Asa Butterfield, Emma Mackey, and Aimee Lou Wood in Sex Education
Image via Netflix

‘Sex Education’ season 4 cast: Who’s returning and who left?

School's out... for some.

Netflix’s hit teen comedy Sex Education has proven itself to be a class act over its first three critically acclaimed seasons, so the fact that its fourth run will serve as its final batch of episodes is proving sadder than the last day of school. On the other hand, perhaps this is the perfect time to endeth the lesson as, although many of your favorites are all set to return for season four, many cast-members have already graduated on to new projects.

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In case you’ve forgotten, season three ended with Moordale Academy being shut down, so season four uses this major change to the status quo as a way of hitting the reset button and bringing in some fresh faces, as well saying goodbye to some old friends. Meanwhile, others — to the delight of fans — still feature, despite season three suggesting they were leaving the show. Yes, looking at you, Maeve Wiley.

As Sex Education streams on Netflix from Sep. 20, here’s a full guide to every returning Sex Education star and those who’ve been skipping class.

Asa Butterfield (Otis Milburn) — IN

It wouldn’t be Sex Education without Otis Milburn, so yes, naturally Asa Butterfield is back for the show’s fourth and final season. It’s all change for Otis this time around as he’s having to adjust to his new school, the trendy Cavendish Sixth Form College, while attempting to maintain a long-distance relationship with girlfriend Maeve. Meanwhile, in his “professional” career, Otis discovers he has some competition as there’s another student sex therapist at work on his new campus.

Emma Mackey (Maeve Wiley) — IN

Maeve Wiley glares at an off-screen Otis Milburn in 'Sex Education'
via Netflix

When Maeve left to study in the U.S. at the end of season three, Sex Education fans feared we’d seen the last of Emma Mackey, especially as her career was going places (Barbieland, for example). Thankfully, Mackey returns for season four, albeit separated from the other characters, as she lives her academic dreams while studying at the prestigious Wallace University and finds a new mentor in the form of cult author Thomas Molloy (Dan Levy).

Ncuti Gatwa (Eric Effiong) — IN

Ncuti Gatwa is shocked as Eric Effiong in 'Sex Education'
Image via Netflix

While Doctor Who obsessives rejoiced when Ncuti Gatwa was announced as the new Doctor, Sex Education students worried that his new high-profile gig would mean he wouldn’t be back for season four. Luckily, the extremely busy actor — who also co-starred with Mackey in Barbie — somehow made the schedules work so that he got to steer the TARDIS and reprise his role as Otis’ best pal, Eric Effiong, for one last time.

Aimee Lou Wood (Aimee Gibbs) — IN

Aimee Lou Wood attends school as Aimee Gibbs in 'Sex Education'
Image via Netflix

Maeve’s big-hearted best friend, Aimee, is another beloved character we wouldn’t want to lose, but don’t worry as Aimee Lou Wood is also on board for season four. Following her greater understanding of herself and her sexuality in the last season, Aimee looks set to continue being her adorable, sex-positive self in season four. And do we detect a hint at a romance with Isaac?

Gillian Anderson (Jean Milburn) — IN

Jean Milburn (Gillian Anderson) and Eric Effiong (Ncuti Gatwa) share the sofa in 'Sex Education'
via Netflix

Gillian Anderson has been a consistent treat as Otis’ sex therapist mother Jean over the first three seasons, so it would be a crime if The X-Files icon didn’t return for season four. So, of course, she’ll be a major part of the storyline, with Jean having a lot on her plate right now. With her relationship with Jakob over, she’s having to raise her baby on her own while dealing with post-partum depression. Expect Anderson to stick around Netflix even after the show ends, thanks to the exclusive deal she signed with the streamer.

Kedar Williams-Stirling (Jackson Marchetti) — IN

Jackson Marchetti (Kedar Williams-Stirling) serenades an off-screen Maeve with a song in 'Sex Education'
via Netflix

Moordale’s former head boy, Jackson Marchetti, is another character who has gone on a journey of self-discovery over the past three seasons, and that looks set to continue in season four, as Kedar Williams-Stirling is back to see off the show. After things didn’t go as planned with Cal in season three, Jackson appears to have a new lease on life as he attends Cavendish and is still best mates with Viv.

