What's Worth Watching: Two and a Half Men Ends Its Winning Run

Michael Schneider
Michael Yarish/CBS

Two and A Half Men Finale

Two and a Half Men, "Of Course He's Dead – Part One and Part Two" (Thursday, Feb. 19, 9/8c, CBS)

After 12 seasons, 262 episodes and a few cast changes (you may have heard about those), Two and a Half Men is promising to end its run with a few surprises. Literally: The show's finale press release only gives the word "Surprise!" under the guest cast list, along with this tease: "Charlie Harper is alive. Or is he?" That tease, of course, plays into speculation that Charlie Sheen may make a cameo before the final credits roll. Such an appearance would be a surprise, given the spectacular way Sheen left the show -- seemingly torching every imaginable bridge -- in 2011. But Two and a Half Men executive producer Chuck Lorre also knows what makes for good TV (witness his astounding tally of four sitcoms on the air), and even with the speculation, a Sheen appearance could make the list of biggest series finale surprises in TV history.

But regardless of who shows up -- or even if Two and a Half Men wasn't to your taste -- you have to admire the show's staying power, and the fact that it managed to thrive for several more years as Ashton Kutcher filled the Sheen void. "It was an old school sex farce," star Jon Cryer says of the original concept. "Charlie was going to be Dean Martin, I was going to be Jerry Lewis, and you might see some very pretty ladies. When you were tuning in, that's what you were going to get. And we did that." Adds Lorre: "Human beings behaving inappropriately is great for comedy."

Executive producer Jim Patterson says the producers are strong believers that the characters live on, even after filming ends. "We tried to be true to the show for the first eight years with Charlie and the last four years with Ashton, and kind of combine both of those and honor both of those," he says. "It's hard to wrap up 12 years of a show. It's not going to make everyone happy. You can't include everything, tie up all the loose ends, you just have to do your best and write what you think is funny and hope the audience thinks it's funny too."