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
Guest appearance(s)

Jane Curtin (Mary)
Carrie Ann Inaba (Herself)
Naseem Hamed (Himself)
Little Jimmy Dickens (Himself)
R. Kelly (Himself)
Elvis Costello (Himself)
John Benjamin Hickey (Rick)

Episode chronology
← Previous
"Mary Loves Scoochie: Part 2"
Next →
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.


Recurring cast[edit]


Part one[edit]

When Harry sees how Dick defeats Liam, Dick reveals his true identity to him. After an initial shock, Dick, Harry, and Rodney find out Dick's show has been picked up by a major television network and will air nationally. The news seems good at first but it turns out Dick will have to move back home to his home planet and moving to Chicago where the show will be filmed. Also Mary who also left Rutherford for a while working in Chicago, leaving Dick behind her infant daughter for her boss, Byron. Meanwhile, Nina, Judith and Sally flies out to Chicago to visit Mary. It turns out Mary has been promoted and she will be working in Chicago permanently. When they arrive back in Rutherford, Mary tries to tell Dick the good news but they miss each other coming in and out. 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 Sally finds out, it dawns on Nina that she won't be coming to Chicago with Mary, In the meantime, Cleavon is back in town and Rodney proposes to Nina while Harry has been trying to propose to Janice but every time he gets the chance something goes wrong. Throughout the day, Rodney, Harry, Nina, Kyle and Mary recall past good times with Dick and she agrees to accompany them back to their home world and so the five set about planning a going-away party.

Part two[edit]

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 is still trying to propose to Janice. But she swallows his engagement ring when he tried to slip it in her meal. Ultimately, he is able to propose and she accepts himself to the woman he loved—Mrs. Dubcek—whom he reveals he has been having an affair with for an undetermined amount of time. Harry, Rodney, Kyle and Tommy throw Dick a going-away party in their attic. Their friends, Rick's friends, as well as Dick's former co-worker turned-felon Eddie celebrate with him. Harry admits that Tommy has always been his favorite nephew, even buying matching personalized necklaces that say "Tommy". Kyle, 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 after a dispute, Dick thanks everyone and the Solomons' friends for their love and support while helping the family along the way over the last six years, Rick toasts to Dick and wishes him well.

In the ending moments of the series, the family and the crew are packing up as the movers prepare the clear out the attic apartment. Dick and Mary's plane will be leaving shortly. Mary is the first to leave as she says goodbye to the baby, Rodney, Harry, Cleavon, Nina and Janice. Nina makes one last insult about Dick and he replies by calling her a "Psycho Bitch". Nina admits that as much as she dislikes him, she hates him to see him leave. All these years, Dick was deep down a true secretary to Nina. Nina kisses him on the cheek goodbye and exits Mrs. Dubcek's attic apartment. Lastly, Dick assures Rodney and Cleavon that this isn't the end, only a new beginning. They tell him that things won't be the same without him. As they are about to walk downstairs through the door, Dick sadly took one last look at the attic and turns off the lights and exits. Harry runs and left his coat in the Ramble but runs downstairs and walks out the door. In the final scene. They head in the Rambler to the same spot where the Solomons first appeared on Earth from America 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. Just as the Solomon family is about to leave, they take one last look around the Rambler one last time. They had flashbacks of past memories in the Rambler from hanging out with the Solomon family and friends to romantic moments with Mary. He writes "1 Luv" and his signature in the windsheld, sighs "thank you", 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.


The finale received mixed reviews from television critics, from both fans and critics alike. 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]

Despite this, it was the most watched episode of the season.


Before the episode aired, John Lithgow told the press, "We end it in a blaze of glory. It was 139 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 in the final scene, the emotions from the actors (especially John Lithgow, Brian Hooks, Carl Anthony Payne II, French Stewart) were genuine as they really were upset about the series coming to a close. 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]


  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 - Some felt that the finale was more of an abrupt ending to the series as no prior storylines lead up to the events of this episode, like most shows often do to wrap up a series. Also, the fact that Jane Curtin and John Lithgow did physically appears in several scenes due to their feuding was strongly disliked by fans of the show. 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]