When the (first half) of the fifth and final season of Fuller House premiered on Netflix earlier this month, fans could not have very been surprised that the character of Michelle Tanner, originally played by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, did not return for a cameo. Neither of the pint-sized fashion moguls had acted in years. Although Mary-Kate worked sporadically through the aughts up until 2011, Ashley has not appeared on either big or small screens since the twins’ joint feature New York Minute in 2004 (which, to be fair, had bombed).
The second half of the fifth season of Fuller House will be out at some point in 2020, and it seems even more unlikely that Michelle Tanner will make her comeback on account of the fact that the writers may have actually killed her off, which would suggest that there is no love lost between the cast, creators, and Olsens.
In the season five, part one finale, patriarch Danny Tanner congratulates “his girls” on their engagements, as in DJ, Stephanie, and annoying neighbor Kimmy Gibbler — who he now apparently considers to be family. “It’s so nice to have three daughters again,” he then says, which means either Michelle has been disowned for some reason or else she’s dead.
Seems kinda intense and unnecessary, but what do we know about the complexities of sitcom families. To help get a better understanding of the apparent rift between the Olsen Twins and the rest of the Tanners, however, we thought it would be helpful to piece together a timeline and see where everything went wrong.
April 2, 2015
Rumblings first began of a Full House reunion series when TV Line reported that Netflix was “thisclose” to ordering a 13-episode multi-cam continuation of the beloved sitcom called Fuller House, which would star Candace Cameron Bure (D.J.) and Andrea Barber (Kimmy Gibbler), ostensibly with regular cameos from other original cast members.
April 19, 2015
During an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, John Stamos — who would guest star and serve as executive producer — revealed the “exclusive” news. “Five minutes ago, they called, [Netflix] sealed the deal,” he said, admitting that he and the original creators of Full House had been planning a revival for years.
When asked about the possible involvement of the Olsen Twins, Stamos seemed tentatively hopeful. “If we can’t get the Olsen Twins we’re going to dress you up,” he quipped to Kimmel. “We’re gonna try to get everybody … We were gonna do an hour special and then we were gonna go into the spinoff.”
April 21, 2015
Candace Cameron Bure hinted at the possibility of the Olsens coming back for the reboot. “I don’t know about the twins, but it would be great if one of them came back… I’m not holding my breath,” she told Us Weekly at a Dancing With the Stars 10th anniversary party, but that Mary-Kate and Ashley were apparently considering it.
“I’m not sure if they’re going to do it, but we really only need one.”
April 22, 2015
In a Women’s Wear Daily interview, the sisters claimed that they had only learned of the project after Stamos’ late night announcement. “We just found out about it today,” said Mary-Kate. “I guess we’re going to talk to the creators and see what’s happening.”
The sisters said they had no knowledge of the revival prior to Stamos spilling the beans to Kimmel. “I ran into Bob [Saget] the other day and we didn’t even talk about it,” said Ashley. “I’m shocked I haven’t heard from John [Stamos],” said Mary-Kate. They didn’t rule out participation, but they might check in with their former TV dad first. “I’m going to call [Saget] and get his perspective,” said Ashley.
Things were at that point seemed to be … looking up?
April 26, 2015
This was apparently news to Stamos, who proceeded to lash out at Mary-Kate and Ashley on Twitter. “I call bullshit,” he wrote in a since-deleted tweet, retweeting a headline that claimed he had “forgotten” to tell the Olsen Twins about the reboot.
April 28, 2015
Stamos changed his tune in another since-deleted tweet, saying that he had spoken to Mary-Kate and all was hunky-dory. “Had a sweet talk with M.K today!! There way more important things going in the [world] today,” he wrote, adding the hashtag “#Family.”
May 22, 2015
And … then they were out. Fuller House executive producer Robert L. Boyett broke the sad news in a statement.
“Although Ashley and Mary-Kate will not be a part of Fuller House, I know how much Full House has meant to them and they are still very much considered family. It has been exciting to see how they have built their professional careers, and I support their choice to focus on their fashion brands and various business endeavors. I appreciate their support and good wishes towards Fuller House.”
May 23, 2015
One day after Boyett released his statement about the Olsens decision not to participate in the revival, Stamos tweeted that he was “heartbroken” over the news. “I understand they’re in a different place and I wish them the best,” he did note, however. “I promise you will not be disappointed with our reunion and spin off!!”
July 28, 2015
Netflix chief content officer, Ted Sarandos gave false hope to fans, when — on the TCA (Television Critics Association) press tour, he stated that the Olsens were “teetering” on a decision to join the cast. Although the series was already in production at the time and the first episode had been shot without “Michelle,” Sarandos believed there could be the opportunity for “stunt opportunities” down the line.
November 25, 2015
Lori Loughlin confirmed to The Huffington Post that the first season of Fuller House had been wrapped without a nary Olsen to be found. “No, I don’t think they’re going to make a cameo,” she said, putting a kibosh on future hopes. “They didn’t this season.”
December 8, 2015
Just a couple months before the 2016 premiere of Fuller House, Us Weekly learned that the show was planning to explain Michelle’s absence in a very … appropriate way:
A show insider tells Us that Fuller House characters will mention that Michelle is now living in New York City and working on creating her fashion empire. This is a not-too-subtle reference to the Olsen twins’ real lives, as both reside in the Big Apple, where they head up such fashion lines as The Row and Elizabeth and James.
In other words, Michelle would obviously be way too busy to take the cross-country flight to see her family.
January 5, 2016
John Stamos revealed to Howard Stern that the revival made a last ditch attempt to cast yet another Olsen to play the role of Michelle, their MCU-staple little sister Elizabeth Olsen. “We talked to her agent,” he said. “And her agent was like, ‘Come on, she’s not going to do that,’ but we did call her agent.”
January 6, 2016
Dave Coulier offered up a perfectly reasonable explanation as to why the Olsens were maybe less enthused than the rest of the cast to return for the revival.
“They’re family members, he told People. “But I think they have a different perspective. When we get together and we reminisce, they were babies [at the time]. So they don’t share those same memories. I can’t really speak for them but I would understand why they don’t have the same sentiments that we all do.”
February 26, 2016
Fuller House premieres on Netflix, sans Olsens. In the first episode, Danny (Bob Saget) tells Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin) that Michelle couldn’t be there but that she “sends her love [because] she’s busy in New York running her fashion empire,” at which point he and the rest of the cast turned broke the fourth wall to share directly at the camera (which quite honestly, probably did not help things).
March 2, 2016
Netflix renewed Fuller House for a second season.
August 15, 2016
Jodie Sweetin told Entertainment Tonight that she and the rest of the cast and crew had “tried everything” to convince the Olsens to at least make a cameo on the new show, but admitted that ultimately they had all “kinda given up” on the prospect.
September 22, 2017
Ahead of the third season of Fuller House, creator Jeff Franklin said he had finally accepted the fact that the twins were not going to participate in the show, and that he had basically given up trying:
“Personally, I’ve given up asking them. The door is open, but I’m not going to be calling them anymore to invite them. They just don’t seem interested in coming. It’s been three years of invitations, so they know the door is open. It’s up to them to decide if they want to come play or not.”
December 15, 2019
Candace Cameron Bure confirmed to TVLine that the show had not extended an invitation to Mary-Kate and Ashley to appear in the final season, which reportedly wrapped production in November. “We did not reach out to them. It was very clear several seasons ago that they did not want to do it,” she said.