Veronica Mars is the little engine that could when it comes to cult TV shows that get a new lease on life. In 2014, fans raised a massive amount of money to fund a movie set 10 years after Veronica (Kristen Bell) graduated from high school. Now the show has received another chance thanks to Hulu, which will debut Season 4 on Friday, July 26. But what if you've never seen the show? What if you haven't watched it a million times like many Marshmallows? And what if you've never read the books that were published after the movie? There's no need to worry: TV Guide has you covered.
Below you'll find all the relevant details concerning the show and the movie that will give you a decent idea of who the key players are in Season 4 and why you should remember so-and-so from that one episode. Here's hoping this cram session will serve you well when you binge the newest installment!
Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell). We've obviously got to start with the show's eponymous character, Veronica. She was a normal high school girl living in Neptune, California, until her best friend, Lilly Kane (Amanda Seyfried), who also happened to be Veronica's boyfriend's sister, was murdered. Veronica's father, Keith, who was sheriff at the time, bungled the investigation and was booted out of office, resulting in the whole school ostracizing Veronica socially. Keith became a P.I. to stay afloat, and Veronica picked up the tricks of the trade to help out. Who needs friends when you can have a taser and a long-focus lens? Veronica briefly gave up the P.I. life to go to law school and was this close to accepting a job at a prestigious New York City firm, but she ultimately changed her mind and decided to move back to Neptune and rejoin the family business.
Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni). Keith is a stellar parent and great P.I., but he's got a nasty habit of holding the corrupt elite of Neptune society accountable — something that turns you and your family into social pariahs in a town with such a huge wealth disparity. The last we saw of him, he was recovering from a car accident that was actually an attempt on his life, and it left him pretty banged up and in the hospital. He continued to recover throughout the two canonical books that were published following the release of the movie.
Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring). Though Logan started out as an antagonistic bully plaguing Veronica's life, he eventually became a trusted friend and even a steamy love interest for Veronica. Logan had a lot of rage issues, mostly stemming from his mother's (Lisa Rinna) suicide, father's (Harry Hamlin) prolonged abuse, and the knowledge that his father also murdered Lilly. However, he also had a very charming and witty side that made him easy to like no matter how dark he sometimes got. Logan eventually got his act together and joined the Navy, and we last saw him shipping out with the promise that he and Veronica would be together again when he returned home. They are still together in the books, and they've even adopted a puppy named Pony.
Wallace Fennel (Percy Daggs III). As Veronica's best (and sometimes only) friend in high school, Wallace was a key player in the series and helped Veronica solve many of her biggest cases. When we checked back in with him as an adult 10 years later, he'd joined the Neptune faculty and was coaching the JV basketball team.
Weevil (Francis Capra). Also known as Eli Navarro, Weevil was the head of the PCH motorcycle gang in high school and fit the "career criminal with a heart of gold" stereotype to a T. He and Veronica often butted heads, but they also worked well together when their interests aligned. At the end of the movie, he was seen leaving behind his cleaned-up family life to rejoin the motorcycle gang after being falsely accused of attacking Celeste Kane (Lisa Thornhill). In the companion book series, that storyline played out as Keith tries to
Mac (Tina Majorino). Mac was your typical high school hacker (with completely atypical high school hacking skills), whom Veronica befriended after Mac created a kind of shady "purity" test that took the school by storm. When they reunited for their high school reunion, Veronica was shocked to find out that Mac had taken a job at Kane software owned by Jake Kane, who was kind of the Mars family nemesis.
Leo D'Amato (Max Greenfield). Another love interest of Veronica's, Leo was introduced as a sheriff's deputy in Season 1. He was a sweet, good guy, but he was forced to leave the department after it was discovered he'd stolen the Aaron Echolls (Hamlin) and Lilly Kane tapes from evidence and sold them to Logan to pay for his sister's special needs school. His actions jeopardized the case against Aaron as a result. Leo later worked for a private security company, but by the time the movie rolled around, he was a detective in San Diego.
Dick Casablancas (Ryan Hansen). Dick was Logan's dumber, grosser, and crueler sidekick who was just as obscenely wealthy as he was plain obscene. He followed Logan (and thus Veronica) through most of their major life milestones, but he only really faced adversity when his brother Beaver, aka Cassidy (Kyle Gallner), unearthed the truth that their father (David Starzyk) had been embezzling money from his investors, which ultimately sent the man to prison. At the end of Season 2, Cassidy committed suicide after Veronica discovered his part in the school bus bombing (more on that below), and the hard times really began for Dick.
