‘One Day’ ending explained
(Credits: Netflix)

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‘One Day’ ending explained

In the latest adaptation of David Nicholls’ bestseller One Day, viewers are treated to a refreshing take on the beloved story. 

Unlike its 2011 film counterpart, which starred Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess, this new fourteen-part series delves deeper into the characters, particularly Emma, portrayed by Ambika Mod, who emerges as a fully realised character in her own right. Leo Woodall takes on the role of Dexter, and together, they navigate an intricate journey of friendship, love, and loss over a span of two decades.

Whether you’re a fan of the book or discovering the story for the first time, One Day is a must-watch for anyone who appreciates a heartfelt and poignant love story. The series breathes new life into the beloved characters of Emma and Dexter.

However, if you made it to the end and couldn’t understand what happened through bouts of hardcore sobbing, read on to understand.

What happens at the end of One Day?

After a long will-they won’t-they dance, Emma and Dexter settle into marital bliss. But anyone who has read the book or seen the film adaptation knows the story ends with Emma dying in an accident. If you had hoped Netflix would twirl a wand and give Em and Dex a happier ending in this version, you would be sorely mistaken.

The last episode of One Day sees Dexter grappling with the first anniversary of Emma’s passing, surrounded by a motley crew of friends and family, including his ex-wife Sylvie, his father, Tilly, her husband Graham and children, and Ian, Emma’s former partner. In the book, Ian writes a letter to Dexter, telling him about how Emma made him better as a person. In the TV adaptation, Ian speaks to Dexter in person.

Dexter finds solace in alcohol once again until he encounters a vision of Emma, urging him to find healing in the passage of time. Flashbacks to their time together precede a leap forward to 2007, where Dexter revisits some of their familiar haunts in Edinburgh.

In the book, the revelation of the morning after their initial encounter and their subsequent climb up Arthur’s Seat occurs at this juncture. The series chooses to unveil this earlier in the story. Nonetheless, both versions feature Dexter reminiscing before taking his and Sylvie’s daughter, Jasmine, for a walk, retracing memories of Emma.

How does the One Day series ending differ from the book?

In contrast to the book’s conclusion, where Dexter moves on with Maddy, his café manager, the series opts to leave viewers with the memory of his love for Emma. This is possibly a neater ending and one that might appeal to fans of ‘forever love’.

The series ends with Dexter remembering a younger Emma expressing her desire to remain more than a footnote in his life. The story comes full circle as Dexter imagines rushing to share a kiss with Emma instead of simply going their separate ways as they did before.

You can stream One Day on Netflix and catch the trailer here: