Ashton Kutcher and Jon Cryer for "Two and a Half Men." Warner Bros. Television/CBS
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- The Malibu-set sitcom Two and a Half Men wrapped its 12-season run with an hourlong finale which revealed Charlie Sheen's presumed-dead character Charlie Harper had actually been kept prisoner in a dungeon by his wife these past four years.
Sheen was famously fired in Season 8 due to his erratic behavior, drug use and disrespect of series creator Chuck Lorre. Thursday's Men finale was loaded with veiled references to Sheen's spectacular departure from the show, social-media rants and rage issues, as well as nods to Sheen's reported jealousy of Ashton Kutcher, the actor who replaced him on the show.
Kutcher's character Walden moved into Harper's house with Harper's brother Alan, played by Jon Cryer, in Season 9 after Harper was supposedly struck and killed by a train in Paris.
At the beginning of the series finale, Harper's chirpy, but unhinged wife Rose, played by Melanie Lynskey, lowers food, alcohol and one of Harper's signature bowling shirts into a deep, Silence of the Lambs-style pit in a basement. A few moments later, a rope made out of shirts is seen dangling over the pit and a window is open. Rose realizes Harper is gone and sets out to explain to the other people in his life what happened.
Walden and Alan, as well as Alan and Harper's mother Evelyn, played by Holland Taylor, start getting death threats, while the many ex-girlfriends the notorious womanizer had wronged receive apology letters and monetary compensation.
Also the beneficiaries of surprise windfalls are Harper's maid Berta, played by Conchata Ferrell; his nephew Jake, played by Angus T. Jones; and his daughter Jenny, played by Amber Tamblyn.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Stamos, Judy Greer, Courtney Thorne-Smith and Christian Slater were among the guest stars in the finale.
Whether Sheen would really return to the show he helped establish was left a mystery until the finale's final moments when someone who looks like Harper approaches the front door of his former home while Alan, Walden and Berta are relaxing on beach chairs out back, watching a helicopter toting a piano overhead. Just as the man who could be Harper rings the doorbell, the piano falls on him.
Lorre, sitting a few feet away from the show's set, declared, "Winning!" before a second piano falls on him.
A vanity card shown after that shot explained that Sheen had been asked to appear in the finale, but he ultimately turned down the opportunity because he didn't like Lorre's ideas for his character.
"I know a lot of you might be disappointed that you didn't get to see Charlie Sheen in tonight's finale," Lorre wrote.
"For the record, he was offered a role. Our idea was to have him walk up to the front door in the last scene, ring the doorbell, then turn, look directly into the camera and go off on a maniacal rant about the dangers of drug abuse. He would then explain that these dangers only applied to average people. That he was far from average. He was a ninja warrior from Mars. He was invincible. And then we would drop a piano on him. We thought it was funny. He didn't. Instead, he wanted us to write a heart-warming scene that would set up his return to primetime TV in a new sitcom called The Harpers starring him and Jon Cryer. We thought that was funny too."