‘Sleepy Hollow’ Boss on How Midseason Finale Shocker Will Change the Show

Spoiler warning: Do not read on unless you’ve seen the Nov. 19 midseason finale of “Sleepy Hollow.”

Fox’s “Sleepy Hollow” just delivered a shocking blow to the characters and the fans, as Nicole Beharie’s Abbie Mills sacrificed herself to save her sister Jenny (Lyndie Greenwood) and fellow Witness Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison). With one of the Witnesses seemingly dead, and Pandora (Shannyn Sossamon) and her lover The Hidden One (Peter Mensah) still on the loose, things look bleak for the good guys leading into the back half of the season.

Variety spoke to “Sleepy Hollow” showrunner Clifton Campbell on what went into Abbie’s decision, and how her sacrifice will affect the show moving forward.

Why did you feel like this was the right time for such a big move?

We felt really good about the relationship that Abbie and Jenny have this season. There’s an awful lot of angst from the first two seasons that they’ve grappled with… This season has been a lot about the support that they have for each other, and starting to live with it as fans and an audience. It’s one thing to see them acting better, but you put enough energy into that relationship and start to see them support each other in a very specific way, and it has more resonance. It just felt right this season, that we could put Abbie’s decision to utterly and completely support her sister, come what may, to the test. And that’s what led us to this sacrifice, and it isn’t just a sacrifice that she makes for Jenny, it’s really for Team Witness, which was really important for us.

Death is rarely permanent in “Sleepy Hollow,” so should fans be looking at Abbie’s return as a question of when and how, not if?

I don’t want to tell the audience how they should be looking at it. [Laughs.] I think, like all of us, they should enjoy the episode for what it’s worth and embrace the sacrifice that Abbie Mills makes, not only for her sister but for Crane and this world that they’re inhabiting, and just be utterly and completely surprised at how everybody reacts to this gigantic sacrifice that she makes.

How will Jenny deal with the knowledge that Abbie sacrificed herself to keep her safe? That’s a heavy burden to bear.

She would have dealt with it poorly in the way only Jenny can if she didn’t have a moderating influence in Joe and what they’ve just started to find in each other towards the end of the first half of the season. It’s an utterly and completely shocking sacrifice that she sees her sister make, it’s confounding emotionally, it’s devastating personally, and but for the fact that she has someone this season who’s there and can support her, she could’ve very easily gone off the deep end. Joe has been a remarkably successful character to pull into the series, and that relationship is so natural. We knew in the writers’ room what we had with those two and we leaned in because we felt it super early on. It isn’t just two really good-looking people that you enjoy seeing together, it’s profound in its shading; they just feel so good together and it really helps her in the back half with this devastating loss.

What lengths will Jenny go to in order to come to terms with this, or perhaps to try and bring Abbie back?

That’s her natural instinct and her comfort zone: action. Without having somebody in her life, she might make more risky decisions. In a very unique set of circumstances, the drastic thing Jenny Mills does is something unexpectedly emotional… It’ll play into this season’s intention to have Papa Mills show up and what that might mean to complete the story for these guys.

What else can you preview about Papa Mills’ introduction and his relationship with his daughters?

We’ve cast James McDaniel who’s a phenomenal actor, and James and I have had great conversations about this character. There are a lot of blanks that that character can fill in for anybody who’s a fan of this show, anybody who’s a fan of the Mills family story. All of their angst and the loss and sacrifice that they’ve been living with since day one is going back to their mother, so he can provide a lot of emotional context to the audience which we find very satisfying, and he’s really the perfect guy to play this.

Ichabod has already lost his wife, his son and his way of life — how will he cope with losing Abbie?

His devastation really shows in the last 30 seconds of tonight’s episode … for somebody who’s so emotionally well-kept and so completely clear-eyed, the final moments that Tom gives are really brilliant and emotionally wrought with layers and layers that we will see at play and lean into heavily when we come back. This loss is not like any of the other losses in his life – Katrina, his son, any of the loss of his family will pale in comparison to the devastation, and therefore the recklessness, that we see Crane come back with. It reframes him in a very unique and interesting way.

