How ‘Mork & Mindy’ Ended
Many television fans have had the heartbreaking experience of growing to know and love a set of characters, only to see the show unceremoniously canceled before its natural conclusion. Even worse is when this happens after the show’s final episode has been written with an additional season in mind, leaving fans with a cliffhanger and very little closure. This type of end for a show is nothing new, as Mork & Mindy fans experienced back in 1982 when the TV show left its main characters stuck in the wrong time and place, with audiences never knowing if they’d make it home safely.
Robin Williams was relatively unknown before ‘Mork & Mindy’
Today, Robin Williams is known and loved for the humor and genuine warmth he brought to his characters. Not only did he play a number of oddballs in family comedies such as Mrs. Doubtfire, Hook, and Jumanji, but he also excelled in dramatic and sometimes even dark films such as Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting, and What Dreams May Come.
Long before he was a star of the big screen, he was a relatively unknown stand-up comedian scoring the occasional day player role on TV shows. It was his role as an alien named Mork on Happy Days that brought him, and his comedic genius, into the national eye and into the hearts of millions.
How ‘Mork & Mindy’ was created
The idea to have a “spaceman” on Happy Days was an odd idea and according to Brian Levant via Gizmodo, a story editor for the show at the time. The cast and crew had misgivings and several actors either quit or turned down the role of Mork. It was at that point that the showrunners held an open call for comics in an attempt to fill the role.
According to an interview from 2007 with Larry King, Williams said at the audition he just went for it, creating the character’s iconic helium-like voice at the audition and that getting the role was “kind of a fluke.”
What was at first a nearly universally hated idea among the Happy Days cast and crew, became magic in the hands of Williams as showrunners shaped and recreated the character based on his performance in rehearsals. They were so impressed they pitched a spinoff series, Mork & Mindy, without making an official pilot episode, casting Pam Dawber as Mork’s earth opposite and using cut scenes from William’s time filming for Happy Days.
The premise of the show was simple. According to Levant, this was the pitch: “What happens when this wacky spaceman meets this down-to-Earth girl?” Williams himself said no one thought the show would “click,” but when the executives came in, they would see people laughing. This was a good sign of things to come, and Mork & Mindy went on to have four seasons. It aired from 1978 to 1982.
How did ‘Mork & Mindy’ end?
In the final season of the show, we see Mork and Mindy get married and have their first child. The last three-part set of episodes called “Gotta Run” were already wrapped when they got the news that there wouldn’t be a 5th season, leaving show runners in a difficult position.
The final episode was originally meant to be left on a cliffhanger for season 5. In the episode, another alien named Kalnik destroyed Mork and Mindy’s apartment with a bomb (that had been posing as his girlfriend). Mork’s magic shoes were also damaged and when he clicks them to escape Kalnik, he and Mindy end up not only in another place but another time, with prehistoric cavemen.
According to Levant, the plan for season 5 was to have Mork and Mindy continuing to jump through time to escape Kalnik. “It was going to be a semi-educational show,” he said, “Where Mork and Mindy traveling through time would meet with historical figures. We actually did a photoshoot for that, of them standing with Abe Lincoln and Benjamin Franklin.”
When they got the news that the show was canceled, they made the decision to switch the order of the three-part series and made part one the final episode calling it, “The Mork Report.” In it, Mork reports back to his boss, Orson on his home planet of Ork about how to make an Earth marriage work through honesty, respect, romance, and compatibility.
Though the show was left on a cliffhanger regardless, ending with that sweet episode gave fans at least a little bit of closure for the end of the series, knowing Mork was going to do his best to be a good husband to Mindy. One of Mork’s last lines was this: “The hours are long, the work is hard. But every time I look at Mindy I see warmth, I see love, I see someone who makes me feel like I matter in this vast lonely universe.”