The Big Finish: 26 TV Show Finales That Got us Talking

Whether it's current hot topics like Breaking Bad or Dexter, or classic cultural moments like Seinfeld or M*A*S*H, the TV show finale is always appointment viewing. Some of 'em work better than others. Here are 26 that moved us!

Some TV shows work hard to get across the finish line and deliver that perfectly satisfying ending to reward viewers for years of devoted viewing. Others lose their focus and limp to their ends, leaving fans to wonder if perhaps things should have ended sooner. With the passing of the beloved Breaking Bad (and the reviled Dexter) into the TV sunset, we decided to look back at 26 TV finales that worked...or that didn't. 

Star Trek
"Turnabout Intruder" June 3, 1969

When they were shooting the last episode of Star Trek, they had no idea the series was going to be cancelled. They knew they were on shaky ground, but they certainly had no sense that they should be wrapping things up. As far as they knew they were on a five year mission. Rodenberry probably saw it as a five season arc. The real tragedy about the last episode of Star Trek, “Turnabout Intruder,” is that James T. Kirk was returned to his body. The series should have ended with William Shatner playing a woman starship captain. Whether it continued on the last two years of its mission or not, I find comfort in the idea that Mr. Tambourine Man is out there in space as the Rocket Woman. I think Shatner acted the shit out of that part. Watch it again. His performance is very nuanced. The way he plays with his fingernails, the way he uses his eyes. If only Spock hadn’t stuck his Vulcan ears into things William Shatner would still be playing Janice Lester playing Captain Kirk in the mythology that would have followed. An actor’s dream.

M*A*S*H
"Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen" February 28, 1983

When M*A*S*H ended people treated it like someone died. It was an event. M*A*S*H was an institution, not that it was around that long...it wasn’t Gunsmoke, it was a different kind of institution. It blew through so many TV taboos so often, mixing satire with comedy with what was becoming a far too encroaching drama, that it held a spot beyond other TV shows at the time. Other shows were just show, M*A*S*H was a national conscience and consciousness. It was smart but it wasn’t afraid of slapstick. Maybe the last episode choked a little too much chicken for a comedy show, nobody really wanted to see Hawkeye pull a Corporal Klinger without a summer dress. It was the tearjerker it was supposed to be. That wasn’t even new for M*A*S*H, they’d done some big goodbyes before. If only to kill off the actors just to make sure they couldn’t come back.

Seinfeld
"The Finale," May 14, 1998

While there was no way that Seinfeld's finale could have scaled the comedic heights of earlier seasons (the show had begun to lose a step in its eigth and ninth seasons), and certainly no way that fans would have been satisfied with just about ANY conclusion...what did we expect? One of those slurpy, sentimental endings where the cast all steps out from behind their characters and smiles and waves to a grateful studio audience? Seinfeld made its bones on the absurdity of the uncomfortable, and the morally ambiguous finale (which spends two episodes quite unambiguously revealing what terrible people they are...in case you hadn't been paying attention), while controversial and divisive at the time, looks right on the money, even daring, 15 years later. "Hell is other people," indeed.

Babylon 5
"Sleeping in Light" November 25, 1998


This quiet epilogue, set eighteen years after the story’s proper end, cashed in the last bit of foreshadowing in a series rife with it by focusing on the parallel between the foretold death of John Sheridan and the decommissioning and demolition of Babylon 5. Creator and head writer J. Michael Straczynski delivered a wonderful last supper for Sheridan with his closest friends (and a toast naming their/our absent friends), Sheridan more or less passing bodily into Heaven, and a comforting if bittersweet recontextualization of all those prophetic visions of the station exploding. Susan Ivanova’s closing narration broke our hearts in the best way as it summed up the series’ themes and even covered a few eleventh hour bits of character development with her, Zack Allan, and of course Delenn, reassuring us that even when it’s changed forever, life goes on.


The X-Files 
“The Truth,” May 19, 2002

The lead up to “The Truth” was more disappointing than the actual execution of The X-Files’ final episode. David Duchovny left the show after season eight and only appeared in two episodes during the ninth season. While special agents Monica Reyes and John Doggett were serviceable stand-ins during the final two seasons, many devoted X-Files fans felt they were robbed of a strong finish that justified their obsession with a show that changed the sci-fi genre way back in 1993.

The hour and a half finale saw the return of Agent Mulder, who was put on trial and ultimately convicted in the murder of a “Super Solider.” For years Mulder was discredited and dismissed within the FBI but in his X-Files return, it became clear that he won over more people within the government during his relentless pursuit of the truth.  The X-Files couldn’t tie up all the loose ends. In a show where ambiguity reigned supreme and Dec. 22, 2012, the day of the final alien invasion, is unavoidable, all Mulder and Scully could do was cuddle in a motel room and hope. For the partners turned lovers that went through so much together, the final minutes were nothing short of perfection. 

