13 Reasons Why is an American teen drama television series developed for Netflix by Brian Yorkey and based on the 2007 novel Thirteen Reasons Why by author Jay Asher. The series revolves around high school student Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) and the aftermath of the suicide of fellow student Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford). Before her death, she leaves behind a box of cassette tapes in which she details the reasons why she chose to end her life as well as the people she believes are responsible for her death.
Through its various storylines, the show explores and depicts a wide range of social issues affecting modern youth. The series was produced by July Moon Productions, Kicked to the Curb Productions, That Kid Ed Productions, Anonymous Content and Paramount Television, with Yorkey and Diana Son serving as showrunners for the first season, and Yorkey for the rest of the series. Dylan Minnette and Katherine Langford star as Clay Jensen and Hannah Baker, respectively, alongside an ensemble cast. A film from Universal Pictures based on Thirteen Reasons Why began development in February 2011, with Selena Gomez set to star as Hannah, before being shelved in favor of a television series and Netflix ordering an adaptation as a limited series in October 2015, with Gomez instead serving as an executive producer.
The first season was released on Netflix on March 31, 2017. It received positive reviews from critics and audiences, who praised its themes, emotional weight, subject matter, character development and acting, particularly the performances of Minnette and Langford. For her performance, Langford received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actress – Television Series Drama. However, its graphic depiction of issues such as suicide, sexual assault, bullying, and rape (along with other mature content) prompted concerns from mental health professionals. In response, Netflix added a warning card in March 2018 that plays at the start of each episode warning viewers about the themes of each season. In July 2019, Netflix edited out the suicide scene in the first season’s final episode.
In May 2017, Netflix renewed 13 Reasons Why for a second season due to the success of the initial 13 episodes; the second season was released on May 18, 2018, and was met with generally negative critical reviews. Coinciding with the release of the second season, Netflix released a video with the cast that cautioned viewers on some of the topics covered in the show and provided a support website with crisis numbers for people affected by depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. A third season was ordered in June 2018 and was released on August 23, 2019. In August 2019, the series was renewed for a fourth and final season, which premiered on June 5, 2020.
- Dylan Minnette as Clay Jensen, a teenage boy attending high school who had a crush on Hannah when she was alive and becomes obsessed with finding out what drove her to kill herself. At the end of the second season, he successfully talks Tyler out of committing a school shooting at the end-of-year dance and helps him escape the police. He is also the primary suspect in Bryce Walker’s murder in the third season. His deteriorating mental health and subsequent recovery are a pivotal storyline in the fourth season.
- Katherine Langford as Hannah Baker (seasons 1–2), a teenager at Liberty High who leaves behind a set of tapes detailing thirteen reasons why she killed herself.
- Christian Navarro as Tony Padilla, Clay’s best friend at Liberty High who tries to help him deal with Hannah’s death. Before her death, Hannah gives Tony the audio cassettes and holds him responsible for making sure everyone on the cassettes hears them. His family is deported in the third season after Bryce’s dad reports them to I.C.E.
- Alisha Boe as Jessica Davis, a student who starts attending Liberty High at the same time as Hannah. She is raped by Bryce in the first season, which leads to her opening a sexual assault survivors club on campus. She is elected student body president in the third season. Throughout the series, she was in an on-again, off-again relationship with Justin Foley. In season four, she had a final reconciliation with Justin, which lasted until his death later that season.
- Brandon Flynn as Justin Foley, a student at Liberty High who comes from an abusive family and is in a relationship with Jessica. He is responsible for setting the events of the series into motion by being the first person to humiliate Hannah after their first date. He was initially Bryce’s friend and Clay’s enemy until he broke off his friendship with Bryce for raping Jessica. At the end of the second season, Justin is adopted by Clay’s parents and lives with Clay as his foster brother. He later tests positive for HIV and dies from AIDS-related meningitis in the series finale.
- Justin Prentice as Bryce Walker, a student from a rich family and the captain of the football team and pitcher on the baseball team at Liberty High. He was friends with Justin, Zach, and Monty. He is a notorious serial rapist who is known to rape unconscious girls. He also sexually assaulted Jessica and Hannah in the first season. He is killed by Alex after being brutally beaten by Zach, where Zach’s beating was in retribution for Bryce’s injuring Zach during a football game.
- Miles Heizer as Alex Standall, a student at Liberty High, the ex-boyfriend of Jessica and a former friend of Hannah. Alex is sarcastic and tends to be blunt, but also cares about others. He kills Bryce in the third season by pushing him into the river after Zach leaves Bryce incapacitated. In the fourth season, he dates Winston Williams and Charlie St. George.
- Ross Butler as Zach Dempsey, a kindhearted friend of Justin and Bryce at Liberty High. After Bryce breaks his knee at the homecoming game and causes him to lose his college scholarships, Zach assaults Bryce at the river pier, breaking both his legs and his elbow.
