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A Character Analysis of Jonathan Entwistle’s ’The End of the F***ing World

The Netflix show “The End of the F***ing World” is a television series that follows the confusing lives of two troubled teenagers, James and Alyssa. This series, which was first released in 2017, comprises two seasons that explore multiple themes about trauma, love, and identity, among others. Notably, the journey presented in this series is shaped by the contribution of many characters, each with their unique role and impact on the story. This essay describes and analyses the characters that had the more prominent role in this series. Besides the protagonists, James and Alyssa, this analysis focuses on the characters of Phil, Gwen, Tony, Bonnie, Professor Clive Koch, and Leslie Folie, who are the supporting characters. Indeed, the supporting characters play a crucial role in shaping the trajectory of James and Alyssa’s unconventional journey.

The first notable character in the series is Alyssa, represented by Jessica Barden. Alyssa is depicted as a rebellious individual who strongly defies social norms and actively rebels against any constraint on her way. For example, in the first season, she embarks on an unconventional road trip with James, attempting to escape from her home life, which she considers unhappy. Also, in the second season, she calls and runs away merely minutes after the wedding Todd, acknowledging that she felt trapped and was not entirely happy with proceeding with the marriage (Entwisle, 2017; Entwisle, 2019). The above examples indicate that Alysa’s defiance of social norms does not entirely stem from her desire to be rebellious but a genuine search for freedom and authenticity. This rebellion contributes to her transformation throughout the series as she learns to confront her fears, explore her emotions, and embrace her true identity. Therefore, her character underscores the significance of challenging societal constraints on personal definitions of happiness and fulfillment.

The character frequently seen with Alyssa is James, whom Alex Lawther has represented. The initial parts of the series portray Alex as an individual who is deeply troubled by his emotionally-disconnected traumatic past, which makes him believe that he is a psychopath. However, throughout the series, his journey with Alyssa challenges his perception of himself as a psychopath. While, at first, he had targeted Alyssa as his potential victim, James soon realizes he can experience genuine emotions. He ends up sparing Alyssa and developing a profound connection with her. He realizes that he is not a psychopath when he feels bad for killing Clive to save Alyssa from rape (Entwisle, 2017; Entwisle, 2019). This realization becomes a turning point for James, as it triggers his personal growth, transformation, and emotional development. Overall, James’s character highlights the complexity of childhood trauma, mental health, and personal identity, as well as the resilience of the human spirit, which helps one to overcome their past and discover their true self.

Notably, one of the characters that significantly shaped the dynamics of the two main characters is Alyssa’s stepfather Tony, whom Navin Chowdhy has portrayed. From the start of the series, Tony has been depicted as a manipulative and mentally abusive father figure toward Alyssa and a controlling husband to Alyssa’s mother. He is also emotionally distant and exhibits zero empathy or regard toward Alyssa, creating a strained father-daughter relationship (Entwisle, 2017; Entwisle, 2019). This facet likely contributed to Alyssa’s rebellious nature and her decision to flee with James to seek freedom and independence. Notably, the portrayal of Tony’s character gives the viewers insights into the damaging effects of parental neglect and emotional abuse within a family. His actions and remarks highlight his negative impact on Alyssa’s well-being and mental state, ultimately driving her to make drastic choices.

However, it is notable that Alyssa has a birth father, Leslie, whom Barrie Ward has portrayed. In most of the series, Leslie’s behavior and decisions showcase his disregard for others. For instance, he abandoned Gwen when Alyssa was only two years old and even called the police on Alyssa and James, hoping to receive a cash reward. This act reflects his opportunistic nature and highlights his willingness to betray his daughter for personal gain. Despite his opportunism, he cared for Alyssa by sending her birthday cards. Indeed, this gesture highlights the complexity of human nature by showcasing how individuals can exhibit contradictory behaviors and emotions (Entwisle, 2017). Overall, it shows that people can be both good and evil, thereby necessitating the comprehension of the depths of human nature requires embracing its complexities and contradictions.

