Post Mortems

Post Mortem: Mentalist Creator Talks Red John's Role in Original Series Finale — Plus: What's Next for Robin Tunney?

Mentalist Series Finale Spoilers

There are happy endings, and then there are idyllic codas.

CBS’ The Mentalist wrapped its seven-season run on Wednesday night with a double header in which the serial killer Lazarus was presumably blown to bits but in fact lived on to haunt Jane and Lisbon’s wedding day.

In the end, the baddie was bested and the show’s partners in crime-fighting became man and wife… and more, when in the very final scene, Jane gleaned that his glowing bride was pregnant.

As Robin Tunney noted in Part 1 of our Q&A, that final twist “gives them a real future as a new door opens into a new life for them — and I think that that’s exciting.” Especially since, she noted, “It’s very difficult to make a finale for a show that’s run this long that you feel like wraps everything up in a definitive way and gives the fans a clear idea of who these people are going to be and what their lives will be like.”

Yet now we know that Jane and Lisbon are riding off into the sunset as newlyweds and parents.

Here in Part 2 of TVLine’s Q&A with Tunney and series creator Bruno Heller, the topics include Red John’s onetime role in The Mentalist‘s final hour, and how the procedural should be remembered.

TVLINE | Bruno, did you ever entertain any other possible ending for the series? Like, at any time was the mindset, “Red John gets captured in our series finale”?
BRUNO HELLER | I have to give full credit to both the way that the story just evolved. But at a certain point, I can’t remember exactly when, Peter Roth at Warner Brothers [TV] said, “Listen, if you want this show to roll on, catch that bastard [Red John], get rid of him and tell us what happens afterwards.” Until he laid that out I had always in a very pompous way thought that the book ends when Moby Dick gets harpooned. But in fact, that decision and that choice gave the show a whole new lease of life [midway through Season 6], it gave a whole new energy and juice to all the characters — not just Jane and Lisbon but everybody. They were able to move to another location, there was a sense of the sunshine flowing in, and the audience responded to that. So, all credit goes to Peter — the reason he is where he is and has been for so long is he has impeccable instincts about that sort of thing.

TVLINE | Robin, this actually closes a second chapter for the two of us, after Prison Break. Having done two network dramas in a row, what would interest you next? A 13-episode cable series, a comedy, playing a perky carrot-dicing sitcom mom…?
ROBIN TUNNEY | That’s so funny because I think it’s really hard to know what it is you want to do until you read it and you meet the group of people who are involved. I have never been one of those actors who wakes up like, “I’d love to play a blind woman.” I think that TV is changing so much and there are so many different outlets for watching it and what it is, but there are network shows that are absolutely amazing. I don’t know what [my next move] going to be and I don’t really feel specific [leanings], but I do know when you read it you have to imagine that you’d want to be with these people and with the character that you’re accepting for six or seven years.

I definitely don’t see myself playing a police officer again, just because I feel like I was given a great female role that way and did that. But yeah, I don’t know what it’s going to be and I’m really excited by that. I think that there’s a certain amount of adrenaline with the unknown that actors intrinsically have, which is why they chose [that career]. But you know what, Matt? When I read it, I’m going to call you right away.

TVLINE | How would each of you like The Mentalist to be remembered? What do you think it brought to the table that was perhaps distinct? I for one always enjoyed how smart the crime-solving could be.
TUNNEY | Americans had seen the procedural in every way, but I think Bruno definitely created one that had a sense of humor and sort of highbrow references. And yes, I also thought it was very smart. It’s a genre that’s very well-known, but I think that there was more human behavior in it from the police officers — these people had senses of humor and they had attitudes towards their job that weren’t just about exposition and finding out the facts. I think hopefully they’ll be remembered for breathing new air into a genre that people were really familiar with.
HELLER | I’ll just be happy if it’s remembered. You know, so that when I’m a senile old guy at the cash register of the supermarket I can say, “Do you know who I used to be…?” and get a discount or something. I mean I know what I’ll remember it for and that’s everything we’ve been talking about [in Part 1 of the Q&A]. Beyond that, it’s up to the people who remember it. But I’ll remember it as the happiest professional time of my life. Now, you’re going to make me blub before Robin does, which I never want to do!

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  1. Sara says:

    A great finale for one of my favorites. The show will be missed. Look forward to seeing where the cast turns up next.

