Dead to Me Season 3 Ending Explained

Dead to Me wraps up three seasons of death, deception, and devotion with a series finale that puts a definitive end to Jen and Judy’s journey.

Jen Harding (Christina Applegate) and Judy Hale (Linda Cardellini) in Dead to Me season 3
Photo: Netflix

This article contains spoilers for Dead to Me season 3.

Dead to Me is a dark comedy that’s worked as well as it has because of the effortless chemistry between its two leads, Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini, as Jen Harding and Judy Hale. These two frazzled friends have accrued a growing list of felonies in each other’s name and the show’s third and final season practically drowns in all of the secrets and lies that are in motion. However, Dead to Me’s final year is also very much a season about forgiveness and the importance of closure. This touching, tragic comedy comes full-circle as its poignant story about grief helps Judy, Jen, and Ben all mourn different individuals in their own ways as they properly move on.  

Season three of Dead to Me begins with Jen and Judy on the mend and finishes with them on the run as they process the unprecedented changes in their lives. Judy’s stage-four cervical cancer and the tightening noose around Jen’s neck regarding Steve’s death leave both characters terrified. Their rough lots in life also highlight the enduring power of friendship and how it can erase any pain. Jen, Judy, and even Ben learn to let go of their burdens, live their lives, and heal together as a community. Dead to Me’s third season puts these themes and characters to rest, but there are still some major revelations that come forward in the final episodes that are likely to fuel debates among fans.

Does Jen Get Caught For Killing Steve?

Dead to Me unleashes new secrets each season, but the comedy’s cornerstone lie involves Jen’s murder of Steve–the husband of Judy and brother of Ben. The ripple effects of this murder continue to develop this season, especially after Steve’s body is discovered at the end of season two. Jen’s situation appears to get much worse once her unusual murder weapon is discovered by Ben, only to later get destroyed by Judy, once and for all. The lack of a weapon, combined with the surveillance footage that gets deleted off of Karen’s Cloud, leaves Jen in the clear. However, it takes Judy’s selfless sacrifice to finally close the case for good.

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Does Judy Get Back Together With Michelle?

The bond between Judy and Jen is the foundation of Dead to Me, but another recurring relationship that’s explored is Judy’s budding romance with Natalie Morales’ Michelle. Dead to Me’s second season ends with Judy and Michelle on shaky ground, but Judy’s terminal cancer diagnosis becomes the catalyst in their reconciliation. Some of the sweetest moments in season three come out of Judy and Michelle’s time together and their larger meditations on second chances. These heart-filled moments don’t miraculously cure Judy, but she receives closure with not just Michelle, but also her mother. These are emotional breakthroughs that would have previously seemed impossible.

Does Jen Get Back Together With Ben?

Judy and Michelle get some much-needed alone time together this season and Jen is able to receive similar satisfaction with Ben. There’s a staggering amount of history between these two even before Jen learns that Ben is the one who’s responsible for hitting her with his car. It’s much easier for Jen to look past such a discretion after she realizes that she’s pregnant with Ben’s child. To be fair, all of this drama is more than enough to kill any relationship so it’s heartwarming when it brings these two lost souls together. Jen’s pregnancy gives her a renewed reason to fight for her freedom.

Does Ben Get Caught For His Hit-And-Run With Jen?

So much of Dead to Me focuses on Jen and Judy’s many acts of deception, but in season three there’s just as much subterfuge that comes from Ben. Dead to Me has allowed Judy and Jen to avoid capture and instead receive torture through their own internal prisons. This season takes a different approach with Ben, who increasingly crumbles under the weight of his alcoholism and pleads guilty to his crimes. 

Ben does time for his drunk driving  and he becomes a valuable case study in how some people benefit the most from facing the music and paying for their crimes. Ben’s following admission of love to Jen is even sweeter since he doesn’t know what his future holds. Ben is one of the few characters in Dead to Me who does the time for his crime and he’s rewarded with a loving family.  Whether he’s able to live happily ever after with Jen is ultimately going to come down to his own ability to forgive and forget.

Do Jen And Judy Flee To Mexico To Get Away From The Greek Mafia And The Police?

A new threat that arrives in Dead to Me’s final season is Garrett Dillahunt’s FBI Agent, Glenn Moranis. Dillahunt’s presence always improves a comedy and his FBI Agent investigates Steve’s death. Moranis questions Jen over her real estate history with the victim, in addition to Steve’s connection to the Greek mafia and the money that he took from them. Agent Moranis is intimidating on paper, but he’s more of an ancillary obstacle in comparison to the emotional and psychological guilt that weighs down on Jen and Judy. The same is true for the Greek mafia, who target Jen and Judy because they know that they’ve been talking to the FBI and they assume the worst. Fortunately, all that it takes to force these organized criminals to retreat is for Judy to go all “Bitch Cassidy” and shoot at them.

When push comes to shove, Judy attempts to take the fall for Jen’s crime because she already has a terminal life sentence. This is Judy’s grand gesture to give them both a way out and secure a future for Jen. It’s touching proof of how much Judy has grown, but Jen is determined to find a solution where none of them have to give up and Judy can be there for Jen’s daughter. Jen successfully pleads to Detective Ana Perez to give Judy three weeks to undergo the clinical trial and get a chance at becoming healthy before she goes away to prison. 

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Perez grants Judy this luxury and after she experiences humanity’s infinite capacity for kindness she and Jen decide to flee to Mexico. They embrace the mantra that “life should be a permanent vacation,” which makes for a fun finale, but it’s unsurprisingly an unsustainable dream. Judy implores Jen to get back to America and live her real life, with her family, rather than hide in this delusion. In their final moments together, Judy gets to be the mature one.

Does Ben Find Out That Jen Killed His Brother?

Jen bravely returns home by herself, but Judy’s spirit remains close by. It’s a bittersweet conclusion, but Judy’s death is about as positive as it can be. She’s able to make peace with all of the important relationships in her life and leave the world feeling genuinely loved and more whole than when Dead to Me began. Judy’s loss is done in part so that Jen can have an easy future. Audiences get a glimpse of this as Jen relaxes with her family, which now includes Ben and their recent daughter, Joey. 

In the series’ final moments, Jen decides to finally come clean to Ben about her role in Steve’s death. She jeopardizes all of her happiness for the sake of a clear conscience and the ability to give Ben closure and properly process his grief. It’s a thrilling decision, but Dead to Me cuts to black before Ben’s reaction is revealed. Despite this major transgression it’s likely that after everything these two have been through that Ben still leans towards forgiveness. Jen forgave him for the car crash, after all. Neither Jen or Ben are perfect and they’ve both got a lot of work to do on themselves, but this epilogue at least depicts a version of this couple where that feels possible. 

That being said, it’s significant that Dead to Me leaves its audience on an unresolved note. This conclusion holds back answers, but this shouldn’t be misconstrued as a cliffhanger. On the contrary, Dead to Me has always been about the unpredictable nature of the universe and how hard it is to live in a world where you don’t have all the answers or any of the power. Dead to Me’s big finish stays true to itself. It concludes its story and closes the book on the “Saga of Jen and Judy,” but it wouldn’t feel right without some sort of uncertainty that’s left to hang over the audience’s heads. That’s life. It’s not easy, but after three seasons Dead to Me has hopefully given the audience the necessary tools to get through it and embrace the unknown.

All three seasons of Dead to Me are now streaming on Netflix.