On This Day: ‘The Golden Girls’ Series Finale Airs in 1992

by Caitlin Berard

It’s an emotional day for Golden Girls fans, as the series finale aired on NBC thirty years ago today. Sure, thanks to streaming services and box sets, Golden Girls fans can revisit the sunny Miami home and their four favorite ladies anytime. But there’s something about knowing this day in 1992 marked the last time “Thank You for Being a Friend” promised a new chapter in the girls’ story that will forever tinge the day and episode with sadness.

On May 9th, 1992, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty said goodbye to Bea Arthur, both on-screen and behind the scenes, as Arthur chose to retire from the classic TV series. Though her three castmates would go on to star in the Golden Girls spinoff, The Golden Palace, the quartet would never again share a cheesecake around the kitchen table.

In the mid-’80s, the show raised eyebrows among the Hollywood community. Who would want to watch a sitcom about four women of a certain age living together in Florida? But the series’ producers went forward anyway, confident in their creation. And, as we now know, their persistence paid off. Not only was Golden Girls a success in its time but it remains popular among viewers of all ages to this day.

Mitchell Hurwitz, the writer and producer responsible for bringing the later seasons of The Golden Girls to life, gave his thoughts on the enduring success of the sitcom. “I think the show has lasted because it’s about love. And it’s about support. It’s about being proud of who you are,” Hurwitz told Today. “And you know, especially when society isn’t holding you in high regard. It’s about not quitting and fighting back. And it has all these kinds of universal themes that somehow these women bring to life.”

‘Golden Girls’ Writer Recalls Creating the Series Finale

As Bea Arthur was the only Golden Girl departing after the series finale, the two-part episode is really a love letter to her character, Dorothy Zbornak. Throughout the 6 seasons of The Golden Girls, Dorothy dealt with constant teasing from her mother and best friends. Though she had the occasional love interest, Dorothy went on fewer dates than her 80-year-old mother, Sophia.

Then, as the show came to an end, Dorothy Zbornak finally got the love story she’d been waiting for. What begins as a prank turns into a fairytale. And rather than going back to her ex, Stan, she found love with Blanche’s uncle Lucas.

“We knew we wanted to kind of give her a fitting tribute and a fitting departure from the show,” Mitchell Hurwitz recalled. “I remember, she was very moved by the last episode. And she wrote me this lovely note about it. And that was really a privilege. I always felt lucky to be there at all. And to be given a chance to write something that was meaningful for her was really special.”

“There were just tremendous writers over the seven years of the show, at every stage of it,” Hurwitz said before adding that Golden Girls creators Susan Harris, Paul Junger Witt, and Tony Thomas were “really responsible for the soul of that show.”