Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for A Million Little Things Season 5.
Since September 2018, A Million Little Things has provided us with laughs, love, and more tears than we’d like to admit. Season 5 of the series kicked off in February, and fans can undoubtedly expect more emotional rollercoasters until the very end.
In the Season 4 finale of the popular drama, it is revealed that Gary Mendez (James Roday Rodriguez) is fighting for his life again due to a lung cancer diagnosis.
The heartbreaking prognosis came just after Gary found out he would be a first-time dad with the love of his life Maggie Bloom (Allison Miller). *Cue the tears*. Now, after a whirlwind final season of A Million Little Things, we're worried that Gary is going to die.
Does Gary die on ‘A Million Little Things’?
In the penultimate episode of A Million Little Things, Gary and Maggie finally married in their condo, surrounded by their loved ones and son, Javi. However, the momentous occasion is quickly clouded by what the “One Big Thing” fans feared all season.
Fans then got the confirmation that Gary will likely die before the series ends. During the episode, Gary’s doctor tells him his cancer has spread into his other lung, and he has also stopped responding to his treatments. After warning Gary that fighting his latest prognosis “will be a fight,” he underwent chemo.
The AMLT series finale follows the friends as they conclude that Gary won’t be alive much longer. At the beginning of the final episode, Gary, who has now lost his ability to speak, lies in his hospital bed as Eddie (David Giuntoli) and Maggie try to convince him to eat something.
Then, using a dry-erase board to communicate, Gary wrote “Rutledge” and showed it to Eddie. The word is a callback to the reason Eddie, Rome (Romany Malco), and John (Ron Livingston) met and became the diehard friend group they are.
After asking Gary, “Are you sure?”, a flashback scene showed that Gary asked Eddie and Rome (Romany Malco) earlier to help him end his life if he exhausted all options. When Gary confirms the day will be his last, Eddie and Rome respect his wishes.
Upon Gary’s request, they go to his chemo nurse, Kevin (Jordan R. Coleman). Kevin plays dumb at first, stating he can’t do anything for Gary but give him some Jell-O. After a pissed Rome snatched the bag of Jell-O from the nurse, he and Eddie soon discovered that Kevin knew exactly what they wanted and hid the medication that would end Gary’s life in a bag.
After their talk, Maggie, Regina (Christina Moses), and Greta (Cameron Esposito) surprised Gary with a gorgeous mural on the street. The mural showed Gary and his boys wearing their iconic jerseys to a Bruins game. The mural’s center read “Gary Was Here,” the exact words Gary wrote for Maggie on the same billboard years ago during her second bout of breast cancer
Not blubbering yet? Well, the bad times continued in the rest of the episode. When Maggie, Regina, and Gary arrive home from the mural viewing, Rome and Eddie tell Maggie to sit down and watch another one of Gary’s videos he recorded before he got worse.
The video showed Gary explaining to Maggie that he wouldn’t get better and had accepted his fate. Maggie cries uncontrollably momentarily and then tries to hold it together to respect her husband’s wishes to end his life. Although Regina vehemently disagreed with the friends’ decision, she said goodbye to Gary, but not before reminding him that he was the “worst first date ever.”
In separate scenes, we saw the friends gathered together, eating and sharing their best Gary stories since he said he didn’t want them “ugly crying” around his bed in his final moments. Then, Maggie gives him the medicine through laced tea, and they have one last back-and-forth moment while their dog, Colin, sits on the bed weeping. To make the scenes even more sorrowful, a cover of Wicked’s “For Good” plays as all of this is happening. We can’t make this stuff up!
James Roday Rodriguez teased Gary’s fate before the series finale.
While Gary ultimately died in A Million Little Things, he did it his way, and his chosen family respected his wishes. In the series' final moments, a 16-year time jump showed that Javi grew up knowing his dad loved him, thanks to Gary’s recordings.
On his 16th birthday, Gary told Javi that even though he didn’t have any more videos for him, he would always be with his son spiritually. He also promised that his friends would support Javi and Maggie physically, and we see that they stuck to that pledge as they celebrated Javi’s birthday together.
In the final scene, Javi and grown-up versions of Danny (Chance Hurstfield), Theo (Tristan Byon), and Tyrell (Adam Swain) followed their dads’ tradition with their own Bruins seats, with Javi wearing Gary’s favorite hat to the game!
The finale proved that the friends would be OK despite the tragedy that struck them. After an ending like this one, it’s no wonder actor James Roday Rodriguez, who co-wrote the finale with the show’s creator, DJ Nash, couldn’t tell us what would happen to Gary when Distractify asked him in February 2023.
“We can't even tell you because we don't even know,” James exclusively told Distractify.“I think one of the interesting components of being on this show is that DJ Nash, who created it, doesn't always tell you what will happen. And I think it's good because, you know, that's sort of how life works. And it doesn't give you the chance to contextualize it or make any choices ahead of time, or decide how you think it should go. And I think it's served us well up to this point.”
James Roday Rodriguez explained why Gary handled his final cancer diagnosis more “thoughtfully” than the first time.
While James couldn’t tell us how Gary’s story ended, he provided some insight into how his character handled his new diagnosis. On A Million Little Things, Gary and Maggie met at a breast cancer support group, and Gary was in remission.
Although fans only saw most of his first journey with cancer in flashbacks, the illness affected many parts of his life, including his and Maggie’s conception process. Gary’s friends were also understandably concerned when they thought he had breast cancer again in Season 4.
When he discovered he had cancer again, he and Maggie kept it from the group. James says Gary’s choice to keep his prognosis to himself showed his “growth” and acceptance in the last five seasons.
“I don't think he's nearly as angry anymore. And as a result, I think he's processing his latest diagnosis … more thoughtfully and more internally about what everybody needs, as opposed to just, you know, what he needs,” James explains. “I think … the first time he was really struggling, finding the meaning in it, and making peace with it at all. And I think, as a result, he was inviting as many outside noises as he could get. And this time, it's sort of the opposite.”
James continued: “I think he's found a certain degree of peace in his life. And as a result, it's like, he can actually think like, ‘What is the best way to share this news for everybody else? Based on what they're each going through in their lives?’ So I don't think it was, you know, that, that he was being dishonest as much as he was, you know, being thoughtful, and to the best that you can, you know, drop a bomb like that. I think, you know, he wanted to do it as, as, as thoughtfully as possible.”
Allison, who plays Gary's wife Maggie, told Distractify the secret would’ve been “really hard” to keep if she were in Maggie’s shoes, though she fully supports her character's decision to honor her partner’s wishes.
Stream A Million Little Things on Hulu.