Buffy The Vampire Slayer
"Chosen" May 20, 2003
 
Much like its entire final season, Buffy’s finale was solid in theory, shitty in execution. There were some great ideas, namely the destruction (by way of magic) of the “one slayer at a time” rule so that Buffy, finally sharing her power and her burden, could be free to choose her own fate. Sadly, by the time we got there, the show’s writing had taken such a nosedive that it was hard to care all that much. The whole thing felt rushed, Angel’s cameo was a wasted opportunity, and Anya’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it death just felt like a slap in the face. The simple truth is that Season 7 of Buffy coincided with Season 4 of Angel (as well as Firefly), and it’s painfully obvious where Whedon’s energy went. Tragically, for all its quality at the height of its run, Buffy was robbed of the swan song it and its fans deserved.

Friends
"The Last One" May 6, 2004

Sitcom audiences, particularly of shows with arcs anchored by romanticism, demand a sense of closure in finales. That’s probably a good reason why more than 50 million people, tallying the fourth most watched finale in TV history, tuned into NBC to say goodbye to their friends. The finale was bittersweet, if not satisfying because Rachael didn’t get on the plane and hard luck loser Ross finally won something for once. There were plenty of tears for this group of young, hip friends in New York City who bonded over endless cups of coffee, Thanksgiving dinners and a few shared lovers along the way. The real problem with the Friends finale was the aftermath. Negative points are in order for spawning the spinoff Joey.



Angel
"Not Fade Away" May 19, 2004


It’s unfortunate that Angel ended when it did, but if you gotta go, that’s the way to go. Every character got a moment to shine, even Connor, whose brief appearance put closure to his and Angel’s relationship. We got to see Fred one last time, even if it was only a merciful lie, Spike’s poetry was finally appreciated, and Lindsay paid the price for his epic douchebaggery. Sure, some complained about the abrupt ending, but it’s not like we got Soprano’d. We know what happened. They charged into battle. That’s all we needed to know. The entire theme of Angel was sacrifice, the idea that you always keep fighting. Even if there’s no chance of victory, no chance of redemption, you do what’s right because it’s right. It was never about whether the heroes lived or died. It was about how much Angel wanted to slay that dragon.


Justice League Unlimited
"Destroyer" May 13, 2006

If it seems a little "off" that we're including an animated series in this list, then clearly, you never saw Justice League Unlimited, or its finale. The final season of JLU was a love-letter to everything that makes the DC Universe great, culminating in all out war between a virtual army of superheroes and Darkseid's invading forces. Superman beating the living hell out of Darkseid, comfortable in the knowledge that finally, after all these years, he was finally facing someone he wouldn't have to hold back against not only was payoff for Superman fans waiting for the Man of Steel to shine brighter than his teammates, but even tied up loose ends from Paul Dini and Bruce Timm's JLU precursor, Superman: The Animated Series. When Hollywood can approach this kind of blend of action and emotion in a Justice League movie, wake us up. Until then...

Six Feet Under
"Everyone's Waiting" August 21st, 2005

Leave it to a show all about endings and the value of mortality to feature the perfect ending… in which everybody dies. The beautifully shot and edited closing montage (set to the evocative “Breathe Me” by Sia) covered the near century it took for all the leads to kick the bucket in a variety of fitting if not necessarily comforting ways. What could have been a depressing heartsuck of an ending was saved by flashing from a dying, elderly Claire, whose life has been full and rewarding, to her 20-year-old self driving down the 10 Freeway toward the beginning of that life. Though the series wasn’t perfect—it did have its highs and lows—in the end, it pulled it all together to give us one of the most satisfying, poetic, and inspired endings in television history.

Rome
"De Patre Vosto (About Your Father)" March 25, 2007


One of the Best Series Finales is also one of the most strangely derided and hated. Rome was so ahead of its time that HBO unceremoniously canceled the magnificent program while showrunner Bruno Heller was in the middle of writing the second season. The result caused Heller to condense two to three seasons worth of content into 10 episodes, resulting in a highly entertaining (but frantically rushed) season of television. In the aftermath, HBO executives openly regretted the decision after they saw the DVD sales of the first season of Rome, and Heller spoke candidly of a five-season plan that would have ended in Judea during the birth of Christ. Pardon the pun, but thank God we didn't see that. While the friendship between Vorenus and Pullo is arguably the best bromance in television history, but these are a pair of Forrest Gump-ian Romans who found Pompey Magnus on a beach, were there for the rise of Octavian/Augustus, the assassination of Cicero, and literally the cause of Caesar “impregnating” Cleopatra. Eventually, it is just going to just get silly. Avoiding Christian parable was probably for the best.

