The unique way 13 Reason Why's heartbreaking story is told makes for some seriously confusing timelines. While viewers are learning about Hannah's 13 reasons for taking her own life, Clay, Alex, Jessica, and the rest of the characters are dealing with the aftermath of her and their own actions in the present. If you were mostly able to tell whether a scene was in the past or present depending on whether Clay had a band-aid on his forehead or not, ahead we've laid out a timeline of all the events that led to Hannah's suicide straight through to everything that happens in the present and up to the final credits. The points don't align with episodes numbers; this is just the order everything happens in!
Note: major spoilers ahead!
- Hannah moves to town. Hannah attends a party where she's introduced to Justin Foley, a fellow sophomore whose smile compels her. The school year begins and Hannah is asked out to the park by Justin, where she has her first kiss with the flirty jock. Back at school, Justin implies that the pair went to "third base." Bryce Walker, Liberty High's star athlete, shares Justin's photo of Hannah's skirt blowing up with the whole school, thus creating a "slut" reputation for Hannah. Meanwhile, Clay Jensen, who works with Hannah at the local movie theatre, starts to develop a crush on her.
- Hannah meets Jessica and Alex. After being set up by the school guidance counsellor, Jessica and Hannah strike up a "hot chocolate friendship," meeting daily at the town cafe, Monet's, where they meet Alex. The three become fast friends, but as quickly as it began, it's ruined when Alex and Jessica begin dating and distancing themselves from Hannah, who's hurt when she discovers their secret. Jessica won't sleep with Alex, so he tries to make Jessica jealous with a "best of" list that awards Jessica "worst ass" and Hannah "best ass," furthering her bad reputation and causing Jessica to break up with him.
- Hannah discovers she has a stalker. Hannah begins to hear cameras clicking on the way home from school and outside her bedroom window. She enlists the help of Courtney Crimson to catch the stalker, who ends up being Tyler Down. The pair are successful, but only after he snaps a photo of tipsy Hannah and Courtney kissing. Courtney is mortified when the picture is leaked, but it's hard to tell who exactly is in the photo. Courtney allows Hannah to come to the dance — where Hannah and Clay almost have a moment — with her friend group, and Courtney tells suspicious classmates that the picture is of Hannah and her girlfriend, another student.
- The cheerleading team hosts Dollar Valentines. After filling out a survey that gives the phone numbers of a person's best matches at school, Hannah is clearly upset when Clay isn't one of her matches. However, Marcus says she's his first match and asks her to the diner for milkshakes — but he shows up an hour late with half the basketball team. After attempting to take advantage of her in the booth because he "thought she was easy," he leaves, and Marcus's friend Zach Dempsey tries to comfort her. She's too far gone in feeling used though and mistakes his kindness for a trick, which causes her to push him away and him to steal from her "compliment bag" in communications class. She confronts his hurtful actions with a letter explaining the dark place she's in and (thinks she) sees him throw it to the floor after reading.
- Hannah's personal poem is published in a magazine distributed to the whole school. Feeling lost, Hannah attends a poetry class, where she notices a classmate of hers, Ryan, who publishes a magazine. Hannah reads a deep poem to the group, which Ryan steals and publishes anonymously the next day. Although no one knows it's Hannah's poem, her spirit is crushed. She cuts off all her hair off symbolically at the end of the school year and attends a party at Jessica's house over the Summer, looking to see Clay, the only person who seems to make her feel better. They kiss in Jessica's room, but Hannah is so upset over the actions of the other boys she's dealt with through the last school year that she pushes him away.
- Hannah witnesses Jessica's rape. After Clay leaves, Hannah hides in the closet when she hears Jessica and Justin, who are now dating, come in. They start fooling around, but Jessica is wasted so Justin leaves to get her water. He's confronted by Bryce in the hallway, who says he wants to go in to see Jess because "what's mine is yours." Reluctantly, a drunk Justin lets his friend pass, and Bryce rapes Jessica, all while Hannah is in the closet. Sheri, another classmate, sees Hannah drunk and alone a bit later and offers her a ride home, but she hits a stop sign on the way. She then leaves Hannah on the side of the street after the pair argue over whether to call the cops or not.
