- "The distant skies. Beyond time and distance. An overwhelmingly long journey just for the two of us. You're a part of me. I'm a part of you. I'll remember your warmth, along with the memories we've made together. I'll never let you go again!""—Hiro and Zero Two
Never Let Me Go is the twenty-fourth and final episode of DARLING in the FRANXX.
Hiro and Zero Two, after separating from their squadmates, travel to the end of the universe with Strelizia True Apus to settle it once and for all with VIRM. Continuing to fly in just dark space is like nothing else - the journey that seems like forever eventually makes Hiro lose his sense of time. On the other hand, on Earth, the parasites who returned from space started living their own lives. They reconstructed Mistilteinn, awakened the comatose children, and witnessed the birth of a new life. While they encountered separation time and again, they took it day by day, trying to become adults they wished to be.
70 days (2 months) after opening the gate, Hiro and Zero Two travel through space. Hiro notes how he hasn’t had the need to eat and sleep since they left Earth, and wonders if he is becoming a full klaxosaur. Zero Two asks him if he is scared but he says no because he feels like he is becoming part of her. They come across a large swarm of VIRM soldiers and proceed to wipe them out.
On Earth, 72 days after the gate passage, Kokoro enters the third month of her pregnancy and her stomach is noticeably bigger. The new Nana makes arrangements to get her maternity clothes, which makes Mitsuru glad. She also insists Kokoro be given special treatment because she will be the first parasite to give birth and thus must set a precedent for the others. The other parasites return to the plantations and find plants are still alive. Ichigo, Goro, Miku, Zorome, Futoshi, and Ikuno see that Miltisteinn has been destroyed and are sad. Noticing the plants are thriving after they seemed to be dying before, Ikuno says it’s a miracle. Zorome comments how much they went through and Miku wonders if Mistilteinn protected them this whole time. Goro says they can make a fresh start. They begin harvesting the soil and plants, and Goro teaches other parasites how to farm in the fields to grow crops. All the parasites managers rendezvous to cultivate a new way of living for the parasites. Ikuno begins researching and when Ichigo asks what the documents are needed for, Ikuno says there is something she wants to get done.
As Kokoro teaches some of the girls how to sew, Mitsuru asks her if she needs anything but she assures him she is fine. Zorome and Futoshi come running in and offer her food they say has good nutrients, and she thanks them. They then decide to head back to the fields and have to drag a reluctant Mitsuru with them because he doesn't want to leave Kokoro's side. Ichigo and Goro talk about Hiro and Zero Two while looking at the sky. She says she can’t help but feel guilty for living peacefully while those two are fighting. Goro assures her to believe them. In space, Hiro notes how he doesn’t recognize the stars because they are so far away from Earth and the perspective is different. Zero Two suggests they create their own constellation before they come across more VIRM and proceeding to destroy them.
245 days (8 months) after the gate passage, Mitsuru rushes towards Kokoro's hospital room. He finds that she has given birth to a baby girl and he falls to his knees, overcome with shock and love for his daughter. Kokoro refers to Mitsuru as ‘papa’ and tells their daughter that he’s here. Mitsuru reaches his finger out to touch the baby’s hand and she grabs his finger, and he breaks down crying. In the hallway, everyone congratulates Mitsuru for becoming the first parasite to be a father, particularly Futoshi who hugs him and declares him as the first father.
Shortly after, the comatose children, including Naomi, are awakened and join the other children. Naomi is happily greeted by Ichigo, Miku, and Ikuno. Overtime, everyone devotes themselves to this new life. Crops begin to slowly but surely grow. Naomi begins helping Ikuno in her research. Ichigo and Hachi educate the younger parasites. Kokoro and Mitsuru learn how to be parents as they care for their daughter. Goro, Zorome, and Futoshi use parts of FRANXX units for engineering. Nana and the New Nana tend to the small children who are still struggling. Later, Goro leaves to go on a journey to gather supplies needed to help the parasites survive and to rescue any children left behind. Everyone bids him farewell and Ikuno asks Ichigo if she will be alright because she will miss Goro the most. Ichigo replies this is something Goro has to do. As Goro asks her to wish him luck, Ichigo tells him to stay in contact with them before Goro kisses her, much to everyone’s shock. Ichigo blushes furiously, and Goro promises Ikuno to bring back what she asked for, and buds them farewell. Ikuno notes Goro has changed a lot recently. During the winter, Ichigo finds Zero Two’s storybook and is baffled to see the last page blank.
