Life On Mars

Season 1 Episode 17

Life is a Rock

Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Apr 01, 2009 on ABC
out of 10
User Rating
167 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

In the series finale, Sam Tyler receives a phone call that presents him with three tasks he must perform so he can return to his life in the future. He must weigh his alternatives and decide whether to stay in 1973 or go home.

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  • What a cheesy, but different way to end...

    "Life Is A Rock"

    Grade: B-

    So after being cancelled after 1 season, the US version of Life On Mars comes to an end with this episode. It's got a different conclusion compared to the original UK version, and some viewers will be left cheated without a doubt, but personally I thought it was ok I guess.

    Loosely similar to the UK Life On Mars series finale, Sam Tyler has to finish 3 tasks to get back to 2008, but the way it concludes is strange. The episode ends with Sam hugging Gene and the screen goes weird, and it is revealed that Sam Tyler is actually an Astronaut from the year 2035. Tiny Micro Robots have been controlling his dreams while sleeping. He wakes up and discovers that the whole space crew are actually people from his dream. He asks the commander what happened during his sleep. He tells him that a glitch caused him to go back and alter his timeline from being a 2008 policeman to a 1973 one. The ironic twist here is that Major Tom (Gene Hunt in Sam's dream) is Sam's real father and they are actually on a mission to Mars looking for a Gene Hunt. Sam and the crew take a look at Mars before taking a foot onto the surface, but its not 100% conclusive, as its clearly Gene Hunt's foot.

    So this was a strange way of finishing the US version of Life On Mars. If it was a complete copy of the UK Life On Mars' ending, then people would be complaining, and sure it would have been nicer for the show to have been slightly longer, but in my opinion, the ending, although being really cheesy and silly, is kind of fun but overall nowhere near as good as the UK series finale. Had they used the Life On Mars music at the end, it would have been more fitting as well.moreless
  • A happy ending for 4 strangers, and a terrible ending for Tyler, and for us. I wanted a happy ending, not answers.

    So, NOTHING WAS REAL, the main plot wasn´t real, all the sub plots were not real, all the people Tyler saved were not real, all the bad guys he captured were not real, the main characters were not real (except Tyler´s personality).

    The producers already had all the 70´s sets and props, Why would they spend money on that space ship set, and the Mars special effects?, to ruin the finale and the series?

    In Lost finale the producers give a happy ending to the characters and no explanation to all the unsolved mysteries of the island, here it is the opposite, the producers gave us a terrible ending for the characters, and an explanation that covers everything: the series was a computer generated dream. yeah, that explains all the supernatural elements of the series. We didn´t want an explanation. If this series wasn´t real, then every single series could end like this, the main character wakes up in an space ship an says: "I had the weirdest dream, I was a red haired CSI investigator in Miami".

    The writers didn´t have to do this, when in fact, they have already gave us the happy ending and closure for the series before those last 10 minutes.moreless
  • And thus endth a show with more potential than the British series. Not with a bang, or a huzzah but a whimper...

    Sixteen and a half awesome episodes came down to this ending. What a joke! This was so neatly tied up that you could almost believe that the last writer left, an intern with a weeks worth of public relations training, was left to carry the can. You could almost see how embarrassed the actors looked as the life-capsules opened. Gone were the hip 70's gear and set. Now they were on the spaceship from the 70's Planet of the Apes. In fact if they had landed on a planet full of apes it would have been a better ending than this load of bollocks. The Brits 'Life on Mars' was voted the best ending ever for a show. At least this incarnation of Life on Mars in NY was vastly superior than the Life on Mars in LA.moreless

    Discosting, I Mean What The Fck Was That..

    Just The Worse Final Ever Made

    was like "oh, lets wake up in 2020 and lets be spacemans on mars.. oh and do you wanna be my father gene, and Wendy you, you, you.. will be.. hmm.. oh a machine :D".

