Follow TV Tropes


Series / The End of the F***ing World

Go To
I'm James. I'm seventeen. And I'm pretty sure I'm a psychopath.

Sometimes, everything is suddenly really simple. It's like everything shifts in a moment, and you step out of your body, out of your life. You step out and you see where you are, really clearly. You see yourself, and you think: "Fuck. This. Shit."

The End of the F***ing World is a British Black Humor Romantic Comedy about two wayward teens who run away together and get into a string of outlaw adventures while struggling to find their place in the world.

Jessica Barden stars as Alyssa, a surly spitfire who hates just about everything. Alex Lawther stars as James, a quiet loner who suspects that he might be a psychopath. Season two adds an additional main character, Bonnie (Naomi Ackie), an unbalanced woman who holds a grudge against the main pair.

Based on a comic miniseries by Charles Forsman, the show premiered in 2018 on Channel 4 in the UK and Netflix internationally. It has aired two seasons.

The End of the F***ing World provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents:
    • All three of Alyssa's parental figures are some form of abusive: her mother neglects her, preferring to focus on her new babies she has with her second husband, her father is a drug-dealing alcoholic burnout who uses the kids and rats them out to the police for a reward, and her stepfather is an abusive asshole who makes creepy come-ons to her.
    • Subverted with James' dad. While James and Alyssa might see him as a bit of prick and he doesn't really seem able to understand James, it later becomes obvious he is also struggling immensely with the death of his wife and genuinely loves his son despite his shortcomings.
    • Bonnie's mother has been abusive all her life towards her family. As a result, both her husband and her daughter were too afraid to disclose their failures to her (her husband losing his job and Bonnie failing all her exams), which led to the dissolution of the family and to Bonnie's lack of love making her an easy prey for Clive.
  • Adaptational Location Change: The show takes place in the UK, despite the original comic series being in America. The second episode contains a Lampshade Hanging:
    Alyssa: If this was a film, we'd probably be American.
  • Adults Are Useless: Between the neglectful mom, three different sexually abusive/rapist men, and deadbeat dad, no wonder James and Alyssa are trying to get the fuck away.
  • Adventure Duo: James is The Hero and Alyssa is The Lancer.
  • Alcoholic Parent: Alyssa's estranged father Leslie, who lives alone in a trailer on the coast, and spends his days drinking cheap lager, dealing "locally sourced" drugs and impregnating various local women.
  • Age-Appropriate Angst: James and Alyssa react to fucked-up shit the way teenagers do: acting out and swearing.
  • All Men Are Perverts: With the exception of James, his dad, Frodo, and Emil the convenience store clerk, every man on the show is a pervert. And even James gets close in the very early part of the series, what with plotting to kill Alyssa.
  • Ambiguously Evil: Tony, the fucking prick.
  • Aspect Ratio Switch: Almost every flashback—whether to a character's past or just a previous episode—are shown in a standard 4:3. A notable exception is the first episode of season 2, since it's a Whole Episode Flashback.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Clive Koch, the murder victim, is a Serial Rapist.
    • To a lesser extent, Martin, who Alyssa robs and blackmails, is a molester.
  • Attempted Rape: Clive Koch to Alyssa. Before he can do it, James stabs him in the neck.
  • Awesome Mc Cool Name: Frodo, the teenage gas station attendant who wants to join the two. Both James and Alyssa struggle to believe it is his real name.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: James began killing animals as a kid, and is looking to move up to people. As a sign of his Character Development, he later can't bring himself to put down an injured dog, and Alyssa has to do it instead.
  • A Birthday, Not a Break: On James' 18th birthday the police catch up to him and Alyssa, Alyssa's father rats them out, they try to escape, and James is shot while Alyssa screams his name.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Alyssa's dad seems like a loving and caring (if immature) father at first (for one that abandoned his daughter, anyway), but later betrays her by calling the cops on her and James for the reward money. It also turns out that it wasn't him but Alyssa's mother that was sending her the birthday cards, erasing his only redeeming act.