783 days (2 years) after the gate passage, Hiro and Zero Two fight more VIRM and defeat them with ease. Hiro falls asleep, which Zero Two notes is unusual and worries that he is getting weaker. When Hiro wakes up, he tells her that he had a dream in which their friends were living good lives on Earth. Zero Two then announces they have arrived at the home planet of the VIRM and come across another swarm of VIRM, including Papa and the Vice Chairman. They strike Zero Two and when she tries to counterattack, she doesn’t move because Hiro had lost consciousness. Papa and the Vice Chairman said it was because of Hiro and Zero Two’s incompatibility due to him being human and her a klaxosaur. Hiro’s consciousness slowly starts to fade away and Zero Two is repeatedly attacked before she is impaled by Hringhorni. She screams out for everyone to save Hiro.
As Ai plays near Zero Two’s statue, she begins saying "darling." Her parents overhear this and tell their squad mates about it. They surmise the statue can link them to Hiro and Zero Two in space. They link arms and shout to them their thoughts. After a couple of days, more and more of the parasites begin joining. Their voices eventually reach the two; Ichigo and Goro reaffirm their belief the two will return, Zorome and Miku are still unwilling to let Hiro and Zero Two outshine them, Ikuno says is working hard with the time she has left, Futoshi says Squad 13 is not the same without them, and Mitsuru says he and Kokoro named their daughter Ai because it means "love", a word they were never taught but learned from Hiro and Zero Two and they want her to inherit the bond Hiro and Zero Two have.
Hiro wakes up as the wedding picture floats in front him, says he hears Squad 13 and the other parasites' voices and says Ai’s name. Zero Two tells him that humans are strong and all the events that happened are what Hiro started because of his desire to live with everyone. Hiro says it’s something not to be proud of because all he did was cause trouble. Zero Two insists it’s because how much he wanted to live and how he dazzled her because he was the humanity she so desperately needed; they are bound by a kiss, met by chance, and are attracted to each other by nature. She asks him to come with her and he takes her hand, and she declares they are the Jian and kiss. Upon reconnecting, they take control of Hringhorni. Zero Two declares she is blessed to have met everyone and she is happy to have been born. She professes her love to Hiro, and he reciprocates. They begin pushing the bomb into the VIRM’s planet as the Jian, reverting to the Strelizia's Iron Maiden form, but in a pure gold color rather than its usual form, in the process. They force themselves and the bomb into the planet, vowing to rewrite their own story. Knowing they will die, they profess their love to each other and vow to meet on Earth one day again as long as their souls exist. The bomb detonates, eliminating the VIRM home planet and liberating all the souls held captive by the VIRM but at the cost of Hiro and Zero Two’s lives. However, Papa and the Vice Chairman are still alive and vow to face them again at the peak of evolution, as Papa says the VIRM cannot die.
Holding hands, Hiro and Zero Two’s souls begin making the long trip back to Earth. The blast can be seen from Earth. Everyone realizes Hiro and Zero Two won but wonder if their prayers reached the two in time. Kokoro breaks down crying at the sacrifice of her two friends and Ai and Mitsuru comfort her. Ichigo also sheds tears but vows everyone will continue rebuilding the planet and society so Hiro and Zero Two will have a home to return to one day. Zero Two’s statue breaks and turns into ashes, leaving behind a single plant. The bright light from the explosion shined in the sky for three days and, after a few more days, many klaxosaurs returned and became part of the Earth. Hachi surmised this meant the klaxosaurs decided to let humanity keep the Earth.
3705 days (10 years) since the gate passage, everyone stopped using the magma energy as part of their commitment to the planet and created a self-sufficient lifestyle from scratch, although they faced adversity after adversity due to this decision. By using their food reserves as a foundation, they were able to grow the food needed to survive. Majority of the parasites start having children, including Kokoro and Mitsuru having their second child. Eight years after Hiro and Zero Two‘s deaths, Ichigo finishes Zero Two’s book so future generations will know about them and she is amused by how awful Hiro was at drawing. As they look at the new community the parasites have built, Nana wonders what else they can do for everyone. Hachi says that, since they can't age, they'll watch the world together. She comments how unyielding he is, which he attributes to him having no emotions. However, Hachi wonders if he can change if she stays by his side forever. Before she can reply, two children ask Hachi to play with them and he agrees. Nana notes he has begun to change and so has she.
At a school entrance ceremony, Zorome has become a teacher, and he is amazed how many children all the former parasites have now. Kokoro and Mitsuru sit together with their two youngest children and their youngest daughter is reading Zero Two’s storybook. Two young girls tease Zorome for skipping a teachers' meeting. Miku scolds him for slacking and they get into a fight. Ikuno, who is now a doctor and in a relationship with Naomi, checks on Ichigo who is pregnant and married to Goro. Ikuno is amazed that Ichigo is going to be a mother and she wonders what the baby will be like. Futoshi comes in with a new bread recipe for them. Naomi teases him for not having lost any weight, which he blames Ikuno for helping him get his appetite back. Futoshi credits Ikuno for her research in keeping the former parasites’ accelerated ageing process under control, allowing them to properly grow into adults, although this shortens her own lifespan, causing her to be sickly and bedridden. She compliments him for making delicious food for the kids. Futoshi mentions that Kokoro and Mitsuru are expecting their fourth child and Ichigo says he is one to talk, as his pregnant wife and two children come to get him for the ceremony. As he leaves, Ichigo tells Ikuno that Goro will be here soon, as he is still traveling. Ikuno says Goro has decided to postpone his traveling so he can stay by Ichigo and the baby’s side. Goro later arrives and eagerly runs to Ichigo, and embraces her.
