Why Sex and the City Wasn't Supposed to End the Way It Did and Other Finale Secrets

Raise a metaphorical cosmo to Kim Cattrall's Aug. 21 birthday by revisiting all of the details from the iconic Sex and the City series finale.

By Billy Nilles Aug 21, 2023 6:00 PMTags
Watch: "Sex and the City" Cast 21 Years Ago: Live From E! Rewind

We couldn't help but wonder, is everyone else freaking out over the fact that it's been nearly 20 years since Sex and the City aired its last new episode?

In the two decades since Big went to Paris to get our girl Carrie Bradshaw in the series finale of the groundbreaking HBO comedy, there's been no shortage of SATC content.

We're talking, of course, about And Just Like That..., which has filled a certain Manolo-sized hole in our hearts, plus the two feature films—one, a hit; the other, less so—and, perhaps most importantly, the drama surrounding the reason why we'll never, ever get a third one.

And while the real-life feuding amongst the women who played one of TV's most iconic friend quartets would have Carrie and Samantha shaking their heads, the fact that not everyone got along all the time is hardly the only revelation that's come to light since the show signed off after six satisfying seasons. 

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Take, for instance, that unforgettable happy ending when Big (Chris Noth), encouraged by the women who hadn't always been his biggest fan, jets off to the City of Light to rescue a miserable Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) after she'd chosen to follow the Russian (Mikhail Baryshnikov) there to tell her that she was "the one."

If the show's creator Darren Star, who based the series on Candace Bushnell's 1997 book of the same name, had stuck around to see the series to its completion, it never would've happened.

In a 2016 Kindle Singles interview, Star, who went on to create Younger and Emily in Paris, admitted that he felt that the show's ending was a betrayal of what had come before it. "For me, in a way—and I didn't [write] those last episodes—if you're empowering other people to write and produce your show, you can't … say certain things," he said, before continuing to say certain things. 

"At a certain point, you've got to let them follow their vision. But I think the show ultimately betrayed what it was about, which was that women don't ultimately find happiness from marriage. Not that they can't. But the show initially was going off script from the romantic comedies that had come before it. That's what had made women so attached."

"At the end, it became a conventional romantic comedy," he concluded. "But unless you're there to write every episode, you're not going to get the ending you want."

Craig Blankenhorn/HBO

Bushnell, who it was revealed only got paid about $60,000 by Star for the rights to her book back when she sold it to the producer in 1996, also had her own doubts about Carrie and Big winding up together, as well.

"Well, I think, in real life, Carrie and Big wouldn't have ended up together. But at that point the TV show had become so big," she told The Guardian in 2017. "Viewers got so invested in the storyline of Carrie and Big that it became a bit like Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett. They had become an iconic couple and women really related to it; they would say 'I found my Mr Big' or 'I just broke up with my Mr Big.' It became part of the lexicon. And when people are making a TV show, it's show business, not show art, so at that point it was for the audience and we weren't thinking about what the impact would be 10 years later."

Although, Bushnell's interpretation of the Carrie and Big relationship could be colored by the fact that he was based on an ex who definitely stayed her ex, former magazine executive Ron Galotti.

Of course, Parker saw things a little bit differently from either creator responsible for the character she so memorably brought to life.

While speaking with Yahoo! Style in 2016, she defended the show's conclusion, telling the outlet, "As I recall, the way Carrie and Big married was something she wanted rather than a feeling that life was slipping away and she best settle quickly. I don't think of it as someone diminishing herself by letting a man marry her — it always felt that she had arrived at that on her own."

And ever the diplomat, she conceded that Star was entitled to his feelings on the matter, as well. "But the beauty is we can all have lots and lots of opinions about lots of choices Carrie made that we object to or that we stand by," she added. "If that's Darren's feeling, I think it's interesting!"


While that final episode was notable for the fact that it finally revealed Big's first name—John, if you're still somehow out of the loop—it almost didn't happen. 

In 2017, executive producer Michael Patrick King, who went on to shepherd SATC onto the big screen following the show's conclusion, revealed to Entertainment Weekly that it was only "in the last moment, I realized [I had] to say Mr. Big's name and I just [mimes typing on a keyboard] 'John.'"

In that final scene, Carrie flip phone needed a name to display when Big was calling to let her know he was returning to NYC for good, but, up until that time, he'd never had a name. "It was just one of those things where it's like, 'Oh, it's happening right now' and you didn't plan it," he told the magazine. "In my mind? He had no name."

And as for where John came from, King explained, "If I wanted to give him a name, I wanted to give him the most generic, American, most generic, almost pilgrim name. There's no spin, it's just John."

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Filming on the finale was also notable for a few other reasons, as well. 

It marked the first time in the show's 94 episodes that any of the main characters ever repeated a wardrobe choice. Famed costume designer Patricia Field went to great lengths to make sure that neither Carrie, Samantha (Kim Cattrall, who celebrated her 67th birthday Aug. 21), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), nor Charlotte (Kristin Davis) ever repeated a full outfit throughout the course of the show—until, that is, Carrie donned a fur coat that she'd worn all the way back in episode one.

And something the final episode was missing? One of Carrie's patented questions that she'd asked via narration since episode one. In the episode before the two-part finale, when she decides to follow Petrovsky across the pond, she asks, "Is it time to stop questioning?" And then she did, leaving us with only 92 questions across 94 episodes.

Oh, and filming on that very last episode? It didn't wrap until the Wednesday prior to its February 22, 2004 air date, meaning the turn around on the finale was a tight four days!

Sex and the City's final season also contained one of, perhaps, its most memorable cameos when 3rd Rock from the Sun vet Kristen Johnston showed up as party girl Lexi Featherston—and promptly fell out a window to hear death.

It was the moment that pushed Carrie to decide NYC was dead—way to make everything about you, Carrie!—and following the Russian to France was the ticket. But it was hardly the only memorable cameo over the course of the franchise's run. Because, not sure if you've heard, but there's a pretty big one coming up in the season two finale for And Just Like That...

(Originally published Feb. 22, 2019, at 3 a.m. PT)