  • Bittersweet 17: The first series is set when the main characters are 17 and decide to run away together getting into the grown-up world with still some childlike attitude.
  • Book Ends: The first and last lines of the first season have James introducing himself and his views on the world to us:
    James: I'm James. I'm seventeen. And I'm pretty sure I'm a psychopath.
    James: I've just turned eighteen. And I think I understand what people mean to each other.
  • Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario: Alyssa ditches James after they kill Clive Koch... for about a day. They both independently realize how much they care about and need each other, and reunite with no car, no money, and no plan, but with a promise to stick together.
  • Brick Joke: After cutting and bleaching her hair, Alyssa remarks that her mother always thought she'd look nice as a blonde. A couple episodes later, upon seeing security footage of Alyssa and James' crime spree, the first thing Alyssa's mum notices is the hair.
  • Broken Pedestal: Poor Alyssa is crushed when she realizes her beloved father is really just a neglectful, immature, self-serving louse.
  • By-the-Book Cop: DC Teri Donaghue. Whilst her partner is sympathetic towards James and Alyssa and thinks they are just "stupid kids who made a big mistake", she takes a much colder view of seeing them just as criminals who need to be brought to justice.
  • Censored Title: Title of the f***ing show!
  • Character Development: At the start of the series, neither of the main characters are particularly likeable. James is a cold, calculating supposed psycho who wants to upgrade from killing animals to killing people, and Alyssa is a rude, mouthy and hostile girl. However, as the series progresses, the two become exceedingly more likeable, with the sad and emotional reasons behind as to why they act the way they do coming to light.
  • Cliffhanger: Season 1 ended in one, as it was left up to the viewer whether James was killed by the cops or not. The ambiguity was resolved when season 2 showed that he survived, but was left without the use of his legs for some time, and he may or may not have lost use of his dick.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Alyssa is a really mouthy young girl.
  • Creepy Souvenir: Clive Koch keeps recordings of all the women he rapes on a camcorder in his house. It is what tips off James to realize they are in danger by crashing there.
  • Crime of Self-Defense: James' murder of Clive Koch.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: James, explained after it's revealed that his mother committed suicide right in front of him when he was a young boy.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best:
    • James adores his mom and we see many happy flashbacks of them together, although she committed suicide in front of him as a child. However, this later gets subverted as we see that James's dad loves him a great deal, but he just can't express it, and he's actually there for him when he needs it.
    • A variant subversion with Alyssa, whose dad is AWOL (see Disappeared Dad). She adores him, but it later turns out that he abandoned her and his "cards" to her were actually written by her mum.
  • Disappeared Dad: Alyssa has not seen her dad since she was 8, but he does send her a birthday card every year. It is later revealed that it was her mother sending her the birthday cards, her dad wanted nothing to do with her life.
  • Do You Want to Copulate?: Alyssa is very blunt about what she's after.
    Alyssa: Have you ever eaten a pussy before?
    James' Internal Monologue: It was important to be confident in moments like this.
    James: Yeah, a few.
    Alyssa: I want you to eat mine.
    James: ...Now?
  • Dramatic Irony: Thanks to the narration, we know that Alyssa trusts James and thinks she could fall in love with him — and we also know that James plans to kill her. Later, Alyssa begins to become wary and think there's something wrong with him... right when he's starting to genuinely turn over a new leaf.
  • Driven to Suicide: James's mother killed herself in front of him.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: Kevan the pharmacist in season 2. His deduction that Bonnie was a battered woman is entirely consistent with her apparent injuries and behavior. He had no way of knowing that she was a murderer.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Alyssa won't rob independently-owned businesses, sticking instead to large, mega-wealthy chains.
    • Even when James is still plotting to kill Alyssa, he's genuinely horrified by Koch's snuff/rape films on his camcorder, and he doesn't seem sexually sadistic.
