After seven goofy, heartfelt, laugh-out-loud-funny seasons on the air, "New Girl" takes its last bow tonight with a one-hour season finale. For Jake Johnson, the double-header marks a satisfying and bittersweet accomplishment: When season 6 wrapped, the cast had no idea whether or not FOX would allow everyone to return one more time.
"I wanted to ... live in this world for one last time before it went away," Johnson told AOL Entertainment. "Even if we do a reboot, if that ever happens, it would be different. Enough time will have passed that we'll all be different people. I wanted to live in this world one last time the way it was. It genuinely meant a lot to me."
The eight-episode final season allowed each character to enjoy an individual "goodbye moment," he said. And for Johnson and leading lady Zooey Deschanel, who spent countless hours discussing Nick and Jess' on-and-off relationship, it was important to nail the couple's final sendoff.
Over the years, "we would have conversations about what felt right and what didn't feel right," in regards to the relationship, Johnson said. "[Show creator] Liz Meriwether was really open. So Zooey and Liz could have meetings, and I could have meetings with Liz, and we were able to figure things out together. And I think that's really rare. The more I talk to other people and hear about this business -- that was a really rare gift."
So what was the one moment Johnson wanted to see come to fruition? "I was really happy that Nick and Jess got married," he said. "That was something I really wanted."
See the evolution of Nick and Jess through the years
And while he personally wanted to see the wedding unfold, an even bigger priority for Johnson was to give the fans what they wanted to see. He repeatedly emphasizes his appreciation for "New Girl"'s devoted fanbase -- it's even influenced his decisions outside of the show, like his partnership with Natty Light for its new college loans campaign.
"When I was told about it, I thought it was honestly pretty cool, and I thought, if a fan reads this or follows me on social media, and then enters the competition to win $40,000 to help with their student debt -- I feel like I'll have paid them back a little bit for watching the stuff I do," he said.
College debt sucks but we're covering part of the tab. For every RT we’ll add $1 on top of the million we're giving away again next year. Let's hit $2 million total #NattyStoriespic.twitter.com/Z3CdcH5Xxe
— Natural Light (@naturallight) May 14, 2018
And as the fans watch this final episode, "I really hope they get what they want out of this show, because they surely gave us a lot," Johnson said. "We owe them everything."