3rd Rock from the Sun

3rd RockNetwork: NBC
Episodes: 139 (half-hour)
Seasons: Six

TV show dates: January 9, 1996 — May 22, 2001
Series status: Cancelled/ended

Performers include: John Lithgow, Kristen Johnston, French Stewart, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jane Curtin, Simbi Khali, Elmarie Wendel, Wayne Knight, David DeLuise, Ian Lithgow, Danielle Nicolet, Chris Hogan, Ileen Getz, Shay Astar, Larisa Oleynik, Jan Hooks, Ron West, and Chad Einbinder.

TV show description:      
A team of four aliens come to Earth to learn about our culture and way of life. The extraterrestrials must take on human form and deal with the emotions that come with it. Together, the aliens try to blend in and struggle to get through day-to-day life in some very humorous situations.

Dr. Dick Solomon (John Lithgow) is the leader of the earthly expedition and becomes a physics professor at Ohio’s Pendelton State University. Working alongside him is sarcastic Dr. Mary Albright (Jane Curtin) and their secretary, Nina Campbell (Simbi Khali). Eventually Dick and Mary fall in love, making Dick’s mission all the more difficult.

His second-in-command, a male lieutenant and security specialist, takes the form of female Sally Solomon (Kristen Johnson), Dick’s sister. Initially uncomfortable in his/her body, Sally finds romance with blundering Officer Don Orville (Wayne Knight).

Tommy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is the intelligence expert of the group and its oldest member. He takes the form of Dick’s teenage son who must attend the local high school and experience the trials and tribulations of young adulthood. He eventually dates Alissa Strudwick (Larisa Oleynik), the daughter of a teacher at the University.

The team’s communication officer, air-headed Harry (French Stewart), is often seen slacking at home or bouncing between short-term jobs. He poses as Dick’s brother.

The group’s arrogant off-world commander, Big Giant Head (William Shatner), is often heard but rarely seen.

Series Finale:     

Episodes 138 & 139 — The Thing That Wouldn’t Die, part one and part two
In the previous episode, Mary saw Dick defeat Liam (John Cleese) and change him into a chimpanzee. Dick has no choice but to reveal his true identity to his girlfriend. After looking back at the events of the past six years, Mary realizes that it all makes sense and eventually accepts the Solomons as aliens.

Unfortunately, Liam complains to the Big Giant Head about Dick and, as punishment, the Solomons are ordered to return to their homeworld. When she finds out, Mary agrees to accompany them.

Don has decided to leave the police force and to open a muffin shop. This is unacceptable to Sally who puts Don through rigorous training. When it’s time for goodbyes, they’re mutually grateful to each other.

Tommy and Harry throw a huge party using the family credit cards, knowing that they won’t be around when the bills arrive. The party comes to a close as singer Elvis Costello croons “Fly Me to the Moon,” courtesy of Harry’s gold card.

The Solomans and Mary drive to the same spot where the four aliens landed in the first episode. They are all set to beam aboard the mothership when Mary realizes she can’t go through with it. As much as she loves Dick, she belongs on Earth. Dick gives her a karate chop, performing a brainwashing technique on Mary. He erases her memories of him but leaves the feelings associated with their love.

Harry leaves his coat for her to lay on until she regains consciousness and Dick puts the keys to the car in her hand. Dick kisses her goodbye and Harry starts to kiss her as well until Dick pushes him away. The four aliens sit in the car together and cheerfully sing their mission song as they’re beamed aboard the ship.
First aired: May 22, 2001.


What happened next?   

There’s been no news of any planned reunions, revivals, or remakes.


Behind the Scenes

An alternate ending was filmed just in case NBC decided to renew the show at the last minute (though it was considered highly doubtful). It was reportedly filmed several days after the taping of the series finale. In an additional scene, Mary wakes up soonafter the aliens have beamed away. She gets up and sits in the driver’s seat of the Rambler. Dick suddenly appears in the passenger seat, fully naked. Mary’s astonished and asks who he is. Dick says that he couldn’t leave her, hugs Mary, looks up and screams “Alien abduction! Alien abduction!”. The two are beamed away, leaving the empty car behind. The scene is included on the sixth season DVD set.
Prior to the episode being aired, Lithgow told reporters, “We end it in a blaze of glory. It was 138 episodes, laughing all the way. I must say the feeling is melancholy; we really did love it all the way up to the end.”
After both having travelled via airplane, both Dick and the Big Giant Head mention that they saw something on the wing of the plane. This is a nod to a memorable Twilight Zone episode in which an airline passenger claims to see a gremlin on the plane’s wing. Shatner played the passenger in the 1963 Twilight episode called “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.” Lithgow played the role when the episode was remade as part of the 1983 Twilight Zone movie.

Canceled and renewed TV show

13 Comments · Read them below or add one

  1. Marta says

    Please make more!!!!!!!! This show is brilliant and my dad and I LOVE IT!! We just watched the entire series and are lost without 3rd Rock in our day!!
    Please please pretty please make some more episodes!!

  2. MemEnOElLe says

    There is no other show on TV that compares to 3rd RFTS. It chops up the human dynamic, all the little things that make us who we are and how unimportant most of them really are. In the end, it is the chance to experience love that really matters. All the fancy cars, ties, degrees are nice to flaunt but they will not follow us into the after world. Love is everything. Dick and Mary had a beautiful opportunity to experience real love. I wish they would have a reunion already!

  3. Dobvius says

    3rd rock was awesome!!! They’re all fine, so why the heck don’t they have a reunion? A movie or a new season or anything! Whoever decided to pull the show should be fired!!! 3rd rock rocks!!!

  4. Juan says

    I just finished all 139 episodes what a laugh fest afterwards i went out and bought a mister potato head. I think i was influenced, now to try and keep from putting it on my desk.

  5. Juanita says

    If there is a comedy hall of fame, 3rd rock should be inducted. My grandchildren are now hooked on the re-runs. I love this show.

  6. caiseylyn says

    i loved this series so much and that everyone of the episodes made me laugh. john lithgow is quite a character. my favorite. all of these characters had the right part. i wish it would have continued on. i try to think to myself what it would be like after they had left the planet and if mary woke up how does she cope with dicks loss even though he put a memory eraser in her head.

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