13 Reasons Why is an American teen drama web television series developed for Netflix by Brian Yorkey, based on the 2007 novel Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. The series revolves around seventeen-year-old high school student, Clay Jensen, and his deceased friend Hannah Baker, who takes her own life after having to face a culture of gossip, bullying and sexual assault at her high school and a lack of support from her friends, her family and her school.
A box of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah in the weeks preceding her suicide detail why she chose to end her life. The series is produced by July Moon Productions, Kicked to the Curb Productions, Anonymous Content and Paramount Television, with Yorkey and Diana Son serving as showrunners.
Dylan Minnette stars as Clay Jensen, while Katherine Langford plays Hannah Baker. Christian Navarro, Alisha Boe, Brandon Flynn, Justin Prentice, Miles Heizer, Ross Butler, Devin Druid, Amy Hargreaves, Derek Luke, Kate Walsh, and Brian d’Arcy James also star. A film from Universal Pictures based on Thirteen Reasons Why began development in February 2011, with Selena Gomez set to star as Hannah, before being shelved in favor of a television series and Netflix ordering the first season in October 2015, with Gomez instead serving as an executive producer.
Take a look below for our list of 10 of the best characters from 13 Reasons Why.
1. Jeff Atkins
Jeff is the person who sticks up for the little guy and people who don’t have a voice of their own. He is more of a leader and a person who isn’t afraid to voice an opinion. Even though he was a jock and friends with some of the people who were, in a way, mocking and ridiculing, to Clay, he took a different route. Jeff is arguably one of the only decent high schoolers at Liberty High. Instead of bullying, he takes a vested interest in Clay’s happiness and well-being.
Jeff’s genuine personality makes you fall in love with him. His kindness is sometimes exploited by other characters, but everyone values Jeff’s good-natured spirit, as it often brings happiness to others, something Jeff strives to accomplish regularly.
Tony is shown to be a kind, caring, and loyal person. He is shown to be a good friend to Clay and was also a good friend to Hannah and was one of the only boys at Liberty High who did not ridicule her or sexually harass her. While he claims that Hannah was a friend, Tony himself admits that she was a bit too much to deal with and on the day she killed herself he wanted to avoid her drama for once and did not answer the door and just let her walk away after she arrived to give him the tapes and as such let her walk away to her death.
Tony is shown to extremely remorseful for what he did by ignoring Hannah and as such is shown to be dedicated to fulfilling her final wishes to deliver the tapes to all those on her list that she reveals are the reasons for why she ended her life. He is also very close to Hannah’s family and no doubt wants to help them in any way possible. While not on Hannah’s list at all, Tony considers himself to be one of the reasons why she killed herself. He is very comforting as well as he reaches out to Clay during his grief over Hannah’s death.
However Tony is shown to be a little too dedicated to his mission to follow Hannah’s wishes as instead of turning the tapes over to Hannah’s parents or the police he instead delivers it to the people on her list as she wanted which has caused many disasters to occur such as Alex becoming suicidal and attempting to kill himself and Tyler being bullied to an extent so great that he seems to be planning a school shooting. Even though he is well aware of Bryce’s crimes, he still refuses to cease following Hannah’s rules and expose the tapes to the public as he claims that the word of a dead girl will not be enough to bring Bryce to justice.
He also disagrees with some of Clay’s plans for revenge against some of those on the list such as spreading a humiliating photo of Tyler to the whole school. Tony is shown to be capable of physical aggression as Clay once witnesses him savagely beating up someone along with his brothers. He even lies to Hannah’s mother a few times about knowing anything about why she killed herself simply to follow Hannah’s rules.
By the end of the first season however, and after Clay is able to get a confession from Bryce, Tony finally understands that it is better to think about what Hannah needs rather than what she wanted and gives up copies of her tapes to her parents in the hopes that they will be able to help get justice for Hannah’s death.
3. Justin Foley
Justin, despite his mistakes, is shown to care about those he loves. He shows how much he cares about Jessica throughout and regrets the mistakes he made. He even shows concern for his troubled mother and seems to want her to be free of her abusive boyfriend, though she in return does not show much care or loyalty towards Justin.
Justin is also quite irrational and short-tempered and is shown to be extremely arrogant and cruel when he wants to be. He does not appear to show much remorse for what he did to Hannah and insults her numerous times after her death, claiming she was a crazy drama queen and a liar who just “killed herself for attention”. Like a majority of the others on Hannah’s list he is shown to be willing to resort to extreme measures to hide the tapes and even at one point suggests they kill Clay and stage it as a suicide in order to prevent him from revealing the tapes and also intimidates him alongside Alex and Zach and threatens that he will physically assault him if he has to.
