As Jane the Virgin comes to an end, it’s time to reflect on the gifts the CW’s little dramedy-that-could bestowed upon us, including but certainly not limited to: a simultaneously smart and earnest look at a multi-generational family, a celebration of love in all forms, Rogelio De La Vega, Gina Rodriguez’s seven-minute monologue, the treasure that is Jane and Petra’s friendship, a Pavlovian response in which you cry every time you see a porch swing, and, holy hell, some of the greatest plot twists in the game.
Jane the Virgin is a telenovela after all, and telenovelas are meant to make you feel, to make you swoon, and to make you gasp. Jane excels at the first two, but the way the show pulls off that third piece is truly artful. It’s fairly astounding to witness the intricacy with which Jane lays the groundwork for its most surprising moments, and the confidence the show has in regularly turning its narrative on its head — especially when you look at all of those plot twists and major reveals together.
Which is exactly what we did, as we wait for Jane to, perhaps, twist its final twist in its series finale. Based on execution, how important it is to the overall story, and true shock value, we went ahead and ranked every major twist and turn Jane’s thrown at us over the years — because there are twists, and then there are Jane the Virgin twists.
(Note: Major spoilers for all of Jane the Virgin up to the series finale lie ahead, but you probably knew that based on the title of this article!)
42. Petra’s name isn’t really Petra!
Until I recently re-watched the show, I had completely forgotten that Petra’s real name is Natalia. She changed it when she and her mother, Magda, fled to America to get away from Petra’s ex, Milos. At the time, the revelation was more evidence showing us that Petra was not to be trusted, but overall it had very little effect on the show. Secret identities typically provide cool reveals, but this one was pretty meh in the grand scheme of things.
41. Petra’s having an affair with Roman Zazo!
In the pilot episode, when we learn that Petra Solano is having an affair with her husband’s best friend Roman, the reaction is more raised-eyebrow than full-on-gasp. They both seemed like less-than-great people, anyway. The secret relationship does set in motion the end of Petra and Rafael’s marriage, and it is also important for later Zazo-related twists, but overall it’s a standard-issue soap opera affair — the real juicy stuff comes later.
40. Andie is Michael’s ex-girlfriend!
Just when Jane thinks she’s met a nice new friend in her writing group, she learns that Andie is Michael’s ex-girlfriend and she’s been stalking Jane in an effort to find out if she might have another chance with her ex. Not really the greatest foundation for a friendship. As surprising of a reveal as it is, Andie doesn’t change much on the show. She doesn’t even murder anyone! Like, if you’re going to come on Jane and disrupt things, you better go all-in.
39. Magda is behind interest in franchising the Marbella!
Even putting an exclamation point on the end of that sentence can’t save it from being a bore. Season five has given us more of the same with Magda, the true cockroach of this series, who, after not dying in a coma caused by a car accident, pops up one last time with one of Petra’s idols, posing as a guru guiding the executive toward franchising the Marbella in hopes of extorting money from her daughter. Magda trying to stop her daughter from having a happy ending? Well, Magda’s always gonna Magda.
38. River Fields is in love with Rogelio!
Say what now?
37. Girl Rudy is River Fields’s daughter! They have a fraught relationship!
Like several of the River Fields twists in season five (see above), this one seemingly comes out of nowhere. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a delight to learn that the PA River has been abusing on the set of This Is Mars is actually her daughter Pond (welcome to the telenovela, Eden Sher!), who holds a bitter grudge against her mother for forgetting to thank her in her Emmy speech for her win in Plath on Plath: The Sylvia Plath Story. I don’t really understand where Pond came from, but I also don’t really care!
