Desperate Housewives

Birth. Death. Marriage. Divorce. Tornadoes. Shootings. Plane crashes. Cancer. Yes, the women of Desperate Housewives have been through a lot. But they ain't seen nothing yet.

"You get to do story lines that you wouldn't otherwise do because you don't have to worry about the ramifications," executive producer Bob Daily tells TVGuide.com of the series' final season. "So people can move, people can die, people can have babies and you don't have to worry about the babies growing up. It will definitely change the way we approach the back-half of the season."

Marc Cherry: The end of Desperate Housewives is "bittersweet and lovely"

Series creator Marc Cherry and ABC boss Paul Lee  announced Sunday that the upcoming season would be the last for the sudsy drama. Although the series still performs ratings-wise (last season averaged 11.8 million viewers), cast and crew appreciate the advance warning. "Something that Marc and I have been talking about for a couple years now is: How do we end the show in the classiest way possible where it doesn't feel like we're being pulled off stage, that we're going out on our terms?" Daily says. "Marc felt very strongly, in particular, about letting us know in advance so we can plan the season."

According to Daily, the main story line already in progress for Season 8 will hark back to the first season in a big way, including more on-screen appearances by series narrator and long-gone housewife Mary-Alice (Brenda Strong). "The end of the first episode is a big sort-of tie-in to the DNA of the show so fans will really enjoy the little drop at the end of the first episode," Daily says. "We did that thinking, if it were the last season, it would be a nice bookend."

Dana Delany: I would love to return to Desperate Housewives

As the show draws to a close, prepare to see many more old characters returning to Fairview. "One of the things I'm definitely looking to do this year is bring some of the old favorites back. Some of the kids; like I'd love to bring back Julie. We have to find a way to bring as many people back. Maybe not early in the season, but down the road a little bit."

Marcia Cross already has her own list of familiar faces she wants to see back on the lane one last time. "I do want to see all of my fellas again," she says. "I have had the best male co-stars. I want them all back, dead or alive, so even it's just a fantasy, dream sequence."

The other big question is how the cliff-hangers set up at the end of last season — Lynette and Tom's split, Bree's new relationship and Carlos' accidental murder — will weave into each character's larger farewell. "I'm sure there are things that they knew the viewers want, which is for Tom and Lynette to get back together. But I do like that it's kind of up in the air and maybe they won't," Felicity Huffman says. "Maybe outrageous things happen. Maybe one housewife kills another housewife. Maybe Tom shoots Lynette in the head. I don't know."

Check out photos of the Desperate Housewives cast

Despite the high body count on Housewives over the seasons — thanks in big part to the show's infamous disaster episodes — such a gruesome ending doesn't sound very likely. "Because people have such a kinship with these characters, we feel very protective and there's not going to be an explosion. We're not going to kill them all," Daily says. "We want to make sure people feel like Wisteria Lane is going to be taken care of."

The cast may already be planning their own exodus, but they still admit to being surprised by the news, including Huffman, who says she first heard of the show's impending demise from Cross. "Hope springs eternal. It could have gone for two more years," she says.

Daily, however, is confident the show is going out at the right time. "It's a family and it's always hard to say goodbye. But nobody said to me that they thought it was a bad idea," he says. "Now everybody is excited to give it a great send-off."

Desperate Housewives returns on Sunday, Sept. 25 at 9/8c on ABC.