Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why initially told the story of Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) and the titular 13 reasons she chose to take her own life – here’s what they all were. The young adult series concluded its fourth and final season in early June 2020. Starring Dylan Minnette as Clay Jensen, 13 Reasons Why season 4 followed him and his friends as they prepared for graduation from Liberty High. The forthcoming changes in their lives, however, were made all the tenser by the secret that they’d covered up: the truth of who really murdered Bryce Walker.
Originally, however, 13 Reasons Why was based on the book of the same name by Jay Asher. Like the book, the show appeared to tell a self-contained story of Hannah Baker – exploring the lead-up to and direct aftermath of her suicide. With the town still mourning the tragedy, Clay receives a set of cassette tapes on his doorstep. As he begins to listen to them, he realizes that they function as an audio suicide note. Divided into seven tapes, both sides of each corresponded to a specific person and a specific event.
SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY
Related: 13 Reasons Why Season 4 Ending & [SPOILER]’s Death Explained
13 Reasons Why’s increasing backlash and criticism over the years led to the deletion of the scene where Hannah takes her life. But season 1 was met with critical acclaim, conveying a powerful, hard-hitting narrative through the lens of dark and desperately serious subject matter, including bullying, drug abuse, and sexual assault. Though the infamous suicide scene was deemed gratuitous and subsequently removed by the streaming service, 13 Reasons Why season 1 itself was, from the outset, praised for shining a light on the more sensitive topics teenagers face today. Here’s a breakdown of everything Hannah Baker listed on each of her tapes as the reasons behind her fateful decision.
Reason 1 – Justin Foley
In 13 Reasons Why season 1, episode 1, “Tape 1, Side A,” both Clay and the audience hear the story of Hannah’s first kiss. New in town, her friend Kat throws a party in Hannah’s honor so she could meet people. Unfortunately, one of the people she meets is Justin Foley (Brandon Flynn). Immediately developing a crush on him, Hannah eventually agrees to a date after the pair bonded. While in a park after dark, Justin takes a photo as she came down the slide. They then share a kiss. The next day, however, Justin succumbs to peer pressure and shows around the photo he’d taken, which includes a glimpse under Hannah’s skirt. Simultaneously, Justin implies that more sexual exploits than a kiss had taken place. As such, not only was a special first in Hannah’s life tainted, but her entire reputation was damaged by the deceitful rumor.
Reason 2 – Jessica Davis
13 Reasons Why season 1, episode 2, “Tape 1, Side B” focused on Jessica (Alisha Boe). As a fellow newcomer to town, Hannah and Jessica quickly became friends. Before long the duo became a trio when they met Alex (Miles Heizer), forming the “FML Club.” Sadly, though, things sour when Alex and Jessica start dating. As a couple, they start ignoring and distancing themselves from Hannah, leaving her isolated. Worse came still when they broke up, with Jessica erroneously blaming Hannah and bitterly scorning her further. Believing that Alex must have cheated with Hannah, Jessica slaps her and calls her a slut. Hannah describes the moment as having broken her heart.
Reason 3 – Alex Standall
13 Reasons Why season 1, episode 3, “Tape 2, Side A” centered on Alex Standall. Hannah reveals that Alex had contributed to something known as “The Hot List.” The offending document originated with the jocks and circulated around the school. In an attempt to bond with the popular elite, Alex adds the sections “Best and Worst Ass.” Under the former, he names Hannah and under the latter he names Jessica. Alex did so not because of his genuine opinion but to spite Jessica for not having sex with him. The act served to spark Jessica’s aggression towards Hannah and furthered the tarnished reputation that originated with Justin’s lie. The latter came in the form of increasingly unwelcome attention from male students – most notably when Bryce Walker (Justin Prentice) groped her at the local store.
Related: 13 Reasons Why: All Five Character Deaths Explained
Reason 4 – Tyler Down
In 13 Reasons Why season 1, episode 4, “Tape 2, Side B,” Hannah Baker had once been stalked. She reveals that the culprit was Tyler Down (Devin Druid). The socially-awkward photographer developed a crush on Hannah after she was kind to him. Unable to express his feelings healthily, however, he resorts to following her and taking photos without her permission. One of the photos he captured was of a kiss between her and Courtney (Michele Selene Ang), fuelled by alcohol and a game of Truth or Dare. When confronted, Tyler asks Hannah out on a date, which she angrily rebuffs. In his petulant rage, Tyler leaks the photo around the school. Though few people were able to recognize the subjects of the photo, it left Hannah even more depressed and anxious, as well as ended any chance at friendship with Courtney.
