I Have No Problem With How A Million Little Things Handled Gary’s Story, But Here’s Where I Think The Finale Went Wrong

David Giuntoli, James Roday Rodriguez and Romany Malco on A Million Little Things.
(Image credit: ABC)

Spoiler alert! Major spoilers ahead for A Million Little Things’ series finale, “One Big Thing,” which aired Wednesday, May 3.

A Million Little Things came to an end after five seasons, and fans — a.k.a. Millionaires — bid a tearful goodbye to the tight-knit Boston friend group. Our farewell to Gary Mendez was particularly heartbreaking, as he did not survive the series finale, choosing to end his suffering amid a battle with terminal lung cancer. The ending — and the manner in which creator DJ Nash chose to have Gary go out — was sure to be controversial. I have no bone to pick with that, but there was an aspect of AMLT’s last episode that I felt missed the mark. Let’s discuss. 

Gary’s Passing Closed The Book On A Series That Also Opened With Death 

When DJ Nash said the final season felt like a “bookend,” I was immediately worried about what that meant for Gary (James Roday Rodriguez). It turns out my gut instinct was correct, with the only surprise being that it wasn’t cancer that ultimately killed him, but his decision to “die with dignity” when the cancer took his ability to speak and put him in excruciating pain. 

The choice to open the series with a tragic death by suicide in Jon Dixon (Ron Livingston) and end it with a merciful death by suicide for Gary was a strong and effective one, in my opinion. What further differentiated the two deaths was that the "band of dads" was blindsided by Jon's death, while Gary had Eddie and Rome's blessing (and Maggie's, for that matter), as they helped him procure the drugs to end his suffering.

The Other Characters Were Reduced To Supporting Roles 

Gary may have been the glue that made sure Jon’s “Rutledge” group stayed together following his death, but A Million Little Things was always an ensemble drama. By choosing to have Gary’s death serve as the only notable event of the final episode — a death we already knew was coming — I felt like a disservice was done to the other members of the group.

Rome and Regina Howard (Romany Malco and Christina Moses), Eddie Saville (David Giuntoili) and Delilah Dixon (Stephanie Szostak) were vital to the events of “One Big Thing” only in terms of how they were dealing with Gary’s situation. Even the flash-forward was centered around how Maggie Bloom (Allison Miller) and 16-year-old Javi (Josh Zaharia) were coping 15 years later.

That’s not to say anything negative about Gary and Maggie. As a Millionaire from the start, I have been rooting for them more than anybody, and I shed quite a few tears during the leadup to the finale, “Tough Stuff,” over the thought of Javi growing up without a chance to know his dad. The scenes we got with Javi watching old videos of Gary, and Maggie visiting Gary’s grave to tell him she had a date were beautiful, and that’s really why I wished the other characters had gotten similar treatment.

A Million Little Things flash forward.

(Image credit: ABC)

I Wanted More From That Flash Forward 

During Javi’s Sweet Sixteen celebration, we got blink-and-you’ll-miss-it updates about the rest of the crew. (No, really, it required multiple rewatches and pausing.) Katherine Saville (Grace Park) and her wife Greta Strobe (Carmen Esposito) appeared to have had a daughter together, after it was revealed in one of the final episodes that Greta had previously frozen her eggs. We couldn’t have gotten just a little more from that storyline?

Eddie and Delilah were still together, after their reunion was largely glossed over this season. Also, Eddie was wearing a T-shirt for Sophie’s (Lizzy Greene) world tour — so we can make assumptions about her music career — and she and Tyrell (Adam Swain) were still together and expecting a baby. Rome and Regina were there, but if there was anything new with them, I missed it.

A Million Little Things Season 5 was only 13 episodes, whereas the other seasons were between 17 and 20, so perhaps that prevented some of these stories from being fleshed out a little more. I loved the series finale acknowledging Gary as the heart of the group; I just wish his friends had gotten a proper sendoff as well. 

If you want to relive any of the Boston friends’ ups and downs, all five seasons are available to stream with a Hulu subscription, and you can check the 2023 TV schedule to see what new shows are coming soon. I’ll just be over here, waiting for somebody to make an A Million Little Things spinoff starring Danny, Theo, Tyrell and Javi. 

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.