Lillian "Lilly" Kane was the daughter of Jake Kane, the billionaire CEO of software company Kane Software, and his wife Celeste Kane. Duncan Kane is her younger brother. She was murdered on October 3rd, roughly eleven months prior to the time of the show's first episode.
Her murder changed Veronica's life completely and was the catalyst for a series of events that included Keith Mars losing his job, Veronica's mother Lianne Mars leaving town, and all of Veronica's friends abandoning her when she needed them the most.
Lilly was born to Jake and Celeste Kane, and had a younger brother Duncan. Although she was in the grade above Veronica Mars, the two became best friends. Prior to her death, Lilly had been dating Logan Echolls, but had been cheating on him with Eli "Weevil" Navarro, and Logan's father Aaron Echolls.
Murder & Case
Lilly's death occurred during her junior year at Neptune High. The teenager was found by the Kanes' pool, her cause of death a blow to the head that had been apparently caused by an ashtray that had been thrown into the pool after her murder. Three months after the jarring crime, an anonymous tip led law enforcement to search the home of Abel Koontz, an ex-employee of Kane Software.
Koontz confessed to murdering her. Don Lamb then found Lilly Kane's backpack and shoes while searching Abel's houseboat, backing up Abel's confession. Until this point, Keith Mars' investigation was squarely focused on the Kane family as suspects. At the time of the arrest, Keith Mars had already been ousted as Sheriff, after a recall campaign led by Jake Kane.
A year later, when Veronica started to conduct her own investigation of Lilly's murder, she visited Koontz on death row twice. She was suspicious of Koontz's confession because he fired his attorney while on death row and she discovered that the same shoes that were found in Koontz houseboat had been in Lilly's room after her murder.
Veronica discovered that all details of the murder seemed to be a little off. Every surviving member of the Kane household had falsified their alibis and Lilly's supposed time of death was three hours off. It was also revealed that Clarence Weidman, the head of security for Kane Software, called in the tip that got Abel Koontz arrested for her murder. During the first visit, Abel figured out who Veronica was, and told her that Jake Kane was her biological father (Lianne Mars and Jake Kane used to date while they were in high school).
After Veronica met Abel, she snuck into his doctor's office and stole both his and Duncan's medical files. She found out that Duncan had Type-4 epilepsy, whose symptoms included violent outbursts and seizures. For the first time, Veronica realized that Duncan was a possible suspect in Lilly's murder. She also found out that Abel Koontz had stomach cancer, and that he was dying. She concluded that Jake Kane paid Koontz to confess to the murder, even though he was not the perpetrator so that all investigation into the Kane family would end. Koontz accepted the offer because he knew was dying and intended to give the money to his daughter.
During Veronica's second visit to Koontz, she told him that she knew that he was not guilty and that he was dying, and that was why he was paid to confess to the murder. Koontz's innocence was further solidified when Keith went to Las Vegas to talk to a prostitute that was with Abel at the time of Lilly's murder. Koontz was later released from death row.
Finally, Veronica discovered several tapes in Lilly's bedroom, hidden in a wall vent, a hiding place Lilly had learned about from Logan. They showed Lilly in bed with Aaron Echolls, Logan's father. Seeing Lilly's outfit and the date stamp on the video, Veronica realized Lilly had been with Aaron the day she died, and concluded that Aaron killed Lilly to get the tapes back. (Leave It to Beaver)
When Duncan found Lilly's body, he went into a catatonic state. When his parents discovered him reeling over Lilly's dead body they assumed he had killed Lilly in an epileptic fit. To protect their son, they began an elaborate cover-up of the murder, that involved false alibis, altering the time of death, and getting Keith Mars kicked out of office. But before Veronica could take the tapes to the police, Aaron tried to kill her. Luckily, thanks to Keith, they managed to subdue him, and Aaron was arrested.
Lilly appeared several times after her death in dreams, as a hallucination and possibly as a ghostly apparition.
A year after her murder, Duncan temporarily stopped taking his depression medication, resulting in a vivid dream about a conversation with Lilly, who was bloody and wearing the same clothes in which he found her. She pointed out that the story the Kanes had been telling about her murder didn't add up and told him to open his eyes because the truth would come out. Duncan started taking his medication again after this dream.
After Veronica discovered that Aaron Echolls was Lilly's murderer, Veronica had a dream about Lilly. The two of them were floating in a serene lily-covered pool. Leaning back and smiling, Veronica declared this was the way things were supposed to be, and how they were going to be from now on.
- LILLY: You know how things are going to be now, don't you? You have to know.
- VERONICA: Just like this... just like this.
- LILLY: Don't forget about me, Veronica.
VERONICA: I could never.
Just before the bus crash, Veronica got out of the bus at the gas station and saw an apparition of Lilly running past calling out to her. Lilly had saved Veronica's life by distracting her away from the bus, where an angry Meg Manning would later deliberately tell the teacher that everyone was in when Veronica was still out.
Veronica had another dream about Lilly on her graduation day, this time imagining how life would be had Lilly not been murdered. In this scenario, Lilly is visiting Neptune High and is going to school at Vassar. She had recently broken up with her boyfriend when he caught her cheating on him with his ex-girlfriend. She then asks why the school has a Lilly Kane Memorial Fountain.
Rob Thomas described Seyfried as "the biggest surprise of the year". When casting a series regular, he was able to see all the best actors in town, mainly because they all wanted to be a series regular. When casting Lilly Kane, who would only appear from time-to-time as "the dead girl", Thomas did not receive the same level of actors. Thomas said that he had "never had a more cut and dry audition" than he did with Seyfried. He said that she was "about 100 times better than anyone else that we saw, she was just spectacular". He continued by saying that she ended up being so good in the series that he used her three or four more times than he initially planned. 
Lilly often is compared to the character Laura Palmer from David Lynch's Twin Peaks, or Rosie Larsen from Veena Sud's The Killing who were also deceased and appeared in their respective shows through various flashbacks as the plot unfolded. Laura's murder, and the mystery surrounding it was a pivotal plot device in the first season of Twin Peaks, as is Rosie's in The Killing, and Lilly's is in Veronica Mars. Comparisons could also be made to Jessica Costello on the first season of Murder One and Mary Alice Young of Desperate Housewives.
- Veronica Mars
- Veronica Mars (appears during the opening credits using archive footage from the TV series)
The "ghost" Lilly that briefly appears in Normal Is the Watchword is re-used footage from Kanes and Abel's. Amanda Seyfried did not appear in new footage for "Normal Is the Watchword" and is not listed as a guest star.
- Veronica Mars: The Complete First Season, Warner Home Video, 2005, UPC 01256972774.