This article is about the Netflix Series character. You may be looking for the book character.


Just 'cause Hannah fucked up her life doesn't mean she has to fuck up ours.
— to Alex about Hannah and The Tapes, in "Tape 6, Side B"

Zachary "Zach" Shan-Yung Dempsey is a main character in Netflix's 13 Reasons Why. He is portrayed by Ross Butler.

Zach is the subject of "Tape 4, Side A" on Hannah's list of reasons of why she killed herself.

Early Life

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Throughout the Series

Season 1

He is Justin’s friend, they were walking together on Hannah’s lawn when she first saw Justin. Feeling sorry for Hannah after Marcus tried to use her, Zach tried to comfort her, but she ignored him. The next day, Zach said that he wished he had gotten matched with Hannah for the Dollar Valentine survey. Not believing him, Hannah yelled at him until he finally left. Zach's friends teased him for trying to talk to Hannah, but it is implied that his intentions were pure and he really liked Hannah.

After being humiliated by Hannah, Zach got revenge on her by stealing and throwing away all of Hannah’s notes in the Brown Paper Bag Program, notes that she desperately needed to gain comfort and confidence.

Hannah figures out that Zach was the one who took her notes, so she writes him a note in order to confront him. In her tapes, she claimed that he read her note and threw it on the ground, however, it is revealed that Zach still keeps the note in his wallet.[1]

Season 2

Zach helps Alex by carrying his book bag and also helps him with his PT. He tries to distance himself from Bryce but still has to see him because they play baseball together. [2] He is the 6th person to testify in Hannah's trial. He reveals that during the summer before she committed suicide they'd spent a lot of time together. He tells the court that he and Hannah had a summer romance and had taken each other's virginities, but ended it after Zach was too scared to bring their relationship public which made Hannah believe he was ashamed or embarrassed of their relationship.[3]

We learn that he is the one who had been giving Clay the Polaroids. Clay asked him why he didn't just come and talk to him about what was going on in the Clubhouse. Zach told him that it's because he's a coward.[4]

After the lawsuit against the school was dismissed and Bryce Walker was granted probation rather than a jail sentence, Zach was in attendance of Hannah Baker’s funeral as well as her wake. He later attended the prom with Clay, Justin, Alex, Jessica, Tony, Ryan, Courtney, as they all join in a group slow dance to the song Hannah and Clay danced to together the previous year at junior prom as a way to quietly mourn for their friend.

Zach's Mistake (Reason #7)

13 Reasons Why
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Zach is Hannah's seventh reason for why she committed suicide.

After being humiliated by Marcus on their Valentine's Date, Zach reached out to Hannah and tried to cheer her up. Hannah was actually appreciative of this. However, when Zach tried reaching out to her again at lunch and revealed that he wanted to be her Valentine's date, he unintentionally insulted Hannah and as such she insulted him and rejected him. Out of revenge, Zach began stealing the positive notes from Hannah's compliment bag in their English class, notes she enjoyed getting. Hannah discovered it was Zach that was the thief and wrote him a note, however after reading the note he did not apologize and Hannah believed he just threw out the note (though he actually kept it). Hannah wrote another note which was read in front of the whole class though Zach still did nothing to help Hannah and let Skye take the fall for apparently writing the note.


Zach, you're just an entitled idiot who does cruel, stupid things even though you probably have a decent heart.
— Alex describing Zach[src]

Zach is shown to be a kind hearted person and a good friend to those around him though he is also extremely cruel and uncaring to a degree. Like the other jocks at Liberty High he is somewhat shown to be a bully and disrespectful towards girls as he himself admits during his deposition that he said insulting things about Hannah. He is physically aggressive to as he threatened Tyler he would break his arm if he didn't leave him and the others on the tapes alone at lunch and is shown to have a temper as seen after Hannah rejected him and his help. Zach is also inconsiderate of how his actions effect others. When he began bullying/slut shaming Hannah he may have see it as all fun and games, but he did not take into consideration how Hannah may have felt due to the betrayal she suffered from Justin Foley, Jessica Davis, or Alex Standall.

In spite of the other jocks, Zach appears to shown concern for the feelings of others as he tried to cheer Hannah up after Marcus humiliated her on their valentines date though he himself insulted her while trying to tell her she was the valentine he himself hoped for and as result led him to cruelly torturing Hannah by stealing the positive notes that she strongly desired getting which ultimately broke her spirit. Zach is shown to be selfish like a majority of the others on Hannah's list and is willing to keep the tapes a secret to protect himself and even claims that Hannah was too much to deal with and that she screwed up her own life and even though he was well aware that Hannah was calling out for help after stealing her notes for weeks, he did nothing to help her. He is shown to be in agreement with the plans to keep Clay from ratting them all out to and participated in intimidating him along with Alex and Justin. However he is also one of the few people who is civil to Clay as after the latter took revenge against him after hearing his tape, he only forgave him and admitted the truth.

In spite of this Zach is not completely heartless and Alex even once says to him that he is simply an entitled idiot who does cruel stupid things while on the inside has a decent heart. He even kept the note that Hannah personally wrote to him (despite her belief that he threw it out) and during his deposition admits that Hannah was indeed bullied at school and that he took part in it as well, possibly showing he is willing to admit the truth.

