Netflix's 13 Reasons Why premieres on March 31, and the series is devastating, truthful, and filled with surprises. SPOILERS ahead. As a fan of the original novel by Jay Asher, I thought I knew everything that was going to happen, so I totally missed all the clues that Jeff from 13 Reasons Why is dead in the present. The character doesn't exist in the novel, but he is a welcome and delightful addition to the TV series. Jeff Atkins (played by Brandon Larracuente) is a cool older jock whom Clay (Dylan Minnette) tutors — in return, Jeff tutors him on how to navigate high school life. But their lovely friendship ends in a truly sad way.
In Episode 10, Hannah (Katherine Langford) details how she and Sheri (Ajiona Alexus) knocked over a stop sign, which later leads to an auto collision in which Jeff dies — a shocking reveal for me the first time I watched. The car accident happens in the novel, but Clay doesn't seem to be close to the "guy from school" who dies in it. But in the TV series, Jeff is that guy — and he is a central figure in Clay's past, as he encourages Clay to attend school dances, go to parties, and pursue his crush on Hannah Baker. Then, sadly, Clay is the first to find Jeff dead at the scene of the accident.
Looking back at the episodes now, I'm kicking myself for not noticing all the clues that Jeff was gone, because if you look closely, it's pretty obvious. Here are the clues you too may have missed about Jeff's death in 13 Reasons Why.
1Jeff Isn't In Any Of The Present-Day Scenes
This is a big clue. While Jeff is all over the Hannah-narrated flashbacks, Clay mostly walks — and rides his bike — alone during the present.
2Jeff Mentions He Is Sober At The Party — Kind Of
Clay sees Jeff alive for the last time at Jessica's party, where Clay expresses concern that Jeff is heading out for a beer run. Jeff assures him that he's been drinking soda, but he also had "two beers two hours ago — but I'm good."
The exchange was enough for Clay to later think that Jeff died because he was driving drunk.
3Jeff Isn't Hanging Out With The Jocks
Like Zach and Bryce, Jeff was active on the high school's sports teams, but viewers never see Jeff hanging out with them during scenes in the present — only in flashbacks.
4It Explains Why Clay Is So Committed To Hannah's Tapes
Not only are Hannah's tapes her story of her suicide, but they could be a way for Clay to stay close to his memories of Jeff as he grieves.
5It's Why Sheri Helps Mr. Cantrell From The Accident
In Episode 10, it's also revealed that Sheri, who hit the stop sign, still spends time with Mr. Cantrell, who was injured in the accident, and his wife.
Later, Sheri mentions that she never got the courage to tell the Cantrells about the stop sign, and she says she can't bear to face the "other" family yet — which turns out to be Jeff's family.
6Clay Doesn't Talk About Jeff In The Present — At First
Jeff gets introduced into the series gradually through flashbacks, but in the present day, Clay doesn't really talk about his good friend until later in the season.
"I've been angry at Jeff since he died," Clay confesses to Jeff's parents in Episode 10. "I thought he lied to me and did something stupid... but I was wrong."
And it's Hannah's tapes that help Clay come to terms with Jeff's death — among other issues — in 13 Reasons Why.