- Devin Druid as Tyler Down, a shy, severely bullied student at Liberty High. He is an avid photographer, which often gets him into trouble, especially when he is caught taking stalker-like photos of female classmates, including Hannah. At the end of the second season, he is sexually assaulted by Monty, which leads him to attempt a school shooting at the Spring Fling before being talked out of it by Clay. His emotional recovery is a storyline in the third and fourth seasons.
- Amy Hargreaves as Lainie Jensen, Clay’s attorney mother who works for the firm representing Liberty High in the Baker’s lawsuit.
- Derek Luke as Kevin Porter (seasons 1–2; guest season 3), a guidance counselor at Liberty High. He is fired after giving his testimony in Hannah’s trial in the second season. He is brought back in the third season to help the police interrogate the students in Bryce’s murder investigation.
- Kate Walsh as Olivia Baker (seasons 1–2; guest season 3), Hannah’s mother and Andy’s ex-wife, who is determined to uncover the truth about the events leading to her daughter’s suicide. She divorces Andy and moves to New York between the second and third seasons.
- Brian d’Arcy James as Andy Baker (season 2; recurring season 1), Hannah’s father and Olivia’s ex-husband. During Hannah’s trial in the second season, he reveals that he had been cheating on Olivia when Hannah was alive, a fact which Hannah discovered.
- Grace Saif as Ani Achola (seasons 3–4), a new immigrant student at Liberty who lives in Bryce’s house due to her mother being his grandfather’s caretaker. The third season is narrated through her conversation with Deputy Standall in which she makes a case for Monty having killed Bryce before he died in order to get the sheriff to drop the case. Tensions rise when Clay and Jessica find out that Ani slept with Bryce, but she is nonetheless Jessica’s best friend and Clay’s girlfriend until the end of the fourth season.
- Brenda Strong as Nora Walker (season 3; recurring season 2; guest season 4), Bryce’s mother. Although initially distant from her son, she takes a firmer stance with Bryce when he transfers schools to prevent him from repeating his mistakes. She pushes the police to investigate Clay into Bryce’s murder.
- Timothy Granaderos as Monty De La Cruz (seasons 3–4; recurring seasons 1–2), a vicious bully from an abusive family who is a student at Liberty High. He is friends with Bryce and is quick to anger. He is secretly gay and violently assaults Winston Williams, who is openly gay, after he kisses him at one of Bryce’s parties only to have sex with him later. He is killed in jail after being arrested for sexually assaulting Tyler. His father is homophobic and disowns him after learning that he is gay.
- Mark Pellegrino as Bill Standall (season 4, recurring seasons 1–3), a Crestmont deputy sheriff and Alex’s father.
- Tyler Barnhardt as Charlie St. George (season 4; recurring season 3), a jock at Liberty High who is friends with Monty but kind at heart. He is later Alex Standall’s boyfriend in the fourth season. During the 4th season, he spends time with Clay’s friends and developed feelings for Alex. He is shown to be bisexual and the starting quarterback for Liberty after Luke was caught with steroids in the 3rd season.
- Deaken Bluman as Winston Williams (season 4; recurring season 3), a former Hillcrest student who hooks up with Monty and is furious when Monty is posthumously accused of Bryce’s murder, knowing Monty was not guilty because Winston was with him the night Bryce was murdered. He transfers to Liberty to investigate the case and get information for the police while dating Alex and falling in love with him. He drops the case after Alex tells him that he was the one who killed Bryce.
- Jan Luis Castellanos as Diego Torres (season 4), a charismatic, aggressive, and fiercely loyal leader of a divided football team struggling to understand the loss of one of their own.
- Gary Sinise as Dr. Robert Ellman (season 4), a compassionate, incisive, no-nonsense adolescent and family therapist who works to help Clay Jensen battle anxiety, depression and grief.
Universal Studios purchased film rights to the novel on February 8, 2011, with Selena Gomez cast to play Hannah Baker. On October 29, 2015, it was announced that Netflix would be making a television adaptation of the book with Gomez instead serving as an executive producer. Tom McCarthy was hired to direct the first two episodes. The series was produced by Anonymous Content and Paramount Television with Gomez, McCarthy, Joy Gorman, Michael Sugar, Steve Golin, Mandy Teefey, and Kristel Laiblin serving as executive producers.
On May 7, 2017, it was announced that Netflix had renewed the series for a second season, which was released on May 18, 2018.
On June 6, 2018, Netflix renewed the series for a third season, which was released on August 23, 2019. It was dedicated to executive producer Steve Golin (founder and CEO of Anonymous Content), who died of Ewing’s sarcoma on April 21, 2019, four months before the third season’s release
On August 1, 2019, it was announced that the series had been renewed for a fourth and final season, which was released on June 5, 2020.
June 5, 2020
- E01 – “Winter Break”
- E02 – “College Tour”
- E03 – “Valentine’s Day”
- E04 – “Senior Camping Trip”
- E05 – “House Party”
- E06 – “Thursday”
- E07 – “College Interview”
- E08 – “Acceptance/Rejection”
- E09 – “Prom”
- E10 – “Graduation”
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