Justin is even shown to be angered at Clay for the simple reason that he is the only person on Hannah’s list who is not considered one of the reasons why she killed herself but just part of her story. He even tries to convince him that he is not as innocent as Hannah claims, though this is completely false as Hannah makes it clear Clay’s name does not belong on her list, unlike Justin and the others who are guilty of horrible things and are responsible for Hannah’s suicide. This is evident that Justin is afraid of the potential consequences of his actions and is desperate to protect himself and the others he cares about on the list from having their lives destroyed.
It is possible however that his primary motivation for hiding the tapes is simply so that Jessica can be spared the pain of truly learning that she was raped by Bryce and that he allowed it to happen but when the truth comes out to Jessica at the end, he shows his softer side and meets breaking point. He regrets lying to Jessica about Bryce raping her but genuinely felt as though he was doing the best thing to protect her. When Bryce sends the photo of Hannah around the school he does try to stop him, although he laughs it off and does nothing to help Hannah escape the humiliation she suffered as a result of the photo.
He depended a lot on Bryce in the beginning, so he goes along with many of the things he does, whether he is sure of it or not, and says, as not to seem ungrateful. It is because of his gratitude and appreciation of/to Bryce that Justin allows Bryce to control him as seen when Justin allows Bryce to rape Jessica in which Bryce reminds him; “What’s mine is yours, right?” to which Justin simply allows him to enter the bedroom. After letting him in, he tries to pull him off but Bryce pushes him out the door. And before letting him in the guards the door to protect Jessica.
After revealing to Jessica that Bryce did rape her, after consistently convincingly lying to her, Jessica is angry at him, telling him “I hate you” after slapping him. Justin is shown to be completely broken-hearted after Jessica breaks up with him and even more so after she tells him that she never wants to see him again even after he offers to kill Bryce with his hands and face the consequences of murder. At the end of the season, it is not known where Justin is, he doesn’t choose to stay at his mother’s, and since he has nowhere known to stay–usually he stays at Bryce’s house but he despises Bryce now and wants nothing to do with him–he seems to be homeless.
4. Alex Standall
Alex, despite having a minor reason for being on the tapes, is greatly emphasized throughout the series. He is a bright, kind and caring person who is willing to accept responsibility for his actions. However Alex is somewhat selfish as he deliberately helped make a list in order to get revenge against Jessica for refusing to have sex with him, and in the process destroyed Hannah’s friendship with Jessica and completely humiliated her and led her to be sexually harassed by the jocks in the school.
He even appeared to enjoy the popularity he received as a result of making the list and becoming liked by the more popular crowd. When she was alive, Alex appeared to show little remorse for what he did to Hannah and never attempted to rectify the situation between her and Jessica, nor did he apologize for the humiliation he caused her.
After Hannah’s suicide, however, Alex is shown to be well aware that his actions are indeed part of what led to her suicide and is shown to be completely devastated over her death and hates himself for destroying his friendship with Hannah, her friendship with Jessica and his relationship with Jessica. Unlike a majority of the others on Hannah’s list, Alex shows genuine remorse and is willing, to tell the truth about his actions and claims that Hannah was his friend and that they should not lie about her.
While he helps to intimidate Clay once along with Zach and Justin, Alex tells the others on the list to leave Clay alone numerous times and does not agree with plans to silence him and claims that he and the others deserve what is coming to them. He is also disgusted at the group’s willingness to hide the tapes and lie about their actions and to also suggest hiding behind Bryce in order to escape punishment for their actions and he claims that the one thing that is worse than being a rapist is hiding behind one. Despite his remorse, Alex still does not choose to expose the truth of Hannah’s death to the public and maintains his loyalty to the others on Hannah’s list possibly due to being afraid of reprisals by them.
As a result of Hannah’s death, Alex is shown to be filled with complete rage as seen when he gets into a brutal fight with Montgomery and is shown to now be suicidal himself as he nearly drowns himself in Bryce’s pool and later shoots himself in the head as a result of his immense guilt.
