‘The Conners’ Season 5 Finale: The Family Makes Up for Missed Milestones as EPs Prep for Possible Series End (Exclusive Video)

“The Conners” closes out Season 5 with yet more family turmoil front and center, as Mark’s high school graduation approaches, and he reaches out to his long-absent father, David (originally played by Johnny Galecki of “The Big Bang Theory”) in hopes he’d attend. What results is an angry confrontation with Ben and Darlene about what it truly means to be a father.

In the exclusive clip above, Darlene attempts to wake Mark up to the fact that his father will, most likely, disappoint him and flake. But Mark hopes differently. And that fighting energy falls smack in front of the man who is always there for him – Ben. As the episode continues, members of the family lament their own disappointments of that one important day years – and in some cases, decades – earlier.

Co-executive producer Bruce Helford tells TheWrap what they wanted to leave the audience to think about through the summer regarding the Conner family’s future.

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“With Darlene, Mark and Ben (and actually the whole family), we wanted to highlight the real difficulties for working-class families trying to get a son or daughter into college. Also, we developed the path for Becky to become a more mature person, looking to make different choices now that she’s in her late forties, going to college and raising a child.  That led us to her meeting Sean Astin,” Helford said. “Those stories, plus the evolution of the relationships between Jackie and Neville and Dan and Louise, Jackie becoming more empowered in her life and dealing with her mom’s dementia, Dan trying to keep the family close as it starts to spread out — all of that should get the audience’s imagination going about what’s to come.”

“Darlene’s determination to get Mark to college in a way they can afford has been an arc running through Season 5, starting even earlier than that,” co-executive producer Dave Caplan added. “At the end of Season 5, she sacrifices her own future and job satisfaction to make Mark’s dream a reality, but the audience is left to ponder how, and if, she’ll be able to adjust.”

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Helford told TVLine that next season could be the show’s last. “I would not [say that] definitively because the numbers were so good this season, and we’ve all had a really great time… but it’s definitely a possibility,” he said. If the end is definitely near and because the Conners’ journey is so relatable to American families, Caplan and Helford know how they’d approach the final season.

“We’re going to continue to be honest about the struggles of blue-collar families, and how money worries color so much of the Conners’ lives. Yet, they support each other and persevere, and they have somewhat more optimistic futures than even they thought possible,” Caplan told TheWrap. “So we’ll continue to explore the idea that even when you have little, if everybody hangs together, in some ways you can have a lot.”

Helford added, “The Conners is an infinite and ever-growing family saga. The characters take us to the stories and we follow that lead.”