Every Monday night for the last nine years, women have rooted for Ray's wife, Debra. In real life, Patricia Heaton is a busy mom of four boys. She says that she was glad to be done with the show and ready to move on, so she surprised everybody—including herself—by crying through the final rehearsals. The farewell has been emotional, Patricia says, because the cast members' onscreen family bonds feel real. After nine years, Patricia says she and Ray are like an old married couple—sometimes loving, sometimes loathing.
"This is a perfect example," Patricia explains. "In the final episode, Ray and I have to do a scene together where I'm very loving toward him. I was preparing offstage. I just let all these feelings of affection kind of come up…and right before I went on, Ray said, 'Don't walk on on my laugh. Hold for my laugh.' I was like, nine years, two Emmys and you're giving me a note on acting on the last episode?' I said, 'You know what? You just screwed up my preparation because I'm back here trying to love you, and now I hate you.'"
What will Patricia miss about Ray? "I'll miss the sex," she jokes. "Anna's not here today, is she?"