The former squad, minus Ikuno, who is bedridden, and Naomi, who stays and holds hands with her, reunites at a cherry blossom tree that had grown from Zero Two’s ashes and thank Hiro and Zero Two, speaking of the lessons they have learned from them and expressing gratitude for their sacrifice to give everyone the freedom to live good lives.
Time passes, and the cherry tree grows. A thousand years later, a child resembling Hiro in hair colour sits under the tree, reading The Beast and The Prince. A girl which looks like Zero Two in terms of hair colour runs past him and trips. As the boy helps the girl up, they introduce themselves, symbolizing the beginning of a new story.
- Zero Two
- New Nana
- Vice Chairman
- DARLING's director, Atsushi Nishigori, said he always intended for Hiro and Zero Two to have a happy ending but felt he needed to make their fate more sentimental after discussing it with his assistants. So he went ahead with them making the decision to give up their own lives to save those of their friends and start over as humans via reincarnation.
- The name of this episode is in reference to a quote of the princess to the prince from Zero Two’s picture book, which is “Never let me go, darling.”
- The cherry tree is based on the Yamataka Jindai Cherry Blossom tree in Hokuto, Japan. It is the oldest cherry blossom tree in Japan, being approximately more than 2,000 years old, and is famous for attracting tourism during the Hanami festival.
- Mitsuru’s wedding ring is noticeably absent from his finger, such as when he went to Kokoro’s hospital room to see Ai and then when he holds Ai while Kokoro does laundry.
- Hachi’s scar on his right eye is absent and his eye is open when the camera focuses on Kokoro, Mitsuru, and Ai with Nana and Hachi behind them following Hiro and Zero Two’s sacrifice.
- Upon the release of the English Blue-ray disc on May 28, 2019, these mistakes were corrected.
- In addition to the English Blue-ray version, Kokoro’s medical profile was added on the hospital monitor when she gave birth to Ai; this note was absent in the Japanese debut on July 7, 2018.
Squad 13’s Closing Narration
Zorome: We’re all grown up now, huh?
Miku: Though your mental age disagrees.
Goro: Although, we‘re nothing like the adults we grew up watching.
Kokoro: Anything goes, as long as we’re good role models for our kids.
Ichigo: Hiro... Zero Two... We’re all living strong with our own lives now. You two were the ones who showed us how to...
Futoshi: ...enjoy every experience.
Ikuno: Fight when you have to.
Zorome: Keep working towards your goals.
Miku: Never half-ass things and go all out.
Kokoro: Try and get to know another person better.
Mitsuru: Choose your own destiny with your own hands.
Goro: Be honest with your feelings.
Ichigo: And be someone’s wings. In that sense, I know that you that you two were more human than anyone else.
Boy: (silently reading under cherry tree)
Woman: Don’t run. You’ll fall.
Girl: I’ll be fine! (trips and falls in front of Boy) Ow...
Boy: Are you okay? (lends his hand out)
Girl: Who are you? (takes his hand, revealing her Jian bracelet)
Boy: (helps the Girl up) Me? My name is...
And a new story begins...
DARLING in the FRANXX
|STAMEN||Hiro | Goro | Zorome | Futoshi | Mitsuru|
|PISTIL||Zero Two | Ichigo | Miku | Kokoro | Ikuno|
|OTHER||Naomi | Old Woman | 081 | 090 | 245 | 9'α | 9'β | 9'γ | 9'δ | 9'ε | 9'ζ | VIRM|
|APE||Papa | Vice Chairman | Gorilla | Marmoset | Lemur | Baboon | Tarsier|
Dr. FRANXX | Hachi | Nana
|FRANXX||Strelizia | Delphinium | Argentea | Genista | Chlorophytum | Standard | 9 Model|
|EPISODES||01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 | 08 | 09 | 10 | 11 | 12|
13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24
|CHAPTERS||01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 | 08 | 09 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20|
|MUSIC||KISS OF DEATH | Torikago | Manatsu no Setsuna | Beautiful World|
Hitori | CÅGE | Vanquish | Escape | Darling
|LOCATIONS||Cerasus | Garden | Chrysanthemum | Gran Crevasse | Cosmos|
|KEYWORD||Klaxosaur | FRANXX|