Spoiler Alert! This article contains MASSIVE SPOILERS!
For six seasons and 123 episodes, Jim Kouf and David Greenwalt have taken us on the roller coaster ride that was Grimm. From first learning that a young cop named Nick Burkhardt was a Grimm, aka a supernatural criminal profiler, until the show's end on Friday, when Nick and the gang had to literally stop Hell on Earth, there has simply nothing like it on TV.
Now creators and executive producers Greenwalt and Kouf finally tell all, from characters that took off in ways they weren't expecting to that big three-episode finale that, if things had worked out a little differently, might just have involved aliens.
Kouf and Greenwalt chatted with Syfy Wire in this exclusive postmortem interview delving into the Grimm of it all.
I'm really mad at you guys. You almost killed everybody.
David Greenwalt: We almost did.
You actually did kill them, but then you brought them back, so you're back in my good graces ... but just narrowly.
DG: We wanted you to have the experience of all the deaths.
And we did, one by one. It was like oh my god ... Not Wu! Not Hank! Not Eve! No! Renard? Okay, kill him off. But not Adalind! Not Rosalee and Monroe! Not Trubel! Are you kidding? Well, congratulations on the show, guys. What a great ending. You gave Nick a chance to mourn every character and then he got them back again. And then 20 years later we see the kids. I love that part. That was fun.
Jim Kouf: That's just us blatantly putting up a sequel.
Well, it would be an awesome sequel. Diana and Kelly and the triplets, with Mom and Dad too.
JK: It's really just an application for another job.
As you look at the series as a whole what are your thoughts about where you've been able to take this?
JK: I think not knowing where we were going when we first started this thing, to actually putting together a series that had a procedural element almost every week, plus a serialized storyline every week. I think we came up with a pretty satisfying ending with what we set up to ultimately do, without knowing anything.
DG: We had such big cliffhangers every year, and we felt we had to out do ourselves one last time. The notion that Nick would have to lose just absolutely everything seemed like in a way ... essential, and we went for it.
When did you know how you wanted to end the series?
JK: Six weeks before (laughs).
DG: If that (laughs) ... We knew there was going to be big stuff and we began to figure out the stick and the staff and all that kind of stuff, but we had a lot of different versions, Including one with aliens.
DG: We had a lot of different versions of what we were going to do there at the end.
It would have been interesting to see the alien one. Was that something you guys were seriously considering?
DG: Well, we actually pitched it at one point, but we were so busy doing other things, it wasn't really fully formed. Wouldn't you say, Jim?
JK: Yeah, we were just hammered with trying to direct a couple of episodes and write and produce and there was no time to breathe actually.
Well, you figured it out.
JK: Ultimately it just came together. It just seemed to ultimately make sense to do it that way. So it's not as if we struggled for months on end trying to figure it out. It had a natural ending to it.
You wanted obviously to take Nick to the edge, but it did seem really big considering all the big cliffhangers and events you've had happen. And you brought back everybody of importance, including Mom Kelly and Aunt Marie. As writers and producers, tell me about this ending. Why did you want to go there?
JK: There's a logic to that, which is the evil has to take everything from Nick because he knows he has to have a big trade and the big trade is you can have everybody back but you have to give up the world essentially. And that's the ultimate evil.
DG: And he's ready to do it and you can't blame him for a second. But then his actual ancestors appear and there's a prophecy throughout the last episode about the strength of one's blood, which they mistake to mean this other thing. But it actually means the strength of your family and who you are and where you come from.
JK: We thought it grounded it emotionally too. With your family you can do almost anything if you have the support of your family.
The voice over there with Nick's son Kelly at the end had a funny moment, about all the Grimms and Trubel being Nick's third cousin.
JK: (Laughs) We had to answer that question, was Trubel related to him.
DG: That was a big question from the time she appeared, was she some kind of relation. And then my thing that I liked so much at the very end there, he says, "Some will think it's a myth, it's a legend, it's a fairy tale but I know it's true, because my father told me." I like that full circle with the fairy tales and with the reality of what we tried to do with the show.
