It’s almost impossible for a TV show’s finale to live up to viewers’ expectations, but some great episodes have managed to do so. TV shows aren’t designed to end – they’re designed to go on for as long as possible – so it’s hard to come up with a satisfying ending. A series finale can make or break a show’s reputation. Some of the most popular shows in TV history have become known for their polarizing final episodes. Some have even proven that a divisive finale can overshadow years of ardent fans.
Finals are tasked with providing benefits for years of storytelling. Legacy had to answer the question of who would lead Waystar Royco in Logan Roy’s absence. Episodic shows, not serialized like Frasier it just had to leave the characters in a good place and set up the next chapter of their lives. Like any farewell to a beloved acquaintance, the best series finales are bittersweet. They also make sense in the context of the chain of events and overarching themes.
10 Crazy man
Unlike other Golden Age TV dramas like Breaking Bad AND Dexter, Crazy man‘s finale couldn’t rely on high-octane action or shocking character deaths to engage the audience. Instead, its finale — season 7, episode 14, “Person to Person” — ended the series on a nuanced and uplifting note. Don Draper finally faced his demons as he headed to a spiritual retreat and opened up to group therapy. The final moments, comparing Don’s meditation to the groundbreaking 1971 “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” commercial, were extremely ambiguous, with a different meaning to be interpreted by each viewer.
The two-part finale of Friends stayed true to the spirit of the series and gave its six iconic characters the happy endings they deserved. Friends Season 10 Episodes 17 and 18 finally gave a solid conclusion to the “Will they or won’t they?” romance. He also set everyone else up for a bright future. The final scene, in which the gang met one last time in Monica and Chandler’s empty apartment before heading down to Central Perk for one more cup of coffee, was a fitting farewell to one of the most beloved TV shows ever made.
8 Better call Saul
Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould’s series finale Breaking Bad spin-off, Better call Saul, didn’t just have to live up to the greatness of all the episodes that came before it; had to meet the expectations set by Breaking Badthe final of Better call Saul season 6, episode 13, “Saul Gone,” wasn’t as explosive or action-packed as Breaking Badthe final of However, it provided the perfect bittersweet ending to Jimmy McGill’s journey. From Jimmy’s unexpected true testimony to his poignant reconciliation with Kim, Bob Odenkirk nailed the final moments of his character’s development.
David Simon’s gritty and realistic crime drama wire came to its appropriately subversive conclusion in season 5, episode 10, “-30-.” The finale concluded the season’s ongoing storyline of a serial killer being fabricated to gain more funding for the homicide department before ending the series as a whole. Adhering to the show’s mission to capture real life, wire‘s final episode had no dramatic endings; some characters’ lives changed, while others remained the same. The most satisfying ending in wire went to the real main character of the show: Baltimore. McNulty looked out over the city, resigned to the fact that the system would continue to repeat itself.
of Cheers spin-off, Frasier, started with Dr. Crane moving to Seattle after a mental health crisis. Therefore, it was suitable for Frasierfinale of “Goodnight Seattle,” to see him leave town for the next chapter of his life. Martin and Ronee’s wedding gave the writers the perfect backdrop for one final farcical story before all the tearful goodbyes. Frasier’s final broadcast, in which he said goodbye to his listeners — and, in a meta sense, viewers at home — was one of the most iconic (and heartwarming) moments in TV history.
of Legacy The series finale, “With Eyes Wide Open,” was a fitting and disturbing conclusion to the modern day Jesse Armstrong. King Lear. After the series spent its first three seasons wondering which of Roy’s children would inherit Waystar Royco, the finale provided the satirical bite viewers had been waiting for. Within a week of Logan’s death, the Roy kids ran the company into the ground and lost control. After all the discussion about who would “win” Legacythe finale served as a timely reminder that there are no winners in this cut-throat corporate world.
American remake of office took a sharp downward turn in quality after Steve Carell left the cast in season 7. The last two outings were filled with cartoonish, lackluster storytelling and flawed character development. But the writers still managed to knock the last episode out of the park. The first half of office‘s two-episode finale, aptly named “The Finale,” mirrored the series’ history with an in-universe “Where are they now?” panel. The second half concluded the characters’ journeys in a deeply heartfelt way. From Carell’s return to Pam’s closing monologue, everything about office the finale was perfect.
3 Six feet under
Six feet under Season 5, episode 12, “Everybody’s Waiting,” managed to condense all the beautiful meditations on life and death from the previous five seasons into one poignant hour of television. The last line of the series, delivered by Nate, summed up what makes goodbye so painful: “You can’t take a picture of that. It is now gone.” In its final episode, a show that spent much of its run capturing the emotions of loss and grief focused on the importance of moving forward.
After the Korean War stretched into 11 years, M*A*S*H ended its run with one of the highest-rated telecasts of all time. M*A*S*HThe feature’s final episode, called “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen,” was the perfect series finale against which all subsequent series finales are judged. After the truce, unit 4077 held a party to say goodbye to each other before breaking camp for the last time. Very popular M*A*S*H finale set the trend of using characters’ farewells to each other as a prop for the creators’ farewells to their fanbase.
1 Breaking Bad
Unlike shows like Friends AND Frasierwhich established a status quo in their pilot episodes that remained more or less the same throughout their run, Breaking Bad it was all about change. Once mild-mannered chemistry teacher Walter White entered the mint business, Breaking Bad ran towards the end of the game at a breakneck pace. Breaking Bad Season 5, episode 14, “Ozymandias,” was the action-packed climax of the series where Walt’s empire crumbled. This allowed the finale, “Felina”, to be more reflective. “Felina” was not only an explosive and fitting conclusion to Walt’s journey, but it also made time for one last powerful moment with the other main characters.