love during season two, Clay is given one last chance to say goodbye to Langford’s Hannah, the young woman whose death by suicide originally connected the show’s key characters. (When she died, Hannah left behind a box of 13 cassette tapes dedicated to each of the people who had negatively impacted her life.)
“You can love people who did bad shit. You can forgive people. Even the people who hurt you worst,” the spirit of Justin tells Clay in the series finale. “When you forgive someone, it’s more for you than them.”
It’s at that point Langford appears as Hannah. But she doesn’t get to say a word. As Clay is about to approach Ghost Hannah, he’s interrupted by a young woman named Heidi (Veronica St. Clair). The pair have a meet-cute moment, and the audience is led to believe Heidi could be a potential future love interest for Clay.
What happens at the end of 13 Reasons Why?
After graduation, Clay and his friends go and bury the cassette tapes Hannah left behind after her death, effectively putting to rest the reason the show existed in the first place. As the tapes are being buried, Jessica is confronted by the ghost of Bryce (Justin Prentice), the rapist who sexually assaulted both Hannah and Jessica. (Bryce was killed during the third season of 13 Reasons Why.) As a cocky Bryce says he feels like he won, even in death, Jessica disagrees and proclaims that the only thing Bryce was responsible for was bringing this group together in their trauma. “We have to love each other at the end of it all. You did that,” she tells him.