The Thing That Wouldn't Die

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"The Thing That Wouldn't Die"
3rd Rock from the Sun episode
Episode no. Season 6
Episode 19/20
Directed by Terry Hughes
Written by Dave Lewman
Joe Liss (Part 1)
Christine Zander (Part 2)
Featured music "Pump It Up"
by Elvis Costello
"Fly Me to the Moon"
by Elvis Costello
Production code 619/620
Original air date May 22, 2001
Episode chronology
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"Mary Loves Scoochie: Part 2"
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3rd Rock from the Sun (season 6)
List of 3rd Rock from the Sun episodes

"The Thing That Wouldn't Die" was the two-part series finale of the American sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun. The action in the episode directly follows that of the previous two-parter "Mary Loves Scoochie", which ended with Dick transforming Dr. Liam Neesam, a malevolent alien played by John Cleese, into a chimpanzee. Therefore, the full finale involves a four-episode story arc.


When Mary sees how Dick defeats Liam, Dick reveals his true identity to her. After an initial shock, Mary considers the past six years of their relationship, realizes how much sense it makes and shortly thereafter comes to fully accept Dick and the family. Unfortunately, Liam complains about Dick's transgression to the Big Giant Head, who orders Dick and the family back to their home planet for taking unauthorized hostile action against a fellow alien. When Mary finds out, she agrees to accompany them back to their home world and so the five set about planning a going-away party.

Sally herself hurries to bring an amicable end to her relationship with Don, which she accomplishes by putting him through a crash personality alteration course which improves him to the point that he becomes a completely different person—one so different from the one he used to be that he and Sally no longer have any kind of rapport, making their parting one of respect and camaraderie rather than one of lost love. Harry himself says goodbye to the woman he loved—Mrs. Dubcek—whom he reveals he has been having an affair with for an undetermined amount of time. Harry and Tommy throw a party in their attic to say goodbye to all of their friends. Harry admits that Tommy has always been his favorite, even buying matching personalized necklaces that say "Tommy". Tommy, who despite having the youngest human body is actually the oldest of the aliens, has feigned ambivalence about the mission's end but when left alone in the kitchen he loses his normally cool demeanor and breaks down into uncontrollable sobbing over the team's pending departure. The story culminates with a performance of "Fly Me to the Moon" by a confused Elvis Costello, whom Harry apparently abducted from a previous gig, and a speech from Dick thanking the Solomons' friends for helping the family along the way the last six years.

Afterwards, the family and Mary head in the Rambler to the same spot where the Solomons first appeared on Earth in "Brains and Eggs". They are ready to be beamed aboard the mother-ship, but at the last minute, Mary realizes that her home is Earth, and as much as she loves Dick, she couldn't live in an alien environment. Dick escorts her out of the Rambler and performs a brainwashing technique on her, one that erases her memories of him but leaves the feelings associated with her love still in her mind. Harry leaves his coat behind for Mary to lay on until she regains consciousness following the beam-up, and Dick places the keys to the Rambler in her unconscious hand. The family re-assembles in the Rambler one last time, tearfully singing their mission song as they're beamed away.

Alternate ending[edit]

A cliffhanger was filmed to leave open the possibility for the series to return. In this version, first aired in syndication,[1] the episode continues after the family is beamed away. The brainwashed Mary wakes up, sees the Rambler and feels the key in her hand, and in a state of delirium, enters the car and puts the key in the ignition. Suddenly, a naked Dick appears in the passenger seat and tells Mary "I couldn't leave without you.", although Mary has no memory of him. Upon realizing this Dick screams "Alien abduction! Alien abduction!" and then beams himself and Mary aboard the mother-ship.

This alternate ending is shown on the special features on the last season (Season Six) DVD.


The episode received mixed reviews from television critics. The Boston Herald's Monica Collins said it was "charming",[2] and Mike Duffy of the Detroit Free Press called it "sublimely ridiculous to the end, shamelessly silly and proud of it".[3] However, Entertainment Weekly gave the episode a C,[4] and Alan Pergament of The Buffalo News wrote, "Save a scene in which Mary has a variety of facial expressions when Dick asks her to think back about their lives together while imagining he is an alien, the episode is less than memorable."[5] Joe Amarante of the New Haven Register said that Elvis Costello's performance was "somewhat wooden".[6]

Before the episode aired, John Lithgow told the press, "We end it in a blaze of glory. It was 138 episodes, laughing all the way. I must say the feeling is melancholy; we really did love it all the way up to the end. But I am on to the next, and quite excited about my next big project."[7]

The finale was watched by 11.9 million viewers.[8]

Guest stars[edit]


  1. ^ Rick Bird. "Edgier ending for '3rd Rock'". The Cincinnati Post. 15 November 2001.
  2. ^ Monica Collins. "Mission accomplished; '3rd Rock' finale shows there are signs of intelligent life in TV sitcoms". Boston Herald. 22 May 2001.
  3. ^ Mike Duffy. "Silly and sublime, aliens blast off from planet TV". Detroit Free Press. 22 May 2001.
  4. ^ Ken Tucker. "Finale Frontiers - On their last missions, Voyager flies high, while 3rd Rock's familiar shtick doesn't quite get off the ground." Entertainment Weekly. 25 May 2001.
  5. ^ Alan Pergament. "'3rd Rock' Finale Goes Thud". The Buffalo News. 22 May 2001.
  6. ^ Joe Amarante. "Mission accomplished; Series finales of 'Star Trek: Voyager' and 'Third Rock' air this week". New Haven Register. 22 May 2001.
  7. ^ "The hype from Milky Way to Great White Way for John Lithgow; End of '3rd Rock' means start of new projects, including a musical". Daily News of Los Angeles. 22 May 2001.
  8. ^ "NBC Wins Tuesday Demo, CBS Eyes Viewers Crown All Business. 24 May 2001.

External links[edit]