By Sydney Bucksbaum
May 20, 2020 at 08:00 AM EDT

The teens (now young adults) on The 100 have seen it all over the course of the past six seasons, from two world-ending events, multiple wars, and more deaths than they could ever count. And while their main goal has always been simply to survive, the final season will ultimately reveal a message that showrunner Jason Rothenberg promises will hold a much deeper meaning.

"There were a couple things that I came in with, goals for the season and challenges that I set out for myself as a writer and our writers generally," Rothenberg tells EW. "One of which was: I wanted to fill in some blanks. There was some story on the table that I feel like we never really got to tell that I wanted to tell, so we definitely will once you begin to see what the prequel is and some of the other episodes of the season. We will see that happening in a big way."

But, he adds, "more importantly I wanted to really stick the landing in the sense of stories, meaning it's ending. I really wanted to say what the show has been about the whole time with this season — and it's not been about how horrible we are to each other or how far we'll go to survive and we will kill anybody to save our families or the people that we love."

Throughout the past six seasons, "that has definitely been what's been going on," he admits. "But as we get towards the finale, as we get towards the end of the season, we realize that there's a deeper meaning and there's a moral to the story that perhaps is unexpected. That was a big goal for me as we started."

The 100 Season 7
Credit: Colin Bentley/The CW

When The 100 first debuted back in 2014, the premise was simple: 97 years after a nuclear apocalypse ended life on Earth, 100 (soon to be revealed as 101, then 102) juvenile delinquents were sent down from a dying space station to see if the planet was habitable again. The sci-fi series delivered twist after shocking twist as the 100 explored the planet, discovering that factions of humans had been living (and warring) on the ground this whole time. Over the course of the series, the space station inhabitants joined the delinquents on the ground, wars broke out, new societies formed, and another world-ending event destroyed the planet as survivors escaped to space. By the end of season 5, the characters were forced to leave Earth behind for good. Season 6 began as they landed on a planet in a distant binary star system, joining a group of humans who had created a new (extremely different) way of living there. Season 7 will introduce multiple different planets and a way to travel between them via the "anomaly."

While Rothenberg's original plan for the story has "changed quite a lot" over the years, he says, "Thematically I always kind of knew that message that I wanted to send with the end. It became more and more clear to me the further we went down some of the dark paths that we went down that I wanted to say something about human nature in general and what we all need to do to overcome our instincts to fight."

He adds with a laugh, "But going to another world and going to six other planets, all of those things developed as we were moving on and got gifted with the opportunity to make it as long as we did. When I started out I never got past the pilot and I never thought past season 1. I mean, I certainly had story at the beginning that could fill multiple seasons but you just never know how long things are going to go, and to have gotten 100 episodes [with the series finale], obviously that's perfect symmetry in a way, and beyond what we could have dreamed of in the beginning."

The 100 Season 7
Credit: Colin Bentley/The CW

The timing of production on the final season also ended up being perfect, in that the show wasn't as impacted by the pandemic shutdown as other series. "It worked out for us in the sense that we were done shooting, just finished under the wire, the series finale," Rothenberg says. "Like, literally, the day of shutdown. And so I can do all the editing that I have to do remotely and certainly now we worked out the kinks; there were quite a few kinks in it. But imagine if we were all going through this without the internet and Zoom and all the ways that we have to communicate and do meetings, without that we'd really be f---ed."

That means fans will get to see season 7 without any delays, which is a good thing because Rothenberg teases that the final run doesn't hold back on character evolution, sci-fi insanity, and intense emotion. The trailer for the final season revealed that the mysterious anomaly responsible for the season 6 finale cliffhanger is actually a wormhole. "In pure storytelling engine, it's a transit system between planets," Rothenberg explains.

"We can really go anywhere and be anything; and we do," he continues. "We will planet hop a bit this year which is hard to do on a TV show, believe me, but somehow our crew and our writers pulled it off pretty beautifully. And of course, we like to play with time. Time is behaving badly around the anomaly, time moves at different speeds, and that allows us to tell story in ways that we haven't before."

The 100 Season 7
Credit: Colin Bentley/The CW

As the final season begins, all the characters are separated, and as is The 100's M.O., the main goal will be reuniting through whatever means necessary. "There is some separation for sure, but everything does come together in a very satisfying climactic way, for sure," Rothenberg promises. "This season, in some ways, is about trying to reunite the family, so that is Clarke's [Eliza Taylor] mission. She's not going to leave anybody else. She's going to go literally to the ends of the universe to get her people back, her family back, and people that she loves back."

It's comforting to know that no matter how complex and dire things get on The 100, some things, like Clarke's devotion to her people, never change.

The 100's seventh and final season premieres Wednesday, May 20, on the CW.

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The 100

After a nuclear apocalypse, a group of people who have been living in space return to Earth—and quickly learn they’re not alone.

  • TV Show
  • 6
  • The CW