Happy Valley ending explained: What happened to Tommy Lee Royce?

james Norton as Tommy Lee Royce sitting on a bed drinking beer in Happy Valley season 3
Tommy Lee Royce managed to escape custody... but what happened to him? (Image credit: BBC/Lookout Point/Matt Squire)

The Happy Valley ending has now aired on BBC One, and it's certainly made an impact on fans all over the country with millions tuning in to see the hugely anticipated conclusion.

Throughout Happy Valley season 3, we were all on the edge of our seats as Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton) orchestrated a successful plan to escape custody, Faisal Bhatti (Amit Shah) killed troubled Joanna Hepworth (Mollie Winnard), and Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) and Clare Cartwright (Siobhan Finneran) had a huge falling out over Ryan's (Rhys Connah) prison visits to see Tommy.

There was certainly a lot going on, and it all came to a head on Sunday, February 5 when the big finale aired on BBC One. It was a packed episode with lots of important moments, so let's break things down.

Here's everything you need to know about the Happy Valley finale...

* WARNING — spoilers for all episodes of Happy Valley below*

Happy Valley ending explained: What happened to Tommy Lee Royce?

Tommy Lee Royce holding a match

Tommy Lee Royce set himself on fire in shocking scenes. (Image credit: BBC)

Tommy's fate was the question on every Happy Valley fan's lips, and he met a rather grisly one in the final episode during an intense showdown against Catherine.

After laying low in a safe house, Tommy's peace was soon disrupted when a group of men alongside Darius's brother Zeljko arrived claiming they were moving him to another location. Tommy grew suspicious of this after spotting a petrol can in the car and managed to sneak a knife from the kitchen into the back of the car.

When the time was right, he brutally slashed the passengers and caused Zeljko to swerve off into a nearby field, where the two got into a fight. Tommy won after beating Zeljko to death, and then he took the car and headed in the direction of Catherine's house.

Cue one of the scariest moments in TV as Tommy popped his head up at the window, right behind Catherine while she slept in an armchair and he was armed with a jerry can full of petrol, fully intending to set the house ablaze.

Tommy Lee Royce behind Catherine Cawood as she sleeps in a chair

This might go down as the scariest scene in Happy Valley history! (Image credit: BBC)

Thankfully for Catherine, she was interrupted by her phone at just the right moment and she left to pick up Ryan just as Tommy broke in via the basement, so the two narrowly missed coming face to face.

While Catherine was gone, Tommy occupied himself by going through family photo albums, and he actually got quite emotional as he saw photographs of Becky and Ryan, which was quite jarring as we've never seen such a response from him.

Tommy wasn't alone for long, of course, as Catherine came home and realized the window was smashed. She entered the house quietly, before heading over to the kitchen where she saw Tommy sitting there with bottles of alcohol and having taken a lot of pills.

The two got into a prolonged, heated exchange where Catherine told Tommy exactly what she thought of him and that she was pleased Ryan had not turned out like his father. Meanwhile, Tommy insulted Catherine too, and even tried to manipulate her by saying he "forgave" her for keeping Ryan away from him.

Now backed into a corner with police on the way, Tommy realized he had nowhere to go and he'd end up back in prison. With no real allies left in the outside world either, now that those who helped him were dead or in jail, he decided to take his own life and doused himself in petrol, before dropping a match on himself.

Catherine watched in horror as Tommy was set ablaze, before putting out the flames using a nearby blanket. He was then taken away by authorities and Catherine later found out via text he had died of his injuries.

Did Catherine and Clare make up?

Clare embraces Catherine in Happy Valley season 3

Clare found Catherine crying outside her house following the confrontation with Tommy Lee Royce. (Image credit: BBC)

In a now-iconic scene, Catherine confronted Clare about taking Ryan to see Tommy in prison behind her back, and the two had a serious falling out over it. Catherine also made her anger pretty clear when she ranted at her sister saying they had nothing in common, before storming out and heading back to work.

However, the season finale saw Catherine having a change of heart after a chat with Ryan when she went back to their safe house and opened up about the prison visits to Tommy. There, she admitted that maybe she shouldn't have been so scared of her grandson meeting his biological father, and added she was worried Ryan would end up just like Tommy. The scene ended with Catherine staying for a meal with her sister.

At the end of the episode, Clare rushed to Catherine's house where she saw her sister sobbing outside, clutching family photo albums. She immediately embraced her and Catherine joked that she had "won, obviously" against Tommy and apologized for damaging one of Clare's crochet blankets, so it seems like their relationship is finally back on track.

Did Catherine get to retire?

Catherine Cawood packing up her things at the police station

Catherine Cawood retired from the police after 30 years. (Image credit: BBC)

Yes, thankfully Catherine's retirement went ahead as planned and she was able to put police work behind her after decades of service. With Tommy out of the picture and her familial relationships in a better place, this seems like the ideal end for Catherine and hopefully, she can move on without too much drama!

In an emotional scene, we saw her saying goodbye to Andy, but her exit seemed like solemn one and she wasn't partying and drinking with the other officers who were enjoying her leaving do without her. Instead, she took her belongings and left the building and we last saw her in civilian clothing at Becky's grave.

What happened to Rob Hepworth and Faisal Bhatti?

Amit Shah as chemist Faisal Bhatti who has become a killer. Will he be caught before Happy Valley season 3 finishes?

Faisal Bhatti killed Joanna Hepworth, but all signs initially pointed to Rob. (Image credit: BBC)

Joanna Hepworth's body was found stuffed inside a suitcase at her home, so initially, all signs pointed to her abusive husband Rob. However, Catherine tipped Andy off about Faisal, telling him she knew he was illegally giving out prescription drugs and that he lived very close by. So while we didn't see him brought to justice on screen, it's likely Catherine has helped close the case.

Meanwhile, Rob was not convicted of his wife's murder but he was found guilty of other crimes instead. He was charged with the possession of indecent images after blackmailing a student at school.

Catherine learned that Rob and Joanna's children would be looked after by their grandparents, bringing a tear to her eye as it's something she knows very well, having been Ryan's caregiver after her daughter's death.

To catch up on Happy Valley you can watch all three seasons on BBC iPlayer now. 

Lucy Buglass
Senior Staff Writer

Lucy joined the WhatToWatch.com team in 2021, where she writes series guides for must-watch programmes, reviews and the latest TV news. Originally from Northumberland, she graduated from Oxford Brookes University with a degree in Film Studies and moved to London to begin a career writing about entertainment.

She is a Rotten Tomatoes approved film critic and has a huge passion for cinema. She especially loves horror, thriller and anything crime-related. Her favourite TV programmes include Inside No 9, American Horror Story, Stranger Things and Black Mirror but she is also partial to a quiz show or a bit of Say Yes to the Dress