The Middle wrapped up its nine-season run Tuesday night with a happy, and hilarious ending for the Heck family.
In "A Heck of a Ride", Frankie (Patricia Heaton) and the rest of the family deal with the sudden departure of Axl (Charlie McDermott) from their lives after he takes a job in Denver, Colorado.
He mistakenly assumes he has a month to say goodbye to his family but Mike (Neil Flynn) later realizes he read the date wrong and he actually has four days to move, leading the family to embark on a road trip to see him off.
As Frankie tries her hardest to seem cool so her son will visit her after he's gone, Axl shares sweet moments with brother Brick (Atticus Shaffer) and Sue (Eden Sher) that leave viewers with evidence of the siblings love after years of hilarious fighting.
The show also finally got Sue together with Sean Donahue (Beau Wirick) after he finds Sue's snow globe present while going through TSA, ditching his flight to Ghana and finding the Hecks on the road to Denver. Sean confesses his feelings for Sue and the two agree to date once he comes back from his trip at the end of the summer.
After Frankie has a freakout and expresses her true feelings about Axl leaving the nest, Mike tells her change is a part of life and the family agrees to always be together, even if they don't live in the same place.
The episode then flashes forward to Axl moving back to Orson, Indiana and raising his own family, which hilariously includes three sons who are just as messy as him. Brick grows up and writes a successful book series that makes him millions of dollars. And Sue marries Sean after a roller coaster romance.
"And Mike and I," Frankie narrates during the show's final moments, "well we never won the lottery. We never fixed the wallpaper. We never patched the hole. We never replaced the washing machine, but despite all the things we didn't have... we sure had a lot."
The series ends as the show flashed back to the present and the family continues to bicker on its way to drop Axl off in Denver.
Ahead of the finale, series creators DeAnn Heline and Eileen Heisler told Variety the episode was meant to be an ode to the show's loyal viewers.
"One thing that's very important to us is to think about our fans and to think about us and think about an ending that's appropriate to the show we've always been," Heisler said. "Personally, I don't think the point of a finale is to shock [the audience]. I think that you really want to honor the show and give people an [episode] that is closer to a typical one, while being exciting, than something that veers off in another direction."
The series was renewed for a ninth season in January 2017, and announced it would be its last in August of that year.
In the era of reboots, Heaton said she would love to check in on the Hecks during holidays or vacations, but Heline and Heisler were not as quick to think ahead of the finale.
"It was important for us to give closure in some respects," Heline said of the finale. "We wanted it to be satisfying in respect to the story, but we also wanted it to feel like the Hecks are going to live their lives. Because it is a family show, I think it is always something you could revisit."