What Happened to Joe’s Mother in You, Explained

Netflix’s ‘You’ follows the story of a serial killer named Joe Goldberg whose obsession with women leads him to murder several people. While he commits heinous acts, Joe considers himself a good guy, who is so unlucky that he keeps ending up in the same cycle over and over again. Through flashbacks in the show, we get a peek into the origins of Joe, discovering that he had a rough childhood and his complicated relationship with his mother might be one of the reasons why he so dedicatedly looks for love and is disappointed when things don’t turn out his way. With the fourth season set to give a fresh start to Joe, you might be wondering what happened to his mother. Here’s what you should know. SPOILERS AHEAD

What Happened to Joe’s Mother Sandy?

When Joe was little, he suffered some very tough times. In the second season, we discover that Joe’s mother, Sandy, had been living with an abusive partner, who made life hell for Joe as well. In trying to escape her abusive partner, Sandy tried to find love elsewhere, hoping that the next man would change things for her and her son. However, much like Joe is stuck in his cycle of murdering people, she was stuck in the cycle of always ending up with the wrong guy.

Sandy’s partner, who was also possibly Joe’s father, suspected her of having affairs. He would interrogate Joe about it, and when the boy refused to divulge any of his mother’s secrets, the man would turn his anger towards Joe and physically hurt him. She promised him that they would run away and it would only be the two of them. But then, on the day they were supposed to leave, Sandy showed up with a different man, convincing Joe that his mother would never be able to be alone and thus, there would be no escape for both of them.

Because Joe refused to leave with her new boyfriend accompanying them, Sandy decided to stay because she didn’t want to leave him alone. Her partner continued to abuse her, and one night, things escalated to the point that Joe ended up shooting him to save his mother. She was horrified by the fact that her young son had killed someone, but she tried to explain it away by saying that he only did this to protect her and that he would never hurt anyone else otherwise. This is what is stuck in Joe’s brain and he uses it to justify his actions over and over again.


Knowing that she couldn’t care for and protect her son as she should, Sandy decided to leave him in the care of the state. He was transferred to Irving Group Home For Boys, where he spent the remaining of his teenage years. Sandy had promised that this situation was temporary. She explained that in her current condition, she couldn’t take care of Joe, and it would only subject him to more danger. She needed to get her affairs in order and once that was done, she would come back for him.

Joe spent years in the state home, being bullied by older kids. He found out that his favorite teacher was also stuck in an abusive relationship and felt helpless when he couldn’t do anything about it. Tired of waiting for his mother to show up and take him away, he decided to find her himself. One day, he sneaked into the supervisor’s office and found a file that revealed the latest address of his mother. Happy that he would be finally reunited with Sandy, Joe showed up at her door but found something completely unexpected.

It turns out that Sandy had turned her life around after all. She was now living in a house with her new son, Jacob. Joe noticed that his mother was more caring and attentive, as compared to how she was with him. Sandy is shocked to see Joe, confirming that she wanted to keep a distance from him. Joe wonders if his mother doesn’t love him because he killed her ex-husband. However, she says that she does love him but she needs a fresh start, which means that she can’t be with him. She says that she left Joe to keep him safe and now, she has a new life but she can’t make Joe a part of it. In the end, she drives away with Jacob, continuing to live her now seemingly perfect life, leaving Joe alone to fend for himself.

Read More: Is Joe Goldberg a Sociopath or a Psychopath in You?