Season 1: The Murder of Lilly Kane. Season 1 centered on the murder of Veronica's best friend, Lilly Kane. For a long time it looked like Lilly had been murdered by one of her family members because there was evidence they'd engaged in a coverup. But it turned out that Logan's dad, movie star Aaron Echolls, had murdered Lilly when she threatened to expose their affair. Veronica turned over the evidence she'd found, but Aaron was acquitted when the tapes went missing from evidence. Lilly's brother, Duncan Kane (Teddy Dunn), later ordered Clarence Weidman (Christopher B. Duncan), the head of security for Kane Software who was known to do whatever the Kanes required, to murder Aaron for revenge.
Season 2: The Bus Crash. Season 2 kicked off with a school bus — which Veronica was supposed to be on — crashing over a cliff, killing almost all of its passengers. When evidence revealed that a bomb was the cause of the crash, Veronica eventually unearthed the truth: her fellow student, Cassidy Casablancas, planted the bomb on the bus to take out two of his childhood baseball teammates so they couldn't reveal that all three of them had been molested as children by their coach, Woody Goodman (Steve Guttenberg). After Veronica discovered the truth, and after it was revealed he also raped Veronica at Shelly Pomroy's party prior to the start of the series, Cassidy jumped off the roof of the Neptune Grand rather than face his crimes.
Season 3: The Hearst Rapist and the Dean's Murder. Unlike previous seasons, Season 3 featured two multi-episode mysteries. The first involved a serial rapist at Hearst College, which Logan and Veronica attended. The culprit turned out to be a two-man operation, one of whom was Logan's friend Mercer (Ryan Devlin), and a timid R.A. Mo (Andrew McClain). Later in the season, after the dean of the college seemingly committed suicide, Veronica dug into the case after realizing his death followed the outline of her "perfect murder" term paper, which she wrote for a criminology class. The culprit turned out to be Veronica's T.A., Tim Foyle (James Jordan), who had been trying to frame his boss, Professor Landry (Patrick Fabian), in retaliation for a bad job recommendation. By the end of Season 3, all the culprits were sent to prison.
Veronica Mars Movie: The Murder of Carrie Bishop. The movie was set 10 years after Veronica and the gang graduated high school, just as their reunion was approaching. Unfortunately, Logan's pop star girlfriend, Carrie Bishop (also a Neptune High grad), was electrocuted in her bathtub, and he was the prime suspect in her murder. Logan called in Veronica, whom he had not spoken to in almost a decade, to solve the case and clear his name. She eventually discovered a former classmate was blackmailing several of their fellow Neptune High alumni about an accidental overdose they'd covered up years earlier, and when Carrie wanted to come clean about what happened, he blackmailed the rest of the group into helping him kill her. By the end of the movie, all guilty parties were either dead or in prison.
Duncan Kane (Teddy Dunn). Veronica had four major romances over the course of the series, and Duncan Kane was the first. They dated before his sister, Lilly, was killed, but he broke off the relationship after he was led to believe Veronica could be his half-sister thanks to an affair between her mom and his dad. That turned out not to be the case (phew!), but in Season 2 he ended up fleeing the country with his newborn daughter (not by Veronica), effectively putting an end to their relationship.
Leo D'Amato. It was a little sketchy that Veronica was dating a deputy when she was still in high school, but it's hard to deny that she and Leo had some excellent chemistry in the good old days. They also shared a love of crime-fighting and mysteries, which made them very compatible. Until, that is, she found herself passionately kissing Logan at the Camelot Motel in the midst of an investigation. Thus ended their sweet but short-lived romance.
Logan Echolls. Dating your dead best friend's ex-boyfriend might seem like a gray area, but Logan and Veronica were actually pretty perfect for each other when he wasn't punching people and she wasn't trying to pin him or his father for murder. They dated off and on over the course of the series, but the movie saw them reunite and rekindle their romance, leaving their relationship decidedly on for Season 4.
Stosh Piznarski (Chris Lowell). While Logan has been Veronica's main squeeze for most of the series, there was a significant chunk of her romantic life that was spent with Stosh Piznarski, aka Piz. While attending Hearst College, Veronica met and eventually began dating Piz, much to Logan's chagrin. In the movie, it was revealed Veronica and Piz were again together (and getting serious), but he dumped her when she chose to stay in Neptune to help Logan rather than return to New York and meet his parents like she promised. He doesn't appear in the revival.
Veronica Mars premieres Friday, July 26 on Hulu.