36. Rogelio made up a fake scholarship to pay for Jane’s grad-school tuition!
I am well aware that this has very little impact on the plot of the show, but the reveal that the Elodea Gale Vigor Scholarship is fake makes me laugh every time. First, there’s the reveal that Elodea Gale Vigor spells out Rogelio De La Vega, as if he is Tom Marvolo Riddle becoming Lord Voldemort. Then there’s the fact that Jane calls the number listed for the scholarship and gets Rogelio’s voicemail, in which he is singing, “It’s a beautiful day to call Rogelio.” Most reveals on this show are brimming with drama and tragedy, but this one brings only joy. Okay, well, it’s not joyous for Jane, who only learns of this once Rogelio is broke and can’t pay for the Elodea Gale Vigor scholarship anymore, leaving her to figure out tuition payments on her own. Still, for us, very fun.
35. Eileen killed Scott!
There are several suspects in the mystery as to who killed hotel employee and ultimate schemer Scott and buried him in the beach along the property line of the Marbella and Chuck Chesser’s Fairwick Hotel. But it ends up being the real Eileen, attempting to keep secret the fact that Sin Rostro is now using Eileen’s face as her own. You know, that old motive.
34. Magda kills Ivan, forces a pregnant Petra to help her bury his body, and then turns her in for the murder!
Was anyone ever really invested in this storyline? On the plus side, we get a great Weekend at Bernie’s sequence as Petra and Magda try to get the body of Ivan (who works for Petra’s criminal ex Milos) out of the Marbella. But overall, Magda’s dastardly plans never really have long-term effects, so turning Petra in always felt more like a minor roadblock than a major plot twist. And it’s true: Petra gets off and turns around to hand her mother over to the police. They have a complicated relationship, those two!
33. Petra was engaged to Lachlan but left him for Rafael!
When Lachlan — Rafael’s rival for control of the Marbella (and his father’s affection) — shows up, we learn that Rafael and Petra only met because Petra was engaged to Lachlan at one point and Rafael stole her away. It’s a reminder that Rafael used to be a huge douchebag and that Petra loves money more than anything else. A real cool way to start a marriage!
32. Alba wasn’t a virgin when she got married!
This reveal really has no major effect on the show except for reframing a lot of Alba’s actions and healing a long-open wound between Alba and Xiomara, but still, what a scandal!
31. Esteban tricks Rogelio into getting a part on This Is Mars!
Rogelio’s rival and stepdad to Baby pretends to move on from acting to become a Reiki healer, thus seemingly uninterested in moving to New York so that Rogelio can have his daughter close as he films This Is Mars, and thus forcing Rogelio to offer him the plum role of “the handsome villain” on the show: This might not be a plot point you remember years from now, but dear Lord you will remember that Esteban is a true gift, and this is just one of the reasons why.
30. Jorge loves Alba, too!
Look, we all knew this would never stay just a green-card marriage, but still, didn’t Jorge admitting his true feelings to Alba warm your cold, dead heart? Mine, too! #Jorgasm4Eva
29. Michael’s not fired, he’s gone undercover!
This tricky season-one twist even made me rewatch! What can I say? I’ve blocked a lot of Sin Rostro plot out of my head — I’m not here for the crime thriller, people. But Michael Cordero turns out to be both a great detective and a decent actor. (Stand-up comic? Not so much.) When Rafael turns him in for letting his partner-turned-Sin-Rostro-operative Nadine go, you totally think he’s been asked to turn in his badge and gun and then goes to Nadine for help in bringing Sin Rostro down. But it is all a ruse! He’s gone undercover and is using Nadine to get to Sin Rostro. Nadine dies in the process, so it doesn’t go all that well.
28. JR’s blackmailer isn’t Krishna! And the real blackmailer comes to kill Petra! And then JR shoots that person! Twists!
Did anyone actually believe Petra’s assistant Krishna when she turned herself in as the person who has been blackmailing Petra’s lawyer/lover Jane Ramos — JR for short, and for future plays on famous catchphrases — to go after Petra? I didn’t think so. Krishna reveals she’d also been blackmailed, but once she heard who was going to kill Petra, she had to warn her. It’s how we find ourselves in the #WhoDidJRShoot situation at the end of season four. Unfortunately, the buildup to this reveal is much more entertaining than the actual reveal in the season-five premiere: The intruder JR shoots turns out to be Milos, Petra’s ex-husband, which, like, was anyone asking to see that guy again?