Rome's actual final hour features one of the best sequences in television history beginning with Antony being convinced that Cleopatra is dead. When he finally lets his tears fall after two seasons, it is in a cascade of pain and aguish too raw to be merely acted in James Purefoy’s criminally underrated performance. The suffering is so genuine that it only brings him and Vorenus closer when the Roman Consul meets his inglorious demise. Similarly, Cleopatra’s death is also wonderfully handled as even in defeat, she can say to Octavian what viewers who loved the young boy played by Max Pirkis were distraught to learn—Octavian has a rotten soul. It still does not deny that he unequivocally won. When Augustus enjoys his Triumph, it is as “First Citizen,” aka Emperor. Ending Rome on the moment of Octavian claiming his throne is too perfect to pass up. Game over. Pick up with I, Claudius (which HBO is remaking) if you want to know what happens next. It can even make the ambiguous fate of Vorenus excusable.
 

The Sopranos
"Made in America" June 10, 2007

The bell gives it away, it rings when Tony walks into Holsteins, establishing that we hear the bell every time someone comes in. We hear it when the guy in the Member’s Only jacket comes into the restaurant and looks straight at Tony, but Tony doesn’t hear it because a couple at the table right next to him laughs over it. The audience sees it because it’s one of the few scenes in the shot that’s not Tony’s point of view. As far as the blackness, Bobby referenced it earlier in the season when he was sitting on the boat with Tony and said you probably never even see it coming. Syl experienced it when he was sitting across from a hit and didn’t know what was happening until it was over. It was all there. New York cut off the head. They’d deal with what was left. That Jersey thing was never anything more than a glorified crew anyway.

Avatar: The Last Airbender
"Sozin's Comet" July 19, 2008


Aang’s climactic battle with Fire Lord Ozai was beautifully animated and artfully juxtaposed with Zuko and Katara’s team-up against Azula. An entire act of denouement allowed us the time to say goodbye to the characters, offered a few hints of their futures, and finally got Aang and Katara together. Sure, Zuko’s reunion with his mother didn’t make the final cut, but the comics will cover that. The only real flaw in an otherwise perfect finale was the out-of-leftfield revelation of energybending, a lost, ancient art which allowed Aang to defeat Ozai by stripping him of his firebending rather than killing him. Now, finding loopholes and clever solutions around problems was certainly in Aang’s character and could have made for a mind-blowing plot twist. However, the lack of set-up for this Hail Mary turned a potentially satisfying solution into a shameless deus ex machina.


Battlestar Galactica
"Daybreak" March 13, 2009


Let's see: we got an epic space battle, a rescue mission, revelations, and plenty of death. What was it everyone is still bitching about? Not to mention Bear McCreary’s score, which still offers up chills years later. Nobody was sure that Moore and Eick would be able to pay off all the random imagery born of bowl-smoking that they dropped into the series over the years, but they somehow managed to tie it all together. Every character had a role to play in the story and reached satisfying conclusions to their arc, especially when juxtaposed with those flashbacks of life before the Fall. We got closure out the wazoo, and it was glorious. And whoever had a problem with that last-minute twist had obviously not been paying attention. “Life here began out there.” They say it in the pilot mini-series. Whatever. Haters gonna hate.


Dollhouse
"Epitaph: Part Two" January 29, 2010

 
While it was technically canceled, Dollhouse did manage to tie everything up in time to have a proper finale. And it was perfect. It took the characters to their logical conclusions, began the restoration of a world they failed to save, honored the fallen, and ended on a poignant grace note, a perfect touch of symmetry, as Echo lies down to sleep in the pod that once symbolized her captivity, only now physically, psychologically, and spiritually free. The worst thing about “Epitaph 2” was everything it hinted at that we’ll never see, all that meaty story that would have bridged the gap between the main timeline and the post-apocalyptic Epitaph timeline. How did Alpha become an ally and a friend? What exactly went down between Priya and Tony? And how did civilization crumble despite the heroes’ victory against the Rossum Corporation? We’ll never know. Thanks, Fox.


Lost
"The End" May 23, 2010


A finale that gets a lot of hate it doesn’t deserve since what most people resent about it isn’t really its fault. The trouble wasn’t the script, which was very good, or the characters’ shared fate, which made perfect narrative, thematic, and emotional sense. The trouble was that by the final season of Lost, the writers had incurred such narrative debts that every episode they spent not paying them off was more pressure heaped onto the finale’s shoulders. Ask yourselves this: if the episodes leading up to that ending had delivered all those answers we craved and the point of the finale itself wasn’t to answer our burning questions, merely to conclude to the story and farewell the characters, does the episode work? Absolutely. And then some. And so, it could be well argued that the true failure lay not with Lost’s ending, but rather its middle.


