Spoiler Alert: ‘Firefly Lane’ Finale: Did Kate and Johnny Die in The Novel?

  • AUTHOR: anam
  • POSTED ON: February 8, 2021

Starring Sarah Chalke and Katherine Heigl, Netflix’s Firefly Lane is a roller coaster ride. The tale of female friendship will sometimes make you burst out in laughter, while other times it’ll have you reaching out for the tissue box.

The first season of the show follows two best friends, Tully Hart and Kate Mularkey from their early teen years to their forties. You bet we get to see all the twists and turns along the way. One of the greatest twists for the viewers, perhaps, is the season-ending with a funeral. It sure did leave us confused as to who has died.

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Before we go ahead and explore that further, here are some things you need to know about the ending of Firefly Lane:

What’s the Show About?

One of the most interesting facts about Firefly Lane is that it’s based on a novel of the same name. Written by Kristin Hannah in 2008, the book traces more than 30 years of friendship between two women.

The showrunner, Maggie Friedman said in an interview with Netflix that she was super excited to do this show when she found out that the book was centered on female friendship. “Your soulmate isn’t necessarily the person you marry or fall in love with. Maybe you’ll watch it, and afterwards, you’ll call your best friend and tell her you to love her.”

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The book is composed of 500 pages, so the 10-episode series hardly encompasses all the action. That said, the show has plot lines that don’t exist in the book. One of the examples for this is Max Brody, Tully’s love interest; he doesn’t exist in the book. Similarly, Kate and Johnny never file a divorce, and Sean has a less important role in the book.

Here’s one of the biggest differences between the novel and show:

The Book Ends with Kate Dying of Cancer, Unlike the Series

The ending of the show leaves many questions unanswered. The last episode features a funeral, making viewers think that Kate has passed away. However, it’s later revealed that it’s actually her father who has died, not Kate.

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We also see Kate and her husband, Johnny rekindle their relationship in the last episode after they had filed for divorce. Johnny, who is a war correspondent, then travels to Iran where a landmine goes off. He’s shown lying unconscious in the scene and it’s unclear so far if he’s survived, as he wasn’t present at the funeral.


This ending is very different from how the novel ends. Kate is diagnosed with Stage IV inflammatory breast cancer; during this time, Tully is traveling to Antarctica for a reporting trip. When she returns, she heads to Kate’s hospital straightaway where they repair their relationship before it’s too late.

Kate dies, but before she does, she suggests that Johnny and Tully should get together. This is when Johnny tells Kate exactly how he feels about Tully:

“Tully was a one-night stand a long time ago. I didn’t love her then and I never have. Not for a second. You’re my heart and soul. My world. How can you not know that?”

The final thing Kate does in the book is writing a letter to Tully, where she asks her to take care of Johnny and the kids after she’s gone. She asks Tully to tell the kids the stories of their friendship. “I know you’ll be thinking that I left you, but it’s not true. All you have to do is remember Firefly Lane, and you’ll find me. There will always be a TullyandKate,” she writes.

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The author, Hannah, said that Firefly Lane is a very personal book for her because when she was in law school, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. “I would go to see her every day after class and somehow one day I was complaining about one of my classes. She said, ‘Don’t worry about it, you’re going to be a writer anyway,” said Hannah in an interview with The University of Washington Magazine.

The actress who plays the younger version of Kate in the show, Roan Curtis said that she cried so hard reading the book. “Hannah is such a good writer. It feels so unfair, the way that Kate’s story ends,” she said.

The last episode of the series, however, in fact— the last few minutes— show Kate and Tully arguing. Kate is seen shouting at her friend saying, “When I said I could never forgive you for what you did. What did you think that meant?” It seems like Kate will not forgive Tully for whatever it is that she’s done.

The season comes to an end with Tully walking away.

While Netflix hasn’t made an official announcement regarding the renewal of Firefly Lane for season 2, we hope that it happens soon. We can’t wait to see how the rest of the story unfolds in the show.

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Updated February 8, 2021
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