Why 13 Reasons Why Is Ending With A Shortened Season 4 On Netflix

Matt Heizer, Josh Butler, Dylan Minnette and Amy Hargreaves in 13 Reasons Why
(Image credit: (Netflix))

It’s almost time to say goodbye to Liberty High School. The fourth and final season of 13 Reasons Why is dropping on Netflix next month, but there’s a shift from the norm. Instead of thirteen episodes corresponding to the show’s title, there are just ten episodes left in the controversial teen drama. Why the break in tradition? 13 Reasons Why showrunner Brian Yorkey had this to say:

It served the story better, and 10 episodes ended up being the sweet spot for us. I think 10 episodes is a nice length for a season. I was adamant going into Season 2 that it had to be 13 because the show’s called 13 Reasons Why and if I’m a young viewer, I’m like, 13 Reasons Why but there’s only 10 episodes.’ But at this point, heading into season 4 it was like, ‘We’ve given them 39 reasons why at least, so I feel like we can say, yes the show is still called 13 Reasons Why, this season is 10 episodes.’ It’s the right number, you’ll see that when we get to the end.

Television showrunners regularly faced a specific schedule to fill network lineups before streaming came along. Although it may surprise fans of 13 Reasons Why to find themselves at the very end of the series at episode 10, Brian Yorkey assured EW that it’s for a specific reason.

When the series released its first season in 2017, it was meant to be a one-off that would adapt Jay Asher’s 2007 novel. But once Brian Yorkey got attached to the characters, he mapped out a four-season arc for them. When asked about his decision to close out the series here, Yorkey said this:

I’m always a little bit suspicious of high school shows that go beyond four seasons because high school is four years long. So when somehow high school shows become seven and eight seasons long, don’t get me wrong I watch them all, but I tend to get a little suspicious of something that began as a high school show. And it felt like bringing these characters to their graduation and to scattering to their next things felt like the logical ending point. So for a long time, the idea has been, should we be so lucky to have the opportunity, we would do four seasons of this. So certainly going into breaking story for season 4, we knew it was the end.

13 Reasons Why feels like a story inherently told within the walls of Liberty High School. Once the students graduate this season, it’s the perfect time to say goodbye to them. Although the showrunner is also curious how their lives will progress in their college years, he felt it was a question best left to the imagination of viewers even if this one of the most popular original Netflix shows.

13 Reasons Why began by telling the story of Katherine Langford’s Hannah Baker and uncovering her decision to commit suicide through a series of cassette tapes, then later seasons went into the aftermath the high school faced following her loss. The second season dealt with an attempted school shooting, while last season complicated things with the murder of jock and sexual predator Bryce Walker.

As things were left, Monty was framed for the murder Bryce and then killed in jail. Coming into Season 4, we’ll have to see how things unfold as 13 Reasons Why comes to an end. Netflix released this teaser of the fourth and final season on Monday:

13 Reasons Why drops on Netflix on June 5. Are you excited to see how the series ends? Share your theories and comments below.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.