    • Even though Teri is not emphatic towards the kids, she is visibly disgusted with Tony’s dickish attitude and Gwen’s obvious neglect towards her daughter when she and Eunice visit them.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Not in terms of skill (which borders on Good Is Dumb as Eunice's plan to have Alyssa and James treated Kindly completely backfires on her), but the gentle, sympathetic, and understanding Eunice is the good to Teri's abrasive but not inaccurate bad.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Sexually Active Today?:
    • James claims to be sexually experienced when talking to Alyssa, but after she admits she's a virgin, he confesses that he's one, as well.
      Alyssa: Yeah, no shit.
    • Although she never outright claims to have had sex before, Alyssa is bold and forward enough about sex that James seems genuinely surprised when he finds out she hasn't.
  • Hate Sink:
    • Alyssa’s stepfather is nasty and emotionally abusive towards both Alyssa and her mother, telling the former everyone would be happy if she just disappeared and it’s implied that there are sexual undertones to his attitude towards her. He also bullies her mother Into to being neglectful towards her.
    • Clive Koch is a creepy, sexually aggressive and manipulative serial rapist who tries to rape Alyssa and has a toxic relationship with Bonnie and his emotional abuse and taking advantage of her naivety drives her insane.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In Episode 8, James tells the police that he and he alone is responsible for the crime spree, and even instructs Alyssa to say he kidnapped her — which she refuses to do. The Bolivian Army Ending leaves it unclear if his sacrifice is fatal, but the last moments of the episode make it clear that he's willing to die to ensure Alyssa's freedom.
  • Hidden Depths: According to Alyssa, James is a surprisingly good cook. James reveals this is because all his father eats is unhealthy junk food, so he either had to learn to cook for himself or get type-2 diabetes. He's also proficient at breaking into cars, hotwiring engines, and hair-styling.
  • Hostile Hitchhiker:
    • Alyssa remarks that nobody is stopping for them because they look like weirdos (James has no shirt on), and "only weirdos stop for other weirdos". Cue them being given a lift by a creepy bloke who boasts about organising dog fighting and later sexually assaults James in a cafe bathroom.
    • In season 2, Bonnie intentionally hitchhikes where James and Alyssa will find her and pick her up as part of her plan to kill them.
  • In Love with the Mark: Initially, James wanted to kill a human being and choose Alyssa as his first target. However, he end up falling in love with her on the course of the first season.
  • Intentionally Awkward Title: Well, not many shows drop an f-bomb right in the title.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Teri Donaghue. She's quite short and abrasive towards her partner Eunice, but it's ultimately made clear that she cares about her.
    • Seemingly, Alyssa's mother, though a lot of people disagree due to the level of abuse she lets be levelled at her daughter. Despite all of this, though, she wrote the birthday cards to Alyssa for years.
  • Just Like Robin Hood: Alyssa's dad is like this, by her description. He taught her that, should she have to steal, robbing big chains is okay, since they can afford it and are "The Man," but robbing small, independent businesses is unacceptable. Then we meet him and it turns out he's really, really not.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Alyssa's horrible father does this at least twice. He drunkenly and fueled by rage runs a dog over in the road and abandons it, dying, with Alyssa and James. Also, he calls the police on his own daughter, solely for the reward. Which would be bad enough, but he's the first non-James person she's felt safe enough to tell the truth that Koch tried to rape her.
    • Alyssa's horrible stepdad doesn't just basically molest her at a garden party in full view of her mother, he also tells her that nobody wants her when she has second thoughts and phones.
  • Killing in Self-Defense: James stabs Clive Koch in the neck when he is trying to rape Alyssa. It becomes the main reason the two are pursued by the police in the series.
  • Lets Wait Awhile: After being eager to have sex with James for the whole series, Alyssa gets her chance in the last episode, when James is now into it. However, as soon as they start to go beyond kissing, she has a flashback to her near-assault at the hands of Clive, and pulls away, saying she's not ready. James is fine with that, and the two agree to wait a bit before falling asleep on the beach together.