And we got a new trailer at the end in the woods.
DG: Albeit a nicer more modern trailer.
What was your biggest challenge through the seasons? The thing that was the toughest.
JK: Just keeping 22 episodes on the air every year. That's the toughest thing, because it's this freight train that is constantly looking for a chance to derail. And we're just running ahead of it.
DG: Keeping ahead of the train, as Jim just said, and also trying to keep the quality really good. Let the characters grow and change. Trying not to do the same things over and over again and [to cover] new ground. And be true to this idea. The initial idea was how do you explain real evil in the world? I mean that is a basic question of existence. And this was a way of actually picturing this initial idea that the Grimm Nick could actually see evil personified in people. And carrying that all the way through to what was this Zerstörer character? Was it Satan? Almost every mythology and culture has a belief of an ultimate evil in it and what would happen if you came up against the most frightening opponent of the series.
And I think also the whole Schrödinger's cat analogy was really smart.
DG: That was fun, wasn't it?
That was fun. It was mentioned a few episodes back, but actually to have that be the key to Nick getting his people back, that was cool. This scientific question basically within a fairy tale I thought was really fascinating. What was it about that worked for you guys as far as developing that idea?
JK: There was a logic to it and a way to explain other places, simultaneous worlds and parallel worlds.
After Nick goes through the wormhole thingy, there's also a world he leaves behind where everybody's dead, except the kids and Trubel.
DG: (Laughs) That's true too.
JK: We didn't go to that world. That's another plane.
Now that would be a very depressing world.
DG: Our show I think was best when myth and science met on some level. And there's a lot going on nowadays where quite advanced scientists are almost mystic, like in the Newtonian physics and even Einstein physics. They don't really hold up when you get the chaos theory and string theory and quantum physics, and so the idea is all these different realities, and then all the common occurrences in historical myths. I think our show is best when the creatures had a real point of view and a real mission to accomplish. They weren't villainous. But also when there was some science involved, that's where science and myth meet. It's a very interesting interception.
What kind of stories did you struggle the most with over the seasons?
JK: I don't think we ever really struggled with that. I mean we still had a lot of stuff that we could have drawn upon. We just kept looking within the mythology and within the fairy tale world and with real evil, and we could find lots of stuff to tell. So it was choosing the right ones.
DG: Some stories came easier than others and you just don't know. Some episodes we worked really, really hard on and they were better. There is not always a mathematical formula where the amount of effort equals the amount of how good things just came together.
Were there any other challenges?
JK: The only thing that made it hard sometimes was that 42-minute broadcast time. Sometimes if we just had another 30 seconds or another two minutes we could have really tied things up a little better. I mean we felt that strain especially in the Midsummer Night's Dream episode because we had to leave some of it on the editing room floor, just because of time. That's the biggest disappointment is you're stuck with this 42 minutes all the time.
DG: You really had to get to the point quickly and you couldn't go to too many tertiary issues or the actions from the stories. But it came out pretty darn good all in all.
What's the one story line you wish you could've spent more time on or develop more?
JK: I think we hit them all.
What was the story that took off in a way you never imagined?
JK: The pilot, because, oh, my God, we didn't know who Monroe was.
DG: It's true.
JK: We didn't know until we wrote Monroe, but he had a point of view about growing up being scared of Grimms and all that. We didn't know it until we actually got down into it and tried to figure it out. So that was the biggest surprise and that set the tone for the series.
In the beginning when Monore and Nick are fighting and after they almost kill each other, Monroe stops and says, "Hey, you want to have a beer?" That's what set the tone for me.
DG: Yeah, it did. It was a real turning point, and it let you know it's all right to laugh in this show as well as be awed and frightened. Like Jim said, his point of view was so interesting. The boogie man to him was not the big bad wolf. It was these Grimms who were always cutting their heads off.
That would terrorize children.
JK: Yeah, well he had Wesen/Grimm books.
Oh, yeah that's right, he did.