24
"Day 8, 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM" May 24, 2010


One hit series that had a less than satisfactory send-off was Fox’s white-knuckled serial thriller, 24. Every week viewers tuned in by the millions to spend an hour with Jack Bauer as he dealt with the latest terrorist threat to national security. Unfortunately, the more hours that passed, the more absurd the premise became. In the eighth and final season of 24, Jack is pulled out of retirement (again) when the newest love of his life is murdered by President Logan…everyone’s favorite TV villain to hate in the 2000s. Working with Russians to cover-up the assassination of a Middle East leader, Logan corrupts President Taylor as he uses this peace as his ticket back to the big leagues. Unfortunately, Logan doesn’t know Jack, who ends up dressing like a superhero when he kidnaps a Russian leader and tortures him to get the truth. The incident causes Logan’s house of cards to come tumbling down, which he acknowledges when he assassinates himself after cowardly killing his unconscious advisor (WTF?). As a result, Jack goes on the run with the U.S. government chasing him, but not before looking with pained loss at a satellite feed to Chloe O’Brian and all the viewers at home.

As much as we loved Logan’s hilariously sniveling end, this may be one of the most lukewarm and anti-climactic endings ever aired. Basically, the series ends with yet another president’s administration left in tatters by terrorists vs. Jack Bauer, i.e. the premise of every other season, and Jack going AWOL. The problem with this is that it is NOT an ending. We have seen Jack Bauer go rogue before! He does it practically every season before CTU or the next POTUS pulls him back in. Hell, that was the premise of Season 7 after the terribly forgotten 24 TV movie, and that is the real issue. This was an intentional non-ending because series producers, as well as Kiefer Sutherland, thought they were getting a 24 movie that never materialized. This explains why the hedged their bets with a weak conclusion that was more limp-wristed than 24’s depiction of ACLU lawyers. Bah! Jack and Chloe didn’t even have a real final scene! But hey, the fake-out closure may have worked out, because 24 returns next year to Fox with Jack retired and on the run. Again. 


The Tudors
"Death of a Monarchy" June 20, 2010


Another historical series that actually enjoyed ending on its own terms was The Tudors. I admire this series for one specific reason: It unapologetically depicts Henry VIII as the monster that he was. Due to his infamy, not to mention siring Britain’s greatest monarch, Elizabeth I, he often gets a free pass in fiction for being a romantic. Instead, Showtime spent four seasons with Henry VIII, a petulant boy who well into old age let his passion, libido and immaturity falter what once could have been a great reign. Granted, they also cast the very un-portly Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the king of six wives, but his good looks make Henry’s callow decisions even in his advanced years all the more pathetic.Hence in the finale, it is so satisfying to watch him live with them. In a Shakespearian touch, the ghosts of three of Henry’s four dead wives pay him nightly visits as the pale rider on the horse approaches. In his dying breath, he is forced to face his failures and sins.

Obviously, the most gratifying moments are the return of Maria Doyle Kennedy as Catherine of Aragon and Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn. The show honestly never did outlive their departure, particularly Anne’s when Henry had her beheaded on false charges of incest and infidelity in the Second Season Finale. Seeing these two ghosts taunt him is ever so gratifying, Anne even takes up the very guilty Catherine Howard’s defense. But it is not only the wives he directly wronged, but also Jane Seymour’s ghost who warns of Henry of their son’s tender age of death, less than a decade away. Henry refuses to hear the truth, but that is what makes him such a wondrous fool. Nothing is more satisfying than him being confronted with his own lies that he told himself under the gaze of ghostly Anne’s final smirk.
 

Friday Night Lights
"Always" February 9, 2011

Each and every season finale of Friday Night Lights could have served as the show’s ending. The writers had a great knack for crafting suitable endings for the seasons’ singular stories, but in the series finale we get a real full-circle moment. The town of Dillon is reunited, Matt and Julie await engagement, Riggins is free to oversee his land, but the real sweet send off is saved for Coach Taylor and his wife Tammi. Proving once and for all that the Taylor’s had the most realistic marriage ever presented on television, Coach Taylor sacrifices his job in Dillon to allow his wife to take a job in Chicago. The final shot sees Coach Taylor teaching a new Chicago team his “Clear eyes” mantra in the rebirth of his coaching career and the perfect ending to an incredible series.