  • Lighter and Softer: Make no mistake, it's just as dark as the comic it was adapted from. Some of the darker aspects were dropped in the long run, like Teri being a murderous cultist.
  • Limited Wardrobe:
    • After starting their roadtrip, James and Alyssa wear the same clothes for several days in a row because they didn't pack before leaving and lack money.
    • James spends the majority of season two wearing the suit he wore at his father's funeral, and Alyssa wears her wedding dress after she ran away from her own wedding.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Alyssa becomes this to James, by his own admission. After she ditches him following his murder of Clive Koch, he realizes she was actually protecting him, by allowing him to feel again, rather than the other way around.
  • Lodged Blade Removal: * Alyssa stabs her father in the leg after he betrays her for the reward money. Terri, who is a police officer, lampshades it by telling him not to pull it out — which he immediately does and screams in pain.
  • Love Makes You Evil:
    • Played with in James's case. He's concerned that he is evil, though ultimately he isn't. However, he only finds this out when he actually does the name of love.
    • Bonnie. She clearly has some severe problems due to her Freudian Excuse, but the only time she actually hurt someone was one of Clive's victims. He convinced her that she was about to hit him with a False Rape Accusation... which the audience, and James and Alyssa, know was not fake at all.
  • Love Overrides the Law: James murders the professor in self-defence out of love for Alyssa, and they go on the run. James gets shot and Alyssa attacks Eunice because of their determination that they won't be separated. While it seems like they're facing a very dire punishment, in Season 2, James only gets probation, seemingly because the judge took into account his motives.
  • Love Redeems: Their relationship brings out the best in both protagonists; Alyssa softens up and shows a vulnerable side, while James finds his humanity.
  • Mercy Kill: After Leslie runs over a dog and leaves it with its neck snapped, James and Alyssa have to put the poor animal out of its misery. They then bury it on the beach.
  • Mistaken for Gay:
    • James' dad is very surprised when Alyssa comes over to the house to see his son, mentioning to the two of them that for ages he had thought his son was gay.
    • Leslie when first meeting James asks Alyssa if James is a "poof", a British slang term for gay.
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: Most of them.
    • James is a good driver, but he crashes the car...which then blows up as Alyssa's reassuring him and they're creeping through the woods.
    • James saves Alyssa from Koch by stabbing him to death. Asshole Victim aside, the scene is extremely nightmarish, James is almost instantly sick, and Alyssa is clearly deeply disturbed.
  • Never Sent Any Letters: Alyssa runs away to find her dad because he's been writing her letters every birthday. When she meets him, he's an extremely lazy deadbeat and admits that he never wrote to her. The letters were actually written by Alyssa's mother.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished:
    • Subverted when Alyssa brings a lost child back to the store she just shoplifted from. The security guard brings her back up to his office, and it temporarily looks like he's still going to call the police... but then he doesn't, sending her off with a snack and a stern, "Stop stealing." She immediately then steals something additional that she doesn't actually need and throws away right after leaving the store.
    • Unfortunately, played straight for Eunice, the DC who wants to give the kids the benefit of the doubt and believes they were acting in self-defense. For her trouble, she gets Pistol Whipped and knocked out.
  • Noodle Incident: The exact circumstances of Eunice and Teri's hookup are never confirmed.
  • No OSHA Compliance: A motel in season 2 has sharp deer antlers mounted perpendicular to the wall at chest-height in every room. Sure enough, Bonnie gets accidentally slashed by them.
  • No Periods, Period: The aversion of this trope causes some trouble, as Alyssa starts menstruating while having no tampons or clean panties.
  • Only One Name: The vast majority of characters, including the leads, have no given last name, to the point that Clive Koch and DCs Eunice Noon and Teri Darego stand out.
  • Outlaw Couple: Alyssa and James have been described as the "millennial Bonnie and Clyde."
