Death usually isn’t a funny subject, but HBO’s new comedy The White Lotus somehow blends hilarious social satire with a mysterious demise that keeps fans guessing. The very first scene of the series jumps ahead to tell viewers that one of the vacationers at the White Lotus resort will not survive the stay, but the show likely won’t reveal who that is until the finale. So of course, each new episode has everyone theorizing about who dies in The White Lotus, and tons of fans have picked up on potential clues that have grown into some convincing ideas.
The whole mystery in The White Lotus revolves around the show’s first scene, in which a perturbed Shane sits in an airport and tersely informs a pair of inquisitive strangers that someone died on his Hawaiian getaway. That’s all the info viewers get before the series flashes back to the beginning of the vacation, introducing viewers to all the characters who could end up dead in a few short days. Obviously, the intro rules out Shane as a victim, but everyone else is still a possibility. So, just who will wind up dead at the end of The White Lotus? And how will they die? Let’s go over some of the most prominent fan theories.
This feels like what the show wants viewers to think, which may make it way too obvious to be true, but Rachel clearly being missing from Shane’s airport scene is a blatant suggestion that she may be the dead body being loaded on the plane. Her honeymoon with Shane was a disaster from the start, and it looks like it’s only building to become an even bigger catastrophe. However, many suspicious fans think these hints that Rachel dies are a fake-out and the show will end with her divorcing Shane rather than dying. But you can’t ignore the possibility of The White Lotus following through with what seems like its most obvious conclusion.
Another prime suspect among fans is Olivia’s secretive bestie, Paula. Theories around Paula potentially dying started up early on, when fans noticed the series poster shows Paula seemingly being struck by lightning while every other character is in the sun.
As the series went on, the why and how behind Paula’s suspected death started to come together. When Paula started began around with Kai, Olivia grew noticeably jealous — perhaps even jealous enough to get into an altercation with her friend that could become dangerous. Also, fans pointed out that Paula mentioned she has a prescription for Klonopin (for her panic attacks), which Armond subsequently stole from her when he ransacked her bag. It seemed to foreshadow an impending panic attack that Paula will have no way to medically deal with.
Clearly the most self-destructive person at the White Lotus, there’s a good case to be made for Armond being the person who dies. After his tailspin into drug use only continued to escalate, many fans think Armond could die in an accident due to his growing substance misuse, possibly due to overdose. The primary mark against this theory is that the body being loaded onto the plane is most likely a visitor and not someone who lives on the island, but it’s still not out of the question for Armond’s body to be transported elsewhere for burial.
Jennifer Coolidge’s character has also arisen as a prime suspect in the mystery, but for less specific reasons. Fans have pointed out that Tanya is the most disconnected vacationer from the rest, yet seems to constantly find herself mixed up in everyone else’s drama. Because of this, she could make the most sense as the person to be inadvertently killed, which would bring her story of scattering her mother’s ashes to a grim full-circle moment. It would also be a crushing ending for Belinda, whose dreams of opening her own wellness center with Tanya’s financial assistance would be cut short.
There’s someone other than Rachel whose absence in the airport scene is notable: Shane’s mother, Kitty. Molly Shannon’s overbearing mother-in-law character didn’t check into the White Lotus until Episode 4, but right when she got there, her almost-too-close bond with her son, Shane, became very apparent. Maybe Shane wasn’t upset because his wife died, but because his mom was killed. There even seems to be some growing animosity between Rachel and Kitty as Rachel realizes she can’t stand the lifestyle she married into. Could it lead the journalist to snap and kill Kitty in a fit of pent-up rage? It’s a possibility.
Poor Quinn. The Mossbachers’ socially awkward son seems to be having the worst time at the White Lotus, but in actuality, the series has hinted several times that he’s the only person actually experiencing the true beauty of Hawaii while there. After being forced out of his hotel room and having all his devices ruined, Quinn has witnessed gorgeous sunrises and connected with native Hawaiians. Sadly, this is a big reason some fans think he’s doomed to die. As the only truly likable character, Quinn’s death would hit the hardest and further highlight the show’s message of toxic privilege. Whether he ends up drowning during one of his beach snoozes or is collateral damage in a revenge scheme, Quinn’s days may be numbered — but at least they’ll be full of beautiful sunsets.
The White Lotus airs new episodes Sunday nights at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.