Why did Gary die on A Million Little Things? (Showrunner weighs in)

A MILLION LITTLE THINGS - "the kiss" - It's been three months since Delilah and Eddie revealed the truth about their affair, and Sophie continues to rebel against her mother. Maggie, Gary and the gang gather for the opening night of Danny's play, and Rome and Regina take steps toward adopting a baby on the winter premiere of ABC's "A Million Little Things," airing THURSDAY, JAN. 23 (10:01-11:00 p.m. EST), on ABC. (ABC/Jack Rowand)JAMES RODAY, ALLISON MILLER
A MILLION LITTLE THINGS - "the kiss" - It's been three months since Delilah and Eddie revealed the truth about their affair, and Sophie continues to rebel against her mother. Maggie, Gary and the gang gather for the opening night of Danny's play, and Rome and Regina take steps toward adopting a baby on the winter premiere of ABC's "A Million Little Things," airing THURSDAY, JAN. 23 (10:01-11:00 p.m. EST), on ABC. (ABC/Jack Rowand)JAMES RODAY, ALLISON MILLER /
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We had a feeling A Million Little Things would end with a death. That death was Gary’s. Why did he have to die? DJ Nash explains all.

It turns out the plan for A Million Little Things was to start with a suicide that shouldn’t have happened and end with an assisted suicide that was about ending a life with dignity. That’s exactly what DJ Nash was able to accomplish.

This was always a series about the human experience. It was raw and emotional. There were highs and lows. We got to see Maggie beat breast cancer even though she didn’t want to fight it at first; we saw Rome beat his depression with the help of his friends; we watched Eddie struggle with addiction leading to the end of his marriage. There were so many moments that had us laughing and crying, but I don’t think anything ever prepared us for the emotional series finale.

Of course, there are a lot of fans wondering why Gary had to die at the end. Why couldn’t Nash pull a miracle and bring us a happy ever after moment? The simple fact is that’s not reality. Something this show gave us was reality, and that means the sad parts as well as the happy parts.

Why Gary had to die on A Million Little Things

Nash told TVLine that he knew the series had to end with an assisted suicide. It was about dying with dignity, and that’s what he brought us with Gary’s storyline. We saw him unable to speak at the end, which a consultant on the series confirmed was a possibility with Stage VI lung cancer. The audience had to believe that Gary knew he was going to die and he wanted to do it on his own terms.

By the way, the episode was co-written by Nash and James Roday Rodriguez (Gary), and I think that was the best choice for the episode.

Back to the reasoning behind it all. Yes, a lot of people wanted to see Gary survive, but we all know that’s not always the case. Not everyone could get a happy ending, but Nash wanted to show that people would be okay. From day one, we were told Gary would die from cancer. We just had to wait to see how that would come to pass. That’s what happened.

Instead of ending with that, though, we got a sort of Six Feet Under moment. There was that flash-forward to see that everyone was okay and able to move forward in life. Okay, we didn’t get the exact flash-forward with how everyone died in the end or the ages they were, but it was that sense that life went on and people were able to find happiness after Gary’s death.

Nash also shared that he wrote in a lesson that he learned after the loss of his own dad. The relationship with his dad wasn’t over; it just changed. That’s something we see for Javi.

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A Million Little Things is available to stream on Hulu.