One Day Showrunner Defends 1 Controversial Ending Decision

By Lauren Rouse Posted:
One Day Netflix

The executive producer of Netflix's One Day spoke on the decision to keep the series' ending the same as the book it is based upon. 

The Netflix series marks the second time David Nicholls' popular romance drama novel has been adapted for screen. The first iteration was released in 2011, starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess. 

The TV adaptation features Leo Woodley (The White Lotus) and Ambika Mod (This Is Going to Hurt) as Dex and Emma, a couple whose on-again-off-again romance is charted over the course of 20 years. 

Why Netflix's One Day Keeps That Devastating Ending

One Day Netflix

Fans of Nicholls' book have been debating the One Day ending since it was first published in 2009. 

For reference, the last act of the book sees Dex and Emma's romance culminate in their happy marriage. Emma is then tragically killed while riding her bike to a house inspection, sending Dexter into a downward spiral.

Fans have lamented this devastating ending for years, which was also depicted faithfully in the 2011 movie and is kept the same in the 2024 TV show. 

In an interview with Hollywood Life, One Day executive producer Nicole Taylor admitted that they did consider altering the sad ending for the Netflix series, but ultimately kept it the same because it "felt like the right choice for the adaptation:" 

“It’s something I went in thinking about, and I felt like if we’re going to do this, I have to be confident. It just broke people’s hearts. I remember being on the tube and getting to that page in a book. You just want to throw the book out the window. It’s devastating. So it felt right to re-interrogate that choice. But ultimately, it felt like the right choice for the adaptation because it belongs in that story.”

One Day Netflix

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly (EW), Taylor added that she "wanted to reinterview" the book's ending but didn't feel any pressure to rewrite it:

“I didn’t feel any pressure to change the ending or to keep the ending. I just wanted to reinterview it for its place in the piece.”

In the end, Taylor felt that the ending was crucial to the themes of the story and the way in which it represents how "your whole life can be defined by a chance:"

“Once you pull that out, you better have something just as good, if not better, in terms of the meaning of the piece as a whole and the cosmic enduring nature of love and friendship and how your whole life can be defined by a chance.”

The gravity of the scene was not lost on the cast either, with Ambika Mod telling EW that she was "so nervous" to film Emma's death:

“So many people who read the book say they remember where they were when Emma dies, and the way that David wrote it is so abrupt and heartbreaking. And so I was nervous for that scene.”

Why Is the One Day Ending Controversial?

One Day Netflix

The One Day ending has picked up attention over the years for being so incredibly tragic, rather than for more controversial reasons.

Emma's death is a plot point that many book fans dread seeing again, with some even questioning whether they want to watch the Netflix series at all knowing how it ends. 

Despite keeping its devastating ending, One Day managed to strike a chord since its release, scoring 93% of positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and earning praise from fans online.

While the series creators chose to keep Emma's fate the same, there were some subtle changes made to the book's ending. 

One notable difference is the decision to omit Dexter's new love interest. In the novel, after grieving Emma's death, Dexter finds love again with his cafe manager, Maddy. This is altered in the series, instead showing Dexter having moved on from the loss of Emma without a new partner.

All episodes of One Day are streaming now on Netflix.

- In This Article: One Day
Release Date
February 08, 2024
Ambika Mod
Leo Woodall
- About The Author: Lauren Rouse
Lauren Rouse has been a writer at The Direct since the site launched in 2020. She has a huge passion for everything pop culture and currently writes news articles for the Marvel, Star Wars, DC and video game branches.