Why Yellowjackets Won’t Kill Off Van

The Yellowjackets season finale asked more questions than it answered, but it left some clues that suggest that Van won’t be killed off in the 1990s.

Warning: Contains spoilers for Yellowjackets.

The Yellowjackets season 1 finale asked more questions than it answered, and left a key question open for the future of the TV show: does Van die? In 2021, it has been confirmed that Shauna (Melanie Lynskey), Taissa (Tawny Cypress), Misty (Christina Ricci), Natalie (Juliette Lewis), Lottie, and Travis all survived the wilderness, but no other names have been revealed. Van’s queerness and plucky nature in the face of strife quickly made them a fan favorite, and many viewers are eager to know whether Van will be killed off in Yellowjackets.

Vanessa “Van” Palmer (Liv Hewson) is one of the central Yellowjackets members stranded in the wilderness. Throughout the course of Yellowjackets season 1, it looks like Van is killed off twice, first being left to die on the plane and then being mauled by wolves at night, but Van survives both incidents. Through their journey, Van begins a relationship with Taissa (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and comes to place faith in Lottie’s apparent supernatural abilities, joining her and Misty at the end of Yellowjackets season 1 to offer a bear heart to the wilderness.

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As well as giving Van two near-death experiences, Yellowjackets has not shied away from killing off characters, even after the plane crash in the first episode. In 1996, Laura Lee (Jane Widdop) is killed when the plane she is trying to escape on explores, and in 2021 Travis is killed, presumably by Lottie Matthews’ cult that is revealed at the end of Yellowjackets season 1. So far, Van doesn’t die in Yellowjackets, and there’s good reason to think that she will survive to be a part of the story in 2022 and beyond.

Why Van Doesn’t Die In Yellowjackets


Yellowjackets Van Palmer

While it might appear that any character who hasn’t been seen or discussed as being alive in the future could die in the 1990s period, there are several reasons why Yellowjackets won’t kill off Van. There is reason to think that the cannibalism scene in Yellowjackets episode 1 is actually from their second winter in the wilderness and happens only shortly before their rescue. Van can be picked out as one of the seven masked individuals taking part in the Yellowjackets cannibalism scenes here based on their clothes, which implies that she at least survives most of the time in the wilderness. The Yellowjackets season 1 finale demonstrated that she and Misty join up with Lottie to follow her mysticism. As Lottie has been revealed to be alive in 2021 with a cult following her and there has clearly been a split between Lottie and Misty, it would make sense for Van to have survived and to still be serving as Lottie’s trusted number 2 in the future.


While Yellowjackets has some great queer representation, so far none of those relationships have been shown to have long-term happy endings. Taissa and Simone’s relationship has come under stress in 2021, and it seems unlikely that Ben will escape the wilderness to be reunited with Paul. Killing Van off in the 1990s would be a risk for the series coming uncomfortably close to the long-running (but slowly dying out) trend of “burying your gays.”

Liv Hewson has claimed in interviews that they do not know whether Van survives the wilderness and whether or not there will ever be an adult actor for the character. However, Yellowjacket’s showrunners have reportedly kept the cast in the dark on plenty of details. Jane Widdop was apparently taken out for lunch and told of their character’s death privately only three episodes before it happened, leading Liv Hewson to assume that Van must not be dead at the end of Yellowjackets episode 7 after being mauled by wolves only because they had not been taken out for lunch. While anything is possible, it is extremely unlikely that Yellowjackets will see Van killed off before appearing in the 2020s.


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