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Although Alyssa is able to change her appearance quite significantly (cuts her hair and dyes it blonde), the only change James is able to make is putting on an ugly Hawaiian shirt and jeans that are just a bit too small for him.
  • Parental Neglect: Alyssa's mom Gwen focuses on building up her new family with Tony, to the point where all the photos in the living room are of the twins, and Alyssa isn't included. Alyssa is instead treated more like the help and is recruited to serve at the family party. It's ultimately subverted, as it turns out that Gwen sent Alyssa the birthday cards that were supposedly from her father. Also, at least some of Gwen's neglect seems to be a consequence of the clearly emotionally abusive relationship she has with Alyssa's stepfather Tony.
  • Pistol Whip:
    • After realizing that even if they give themselves up they will likely be separated for life, Alyssa takes her dad's sawn-off shotgun and knocks out DC Noon with it.
    • James later does the same to Alyssa so she cannot follow him as he runs from the police firearms unit, knowing that she will likely get off on any charges as it was him who committed most of the crimes on their road trip.
  • The Present Day: Although the series is set in the present day, the majority of the settings and scenery (as well as the vehicles) all have a very dated, early 90s vibe to them.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Emil takes his job seriously, and doesn't take kindly to catching Alyssa shoplifting. However, when she finds a lost little girl and brings her back to the store, rather than running away, he decides to let it slide and even gives her a snack and a drink before letting her off with a warning. It probably also helps that the only thing Alyssa stole was a clean pair of underwear — so he probably figured out she stole them because she really needed them.
  • Road Trip Plot: A very dark example.
  • Road Trip Romance: They were technically dating beforehand, but it's not until they run away together that James and Alyssa truly fall in love.
  • The Runaway: Both protagonists. Alyssa wishes to get away from her family and their boring town. James wishes for an opportunity to kill her... and get away from his father.
  • Secret Other Family: Alyssa is very angry when she finds out she has a half-brother, and her dad never told her.
  • Self-Harm: When James was eight he put his hand in a deep fat fryer, just so he "could feel something". As a result, one of his hands is obviously scarred from the burning.
  • Serial Rapist: Clive Koch, the professor whose house James and Alyssa break into.
  • Sex as Rite-of-Passage: Alyssa is very eager to have a sexual relationship, preferably with James. James isn't particularly interested, at least not until he falls in love with her, and tends to "just go along," though Alyssa isn't interested if he's not into it. However, the trope is inverted, as Alyssa backs out of what looks like it'll be Their First Time. The teens mutually agree to wait until she's in a better frame of mind, not because they're too immature for sex, but because they've both grown up enough to make an actually mature choice.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Alyssa is the only person James has ever been romantically or sexually attracted to.
  • Skewed Priorities:
    • When seeing security footage of her runaway daughter robbing a gas station with her boyfriend, Gwen murmurs, "What has she done to her hair?" Justified, as she's clearly in shock.
    • In an oddly heartwarming example, Alyssa is temporarily distracted when she finds out it's James' birthday in the last episode of the first season. Rather than worry about how they're about to be arrested, she comments that she wishes James had told her; she'd have gotten him a present.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Shifts over the course of the series from the latter toward the former.
  • Soapbox Sadie: Alyssa is a downplayed example. She's extremely critical of the military, dislikes big business, and espouses some liberal ideas, but it's not her defining trait, and she often has a point.
  • The Sociopath: Subverted. James thinks he's this, and some of his behaviour and characteristic certainly indicate he may be, but ultimately it is revealed his lack of feeling anything is due to the trauma of seeing his mother commit suicide in front of him. Ultimately Alyssa brings out the feelings he thought he didn't have.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Deliberately invoked at one point. While cleaning up the mess from Clive's murder, James suggests they put on some music, saying it might make it easier. We're then treated to a scene of two teens trying to clean up a bloody, disgusting crime scene while listening to a lovely, cheerful song. Alyssa's surprised to find it actually does help a little.