5. Zach Dempsey
Zach is shown to be a kind hearted person and a good friend to those around him though he is also extremely cruel and uncaring to a degree. Like the other jocks at Liberty High he is somewhat shown to be a bully and disrespectful towards girls as he himself admits during his deposition that he said insulting things about Hannah. He is physically aggressive to as he threatened Tyler he would break his arm if he didn’t leave him and the others on the tapes alone at lunch and is shown to have a temper as seen after Hannah rejected him and his help. Zach is also inconsiderate of how his actions effect others. When he began bullying/slut shaming Hannah he may have see it as all fun and games, but he did not take into consideration how Hannah may have felt due to the betrayal she suffered from Justin Foley, Jessica Davis, or Alex Standall.
In spite of the other jocks, Zach appears to shown concern for the feelings of others as he tried to cheer Hannah up after Marcus humiliated her on their valentines date though he himself insulted her while trying to tell her she was the valentine he himself hoped for and as result led him to cruelly torturing Hannah by stealing the positive notes that she strongly desired getting which ultimately broke her spirit.
Zach is shown to be selfish like a majority of the others on Hannah’s list and is willing to keep the tapes a secret to protect himself and even claims that Hannah was too much to deal with and that she screwed up her own life and even though he was well aware that Hannah was calling out for help after stealing her notes for weeks, he did nothing to help her. He is shown to be in agreement with the plans to keep Clay from ratting them all out to and participated in intimidating him along with Alex and Justin. However he is also one of the few people who is civil to Clay as after the latter took revenge against him after hearing his tape, he only forgave him and admitted the truth.
In spite of this Zach is not completely heartless and Alex even once says to him that he is simply an entitled idiot who does cruel stupid things while on the inside has a decent heart. He even kept the note that Hannah personally wrote to him (despite her belief that he threw it out) and during his deposition admits that Hannah was indeed bullied at school and that he took part in it as well, possibly showing he is willing to admit the truth.
6. Clay Jensen
Clay is shown to be a somewhat socially awkward person, however, he is an overall very caring, intelligent and honest person who is a good friend to those around him and a decent person. He was shown to have had a crush on Hannah Baker though was never able to tell her directly that he loved her. While he treated Hannah well and had a good friendship with her, he himself mistreated her on a few occasions such as hurting her feelings after seeing the photograph that Justin took of her that was spread around the school and coldly telling her off after she tried talking to him about Jeff’s death. Clay’s eventual coldness towards her was apparently so great that during her meeting with Mr. Porter, Hannah claimed that she thought Clay hated her.
In spite of this, Clay is shown to be devastated by Hannah’s death and when he is given her tapes, he is shown to be horrified upon learning of the reasons why she killed herself. He becomes disgusted at the actions of the people on her list, and develops a strong hatred for some of them, notably Justin, Tyler and Bryce. He slowly begins to become more and more “unstable”, hallucinating things such as punching Zach or Hannah’s dead body covered in blood in the middle of the basketball court.
Clay’s hallucinations also show events that haven’t actually happened, such as in Tape 1, Side A, in which Clay hallucinates the kiss between Hannah and Justin turn into something more based on the rumor that Hannah is a “Slut” and in Tape 3, Side A, in which Clay hallucinates a scenario in which he dances with Hannah at the Winter Formal but is stopped once Hannah’s wrist begin to bleed which is a symbol of her suicide. This is likely due to survivor’s guilt a symptom of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), as a result of listening to the tapes and learning the truth.
Throughout listening to the tapes, Clay becomes notably colder and also becomes angered at any sign of disrespect towards Hannah, notably seen when he gets angered at his old friend Skye for calling Hannah a coward. Clay even becomes a bully to a degree upon learning of the reasons for Hannah’s suicide as he deliberately takes a picture of Tyler naked and spreads it around the school for revenge of what he did to Hannah and Courtney and brings Courtney to Hannah’s grave in an attempt to hurt her for her actions against Hannah and also keying Zach’s car. He does, however, appreciate those who actually feel remorse for their actions towards Hannah, notably Alex and Tony and later Jessica and Sheri when she takes responsibly for her actions.
However he is strongly disgusted that a majority of the people on Hannah’s list choose to hide Bryce’s crimes and Jessica’s rape, and even becomes aggressive towards his best friend Tony. At one point (after he and Zach catch Hannah in a brief lie on the tapes) he briefly even considers abandoning the tapes and going about things normally however he completely snaps in front of new foreign exchange students and shows his disgust at the people who treated Hannah like shit and the school itself for trying to remove responsibly from itself and vows that no matter what, the truth about Hannah’s death and all those responsible will come out. Even though the others on Hannah’s last attempt to sabotage him and try and intimidate him into keeping quiet, Clay refuses to give up showing his determination of avenging Hannah’s death.
