The hugely successful Netflix show 13 Reasons Why has courted controversy since its inception—literally, the book it was adapted from has been challenged and banned in multiple school districts—but of course, that didn’t stop the cast and creators from rolling out an additional three seasons. (Each of which drew its own fair share of scandal.)
Now, Netflix says it’s officially throwing in the towel, and the fourth season, which debuted on June 5, will be the last. One might think all the criticism and damning reports might have brought about the show’s demise, but it turns out the answer’s a little simpler. Here’s what we know about any rumors of a season five—and why the showrunners are shutting that idea down.
So it’s pretty unlikely that the end of 13 Reasons Why has anything to do with its controversy.
Adapted from the best-selling book by Jay Asher, the show was originally conceived as a single series adaptation following teenager Hannah Baker’s suicide and the tapes she left behind, each of which detail her reasons for ending her life. Hannah’s death scene in the first season’s finale was so graphic that it was eventually edited out of the finale altogether…two years after its release.
According to the New Yorker, Dan Reidenberg, the executive director of Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, advised Netflix not to release the series in the first place. But, uh, Netflix went ahead with the production anyway, arguing the show would be “a catalyst for conversation.”
Instead, a study from the National Institute of Mental Health displayed a shocking statistic: The show was “associated with a 28.9 percent increase in suicide rates among U.S. youth ages 10 to 17 in the month (April 2017) following the show’s release.” The New Yorker clarified that association does not denote causality, and another study showed that suicide risk actually decreased for those who watched the show through the end of the second season. Still, the article notes that “suicide contagion has been observed for centuries,” and 13 Reasons Why could very well have fanned the flames.
Of course, the debate didn’t stop there. A sexual assault scene in season two and a redemptive arc of Hannah’s rapist, Bryce Walker, in season three stoked plenty of scandal. There was also an attempted school shooting, addiction, ICE deportations, multiple homicides, and a graphic scene of one character sodomizing another with a mop handle. Then, after season four depicted a student dying from AIDS, fans took to Twitter to announce their frustration.
Throughout it all, cast and creators have defended their actions as important conversation starters—and kept going with more seasons.
But the real reason 13 Reasons Why is finally finished? Shrowrunner Brian Yorkey doesn’t think “high school shows” should last longer than actual high school.
In May, he told Entertainment Weekly he decided to end the show years ago while filming season 2, saying that graduation “felt like the logical ending point.”
“I’m always a little bit suspicious of high school shows that go beyond four seasons because high school is four years long,” he told EW. “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.”
He later added, “I’d be very interested to see how some of these characters do at college but I love the idea also of leaving that up to all of our imaginations and making this a four-season high school show.”
Well, we know the show won’t come back because, um, I guess high school characters shouldn’t have their lives depicted past high school? But anyway, that doesn’t rule out the concept of a separate spin-off series.
Yet that’s unlikely too. Entertainment Tonight’s Katie Krause interviewed star Dylan Minnette (Clay Jensen) before the season four premiere, and she floated the idea of a potential spin-off. He literally laughed, saying, “I don’t even know what that would be.” Judging by that overwhelmingly enthusiastic endorsement, we can probably guess there’s no more Clay Jensen in our foreseeable future.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.