The Finest Finales: Unveiling The Best TV Series Endings that Left Us Spellbound
Ready for a thrilling rollercoaster ride through the most breathtaking and heartwrenching television series endings of all time? Get ready to be captivated and emotionally invested as we delve into the world of iconic shows like Breaking Bad, The Office, and The Pacific. From shocking plot twists to unforgettable character resolutions, these series have left an indelible mark on the television landscape. So, grab your popcorn and prepare for the ultimate binge-watching experience as we explore the best TV series endings that will leave you in awe and clamoring for more.
Despite featuring a talented cast, impressive writing, and intense battle scenes, Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg's HBO miniseries "The Pacific" has been overlooked in comparison to other popular war stories. Many viewers initially felt let down by "The Pacific" because it is very different from "Band of Brothers." It is darker and focuses more on the horrors of war instead of heroism.
This is particularly evident in "Part Ten," the final episode of the show, where the long-lasting effects of war are highlighted. With the absence of John Basilone, the narrative shifts to his widow, Lena, as she meets and mourns with her husband's family. Meanwhile, Eugene Sledge returns from Okinawa and struggles with night terrors and a heartbreaking breakdown during a hunting trip. These quiet moments contrast with the intense action of previous episodes but work together to convey the harsh reality of war.
While "The Pacific" may not be remembered as fondly as "Band of Brothers," it deserves recognition for taking a different approach and showing a more meaningful ending, rather than relying on patriotic themes commonly seen in other World War II movies and shows.
The series finale of "M*A*S*H," with a staggering 106 million viewers, still holds the record for the highest viewership of an episodic TV series. "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" is more like a TV movie than a single episode, as it follows the staff of the 4077th MASH unit as they cope with the end of the Korean War. This finale strikes a balance between tragedy and celebration, with heartbreaking moments like the fate of Charles' musicians and heartwarming moments like the farewell between B.J. and Hawkeye. It was an unforgettable goodbye that left a lasting impact on millions of viewers.
Six Feet Under
The final episode of "Six Feet Under" wraps up its five-season run with a poignant seven-minute montage depicting key moments in the lives of the Fisher family, as well as the deaths of each remaining family member. Set to Sia's "Breathe Me," this emotional ending perfectly captures the show's exploration of mortality. It is ranked as one of the top TV series finales of all time and remains beloved by fans.
"The Office" concluded its nine-season run with the episode "Finale," which provided closure and brought many tears to viewers. The episode features a Q&A session with fans interested in the documentary about the office and its employees. Erin discovers her birth parents, and the gang celebrates Dwight and Angela's wedding. The episode wraps up with the characters going their separate ways, but not before Pam takes a picture she painted years ago to remember her time at Dunder Mifflin. It was a heartwarming ending for a beloved show that showcased the bonds formed in the workplace.
Parks and Recreation
The finale of "Parks and Recreation," titled "One Last Ride," marks the end of a successful seven-season run. The episode takes the characters into the future as they work on fixing a broken swing in the park. Leslie Knope becomes the Governor of Indiana, and each character's story is resolved in a satisfying and happy manner. The reunion of the Pawnee Parks and Recreation team adds an extra touch of nostalgia to this well-received finale.
"Ted Lasso" is a powerful and funny show that had a magical three-season run. The series finale, "So Long, Farewell," brings the AFC Richmond Manager Ted Lasso to a crossroads. He must decide whether to return to his family in Kansas or try to win the Premier League with Richmond. The finale is filled with perfect references to earlier episodes and concludes with a touching moment between Ted and his son. It is an incredible ending that is hard to surpass.
"One for the Road," the final episode of "Cheers," is considered one of the most influential TV finales of all time. This 90-minute goodbye encapsulates the essence of a sitcom ending, with proposals, misunderstandings, comebacks, farcical mix-ups, job offers, promotions, and a touching scene in the show's central location. The final scene, in which Sam wanders around the bar, straightens a picture, and walks down the hallway, captures the emotional weight of the show's 11 seasons. It remains a memorable and beloved ending for a classic sitcom.
The sixth season of "Community" was marked by its eccentricity and departure from the show's earlier seasons. The finale, "Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television," strikes a balance between weirdness and sentimentality. Each character presents their pitch for the next season, ranging from brilliant to depressing. The episode refuses an easy ending, with some characters staying while others leave, but the underlying theme of love and friendship among the study group prevails. It tells viewers to move on, shows them how, and reminds them why it's important to do so. And of course, fans still hope for that long-awaited movie.
"Last Lunch," the final episode of "30 Rock," remains hilarious from start to finish. The episode features Tracy wreaking havoc, Jenna delivering a memorable performance, Jack nearly faking his death, and Liz Lemon navigating between heart and humor. The fresh jokes, glorious performances, and chaotic energy of the show are present until the end. The epilogue, with glimpses into the characters' futures, provides a heartwarming yet sly conclusion, proving that "30 Rock" maintained its comedic brilliance throughout its seven seasons.
