Netflix’s Firefly Lane leaves its viewers wondering who dies throughout its first season with an ominous funeral looming over the characters. The mystery is not revealed until the very last episode.
The first guess is obviously Tully, given her self-destructive ways. Then, those who have read the books thought it was Kate who had probably died (spoiler—Kate dies at the end of the book). Then there were those who thought it was Johnny who dies as a war correspondent. However, I didn’t come close to guessing the correct answer.
So, who did die at the end of Firefly Lane? Keep reading to get surprised!
1. Did Tully Die at the End of Season 1?
The first person suspected dead on the show had to be Tully, because we see Kate and her daughter Marah in mourning. Kate is severely depressed by this death—so much so, that Marah helps her get dressed, and drives her to the funeral.
A passing comment made by Kate to Marah, “She [referring to Tully] would have known how to do this,” further fueled my fear of the worst—was Tully the one who died?
However, this (perhaps deliberate) confusion is finally cleared up in the last episode, when Tully pulls up to attend the funeral herself. Not only is she alive, but the Firefly Lane girls appear to have had a falling out, and Kate is unwilling to even look at Tully.
2. Does Kate Die in Firefly Lane Season 1?
When I was just halfway through the season, I made the mistake of Googling one of the actors (rookie mistake!) and started seeing rumors of an important character of Firefly Lane dying. My mind instantly jumped to wondering, “Wait a sec, could it be Kate?! That would definitely be a crazy plot twist.”
If you, like me, are here because you’re wondering the same thing, you can breathe. Soon after, the show has Kate and Marah heading to and attending the funeral together, which is clearly difficult for both of them. It is evident that the person whose funeral it is must have been dear to them both and also that Kate is thankfully alive and well!
However, the rumor of Kate’s death could be rooted in the fact that in the books, Kate dies. The book ends with Kate’s death, but not before she mends her friendship with Tully. So, it is possible the show will follow in the book’s footsteps in the coming seasons. But by end of the first season, Kate is the one mourning at someone else’s funeral, and is still alive.
3. Did Johnny Die in the Explosion in Iraq?
Another important person common to Kate and Marah is Johnny. Could Johnny have died? After shown working in Iraq as an embedded reporter, Johnny gets caught in an explosion while traveling through the war zone. He is thrown to the ground and falls unconscious, after which we are left in suspense for his fate.
So, naturally, I assumed the worst. But thankfully, there was no depiction of his death. If we go by the golden rule of television, “If they didn’t die on-screen, they’re not dead”, then Johnny is probably injured but alive.
4. Who Died at the End of Firefly Lane?
In what turns out to be a downer, the person who dies is Kate’s father, Bud Mularkey. This somewhat minor but still influential character often features in the 1970s timeline.
Bud has previously had a minor health scare on the show but he lives. In the 1980s, when Kate has been working at the local news station KPOC for a while, she receives news that her father has had a heart attack, which he survives.
Although it isn’t clear what exactly causes his death in 2005, it is possible that it may have been his heart, since he’d had a heart attack before.
5. Bud Mularkey and His Importance in the Show
Through his interactions with his wife and children, the show ensures that we get a well-rounded view of Bud.
In many ways, he behaves like a stereotypical American patriarch of the 1970s, leaving the housework to his wife and preferring to devote his time to his own interests instead, such as watching sports on television and observing the moon through his telescope.
However, we also hear of his love for his wife Margie and see him having tender moments with his daughter Kate.
As Margie tells Kate, she and Bud have a “mature love” that’s different from the kind one sees in romance novels and movies, and that speaks to the depth of Bud’s emotions.
Teenager Kate is shown to be pretty close to her father, with Bud affectionately calling her Katie Bear and exhibiting what Kate’s brother Sean perceives to be favoritism towards her.
Kate goes through a difficult time when she finds out that her mother is having an affair behind Bud’s back. The family is forced to confront the situation when Tully’s mother, Cloud, tactlessly blurts out before the whole family that she saw Kate’s mother Margie in town with some other man, and Bud and Margie have a terse exchange about it in Kate’s presence.
On the same night, Cloud and Bud get into a heated exchange where she comments on how the factory he works for manufactures weapons for the US, and Bud proudly defends the same by saying that it helps keep the country safe. He does not take kindly to what he perceives as Cloud coming into his home and insulting him.
Following this, Kate expresses doubts about whether her family is going to fall apart, but Bud affectionately assures her to the contrary. He also patiently assuages Kate’s doubts about whether he will now ask her to stop seeing Tully due to his altercation with Cloud, telling her that children shouldn’t be punished for what their parents do.
On the flip side of his tenderness, there is a more “tough guy” approach towards his son, Sean. He continually berates Sean for not achieving enough in life, urging him to join the Navy in the 1980s after Sean drops out of college and does not have any direction in life. Sean also feels that he is soft on his “Katie Bear” while being hard on him, which creates some resentment in his mind towards both Bud and Kate.
All in all, the show portrays Bud as perfectly human. He plays a role in shaping Kate’s personality, albeit differently from her mother, and we can see where she gets her humanity from.
So, in case the show follows the book and kills Kate, Bud’s death could serve as an event that breaks Kate on the inside. Maybe we are being prepared by the show writers for this tragedy in the future. Well, that remains to be seen.
6. About Firefly Lane
Firefly Lane is based on the eponymous novel by Kristin Hannah and has been adapted for Netflix by Maggie Friedman. The first season landed on the streaming platform in February 2021 and has quickly acquired a dedicated fanbase. While there is no official confirmation yet, Firefly Lane is all set to be renewed for another season.
The seies is a Netflix drama centered on the lives and friendship of two protagonists, Tully Hart and Kate Mularkey. The series follows their individual trials as well as the tests their friendship is put through right from their teenage years in the 1970s all the way up to their 40s.