  • Stress Vomit: After James kills Clive he immediately vomits out of stress and shock
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: James' dad dies very suddenly at the beginning of season 2.
  • SWAT Team: Because James pretended to have a gun when saving Alyssa from the gas station, Teri has an Armed Response Unit accompany her to Leslie's caravan when she goes to arrest the two.
  • The Talk: James recalls his dad (somewhat awkwardly) trying to give it to him in the second episode, putting a unique subversion on a much older trope in the process.
    Phil: It's easier for women, they get to Lie Back and Think of England. Men... we have to BE England.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Discussed, as Leslie initially assumes this is why Alyssa had to run away from home when she says she and James are in big trouble. They'd probably be better off if it were.
  • Tempting Fate: After she and James agree not to have sex just yet in the last episode, Alyssa thinks to herself that there's no need to be in a big rush. After all, they've got the rest of their lives. Not even twenty-four hours later, the police catch up to them, and James is possibly killed.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Alyssa delivers a stunning one to her deadbeat dad:
    Alyssa: You can't just make people and then abandon them. They'll think they've done something wrong their entire life.
  • Time Skip: There is a gap of between 1 and 2 years between the events of seasons 1 and 2. Alyssa says she was 17 years old during the events of season one, and 19 during the events of season 2.
  • Tsundere: Alyssa starts off as a big-time Type A, being generaly rude and belligerent to everyone, including James, except for a few moments where she shows some vulnerability, but only to James. She eventually mellows out.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The hotel owner in Season 2 won't stop flirting with Bonnie despite the fact she keeps telling him no, and then later goes into her room while she's alone to give her towels before beginning to have a wank in front of her. No wonder she pulls a gun on him.
  • The Unfavorite: Alyssa feels like she's this to her infant half-sisters. In the case of her stepfather, it's certainly true, but whether or not it's true when it comes to her mother is unclear. Either way, when the police come round, they definitely notice that the mantel is covered in photos of the babies... but there's not one photo of Alyssa. Ouch.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Between Teri and Eunice. Something happened between them in the past when they were drunk, and there are some brief moments of Ship Tease between them, but nothing ever comes of it.
  • Useless Bystander Parent:
    • Alyssa's mother seems to genuinely care for Alyssa, but doesn't even open her mouth when Tony violently tells Alyssa to stay away after he groped her at a party and she ran away.
    • Played with in James's dad. He seems to be this (and Alyssa's mother accuses him of being this), but he is actually extremely protective of James, refusing to report him for violently attacking him or stealing the car. Which ultimately would've been for the best.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Season 2 reveals Bonnie to have been one for most of the tragedy of season 1. By killing one of Clive's victims before she could expose him, she didn't just insured the rapes of God knows how many women, but also Clive's own death, as he remained free to cross paths with Alyssa and James.
  • What Is This Feeling?: The longer James spends with Alyssa, the more he begins to develop romantic feelings towards her (something he has never felt before).
    James: Being with Alyssa had started to make me feel things. I didn't like it at all.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Alyssa can easily escape while the store clerk is preoccupied with a man missing his young daughter. When she goes to leave, she sees the lost little girl. Nobody else is present, and Alyssa could easily make her getaway rather than risk being caught and arrested, not only for theft but for her and James' other crimes. Instead, Alyssa brings the girl back to her incredibly worried father.
  • When She Smiles: James and Alyssa don't have much to smile about, but when they do, it will melt your heart. Alyssa is especially surprised when she sees James genuinely smile for the first time, noticing how handsome he is.
  • Worst Aid:
    • When Leslie is stabbed in the leg with a steak knife by Alyssa, he tries to remove the blade, only to be told by DC Noon that it is probably best he leaves it in until medical help arrives. However, he later pulls it out anyway, and is last seen bleeding out.
    • In season 2, Bonnie gets a massive cut after the corpse of the hotel owner she accidentally shot pushes her into the antler of a deer head mounted on the wall. She treats it with a whole bunch of pain killers, and it doesn't really work.