Leslie’s mother, Gwen, whom Christine Bottomley depicts, married Tony and divorced Leslie when the series commences. Gwen exhibits a strained relationship with her daughter, Alyssa, mainly due to her marriage to Tony. For instance, she allows Tony to restrict Alyssa’s contact with her, indicating her priority of marriage over a strong relationship with her daughter. Her lack of parental support can be regarded as one reason for Alyssa’s defiance. Nonetheless, despite her flaws, Gwen takes actions she considers best for Alyssa. For instance, she forces James to write a letter to Alyssa, resulting in their breakup (Entwisle, 2017; Entwisle, 2019). While Gwen believes she is acting in Alyssa’s best interest, her approach needs to be revised and consider Alyssa’s autonomy and emotional well-being. Therefore, the character of Gwen

Like Tony, Phil, James’s father, whom Steve Oram represents, also significantly impacts the story. The series offers glimpses of his life, which, if analyzed collectively, depict a man trying to maintain a positive outlook in life despite the tragedies he faces. In essence, he has a poor relationship with his son James, which is evident right from the first episode of the series when James fails to laugh at his joke. Despite this fact, he has been depicted as a loving and protective father. For instance, he did not report James when he stole his car as he did not want to place him in any trouble. Besides that, he makes much effort to try to improve their relationship with James, with most efforts being futile (Entwisle, 2017). Overall, Phil’s character and his interactions with other characters, particularly James, contribute to the development of the plot by adding emotional depth to the narrative.

Another notable character that helped shape the storyline for this movie is Professor Clive Koch, a university professor of philosophy. Indeed, Koch, whom Jonathan Aris has represented, is a deeply disturbed and manipulative individual who used his position of authority to carry out heinous crimes. He has made adverse, calculated, deceitful, and predatory actions, adversely affecting many lives. For instance, he took advantage of Bonnie’s desire for education and exploited her vulnerability using threats from his authority level. Also, he lives in a secluded house, where he serves his heinous activities as a serial rapist (Entwisle, 2017). However, his murder created a new plot twist in Alex’s and Alyssa’s lives by leading them into a challenging journey of self-discovery. Therefore, despite his heinous acts, the character of Koch significantly transformed the storyline in both the first and the fifth seasons by altering the lives of the main characters.

The final character, who emerges in the second series of the episode, is Bonnie, whom Naomi Ackie has portrayed. Like Alyssa and James, Bonnie’s character is shaped by her traumatic past, which an abusive mother and an estranged father mark. This facet resulted in an immense desperation to be loved and accepted. Unfortunately, this desperation for love and acceptance led her to Clive Koch, a manipulative and abusive figure who exploited her vulnerability. She develops real feelings for Clive and sets out to avenge his death by killing James and Alyssa. Unfortunately, Bonnie’s pursuit of vengeance leads to her imprisonment, lifting the tension in James’ and Alyssa’s lives (Entwisle, 2019). Nonetheless, while she did not commit her vengeance successfully, her character exemplifies the effects of a traumatic upbringing.

Indeed, the supporting characters of this series significantly influence the course of James and Alyssa’s unconventional story by impacting their emotional growth. As a main character in the show, Alyssa defies social norms, symbolizing the search for freedom and authenticity. Contrariwise, James undergoes a transformative journey, where he learns to explore his childhood trauma and discover his identity. However, these characters’ transformations would have been futile without the characters of Tony, Leslie, Gwen, Phil, Koch, and Bonnie. For instance, Tony and Leslie’s parental neglect and abuse contributed to Alyssa’s rebellious nature, leading her to self-discovery. Overall, through their interactions with the supporting characters, the protagonists confront their past traumas, challenge societal norms, and embark on journeys of self-discovery.


Entwisle, J. (Director). (2017). The End of the F***ing World: Season 1 [Series]. Netflix.

Entwisle, J. (Director). (2019). The End of the F***ing World: Season 2 [Series]. Netflix.


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