27. Petra and Krishna are working together to thwart Milos!
This is directly tied to the big #WhoDidJRShoot reveal — she shot Milos, who has returned to steal ownership of the Marbella — but with a much happier ending. Krishna gets a jailed-up Milos to believe she’s turned on Petra and will help him keep the Marbella, but Milos, have you heard? Sisters are doing it for themselves, and Petra and Krishna are working together! In the end, Petra gets 100 percent control of the hotel, as she has always been its one and true queen, and Krishna gets a big ol’ pay raise from her boss. What a team!
26. Carl isn’t real! Wait, Carl is real!
Just when you’re convinced Luisa’s had a psychotic break and she willingly agrees to go to a psychiatric hospital, we learn that Carl is real! Or rather, he’s an actor hired by Magda and Anežka to gaslight Luisa as part of their plot to get her shares of the Marbella. It’s always about hotel shares on this show! Anežka then later reveals to Luisa that Carl is real, but convinces her that Rafael and Petra were the ones who set it all up. It takes a while for Raf and Luisa to sort it out. It also causes a huge rift between Rafael and Petra once Raf learns that Petra didn’t immediately tell him about it, leaving Luisa in the hospital. On the plus side, all the lying finally pushes Rafael to get his own apartment. Man, this Carl — sorry, Anton — character drives a lot of plot forward!
25. The guy who brings Jane, Michael’s letter is her first love, Adam!
Of all the floorboards in all the world, you know? It definitely seems fated that Adam should be the one to move into Jane and Michael’s place after Michael dies and then hand-deliver Michael’s Pre-Cana letter to his wife. There’s no replacing the beauty of the Michael-Jane-Rafael love triangle, but Adam put in a nice effort.
24. Magda can walk! And she pushes Alba down the stairs!
I mean, sure. This takes place during the whole “Petra and Magda keep Ivan hostage in their hotel room” arc and I still don’t completely buy Alba getting super drunk at the Marbella and going upstairs to yell at Petra for terrorizing Jane. That it gets us deeper into Alba’s life as an undocumented immigrant is great, but the execution isn’t the smoothest. The reveal that Magda has been faking her injury plays into the idea of her being a true telenovela supervillain — I mean, she ends up with a hook hand and eye patch! — which is always fun, but even at the time of the reveal, you’re less like, “Can you believe it?!,” and more like, “Yeah, that tracks.”
23. Xo sleeps with Esteban — and gets pregnant!
A true betrayal! At the very least, because of this treachery, we are granted two gifts. First, Rogelio uttering this phrase upon seeing a gift basket that was sent to Xo: “Why do you have a sex basket from my mortal enemy?” And also this hashtag: #EsteBunintheOven. Bless.
22. Rogelio secretly paid for Jane’s first novel to be published!
Yes, this one is quite similar to that whole Elodea Gale Vigor Scholarship thing, but this reveal is a bit more emotionally gutting to our protagonist. Discovering that she was only a “published freaking author” because her father promised to reimburse the publisher if the novel didn’t sell 10,000 copies not only diminishes one of Jane’s greatest accomplishments, but is also a serious knock to her confidence in her writing as she tried to figure out her second novel. In short, this one really stung. At least it makes her victory in being offered $500,000 (!) for her new book that much sweeter.
21. Darci is pregnant with Rogelio’s baby!
This is a problem, because when she tells him, she’s already seven months pregnant, they are broken up, and Rogelio is about to marry Xo, who has already made it very clear she doesn’t want more kids. Thankfully, Ro and Xo get past it, and Rogelio and Darci’s baby, named Baby, is born. There’s a lot of angst around Baby, especially once it’s revealed that Darci has entered into a relationship with, you guessed it, Esteban. OMG, I know!
