'Two and a Half Men" will have run 111/2 years when its one-hour finale airs Thursday night at 9 on CBS/2. In all that time, the CBS sitcom was never a critics' darling -- Jon Cryer won two Emmy Awards for acting, and Kathy Bates one for a guest role, but the show never got one for writing, directing or Outstanding Comedy. It did, however, boast high ratings and TV's highest-paid actors. Ashton Kutcher and Cryer have been the No. 1 and 2 earners on the annual Forbes list for two years running (2013 and 2014) with Kutcher topping it in 2012 and his predecessor Charlie Sheen holding the top spot before that.
So this comedy about mismatched housemates -- schlubby Alan Harper (Cryer), his womanizing brother Charlie (Sheen) and, after Charlie's purported death, billionaire Walden Schmidt (Kutcher) -- must have something going for it. As the show prepares to "Two"-dle-oo, let's look back at 10 highlights and lowlights.
Melanie Lynskey as wacky stalker Rose. The character queen of "Togetherness," "Up in the Air" and countless other works, Lynskey took a one-joke premise and helped make Rose into a sociopath for all seasons. Whether staring obsessively at Charlie sleeping, owning five ferrets all named Charlie or eventually getting engaged to Charlie in Paris and perhaps having a hand in his death under the wheels of the Métro, she was dangerously funny.
Alan and Kandi. Charlie was always getting hot women. Alan, not so much -- at least until Charlie-castoff Kandi (April Bowlby), whom he married and divorced in Seasons 3 and 4. She returned years later, wanting him back and calling him the best lover she'd had. Alan! You playa!
"CSI" crossover. For this Season 5 murder-mystery, "CSI" writers scripted "Men's" crime-scene investigation episode "Fish in a Drawer," while "Men" co-creators Chuck Lorre and Lee Aronsohn wrote the "CSI" conclusion, "Two and a Half Deaths."
Holland Taylor as Alan and Charlie's mom, Evelyn. Simply because, c'mon, it's Holland Taylor.
"Untainted by Filth" (Season 7, episode 7). Charlie and Alan drunkenly awaken in bed with a woman (Katy Mixon) they'd met the night before. Because what fan of the show wasn't waiting for "Ménage à Trois Men"?
Arrival of Walden Schmidt. Say what one will about him, but Kutcher's a comedic natural who helped keep the show going for four seasons after major-draw Sheen bowed out.
That whole Charlie Sheen thing In 2011. Sheen, fresh from rehab, made several . . . undiplomatic references to Lorre. And made them again. And again. The producers fired him, he called Cryer "a turncoat, a traitor, a troll," lawsuits flew and tiger blood spilled.
Co-star Angus T. Jones denounces the show. The former child-actor playing Alan's son Jake had found religion, and in a widely publicized 2012 video urged audiences to "stop watching [the show] and filling your head with filth." As for himself, "You cannot be a true God-fearing person and be on a television show like that." Already in a reduced role, he left the series the following year.
Co-creator Aronsohn vs. women In an April 2012 interview, Aronsohn made remarks about female-driven TV comedies, using language too vulgar for a family newspaper. As actress Martha Plimpton tweeted in response, "Um, Lee, women are 51% of the population & a coveted demographic for advertisers. What are you thinking?" Whatever it was, he was gone from the show within a month.
Walden and Alan fake a gay marriage. It wasn't funny when Adam Sandler and Kevin James did it, and it wasn't funny here.