*Warning: This article contains spoilers for season 2 of Heartstopper.*
Sebastian Croft will not return for Heartstopper season 3, it has been confirmed.
Fans were left wondering what the future holds for his character – abusive ex-boyfriend Ben Hope – after a dramatic season 2 arc, which ended with him unsuccessfully attempting to reconcile with Charlie Spring (Joe Locke).
During a tense conversation outside Lambert College of Art, Ben acknowledges that he's a "messed-up person" and shows some remorse for the cruelty he displayed while secretly dating Charlie.
However, Charlie says that the trauma he inflicted was too great for a simple "sorry" to magic away, adding that he hopes Ben becomes a better person, but does not wish to have any part in his life.
Heartstopper creator Alice Oseman told TUDUM that, after season 2, Ben's "role in Heartstopper is now complete" – meaning he won't be seen again as he leaves Truham Grammar to start over at a new school.
The character has actually had a larger role in the Netflix series than he did in the graphic novels, with Oseman explaining that "his presence was necessary" to address the trauma that Charlie still carries with him.
Croft added: "Alice and I both felt strongly about him not having a redemption arc.
"It’s a really beautiful way of having these two people who have been through a lot — and Ben’s been horrible to Charlie — to have that conversation and explore it on a deeper level than I felt like we got to do in season 1."
Indeed, Oseman argued that it would be "needlessly cruel" to write a storyline in which Charlie forgives Ben, given how the treatment he endured in that toxic relationship is still causing him so much pain.
There is a possibility that Ben will learn from his mistakes, but this won't be explored in the show.
"Ben can become a better person, but Charlie should not have to witness that, endorse it, or offer any forgiveness. And so he won’t," the author and BAFTA-nominated screenwriter concluded.
In a hard-hitting moment, as Ben watches Charlie and Nick walk away, an animated tide washes up towards him, decorated in the colours of the Pride flag.
Although it comes close to touching him, he ultimately walks away from it, signifying Ben's rejection of the LGBTQ+ community and all the warmth and joy it can provide.
"I really wanted Ben to have a Heartstopper moment in some way," Croft added.
"I see this beautiful world of Heartstopper and then Ben who can’t be welcomed in… I feel like lots of people would connect with that feeling of being scared to become part of the community and where you fit in."
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Although the character of Ben Hope has been a sinister presence on the show, Oseman made clear that the Heartstopper team adore Croft and will sorely miss him when season 3 begins filming.
"I know that he’ll go on to do incredible things, and I will be cheering from the sidelines all the way," said Oseman.