Reason 5 – Courtney Crimsen
13 Reasons Why season 1, episode 5, “Tape 3, Side A” explored the direct aftermath of Tyler leaking the photo. Due to being adopted and raised by a gay couple, Courtney was fearful of the false implication her own lesbianism would provoke. As a result, Courtney distanced herself from Hannah to prevent anybody from linking them to each other or the photo. Unfortunately, Monty de la Cruz (Timothy Granaderos) deduced the truth. When confronted, Courtney crafts a web of lies that played into the rumors already circulating about Hannah. She states that it was Hannah and another girl, that Hannah enjoys threesomes, and that everything about her and Justin was true. As a result, not only is Hannah distraught by another potential friend’s betrayal, but she is immediately beset by further unwanted advances and harassment.
Reason 6 – Marcus Cole
The subject of 13 Reasons Why season 1, episode 6, “Tape 3, Side B” is Marcus Cole (Steven Silver). Though outwardly appearing to be a model student, Marcus is revealed by Hannah to have contributed to her harassment. Initially coming across as a nice guy, he arranges a date with Hannah for Valentine’s Day. However, he turns up late and alongside an entourage of jocks. As they watch from a different table, Marcus becomes more and more sleazy in his approach. After moving around to her side of the table, he persists in touching her inappropriately. Furthermore, he snaps angrily when she ultimately rebuffs him. Bitter that she defies his belief that Hannah is easy prey, Marcus goes on to preemptively taint Hannah’s reputation further to try to maintain his own.
Reason 7 – Zach Dempsey
13 Reasons Why season 1, episode 7, “Tape 4, Side A” was centered on Zach Dempsey (Ross Butler). Zach was one of the athletes in attendance for Marcus and Hannah’s disastrous date. Unlike the others, however, he reaches out and tries to console her. Hannah appreciated the sentiment, and the two bond. Unfortunately, things go wrong when Zach expresses romantic interest. Still sore from everything that had happened with others, Hannah feels insulted and frustrated by yet another advance. After being publicly rebuked, Zach retaliated by stealing complimentary notes (secretly written by Clay) that Hannah had been receiving in English class. Hannah described those notes as a “lifeline” amid her increasing depression, and the theft served as a fresh and especially hurtful betrayal.
Related: Will 13 Reasons Why Season 5 Ever Happen?
Reason 8 – Ryan Shaver
In 13 Reasons Why season 1, episode 8, “Tape 4, Side B,” Hannah attempted to channel her pain into poetry. After joining a club, she becomes friendly with Ryan Shaver (Tommy Dorfman), who served as editor of the school newspaper. He encourages her creative outlet and helps her find the bravery to read them out in their group. Ryan goes a step too far, however, when Hannah refuses to let him publish one of her pieces. Instead of accepting her decision, he steals the poem from her and published it anyway. Hannah’s embarrassment and betrayal of trust are exacerbated by the poem being read out in class. Though it was marked as anonymous, Hannah sees signs that Marcus and Courtney, among others, figure out the truth and are ridiculing her over it. On the tape, Hannah describes the theft as what ultimately broke her spirit.
Reason 9 – Justin Foley Revisited
Things took an even more serious turn in 13 Reasons Why season 1, episode 9, “Tape 5, Side A.” For the second time, Justin Foley is listed as one of Hannah’s reasons. On the recording, Hannah recounts the events of a party. Having been in a room alone and preparing to leave, Hannah had hidden in a closet when a couple entered. That couple is revealed to be Justin and Jessica. After laying her down, Justin left only to be met by Bryce – who asserts that he should be allowed in the room. After Justin acquiesces, Bryce rapes a largely unconscious Jessica. Though Justin eventually makes an ill-fated attempt to stop him, Hannah blames Justin for allowing Bryce entry in the first place and not doing more to protect Jessica. Hannah also conveys that she felt her own share of guilt for having been too scared to come out of her hiding place.
Reason 10 – Sheri Holland
The subject of 13 Reasons Why season 1, episode 10, “Tape 5, Side B” is revealed to be Sheri Holland (Ajiona Alexus). After witnessing the traumatic sexual assault of Jessica, a distraught Hannah is offered a lift home by Sheri. More tragedy ensues, however, after a distracted Sheri knocks down a stop sign. Though Hannah remains adamant that they should call someone or do something, Sheri succumbs to fear of getting in trouble with the police. As a result, she merely drives away and leaves Hannah stranded. While Hannah sought a phone to report the incident, it is revealed that the sign being damaged had caused a car crash. The accident costs Clay’s friend, Jeff Atkins, his life. Jeff is also posthumously blamed for the crash, falsely decreed to have been driving under the influence.