Big Love
"Where Men and Mountains Meet" March 20, 2011

 
One of the stranger endings that I’ve ever experienced to a TV show is HBO’s Big Love. Bill Paxton’s aptly named Bill had gone the entire final season with a target on his back as an openly-outed polygamist (it was his own choice), yet he avoids the death threats of constituents and the actual assassination attempts of dumb-dumb Alby…only to be slaughtered by that neighbor nobody (including the viewers) were paying attention to? Still, it was strangely fitting. Big Love was never fully about the politics associated with Mormons who practice polygamy, nor the Sopranos-styled mafia at the polygamist compounds around Utah—though we loved that stuff too.No, Big Love was primarily about family, and the focus should never be on the killer (despite how surprising), but the most unconventional family dynamic that we’ve ever seen.

In an unlikely way, Big Love managed to have its cake and eat it too. For those who constantly rooted for Bill, Barb, Nikki, and Margie, their love weathered the storm of public scrutiny and lives on beyond the tragedy, somehow causing HBO’s largely liberal viewership to coo for these whacky religious folk. For those who viewed Bill as a sexist pig or deviant hiding behind a dogmatic patriarchy, his passing allows us to see the wives grow and develop as their own independent women in a way that they otherwise never would. In a one-year flash forward, we find out about their new jobs, educations or simply peaceful resolutions. And is that Jesse Pinkman as Amanda Seyfried’s husband?! But in a bigger endorsement for Mormonism than even Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s musings, Bill’s specter watches on, promising that the family will be again reunited one day as their cheesy theme song, The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows,” is given a lovely acoustic cover. It is both syrupy and strangely affecting, much like the most unlikely of family dramedies ever produced.

 


Smallville
"Finale" May 13, 2011

Ten seasons. For ten seasons Smallville teased fans with Clark's "will he/won't he" put on the Superman costume vacillations. Two full seasons of Clark in a black trenchcoat, a t-shirt, and the worst codename in the history of superheroes. They owed us. They owed us big. And after a season long build-up which included Darkseid and a number of other barely recognizable characters from Jack Kirby's Fourth World, we got...very little. A CGI Tom Welling in a used Superman Returns costume barely visible on screen for more than a minute, and a cut-to-black shirt rip on the Daily Planet roof set to John Williams' iconic Superman theme. Those final moments, depicting Lois and Clark some years in the future at the Daily Planet, well into Clark's Superman (can they call him that now?) career were nothing more than a reminder of what the show could have become had it not been so devoted to keeping everything Superman fans know and love about the character tantalizingly out of reach.

Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated
"Come Undone" April 5, 2013

You may not know this, or even believe it, but Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated is more than just the best Scooby-Doo series ever, more than one of the best animated series of the last decade, and more than...well, it's just more than a Scooby-Doo cartoon. Over the course of 52 episodes, Mystery Incorporated layered plot thread upon plot thread and mysteries within mysteries as it actually (gasp) gave each member of the gang a backstory, a character arc, and genuine a genuine stake in the big story. The finale, which (among other things) deals with an Evil Entity remaking reality and explaining why some animals can talk and others can't in this world, also has a unique twist which allows Mystery Incorporated to serve as either a finale for EVERY version of Scooby-Doo...or a prequel to all of them...depending on how you look at it. Oh, and Harlan Ellison shows up. Brilliant.


The Office
"Finale" May 16, 2013


 The Office was pretty hit and miss once star Steve Carrell exited for greener pastures, but in The Office’s last season, they really did manage to find out how to exist without their old boss. Picking up about a year after the airing of their “documentary,” the finale allows you to catch back up with the characters, some of which have exciting, and not so exciting, new lives. The whole thing culminates in Dwight and Angela’s wedding, where Jim sets out to anti-prank Dwight along the way, providing sweet, and often funny, moments for the two rivals. The best part comes when Michael Scott appears towards the end. He barely says three lines, but his presence helps immensely. The Office created a finale that mirrored the show in general; maybe a little long and over-the-top at times, but generally sweet and humorous.

Dexter  
"Remember the Monsters?" September 22, 2013

If your final season is a mess, then your finale doesn’t have much hope, does it? Season eight of Dexter meandered about like Dexter character Vince Masuka in the World’s Largest Sex Store. Characters acted more inane then ever, new characters dominated the time we had left with the old ones, and Dexter acted more irrational and selfish as the season went along. In the finale, all the uninteresting plots don’t so much come to a head as they just kind of fizzle out. Then there’s the infamous ending of Lumberjack Dexter awkwardly staring into the camera for the series’ final shot. We would have preferred the whole series to be a dream over that crap.