- Jeff is killed in a car crash, and Hannah feels responsible. As a result of the missing stop sign, Clay's friend Jeff is in a fatal accident. Although it's Sheri who had knocked over the stop sign, Hannah feels responsible for not calling the police quick enough. Hannah tries to tell Clay, but he's too hurt to listen to her "make this her drama" and pushes her away. Feeling depressed, she decides to take a late-night walk, which leads her to a party at Bryce's house.
- Bryce rapes Hannah. At the party, Bryce forces himself on Hannah and violently rapes her in the hot tub. Feeling numb, Hannah starts thinking about where her life went wrong and begins making tapes with Tony's tape recorder dedicated to each person and each reason she's deciding to take her own life. However, she wants to "give life one more chance," so she seeks help from a school counsellor, Mr. Porter. She discloses that she's stopped caring about everything, including life, and implies that she was sexually assaulted, but because she won't give Bryce's name, Mr. Porter tells her she should just move on.
- Hannah kills herself. After leaving school, Hannah goes to the post office to send out her tapes to Justin (the first "reason why"); delivers a second set to her secret keeper, Tony; goes home; fills her bathtub; and fatally slits her wrists. Her parents find her, but it's too late, and soon after her funeral they sue Liberty High for failing to see the signs leading up to Hannah's demise.
- The tapes are passed through the first 10 reasons, then to Clay. The first nine people receive the tapes and all of them grow paranoid about their contents being leaked. In addition, many of them struggle with the consequences of their actions, mainly Alex, who becomes more and more agitated as time goes on, and Jessica, who develops an alcohol problem and engages in reckless behaviour. Clay gets the tapes next and struggles through them all, simultaneously dealing with his parents' growing worries for his mental health and the other kids on the tapes threatening him should he release the information on them. After listening to the tape dedicated to him, he's overcome with guilt for not doing more. It's this guilt that inspires him to do something now for Hannah, Jessica, and everyone else who's been wronged.
- Clay gets a rape confession from Bryce. After listening to Bryce's tape, Clay visits Bryce with a cover story about needing weed — which he believes because Clay was suspended for having weed in his bag planted by Marcus — and gets him to confess to raping Hannah. He records the confession and Bryce kicking the crap out of him on a 14th tape.
- Hannah's mom finds a list of people on the tapes in Hannah's room. With the lawsuit still going on, all of the kids on the list are called in to make statements about Hannah and the events leading up to her suicide. They all meet up without Clay and attempt to decide whether to tell the truth or not about the tapes and what they each did to Hannah. Meanwhile, a guilt-ridden Tony visits the Bakers to give them a USB copy of Hannah's tapes and Bryce's confession in an attempt to help them understand their daughter's actions. Tyler — who we find out is hoarding guns and ammunition in his room — appears in front of the lawyers and informs everyone about the tapes. Meanwhile, Justin, who feels guilty for what happened to Jessica, skips his session with the attorneys after his abusive stepfather kicks him out and he leaves his home with a bag full of clothes, a stack of cash, and a gun.
- Clay passes the tapes to Mr. Porter. Before handing over the tapes, Clay makes it known that he is privy to how Mr. Porter failed Hannah. He leaves him with the tapes and runs into his classmate, Skye, asking her to hang out in an attempt to be nicer and more aware of the people in his life who may need help. He goes for a ride with her, Tony, and Tony's boyfriend, which is when he appears to finally come to terms with moving forward following what happened to Hannah. Later, Mr. Porter presses play on his own tape as Principal Bolan comes into the room to inform him that Alex has shot himself and is in critical condition. Meanwhile, Hannah's parents begin listening to her tapes.
Have all the pieces fallen into place now?