The OG ‘Wonder Years’ Ending Really Ticked off Fans

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Sep. 23 2021, Published 2:27 p.m. ET

If you talk to enough old-heads, you'll realize that almost all of them have one thing in common: They look at the past with rose-tinted nostalgia.

That could be the reason so many people loved The Wonder Years back when it aired in the '90s. But now that a new reboot is airing on ABC, many viewers are wondering how the original show wrapped up.

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How did the original 'Wonder Years' end?

If you grew up in the late '80s and early '90s, then there was a good chance you watched the hell out of The Wonder Years, a family-friendly show that chronicled the life and times of a young boy named Kevin and his middle-class family, who were living in the '60s and early '70s. The series was framed as a reflection piece, with an adult Kevin narrating on his past, looking back at his childhood with fondness.

In the series, we got to see Kevin, his friends, and family grow up before our very eyes. We remember his nerdy best friend, Paul; his no-nonsense, working-class dad, Jack; his wholesome and doting mother, Norma; his bully of an older brother, Wayne; his hippie older sister, Karen; and, of course, his childhood crush, Winnie Cooper.

The show received a ton of accolades during its six-season run, including a spot in the Nielsen Ratings' Top 30 programs for its first four seasons.

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Although the show's numbers dwindled a bit in its last two seasons, it was by no means a slouch, but the way the show finished felt abrupt. Fans definitely could have used at least one more season of episodes for a more satisfying ending. So, what happened?

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Do Kevin and Winnie end up together at the end of the original 'Wonder Years'?

It's difficult to imagine that a show as wholesome as The Wonder Years would cause any sort of controversy, but its ending rubbed audiences the wrong way. The last two episodes of Season 6 showed Kevin quitting the job he took at his father's factory after he couldn't stand working for him any more.

He decided to leave and visit the resort Winnie was working at, with his heart full of anticipation.

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He then learned that Winnie was in a relationship with a lifeguard who worked at the resort, which caused Kevin and the lifeguard to fight. Kevin punched the lifeguard out, then left the resort after their scuffle. Later, Winnie and Kevin ended up in a barn together during a rainstorm, where Kevin apologized and the two made up after discussing how scared they were of growing up and potentially growing apart.

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When they ultimately returned back home, everything looked like it would go back to normal for the two characters. There was a wonderful Fourth of July barbecue, and viewers were left with the hope that those "wonder years" would remain intact.

However, the last scene of the show featured a voice-over (by Daniel Stern, yes, Marv from Home Alone) covering what became of each of its main characters.

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Karen had a baby that looked a lot like Kevin, Paul got accepted into Harvard and became a lawyer, and Kevin ended up repairing his relationship with his dad, who died two years later. Wayne took over his dad's factory, and as for Winnie, she went away to study art history in Paris. The two kept in contact while she was away and he event greeted her when she returned from her studies.

But it's how Kevin greeted her that got fans all up in arms: Kevin went and married someone else and he went to meet Winnie at the airport with his new family. He commented about how his life didn't turn out as expected, but still gazed back at his childhood "with wonder." Watch the whole thing below.

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The writing team has reportedly gone on record stating that they shot the ending with a voice-over rather than dialogue scenes because they weren't sure whether or not they'd be coming back for a seventh season. According to actress Alley Mills (who played Norma), the show's cancelation had to do with a "ridiculous" sexual harassment lawsuit against Jason Hervey (Wayne) and Fred Savage (Kevin).

The Wonder Years reboot is now playing on ABC and is currently being directed by OG star Fred Savage.

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