Why Netflix’s One Day Kept The Tragic Ending Explained By Showrunner

The article contains major spoilers for One Day.


  • Showrunner Nicole Taylor explains why
    One Day
    ‘s tragic ending was kept, despite the desire to change it.
  • The decision to maintain the original ending was made to preserve the thematic and structural integrity of the story.
  • The aftermath of Emma’s death and its impact on Dexter and her friends were carefully considered and addressed in the adaptation.

One Day showrunner explains the decision not to change the novel’s tragic ending. Based on the novel by David Nicholls, which itself was made into an Anne Hathaway movie in 2011, Netflix’s One Day follows Emma (Ambika Mod) and Dexter (Leo Woodall) on the night of their graduation, July 15th, 1988. It’s on that night that the two meet, and the next morning, they go their separate ways. However, the bond they develop proves to be much longer-lasting.

In an interview with TheWrap, following the adaptation’s binge release on February 8, showrunner Nicole Taylor discussed the ending in detail and the decision to keep Emma’s death as a result of a bike accident. Although Taylor admitted that she understands the desire to “throw the book out the window,” she elaborated on her choice to keep the ending. Read her full comment below:

“I didn’t want to do that to her because I love her, and the audience does not want [that]. Everyone who read the book remembers how they felt when that happened. You just want to throw the book out the window.”

“There was a lot of thought. I went into this, wanting to reflect on and sort of interrogate whether that was still the ending that we wanted. I thought that was a reasonable thing to do. I was thinking about other endings, but fundamentally, that ending is stitched into the work as a whole. The story kind of has its own thematic integrity, it has its own structural integrity. I feel like the overall meaning of the piece requires that, and I felt like any changing of the ending would be gratuitous and undermine the overall impact of the piece so I think it was the right thing to have a good think about it, question it and not just take it as given.”

“What I did do was spend a lot of time thinking about Episode 14 and how we deal with the aftermath, so I feel good about how we’ve done it because we put a lot of thought into the aftermath for Dexter and how he deals with it and all her friends.”

“I opened it and I read it in one sitting and it was just, ‘Oh my goodness,’ this is just as good if not better than I remember it. And I just felt that this is a British contemporary classic. What an opportunity to tell an episodic novel in an episodic way, to me it felt like such a perfect opportunity. Netflix was giving us [free reign]: ‘Tell the story in as many episodes as you need to tell the story.’. So for me, I just wanted to make a very faithful adaptation to the book and also to really capture the characters, especially Emma because she’s such a she’s so close to my heart. I really identify with her, pretty much everyone I know identifies with her, especially women. So I just wanted to really write the hell out of that character and do justice to David’s book.”

Why The One Day Series Earns Its Brutal Ending

So often with book adaptations, the intrigue is not in what happens but how it happens and how it’s brought to life. The romance drama more than passes the test in that regard. With One Day earning strongly positive reviews from audiences and critics, the Netflix adaptation gives the cast time to make the characters their own. Woodall is worlds away from the character he played in The White Lotus season 2, and Mod is not near the character she plays in the hectic hospital drama This is Going to Hurt.


One Day Cast & Character Guide

Netflix’s miniseries One Day includes a number of lovable characters played by a cast of mostly phenomenal upcoming actors with a few big names too.

The series, which has Nichols executive producing, makes distinctive choices in its soundtrack filled with British needle drops. Some are familiar, and others might be less well-known, but they help to evoke emotion within the audience and place them right alongside the characters. Emma’s death hits hard, ultimately, because of Mod’s performance and what the show’s writers, directors, and Woodall do to help facilitate it. This explains why the Netflix version is better received than the movie version, with One Day having a high 91% on Rotten Tomatoes.

One Day‘s ending is also daring because the conclusion is fairly definitive as far as TV conclusions go. There could be a season 2 focused on other couples, with a similar storytelling structure, but the story of Emma and Dex has wrapped. As in the series itself, their story is about so much more than how it ended and everything along the way.

All episodes of
One Day
are on Netflix.

Source: TheWrap

One Day Netflix 2024 TV Poster

One Day (2024)

Release Date
February 8, 2024

Leo Woodall , Ambika Mod , Amber Grappy , Tim McInnerny , Jonny Weldon


Nicole Taylor , David Nicholls

David Nicholls

Molly Manners