Ricky Gervais is ending his beloved show at the top of its game. After Life has been a massive hit ever since first landing on Netflix back in 2019, and even led The Office star to break his 'two seasons and a special' tradition with a full third season, which landed on the streaming platform on Friday.
But wrapping up the story of Tony, a man who decides to live life without worrying about the consequences while in the throes of grief over the loss of his wife, was more complicated than Ricky could ever have imagined while first penning the hit show.
After Life has come to an end with season three
Speaking to HELLO! about the profound effect that the show has had on viewers struggling with grief, he explained: "You don't usually [think about the fans], you think, 'I'm just doing this, and this doesn't have real world effects'. But I've never had a reaction like it.
WATCH: After Life season three is now on Netflix
"After the first season, people were coming up to me on the street and saying, 'I lost my partner a week before, or my brother. That was me. I was like Tony.' First of all, you think, 'Okay, I've got to treat it with respect, I can't have him snap out of it because that doesn't happen,' so I had to go with what was real."
He continued: "A few therapists have said to me that they use this in some their sessions, and people really relate to it. And one of them said, 'Please don't let Tony kill himself.' And that really… I thought, 'Okay.' So that was out of the question."
Ricky opened up about the reaction the show has received
The story follows Tony as he angrily lashes out at the world, but eventually comes to rediscover his connection to it through his friends and family around him, as well as through the kindness of strangers. "It became more and more of a study in grief and mental illness and depression and mortality," Ricky admitted. "Initially that was a jumping off point to explain why this man was like he was, but then then I realised it was important to get it right. For a lot of people, for more people than you'd imagine.
"I realised that everyone's grieving, everyone has got a problem. Everyone's got anxiety, everyone's going through something that day when you bump into them, everyone in the world. Of course everyone's going through stuff."
'Everyone's grieving, everyone has got a problem'
So will the show ever be back for more? While it is certainly the end for now, Ricky has a 'never say never' attitude to the show's future.
"Even though it's bittersweet, that it's the end, it's a triumph because you've put all your eggs in one basket," he told to HELLO! and other reporters. "You can burn all your bridges, you can do everything you want to do and not worry about, 'How am I going to pick that up in season four?'
Ricky opened up about the show ending
"I'm pretty sure it is the final season, 99 per cent sure. You can never say never. I don't know what is going to happen. Could I be persuaded? Well, of course. Netflix could offer me a castle and an animal sanctuary on an island! [Laughs] But at this moment in time? No, this is it… It makes no sense to end it now at the top of its game. But I think artistically, it's right. I don't think we could end it better than we did."
It is unlikely that the show will be back for season four
And as for the ending? Warning, spoilers ahead to those who have yet to watch. Speaking about how he himself interprets the final moments, he told HELLO! and other reporters: "The end in for me says that life goes on. Life goes on. The Fair has been there for 500 years, and it might be there for another 500. It's basically saying, we all die, but not today. That's at the moment it's good, it's fine.
"I knew I'd been explaining it. But it's a nice ending. I think people are sad that it's ended, if they've enjoyed it, but I don't think it's a sad ending. I think it's nice and positive. Obviously, it's ambiguous because people are asking me about it. But I'd say it's a nice ending."
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