DG: Some episodes were obviously more frightening and some were more fun or whatever. But I liked it when the so-called adversary, like the guy with the three arms and the three eyes who was a baby eater ... El Cuegle ... The question was, "Wouldn't you smother Hitler in the crib if you knew the future?" And he was tormented and I felt a fully drawn character. We had quite a few of those actually throughout the series.
JK: I did that one.
A lot of times the things that the Wesen was doing was not because he or she was evil.
DG: It wasn't because they were evil.
They had to do these things because they were compelled to do them or to survive.
DG: It was their nature. They were a victim of their own nature in a way. But I also, on the other hand, think of the fly creature who lived off the tears of people who were grieving. The more you thought about a creature like that, the more it became apparent he'd probably started some kind of grief group support thing. I think it was one of our first truly creepy creatures.
What were a couple of the most fun creatures that you guys came up with?
Which one is the Kinoshimobe?
DG: He's the tree creature in episode nine. He had a symbiotic relationship with the Jubokko tree.
JK: That was our environmental story.
DG: And he was another character who was doing the right thing. He was protecting the environment. So that was fun too. There was a lot of nice Socratic kind of dialogue in that episode. Like was it good or bad. It was mostly good.
I liked that the guys questioned whether or not they were doing the right thing.
JK: I love this kind of turns in the show. Makes it feel life-like in some way.
Here's a question from Krystal Clark who's been doing recaps with me on Grimm. She wants to know why did you want to go in direction you did with the love triangle between Juliette/Eve and Nick and Adalind. There was a resolution between them but it didn't go in an expected direction.
JK: It just seemed like a natural way to go.
DG: When you first think of it, you think, "Oh, this will be great. He'll have to choose between them." But when we really got deep into it and really started writing the characters, we discovered it was more interesting that Adalind had gone through such a change, from bad to good if you will. And that Juliette had become Eve and there's a great speech in Episode 11 that turned out really nicely, which is the purpose wasn't about being happy. She had found purpose in life and they have all suffered and none of them were what they were before.
And we posed this question a few times, "Would you go back to what you were before if you could?" And the answer was resoundingly, "No," even though there's a lot of pain and suffering, but there was a lot of growth that happened with all of those moves. And she had found a purpose in herself that eclipsed her relationship with him. A lot of people thought they were going to get back together.
Regarding another character, we had Meisner haunting Renard. What was he really? Because we never got that answer. Was he a ghost? Was he Renard's conscience? What was he?
DG: All the above is true. He was both. That's a question kind of left out there, I think. Was it like a Macbeth kind of thing, or was it real and true. And he himself says the same thing. Meisner actually says, "Am I just a figment of your imagination." And either way he functions quite well. We wanted to see more of Meisner. We didn't want it to be the end of Meisner.
I don't think anyone did. I did love that moment when Trubel comes into the cabin and sees Renard, who killed Meisner, and is just shocked. And asks if he's on their side now. It was an awesome Trubel moment ... Which character took off in a way you weren't expecting beside Monroe.
DG: Really all of them. But I think if you look at Adalind, who didn't even have a name in the beginning and was a walk-through basically in the pilot. And then we wrote her into the end of the pilot because it seemed interesting to use her to come and try to kill Aunt Marie. And then she's a lawyer. We just kept bringing her back and back ... Butt Crack Bud is another guy who was in for one and came back and back.
Bud was fun. He didn't get to be in the finale, but I'm glad I didn't see him get killed.
JK: We wanted him back.
DG: The 42 minutes of broadcast time kept us from doing it.
You guys needed an extra ten minutes there I think. The finale was so big. Then you could've gotten the space aliens in.
DG: Yeah. Maybe we could have.
As you look back, what does Grimm mean to you?
JK: It meant I could put all my children through college.