  2. Mike Q says:

    Nice ending. It does sound like the Cable pickup for Season 8 isn’t happening, though. I was holding out slim hopes.

  3. Maria says:

    It was an amazing finale. Life wins over death. Happiness wins in the end. It’s going to be hard not to have this Show and these characters anymore every week. I’m gonna miss it very much. Amazing job by all the Cast and Crew!

  4. John T says:

    Thanks for the great story, scares and laughs. We will miss the characters and the show.

  5. Lola says:

    This has been a good show and it’s had a great run. I loved Jane and Lisbon, but I couldn’t help but notice the lack of chemistry between the two. Due to that, I couldn’t get into their romance.
    Without a strong chemistry it just didn’t work for me. Glad it had a happy ending.

    • I think what you saw as “lack of chemistry” was actually the opposite. Robin and Simon became very close friends over the life of this series and I honestly believe that playing their roles any “hotter” would have been pretty awkward. Also, despite what traditionally passes as romance in modern day media is usually a far cry from reality.

  6. jen says:

    I enjoyed it very much. But I think I would have liked it more if the wedding had been a surprise vs all the publicity for it.

  7. Bob Hevern says:

    Loved every minute of the show, and especially the finale. I hope to see Tim Kang in some future series. He was great!

  8. George B. says:

    I’m going to miss the show so much. It was smart, fun, and I really enjoyed watching it. Very pleased for the happy ending.

  9. Randall Krommenhoek says:

    Best show TV. Sorry that it is over. Thought they might transition to Jane and Lisbon starting a detective agency.
    Thought they would be in something new together. Guess not.

  10. bj says:

    They definitely know how to keep their fans happy. It was a perfect ending for the show.

  11. paul savage says:

    Bring mentalist back

  12. 4theloveoffilm says:

    It was perfect. And my Kimball smiled more in two hours than he did in the past seven seasons. I won’t lie–I very much prefer happy endings. But I love that after so much heartache and hardship and growth, the characters found happiness and peace. Life won’t be perfect, but Patrick Jane finally forgave himself and allowed himself to be happy.

  13. Michelle Van Gorp says:

    Perfect! We are all sobbing at home like we lost family. Patrick Jane ends with everything he lost in the beginning, and everyone involved had a role in the journey. No one deserves it more than him. Loved every minute of every season!!! They will be missed.

  14. Ally says:

    Loved every minute of it. It was an awesome way to wrap an awesome show. I will definitely miss it.

  15. Annette says:

    Bring Lisbon and Jane back on TV as private detectives as happily married parents!

    • Dick says:

      That would be a good spinoff. Lots of new storylines.

      • Asta says:

        I agree with some other commentators, they had zero chemistry. Now Castle and Beckett are chemistry personified.

        • I agree as well that they had no chemistry, though it made sense that they “grew together” professionally which often ends up personally as well. And I also agree that Castle and Beckett had lots of chemistry. BUT – I much prefer the Mentalist series to the Castle series!! I will definitely miss this show!!!

        • Callie says:

          I agree that Beckett and Castle have great chemistry but for me, the best TV chemistry ever was Mulder and Scully on X-Files. Loved those two characters and the show!

  16. Brilliant way to end the show. I loved every minute of it. It was so well done. I’ll miss this show a lot.

  17. DarkDefender says:

    I really enjoyed this episode, especially the Jane/Lisbon interactions in the second half (White Orchids). I laughed and cried and just really enjoyed it. Everyone stayed true to character to the end. I truly enjoyed all seven seasons of it.
    Thanks to all involved. I will miss you on my TV. :)

  18. Jessica says:

    Amazing show – thank you so much to those that created this show and worked on the show. I know how incredibly hard everyone worked! I will miss this show so much – I think this is the best series I have ever seen. It has meant so much to me! Wonderful finale-would not change a thing! Perfect!

  19. p5yl0g1k says:

    Utter and complete fail.. once again, thank you bruno fkn heller!

    • DYS says:

      What in your opinion made it such a failure of an ending?

      • Patrick Jane's Greek Buddy says:

        Ignore him, he’s just trolling. What a great episode. Felt like watching a movie if you watch it without commercials. The ending was great and I really liked the scene where he talks to Teresa about the ring.

