"Full House" ended twenty years ago today (May 23), with a controversial finale involving Michelle Tanner temporarily losing her memory after a horse riding accident. It was an atypically serious story, with some of the signature silliness still surrounded the Tanner family, but under fairly heavy circumstances.
Now, we know that "Michelle Rides Again," the two-part finale, won't be our final Tanner family tale, what with "Fuller House" coming to Netflix next year. But let's think about the darkest timeline, the one where "Fuller House" doesn't exist, and the "Full House" finale stands as our last lingering memory of the super-sized San Francisco household. How did things end back then?
For one thing, DJ's love life was on the upswing. Throughout the episode, she wrestles with whether or not she should attend her senior year prom; she's romantically drained, after spending the year weighing the affections of two very different suitors, hard-rocking Viper and wealthy Nelson. Kimmy tries to help DJ secure a date, but the five different options she may or may not have "raided from a 'Star Trek' convention" don't exactly fit the bill, what with their hygiene issues and their lack of experience. (Only one of the five has ever attended a formal dance, albeit with a relative.)
Beyond the date, DJ decides it's best to sit out of her prom anyway, what with Michelle's amnesia looming large over her family. But even the memory-free Michelle convinces DJ that she shouldn't sit out of her prom; it's a once in a lifetime experience. DJ listens to her little sister and, with Kimmy and Aunt Becky's help, finds a dress and a date just in time for the big night — and her date is none other than Steve, absent from her life since the previous season finale. They share a big kiss in front of the whole family, and no one seems to mind. They're just happy that Steve's not raiding the fridge.
Michelle's responsible for bringing some love into Stephanie's life, too. Throughout the episode, Steph is preparing for a production of "Romeo + Juliet," set to play the female lead opposite her high school crush Andrew. But Andrew refuses to kiss her during rehearsals, and Michelle pinpoints why: Stephanie's lips are so chapped that they're like "two sun-dried gummy bears." Pretty harsh, but even Becky can't argue with Michelle's assessment.
Stephanie's situation gets even more awkward when Andrew comes over for rehearsal, and Michelle calls Steph out on her crush right in front of him. Steph angrily tells Michelle that she'll never forgive her, causing her to feel pretty guilty after Michelle's accident. But everything's okay in the end, because Andrew hearing about Steph's crush gives him the confidence to go in for a big, extended kiss. Looks like he has a thing for sun-dried gummy bears after all.
What about the three amigos? They band together to help jog Michelle's memory, with a rendition of "Teddy Bear" that would make Jimmy Fallon jealous. Joey is way ahead of his time when he comes up with a superhero identity for himself: The Masked Marvel. (In the "Full House" timeline, I'd like to think he's one of Earth's mightiest heroes. Who knows? There's always room for one more Avenger.) Jesse is so busy with managing the Smash Club, two bands and a new business that he's become a boring husband and father, and frankly, the episode doesn't have much resolution there. As for Danny, he has the roughest time of all; he becomes a bit of a daddy diva, pushing Michelle into the horseback riding competition so much that she goes rogue and has the accident that leads to her memory loss.
As for Michelle, thankfully her memory returns in the form of, well, Michelle, as both Olsen twins share the screen and merge into one being. It's a magical moment, and makes you wonder if in this timeline, Michelle will grow up to join Joey as part of the Avengers.
Weirder things have happened.
So, if this is the final "Full House" episode ever, where do we leave things? Both DJ and Stephanie are lucky in love. Kimmy is, too, with Duane ("whatever") as her boyfriend and prom date. Everyone makes peace with Michelle after she recovers from her amnesia. It's a bit of a crucible for the Tanner family, but one they're able to survive with each other's help.
What will "Fuller House" look like in the world beyond "Michelle Rides Again," though? For one, DJ's happily ever after will take a dark turn; she doesn't marry Steve, but another man with the last name Fuller, and he, like her mother, dies prematurely, leaving her widowed and raising two kids with the help of her sister and Kimmy, who has a kid too. There's no sign of Michelle on the series, either — not yet, at least.
In other words, where "Full House" left the Tanner sisters on a fairly happy note, albeit through tough times, "Fuller House" looks like it's going to put them through the wringer, at least as far as the premise goes. But the final words of "Full House" should give you hope that everyone's going to be okay. In the closing moments of the show, Uncle Jesse explains to Michelle how they got through their latest crisis: "You were here, but it was like part of you was missing — so it was like part of US was missing. But we stuck it out and we got through it."
"Just like we always do," adds Joey.
"Just like we always will," says Danny.
As another great television patriarch would say: "So say we all."
"Fuller House" premieres next year.