In case he wasn’t really gone? Two and a Half Men brought back Charlie Sheen‘s character in its series finale on Thursday, Feb. 19, only to kill off Charlie Harper — yet again.
While the actor himself did not return to the set (which show creator Chuck Lorre later explained), his character, as it turned out, was still alive by the series finale. Throughout the episode, Sheen was mocked for his unusual behavior, starting with his infamous meltdown in 2011, which resulted in his firing from the CBS sitcom.
In the last scene of the finale, Harper was crushed when a giant grand piano suddenly came tumbling down from the sky, killing him for the second time in the show’s 12-season run. Lorre then made a surprise cameo, turning over to the camera and delivering the zinger, “winning,” before another piano crushed him, too.
Lorre revealed the reason for Sheen’s absence in a production note, saying the actor had been invited but turned down the opportunity.
“I know a lot of you might be disappointed that you didn’t get to see Charlie Sheen in tonight’s finale,” Lorre noted. “For the record, he was offered a role. Our idea was to have him walk up to the front door in the last scene, ring the doorbell, then turn, look directly into the camera, and go off on a maniacal rant about the dangers of drug abuse. He would then explain that these dangers only apply to average people. That he was far from average. He was a ninja warrior from Mars. He was invincible. And then we would drop a piano on him. We thought it was funny. He didn’t. Instead, he wanted us to write a heartwarming scene that would set up his return to primetime TV in a new sitcom called The Harpers starring him and Jon Cryer. We thought that was funny, too.”
Lorre spoke to Entertainment Weekly about delivering the final words in the series, and why he went with Sheen’s now-coined phrase: “winning.”
“It felt like the funniest and must succinct way to end the damn thing,” Lorre explained. “And dropping the second piano also felt like an appropriate response — perhaps nobody wins, but hopefully we laughed along the way.” Lorre said he and the crew were disappointed in Sheen’s refusal to participate.
“This was a story line we were excited about doing for a long time,” he explained to EW. “Several months ago, I could feel there was a palpable amount of pent-up desire to see Charlie, to have closure in the finale. We reached out to him four, five weeks ago. He would look in the camera and have his moment. The whole idea was for him to have a monologue into the camera. That felt like a radical final moment for the finale. I thought that was an appropriate way to do it, but he didn’t like the idea and that’s the way it goes. We were hoping we could make it work. It was not meant to be.”
The hourlong sendoff, however, included an impressive roster of Hollywood names including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Christian Slater, John Stamos, and the return of the Half man himself, Angus T. Jones.
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