In the past few years, TV shows have made an event of saying goodbye. Following in the footsteps of the heavily promoted final season of Lost, it's become customary for series ranging from serialized sci-fi (Fringe) to long-running half-hour comedies (How I Met Your Mother) to give their loyal followers a heads-up that the end is nigh. So what took Psych so long to confirm that Season 8 would be its last?
"It's no great mystery now that we knew we were making the last season of Psych the whole time," star James Roday tells TVGuide.com. "I think there's a lot of love and a lot of history and a lot of goodwill between Psych and the USA Network, and it was one of those things where they were 99.9 percent sure we were finished, but nobody actually wanted to push the button. Nobody actually wanted to let go because once you make the press release, once you put it out there that the show is ending, the show is ending."
Despite that initial hesitation, that button was pushed early last month when it was announced that Psych will wrap its run on Wednesday at 9/8c after 120 episodes, eight seasons, a two-hour musical and countless pop culture tributes. "We'd done so much of what we wanted. When you talk about a bucket list, we had a bucket list and we kept putting buckets in the bucket list and filling those up as well," executive producer Steve Franks says.
"Our last two seasons especially have been getting stronger and stronger, and I feel like we're ending the show at the top and not seeing a decline in what we were doing," star Dulé Hill says. "We're not creeping into the station."
Embracing the idea of a final season not only allowed the cast and crew one last chance to check things off their wish lists — such as Franks' desire to do a London-set episode — but also gave the creator plenty of time to craft a proper goodbye. "It just made sense to take the opportunity to go out on our terms instead of kicking and screaming and clawing and trying to get an extra eight episodes or whatever we may have been able to get."
Although Roday promises that the series finale will include "plenty of whimsical, classic Psych comedy," he also says that the final hour will surprise longtime viewers. "The series finale, I think, is probably the most emotional episode that we've had just because the heart of the show is, and always has been, two best friends who go on these crazy adventures and are willing to essentially die for one another doing it," Roday says. "The finale is structured in such a way where that friendship is tested in a way that we haven't ever quite seen it before, and so it definitely has a different color and it was definitely a challenge to shoot it."
Although a great deal of the episode will deal with Shawn and Gus' enduring bromance, the final episode, titled "The Break-Up," will also confront Shawn's development (or lack thereof?). "I knew we were building to this Peter Pan character who needs to have some sort of realization and have a small degree of growing up without actually sacrificing the entire journey that we've made. How much should he grow up? How much should he realize? It was all about that," Franks says.
Although many such questions will be answered, Hill also said that there's also some ambiguity in the final episode. "I really tip my hat to Steve Franks who did a great job of tying up all the loose ends but not tying it up so tight so there's nowhere to go," he says.
So where will Psych go from here? In the press release announcing Psych's series finale airdate, even USA Network President Chris McCumber was careful to leave the door open for future endeavors. "Somehow I don't believe we've heard the last of Shawn and Gus," he wrote.
Although the show has yet to air its finale, Franks already has a few suggestions. "We never ran out of ideas. I still have my board that I packed up when we closed the office — my idea board with like 16 episodes still on there," he says. "That's what the feature films of Psych are for."
Now that more and more TV shows like Sex and the City, Veronica Mars and Entourage are hitting the big screen, it's not out of the question that Psych could return in a similar format. "I've always been incredibly proud to be a part of a cult show, and those are the other shows that are doing that," Roday says. "The good news is that they're paving the way and a precedent has been set."
Adds Hill: "I think you'll see Shawn and Gus Take New York sometime soon."
Roday just stresses that the hypothetical project "should be event-worthy" whenever and however it happens. "We all love each other and nobody would be against making that happen at some point," he says. "All we know is that it was hard to say goodbye and it was tough to let go. That door is not closed and it's certainly not locked."
Psych's series finale airs Wednesday at 9/8c on USA. Will you miss the series?