Breaking Bad
"Felina" September 29, 2013

Season five, the final season of the remarkable series, was an all out assault on viewer’s emotions and nervous systems that saw the already esteemed show reach new heights. In the closing hour, creator Vince Gilligan neatly wrapped up the series, giving each remaining character a suitable goodbye or ticket straight to hell. The only criticism that could be brought up is that the ending was too perfect, too sterile for a season that felt like it was always on the edge of combusting. Regardless, Gilligan crafted a satisfying ending to his juggernaut series.

American Horror Story
"Afterbirth" December 21st, 2011 and "Madness Ends" January 23, 2013.

This one is a bit of a cheat, but as every season of American Horror Story follows a new story, how can it not count? With that in mind, we want to praise and condemn both seasons’ “series finales.” The first season of American Horror Story (no colon) saw a dementedly funny ending to a season that was actually scary! The Harmon family, who never missed the chance to squabble in life, has found peace in death. Literally. They’re all ghosts haunting “The Murder House” and scaring potential buyers (victims) out before the bad ghosts get them! It’s perversely adorable watching the four dead Harmons, Ben, Vivien, Violet, and the new baby, celebrate the holidays around a Christmas tree while demon seed like Tate and Hayden watch from the shadows. Meanwhile, even Constance gets her own kooky happy ending with a wink and a nod to The Omen and Rosemary’s Baby.

This is a weird ending that leaves a smile on the face after a tense year with the family. Conversely, the second “series,” American Horror Story: Asylum, ends on an intriguing idea with poor execution. Asylum's atmosphere was tense and after an awkward premiere, it quickly found its breakneck, darkly comical pace thanks in no small part to Sister Mary Eunice getting possessed by the devil and teaming up with James Cromwell’s monstrous Nazi doc. It was literally a match made in Hell. But as their relationship flamed out (heh), the final two episodes kind of limped to the finish line. The actual finale attempted to have a “slice of life” closer that spanned multiple decades when Sister Jude’s sanity is not saved, and Laura Winters shuts down the asylum a decade too late. By the time it flash forwards to modern times and her thrown away adult son, a second Bloody Face, has hunted her down to a D.C. hotel, we just did not care. It wasn’t scary or true to life; it was simply lifeless. Here is hoping that this week’s new story ends with a better bang than that final shot.


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Disqus - noscript

I always felt cheated with The Office finale. Not that it wasn't fantastic, but Steve Carrell told everyone he wouldn't be on it, and then he was. Big fat liar.

Dexter was ughhhhhhh, but now we're learning it wasn't the wrtiers' fault.
Seinfeld was a major win in my book. Well done.
Lost...oh, lost... What an unexpected ending, but it didn't leave me disappointed either.
Friends went out how it should've, also. Great list.

Smallvilles finale was atrocious, and was a slap in the face for anyone who waited 10 years for it to end. once it hit black screen I shouted "10....FUCKING....YEARS!"

Any list of finales that leaves out the endings of "The Shield" and "The Wire" is not complete.

It also doesn't help that links to this list are pushing it as "The 26 Best TV Show Finales of All Time" -- seems like false advertising

Excellent list. I don't agree with everything, but it's still a good list. My only inclusion would be Spartacus. Not only for the insanity of the series as a whole, but the loss of the main character in real life while still having a worthy wrap up to the main scenario. RIP Andy Whitfield.

Have you guys ever seen Blake's 7?

Think 'Robin Hood and the Dirty Dozen in space against an evil Federation.'

Final episode, all the heroes are killed by the evil Federation.

That is a fair one to point out. I loved that ending when I saw it, but had completely forgotten about it now...likely because Lawrence and ABC ruined it by doing a "ninth" season with a new cast. But you're right, on its own that is a great ending.

Regarding Dollhouse: " How did Alpha become an ally and a
friend?"
It happened when he uploaded Paul Ballard. Ballard was able to not only stabilise Alpha's psychoses, but also give him a moral compass and a sense of guilt over his many crimes. Result? - Nice Guy.

"What exactly went down between Priya and Tony?" Tony, being the soldier that he is, decided that the fight for freedom was worth the personal sacrifice of using tech to make himself a better soldier. Probably inspired by when he uploaded enhanced fighting skills in the chair in the last episode before Epitaph 2. Priya had been a victim of the tech in so many different ways, and with a child to care for it makes sense for her to want to cut all ties with the tech and live a simpler, safer life. These opposing views meant they could not live in each others worlds, but they never stopped loving each other. As demonstrated by their reconciliation in Epitaph 2.

