The 11-season sitcom has had a 246-episode run over the course of two decades

By Natalie Stone
April 17, 2020 09:00 AM
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More than 20 years after Will & Grace first premiered, the sitcom is bidding its final farewell.

The series finale of the NBC sitcom airs on April 23, when stars Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Megan Mullally and Sean Hayes will say goodbye to their beloved characters.

In PEOPLE’s exclusive first look at the finale, which includes an overview of the final season as well as behind-the-scenes footage of production on the last episode, the cast reflects on their time on the show.

“We are sitting in the set of Will & Grace during our very last season, and we mean it this time,” Messing, who plays Grace Adler, says with a laugh.

In a clip from one of the scenes, Grace tearfully exclaims, “I’m pregnant!”

“Aren’t you a little…” the woman sitting next to her on the subway says as Grace cries, “Old?! Yes!”

Chris Haston/NBC

Looking back on the show, McCormack (Will Truman) says, “We’ve done certain episodes that while they’re very much about right now, they will withstand the text of time.” He later adds, “I have a greater appreciation of how great a job this is, so in some ways it’s harder to say goodbye this time.”

For Hayes (Jack McFarland), 41, “All I feel is gratitude to the writers, to my peers, to the fans.”

Will & Grace cast
Chris Haston/NBC

In footage from the final tape night, the cast takes their last bow on set.

“To have a job doing a show that people liked so much, that’s amazing,” says Mullally, 61 (Karen Walker).

In the finale episode, titled “It’s Time,” with the apartment packed up, Will is determined to not reminisce about his life in the city or his ex, McCoy (guest star Matt Bomer). A pregnant Grace, on the verge of giving birth, keeps having false alarms of going into labor. Meanwhile, at the behest of Stan, Karen goes to the top of the Statue of Liberty to get closure with her ex-husband, and Jack’s dream of taking a bow on a Broadway stage becomes a very real possibility.

Will & Grace cast
Chris Haston/NBC

Following the finale, McCormack, 56, will host a Will & Grace retrospective special, which will feature clips of past and present episodes that highlight the series’ most iconic and memorable moments.

“To be able to make people laugh and think and feel, that’s the trifecta,” says Messing, 51.

“This is a family with a history,” she adds. “No question there’s going to be tears on that last night.”

Will & Grace cast
Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images

The series, which ran for eight seasons from 1998 to 2006, was rebooted in 2017. NBC announced last year that the 11th season would be the last.

Over the course of two decades, the sitcom has had a 246-episode run. It has scored 91 Emmy Award nominations, 18 Emmy wins (including outstanding comedy series), and seven SAG Awards. Additionally, the show is one of the few in television history where each cast member has won an Emmy Award.

The Will & Grace finale is set to air Thursday, April 23 at 9 p.m. ET, followed by the Will & Grace retrospective special at 9:30 p.m. ET, both on NBC.