After listening to his tape, Clay is shown to be even more devastated even though Hannah firmly states that his name does not belong on her list and claims that he in fact left Hannah the night of Jessica’s party (in which they almost had sex) because he was scared and as a result claims this was the beginning of the events that led to Hannah’s death such as Jessica being raped and Hannah witnessing it and Sheri knocking down the stop sign that ultimately led to Jeff’s death and declares that he killed Hannah and even contemplates suicide for a moment by jumping off a cliff. His guilt is exemplified later when he declares himself to be “Number 11” after confronting Mr. Porter. He is shown to be saddened that he cost a girl her life because he was afraid to love her and his hallucination depicting what he wanted to say to Hannah that night further shows how badly he wants to correct his mistake.
Clay is now shown to be strongly determined to get justice for Hannah’s death and Jessica’s rape as he personally coerces Bryce to confess to the deed after he provokes him into assaulting him in an attempt to get him punished for his actions and openly says that he wants him to pay for what he did. He tells Tony that it is better to pursue what Hannah and Jessica need, which is justice against Bryce rather than following her wishes of sending the tapes to all those on her list, showing his care for both of them. He has developed an even kinder side as he reaches out to Skye again in an attempt to not repeat the mistake of not being there for someone who needs help and friendship like Hannah was.
7. Hannah Baker
Hannah was shown being sardonic, quick-witted and outgoing, accompanied with a sarcastic sense of humor. Funny, easy-going, kind, displaying good self-esteem, and likes to meet people and make friends, Hannah is extroverted and thoughtful. Though she had some defects too: the inability to be aware of others’ true intentions, had a “horrible taste in guys” (as former friend Kat repeatedly said), and was a tad overly-melodramatic. But as the events–the “reasons” why she killed herself–begin to unfold she shifts unconsciously, changing into a more edgy, keep-to-self kind of person. This reflects her mental health and emotional state as she believed her life had no worth. Before her death, she became suicidal, quiet, reserved and closed.
When she was first introduced in the series, she had long, wavy brown hair as a sophomore, and blue eyes. Her stance was straight, and her clothes were “boho” style yet girly. We seldom see her with any more makeup as to think it was nothing more than natural. Her wearing boots (booties and to-the-calf boots), beanies, jackets (denim and moto), and otherwise keeping it quite minimalistic, those being her signature style accessories.
By the start of junior year, she had her long hair cut shorter and hoped to start anew, hoping to leave her old “class slut” self behind in the past. Her style also takes an important, 180-degree turn here, with her mostly wearing only jeans, tees, and boots, externalizing the change in herself that showed how desperately she wanted someone to notice and help her, to do something about the long-caged sorrow she didn’t quite understand herself.
8. Jessica Davis
Jessica is shown to be a fierce, kind and caring person who is a good friend and loving, supportive girlfriend, however she is also somewhat arrogant, selfish and cruel at times. She was a good friend to Hannah when they first started at Liberty High however after Alex broke up with her, she wrongfully accused Hannah of being responsible for the breakup and arrogantly refused to listen to her about Alex making the list on his own, she slapped her and called her a slut which coldly ended their friendship and completely broke Hannah’s heart. However the real reason they broke up was because Jessica refused to have sex with Alex and so he decided to humiliate her on a hot or not list, Hannah was labelled as ‘best ass’ and Jessica was labelled as ‘worst ass’.
Jessica makes herself known to be aggressive for the first time when she slaps Hannah and calls her a slut, she shows her aggression once again after learning that Justin didn’t stop Bryce from raping her, by slapping him. Even though she drunkenly apologized to Hannah once about slapping her, she still did not take Hannah back as a friend and abandoned her, she is shown to be verbally aggressive to Hannah once again when she tells Hannah to not be a bitch, as she thinks she is jealous of her and Justin, when Hannah is actually trying to just tell her that she was raped by Bryce (back when she isn’t aware and Hannah is alive).
She initially does not appear to show much remorse for what she did to Hannah and does not believe what Hannah says on the tapes to be true, calling her a liar and chooses to believe Justin that she was not raped. She even tells Clay that Hannah is the one who ended their friendship and stopped coming to Monet’s, completely ignoring that she is the one who ended it, showing that she is a hypocrite.
She is also shown to be in agreement with keeping the tapes a secret and also with the plans to keep Clay from revealing the tapes. However although she denies Hannah’s revelations, Jessica is shown to be mentally and emotionally damaged as a result of being raped by Bryce and even though she denies that it happened she starts to have flashbacks of the rape, so to help with her pain jumps into alcohol.