"And how did
civilization crumble despite the heroes’ victory against the Rossum
Corporation?" This happened BECAUSE they blew up Rossum HQ. When they killed Boyd and the other top Rossum executives they removed the people who had been in control of the tech and left it open for abuse by anyone and everyone. And also Clyde 2.0 (who was obviously backed up in other 'Houses) was free to do what he wanted. Obviously the mass-wiping/imprinting device that Topher created was sold to someone in the US army and/or possibly the Chinese army (we know they eventually got their own if not got it first) leading to the Neuro-pocalypse.

They ended Dexter with him staring in a camera?? I suspected he'd finally be caught, breaking his sister's heart in betrayal for so long... Or he'd finally flat out tell his sister, thinking she'd praise him for it due he saved her from a killer (his brother) and avenged his wife, but that she'd instead have to take a moment, maybe seek therapy, and turn in Dexter in the end with a tearful send off that still breaks her heart. She would have betrayed her own brother who had betrayed her trust for years. Staring at the camera, what ending is that?

not a bad list, but "the mary tyler moore show", "cheers", "weeds', and "entourage" could all be included.

His sister knew about him for 2 seasons

That was not the idea of this list. We actually spend a lot of time talking about shows that ended disappointingly, i.e. Dexter.

I got that from reading the list and your title for it here. But like I wrote, the link that pulled me here claimed the list was: "The 26 Best TV Show Finales of All Time". These links seem to be gone now, but there are still remnants of them that can be found with a google search.

So tired of people complaining about Smallville! It was called smallville not superman not Metropolis it was about clark kents journey to become superman I thought it ended great so stop your sniveling if you want to see superman go watch the movies!

Wow, I must have really fell off the series.... Thanks. I'll have to find a way to watch it marathon-style.

Wrong about the Buffy finale in every sense.

How about Fringe? That was a hell of a final of one of the best sci-fi shows ever.

yOU COULDN'T BE MORE wrong. The Final episode of Buffy was pure perfection. The whole final season of Buffy was the series strongest season.

As for Dexter, the final season sucked up until the brilliant final episode that virtually redeemed the season as a whole.

And the Final Smallville was infuriating. Worst finale to a series, EVER!

SO BAD! Darkseid was defeated by....flying through him? (HUH?)

No Clark in costume after 10 years of waiting?

Clark and Lois's wedding is interrupted so it's postponed.....for SEVEN YEARS?? AWFUL !!!!

The ending SUCKED. It was the worst ending to any series ever. Even if you take Superman out of the equation (which can't be done because that was the whole premise of the show!), it sucked in it's own right. Flying through Darkseid defeats him? HUH?

Truly truly awful television.

Agreed. The Buffy finale was amazing. The final shot of Buffy with one tear as she realizes that the weight of the world is no longer on her shoulders alone....brilliant. Brilliant finale in every sense.

It was a brilliant ending. It was almost like the final Buffy in reverse. Buffy ended on a close up of the main character's face showing her relief at no longer being alone. No longer having all the weight of the world on her shoulders only. It was a close up of a face showing relief.

Dexter did the opposite. We end on the close up of a man who will never be free. The guilt of what he has done, and the deaths of those that he loves will always be with him, haunting him and he has no escape. It was a perfect ending.

The Dexter finale was excellent. No disappointment there.

The episode leading up to the finale, on the other hand....those were uber-disappointing.

You must really love lumberjacks....

Hm, putting it like that, it does sound good. Thanks again!

This article had my attention right up to the commentary about the HBO series finale of Rome where the simple minded writer of this article found it necessary to inject Christian Faith bashing into his monologue. Disturbing. From that point any credibility the writer may have had evaporated. I'm sure if this writer had chosen to 'comment' about Muslims tho' the writer would have prostrated themselves in praise & adoration. Just goes to illustrate the sharp disparity of those hypocrites who all whine about diversity & tolerance so long as it's those same things these same hypocrites themselves believe. Idiots.

Blackadder Goes Forth!!

MASH should have put a whoopie cushion inder Col. Potter's saddle. One last joke from Hawkeye and BJ. Babylon 5 - why destroy the station. That much tonnage should have been broken up for salvage. JLU you mentioned the Superman animated series. That was one reason I was hugely disappointed in the new movie. A goodly portion of the dialog was taken from the pilot for the animated series. Word for word - whole scenes.BSG -didn't like the show. Was glad it left the air. Smallville. Another show I skipped almost entirely. Grew up reading DC comics. Just t6oo much was screwed with to make this series interesting. The rest? Mostly didn't care enough to bother even putting on. Did watch Scooby-Doo, but thought the artwork was better in the original.

