The Following Events Are Based on a Pack of Lies ending explained

Everything that went down in the thrilling finale

The Following Events Are Based on a Pack of Lies ending explained as illustrated by Rebekah Staton as Alice in the series
(Image credit: BBC/Sister/Ludovic Robert/Future)

The Following Events Are Based on a Pack of Lies ending explained: Let's sit down and unpick that brilliant final episode of the darkly funny thriller.

When sociopathic conman Rob popped out for a chow mein one evening and never came back, he left his wife Alice devastated. Not only distraught, Rob had also hot footed it into the sunset with Alice's money, leaving her with nothing. Years later, Alice spots her ex-husband on the streets of oxford, sporting a whole new life. Of course, she becomes set on a revenge mission to take down the man now posing as an academic, who has continued to gaslight another victim - author Cheryl Harker. But just how did that finale play out, and did Rob get what was coming to him?

For more series ending analysis, we delve into the Reptile ending - viewers have turned into the Netflix hit in their droves. Elsewhere on the streamer, fans have been desperate to know more about the Witness Number 3 ending, and who betrayed Jodie. The Painkiller ending offered devastating finales for some of the characters, while revealing the truth of Perdue Pharma's real life atrocities.

The Following Events Are Based on a Pack of Lies ending explained 

Prior to the events of The Following Events Are Based On A Pack Of Lies finale, Rob had been found guilty of assaulting Alice. Still under the spell of the conman, Cheryl was still willing to go ahead with their marriage, until Alice cornered her in the courthouse toilets and convinced her that Rob is abusive.

Rob responds to Cheryl's distancing from him by pretending to have a heart attack, using his fake frailty as a way to lure her back under his spell - Alice later discovers Rob had been misusing Temazepam to slow his heart rate and present with clinical signs of heart trouble. For a time, it appears his plan had worked, until we find Cheryl is really working with Alice on a take down of the conman. 

Bill and Benjy are part of the plan, hacking Rob's laptop and locating other victims of his abuse. Rob's laptop contained evidence that he'd altered Cheryl's life insurance policy, whereby if they married, he'd receive a large payout if she died - even if they weren't married, he was still set to be the recipient of £1.2 million.

Trying to gaslight Cheryl into believing she is the manipulative one in the relationship, she becomes unwell during an argument - which is no surprise to Rob as he'd been poisoning her. After vomiting and eliminating some of the toxins from her system, Cheryl is well enough to find a suicide note Rob had written for her and planned to use in the event of her death. When confronted, he claimed the note was for himself, and he'd actually planned to kill himself but had not been able to go through with it.

Later, during the Myths, Legends and Fantasy Literary Ball held at Cheryl's house, the plan to give Rob his comeuppance can finally get underway. Rob dons a knight's costume for the event, and Cheryl and Alice get Regina to wear an identical one. Pretending to be Rob, Regina attacks party guests and behaves erratically, to put a question mark over the perception of Rob's mental health.

The pair deploy fake paramedics to cause the real Rob to believe he is losing his mind, before police eventually find him half naked in a maze. Detained under the Mental Health Act, Alice now has power over Rob's care - she is legally still his wife, and can make decisions for him due to his perceived lack of capacity to make them for himself.

Alistair Petrie as Rob in The Following Events Are Based on a Pack of Lies

(Image credit: BBC/Sister/Ludovic Robert)

What happened to Rob?

Alice and Cheryl were told Rob would be detained for 6 months under The Mental Health Act, remaining sectioned while he underwent treatment.

Although pleased to have him removed from their lives, the pair are wary about what will happen once the 6 months is up and he is released. They agree the only thing they can do is make plans for the future, and pull together to gather further evidence against him to try and secure a longer period of detainment. 

Rob is depicted undergoing a therapy session, where he tries to convince his counsellor to let him have a drink, despite refreshments not being allowed. No doubt  he plans not to be incarcerated for the full 6 months, and will do everything he can to secure an earlier release... 

Did Sir Ralph Unwin know Rob was a conman?

This question is left unanswered at the end of the series. Several clues were dropped that Rob and Sir Ralph Unwin could have been working together, but the latter always had an explanation for these.

He appears paranoid about being watched, and could be in financial hardship. The last thing viewers find out about Unwin is that he's been reported missing. This could potentially be setting up a future storyline for a follow up series, or simply be a way of dismissing Unwin as a character whose arc was less important to the main protagonists.

Series writers Penelope and Ginny Skinner, have emphasised the importance of the show putting Alice and Cheryl's experiences at the forefront. They said "So, we were doing some research around con artists, and we learned that there was a strong correlation between the behaviours, patterns and tactics of con artists and how they operate on their victims and other kinds of abuse, for example domestic violence. And we wanted to write a story which explored that and which put the victims of that abuse at the centre." This could explain the closure for the main protagonists, and lack of closure for Unwin. 

Marianne Jean Baptiste as Cherly in The Following Events Are Based on a Pack of Lies

(Image credit: BBC/Sister/Ludovic Robert)

Will there be a season 2 of The Following Events Are Based on a Pack of Lies? 

The future of The Following Events Are Based on a Pack of Lies has yet to be confirmed, although the cast and crew have suggested they are keen for a follow up.

With Rob set for release at some point in the future, and the fate of Unwin left up in the air, viewers also want to see Rob really receive some karma. Speaking to the Radio Times, Alice actress Rebekah Staton agreed that the cast "Hope to get to do more", continuing "We ain’t done enough, we need to take that guy down, he’s coming out in six months".

Rob actor Alistair Petrie said "The desire is there to do it", adding "We'd love to do more because it was such a happy experience. I know that's a cliché thing to say, but to get the band back together would be an unbelievable privilege, it really, really would."

The Following Events Are Based on a Pack of Lies: Audience reaction

Audiences have responded positively to the series, especially the sharp focus on female experience and how coercion and abuse are perceived in society.

One viewer wrote on X (the platform formerly known as Twitter), to say "The Following Events are Based on a Pack of Lies on BBC Iplayer is BRILLIANT!  Am I late to the party? I don't know, but it is brilliant. Society designed to allow white men (especially posh accented) to get away with doing terrible things in plain sight. Great cast and storytelling."  

Another said "Watching The Following Events are Based on a Pack of Lies and the male lead (the baddie, in this story) said 'Everyone knows, the woman is always believed,' and the female protagonist's facial expression was pure gold. A moment of brilliant acting by Marianne Jean-Baptiste." 

Another viewer concluded by adding "The Following Events Are Based On A Pack Of Lies is well timed, emotive and made me cheer for all of us lied to, deceived or made to think it was all down to our behaviour. Bravo #thefollowingisbasedonapackoflies." 

For more drama recommendations, The Inheritance on Channel 5 is compelling, and we reveal who the cast members are and where you might have seen them before. BBC drama The Woman in The Wall has viewers asking whether it's a true story - the inspiration behind the narrative is shocking. The Sixth Commandment true story will also leave you shocked and saddened, told through excellent performances of the well-handled subject matter. 

Lucy Wigley
Parenting writer - contributing

Lucy is a mum-of-two, multi-award nominated writer and blogger with six years’ of experience writing about parenting, family life, and TV. Lucy has contributed content to PopSugar and In the last three years, she has transformed her passion for streaming countless hours of television into specialising in entertainment writing. There is now nothing she loves more than watching the best shows on television and sharing why you - and your kids - should watch them.