DG: Yeah, I mean it certainly meant gainful employment at a nice time in our careers, for sure. It meant a lot of fun that Jim and I got to have together. We worked together on and off for decades. Every person who worked on that show was special and wonderful whether it was the actors or the crew, special effects, obviously Barney Burman who did all the special makeup, the people who did computer generated stuff. Somehow it was one of those real rare special things that everybody gave 110 percent. It was a wonderful time, and we've been at this long enough to know this isn't something you see every day. It was a life changer.
JK: And I think for us it was also an opportunity to make up a world. You don't get that all the time. Nobody had talked about Wesen before. Nobody talked about monsters living within people before. I think we broke a lot of new ground on this series, and it allowed us to do a lot of things that hadn't been done.
DG: A lot of history, going back to the first world war and the end of royalty and what if royalty really resented what had happened to them and had this whole plot to bring themselves back into power. And certainly totalitarianism was on the rise everywhere you looked. We've got to do a lot of history. Jim is very big into history. And that Episode 13 of the first year where you see Hitler turn into a Blutbad, we didn't know that wouldn't be our final episode. At the time we had a thirteen pick-up and we thought, "Well, that's the end of the series. That's the image we want to go out on."
JK: Also the mashing up of the words, like Blutbaden and Lausenschlange to create all that stuff and to say that all fairy tales were based in some real truth about human behavior. All that stuff was kind of fun to do.
DG: Yeah. What does that mean? A lousy snake or something for a lawyer.
JK: Yeah. Lousy snake for a lawyer ... We have a dictionary online.
DG: It was the kind of bastardization of German words, but they always had a big special meaning to what we were dealing with.
Was there any point where you guys thought, "Oh, I wish we hadn't gone with these big long German words"?
JK: It was true to The Brothers Grimm.
DG: It was always fun to see the actors try to pronounce them.
JK: That was the most fun.
DG: Rosalee had a bunch of them. And she would just knock them out of the park. And, of course, Monroe. There was nothing he couldn't do but we kept throwing stuff at him all the time.
You guys have taken your hero to the darkest, deepest depths that you could have taken him. Finding his mom's head in a box, almost being killed by the woman he loves who's turned evil. That point in the series was so dark. Were you guys afraid to go there? Were you thrilled to go there? What were you thinking?
JK: Well, we were thinking that Mary Elizabeth, we couldn't get her back for another [season], so damn it, we're going to cut off her head.
DG: You think what's the worst thing that can happen to your hero? What's going to be the hardest thing for him to come back from?
JK: It's just the classic royal beheading of people. It goes way back.
I thought that was such a devastating end to that season and I just thought how can somebody come back from that. And before that to have Juliette cheating on him with Renard ... I never saw that on television before, where the wife or girlfriend goes off and cheats with the antagonist. You managed to torture the characters really well over the years.
DG: There's a lot of fun things that we did.
What do you want to say to fans?
DG: Well, mostly we want to say thank you in every language.
I saw that final shot with "Thank You" written in all the languages at the end of the finale credits. That was awesome.
JK: We're in 200 countries.
DG: We want to thank people from all over the world.
JK: There are no fans like genre fans. Every year at Comic-Con was bigger than the year before. And even our very first year people showed up at Comic-Con. Didn't know anything about the show or much about what it was. But people loved and connected to the show. It's like country western fans. They are fans for life. It's a wonderful thing and every year at Comic-Con was a great big celebration for us.
And that's going to continue. Just because the show is done don't think you guys are done with the sci-fi fandom.
JK: I don't think we get out of that.
No, you guys are going to get that credit and blame for the rest of your lives.
JK: That's okay. We don't do this in a vacuum. We don't do this alone. We do this to entertain people. As Monroe said, "It was a great symbiotic relationship."
What's next guys?
JK: We don't know yet. We're trying to figure that out.
You're brains must still be reeling from the Grimm of it all?
JK: A little bit. We directed the final episode, and while we were writing and directing and doing all those last few episodes, we got snowed in in Portland as well at the same time. It's been a little recovery time.
I'm happy that you ended the series well. The Grimm universe will live on in our minds with Nick is still out there fighting the good fight.
JK: The whole family is and the triplets.
Krystal Clark contributed to this interview.