Good Wife Creators Explain the Bombshell Shocker That Blew Up Twitter


The creators behind The Good Wife posted a letter to fans last night explaining the decision behind the shocking episode that caused an internet meltdown.

Obviously, SPOILERS BELOW if you have not watched the episode.

If you’re still reading this, you’ve watched the show and you know what happened. (Or you don’t care about spoilers, in which case—good for you, bucking the system!) In case you need a refresher, here’s what went down, in a nutshell. Series regular Josh Charles’s character Will Gardner was shot and killed. That’s right. OMG, freak out because WILL IS DEAD. Via USA Today:

In a shocking twist, Sunday’s episode of CBS legal drama The Good Wife spelled the end of a major character who’s been on the series since its 2009 start. Lawyer Will Gardner (Josh Charles) was shot in an open courtroom during an offscreen rampage by his deranged client, murder defendant Jeffrey Grant (Hunter Parrish). He died later in a hospital.

Judging by 99.99 percent of the reactions on Twitter, NO ONE SAW THIS COMING OR EVEN HAD A CLUE, YOU GUYS.

It turns out this was a planned move nearly a year in the making. According to Robert and Michelle King, the makers of the hit CBS drama, Charles (who has worked on the show for four years) wanted to move on. So, producers looked at their options and decided the best way to end his run was to cause an internet meltdown and kill off a beloved character. They explained the decision in a rather beautiful letter posted on CBS’s website:

The Good Wife, at its heart, is the “Education of Alicia Florrick.” To us, there always was a tragedy at the center of Will and Alicia’s relationship: the tragedy of bad timing. And when faced with the gut punch of Josh’s decision, made over a year ago, to move on to other creative endeavors, we had a major choice to make.
We could “send him off to Seattle,” he could be disbarred, or get married, or go off to Borneo to do good works. But there was something in the passion that Will and Alicia shared that made distance a meager hurdle. The brutal honesty and reality of death speaks to the truth and tragedy of bad timing for these two characters. Will’s death propels Alicia into her newest incarnation.

The Kings said the decision was also a deeply personal one:

We’ve all experienced the sudden death of a loved one in our lives. It’s terrifying how a perfectly normal and sunny day can suddenly explode with tragedy. Television, in our opinion, doesn’t deal with this enough: the irredeemability of death. Your last time with the loved one will always remain your last time. The Good Wife is a show about human behavior and emotion, and death, as sad and unfair as it can be, is a part of the human experience that we want to share.

It’s nice to see producers of a show who actually seem to have an understanding of how deeply passionate a show’s fanbase can be about their characters. You know, instead of killing off a bunch of regulars and then laughing when fans take it “too seriously.” I’m not naming names, but I know you’ve all been there, screaming into the Twitter canyon “WHY, WHY DID YOU DO THIS, WHYYYYY!!!!!”

The Good Wife episode draws instant comparisons to the shocking deaths of other series regulars such as Buffy’s mom or Henry Blake on MASH. (And yes, there’s a few other more recent examples that I won’t mention in case people reading haven’t seen them yet.) It’s one thing to see this kind of death on a series such as Game of Thrones, The Sopranos or Breaking Bad that routinely kills off major characters. But it’s different when you’re not led to expect this kind of thing. We all know that Ensign Jones isn’t coming back when he beams down to that mystery planet with Kirk, Scotty and Sulu. But Tasha Yar isn’t supposed to die. Neither is Joyce Summers. So yeah, it packs a hell of a punch to hardcore fans. I get it, you guys. I may not be the person screaming and crying on Twitter or fan forums along with you, but DUDE. I totally get where you’re coming from.

Fans can and do experience a version of grief when they realize they won’t be able to spend that time each week with a favorite character. Obviously it’s not anywhere near the same kind of grief experienced over death in real life (SERIOUSLY, IT’S OBVIOUSLY NOT). It’s refreshing to see that people behind those decisions give an actual shit about how the fans may react or feel.

Then of course, there was this exchange on Twitter between the Kings and Charles (probably the best reaction/response on Twitter last night).

Charles will appear on The Late Show with David Letterman to discuss his character’s death, why he left, what he plans to do next and lots of other fun stuff, so tune in if you want to close your eyes, listen to his voice and pretend you’ve got Will with you for just a little bit longer.

Fans of the show probably want to talk about this A LOT more, but for now, what did you think of the producers’ explanation? Is this the way you wanted to see Charles go out? Of should they have “sent him off to Seattle,” given him radio talk show and a couple of quirky sidekicks?

Image via Facebook.

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