A Million Little Things’ James Roday Rodriguez Talks About How Gary’s Cancer Prognosis Will Shape Final Season

A Million Little Things. Gary's cancer prognosis.
(Image credit: ABC)

Spoiler alert! This story discusses the Season 5 premiere, “The Last Dance,” which aired February 8. Consider yourself warned!

It was the beginning of the end for A Million Little Things, when the fifth and final season kicked off Wednesday night. The season premiere featured a seven-month time jump, the death of a family member, and a good number of hints about what’s to come. It also answered the question that fans have been asking since the devastating Season 5 finale twistwill Gary be able to overcome cancer again? The short answer was no, and actor James Roday Rodriguez opened up about how his character’s prognosis will affect what happens over the series’ final 13 episodes.

In “The Last Dance,” the close-knit Boston friends group wasted no time revealing to Gary and Maggie (Allison MIller) that they’d found out about Gary’s cancer, and they all crowded into the doctor’s office to support the reunited couple when they received his test results. The doctor informed Gary that he was responding well to treatment, but that his cancer was incurable, and he would have it for the rest of his life. This will undoubtedly have an effect on Gary, as he and Maggie prepare to welcome a baby boy, and James Roday Rodriguez talked to TVLine about the character’s state of mind, saying: 

I say this bearing the responsibility of a dramatization of something that so many people have actually had to deal with for real, which affects families and loved ones and everything: I do think that there is a bizarre, perhaps somewhat macabre level of security in just knowing that I don’t have to cross my fingers and hope for an all-clear every six months. Because I think that, in itself, can create so much anxiety in a human being.

The constant anxiety over whether or not their cancer will come back has been an ongoing conversation with Maggie and Gary through the course of the series, and James Roday Rodriguez pointed out that while it wasn't the prognosis Gary may have wanted, there was some relief in not having to wonder anymore. It sounds like we’ll see him turning his focus to having no regrets at the end of his life. Rodriguez continued: 

So, the diagnosis that, ‘Hey, this is the deal,’ it is what it is, you know? It gives Gary permission to start living for every moment, not knowing how many he’ll have left. As opposed to that, ‘You know what? I can be one of those people that just beats it,’ and the energy that goes into that.

That perspective — where things like cancer, depression and paralysis are not temporary battles to overcome, but rather lifelong issues — is one that A Million Little Things creator DJ Nash has felt strongly about with this series. It’s why he always knew Gary’s cancer would come back and that Eddie would never walk again.

If the rest of AMLT’s final season is filled with more experiences like the one in the premiere — in which Gary and Danny (Chance Hurstfield) paid a visit to the secret lover of Gary’s late father’s war buddy — I think we’re in for an emotional ride. A Million Little Things airs at 10 p.m. ET Wednesdays on ABC. See what else is premiering soon with our 2023 TV schedule

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Heidi Venable is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend, a mom of two and a hard-core '90s kid. She started freelancing for CinemaBlend in 2020 and officially came on board in 2021. Her job entails writing news stories and TV reactions from some of her favorite prime-time shows like Grey's Anatomy and The Bachelor. She graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a degree in Journalism and worked in the newspaper industry for almost two decades in multiple roles including Sports Editor, Page Designer and Online Editor. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.