The cast talks to PEOPLE about the sweat, tears and tanning that went into filming the very end of MTV's hit show

By Dahvi Shira
Updated December 20, 2012 05:30 PM
Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

Gym, tan, laundry … and tears.

Three years, six seasons and two spin-offs after Jersey Shore‘s December 2009 premiere, the pop culture phenomenon that extended Ed Hardy’s shelf life and gave the importance of hair gel an entirely new meaning is bidding adieu to TV.

In honor of the reality show’s grand finale, airing at 10 p.m. on Thursday, PEOPLE caught up with the cast and got some behind-the-scenes scoop from the final days of filming.

Here are five things we know you won’t be seeing in the finale that Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, 31, calls, “humorous with a little irony”:

1. JWoww Won’t Have a Perfect Tan
“I looked down, and all my tanning bronzer was running down my chest and stained my shirt,” Farley, 26, says of filming in blistering heat. “That’s how bad it was. It was a mess. I had lines. It was gross.” But it was tears that interrupted another beauty trademark: She had to remove her fake eyelashes. “They were wet [from crying],” she explains. “It was awful.”

2. Snooki Won’t Be Her Old Self
Between the combination of the sweltering sun and being seven months pregnant, Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, 25, says she “was miserable” on the final day of filming. “You get to see me super, super pregnant,” she says. “I felt huge. I made it the best, but it was hard.”

3. You Won’t See All the Hovering Fans
By watching the show, it’s impossible to tell there are hundreds of admirers outside of where the cast is filming, but according to Deena Cortese, 25, “They followed us around.” Cortese and her castmates were instructed by production not to interact with their devotees, but on the final day, “We were allowed to do that,” she says. “I don’t know if they’re going to show that [on the finale], but they might. We waved to them and said hi. It was cool.”

4. Sammi and Ronni Won’t Be Going Quietly
Anyone who has watched Jersey Shore has witnessed the ups and (frequent) downs of the relationship between Sammi “Sweetheart” Giancola, 25, and Ronni Ortiz-Magro, 27. But just as things were looking up for the tumultuous pair, “wait until the last episode,” Giancola teases. “Everybody’s thinking, ‘Wow, you and Ron had a great season.’ And I’m like … ‘You’ll see something with me and Ron. It’s stupid bickering.’ ” But fans of the duo can rest easy. They completed this interview as a couple and said they are living together happily.

5. The Ending Won’t Be Like The Hills
Sure, the last scene will likely take cues from MTV’s other reality shows, but Jersey Shore‘s finale will have a genuine feel. “We all go outside of the house and are standing in front,” Ortiz-Magro says. “There’s a big group hug and then we get in our cars, and that’s when [the end] is going to hit the viewers.” Adds Paul “Pauly D” DelVecchio, “You get to see how close we really are. We fight all the time … but you’ll get to see how we come together as a family.”