Note: The following article contains discussion of themes including suicide that some readers may find upsetting.
The third season of Netflix's 13 Reasons Why, a series which attracted a barrage of negative press for its inclusion of a graphic suicide scene, landed on Netflix in August 2019, and the final season, its fourth, has been officially confirmed as going ahead.
The show was inspired by Jay Asher's book of the same name but has long outpaced the original source material, which initially centred on Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) following the death of Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford).
But it will be the drama's final chapter.
Sources told THR that 13 Reasons Why is a "pricey drama" – the cast recently received big pay rises and it is also produced by Paramount TV, which means Netflix has to pay a hefty licensing fee.
The streaming giant has since changed its model and is now leaning more towards commissioning new series.
Kate Walsh, who plays Hannah Baker's mum Olivia, agrees that wrapping up the show after season four is the right decision.
"I think it's a really great thing now that we have so many different platforms and ways to view television and films," she told PopCulture.com.
"I think particularly for TV, it's really smart when things end. I think it's really important creatively when a show has finished to end it. For shows like 13 Reasons Why, or Fleabag is a great example.
"It's like, 'No, we're done. This is it. This is what she had in mind at the end.' But I think it's a really cool time to be able to do that creatively, to really stick to the artist's vision and yeah, that's exciting."
Hannah's death scene has since been removed from the show following concern from both experts and viewers. There was also a study funded by the National Institute of Health, published earlier this year, which found that there were almost 200 more deaths by suicide than expected over the nine-month period following the 2017 release.
It also found that there were more deaths by suicide in April 2017 (it was released in March) than any other April in the last nine years, and male teenage suicides suffered the biggest increase.
With all eyes firmly on the show's closing chapter, what lies ahead?
Here's everything you need to know about 13 Reasons Why season four.
13 Reasons Why season 4 release date on Netflix: When will it air?
Netflix hasn't said when the show will be back, but we've had a new batch of episodes every year since it first arrived back in 2017, so we'd expect it to land in 2020, especially given that production is already under way, according to THR.
So far each season has taken around 14 months to produce, so that would place season four in October 2020, but don't hold us to that.
The streaming giant also hasn't revealed how many episodes we can expect, but we're going to go out on a limb and say 13 because... Well, it's fairly obvious why.
13 Reasons Why season 4 trailer: When can I watch it?
It's common for trailers to arrive in the month leading up to release, so once we know the official premiere date, we'll have a better idea when to expect the new one.
13 Reasons Why season 4 cast: Who's in it?
So we know that Hannah and Bryce (Justin Prentice) won't be back unless it's in flashbacks, but as for the others, Clay (Dylan Minnette), Justin (Brandon Flynn), Tony (Christian Navarro), Alex (Miles Heizer), Tyler (Devin Druid), Zach (Ross Butler), and Jessica (Alisha Boe) are all likely to return.
Chatting to Refinery29 about her character, Boe, whose mother is from Norway and father from Somalia, said: "Every time I saw a breakdown for a popular girl [role], they usually went with the blonde, blue-eyed [actors].
"By the time I auditioned [to play Jessica], I was engineered to believe that I wasn't right for it. But I thought, 'Why shouldn't I get it?'
"Getting this part surprised me, but in the best way possible. I think we deserve to take up the spaces that we haven't been able to fill in the last 40 years. Playing Jessica means I get to be the person someone else sees themselves reflected in on screen. That means more to me than anything else, because I didn't have that growing up."
She added: "I started this show when I was 19 and I'm about to turn 23. So, it's kind of like my college years. I've grown up with this character. I've learned so much and I feel like a different person, but in the best way possible."
She also spoke about the decision to change-up her character's appearance.
"Changing Jessica's hair was a very conscious choice," she told Refinery29. "The third season was the first time you see Jessica really take on the role of being a survivor, and we wanted to convey that through her hair."
Brian Yorkey confirmed in September that veteran actor Gary Sinise will join the cast for season four as Clay's "compassionate but no-nonsense therapist" Dr Robert Ellman.
"From the first moments we conceived of the role," he said, "I thought of Gary Sinise, but hardly dared to dream it might happen. A consummate actor and first-rate human, Gary brings the exact combination of toughness, smarts and heart the character needs. We're all thrilled and honoured to have him join us for this pivotal role in our final season."
13 Reasons Why season 4 plot: What will happen?
All we know at the moment is that the narrative will follow the characters as they graduate high school.
During an interview with Radio Times about season three, Timothy Granaderos, who plays bully Montgomery de la Cruz, said that the show still had some "wild" scenes, but added: "I don't think you'll be asking if any scenes will need to be removed from season three."
Following the show's past controversies, we'd expect it to strike the same tone in the final chapter.
There are many questions left to explore before it finishes for good, including:
Will Winston uncover the truth about the gang's cover-up? It seems likely given that he knows Monty didn't kill Bryce because he was with him at the time. But he doesn't know who did. Then again, he might just decide to leave it. There aren't crowds of fans baying for #JusticeForMonty.
Is Bryce going to feature in the fourth season? Even though he's dead, that's no barrier in this show. But actor Justin Prentice did tell THR that he feels his story is done: "I feel like we've kind of hit and explored all the different facets of Bryce. Moving on with my career, I feel like we put it all out there and we didn't leave anything behind, which is comforting."
Then there's the kind-of unresolved story of Tony's deported family – will we see them again? "I hope that Tony's able to fully embrace his new role as someone who can not only help others but also ask for help and be okay receiving help," actor Christian Navarro told Cosmopolitan.
We would encourage anyone who identifies with the topics raised in this article to reach out. Organisations who can offer support include Samaritans on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org), and Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk). Readers in the US are encouraged to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-8255 or visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
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