20. Rafael was adopted!
This twist is frustrating. Sure, this causes Rafael to lose all of his money and decide to serve time for covering up Emilio Solano’s art-smuggling business and that Changes Him (for the better!). But how much crap did we go through watching Rafael deal with the devastating news that his mother left him for a cool $10 million, and then again when he discovered she was the crime lord Mutter? A lot! I’m tired of talking about Rafael’s parentage! Also, there’s been so much talk of who Rafael’s biological parents are, the payoff better be good. It must be someone we know, right? Otherwise, who cares? The Passions of Santos had a maid who turned out to be Santos’s mother … just saying.
19. JR is being blackmailed to make sure Petra goes to prison!
Petra reluctantly hires JR as her lawyer when she’s being investigated for Anežka’s death. It seems like she’ll really fight for Petra! Except we quickly learn that someone is blackmailing her into tanking Petra’s case, threatening to expose JR for tampering with evidence earlier in her career. JR can’t go through with it, but that doesn’t mean the blackmailer is through with her. It doesn’t help that JR and Petra fall for each other. Or does it?
18. Rafael was the one who turned Michael in for letting Nadine go!
And he lied about it to Jane for six months! This is not the most memorable twist, nor the most shocking (Rafael and Michael really hated each other, remember?), but it is important. Remember this: Michael accusing Rafael of telling the police that he let Nadine go when he first discovered she was working for Sin Rostro, and then Michael and Raf getting into a physical altercation over it (baby Mateo gets cut with glass!), is why Jane ends things with Michael just as they were about to get back together. Jane discovering that Rafael was lying — for six months — is what ends her and Rafael’s reconciliation for good. It has a lot of emotional ramifications.
17. Jane’s favourite telenovela star is also her dad!
You probably knew Jaime Camil was playing the dad on Jane the Virgin before you started watching, but if you think about what it would be like to have watched that pilot episode in a bubble, it’s pretty outrageous that the Rogelio De La Vega, star of The Passions of Santos and Jane’s stress-induced fantasy sequences, is actually her father. It’s straight out of a telenovela — literally!
16. Nadine is working for Sin Rostro!
Although by now you may have forgotten about our good friend Nadine, this reveal was another great example of how well Jane sets up these twists. After Michael finds Nadine’s name on the flash drive that contains all of Sin Rostro’s criminal contacts, the show flashes back to several interactions Michael had with his partner that are completely turned on their head within this new context. Nadine just seemed like a skeptical, grounded partner — a foil to Michael, who had a penchant for jumping to conclusions. Knowing she was a Sin Rostro operative, it’s clear that Nadine was trying to keep Michael from solving the case the entire time. Very sneaky, Nadine! Very sneaky, show!
15. Aaron Zazo is really Roman Zazo, who is very much alive!
Both Jane the Virgin and I are very into twin shenanigans. One of the most telenovela reveals this telenovela has in the first season is when Petra figures out that Aaron Zazo, Roman’s brother who has come to visit the Solanos after Roman’s death by ice sculpture, is actually Roman. Aaron is the one who was impaled when Roman wanted to fake his death to get away from Sin Rostro. In a “fun” little cap to this story, Roman kidnaps Petra, and she ends up impaling him to escape. That’s some circle-of-life-type shit, right there.
14. Luisa is sleeping with her stepmother!
Just a real, classic telenovela moment here. It’s honestly surprising how integral Luisa and Rose’s relationship is to this story. Even evil crime lords fall in love!
13. Sin Rostro kidnaps Mateo from the hospital!
Oh you guys, this was an excellent season-ending twist. Up until that point, Jane had never been directly involved in the Sin Rostro stuff. Everything changes after this arc — for all of the main players.
12. Mutter is Rafael’s mum and other assorted Mutter items!
Emilio Solano certainly has a type. There are some red herrings along the way to this big reveal, but Michael finally figures out who Sin Rostro’s adversary is just as she’s shoving a syringe into her son’s neck. Very cool mother-son bonding activity! Not like we needed another crime lord on this show, but the news does send Rafael reeling for a while. And another mini-twist within this: Mutter is actually Sin Rostro’s stepmother. So that’s fun and also very incestuous.
