Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Netflix\'s \'One Day\'
Netflix\'s \'One Day\'
Culture > Entertainment

Breaking Down That Heartbreaking ‘One Day’ Ending

You know when you watch a movie that has an ending you can’t stop thinking about? That’s how I felt after watching the 2011 romance/drama movie One Day starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgees. This movie makes you feel a rollercoaster of emotions, and if you’ve seen it, you know why to this day, I haven’t stopped thinking about the ending. 

If you haven’t seen it, or if movies aren’t really your thing, I have a solution for you. Enter One Day (TV Series)

One Day is a new Netflix series starring Ambika Mod (Emma) and Leo Woodall (Dexter), which was released on Feb. 8. Before the One Day movie, there was the novel One Day published by David Nicholls in 2009. Following the book’s success, Hathaway and Sturgees starred in a film adaptation of the story in 2011. Now, One Day is back for another adaptation, this time, in a TV series format. 

If you’re unfamiliar with the plot of One Day, allow me to fill you in. According to Netflix’s official description, “After spending graduation night together, Emma and Dexter go their separate ways – but their lives remain intertwined.” Seems like a pretty simple, cute concept. But those who are familiar with One Day know that it’s complicated, romantic, and heartbreaking all at the same time. 

Essentially, after spending their graduation night together, Emma and Dexter decide to begin a lifelong friendship. Similarly structured to the One Day film, “For the next 20 years, the two friends reunite on the 15th of each July, sharing dreams, tears, and laughter — until they discover what they’ve been searching for, each other.” 

After watching One Day, you’re probably asking yourself several questions. I still have questions to this day about the ending, so I’m here to give you a little explanation. Spoiler Warning: Spoilers for Netflix’s One Day follow. 

During episode 12, which takes place in 1999, “A troubled Dexter visits Emma, who’s thriving in Paris. As they wander the streets, the memory of their encounter months before hangs in the air.” The episode has a happy ending: Emma calls things off with her Parisian beau and her and Dexter finally get together for good. 

Now things take an expected turn in episode 13, which shows Emma and Dexter’s life together from 2000 to 2003. According to the description, “Em and Dex’s bond grows tighter as the years pass. Her writing’s going well, and he starts his own business.”

Production still of Netflix\'s \'One Day\'

In 2003, Em and Dex get into an argument, but talk it out. A few hours later, they decide to spend the night together when they both get home after their days. This is where things take a turn for the worse. 

Dex leaves a sweet voicemail for Em saying how much he loves her and is looking forward to seeing her. Em sends a voicemail back before getting on her bike to head home after taking a swim. In the voicemail, she says how much she loves Dex and apologizes for being fed up with him that morning. However, after she sends the voicemail, the camera pans to her riding her bike before tragically getting hit by a car and dying. 

The last episode shows Dex’s life without Emma, covering the years 2003, 2004, and 2007. Throughout this time, Dex goes through some very rough patches but gets love and support from family and friends. Emma’s death is so abrupt and is especially sad because she and Dex were finally together after years of being friends 

I, for one, hate the ending of One Day. While Emma’s death was not nearly as shocking in the series as it was in the film, it’s  still such a sad way to wrap up this story. With that being said, if you’re looking for a new show to watch that will make you smile, laugh, and cry, One Day is for you!

Eileen is a senior at Fairfield University who is studying Communications with minors in English, Professional Writing, and Women’s Gender & Sexuality Studies. She has a passion for magazine writing and hopes to pursue a career in the field. Eileen is the Entertainment & Culture Intern at Her Campus where she covers all things pop culture, entertainment, and internet trends. Eileen was formerly a National Writer for Her Campus from April 2023 - January 2024. Eileen is one of the Campus Correspondents (CCs) at Her Campus' Fairfield University chapter. She oversees the entire chapter and works with her other CC to curate ideas and events for HCFU. She also mentors and trains the editorial team and helps create content and boost engagement alongside the social media team. In her free time, you can find Eileen creating new Spotify playlists, getting a sweet treat with friends, or obsessing over Taylor Swift. If she isn’t doing that, you’ll likely find Eileen with her six best friends from school talking about their “Big Three”: "Normal People," their favorite "Dancing With The Stars" performances, and Greta Gerwig's "Little Women."