Going into the series finale of Switched at Birth, creator Lizzy Weiss already had a little practice at crafting a final scene. After all, when the series wrapped its fourth season without a season-five renewal, she had to write a final scene that would serve as a proper conclusion if the show was not picked up.
"That was always a moment I had wanted to revisit … it was something I always had in my head," Weiss tells The Hollywood Reporter. "I did feel like if we have to end in season four with that moment, that would have worked. That would have been OK with me."
Thankfully, then-ABC Family picked up the Peabody-award winning family drama for a fifth season just five days before the season four finale wrapped and the producers subsequently removed that last scene from the episode and put it in the vault. "We ultimately decided not to use it," explains Weiss.
Instead, Weiss will get to do the finale her way, and with plenty of advance notice. It was Weiss herself who announced via Twitter that Freeform had decided the fifth season would be its last five months after the renewal. It was also Weiss herself who broke the news that Switched at Birth would be off the air for more than a year before returning for that final curtain call. When the network gave her the option of a two-hour finale or a 90-minute final episode, Weiss went with the latter.
"I felt like a two-hour would have been flabby and really strange," she told THR earlier this year. "Compared to a 44-minute episode, double that would have felt odd, but I felt like that extra half-hour kind of gave us time to really give a sendoff to every important character."
So when it came time to pen the last episode, Weiss said she looked to series finales of some of her favorite shows, including Sex and the City, Six Feet Under, Friday Night Lights and The Sopranos' infamous cut to black.
"Of course, I'm a viewer too, and I've had all my opinions about series finales. I've loved a lot of them and had mixed feelings on some," she says. "It is really important, and you can't make everyone happy. But hopefully you can give people an ending that is - I don't remember who said it - but both surprising and inevitable at the same time."
As for that final scene that will air instead of the scrapped season four ending, Weiss is hopeful it will be an emotional but fitting final farewell for viewers.
"All I'll say is it's at the house and the whole family was there. It just felt right to where we had started, it felt like a true circle," she says. "When we discussed it in the room, it felt like yes, that feels right. Every time I watch it; I tear up a little. Hopefully the fans will feel the same."
Switched at Birth's series finale airs Tuesday at 9 p.m. on Freeform.