However after learning from Justin that Bryce did indeed rape her and that he allowed it, she is shown to be angered, shocked and betrayed and tells Justin that she hates him and ends their relationship. She then turns her back on all those on Hannah’s list who tried to convince her that Hannah was lying and shows appreciation to Clay for being the only one who tried to tell her the truth.
After learning of her rape, Jessica is shown to be remorseful for what she did to Hannah and admits during her deposition that she slapped her, however she still denies the existence of the tapes in order to ensure that no one else finds out about her rape, though she tells Clay not to destroy them either and possibly wants to somehow get revenge against Bryce, even though she isn’t yet sure about what that is or how to get it. Even after Justin offers to kill Bryce for what he did, Jessica refuses to take him back and claims that she never wants to see Justin again.
Jessica is now a very emotionally damaged person and completely traumatized, however she does reveal to her father about what happened to her.
In the second season, Jessica struggles to cope with her rape. After she returns to school, she finds out that people think she is a slut, as Bryce has lied to the student body, convincing them that he and Jessica hooked up one night, and she called it rape because she felt bad about cheating on Justin. She lashes out at Chloe when she tries to be nice to Jessica but makes it clear she believes Bryce. She finds solace in her friendships with Alex, and Nina Jones, who she later finds out is another rape survivor.
Despite this, it appears she is not ready to move on, as she shares a kiss with Alex but becomes frightened when things start to get more intimate, and later has a panic attack while shopping with Nina, also later finding out that Nina, despite being through the worst part of the aftermath of her rape, is still not completely over it, as she was unwilling to talk about what bothered her with her boyfriend and later cheated on him. She is still mad at Justin for what he did, and goes against him and Clay when they want to give the polaroids found at the Clubhouse to the police.
Later, after Clay, Alex, Justin, Courtney, Ryan and Zach support her, she agrees to go to the police, along with Justin, and tells them the truth. She is very disappointed when Bryce is found guilty, but only given three months probation. She officially gets back together with Alex, and attends the Spring Fling with him, but later hooks up with Justin in the locker room, showing that she has forgiven him for his actions.
9. Sheri Holland
Sheri is portrayed as a sweet and kind student, who often looks out for Clay and Hannah throughout the series. However, she is shown to sometimes lack consideration when she feels she is in a vulnerable position and needs to defend herself as shown when she abandons Hannah and refuses to call the cops after the accident. She is shown to be extremely cowardly and selfish to a degree as she agrees keeping Hannah’s tapes a secret though unlike the majority of the others on her list is not willing to resort to extreme measures to keep Clay quiet and genuinely is shown to care deeply about him.
She can arguably be seen as one of the least guilty culprits in indirectly causing Hannah Baker’s death as her decision to escape is a very much spur of the moment decision and she is shown to regret her actions throughout the rest of the series, owning up to her mistake and frequently visiting the old man that was involved in the accident. Eventually, she finally caves in as a result of her immense guilt and goes to the police herself and reveals what she did, showing that she is finally willing to accept responsibility for her actions.
10. Ryan Shaver
Ryan is shown to be a highly intelligent but also arrogant and selfish person. He seems to not care much about other’s feelings as he published the list in the school newspaper of Hannah having “the best ass” which completely humiliated her and later published her poem behind her back (though anonymous) and showed no remorse over it and claimed one day she would appreciate it. He even lied to Mr. Porter about how he obtained it, claiming someone slipped it into his locker and denies knowing it was Hannah’s showing that he is a complete liar.
Despite this, Ryan does not seem to be completely heartless and appears to be well aware that he did contribute to Hannah’s suicide and never lies about what he did (to the others on Hannah’s list at least). He appears disgusted that he and the other members on Hannah’s list hide Bryce, who raped Hannah and Jessica, just to save themselves, though it appears he is willing to use him as a scapegoat to escape punishment and also attempted to get Tony to give the tapes up. In spite of this, he lashes out numerous times against Courtney, who continuously says Hannah lied on the tapes, and is disgusted at her attitude of claiming Hannah lied about Bryce and everything on the tapes.
It is possible that this is due to disgust over Courtney’s unwillingness to admit she is a lesbian, as he is openly gay. He also seems to believe that what he did to Hannah was minimal as he claims all he did was publish a poem and does not appear to be afraid if the truth about Hannah’s death is exposed and appears to believe that he will not face any severe punishments. However, by this time Mr. Porter has already told him he is no longer allowed to publish the Lost and Found, so if he had not already lost it, his opinion might have been different.