School Spirits TV Ending Explained

By Russ Milheim Posted:
Peyton List in School Spirits

Let's help explain the shocking ending for Paramount+’s School Spirits.

The series, which first premiered on the Paramount-owned streaming service in March 2023 and then dropped on Netflix in November, follows Peyton List’s Maddie Nears, who becomes inexplicably stuck in the afterlife at her high school. While everyone else she meets there remembers how they bit the dust, she doesn't.

Very few answers are given throughout the first season, but by the time the finale is done, audiences are given some major answers—and even more questions.

Maddie’s Mom Didn’t Kill Maddie

Maddie's Mom in School Spirits

Coming into the finale, the show went through the works ruling out various suspects of who killed Maddie. The final episode started with audiences (as well as the cast of characters) heavily suspecting Maddie’s mom might have done the deed.

Thankfully, she was not the one to harm Maddie—which is great because that twist would have been extremely bleak.

However, the reveal is not much happier. While Maddie’s mom saw her daughter the day she went missing, the two had a severe falling out that, as Maddie eloquently put it, “broke [her] spirit.”

So, while heartbreaking, it was not a fatal interaction for anyone. It turns out no one killed Maddie in the end—instead, she was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Maddie Isn’t Dead—Sorta

Peyton List as Maddie Nears in School Spirits

The entire first season, Maddie Nears has been trying to figure out who killed her. While everyone else in the afterlife remembers their final moments, she does not.

Turns out there was a reason for that. She is not dead—at least, not classically. While Maddie wasn't killed, her spirit was ejected from her body thanks to Janet running into her in a moment of crisis.

This left Maddie stuck in the afterlife, with Janet possessing the former’s very much alive body.

But why did the whole situation happen in the first place? This leads to the next topic at hand, Mr. Martin.

Something’s Up With Mr. Martin

Mr. Martin in School Spirits

Mr. Martin has been the counselor to the students stuck in the afterlife and a friendly face to confide in. Turns out, he might not be as good as everyone thought.

Not only that, but it seems the story of his death might be fabricated. Instead, something far more sinister may have taken place.

Everyone started to catch wind of something strange after Dawn departed, an event everyone in the afterlife felt. Notably, the same never happened when Janet supposedly did.

This leads the afterlife squad, Milo, Simon, and Rhonda (who secretly already knew some of this), to go snooping around. Not only do they uncover lies told by Dr. Martin, but also troubling research about themselves and relics from the scenes of their deaths.

The last viewers see of the trio they are seemingly locked behind the fallout door, with Maddie stuck on the other side with Dr. Martin.

Also unclear is what exactly Mr. Martin and Janet were doing in the first place and why they were arguing shortly before Maddie got ejected from life.

A Fractured Friendship

Simon in School Spirits

While Simon has always been Maddie’s rock and a key instrument in her journey so far, the finale leads to a devastating revelation.

After Maddie poured her heart and soul out for Simon, saying things he’d probably wanted to hear for a long time, he revealed that Maddie was still alive. The way he understands it is that this whole afterlife debacle is something his psyche made up to help cope with the loss.

Despite pleading from Maddie, there’s nothing she can say to think otherwise.

As the cherry on top, Xavier seems to be in critical medical condition following a run-in with the Janet-possessed Maddie.

What’s Next For Maddie Nears?

Peyton List as Maddie Nears in School Spirits

Thankfully, fans do not have to worry about whether or not the show’s ending cliffhanger will be resolved. Paramount+ has already been renewed for Season 2 and is aiming for a 2024 release; though, that is likely to be pushed back thanks to the recent strikes in Hollywood.

But what will Season 2 have in store for fans?

Maddie is certainly in a complicated situation leaving Season 1, one that has no clear solution. Convincing Simon she is real feels insurmountable currently, and it will likely take a massive plot development for the character to even consider it again.

First and foremost, the story needs to give audiences (and the good folk in the afterlife) lots of answers regarding Mr. Martin. What exactly were he and Janet up to, and what is 'thinning'?

While fans wait for new episodes, Season 1 of School Spirits can be streamed on Paramount+ and Netflix.

- About The Author: Russ Milheim
Russ Milheim is the Industry Relations Coordinator at The Direct. On top of utilizing his expertise on the many corners of today’s entertainment to cover the latest news and theories, he establishes and maintains communication and relations between the outlet and the many studio and talent representatives.