Aside from the emotional fallout, what other repercussions will we see from the midseason finale?

Pandora are the Hidden One are not sitting around whining about their loss. This plays very well into their overall agenda, and it’s something they immediately intend to capitalize on, but the sacrifice that Abbie makes obviously throws their plan a little bit asunder, and there’s gigantic fallout from that on the Pandora/Hidden One side. But the thing about Pandora and the Hidden One is that they have a very similar relationship to Abbie and Crane, a love of the ages – when they look at each other, you can see how deeply they care… They have very interesting relationship boxes that they check that are very similar to ours, and that sacrifice that Abbie makes to save the people that she loves the most, ironically throws the Hidden One and Pandora into a very interesting place.

How would you describe the back half of the season in terms of tone or energy, following this twist?

When we first start, it’s very driven. When you’re left with a hole this size, people want to fill it in as much as they can, not only in terms of story and character development – we do that rather quickly – the audience can also look forward to the [architecture] of a world Pandora and the Hidden One once had and once ruled over. And their plan to move forward with that and continue their reign of terror and their campaign to restore the world in their image is going to reframe all of our characters in a really fascinating way. I’m absolutely thrilled by the way this season is coming together in the back half. You’ve got an iconic character like Pandora and Pandora’s Box and all we think about when we think about that, and mix that up with a marriage that is 4000 years old and restoring before our very eyes… fans are really gonna love seeing how their origin, and how the origin of the Witnesses and the roles all four of them have been playing throughout the years are really going to come into shape. What I’m most excited about is seeing how the Witnesses are redefined in the back half and what that means for our characters.

What did you think of the “Sleepy Hollow” midseason finale? Weigh in below.

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  1. Rhonda says:

    Oops. Thought this discussion was about S03E18….
    Sorry for spoiling…

  2. Rhonda says:

    Everything in this commentary is impossible, except Abbie dying. Both Pandora and her husband were killed as well as joe. So how is Jenny going to find comfort in him?
    I’m confused….did the writers decide to make this the final season after they spoke to Variety? It’s all mixed up now….

  3. Tandranea Davis-Johnson says:

    Well, as me and my husband say here and watch the recorded episode, we were both heartbroken and uncertain about the route they choose to take the series. We don’t feel the show could/would survive without bringing back the original character of Abbie. We don’t want to see another person playing the role of Abbie as if her soul is living in someone else, it just wouldn’t be the same. I hope they have some truly creative writing to right this wrong. I personally would not continue watching if she was gone forever, because I’ve come to adore Crane and Abbie’s characters together and was looking forward to seeing them finally in a romantic situation.

  4. Jason says:

    First of all many fans like myself and my wife are outraged by the fact they removed nicole beharie from the show. She was the reason we even tuned in and they will see that was the biggest mistake the producers of the show could have made. If the ratings dropped off the grid by more than half following the past seasons, what do they think is going to happen now they’ve killed off the best character on the show? Ha they’ll be lucky if they get a million viewers next season. However we shall see if the show just gets recycled altogether as it should along with our beloved abbie.

  5. I am very disappointed in Abbey ‘s death…..I hope for the best, but you may have lost me as a fan….!

  6. Mandy says:

    I’m so sad that Abby was killed, though I admire her character’s sacrifice. Don’t know if I will keep up with the show now either. It wouldn’t be right not to have her there with Crane, and I do mean Nicole as Abby, not some new person. I’ve been watching the series from the beginning, so I hope to keep watching because I do love all the other characters as well. I will have to watch the first episode of the next season to see what happens. After that, who knows?