Mimi Keene (Ruby Matthews) — IN

sex education
Image via Netflix

Ruby used to be one of the meanest characters on the show, but Mimi Keene’s character became a surprise fan-favorite in season three once Otis started dating her, with many fans even switching sides to demand that Otis and Ruby become “endgame.” While that doesn’t appear to be the case, Otis and Ruby look to form a new bond in season four, one of platonic friendship.

Connor Swindells (Adam Groff) — IN

Adam Groff (Connor Swindells) grins in a screenshot from 'Sex Education'
via Netflix

Greta Gerwig may well be the biggest Sex Education fan on Earth as on top of Mackey and Gatwa she also cast Connor Swindells in Barbie. Much like his two-time co-stars, Swindells is around for Sex Education season four. As with Ruby, Adam Groff has had a hugely transformative character arc, going from Eric’s bully to his (ex-)boyfriend, so let’s hope he’s able to end the series as a fully-rounded and happy person.

Simone Ashley (Olivia) — OUT

Simone Ashley stares off into the distance as Olivia Hanan in 'Sex Education'
Image via Netflix

Simone Ashley first rose to prominence as Olivia, the lackey to mean girl Ruby on Sex Education, before she was launched into international fame, thanks to her starring role as Kate Sharma in Bridgerton season two.

As you would expect, Ashley’s ongoing commitments to the other Netflix hit mean that she’s put her Moordale days behind her and we won’t be seeing her back as Olivia in season four. “I’m a Bridgerton gal now,” she told This Morning (via Metro.co.uk) in April 2022.

Tanya Reynolds (Lily) — OUT

Lily (Tanya Reynolds) looks glum in the backseat of a car in 'Sex Education' season 3
Image via Netflix

Another cast-member confirmed to exit is Tanya Reynolds, who played the alien-obsessed Lily across the first three seasons. “I’m not [returning], actually, which is sad, very sad,” the Emma star told Radio Times in July 2022. Reynolds indicated that her farewell was a storytelling decision, not a personal one. She explains:

“It’s just the natural progression of these shows – when you have such big ensemble casts and so many characters, I think you have to let a few older characters go to make way for newer ones, which is absolutely the right thing, the way it should happen.”

Patricia Allison (Ola) — OUT

Patricia Allison as Ola in Sex Education
via Netflix

Unfortunately, neither half of the fan-favorite Lily/Ola pairing are back for season four as Patricia Allison likewise unveiled to Capital Xtra in July ’22 that she’s done with Sex Education. Interestingly, unlike Reynolds, this appears to have been Allison’s decision due to her interest in pursuing other projects. She revealed:

“I have absolutely loved being on Sex Education so much and playing Ola, but unfortunately I won’t be joining the team for season four. I’m so sorry to have to break that to you guys, but I’m just going to be doing some other little things. Some other opportunities have come up. I’ve been doing it for three years and I’ve genuinely loved it.”

Rakhee Thakrar (Miss Sands) — OUT

Rakhee Thakrar plays Miss Emily Sands in 'Sex Education'
via Netflix

The final Sex Education star to skip out on the final season is Rakhee Thakrar, who played English teacher Miss Emily Sands. Thakrar confirmed the news to The Daily Star (via TV Line) in August 2022, enigmatically indicating that she can’t say much about the reason why. She teased:

“I’m not part of the new series. I can’t really talk about why… I’m so proud of the show and grateful to have been part of something so important. There is nothing bad about Sex Education.”

Perhaps the stories of Otis and co., plus those who didn’t factor into season four, could continue in some potential spinoffs, but for now school is out for Sex Education.


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Christian Bone
Christian Bone is a Staff Writer/Editor at We Got This Covered and has been cluttering up the internet with his thoughts on movies and TV for over a decade, ever since graduating with a Creative Writing degree from the University of Winchester. As Marvel Beat Leader, he can usually be found writing about the MCU and yet, if you asked him, he'd probably say his favorite superhero film is 'The Incredibles.'