Life on Mars: Was There a Mistake in the Last Episode?

Life on Mars finaleLast week, we said goodbye to ABC’s Life on Mars after a too-short run of 17 episodes. Love or hate the ending, most people are happy that the show’s executive producers — Josh Appelbaum, Scott Rosenberg, and Andre Nemec — had a chance to wrap things up before the TV show said goodbye to primetime.

As those who tuned in on April Fool’s Day found out, Sam (Jason O’Mara) was not actually a cop from 2008 as we’d been led to believe. He was actually an astronaut from the year 2035 who had been placed in a state of deep sleep for a long trip to Mars. In his dream state, he was supposed to be living out a fantasy about living as a 2008 detective. His spaceship was hit some turbulence which caused the program to malfunction, sending his fantasy persona back to 1973. Elements of his 2035 life and versions of his fellow space travelers (Michael Imperioli, Gretchen Mol, Jonathan Murphy, and Harvey Keitel) were present in this new dream and kept our favorite “spaceman” off balance and confused.

At one point during the series, Sam learns (via one of his strange flashes) that Obama had been elected President. At the time, viewers simply assumed that this referred to Barack Obama being elected last November.

In the series finale, we find out that the flash was referring to a different President Obama from the year 2035. While Sam is communicating with Earth, he’s told that President Obama wanted to greet the space travelers but she had to go to Chicago with her sister to see their ill father.

Would you be interested in a Mars sequel someday?

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The general assumption has been that the President Obama in 2035 is actually the daughter of our current Commander in Chief. A clever little twist.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work. As Alan Pergament points out, Malia, the eldest of the two Obama daughters, was born on July 4, 1998. That would make her 34 years old in the year 2032, the year of the last election prior to 2035. Our Constitution states that you must be at least 35 years old to be elected President so Malia would be too young.

Sure, the Constitutional age requirement could have been reduced or she could have come into power in another way but those seem pretty unlikely.

It’s a finale nitpick for sure and likely wouldn’t diminish the ending for anyone. Are there any inconsistencies from the series that, in retrospect, have bothered you? In the past week, have you changed your opinion about the last episode?

For those who missed the very end, you can see it below thanks to a YouTuber. To see the whole episode, head on over to

Canceled and renewed TV show

18 Comments · Read them below or add one

  1. John says

    Debra, if you liked Life on Mars, you should check out Life. It is the story of a cop who is falsely convicted of a crime, spends years in jail getting beaten up, finds Zen, is exonerated and gets a hefty settlement in the millions. Although a dark beginning, the series starts once he gets out and is a comedy of a caliber similar to Life on Mars. The series revolves around the cop, his female partner who got stuck with him because she had a drug incident and his cell mate who is also out after serving time for money fraud and is now managing the cops millions. The comedy just writes itself. The chemistry between the cop and his partner is similar to Castle and his female partner, in the series Castle, which is another cop comedy you should check out if you haven’t already. Unfortunately this series only had two seasons but is well worth a look.

    Debra, why wait for reruns? Almost all TV series new and old are available for download, sans commercials via torrent sites. I have almost 100 current and old TV series on a 2 terabyte hard drive.

    Mike, unfortunately we can scream as loud as we want, but the networks have found a cash cow in reality TV. Cheap to make and they make a fortune due to the mindless millions who faithfully watch them week after week because they prefer to live vicariously through others lives. I believe the highest watched reality show is American Idol. If you record it for your wife as I do, and then skip through commercials, you will notice that 25 minutes of the 60 minute show is commercials. Pathetic.

  2. Mike says

    Viewers to keep posting comments about LOM and go to ABC site and tell them that it was a mistake to cancel the show and stop putting on reality shows. The network doesn’t seem to care about the viewers. Life On Mars was a great show and should be brought back and given another chance with a different network.

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