The series finale of Friday Night Lights impressively wrapped up story arcs for its major and minor characters, checking in on multiple generations of Dillon players while also following the Taylors in a radical new direction. But the finale almost featured an appearance from an iconic figure from the show’s earlier seasons: Jason Street, the heroic former quarterback played by Scott Porter.
In the finale, we last see Tim Riggins and his brother, Billy, working on building Tim’s new home – a metaphor, maybe, for the new life that Tim is building for himself post-prison. “We shot a separate little scene of Jason showing up at Riggins’ new ranch,” Porter explains in the latest episode of EW’s Binge podcast. Street had already appeared earlier in season 5, returning to Dillon in his new capacity as a sports agent. The finale appearance would have expanded on that. “There was so much stuff that hit the cutting room floor,” says Porter. “He gives the East Dillon Lions a speech about, you know, keeping their heads up and hitting correctly. There were these really cool coaching moments from Jason that didn’t wind up making the episode. But that’s the burden of having a show with so many talented actors and so many great storylines that not everything makes it all the time.”
In the end, the overstuffed nature of the finale – and the brilliant swan song that the show had already given the Jason Street character – led to his appearance not making the final cut of the episode. “I don’t want to speak for the writers or the producers,” Porter explains, “But I think they wanted to let everyone’s storylines naturally end. Jason coming back one more time: It’s kind of been said before. It can kind of be assumed that these guys are gonna be friends for life. So they didn’t have to show him there.” Another factor: Season 5 had put a renewed focus on Billy Riggins, and on the character’s fractured relationship with Tim. “It was more about the resolution of the Riggins brothers, and of Tim finally becoming a man.”
To hear more from Porter – as well as costars Derek Phillips, Connie Britton, and more – on the making of Friday Night Lights, you can listen to the new episode of EW’s BINGE of Friday Night Lights above, where hosts Samantha Highfill and Darren Franich analyze the biggest moments from the series finale. Subscribe to the podcast now, and be sure to tweet any questions/comments to @samhighfill and @darrenfranich or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. EW’s Binge is produced by EW’s Cristina Everett and edited by Will Malnati of At Will Radio.