Reason 11 – Clay Jensen
After waiting all season long, Clay Jensen finally learns how he fits into Hannah’s suicide during 13 Reasons Why season 1, episode 11, “Tape 6, Side A.” It’s revealed in this episode that Clay is the reason Hannah had been in Jessica’s room at the party. Having been at the event together and grown closer, they went to the bedroom to escape the crowd. Though they initially begin taking their relationship to the next level, Hannah ultimately has a breakdown caused by the trauma she’d suffered across the season so far. In her distress, she yells at Clay to leave. Confused and scared, Clay does as she demanded – and accordingly faces a lifetime of guilt. 13 Reasons Why’s Hannah Baker states on the tape that a part of her had wanted Clay to stay, but that she doesn’t blame him for leaving. Equally, Hannah said that Clay didn’t deserve to be on the list like the others, but that he needed to be there since he was part of her story. Clay, however, couldn’t help but take some level of responsibility – believing that his decision to leave is what led to the subsequent events of Jessica’s rape and Jeff’s death.
Related: 13 Reasons Why: [SPOILER]’s Death Was The Show’s Biggest Mistake
Reason 12 – Bryce Walker
Though the tapes never actually made it to him until later seasons, the despicable Bryce Walker was the subject of 13 Reasons Why season 1, episode 12, “Tape 6, Side B.” Having lost the profits from her parent’s store, an ever-more depressed and despondent Hannah found herself wandering the streets. Hearing commotion coming from a nearby house, Hannah ended up venturing into a party. Despite initially getting into a hot tub with former friend Jessica and others, Hannah was ultimately left alone with Bryce. Hannah attempted to leave, only for the dangerous jock to prevent her from doing so. As Hannah detailed, Bryce Walker went on to rape her as he had Jessica and several other female students.
Reason 13 – Mr. Porter
The final name on Hannah’s list was revealed to be Mr. Kevin Porter in 13 Reasons Why season 1, episode 13, “Tape 7, Side A”. Played by Derek Luke, Mr. Porter served as the guidance counselor at Liberty High. Though Hannah had already resolved that she was going to take her own life, she wanted to at least try and reach out for help one last time. To that end, she made a visit to Porter’s office. Unfortunately, as well as being repeatedly distracted by his phone, he offers a succession of dismissive advice. Even when Hannah references her sexual assault, Mr. Porter merely suggests that the best option might just be to forget it and move on. Upon leaving his office, Hannah briefly waits for him to make any kind of extra effort. He never does.
The Reason Netflix Removed Hannah’s Death Scene From 13 Reasons Why
The harrowing suicide footage from 13 Reasons Why is no more because Netflix agreed with upset viewers that they have a duty of care to their audience. Two seasons into the show (possibly too late), Netflix followed the advice of medical experts concerned about the impact of depicting such a graphic suicide and removed the scene, maintaining that they prioritized the life of the show over any individual scene. The edit was aimed to emphasize the show’s message that “we must take better care of each other,” to quote 13 Reasons Why producer Brian Yorkey.
The move was welcomed by those who felt that it was a positive step for protecting younger viewers from content that deals with suicidal ideation. However, given that the scene is so pivotal to the forward thrust of the story after season 1, it’s hard not to feel a certain weight lacking throughout a rewatch. With that being said, the show is called 13 Reasons Why for a distinct purpose – it refocuses the audience away from the suicide itself and back to the actions of the bullies whose actions underpinned the tragic event.
Related: What 13 Reasons Why Can Do About Its School Shooting Story
Even as the show tried to move away into new central stories, the ghost of Hannah Baker continued to hang over the proceedings in a metaphorical sense; a vision of Hannah even appeared in season 4. In the time since season 1, several of the characters listed by Hannah had made conscious efforts to atone and be better people. The majority of them celebrated graduation by letting go of the past and ceremoniously burying Hannah’s tapes outside of town, vowing to remain the firm and more supportive friends that Hannah’s tragedy and the events of 13 Reasons Why had turned them into.
More: 13 Reasons Why’s Series Finale Was Missing Two Important Characters
Marvel Just Made Infinity War’s Snap Even More Horrifying
About The Author
(1009 Articles Published)
John Atkinson has been a news and feature writer for Screen Rant since late 2018. Before that, he had articles published across a number of different outlets. A graduate of the University of London, John was raised on a small island by television and movies. As such, he pursued a career in screenwriting and film journalism when it became apparent that actually becoming Spider-Man was impossible. John’s fondest wish is to one day produce a film of his own. Until then, he’s more than happy to spend countless hours just talking about them.
John’s love of film and television defies genre and sometimes even logic. Nothing is off-limits to his passion – be it Marvel, DC, Rian Johnson’s Star Wars, or Tommy Wiseau’s latest cinematic offering.
Away from screens, John can often be found in a park reading mystery and/or fantasy novels, jumping up and down at various music events, or thinking too deeply about Keanu Reeves’ career and why Edgar Wright doesn’t have an Oscar.
More From John Atkinson