Veronica Mars is an American television series created by Rob Thomas. The series premiered on September 22, 2004, during television network UPN’s final two years, and ended on May 22, 2007, after a season on UPN’s successor, The CW Television Network. Veronica Mars was produced by Warner Bros. Television, Silver Pictures Television, Stu Segall Productions, Inc and Rob Thomas Productions. Joel Silver and Rob Thomas were executive producers for the entire run of the series, while Diane Ruggiero was promoted in the third season.
The series is set in the fictional town of Neptune, California, and stars Kristen Bell as the title character, a student who progresses from high school to college while moonlighting as a private investigator under the tutelage of her detective father. In each episode, Veronica solves a different stand-alone case while working to solve a more complex mystery. The first two seasons of the series each had a season-long mystery arc, introduced in the first episode of the season and solved in the season finale. The third season took a different format, focusing on smaller mystery arcs that would last the course of several episodes.
Thomas initially wrote Veronica Mars as a young adult novel, which featured a male protagonist; he changed the gender because he thought a noir piece told from a female point of view would be more interesting and original. Filming began in March 2004, and the series premiered in September to 2.49 million American viewers. The critically acclaimed first season’s run of 22 episodes garnered an average of 2.5 million viewers per episode in the United States. Veronica Mars appeared on a number of fall television best lists, and garnered several awards and nominations. During the series’ run, it was nominated for two Satellite Awards, four Saturn Awards, five Teen Choice Awards and was featured on AFI’s TV Programs of the Year for 2005. Following the cancellation of the series, Thomas wrote a feature film script continuing the series. Warner Bros. opted not to fund the project.
The first season revolves around Veronica Mars, a high school student and private investigator in the fictional Southern California seaside town of Neptune. As the daughter of well-respected County Sheriff Keith Mars, Veronica’s biggest problem was getting dumped by her boyfriend, Duncan Kane, until the murder of her best friend Lilly Kane. After Lilly’s murder, Veronica’s life falls apart. Keith accuses Lilly’s father, popular software billionaire Jake Kane, of being involved in the murder. This provokes Neptune’s wrath and Keith’s ousting as sheriff in a recall election, replaced by Don Lamb. Veronica’s mother, Lianne, develops a drinking problem and leaves town. Veronica’s “09er” friends—wealthy students from the fictional 90909 ZIP code—force her to choose between them and her father; Veronica chooses her father. After being voted out as sheriff, Keith opens a private investigation agency, Mars Investigations, where Veronica works part time. Veronica helps her father solve cases and conducts her own investigations on behalf of friends and acquaintances at school.
Veronica discovers new evidence which suggests that Abel Koontz, the man imprisoned after confessing to Lilly’s murder, is innocent. As Veronica delves deeper into the murder case, she also works on other investigations, seeks her mother’s whereabouts and deals with the aftermath of being drugged and raped during an “09er” party. Veronica, no longer part of the school’s wealthy in-crowd, makes some new friends: Wallace Fennel, Neptune High basketball star; Eli “Weevil” Navarro, leader of the PCHers, a Latino biker gang; and Cindy “Mac” Mackenzie, Neptune High’s resident computer genius. Using her friends’ resources, as well as those provided by her father and his contacts, Veronica gains a reputation for sleuthing and finds her skills in increasingly high demand at her school. Things get more complicated when Veronica falls into a relationship with Lilly’s ex-boyfriend Logan Echolls, who for a time held Veronica partly responsible for Lilly’s death and went out of his way to harass her.
The second season begins with the introduction of two new cases: a bus accident that kills several of Veronica’s classmates, and the death of PCH biker gang member Felix Toombs. A school bus carrying six Neptune High students and a teacher plunges off a cliff, killing all but one passenger. Veronica, who was supposed to be on the bus, makes it her mission to discover why the bus crashed. Logan picks a fight with Weevil and the PCHers and ends up accused of killing Toombs (a charge he denies). Partway through the season, Weevil becomes convinced of Logan’s innocence and they team up to find the real killer. This season shows Veronica’s life returning to much the way it had been before Lilly’s death: having broken up with Logan during the summer, she reunites with Duncan and is somewhat accepted by the ’09ers. However, her private-eye sideline and tough persona keep her from being truly assimilated back into the rich crowd. ’09ers Dick Casablancas and Cassidy “Beaver” Casablancas deal with a gold-digging stepmother, Kendall Casablancas, with whom they are left when their father flees the country while under investigation for real estate fraud. Wallace discovers that his biological father is alive, and takes a romantic interest in Jackie Cook.
In the third season, Veronica, Logan, Wallace, Cindy “Mac” Mackenzie and Dick are freshmen at Neptune’s Hearst College. Two new regular main characters are introduced: Stosh “Piz” Piznarski and Parker Lee, who are the respective roommates of Wallace and Mac. The first mystery is established when Parker becomes a victim of the Hearst serial rapist, a storyline begun in the second season. Feeling guilty for not helping her, and remembering her past rape, Veronica sets herself the task of catching the rapist. The next mystery, the murder of the College’s Dean, commences in the same episode the rapist is caught. During the season, Keith begins an adulterous affair with a married client, Wallace struggles to balance academics and sports, Mac begins dating again after previous failed relationships, and Dick has a breakdown and appeals to Logan for help. The season also chronicles Veronica and Logan’s failing attempts to maintain their relationship in the face of Veronica’s increasing mistrust.