The Heck family is saying goodbye after nine seasons of making America laugh on The Middle.
The sitcom's creators explained their decision to end the half-hour comedy after the upcoming season at the Television Critics Association summer press tour on Sunday, saying the timing just felt right to say goodbye on their own terms.
"The decision for us to end the show was a personal decision," executive producer Eileen Heisler said. "We had all talked together as creators and cast. I kind of feel like that moment for us when we felt it was time was wanting to leave when people still wanted more of it rather than staying so long that people go, 'Whatever, why did they stay for so long?'"
Heisler and her creative partner Deann Heline pitched the idea of ending the show last fall to ABC president Channing Dungey and confirmed the idea at the end of their eighth season this spring. The ability to plan a final season became crucial to the creative team and they've planned some emotional things for their goodbye arc.
"Everything is seen through the prism that this is our last season. The first episode we're acknowledging and talking about what is the Heck's legacy," Heline explained. "That's why we wanted to go out on our own terms in this last season. So, when we bring some of our great characters back like Reverend Tim-Tom and all of that, we really want to make sure everyone is having a special episode. It's not like it's going to be something crazy and different. It's still going to be the show that you love but I think that it will have extra meaning for fans that love the show."
One of those stand-out episodes includes an hour-long series finale, which Heline teased as very special and hopes fans will love — though she couldn't give specifics because not even the cast knows how the show is going to end yet.
The Middle begins its final season Tuesday, Oct. 3 at 8/7c on ABC.