Dead To Me Season 3 Ending Explained: The Surprising Way Jen And Judy Got Closure, And That Big Cliffhanger

Warning: Spoilers ahead for Dead to Me Season 3! Come back once you’ve caught up!

Viewers with a Netflix subscription certainly have thousands of choices when it comes to what to watch, even if you narrow things down to just the shows with mysteries and twisty reveals. But, everyone got a treat when Dead to Me arrived in the spring of 2019, and delivered lovers of quirky, surprise-filled, hilarious dark comedies everything they could hope for in a series about death, anger, grief, and friendship. 

Season 2 held crazy twists, and Dead to Me Season 3 managed to answer our questions about what went on while still bringing us (and the main characters) some much needed closure and one big, final cliffhanger. If you’re still mulling over how everything ended, here’s what you need to know about the finale of one of TV’s wildest dramedies!

jen and judy in the hospital on dead to me

(Image credit: Netflix)

How Dead To Me Season 3 Ended

As could be expected, best friends Jen and Judy went through a metric ton of trouble to get to the ending of their story. After coming out of the Season 2 ending car crash basically OK, they soon had new problems, when Judy was diagnosed with Stage 4 cervical cancer and Jen realized she was pregnant with Ben’s baby. Jen helped her buddy through three difficult months of chemo, but the treatment didn’t help, and Judy’s condition was eventually labeled terminal.

Meanwhile, with Steve’s newly buried body having been found on federal land, FBI Agent Glenn Moranis was now investigating, and Jen was coming ever closer to being revealed as his killer. Judy, knowing that she already had a death sentence, confessed to Steve’s murder right as Jen found a way to get her in a clinical trial in San Francisco that could have prolonged her life.

After they fought over Judy’s right to end her life as she pleased, it was decided that Judy’s mom would wear the ankle monitor given to Judy by Officer Prager and drive her car to San Francisco to cover for the fact that Judy and Jen had actually fled to Mexico for one last vacation. While there, the ladies said goodbye to one another, and a call from Ben, who was in jail for the hit and run on them at the end of the previous season, revealed that the FBI was now assuming that the Greek syndicate Steve was involved with was responsible for his murder, meaning that Jen was off the hook.

Toward the end of their trip, Jen wakes up to find Judy gone, with her appearing to have taken the small boat behind Steve’s vacation home far out into the ocean so she could die alone there. Jen drove home, had her baby, and was living happily with Ben -- who was released on good behavior in a few months -- and the kids when the final moments of the series saw her look back on her friendship with Judy, and, apparently, decide to admit to Ben that it was actually her who had killed his brother and buried him in the national forest. But, we didn’t get to hear her confession to him.

jen and ben on dead to me season 3

(Image credit: Netflix)

Why Jen’s Story Ended The Way It Did

Jen’s story ended in several shocking ways. Not only did she find out that she was pregnant at 47, but she was cleared of the accidental killing she had spent so much time hiding throughout the series. Obviously, with her good buddy Judy still mourning her inability to carry a child to term, and dealing with her terminal cancer diagnosis, as well, Jen hid her pregnancy for as long as she could. About Jen becoming pregnant, creator Liz Feldman spoke to Vulture about how that decision was made, and said: 

We were talking about this idea of full-circle closure. How do we bring both of these two women through all of their trauma to get to a place of healing? We had already come up with Judy’s story line in terms of her dealing with illness. And we were thinking, Okay, well, then what is the cosmic balance there? What is the yin to that yang? How do we help Judy come to a place of acceptance for this dream that she will never see realized? That’s when the idea popped up that Jen should get pregnant.

Judy then had to deal with being happy for her friend, while fully coming to terms with the idea of her own quickly-approaching death, knowing it would mean there would be no sudden miracles with regards to her finally having the child she’d wanted so badly. In the Vulture interview, Feldman also noted that Jen being let off the hook for killing Steve was because of the true nature of the series, with the importance of Dead to Me being way more about dealing with loss, grief, the anger that comes from them, and how friendship is impacted by those things, than “crime and punishment.”

linda cardellini on dead to me

(Image credit: Netflix)

Why Judy’s Story Ended The Way It Did

There were lots of tears to go around when Jen and Judy saw that the latter’s final days were approaching, even as they enjoyed their three-week vacation in Mexico. However, I doubt anyone expected the duo to watch Facts of Life one last time, and for Jen to wake up and simply find that Judy had disappeared, so that she wouldn’t be able to convince her to go back home with her and then have to watch her friend die. 

In fact, we don’t know for sure that Judy was dead when Jen left Mexico in the rebuilt car that Steve and Judy had originally killed Ted with, as we don’t see the ever-optimistic woman die or even hear anything about a funeral for her. Per the Vulture interview, Feldman and her team made this choice on purpose, to mimic how real sudden loss can feel, and how it can seem like the person who died “just took off.”

christina applegate on dead to me

(Image credit: Netflix)

Why Dead To Me Ends On A Cliffhanger

Fans got several answers in the finale of the series, but we were also presented with yet another shocking ending, when it appeared that Jen was finally going to reveal the truth of Steve’s death to his brother/the father of her new baby/boyfriend, Ben. Before she disappeared, Judy had tried to convince her to tell him everything, so that their relationship could be without such a major secret (as he had admitted to causing the hit and run), but Jen was adamant that she didn’t think he could forgive her for the death and all of the lies that had surrounded it. 

According to what Feldman told Vulture, not only did the appearance of Jen being about to confess serve to properly tie up a show with so many surprising twists and turns, but to show how when you lose a loved one “you carry them with you.” So, Jen considering a confession that could easily end her romance with Ben, is evidence that some of Judy’s hopeful, trusting spirit did find its way into Jen’s heart.

In my mind, Jen does the right thing and tells Ben everything about Steve, and though it takes a considerable amount of time for him to accept what she did, his understanding of how horrible his brother could be and how even good people (like himself and Judy) do bad things would eventually be enough for him to forgive her and them to work their way back to each other.

You can watch all of Dead to Me on Netflix right now.

Adrienne Jones
Senior Content Creator

Covering The Witcher, Outlander, Virgin River, Sweet Magnolias and a slew of other streaming shows, Adrienne Jones is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend, and started in the fall of 2015. In addition to writing and editing stories on a variety of different topics, she also spends her work days trying to find new ways to write about the many romantic entanglements that fictional characters find themselves in on TV shows. She graduated from Mizzou with a degree in Photojournalism.