New Girl: Will Coach Really Leave in the Finale?

Rob Moynihan
Ray Mickshaw/FOX

New Girl

It's game over for New Girl's Coach (Damon Wayans Jr.) as he leaves the loft permanently during next week's season ender. "He was making us laugh up until the last second," says creator and executive producer Elizabeth Meriwether of Wayans, who was an original costar of the 2011 pilot before returning as a series regular during Season 3. "It's a really sweet goodbye for him."

As Coach packs his bags in anticipation of his move to New York City, the rest of the roommates embark on some spring-cleaning, which unearths personal dirt between two on-again, off-again lovebirds. "We're building to a big ­moment of Schmidt [Max Greenfield] finding out that Cece [Hannah Simone] has feelings for him," Meriwether says. "His dreams are coming true, and the finale sets up a whole different dynamic between them in Season 5."

30 Rock vet Jack McBrayer guest stars as a donation center employee who gets into a tussle with Schmidt over a box of Cece's mementos. "It's Schmidt at his best," Meriwether says. "He's putting a good foot forward and then taking his usual two steps back."

And while this season has mostly avoided the polarizing Jess (Zooey ­Deschanel) and Nick (Jake Johnson) ­romance, tonight's episode provides an update on the current state of their relationship. "It felt like the right moment to acknowledge that there's always more going on underneath the surface," Meriwether says. "It's never black-and-white; they will always be really complicated."

The team is already hard at work on Season 5–due to Deschanel's pregnancy, the first four episodes were shot before summer hiatus. Meriwether confirms that, at press time, her leading lady will be absent for four episodes in the fall. "The New Girl becomes The No Girl!" she jokes. "Since we don't have Zooey or Damon, everybody [else] has a ton to do, and we have a little time to explore the other characters' new dynamics. I'm up for this weird challenge!"

New Girl, Season finale, 9/8c, Fox

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