Will Catherine die? The Happy Valley characters least likely to make it out alive

Sunday night’s Happy Valley finale is poised to be the most unbearably tense 70 minutes of 2023 so far. After nine long years, three superlative series and 17 bruising episodes, writer Sally Wainwright’s wild west Yorkshire epic will end with an explosive, extended climax.

With stakes as high as the Peak District, somebody’s got to die. Quite possibly several somebodies. But who? We’ve rated the survival chances of all the major players. Let us know your predictions in the comments below. And between 9pm and 10.10pm on Sunday, keep everything crossed and a hankie handy …

Sgt Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire)

The entire series has been hurtling towards an Old Testament-style showdown between good and evil. To end in suitably epic style, Tommy Lee Royce will die (preferable), Catherine will die (unbearable) or both will die (biblical). Consider the “retirony” trope: this portmanteau of “retirement” and “irony” dictates that any character who is days away from a well-earned retirement is doomed. Are those visions of dead daughter Becky a sign that Catherine will soon join her? Is she heading to the Himalayas or to heaven? Will her much-discussed send-off turn out to be her funeral? Wainwright wouldn’t do that to us … would she?
Chance of dying: 6/10

Clare Cartwright (Siobhan Finneran)

Her prison-visit betrayal has driven such a whopping wedge between Clare and Catherine that we worry for her. A heartbroken bundle of remorse and regret, recovering addict Clare could fall off the wagon or worse. Could she risk herself to rescue Ryan and prove herself to Catherine? If the worst happens to one of them, can the sisters reconcile in time? Please let there be one last cuppa and cigarette together. But on the back step, not in Amico cafe.
Chance of dying: 5/10

Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton)

Ta ta, Tommy. They’d be dancing in the streets of Hebden Bridge if the psycho cyclist met his end. The show’s big bad has never been abroad before and hopefully his fake passport will remain unstamped. Catherine hates him enough to smite him down, in self-defence or otherwise. Ryan could commit patricide to save his granny’s life. Darius Knezevic might well want him silenced so Tommy doesn’t risk his future political career (could babysitter “Grandpa Borscht” do the deed with the beetroot knife?). Tommy began the series looking Christ-like. If he dies for his sins, pray he doesn’t bungee-bounce back to life again.
Chance of dying: 9/10

Neil Ackroyd (Con O’Neill)

Clare’s boyfriend has proved a huge irritant since facilitating those pesky prison visits. Could the contempt with which Tommy spoke to him be a prelude to “that Neil” becoming collateral damage? Nobody would miss him much, except Clare. And that would be mainly for the staff discount on groceries at Nisa Local.
Chance of dying: 7/10

Ryan Cawood (Rhys Connah)

It would be deeply bleak if Ryan bit the dust, but what a devastating denouement it would make. Catherine has long been haunted by fears that the devil is in Ryan, passed down from Tommy. The troubled teen could prove nurture beats nature by choosing his grandmother over his biological father – but Ryan might get caught in the crossfire. Fans have theorised that he’s playing the long game by going along with the Spanish escape plan, only to serve up a dish of cold revenge for Royce’s crimes against his family. Tommy’s bound to lash out when he realises he has been set up – and he has already tried to kill his son once. Let’s hope the school football team won’t need to look for a new goalkeeper.
Chance of dying: 5/10

Ann Gallagher (Charlie Murphy)

If Tommy were to kill Ann, it would take us back to the start. It was her kidnapping, after all, which kicked off series one. Ann was shaping up to become a mini-Catherine, but since her secondment to CID she has become irksome – notably by failing to follow up the gangsters’ Honda number plate. Last week’s drunken dropping of truth bombs to Ryan was seen as too cruel by some. If she confronts her rapist Tommy, the still-traumatised Ann could come off worse.
Chance of dying: 4/10

Richard Cawood (Derek Riddell)

Soppy romantics might long for a rekindling between Catherine and her ex-husband, but it looks more likely he’ll be toast. Reporter Richard has been digging into organised crime’s links to local government, hoping for a career-defining scoop. “Teflon Darius” won’t take kindly to such snooping. Giving the fake name of “Richard Allen” is fooling nobody. Richard could soon be wearing concrete Hush Puppies in the local reservoir.
Chance of dying: 9/10

Faisal Bhatti (Amit Shah)

Turning from hapless to homicidal, the Walter White-alike chemist (AKA “Faisalberg”) might have grown in stature but he’s still under threat. Police are investigating his diazepam dealing and murder of Joanna. Her husband’s on the warpath. The drug gang want a bigger piece of his pharmacy racket. The bumbling first-time killer DS John Wadsworth, played by Kevin Doyle, died in the series two finale. Faisal could repeat the pattern. At least his wife could buy new decking with the life insurance payout.
Chance of dying: 6/10

Alison Garrs (Susan Lynch)

You don’t cast Susan Lynch just to tinker with a Land Rover’s engine. Having shot her serial killer son, the product of incestuous rape, Alison broke her own family’s cycle of abuse. She might repay Catherine’s faith by serving a similar function for the Cawoods. Could she intervene to save her friend, sacrificing herself in the process? Or will the women ride off into the Himalayan sunset together, like a Yorkshire Thelma and Louise?
Chance of dying: 3/10

Rob Hepworth (Mark Stanley)

Horrible Hepworth, the poster boy for toxic masculinity, definitely deserves his comeuppance. Surely he’ll either get sent down for killing his wife, Joanna, (even though that’s one of the few things he didn’t do to her) or divine justice will be served?
Chance of dying: 8/10

Darius Knezevic (Alec Secareanu)

We might have only met him two episodes ago, but the gangland kingpin has been behind most Calder valley crime for the past three series. How poetic would it be if “the policewoman” brought him down on her last day in the job? Or if he was stabbed in the back by an underling like Ivan or Tommy? Not so Teflon now, are we?
Chance of dying: 5/10

Related: ‘Tommy sacrifices himself’ – your fan theories on how Happy Valley will end

Nevison Gallagher (George Costigan)

The region’s resident millionaire and friend of the family is putting up the Cawoods in his huge house until renegade Royce is apprehended. This might well invite Tommy-shaped trouble to his doorstep. Widower Nev has long had a soft spot for Catherine, and asked her out to dinner earlier this series. Might he die heroically trying to save her? Or, indeed, his daughter Ann?
Chance of dying: 6/10

Daniel Cawood (Karl Davies)

After daughter Becky, Catherine couldn’t lose her other child, could she? It would be a tragedy of ancient Greek proportions, but don’t rule it out. Daniel admitted to his nephew Ryan last week that he regretted “not being bigger and better for my mum”. He might try to compensate and pay the price.
Chance of dying: 2/10

Matija and Ivan (Jack Bandeira and Oliver Huntingdon)

The rozzers are hot on the heels of the drug gang’s gruesome twosome. They’ve also stolen £30,000 of loot from their criminal overlords. Both facts make it unlikely that Ivan will make it to the church on time. One wedding and two funerals, anyone?
Chance of dying: 7/10


What if UFO sightings in the area are real and extraterrestrial invaders wipe out the entire Calder valley population? Apart from “alien life form liaison officer” PC Gorkem Tekeli (Mete Dursun), who could be abducted. It would certainly make for a surprise plot twist. Phone home, constable.
Chance of dying: 1/10