Who Dies in HBO’s ‘The White Lotus’?

HBO Max’s The White Lotus opens on a grim scene. Jake Lacy’s Shane Patton is sitting in an airport alone and upset. He reluctantly tells a pestering older couple that he was in Hawaii on his honeymoon at a resort called The White Lotus. They spill the beans that a woman died there and keep hounding him about his grim, solitary mood. After he snaps at them, he walks to a window to watch a coffin loaded onto an airplane. Next thing we know, we are jumping back in time a week to when Shane, his beautiful bride Rachel (Alexandra Daddario), and a host of other disgustingly rich VIPs arrived at the White Lotus.

The White Lotus was created by Mike White, the writer/actor/director responsible for another quirky HBO dark comedy, Enlightened. In The White Lotus White has created an tropical-themed cesspool of tension. The VIPs include Shane, who comes from money, and wannabe journalist Rachel; powerful businesswoman Nicole (Connie Britton), her beta husband Mark (Steve Zahn), bratty daughter Olivia (Sydney Sweeney), neurologically atypical son Quinn (Fred Hechniger), and Olivia’s beautiful friend Paula (Brittany O’Grady); and Jennifer Coolidge’s hot grieving mess, Tanya. Struggling to navigate these demanding guests needs are hotel manager Armond (Murray Bartlett), spa manager Belinda (Natasha Rothwell), and a supporting cast of stand out players.

Most of The White Lotus deals with our thirst to be seen and loved, the vicious gulf making up the class divide, and a series of awkward encounters. However looming over everything is the knowledge that one of the women we meet will die by the series’ end.

So who dies in The White Lotus and is The White Lotus HBO’s latest murder mystery? Here’s what we know after Episode 1…

Natasha Rothwell and Murray Bartlett in The White Lotus
Photo: HBO Max

Is HBO’s The White Lotus a murder mystery?

That remains to be seen! Sure it’s tempting to think that because The White Lotus teases a tragic death in its first scene that it’s simply the next great HBO murder mystery, but that’s not necessarily the case.

Whomever died could have perished from natural causes, or an accident, or even death by suicide. Just because there’s a dead body on an HBO show doesn’t mean foul play occurred. We’ll have to wait to see how the quirky series unravels before we know if this mystery involves another HBO murder.

Jake Lacy and Alexandra Daddario in The White Lotus
Photo: HBO Max

Does Alexandra Daddario’s Rachel die in HBO’s The White Lotus?

That’s certainly the implication!

The White Lotus’s opening scene gives us a lot of clues that Shane and Rachel’s honeymoon ended in tragedy. First, Shane is alone, upset, and won’t answer questions about where Rachel is. Second, we know that a woman died at The White Lotus. Finally, the camera follows Shane as he walks to the window to watch the coffin loaded onto the plane. This suggests that whomever died was someone close to him.

However, we’re not wholly sold on this super obvious conclusion. After all, it’s almost too obvious. The show definitely wants us to believe that Rachel dies, but it could just be that they split up and Shane is traumatized by what has happened.

Furthermore, the trailers for The White Lotus have revealed that someone else close to Shane crashes their honeymoon: his mother, played by Molly Shannon. Could it be Mommie Dearest in the coffin? And not Rachel? Or is the whole scene with Shane some epic misdirect??

Sydney Sweeney as Olivia and Brittany O'Grady as Paula in The White Lotus
Photo: HBO

So who dies in HBO’s The White Lotus?

All we know for sure about the victim in The White Lotus is they were female and at the hotel during the week the series takes place. Also their body needs to be transported back to the mainland, meaning they are not local (which seems to eliminate the staff). While it definitely seems the deceased had a connection to Jake Lacy’s character, we don’t know that for sure. That means it could also be:

  • Jennifer Coolidge’s Tanya, who clearly has health issues, based on her desperate need for massages.
  • Connie Britton’s Nicole, who doesn’t appear to have any health issues, but then it could truly have been a murder! Or an accident!
  • Sydney Sweeney’s Olivia, who is not afraid of drama or drugs…
  • Brittany O’Grady’s Paula, who actually needs prescription drugs to manage panic attacks.  

But who is it? Who dies in The White Lotus? Well, we’ll just have to keep watching to find out…

New episodes of The White Lotus premiere on HBO and HBO Max on Sundays.

Where to stream The White Lotus


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