“Last Man Standing” said goodbye to viewers on Thursday, May 20, capping off a nine-season run that included six seasons on ABC, then three more on Fox when the network revived the Tim Allen-starring sitcom after ABC’s cancellation.

In an interview with Deadline, “Last Man Standing” showrunner Kevin Abbott discussed his gratitude for being able to give the show a fitting ending.

“When we came back, we got the gift of being told it was the final season. It was a gift, it was really a great thing that they did for us, because it allowed us to plan, and to appreciate, and to really be grateful for what we had,” said Abbott, noting that he and the cast had expected a seventh season on ABC before being blindsided by cancellation.

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“I wanted to make sure that we did it right in our minds, and most importantly, Tim’s mind, because he’s the one most invested in it. He’s given a lot, over the years, to the show, and it was important to be rewarding him for that, to give him the respect that he deserves,” Abbott added.

“We sat down to think, what do we want out of this final episode? We quickly came to the conclusion, we didn’t want it to be a sad episode,” he added. “Ideally, the series finale is the embodiment of what the show was, with the added message of saying, hopefully, ‘thank you.'”

That’s why, he explained, he approached the series finale with “an attitude of gratitude,” a theme that pervades the finale.

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Abbott also discussed the challenges of the show’s final season brought about by the pandemic.

“It was tough,” he admitted. “The actors don’t get curtain calls. It’s all different, and a lot of the things that were marvelous about the production of the show — table reads, and show nights, and the joy that we all had on show nights — those were all gone. What we wanted to do for the final episode is bring in ‘an audience.’ We had 45 people. They were production people, or friends of production people, that were in individual, plastic-lined booths, up in the audience, six feet apart. They were not allowed to come down on stage, or move out of them. They had to stay up in there, in their little enclosed spaces. We normally have 175 people just for point of reference, but it was something.”

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The live audience, limited as it was, was something he felt was important for the final episode.

“We wanted to give the cast at least the opportunity for one final curtain call, rather than just shooting a final scene, and then, everybody says, ‘that’s a wrap,’ and you’re gone. We don’t get a wrap party, obviously, and we had to be hustled off the stage, because they were shooting a pilot, and we couldn’t say goodbye to anybody after the show was done,” he explained.

“It was great to be able to spend a decade of my life with these people, and really get to know them,” he added. “The good and the bad. The hard and the easy. The fun and the difficult. I got the full gamut. You don’t really get that on most shows.”