  7. Roger says:

    Look I’m changing my mind if I watch Sleepy Hollow next Friday and there’s no mention about trying to get Abby back I am not watching the show anymore because that is bull s*** guys took a good good character out of there and for what could you guys are dumbasses that’s what and that’s just my opinion

  8. Roger says:

    I don’t think he should have died that kind of sucks so you all better make it very good because Abby and crane we’re good I liked season 1 since season 2 I like season 3 so far except for Addie dying I understand she did it to sacrifice but they should be able to somehow bring her back just sing

  9. Roxanne Praud-Smith says:

    So Abbie is dead and i find myself not really caring at all.
    The writers have taken the show so far in the wrong direction that I am undecided as to whether i will continue to watch it.
    I miss the fun that the first season offered up.
    Perhaps it is time to do something else on my Friday evenings. Maybe I’ll take up knitting. I’m sure it would be more fun.

  10. Actually I just had a thought, they are basing the idea of the Witnesses on the Witnesses from the book of Revelation in the Bible. In Revelation both of the Witnesses die but they come back to life.

  11. Bill says:

    They should have killed off Abby long ago. It is a little late now that the show in an out of control death spiral. I would wager any amount of money Abbie hasn’t gone anywhere. The show is way to predictable for me to be wrong. By moving to Friday nights, the entire show has been sacrificed. The Fans will find it on their TV’s just in time for Fox to announce it is being canceled. In a few years you will see them all again on where are they now, a return to Sleepy Hollow.

  12. Kelly says:

    If she is gone, I will stop watching. The best part of the show was the chemistry between the two of them, with that gone, I have no reason to watch.

  13. Sandy says:

    I don’t think she is dead.

    • Mary says:

      I decided that if Abby is gone; then I’m through with the show! I have been watching since day one and have convinced other friends that this is a show worth tuning into — I surely hope she’s not gone for good because if so, I am too and as the comments seem to indicate, many others too!

  14. D.M. Hazlitt says:

    I am not happy at all, Abbie and Crane had Charisma together, they made the show in my eyes, I hope you bring her back some how, Sleepy Hallow can do that!

    I am so tempted not to watch your show again. Every time something or someone works on a show they kill them off, not impressed at all with you writers, producers and directors! Do Something About It!!!!! Kill off the other VILLAINS in the show not Abbie!

    You could have had Abbie save her sister without killing her off, she could have been severely hurt and recover from her injuries etc. Do Something To Bring Her Back so that her and Crane can work together, they kept you so involved as if you were right there with them in the show…

    I loved how they would fight together but then be right there for each other at the end!!!!!!!!! THIS SHOW IS ABBIE AND CRANE, keep the good people kill off the bad ones only for once!!!!!!

  15. I’m curious what repercussions the destruction of Pandora’s Box will have, both Pandora and the Hidden One’s anger and the possible release of the remaining creatures trapped in. Since a certain headless friend of ours was in there, I wonder if this will result in his return for the next season. Also, they still haven’t explained the purpose of those flowers Pandora was growing by using those monster.

  16. Marus says:

    Show want be the same without Abby and Crane going at it. Their chemistry was what made the show.

  17. Kymkym2010 says:

    Abbie didn’t die! She is in another dimension like last season.

  18. twilla says:

    I didn’t think she died, I thought she just entered the underworld. Is that supposed to be the same thing?

  19. Cutie says:

    Sleepy Hollow is my favorite show; I stopped watching Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy for it. But if Abbie is not brought back and she and Crane demonstrate a love connection, I will stop watching the show. I hate that you have killed off her character. If she does not return, the show will be dead to me. Why mess up a good thing!

  20. Ty says:

    Didn’t see that one coming…

  21. jennifer says:

    Hate it

  22. Thanks alot for the spolier says:

    Spolier alert usually doesn’t work when you put it in the title of the article! Lol. Thanks alot. I was planning on watching that episode tonight.

  23. Sandra says:

    I’m still in shock! Never saw Abby’s sacrifice coming! Hope something even more epic will bring her back.

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  25. Dunstan says:

    Wait. This show is still on the air?

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  28. Susie says:

    It was great Abby’s not dead she went to the underworld, I don’t think dead is dead there, but she will find a way back or Crane will find a way to get her back. You can’t kill the Witnesses there needs to be 2.

  29. Mama Grizzly says:

    I am still suffering from pts syndrome. I haven’t gotten over what they did to season 2.

