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

by Joe Rutland

After having a very successful seven-season run on NBC, “The Golden Girls” aired its series finale on this day back in 1992.

They went out with a bang, though, on May 9, 1992. An hour-long episode has Dorothy, played by Bea Arthur, meet and marry Blanche’s uncle Lucas, played by Leslie Nielsen. Blanche is played by Rue McClanahan. In the story, Dorothy moves to Atlanta so she can live with Lucas. Sophia, played by Estelle Getty, originally was going to join Dorothy but changes her mind.

When Sophia stays behind with Blanche and Rose, played by Betty White, it sets the threesome up to have the spinoff “The Golden Palace” air. While it is a sentimental idea to have the spinoff, the show ends up being canceled after one season.

‘The Golden Girls’ Last Episode Pulls In 27.2 Million Viewers To NBC

People tuned into the finale in 1992. “The Golden Girls” last episode pulled in 27.2 million viewers. It remains one of the most-watched final episodes in television history.

“The Golden Girls” was a grand-slam hit in the ratings. In its first six seasons, the show consistently finished in the top 10. Only in the seventh season did the show end up outside that space at No. 30.

At 99 years old, White remains the only cast member still alive. Arthur and McClanahan worked together on “Maude” in the 1970s prior to the NBC sitcom. White and McClanahan spent a season on “Mama’s Family,” a spinoff from CBS’s “The Carol Burnett Show” skit called “The Family.”

Now people might be wondering why such a popular sitcom would call it quits. Arthur was tired of playing Dorothy, so she decided to leave the show. Her first love, actually, was the theater and it is where she returned in a one-woman show about her career.

Bea Arthur Knew Dorothy Role Was Right For Her After Reading Script

Arthur, who stars in two Top 10 shows in two different decades, loved the Dorothy role upon reading the script for “The Golden Girls.”

“Well, when I was sent the first script for the pilot, I just read it and said, ‘Oh my God, this is literate, it’s adult, it’s funny,'” Arthur said in a 1991 “Today” interview with Joe Garagiola. “Normally, you get script after script that’s usually ho-hum or something that you don’t care for and I just thought, ‘This is wonderful.'”

Speaking of her theater work, Arthur played Auntie Mame in a stage production of “Mame.” In a 2001 interview, she talked about how that had a role in her television career.

“I was bringing my theater training to television,” said Arthur. “I remember somebody said — and it’s true — that I was trying to turn sitcom into an art form.”

Bea Arthur died in 2009. Her work on television, in the theater, and advocacy for other people lives on forever.