Warning: There are spoilers ahead if you haven’t watched the “Two and a Half Men” finale.
The series finale of “Two and a Half Men” aired Thursday, and many tuned in to see whether or not Charlie Sheen would return to reprise his lead character of Charlie Harper.
Sheen was famously fired from the show four years ago after making negative comments about series creator Chuck Lorre on radio and TMZ, and subsequently exhibited strange behaviour in a string of network interviews.
Ratings for the CBS comedy plummeted after Sheen was awkwardly killed off the show and was replaced with Ashton Kutcher.
The series finale revolved entirely around Sheen’s character.
It turned out Harper was alive and was being held prisoner for the past four years in a giant pit in the basement of an obsessive lover — a nod to “Silence of the Lambs.”
However, Sheen never appears once in the episode.
Instead, viewers are introduced to the backside of a Sheen lookalike at the episode’s end. Before he can turn around, a piano is dropped onto the lookalike, killing Sheen’s character for good this time.
The camera pans over to “Two and A Half Men” creator Chuck Lorre who turns to look at the camera and says “winning,” a phrase that Sheen adopted while on his interview spree in 2011.
Right after, a second piano falls upon his head.
It was a bizarre, strange ending to the 12-season series.
Why bother to make an entire episode revolve around a character who was killed off four years ago when he’s not going to make an appearance?
Apparently, Lorre and the producers did want Sheen to come back and reprise his character.
A title card at the end of the series from Lorre revealed Sheen was asked to come back for the finale.
Here’s the message that appeared on screen:
Here’s what it says in full:
I know a lot of you might be disappointed that you didn’t get to see Charlie Sheen in tonight’s finale. For the record, he was offered a role. Our idea was to have him walk up to the front door in the last scene, ring the doorbell, then turn, look directly into the camera and go off on a maniacal rant about the dangers of drug abuse. He would then explain that these dangers only applied to average people. That he was far above average. He was a ninja warrior from Mars. He was invincible.
And then we would drop a piano on him.
We thought it was funny.
Instead, he wanted us to write a heart-warming scene that would set up his return to primetime TV in a new sitcom called The Harpers starring him and Jon Cryer.
We thought that was funny too.
In an interview for the New York Times, Lorre said he never personally spoke with Sheen about inviting him to come back. Two executive producers, Jim Patterson and Don Reo, were in touch with Sheen.
Lorre also expanded on why he thought Sheen turned down the offer to return.
I can’t say. I just have to assume that he didn’t see the humour in it, which is all right. What are you going to do? We thought that was a terrific way to end the series. He certainly understood there was a huge pent-up demand to see Charlie in the finale, and there would be creative closure in that. I wanted to make that happen, but it wasn’t meant to be.
We made what I know to be a sincere effort to include him in the finale, in a way that would give him a real featured moment, and a funny moment — a self-deprecating and outrageous moment. The final moment would have been his. He chose not to do it. That was an effort not to just give him what he wanted, but to give the fans of the show what they wanted. I’m not clear on what else I could have done. I wasn’t about to turn creative control over the show to anybody, not at this point, not in the finale. I mean, why?
Lorre was also asked whether he gave any consideration to Sheen’s proposed ending for the series.
“Not for a second,” he said. “It just didn’t feel appropriate for what we were doing.”
After watching the episode in its entirety, you kind of can’t blame Sheen for not wanting to come back.
The entire episode appears to be one giant dig at the actor.
Throughout the finale, knocks were made at Sheen for his previous behaviour. Plenty of jokes are made about drugs and prostitutes.
At one point, Ashton Kutcher’s character receives the following text from Harper:
You despicable troll. You thought you could replace my ninja awesomeness, you lame clown. I will deploy army of assassins to destroy you, I will bring my bayonets of truth to the hexagon of death where I will carve my initials into your reptilian skull and cover you in tiger’s blood.
The Washington Post has a big breakdown of the many jokes made at Sheen’s expense.
At the end of the day, Sheen may have gotten the last laugh after all.
Without his appearance, 13.2 million tuned in for the show’s series finale. Though that number was higher compared to recent ratings for “Two and a Half Men,” it was far lower than the average ratings the series was getting when Sheen was on the show.
More people tuned in earlier Thursday night on CBS for “The Big Bang Theory” (17.5 million).
The “Two and a Half Men” finale viewership is also a far cry from the over 27 million people who tuned in when Kutcher replaced Sheen in season nine.
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