Katherine Heigl as Tully Hart, Sarah Chalke as Kate Mularkey

Here's What Actually Happens To Kate In The Firefly Lane Book

Spoilers ahead, obvi.

by Ani Bundel
Originally Published: 

Firefly Lane’s 2021 premiere on Netflix introduced author Kristin Hannah’s 2008 novel to a new generation. The series follows the story of lifelong BFFs Kate and Tully from when they first met at 14 in the early 1970s through the mid-aughts. But those who still haven’t read the book may have been startled by Season 2, Part 1 ending on a cliffhanger ending, leading them to wonder if Kate dies in Firefly Lane, the novel, and whether the series will follow suit.

Spoilers for Firefly Lane, the novel, and Season 2, Part 1 follow. Firefly Lane Season 2, Part 2 has not been released yet, so no one knows if Kate will die onscreen. However, Kate does succumb to breast cancer in the novel. The series made plenty of alterations to the book, but it has not changed the story’s main points. So whatever is in store in Season 2, Part 2, Kate will probably not make it to the finale.

But the path Tully and Kate take to get back together will not follow the book. The series added so much to Kate’s story, from the way she and Johnny got together to their entire divorce. In the novel, Kate and Tully both fell for Johnny. Kate didn’t get up the nerve to make her move until Tully was out of the office recovering from her gunshot wound. By the time Tully returned, Kate already had Johnny on the path to commitment, and Tully decided to let him go.

The show upended that, with Tully falling in love with Danny instead and Kate dumping Johnny because he wouldn’t commit to her (before he did commit to her, of course). Season 1 also added a divorce; Kate threw Johnny out and divorced him because he unilaterally decided to embed in Iraq. Book Kate would never have had the self-esteem to do either.


Both these changes turned Kate into a different character, so her path to passing away from cancer will also likely be different. In the book, Kate didn’t do much other than passively die while Tully and Johnny sat at her bedside. Tully did all the work, racing home from Antarctica, putting all her anger aside, and showing up for her friend. The only action on Kate’s part was asking Tully to take care of Johnny and Marah for her once she’s gone.

Kate’s already more active going into these last episodes, going to Tully’s apartment to make amends because it was her holding the grudge in the book, not Tully. (She was too late to catch Tully before she left for Antarctica, but still.) She’s also re-engaged to marry Johnny, suggesting a second wedding will happen in Season 2, Part 2. (Plus, there’s the 1980s cliffhanger of how Kate and Johnny got back together the first time, so fans will most likely see two weddings, not just one). Kate’s letter asking Tully to take care of Johnny and Marah will most likely remain, but how it comes about will probably not be nearly as straightforward.

The show probably won’t change Kate’s passing as the story’s endpoint. But just because the book and show are heading to the same destination doesn’t mean they’ll follow the same journey. Viewers should prepare their tissue boxes when Firefly Lane Season 2, Part 2 comes around, because the feelings will almost certainly be fierce.

Firefly Lane Season 1 and Season 2, Part 1 are streaming on Netflix. Firefly Lane Season 2, Part 2, is coming in June 2023.

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