All good things must come to an end. Though many thought that The Golden Girls could continue another season or two, Bea Arthur and many audience members weren’t interested. So, on Saturday, May 9th, 1992, NBC aired the last episode of The Golden Girls entitled “One Flew Out of the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Here’s what happened.
Blanche (Rue McClanahan) makes a date on the evening her wealthy Uncle Lucas (guest Leslie Nielson) is due to arrive in town for a visit. She’s desperate to find someone else to spend time with him. Rose (Betty White) and Sophia (Estelle Getty) aren’t biting so she tells Dorothy (Bea Arthur) that Lucas is “dying to meet her” and wants to take her to dinner. Blanche tells Lucas the same thing and it works.
Once on the blind date at Don’s Crab House, Dorothy and Lucas are both completely bored. They eventually discover they’ve been duped by Blanche and decide to have their revenge by pretending to be madly in love.
The next morning, Dorothy tells her housemates what a wonderful and romantic evening she had with Lucas. Moments later, Lucas arrives with flowers and proposes to Dorothy — and she accepts on the spot. None of the ladies can believe it, especially Blanche.
That night in the kitchen, Blanche, Rose and Sophia discuss the news. Blanche is upset that it will be “Aunt Dorothy” spending her final years at the rich family Hollingsworth Manor and not her! Sophia is thrilled that she’ll have a rich son-in-law until Blanche suggests that maybe they won’t want her around. Rose has realized that they’ll all be related except her and worries that she won’t fit in.
Outside, Dorothy and Lucas return from a pretend date (they actually attended a hardware convention), and decide to tell the ladies they’d been “necking.” Lucas offers to smear Dorothy’s lipstick to complete the deception and both seem to enjoy their pretend kiss.
The next evening, Sophia tries to ingratiate herself with her future son-in-law by dressing like a maid from the old south. Rose announces that, since Dorothy and Sophia will be moving to Atlanta, she’s going to move in with her daughter Kirsten and her family.
Blanche cries out that the couple is destroying their family and runs to her room. Alone, Dorothy and Lucas agree the charade has gone too far and agree to “break up.” Before they do, Lucas thanks Dorothy for the past few days. It’s the happiest he’s been since his wife died. Dorothy tells him that she’s really enjoyed it too. It feels like they’ve known each other for a long time.
Blanche, Rose and Sophia reenter the room and Blanche admits that she’d been selfish. She believes that their falling in love has been a miracle — that two dear people who’ve been afraid to reach out have found each other and fallen in love. She happily toasts their union.
Lucas starts to speak and surprisingly proposes to Dorothy for real. Dorothy is shocked but very happily accepts. Sophia watches on in confusion and says, “Is it my stroke, or did they do this already?
Flash forward to two months later. Lucas and Dorothy finally have time for a private moment together on the day before their wedding. Their kiss is interrupted by the flash of Sophia’s Polaroid camera. As Lucas leaves she says, “You know, pussycat, I think he’s just crazy enough to show up at the wedding tomorrow.” The four ladies spend some time together in their final evening as housemates.
Sometime later in the evening, Blanche and Rose meet on the patio because neither can sleep. Rose is upset because Dorothy insists that they not have a big goodbye but Rose needs it. The two talk and hug and Sophia pops out and takes a Polaroid photo, thinking it’s the betrothed happy couple. She’s shocked and jokingly says, “What is this Wimbleton?”
The three sit and Rose tells them she’s worried that she won’t be needed at her daughter’s home. Sophia tells her that she knows where she is needed; right there in the house with Blanche. After some heartfelt coaxing, Rose agrees to stay. After Blanche and Rose have left, Sophia looks at the photo she’d just taken and wistfully says “Goodbye, my girls.”