    AT LEAST 100 WORDS!?

    wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf DONE!moreless
  • WHAT? WHAT? What the hell was that?

    When I heard that Life on Mars was going to be redone by ABC, I was apprehensive. I watched through the original BBC series and thought it was really an incredibly interesting show, and that the ending was just perfect. But I gave this show a shot. I watched it. All of it. And I thought it was interesting. Where the BBC show had focused on differences in methodology, really made it about how different it was to be a police in '73 and modern day Britain, how every episode was about Sam Tyler having to fight against what he saw as the barbarism of the '70s, this show was more about Sam Tyler's family, his heart, his roots.

    The last episode of the original Life on Mars has Sam abandon the other detectives in a fire fight, awakening in a hospital. He tries to go back to his life as it was, but he keeps on thinking about what exactly home is. Sam realizes that home is where he has people that he loves, and the world of today's Britain just doesn't seem correct anymore. Sam leaps off a building, landing him back in 1973. It's depressing, but sort of brilliant. It's a fantastic ending to the series, it just works really well. This ending? This came out of nowhere. This was a god damn joke. This was just some pseudo-science-fiction bullsh*t, and Sam hugging Gene (or "Tom", as he calls him) and calling him "Dad"... that's where parodies come from. The ending of this show cast a bad light on the whole damn show. They should have just stolen the ending that the Brits used.moreless
Jason O'Mara

Jason O'Mara

Detective Sam Tyler

Harvey Keitel

Harvey Keitel

Lt. Gene Hunt

Michael Imperioli

Michael Imperioli

Detective Ray Carling

Jonathan Murphy

Jonathan Murphy

Detective Chris Skelton

Gretchen Mol

Gretchen Mol

Annie Norris

Dean Winters

Dean Winters

Vic Tyler

Guest Star

Nick Damici

Nick Damici


Guest Star

Christian Wallace

Christian Wallace

Young Sammy

Guest Star

Jennifer Ferrin

Jennifer Ferrin

Rose Tyler

Recurring Role

Tanya Fischer

Tanya Fischer


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • Goof: When Sam is walking down the pier towards the boat, the rifle he is carrying is a Ruger Mini-14. Upon entering the boat's cabin, he leans the rifle against the door. Following his conversation with himself, he retrieves the rifle and it is now an AKM/AK-47 style rifle (notice the differences in the barrels). The scene cuts to him walking down the boat's deck and he is once again carrying the Mini-14.

  • QUOTES (3)

    • Ray: (to Rose Tyler) And you believed him? Lady, how many times does one guy have to crap on your head before you stop wearing it as a hat?

    • Ray: We will find genetic DNA, Frank. And this will be one successful gene hunt.

    • Windy: (about a party she went to) David Bowie was there, and he asked me to move to Spain with him and raise praying mantises.
      Sam: David Bowie. Why does it always come back to David Bowie?"

  • NOTES (4)

    • Goof: Upon waking up in 2035, Morgan offers an apology on behalf of President Obama. Claiming that SHE is sorry that she couldn't be there to greet them but her father is ill. Implying that one of the Obama daughters is president in 2035 (cant be referring to Michelle Obama as her father passed away in 1991). Unfortunately, neither daughter would have been old enough to be elected president in 2032 (minimum age is 35).

    • Although billed as Special Guest Star, Lisa Bonet did not actually appear in this episode, her voice was used in the montage before the truth was revealed about Sam's time travel.

    • Music:

      "Life is a Rock" by Reunion
      "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters" by Elton John

    • This episode marks the series finale. ABC announced it made the decision not to order additional episodes early in order to give the producers a chance to end the series properly. Filming on this episode wrapped on March 12, 2009.


    • Gene: I think I'll miss you most of all, Scarecrow.

      Gene is quoting Dorothy from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.

    • In the 2035 Sam's father is revealed to be Gene from 1973. It is also revealed that his name is Major Tom. This is a reference to David Bowie's song Space Oddity.