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Only Murders In The Building Season 1 Ending Explained: Who Really Killed Tim Kono?

Mabel, Charles and Oliver sit at a memorial for Tim Kono at their apartment in Only Murders in the Building. Screenshot
(Image credit: Hulu)

Spoiler alert! This story contains spoilers for Season 1 of Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building. Please proceed with caution if you haven’t finished the series.

Only Murders in the Building’s first season on Hulu took viewers on a delightfully twisty ride as we tried to figure out who killed Tim Kono and what exactly was going on with the residents of New York’s Arconia apartments. The classic comedy duo of Steve Martin and Martin Short is hard to turn away from in the Only Murders in the Building cast, and who could have predicted how seamlessly Selena Gomez would fit in with the longtime collaborators? But, with all of the red herrings and suspicious residents and haphazard investigating, the Only Murders in the Building ending left a lot for viewers to unpack. 

A murder was solved, only to introduce another murder. And, as Mabel noted in the waning minutes of Season 1, there were some loose ends that didn’t get tied up. The more you look back at the series, the more clues you realize were scattered throughout. The leading trio was so enjoyable to watch, who could be blamed for forgetting to pay close attention to the details? One-third true crime satire, one-third slapstick comedy, and one-third classic mystery show, the Hulu series was entertaining and super complex. So, here, let’s break down the ending of Only Murders in the Building Season 1.

Tim Kono smiles in Only Murders in the Building

(Image credit: Hulu)

Who Killed Tim Kono And Why?

“Never trust a bassoonist,” Jan said, and now we know why. Charles-Haden Savage’s girlfriend Jan poisoned Tim Kono and then shot him, making the murder look like a suicide. But why? Jan and Tim had been dating, but Tim broke it off with Jan two days before the murder. Jan found an emerald ring in Tim’s apartment and assumed he was seeing someone else. And, as we later learned from her bassoon concert, Jan was triggered by being second place to anyone. As the gang got closer to figuring her out, Jan poisoned Charles, but Oliver and Mabel came to his rescue, and Jan was arrested. 

Jan prepares to play bassoon at a concert on Only Murders in the Building.

(Image credit: Hulu)

What Clues Were Given That Jan Was The Killer? 

All the bassoon players out there might have had this one figured out from the beginning. Early in the season, when Mabel, Charles and Oliver went through Tim’s belongings, they happened upon a box of “sex toys.” It wasn’t discovered until Episode 9 that what they thought was a sex toy was actually a bassoon cleaner, connecting Jan to Tim Kono. Observant fans might also have solved the crime the same way Charles eventually did — by comparing the handwriting on Tim’s fake suicide notes to Jan’s note asking Charles to meet her for dinner. 

Jan getting stabbed was a tough one to get past, though. Only a psychopath would stab themselves to avoid suspicion, right? Well, remember Jan was also the one insisting that the podcasters should keep looking because their theory about Theo Dimas being the killer was “too easy,” and she definitely enjoyed hearing Charles piece together how she did everything in the end. So, psychopath works for me.

Howard Morris holds his new cat on Only Murders in the Building

(Image credit: Hulu)

Who Killed The Cat?

The residents of The Arconia definitely seemed more torn up about Howard’s cat, Evelyn, dying than they were about Tim Kono. So, who killed the cat? You already know the answer. Curiosity killed the cat, of course. Jan didn’t take credit for it, and Howard had admitted that Evelyn used to get into Tim’s apartment through his window. It was surmised that the cat went into Tim’s apartment after his death and lapped up some of Tim’s poisoned blood. That’s just nasty.

Tim, Mabel, Oscar and Zoe pose for a photo in Only Murders in the Building.

(Image credit: Hulu)

Who Killed Mabel's Friend Zoe?

Ten years before Tim Kono’s death, Zoe — one of Mabel’s “Hardy Boys” group of friends, along with Tim and Oscar — fell to her death from the roof of The Arconia during a New Year’s Eve party. Her boyfriend, Oscar, was framed for murder and spent ten years in prison. But, it was revealed in Episode 7, “The Boy from 6B,” that Zoe fell off the roof during an argument with Theo Dimas over the emerald ring she’d stolen from Theo’s apartment — the same one Jan found before she killed Tim ten years later.

Although Tim witnessed Zoe’s accident, Theo’s father Teddy (who later became the podcast’s main sponsor) blackmailed Tim into keeping quiet. It appeared that Tim had acquired the emerald to expose the Dimases’ jewelry scheme and exonerate Oscar, but Jan murdered him before he got the chance.

Charles and Oliver record their podcast on Only Murders in the Building.

(Image credit: Hulu)

Why Did Tim Kono Narrate The Last Episode?

After Episode 9’s surprise reveal that Jan was the murderer, Episode 10 returned to the night of Tim Kono’s death, where Tim broke the fourth wall to talk to the audience about that night’s events. Series co-creator John Hoffman spoke to the AV Club about why it was important to the story that Tim be the one to do that. 

When we realized it’s Tim Kono who has to narrate Episode 10, that he’s going to have his moment to tell his own story—of course, he can’t. It’s an imaginative leap we’re taking. When Tim Kono’s narration comes around in Episode 10, you see it’s actually Charles who is giving what Oliver says is the best performance he’s ever given. It is the case because you’re seeing Tim Kono and Charles are kindred spirits in the fact that they were with the same woman. It was all born out of a certain loneliness and a compulsion just to connect for both of them, where to turn when they felt particularly lonely. There’s a symmetry there to our theme of connection and loneliness.

Connection and loneliness certainly played a role in the series, as Charles, Oliver and Mabel all seemed pretty isolated before they were brought together by their shared interest in true crime. Connecting Tim Kono to Charles in that way was a fitting end to the podcast and the series.

Charles, Mabel and Oliver stand with their hands up over Bunny's dead body in Only Murders in the Building.

(Image credit: Hulu)

The Twist Ending Set Up Season 2’s Murder Mystery

After Jan was arrested, Bunny — head of the board at The Arconia — un-evicted Charles, Oliver and Mabel, with Mabel showing her thanks by calling Bunny “the most hated person in the building now, you cranky old bitch.” Later when Mabel went for more champagne in her apartment, Charles and Oliver got a text from an unknown number telling them to get out of the building immediately. They ran for Mabel, only to find her covered in blood, kneeling over Bunny, who’d been stabbed with Mabel’s knitting needle. 

Thinking back to the first episode, Mabel talked about a fantasy she had of stabbing an intruder with a knitting needle. It was also learned that Tim Kono’s mail often got mistakenly delivered to Bunny, and that there was a vent in Mabel’s apartment that went straight to Bunny’s. So, even though Mabel said, “It’s not how it looks,” just before the police busted in and arrested all three, those are some very interesting notes to go out on. 

A few other questions remain: Why did Tim Kono break up with Jan? Did Sting really poison Oliver’s dog? And, who canceled the toxicology screening after Tim’s presumed suicide? Some of these may never be answered, but there are plenty of connections for the trio to work with in Season 2 … assuming they’re innocent. In the meantime, Only Murders in the Building is streaming as one of the Hulu new releases, if you want to go back and search for any clues you missed, and be sure to check out our 2021 fall TV schedule to find another great show to watch. 

Heidi Venable

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.