11. Luisa is working with the police to stop Rose! And she’s the one who kills her!!
By the time we get to the end of season five and Luisa has been forbidden (again) from being in Rafael’s life, and yet we see her seemingly working with Rose’s henchman Bobby, you get an inkling that Luisa might be up to something. It’s hard to believe that someone who so badly wants her brother’s forgiveness and to be a part of her nieces’ and nephew’s lives would side with the evil crime lord who’s been wreaking havoc on their family, no matter how strong their love was. It’s also hard to believe the show would end without fully redeeming Luisa. So, no, the reveal that Luisa is working with the cops to finally put a stop to Sin Rostro isn’t completely surprising, but the sequence in which it happens — with Rose decoys running amok and a cop wearing a Luisa face mask — is perfection. Sure, Rose escapes that trap, but that just leads up to another great moment: Jane is being held hostage at Rogelio’s This Is Mars premiere by Rose in hopes of getting Luisa to come out of hiding. Luisa arrives just in time to stop Rose from killing Jane and Rafael and send our archvillain to her own death via impalement on Rogelio’s prehensile This Is Mars tail (that’s another story, my friends), swiftly followed by being set on fire. A fitting end all around, honestly.
10. Michael’s memories come back!
Just because it was inevitable does not make it any less heart-wrenching. As soon as we learned that Michael suffered amnesia as the result of being tortured by Rose, and he’s no longer the Michael we knew but a cowboy from Montana named Jason, it was apparent those Michael memories would somehow return and upend his and Jane’s life even further — otherwise, what was the point of bringing him back? (We’ll get into the actual twist of his return later.) Still, just as we were giving up hope that this Jason person would never return to our beloved Michael, he scrapes his fishing rod against the ceiling and some paint chips fall, looking almost like snow — and Michael’s memories come flooding back. He remembers his life with Jane and, yes, his heart still glows for her. The moment itself is beautiful and devastating all at once. The actual fallout of the reveal, however, makes it a little less moving, as it mostly just stalls Jane and Rafael’s happy ending.
9. Anežka fakes her own death! But then Petra kills Anežka!
Technically these are two seperate twists, but they are tied together by a very clever play on words from Our Narrator. When Petra finds her sister hanging from the ceiling of their hotel room, Our Narrator warns us that Anežka “didn’t kill herself.” Immediately, we are meant to think, “Oh! Someone murdered her and this suicide was staged! Drama!” But then when Anežka pops up at her own funeral and explains to Petra that she faked her own death in order to have a funeral and see if Magda or Petra loved her more, you’re like, “Oh! She didn’t kill herself means she didn’t kill herself!” You guys, we’re wrong on both accounts. Because not long after the funeral, just as Petra thinks she’s won over Anežka’s trust, Anežka realizes that both her mother and sister are playing her, threatens Petra, and Petra pushes her over the balcony. See? Anežka didn’t kill herself! Petra did! Anyway, the whole thing leads to a lot of trouble for Petra and I have a headache.
8. Petra has a secret twin sister! And she’s up to no good!
Aw, the little plot twist that brought Anežka into our lives. We had already seen some twin shenanigans at this point (do not RIP, Roman Zazo), but still somehow this felt fresh. Plus, this scared little kitty brings a whole lot of drama with her. I mean, paralyzing your sister and stealing her identity to sleep with her ex and steal his money at the behest of your mother? That’s true dedication to the telenovela life. Get yours, Anežka. (But also, don’t, because we love Petra)
7. Petra steals Rafael’s last sperm sample and inseminates herself!
It is the stuff of telenovela dreams!
6. Xo has breast cancer!
Plot twists are supposed to pull the rug out from under you, and the reveal that Xo was sick did just that. It worked so well because there wasn’t a smattering of clues building up to it. Like reality, this came out of nowhere and packed an emotional wallop.
5. Jane gets artificially inseminated! And the sperm belongs to this guy she kissed and had a crush on five years ago! And now that guy is her boss, hotelier Rafael Solano!
