Why The Good Wife Chose That Ending

Spoilers from The Good Wife finale can be found throughout this article

Like a lot of major finales, last night’s final episode of The Good Wife was a mixed bag of long-awaited moments and odd endings that ended on a bit of a cliffhanger as Alicia struggled to figure out whether or not Peter or Jason was the person she wanted to spend time with in the future. Her spiritual guide as she tried to figure out the future was none other than Will Gardner, and Josh Charles’ rapport with Julianna Margulies during these key scenes was a fitting tribute to his character's importance on the series, as well as reminded us what we’ve been missing as Alicia grew colder and colder over the last several seasons. It ended without a resolution regarding Alicia’s ultimate choice, and showrunners Robert and Michelle King wrote an open letter after the episode explaining why The Good Wife chose that ending. Here’s what they had to say. 

The ending is supposed to be unsettling. But we don’t think characters need to avoid tragedy to be embraced. We were tempted to have Alicia chase after a man in the end — stop him from getting on a train or an airplane at the last minute, hold him, kiss him. We like those endings. But there was something false about it here. It isn’t who Alicia is. In the end, the story of Alicia isn’t about who she’ll be with; it’s about who she’ll be.

Cliffhanger endings have become trendier on television. Both The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones have used them over the last year, but in the case of both of those shows, they didn’t happen during a series finale. A series finale cliffhanger is less common, although The Sopranos memorably used that sort of format in its final episode. In the case of CBS’ The Good Wife, it was even odder, as no one’s life was on the line. Instead, Alicia was set to make a romantic choice, but didn’t really get the opportunity. 

What happened instead was that Alicia asked Jason to wait for her. She then told Peter she would accompany him as he stepped down as the Governor of Illinois. They held hands when they walked in in a show of support, but when Peter reached her hand at the end of the press conference, Alicia had already run off to chase after Jason, giving us a hint about her ultimate choice. Regardless, Alicia never reached Jason. Instead she encountered Diane in a hallway. Diane was upset because earlier in the episode Alicia made public evidence of an affair her husband Kurt had had while he was doing a routine bullet analysis, hoping that it would discredit Kurt and help Peter. Diane was pissed. She slapped Alicia, mirroring a scene early on in the series when Alicia had done the same to Peter. As it turns out, it was a carefully orchestrated callback. 

One theme we kept returning to over and over in the series was: politics isn't out there. It's not something that happens in D.C. or on the news. It happens in our offices, our homes, our marriages. That's why we ended the series the way we did. Alicia is no longer a victim of politics. She is someone who takes charge, someone who controls the agenda. On one level this is empowering. It allowed Alicia to control her fate. But it also changed her. Ironically, at the exact moment she found the power to leave Peter, she realized she had become Peter.

All in all, it was a very decisive episode of The Good Wife and a very strange way to end a series overall. Julianna Margulies even noted that fans may not like the series ender before the episode aired, so it’s no surprise that the creators felt like they needed to address what happened. Personally, I feel The Good Wife has been a mixed bag since shortly after Josh Charles left and the firms split. So, a mixed bag finale was probably fitting, as well. If you'd like to learn more about the ending, you can read the full letter, here.

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Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Reality TV fan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. Theme park junkie. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.