'Timeless': Rufus Returns With a ‘Home Alone’ Zinger

It is not much of a spoiler (since he has been featured in promotional images) to reveal that Rufus reappears in tonight's two-hour series finale for Timeless -- but the way he does it is...shall we say "seasonally appropriate?"

The first time fans have seen the character, played by Malcolm Barrett, since his death, he popped into the room and immediately made a pop culture reference.

Things were looking bleak for the team — tied up in the Old West and surrounded by hostiles — when gunshots started going off outside the barn where they were being held. At first, they figured it was Flynn — but when they called for him, the door burst open…

…revealing Rufus, who had died at the end of the season two finale. Wearing period-approrpriate clothes and brandishing a gun, he quipped, “Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals.”

That, of course, is a reference to the fictional movie-within-a-movie, Angels With Filthy Souls, in which the main character uses that line before shooting up a rival. Kevin McCallister frequently uses the film, turned up to maximum volume, to fend off anybody at the door who might question the kid being left home alone.

Rufus doesn’t even remember being in San Francisco in 1888, suggesting that he was prevented from ever going on the mission where he died. Not only does that mean that Jessica is gone as a result, but that in order to make it happen, Flynn had to sacrifice himself.

The finale, in a lot of ways, became Flynn's story, dealing with the events that would set up one of the show's least-likable characters to become Timeless's greatest hero.

The show was cancelled after its first season, then revived after fan outcry on social media convinced NBC and their production partner Sony Pictures Television that there was an audience for it. It was later cancelled again after season 2.

Timeless starred Matt Lanter, Abigail Spencer, and Malcolm Barrett as a trio of time travelers trying to stop a criminal who stole another time travel vehicle from destroying America as we know it. In the season two finale, Barrett's Rufus was killed. Just before the episode ended, future versions of Spencer and Lanter's characters showed up to ask their present selves if they wanted to save their friend.

The rest of the cast included Goran Visnjic, Paterson Joseph, Sakina Jaffrey and Claudia Doumit. Shawn Ryan and Eric Kripke created the series.

Although Timeless has a die-hard group of fans, the series only averaged 4.2 million viewers and a 1.0 18-49 rating during its second season. While that sounds like solid numbers for most channels, a show on ABC, NBC, or CBS generally wants more than that.

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Fans had hoped the show would stay alive, especially since NBC took weeks to cancel it, and even hired an airplane to drag a "renew Timeless" banner across the sky.

Timeless returns -- for the last time? -- tonight at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.