Gary Mendez, A Million Little Things
Credit: ABC via Getty Images

Since his cancer returned at the end of Season 4, viewers have had concerns over if Gary is going to die in A Million Little Things or if he’ll live to see his baby grow up.

A Million Little Things is ABC‘s family drama series follows a group of friends in Boston, Massachusetts, after a member of the circle dies by suicide. The title of the show is a reference to the phrase: “Friendship isn’t a big thing — it’s a million little things.” James Roday Rodriguez plays Javier “Gary” Mendez Jr., a breast cancer survivor who met his love interest, Maggie Bloom, another breast cancer survivor, in a cancer support group. Gary and Maggie welcome their first child together in Season 5.

ABC announced that A Million Little Things was ending with Season 5 as its last season in November 2022. “I know seeing this show end may be sad for many people (especially my mom who watches live every week), but I always knew I wanted to follow these friends for 5 seasons and leave them when the time was right,” creator and executive producer DJ Nash said in a statement at the time. “When we started making our show, I never could have imagined this incredible community of ‘Millionaires’ who would come together and not only watch, but also share with each other their personal struggles, their pain and ultimately their true grit.”

Nash continued, “I am both honored and humbled by all of it and am so in awe of the incredible actors, writers, directors and crew who lend their talent to make our show. I am also so grateful that ABC now makes mental health awareness one of the top issues for which it advocates. Terrence and I can’t wait for the Millionaires to watch what we have planned for our final season.”

Nash also confirmed in an interview with Variety in 2023 that Season 5 will include multiple deaths. Will one of them be Gary? Read on for what we know about if Gary is going to die in A Million Little Things and what happened to him in Season 5 so far.

Gary Mendez, A Million Little Things

Does Gary die on A Million Little Things?

Does Gary die on A Million Little Things? The answer is unclear, however, it doesn’t look good for him. Gary — who survived breast cancer and met his love interest, Maggie Bloom, in a breast cancer support group — reveals in the Season 4 finale that he was diagnosed with lung cancer. Gary discovered the cancer after he had another test done on a lump on his breast. Though the test revealed the lump was benign, Gary later found out that he had a mass in his lung and underwent chemotherapy in secret from his friends.

So… does Gary die on A Million Little Things? In an interview with Distractify in April 2023, James Roday Rodriguez — who’s played Gary since Season 1 of A Million Little Things — revealed that he didn’t even know at the time if Gary would live or die in the A Million Little Things series finale. “We can’t even tell you because we don’t even know,” Rodriguez said. “I think one of the interesting components of being on this show is that DJ Nash, who created it, doesn’t always tell you what’s going to happen. And I think it’s good because, you know, that’s sort of how life works. And it doesn’t give you the chance to contextualize it or make any choices ahead of time, or decide how you think it should go. And I think it’s served us pretty well up to this point.”

Rodriguez also told Distractify about the “growth” Gary has had since his first diagnosis to now. “I don’t think he’s nearly as angry anymore. And as a result, I think he’s processing his latest diagnosis… more thoughtfully and more internally about what everybody needs, as opposed to just, you know, what he needs,” Rodriguez said. “I think … the first time he was really struggling, finding the meaning in it, and making peace with it all. And I think, as a result, he was inviting as many outside noises as he could get. And this time, it’s sort of the opposite.”

As for why that growth has happened, Rodriguez told the site that he thinks Gary has “found a certain degree of peace in his life.” “As a result, it’s like, he can actually think like, ‘What is the best way to share this news with everybody else? Based on what they’re each going through in their lives,'” he said. “So, I don’t think it was … that he was being dishonest as much as he was being thoughtful. I think, you know, he wanted to do it as thoughtfully as possible.”

In an interview with TV Line in 2022, A Million Little Thing‘s creator DJ Nash and executive producer Terrence Coli revealed that the they brought Gary’s cancer back as a way to make sure the series could return for another season. “We went in to the network at the middle of the year and said, ‘Hey guys, we’ve been on again for a while. Are we coming back, or are we not coming back?’ And they said, ‘Please don’t end this show now.’ I said, ‘OK,'” Nash said. “And TC and I talked about it and we said, we have a really, really big cliffhanger that could possibly top bag-over-someone’s-head and someone-getting-hit-by-a-car. But it’s a cliffhanger, it is not a series finale, and are we all prepared to go that way?”

Nash continued, “And they really, really pushed for us to do it. I know that we were a last-minute pickup. There’s no question we were a bubble show. But everybody creatively at ABC was so supportive and wanted to see it happen, and we knew that if it didn’t happen, our fans would be like, ‘You can’t end a series like that!’ So we put all of our eggs in the Gary basket.”

Nash and Coli also explained why they decided to have Gary’s cancer return at the same time he and Maggie were trying for a child. “For us, a couple things. One: Our series, if there is a formula, it’s just when you think it’s A, it’s B,” Nash said. “If you look back historically, ‘Is Eddie going to drink or not? Oh thank goodness, he didn’t. He got hit by a car!’ So in the magic trick that it is, we’re trying to get you to look at this hand with the shiny object while we do this other thing over here.”

Nash continued, “I also think that’s really true of the way life is. The happiest moments of your life sometimes butt up against some of the saddest moments of your life, and just when you think you can’t take anymore, sometimes the world gives you a reason to laugh. You just have to be open to it.”

Nash also told TV Line that Maggie and Gary’s baby journey was also a way to not make his cancer “so sad.” “So for us, the decision to combine those two was based on A) not wanting the show to be so sad, because there’s great power and control in Maggie and Gary deciding that despite cancer always being a part of their lives in some way, that’s not going to keep them from living life,” Nash said. “When Maggie had her abortion, she talked about, ‘I can’t believe I’m still having cancer determine things about me.'”

Nash continued, “And right now, the day they come home from having that bad diagnosis, they’re lying in bed and he says, ‘I think we should move in together’ and she says ‘I think we should have a baby.’ So they’re making these decisions and they’re going to live life on their terms for as long as they’re allowed.”

Rodriguez and Allison Miller, who’s played Maggie since Season 1 of A Million Little Things, also told ABC 7 in February 2023 about the response to Gary and Maggie’s cancer storylines over the years. “It’s so common and so many people have been touched by cancer, and I know that we both took it very seriously and spoke to as many people as we could to get their stories so that we could be equipped with the most empathetic tools that we could have,” Miller said. Rodriguez added, “I think we’ve tried to handle it as authentically as possible. And I think in wrapping the series up we’ve tried to follow that same blueprint.”

Gary Mendez, A Million Little Things

Who plays Gary on A Million Little Things?

Who plays Gary on A Million Little Things? Gary is played by James Roday Rodriguez, who has starred as a series regular on A Million Little Things since Season 1. Along with A Million Little Things, Rodriguez is best known for starring on USA Network’s Psych for eight seasons from 2006 to 2014. Rodriguez, who played Shawn Spencer, was also a director and screenwriter on the series, as well as starred in its 2017 movie, Psych: The Movie and its sequels: 2020’s Psych 2: Lassie Come Home and 2021’s Psych 3: This Is Gus. 

In addition to A Million Little Things and Psych, Rodriguez has also starred in shows like First Year and Love Bites, as well as movies like The Dukes of Hazard. He’s also directed episodes of shows like Rosewood and The Resident, as well as written movies like The Driver and Gravy.

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