  20. LEP says:

    Was I the only one when they rolled the closing credits, was waiting for “Stayed tune for our next epizode (spelled the way he says he it)” and then sadly realize, I’d never hear that again?

  21. RBA says:

    Great show. Nice ending

  22. Tran says:

    I give it an A. Wonder if Jane and Lisbon’s newborn baby is either a boy or girl. Overall, a great ending to a series that deserves to have a final season even though last season still let me down in more ways than one.

    • Anzalena Amanda Woo says:

      It’ll probably be a boy… Lisbon has 3 brothers (Tommy,Stan,Jimmy) and Stan has 3 sons (Jason,Bryan,joey). Even though she has 2 nieces the boys still r overpowering the girls in the Lisbon family…So iI’ll say they have a boy.

  23. John says:

    Boring, same regular episode finale, with a happily ever after falling action… one suggestion to really tie a bow on it… as they are embrassing at the end and the camera fades out Jane whispers in her ear, “There’s something I need to tell you…. I’m Red Jon.” Wow! Now that would be an ending.

    • Asta says:

      I was thinking the same thing. That he was Red Jon. His voice was on the whole car kidnapping. A part of me thought he’d join that gorgeous woman (she was on Homeland) who escaped jail and called him from that island. Now, they had chemistry.

  24. GildedRose says:

    This was a perfect way to wrap up the series, completely full circle. Everybody stayed in character, Jane and Lisbon got their happy ending, and seeing the cast all together at the end was just the perfect send off. Loved every minute of it.

  25. Martha thacker says:

    That was an excellent ending to the mentalist. Great job to the writers and awesome job to the actors… Loved it

    • I agree. Finally a love story where they didn’t have to show all, with actors who could make you feel the draw they had toward each other. Too many shows rely on the bedroom scenes to do that. I will miss the show and hope to see reruns!

  26. Sue says:

    Loved the whole series. My husband and I are really going to miss it.

  27. Sasha says:

    I loved the ending! And seeing Rigsby and Van Pelt back was the icing on the cake for me! Everybody deserved a happy ending, considering the crap they all went through. So sad to see the show go.

  28. A great ending, albeit a safe and predictable one but amazing nonetheless.

  29. mary says:

    Loved the show and will miss I TT. Why did it have to end?????? Do not care for stupid reality shows. We need something worth watching that is not teaching bad habits or glorifying drinking,sex and all the other crap! We need more shows like ncis, mentalist not ridiculous things being done by morons who will do anything for money or notoriety!!!

  30. Cap says:

    I’m torn.

    My brain still hasn’t fully registered that it’s over. No new episodes and I guess once that really sinks in, I’ll be craving more and new episodes. I just can’t imagine going into the fall knowing The Mentalist won’t be there (ok it wasn’t there for the last intallment but you know what I mean).
    On the other hand that was such an amazing finale. After going through some really bad series finales over the years, I’m so unbelievably glad those guys nailed it big time and gave us fans a season to remember, a finale to remember, an awesome show to remember.

    I’m a little scared that IF it comes back at one point, it won’t be the same or whatever ending they come up with won’t top that one, can’t top that one. I mean this one had whipped cream AND a cherry AND chocolate AND baileys on top.

  31. Q says:

    I already miss the show. so much.
    Thank’s to creator, and all crue members, you did great job.
    Some similar serie with similar crue?
    No, it’s no good idea, but…. some 120 min. movie (reunionn afret xy years), why not.
    Anyway, thank’s for fantastic finale.

  32. arial2 says:

    In case you haven’t watched it, SPOILER WARNING. I think this finale made up for the weak Red John resolution. The only thing I would have liked, since the idea of psychics played into the episode, anyway, would have been some sort of resolution of the Kristina Frye storyline, even if only a verbal update. She was left in limbo, literally. I rolled my eyes at Teresa’s visit to their RV when she went inside without waiting, but loved how it turned out to be Patrick who was in danger instead; good misdirection. I laughed so hard when the serial killer, thinking he was so smart, walked into the cabin to surprise and kill Patrick, only to be greeted by about a dozen FBI agents. I liked that this show, in the last seasons, did not take itself too seriously. And I loved the whole “Now that we’re married, I thought I’d let you know I’m pregnant” ending; usually it’s the other way around, so there was sweetness and a little humor in the final scene. Great way to end this series.