  30. Sleepyhead says:

    Am I the only one Zen around here?Good lord!! Seriously people. Untwist your underclothes. That the witnesses have !any trials has been said over and over. Getting Abbie backnis the latest. Don’t be so hysterical. Geez! And God’s wounds, please stop the childish criticisms like “better looking”… Better to whom? You? Perhaps it is the lighting in your parents’ basement.

  31. tberry81 says:

    If Abbie being gone is really permanent, as sad as I am to say it, I will stop watching… and I don’t think that I am alone. If her departure is “real”, I look for the show to be cancelled at the end of this season anyway. I personally am not a fan of Jenny’s character though I am not sure if it is the way the character is written or the actress who plays the role, who I honestly don’t think can act to save her life. I love the idea of Joe’s character but think a slightly better (and better looking) actor could have been chosen for the part. The Jenny/Joe relationship dynamic also seems really forced to me, so the idea of seeing alot more of both of them and alot of time being taken away from the show to further develop and show us that relationship become what ever it will become makes me bored already and it hasn’t even happened yet. I am a HUGE fan of this show, I would really hate to see it go down in flames so soon but the future sure isn’t looking very promising. Alot of people have complained about the shows writing from the beginning and honestly, I think the writers have done a finr job. I don’t think that is the problem at all. My complaint from the get go has been the casting, with the obvious exceptions of Abby and Crane, I think the other “core” characters have been horribly cast throughout. I will however give credit where credit is due and say that I do think the casting of Shannon Sossamon as Pandora was a home run, but it was also sorely needed because let’s face it… who ever is responsible for the casting of this show desperately needs a new job!! Don’t even get me started on this girl they are trying to make Crane’s love interest. I mean really guys?? Really??? I hope Abbie makes some wondrous return and all is well in the Sleepy Hollow world once more… but if not, you have lost a very loyal fan in me.

    • Nick C. says:

      So, so wrong. All the characters have lost their charisma via the writers, directors, or producers fault. This season has been the worst yet: introducing new characters without a compelling backstory, campy writing, lack of any significant emotional context that made the characters great in previous seasons, and an awful new premise. How can Ichobod be a caricature of himself when he never was to begin with ? I understand Abbie was a great character, and I would have been compelled to agree with you if I actually cared for her character, or any for that matter. The show is unwatchable now, and it is not due to poor casting in the previous seasons; the premise, new actors, and lackluster writing is just sad now… This will ultimately lead to the demise of “Sleepy Hollow”.

      • I agree completely. Abbie has become so unpleasant as a character, so serious and pissy, that I actually found myself thinking…well, good, I don’t have to deal with her negativity anymore. However, all the other characters, besides Crane (whose performance has been consistently pleasant despite weaker and weaker story lines), are so lack luster, I don’t even care about any of them. Plus, the militarized story lines completely overshadow the mythos that made the playful and engaging. Not even the introduction of Pandora and some ancient god could bring it back from the bad TV cop action drama it seems “destined” to be. Blech.

  32. Lisa says:

    That was some bullsh*t
    They better bring her back or I’m not going to support the show anymore, and it better be on the first or second show, when the show returns 😡😡😡😡😡😡

  33. Topaz says:

    I absolutely don’t like it if this is permanent this show will not last I hope so how did bring Abbie back

  34. preta4 says:

    They did an EXCELLENT job, NOTHING like last year. Can’t wait to see what happens next.

  35. Angie says:

    they did this last season with Orlando Jones. Sleepy Hollow needs new writers. Lame.

    • They’re not going to employ the same thing they did w/Irving at all. Pandora makes reference to the Witnesses throughout time. Abbie and Ichabod have been doing this job forever–they just don’t realize it yet. THAT will come into play when Abbie returns. She’s certainly coming back. And we will learn about the thousands of years the Witnesses, or Destroyers, existed.

    • Sleepyhead says:

      That you think it is the same is lame. Seriously, how did your brain even learn human speech? I’m just so curious.

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