Physical Appearance

Zach is a tall and athletic Asian-American with short-cut dark hair and dark eyes. He is typically seen in sporty wear like varsity jackets, jeans, sneakers, and snapbacks. He is also often found in his basketball uniform.


Season 1

Season 2


Season 1

Just 'cause Hannah fucked up her life doesn't mean she has to fuck up ours.
— Zach to Alex about Hannah and The Tapes[src]
Zach Dempsey: "I know you think every guy likes you because you've got this great ass, but I like you for so much more than that."
Hannah Baker: "Oh, my God. You're such an idiot."
Zach Dempsey: "What? What'd I say?"
Hannah Baker: "The fact that you don't even know."
Zach Dempsey: "I meant it as a compliment."
Hannah Baker: "Zach, walk away."
Zach Dempsey: "Come on, I know why you're pissed at Marcus..."
Hannah Baker: "Zach, go."
Zach Dempsey: "If you just gave me a chance..."
Hannah Baker: "Leave me alone!"
―  Zach tries to talk to Hannah[src]

Season 2

Alex: I meant to ask you guys about my note.
Zach: What note?
Alex: My suicide note. [takes it out]
Zach: Jesus, put that away!
Alex: It's not radioactive.
No, I know, it's just... we're not allowed to talk about suicide. Or you, or Hannah.
Jessica: Says who?
Zach: Says the school. They made a rule, the day after you... after that day. And if you talk about it on campus, you get suspended.
Alex: That's so fucked up.
Zach: Yeah.
— Zach, Alex and Jess on the new suicide-suspension rule at Liberty High.[src]


  • Zach seems to be the only person out of the group that seems to actually consider Hannah's feelings and tries to think twice before doing something stupid. Although this is proved controversial because Zach steals things out of Hannah's bag of what is supposed to be people saying nice things to her and takes them so that she doesn't find them, this is only after being verbally rejected by Hannah.
  • Zach kept the letter Hannah put in her own bag to see if he was doing what she thought he was, although Hannah stated on the tapes that he threw the letter away.
  • Zach is currently the only person on Hannah's list to actually prove that she lied about something on her tapes, in this case she accused him of throwing out the personal note she wrote to him after discovering he was stealing her positive notes out of revenge though in reality he kept it and still has it in his wallet.
  • Zachs mother mentions that he wants to become a marine biologist.
  • Zach and Hannah lost their virginities to each other the summer before she committed suicide.
  • Zach was the one sending Clay the incriminating Polaroids, two of Bryce raping an unconscious Chlöe, and multiples of other jocks sexually assaulting girls. Zachs explanation for doing this was because he is a coward but Clay isn't. This means that Clay has the ability to expose Bryce and the jocks and get justice for the girls who have been assaulted.
  • According to a video posted on 13 Reasons Why's Instagram account his iPhone password is 4278.



  1. Benjamin, Elizabeth (writer) & Araki, Gregg (director) (March 31, 2017). "Tape 4, Side A". 13 Reasons Why. Season 1. Episode 7. Netflix.
  2. Yorkey, Brian (writer) & Araki, Gregg (director) (May 18, 2018). "The First Polaroid". 13 Reasons Why. Season 2. Episode 1.
  3. Bicknell, Julia (writer) & Hitman, Eliza (director) (May 18, 2018). "The Smile at the End of the Dock". '13 Reasons Why. Season 2. Episode 6.
  4. Moore, Kirk A. (writer) & Candler, Kat (director). (May 18, 2018). "Smile, Bitches". 13 Reasons Why. Season 2. Episode 10.
Characters of 13 Reasons Why
Season 1
Clay JensenHannah BakerTony PadillaZach DempseyJessica DavisJustin FoleyOlivia BakerBryce WalkerAlex StandallTyler DownLainie JensenKevin PorterAndrew BakerMontgomery de la CruzMatt JensenCourtney CrimsenSheri HollandMarcus ColeRyan ShaverGreg DavisDennis VasquezGary BolanSkye MillerDeputy Bill StandallKaren DempseyPam BradleyJeff AtkinsMr. DownAmber Foley
Minor Characters
PrattersMrs. AntillyJane ChildsMr. CantrellMrs. CantrellLauraJamie GarrisonTodd and Steve CrimsenSethRobert WellsTracy PorterMason PorterHarris AtkinsMrs. AtkinsJaven ReynoldsNora WalkerNoelle DavisPeter StandallMrs. Down
Season 2
Characters who joined in this season are linked in bold font
Clay JensenHallucination HannahTony PadillaZach DempseyJessica DavisJustin FoleyOlivia BakerBryce WalkerAlex StandallTyler DownLainie JensenKevin PorterAndrew BakerMontgomery de la CruzMatt JensenCourtney CrimsenSheri HollandMarcus ColeRyan ShaverGreg DavisDennis VasquezChloë RiceGary BolanSonya StruhlNina JonesCyrusSkye MillerBill StandallJackieScott ReedCalebKaren DempseyMackenzieNora WalkerPam BradleyJeff AtkinsMr. DownRick WlodimierzAmber FoleyNoelle DavisMrs. DownBarry Walker
Minor Characters
Peter StandallThe PriestJudge Franklin PurdyErica CharlesTommy ShusterSethHipster ArtistChad Moore