  33. jason says:

    I liked the show until Lisbon and Jane got romantically involved. It jumped the shark just like Bones. So, I backed off the show. Happy endings are great and all, it’s good that they waited until the last show until dragging it on.

  34. Ally says:

    A spin off would be nice…same premise

  35. tvmama says:

    Love the series, too bad they dragged the Red John storyline for too long and it killed the show! I almost gave up on it after the “fake Red John’s death” twist. Luckily, the last season was good, especially with the new set of supporting characters, and of course, Cho is my favourite character!

  36. John says:

    The first thought I had at the end of the two hours was, they respected the long time viewers. Now I can watch the occasional rerun in syndication without being distracted by thoughts of how tragically or unhappily it all ends when the series concluded. Thank you, Mr. Heller.

  37. Jenna says:

    The finale was a perfect wrap up of an entertaining series that reinvented itself yet stayed true to its fans. I loved all the happiness and joy on everyone’s faces in the final episode. Many thanks to The Mentalist cast and crew for 7 fun years. I’m going to miss it. Don’t stay away too long, Simon.

  38. Roser says:

    Enjoyed the finale and the final moments brought a few tears to my eyes. Finally an ending where the good guys live on instead of so much death which seems to have been a trend for a lot of finales as of late.

  39. Ani says:

    What a lovely ending. It was so nice to see Jane so happy, and about to be a dad again. I could totally imagine him thriving as a stay-at-home dad while Lisbon brings home the bacon. Only bummer was that the Rookie was killed a few eps ago. It felt unecessary and makes me sad for poor Wylie, who was so into her. But I guess that makes the ending just that little bit bittersweet.

  40. susan mcdonald says:

    loved the ending .It was nice to see something end with smiling faces & good news . Sorry to see the show end was one of my favorites.

  41. Loved the finale…both my hubby and I thought it had come full circle from Jane’s start when he was still heartbroken from losing his wife and daughter, to his marriage to Lisbon and a child on the way. It was the perfect ending.

  42. Morisot says:

    Was that O’Neill’s cabin from Stargate?

  43. Kim says:

    This was a great finale. The series came full circle with a satisfying end. It’s still pulling in 9-10 million viewers a week and is number two in its Wednesday time period. So why was it cancelled? It’s not the ratings, so it must be the cost of each episode. I hope it gets picked up by another network like JAG was.

  44. Martha Blanke says:

    I am so sad to see the Mentalist end. It was my very favorite show. I looked forward to it every week. My husband and I planned the evening around it. I love the humor, love Jane of course, the stories, everything. There were many more story lines that could have been written. Why did it have to end? Was everyone tired of filming it? Guess I’ll have to settle for re-runs:(

  45. rick wozniak says:

    Sad you see it end. One of the best crime shows on TV. The whole cast just gelled. Really liked the whole F.B.I thing. So sorry to see it go. Surprise us and bring it back.

  46. SusieQ says:

    This was a wonderful end to a great show. Like when you finish the last page of an awsome book and put it down, yet the story still lingers in your mind. I feel like I just said goodbye to some wonderful people, and want time to slow down so you can be happy for them as they move on, before missing them make you sad.

  47. puma says:

    I am very pleasantly surprised at an optimistic and cheerful ending. The announced killing off of TM and recently Vega’s elimination had convinced me that fans were in for some violent bloodthirsty conclusion which it seems S. Baker would have liked so Jane would maintain his tragic personae! Thanks to writers, directors, producers, crew, to have entertained intelligently and elegantly. I am also glad that I can now re-watch old episodes a bit nostalgically. But I can still watch them and at most regret the series ended. Still hope for a spin-off!!!!

  48. Barbara says:

    Will miss the show, watched from the beginning, loved the ending.

  49. Anzalena Amanda Woo says:

    It was so extremely amazing that they should do an encore of a year into the future of our very happy couple with their baby boy. (I’m going to assume that they’ll have a boy, since she has 3 brothers and her brother Stan has 3 sons as well). A happy encore nothing tragic, because unlike simon said in one of his interviews that ‘its more romantic if there is a tragic ending…’ No no simon. People want happy ending especially happy endings for Lisbon and Jane and baby Jisbon.

  50. Bill says:

    Two great series finales thus far this season: Parenthood and now The Mentalist.