Yes, it’s true, this is the basic premise of the show and most likely you knew this was going to happen before watching the pilot. It was not a well-kept secret like the other plot twists on this list, but man, what a ridiculous cascading twist to start off on. It’s making sure you know that you’re watching a telenovela. Never forget!
4. Susanna is Sin Rostro in disguise! And she shoots Michael!
You’re basically like: There’s no way Michael could be double-crossed by twopartners — he’s generally a good detective. I guess he should’ve been tipped off by the fact that Susanna and Luisa end up falling for each other but, alas, he was fooled again. Susanna was actually Sin Rostro the entire time, thwarting Michael’s investigation into the drug lord and ultimately shooting our beloved cop. He recovers from the gunshot wound, but there are consequences. Big ones.
3. Rose is Sin Rostro!
Twelve episodes in to Jane the Virgin is when we get our first really huge plot twist. All signs had pointed to Rafael’s father Emilio being Sin Rostro, drug lord and personal plastic surgeon liaison to criminals. But we read the signs wrong: Sin Rostro turned out to be Emilio’s wife, Rose. Not only is it a killer reversal — Rose goes from scared wife to supervillain burying her husband alive in cement in seconds — it also revealed some important things about the show we were watching. Yes, like a good telenovela, there would be twists and turns, but Jane wouldn’t be making those twists and turns without a plan. There would be clues. It’s a game and you need to pay attention. I mean, we were looking for Sin Rostro and the woman’s name was Rose! It was there all along.
2. Michael dies!
A true emotional gut-punch of a plot twist. This one was hinted at pretty directly, although even in a time when TV shows aren’t afraid to kill off main characters, it was hard to believe that Jane the Virgin would really kill the love of Jane’s life. On the other hand, the show wouldn’t repeatedly remind us that “Michael would love Jane until his dying breath” if it wasn’t going to show us that last breath (although, what that line means now with That Other Twist in play, who knows). Still, you never knew when that would be coming and you certainly didn’t expect it to arrive at the end of a very nice, relatively low-key episode about Jane and Michael’s first date and Michael heading off to take his LSAT and start the next chapter in his life. Everyone was so happy! Which maybe should have been a huge clue that a horror show was coming.
1. Michael is alive!
It doesn’t feel like anything could ever beat Jane Villanueva walking into Rafael’s apartment only to find her husband, Michael, standing there after having been thought dead for years. The twist at the end of season four feels kind of perfect. And not just because of the emotional implications it has in the show (so many) or the sense of urgency and purpose it injected into the storytelling as Jane entered its final season. It’s also because this baby was executed flawlessly.
When you go back and watch, knowing what we know, all of season four seems to be leading up to this moment. It takes most of the season for everyone (including the audience) to fully move on from the stinging loss of Michael and fully look to the future. Even this #TeamMichael girl had completely accepted Jane and Rafael as a true and viable love story. They’re so happy — I mean, they’re talking about a proposal — that you had to start to wonder what the real conflict in their relationship would be going forward. It’s truly ingenious timing to drop this grenade. The other thing you can see when you go back and rewatch is that, in true Jane the Virginfashion, there are several clues that something “straight out of a telenovela” is coming. Some are subtler than others, but when Jane tells her family that she’s going to say yes to Rafael’s proposal because he’s her future and “who else could there be?” I gasped: They couldn’t bring Michael back, could they? Could they?! The show lays down just enough clues so as to not ruin the surprise. And what a hell of a surprise it was.
Truth be told, Jane’s final season didn’t always seem to know what to do with this twist after it happened: Characters acted like Michael’s reappearance was solely a burden (was anyone like, “I’m so sorry this horribly traumatic thing happened to you, Michael?” No, they were not); it turned the Jane and Michael romance into an “obstacle” for Jane and Rafael to overcome, and, hello, there was no real Rogelio-Michael reunion like we all deserved. But that doesn’t diminish the fact that Jane the Virgin pulled off one of the greatest twists on television.