TV

Josh Charles in the ‘Good Wife’ finale would be the best – and worst

Josh Charles as Will Gardner in “The Good Wife.”
Josh Charles as Will Gardner in “The Good Wife.”

Well, here’s one way to build excitement for your show’s series finale: a rumor that a formerly beloved, very dead character might be making an appearance.

That’s right – even though there have been few TV deaths more shocking than the fatal shooting of Will Gardner (Josh Charles) on “The Good Wife” in 2014, the Internet is abuzz that Charles may be coming back for a cameo when the long-running drama ends for good on Sunday night.

“I’ve heard that rumor,” series co-creator Michelle King coyly told Entertainment Weekly.

“The Good Wife” producers are famously spoiler-allergic – the official description for the finale reads, “The series reaches its dramatic conclusion.” Very helpful. So since the producers and CBS won’t confirm anything, we’re left to consider what it would mean if Charles did reappear in the final episode. Frankly, it seems like both the best and worst idea the writers could have. Here’s why:

Best idea: Again, Charles (a fan favorite) was on the series one minute and then, suddenly, he was just gone. It wasn’t during sweeps or a premiere or a finale – just a run-of-the-mill Season 5 episode. The day after, the creators penned an open letter to fans explaining the decision; star Julianna Margulies held a Facebook chat; and Charles appeared on “Late Show With David Letterman.” Clearly, CBS was expecting outrage. On Letterman, Charles said the reaction was overwhelming, with viewers reacting as if a real family member had died.

In that sense, sure, it would be great to see Will again – TVLine reported he’ll show up in a flashback with Margulies, who plays his soulmate, Alicia. The two were barely on speaking terms when Will died, so not only did they not end up together, no one got closure. And what’s a TV show if not to offer closure on a magical love story that would never happen in real life? Many viewers would be happy to see the two actors show their chemistry one last time onscreen before the show ends for good.

Worst idea: The best thing about “The Good Wife” is it doesn’t play by regular TV rules. See: killing off a lead character at a completely random time. That’s something that has set it apart, making it one of the few broadcast dramas considered “prestige.”

Looking at it that way, bringing back Charles feels like cheating, because it’s a stunt that any show would use to pull viewers into its final episode. Who cares about fan service? We demand integrity! As the creators wrote in their letter to fans after Will died, it may seem unfair, but that’s how life works: “ ‘The Good Wife’ is a show about human behavior and emotion, and death,” they wrote. “As sad and unfair as it can be, is a part of the human experience that we want to share.”

So, no one knows which path the writers will take – but either way, as with all big decisions on this show, viewers will be completely split down the middle as to whether they love or hate it.

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