‘The A-Team’: Why the Series’ Ending Wasn’t Actually the Last Episode

by Craig Garrett

The final episode of The A-Team dropped on March 8, 1987, months after the program’s original conclusion had already aired. The reason for this is that the final episode of the 80s classic tv series didn’t go as planned, according to this recent MeTV article.

The rise and fall of the A-Team

The series starred George Peppard as the group’s sardonic leader, John “Hannibal” Smith. Backing up Hannibal was the tough but charismatic Bosco Albert “B.A.” Baracus. The part was played by Mr. T. It was written specifically for the actor following his huge popularity after appearing in Rocky III. Rounding out the team is the debonair Templeton “Faceman” Peck (Dirk Benedict) and comic relief H.M. “Howling Mad” Murdock (Dwight Schultz).

The A-Team’s blend of action, adventure, and humor were revolutionary when it first debuted, but its stories soon became too conventional. The A-Team’s ratings plummeted after it was the fourth most-watched US television program from 1983 to 1984. The program was ranked 61st for its last season. After several attempts to revitalize interest by adding new characters and storylines, it was clear that the writing was on the wall.

The would-be series finale of The A-Team

The series was canceled by NBC midway through its fifth season. On Dec. 30, 1986, an episode known as “The Grey Team” aired. In the episode, the A-Team aids in a sting operation to capture Russian agents. When a young lady flees with secret papers and hides at a local nursing home, members of the team break-in to retrieve them.

Throughout the episode, dialogue and visual hints suggest that it is the show’s final episode. Murdock considers the A-team’s future at one point, whereas Hannibal insists the team has years of exciting things ahead. Later in the episode, Murdock is also seen wearing a shirt that says “Fini,” the French term for “finished.” “The Grey Team” served as a conclusion for the series. It was, however, not the last episode.

Was the last aired new episode of the A-team actually meant to be the finale?

The previously unseen episode “Without Reservations” aired on NBC around two months later, on March 8, 1987. This was smack dab in the middle of a string of reruns. A mistake resulted in it initially being passed over for broadcast, despite the fact that it was intended to be the next to last episode. “Without Reservations,” which featured a restaurant hostage crisis as its backdrop, was considerably more open-ended than “The Grey Team.” At one point, Murdock is seen wearing a shirt that says “Almost Fini,” meaning “Almost Finished.” This suggests that “Without Reservations” was supposed to be the second-to-last episode.

It was never determined who was to blame for the programs airing out of sequence. However, the program’s popularity has endured in ’80s pop culture history. Mr. T remains a popular pitchman and public figure to this day.

In 2010, a feature film based on the series was released, with Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, and MMA fighter Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in the leading roles. A reboot of the series was said to be in the works in 2015, but nothing came of it. However, in a world of remakes and reboots, it’s only a matter of time.