For me, it wasn't that they withheld Clark becoming Superman so much as the quality of the writing. While it was good to see Rosenbaum return as Lex, the final season just felt cheap. The writers just appeared tired and drained of ideas as they seemed to carelessly race to the finish line. This is very evident in that awful episode where Lois is taken over by some Egyptian goddess. The show also seemed old to the cast who either delivered phoned in performances or had already left.

It really all comes down to that the show just didn't know when to quit. After Clark graduated high school, his life should have progressed faster but instead he sat around on the farm doing nothing and pining over Lana for the next two or three seasons. Clark pretty much was a super hero loser. Then he finally got off his ass but at that point Lex was gone and the show was missing a relationship that was one of the key ingredients of what made that show so special. This is why the best shows plan their endings far in advance and build towards it. Shows like Breaking Bad, which made the decision to end after 5 seasons and carefully constructed the best ways to do that. Smallville on the other hand just kept moving forward to the point where even the show runners decided to move on. It's usually never a good thing when the creative God's of a show are replaced. True that while Miller and Gough were in charge is when Clark sat in limbo after high school. However I blame the suites more so than Gough and Millar for the shows tires spinning. Obviously the more successful the show became then the more the studio wanted to find ways of stretching it out.

All good things must come to an end or they over stay their welcome. However I will admit that Zod's story in season 9 was one of the best in the show. That aside though, the final season was pretty disappointing over all. Now I'm not going to say that it was totally unredeemable because I was still entertained at times. There were a few highlights. In general I have a lot of fondness for the series. The finale just did not live up to its full potential.

Seeing that you had the finale of the original Star Trek series, I'm surprised and disappointed that the finale of ST:TNG wasn't included. 75% of the list named endings that were controversial, I get that. They demanded us to talk about them. But the endings that truly satisfied, after years of watching a great series (i.e. Avatar:TLA, Breaking Bad, Lost, etc.), created lasting conversations that are still being brought up. Whereas the controversial endings are happily swept under the rug after a healthy grumbling session. Any fan of Star Trek that didn't see or talk about the ending to ST:TNG needs to go watch it and join those of us in the know. Epic ending.

......yeah you're a f'n IDIOT haha

IGN's review from an actual intelligent human being gave it a 9.5 - AMAZING

get a clue and read non-retarded, professionals critiques before talking pathetic clueless nonsense, dumbass X )

LOL you are SCARY dumb, loser

XD pathetic dumbass

it's weird how you used common sense to understand how only moronic, loser trolls hated the Lost finale because they simply (somehow) couldn't understand it then bashed it in butthurt denial but then pathetically went on to become EXACTLY like those ridiculous idiots in your clueless nonsense takes on the incredible Dexter and AMAZING Smallville finales

bizarre and beyond dumb XD

Don't forget Newhart.

What?!?!?!? No Spartacus?!?! The series finale was epic and how they stuck to the historical accuracy of the story was brilliant! and to not have it on this list is an insult!!

the last episode of star trek the next generation and then the last episode of Newhart should be on everyone one of these lists.

and smallville's last episode wasn't that bad

Somebody forgot about ALIAS. Awesome series finale!

Friday Night Lights finale had the coach and his wife moving to Philadelphia, not Chicago.

When I clicked on this I thought to myself "damn it... Buffy better be on here" and it was! Just watched it front to back last week, for the millionth time in my life. The high school days were surely written a lot better then the after college days.... everyone knows that.... still a great ending though!

how can you not include the finale of ST ELSEWHERE! and why was only MASH represented earlier then the 90's? missed a lot of great ones from that era...

Breaking Bad's finale was perfect! Every plot line was addressed and nothing was left uncovered. Every single thing they introduced got tied up. Just as a finale should

Why?

The Shield. Spartacus. The Wire.

Perhaps we should be discussing TV Shows that actually had a planned end, there was no Chuck although the end to that could still be a start to something new. We all love our shows and bad endings are usually up to the Execs who pull the plug before it can conclude or force an end to a series before it should have resulting in us saying a collective HUH.
Let's hope we will be privileged enough to see more good series that have a planned start, middle and end for they are becoming rarer as ratings take over!

I just figured that he was going to go on killing his fellow lumberjacks.

If you think people didn't like the Lost finale because they didn't understand it, then I think YOU didn't understand it.

Your reason for Breaking Bad on this list literally makes 0 sense. You are literally asking for an ending that does what everything else on this list does: not be good enough.

What about house md, that was the best ending in the history of endings.
So what if it was not about some cheesy get back together plot like most of the shows on this list, it showed something remarkably beautiful like a borderline sociopath like House could do something amazingly selfless for his friend. I cried with sorrow and joy in the same episode.

a finale list without the "Newhart" finale is criminal - the best ending to a series anywhere, any time.

netflix