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May 21, 2012 at 04:00 PM EDT

After eight dark and twisted seasons of House, Fox’s beloved medical drama hangs up its cane tonight with an hour-long retrospective and series finale (8-10 p.m. ET) entitled “Everybody Dies” — a tweak to one of Dr. House’s famous lines, “Everybody lies.”

Creator David Shore and the cast have kept quiet on exactly what will happen in the finale. We know Cameron (Jennifer Morrison), Thirteen (Olivia Wilde), Kutner (Kal Penn), and Masters (Amber Tamblyn) will return, as will Chase (Jesse Spencer), who left Princeton-Plainsboro May 7. As we learned by the end of last week’s penultimate episode, House is heading back to prison for six months after violating parole, and his best/only friend Wilson — having refused further cancer treatment — has five months to live.

“It’s a different kind of episode, but at its core I think it’s still a House episode,” Shore told EW of the series finale. “It’s still about a character looking to figure things out. We still have a medical case, but beyond that — that’s what they all are. The medical case allows us to explore the nature of the characters. It’s an ending.”

So why is the series ending now? Back when the show was looking successful in season 3, the showrunners predicted it would go eight years, “and that just seemed to be the number,” Shore said. “I still believe we’re doing interesting stories, but I really wanted to make sure that we’re doing that at the end and we’re still happy. As Hugh [Laurie] says, Dr. House is the guy who leaves the party before people want him to.”

Omar Epps, who plays Dr. Foreman (now the Dean of Medicine, having replaced Lisa Edelstein’s Dr. Cuddy), agreed that it’s the right time for House to call it quits. “It’s like Jordan hitting the last shot on Bryon Russell — you want to go out at a time when the show is still effective, people are still watching it, the stories are still fresh,” the former Love and Basketball star said. After eight seasons, it’s hard to keep an audience at the edge of its seat. “I think we’ve run our course,” said Epps. “It’s the right time.”

Speaking of Cuddy, Lisa Edelstein is one of the few former stars not slated to return for tonight’s finale — a point of outcry among some fans who want complete closure on the Gregory House Experience. Robert Sean Leonard (Dr. Wilson) encouraged fans to just trust the writers on this one. “If fans feel something’s missing because Cuddy’s not here, well, screw them,” he said (clearly having been prompted about the subject too many times that day). “When did storytelling become interactive? It’s annoying. I don’t think it’s right.”

Hugh Laurie reluctantly agreed while chortling that his costar had just popped off. “That did change at some point,” he commented. “Fans own it more than the people who make the show.”

NEXT PAGE: Is House ultimately a hopeful character?

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Hugh Laurie and Lisa Edelstein star in the hit medical mystery series
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