'Grimm' Bosses Break Down Series Finale Deaths and "Open" Ending

"We wanted to have an epic battle between good and evil at the end," exec producer David Greenwalt tells THR about the surprising final hour of the NBC supernatural drama.
Allyson Riggs/NBC

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Grimm's series finale, "The End."]

The stories that the Brothers Grimm were fond of telling a couple centuries ago weren’t exactly overflowing with happy endings. Luckily for fans of the NBC series Grimm, its ending Friday night after six seasons went in a much more positive direction.

“Our ending was deliberately very fairy tale-esque,” executive producer David Greenwalt tells The Hollywood Reporter. “We like to think our characters just kept on going, and never died.”

Though never a top 10 hit for NBC, the show about a group of friends (and occasional enemies) who fight off supernatural forces earned a solid cult following that has kept it on the air since 2011. The network decided to pull the plug this season, but not before giving Grimm 13 episodes to find that contented conclusion.

Things weren’t looking so upbeat as the series neared its end. The green-eyed ghoul otherwise know as the Zerstorer killed off everyone except for Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli), aka the chief Grimm. However, courtesy of the beast’s magical staff, everyone was resurrected when the creature bit the dust. Then, in the final scene, the children of Nick, girlfriend Adalind (Claire Coffee) and Renard (Sasha Roiz) had grown into demon hunters themselves.

“We wanted to come full circle and also take things into the future,” adds Greenwalt. “I think fans had a right to expect us to do that. They had a right to expect that Nick would be tested to his core but ultimately survive.”

Now that there are no more Hexenbiests, Blutbads or Kinoshimobe to kick around, Greenwalt and fellow executive producer Jim Kouf spoke with THR about faking the cast out about the finale, their favorite beasts and some divine interference while shooting that last episode.

You faked everyone out a bit by appearing to kill off nearly all your main characters. Were you ever tempted to just let them stay dead?

Jim Kouf: We had all fallen in love with the characters. We had the same desire as our fans, so we didn’t want to kill them. And because this final season was dealing with such powerful religious icons including the staff of Moses, we started researching it and learned that nobody’s ever explained what happened to it. It did appear to have magical powers, so if you have those abilities, why not bring everyone back to life?

David Greenwalt: It would have been a pretty bold thing to end by leaving Nick alone, but what would that have meant? The universe is an empty cipher and humanity is going nowhere?

Did you fake out the actors when they sat down for their first table read?

Kouf: We actually didn’t do a table read. Every actor first got the script on his or her own. And they were all stunned when they discovered they’d died. They said they gasped and went, “Oh my God!” when they read each of them getting to have their own death moment. Then they kept reading to find out who’s going to die next. Some of them did think that their characters’ trajectories were headed in different directions than they actually were. And they were surprised that certain characters didn’t come back.

Did they ever ask what you were planning for the finale?

Kouf: They didn’t want to know. In the beginning, a few of them asked but most didn’t want to know. They wanted to treat it more as real life, where you don’t know what’s coming at you next.

How hard was it for everyone to film their final scenes together?

Greenwalt: It wasn’t easy, but that had a lot to do with the fact that as we prepared to shoot the last three episodes – which we saw as one giant movie – Portland got record snowfall. It took a month for the last episodes. We were using a lot of sets out in the woods and we couldn’t get to them. We went a lot of days over what we’d intended. It felt like this was the show that wouldn’t die! Maybe it was God’s way of saying, “C’mon guys! Give us just one more season!”

Why view it as a three-part finale?

Greenwalt: That ultimately just made the most sense for what we had been attempting to do for the previous five and a half years of the show. We always wanted to let the story tell itself. So we needed time to explain where the stick came from and how it fell apart, which led us to Moses, which led to this very powerful evil. And when you deal with all that, it gives you a lot of new story ideas that require time to tell.

What was the mood like once you were finally able to shoot those last episodes?

Kouf: We had a lot of farewell dinners as we got closer to the end. And after each person played their final scene, they then gave a speech to the cast and crew. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house every single time.

Greenwalt: I’d never had an experience where people gave speeches about what the show meant to them. Russell [Hornsby, who played Hank Griffin] delivered one that was almost Shakespearean. A lot of times it’s just get your check and move on. These people would acknowledge all their castmates and our incredible crew. This was not an easy show to do. It wasn’t a normal job for everyone involved. People got married. They had children. A real emotion connection developed for us all. It was almost its own fairy tale with how it came together and how we discovered people. There was something magical in this whole experience. Like finding Jacqueline Toboni, who played Trubel, when we went to speak to a screenwriting class at the University of Michigan.

Kouf: And Claire Coffee, who played Adalind. This was the biggest role to come along for her, and it wasn’t even something that occurred to us until we were watching her small part in the pilot and realizing what we had in her.

When did you start picturing what those final scenes were going to be?

Greenwalt: We had come up with different iterations of what we wanted to do throughout the process of writing. We just didn’t know at first where everything would end up. We did know that the Seven Keys our characters had been seeking for a long time would eventually unlock a box. The question was, what would be in it? Jim felt like it should be a stick, like a magic wand, something holy.

Kouf: We did know all along that we wanted to have an epic battle between good and evil at the end. We just didn’t know for a while what the specifics of that fight would be. All along with this show, we just broke stories down beat by beat by beat. We never tried to break storylines too far ahead of time. I can say that Sasha [Roiz, who played Capt. Renard] told us that she wanted an even bigger fight than what we had. If only we’d had the money for it …

The series ended with Nick, Adalind and Renard’s kids all grown up and heading to take out some evildoers. What do you think the rest of your cast of characters is doing now?

Greenwalt: They’re still out there, doing their thing. But we wanted to leave it open for the fans to imagine their own story. I’m sure young Trubel is still out there fighting stuff in her own way.

Did it feel like you could have kept going for another season if NBC had allowed you to?

Kouf: I’m sure we could have. There’s no doubt about that, although by the end we were tired. We gave it our all for five and a half years, and it was nice we were able to end it the way we did.

Greenwalt: We had a big end to every season, and then we’d figure there was no way we could come up with something more. However, myths and legends are a fertile field to explore, so I like to think that if we took a couple weeks off, we could go back to it again.

One of the most entertaining parts of the show every week was seeing the fantastic beasts Nick and friends had to battle with. Did you have any favorites?

Greenwalt: I think we did 96 of them. I’ll always have a soft spot for the Blutbot, our original creature who was basically the Big Bad Wolf. There was also that octopus guy who could use his tentacles to suck memories from your head, the guy with three eyes who could see the future and the living tree in this last season who protected the environment.

Kouf: What about the voodoo zombies?

Greenwalt: And the really ugly one who smelled bad?

Kouf: Yeah, that guy! The blobfish!

The Grimm characters will keep hunting down these evil beasts. What do you guys have planned for the foreseeable future?

Greenwalt: We’ll write screenplays for food.