The finale of "Breaking Bad," titled "Felina," gives Walter White a last stand and a compelling victory over his enemies. Walt rescues Jesse from a dangerous situation, bids farewell to his family, and ties up loose ends. The empowering nature of Walt's final moments, in which he achieves his goal and secures his family's future, makes it a memorable ending. Despite the moral questions raised by the series, the finale is a brilliant culmination of Walt's journey and provides a satisfying conclusion.
Better Call Saul
"Better Call Saul" defied initial skepticism about a spin-off centered on Saul Goodman. The series finale, "Saul Gone," follows Jimmy McGill as he faces the consequences of his involvement in Walter White's meth empire. Rather than accepting an easy sentence, Jimmy chooses to break free from his Saul Goodman persona, taking responsibility for his actions and reuniting with Kim Wexler. The finale provides closure to the world of "Breaking Bad" and fulfills the series' potential as a redemption story. Bob Odenkirk delivers a standout performance, solidifying his portrayal as a television legend.
Twin Peaks: The Return
"Twin Peaks: The Return" embraced surrealist horror in its third season, with 18 bizarre and haunting episodes. The finale, "Part 18," takes place after Agent Cooper loses Laura Palmer and follows his journey into another world where he encounters a girl named Carrie who resembles Laura. They return to Twin Peaks, but find a stranger at the Palmers' home. The ending is cryptic and leaves viewers in the dark about the fate of Cooper and Laura. While it may not provide the closure that some fans desired, the finale's refusal to offer easy answers ensures it will be remembered for its eerie impact.
The final episode of "Mad Men," titled "Person to Person," surprisingly provides many characters with happy endings. Despite Betty's terminal cancer, Sally steps up to take care of her brothers, Peggy finds love and success, Roger accepts his mortality, Joan starts her own business, and Pete finds a fresh start. However, the show reminds viewers that even these seemingly happy endings are products being sold. The ending, with Don coming up with the idea for a Coca-Cola ad campaign after a spiritual retreat, captures the show's uneasy dichotomy between the human experience and capitalism. It leaves viewers questioning the meaning behind the happiness portrayed.
The final episode of "Succession," titled "With Open Eyes," provides a brief respite from the show's boundless misery and corporate drama. The episode features a drunken midnight coronation in Barbados, where the Roy siblings back Kendall to become CEO of Waystar RoyCo. This moment showcases the last remnants of humanity in the siblings but foreshadows their eventual downfall. As expected, tragedy strikes during a boardroom showdown, tearing the Roys apart once again. The heartbreaking scene captures the essence of the show and reaffirms its portrayal of the Roy family and their company as "bulls--t." It serves as a gripping and memorable conclusion to the series.
The Good Place
How do you conclude a show about deceased individuals? By subjecting them to death once again, of course. Over the course of four seasons, the genre-defying sitcom "The Good Place" follows Eleanor (Kristen Bell), Chidi (William Jackson Harper), Tahani (Jameela Jamil), and Jason (Manny Jacinto) as they descend into Hell in order to uncover the flaws of the afterlife. By the show's final episode, the group, along with their reformed demon-friend Michael (Ted Danson), have designed a new system that operates smoothly in the Good Place. However, life there becomes excessively perfect, leading Michael to create a door that allows souls to leave the afterlife when they are ready. In "Whenever You're Ready," each of the main characters makes the decision to walk through that door.
Undoubtedly, this means a great deal of heartache since "The Good Place" essentially "kills off" its beloved misfit cast. Yet, what sets "Whenever You're Ready" apart is its exceptionally intelligent and profound approach to the end of existence. Chidi's final speech to Eleanor is particularly noteworthy as it combines insightful Buddhist philosophy with superb sitcom writing from the past decade, serving as a touching and life-affirming farewell to both the characters and the show. That is the brilliance of "The Good Place" — although you may not wish for it to conclude, by the time the wave returns to the ocean, you are prepared to bid it farewell.
Leading up to the premiere of Season 6 of "BoJack Horseman," fans speculated endlessly about the potential ending of the equine actor's story. Many believed that BoJack (Will Arnett) would meet his demise in the final episode, likely due to the show's reputation for adult themes and cynical undertones. Fortunately, they were mistaken.
In "Nice While It Lasted," during a furlough from prison, BoJack attends Princess Carolyn's (Amy Sedaris) wedding. The episode presents a series of heartwarming — or bittersweet — moments as BoJack reunites with his old friends and acquaintances. Surprisingly, it is Todd (Aaron Paul) who captures the true essence of "Nice While It Lasted" and perhaps the essence of "BoJack Horseman" as a whole. When BoJack expresses concerns about his sobriety and the possibility of relapsing after leaving prison, Todd reassures him that he will surpass his previous achievements, setting new records each day.
This is the underlying message of "BoJack Horseman" beneath the darkness and humor: everyone possesses flaws, but with effort, we can improve. As the jogging baboon noted in Season 2, "Every day it gets a little easier. But you gotta do it every day. That's the hard part." "Nice While It Lasted" truly exemplifies this optimism which lies at the core of the show. It may be challenging to discern at times, but it remains present for those who are willing to seek it out.
Friday Night Lights
NBCUniversal Television Distribution
Friday Night Lights showrunner Jason Katims recently shared with Entertainment Weekly that they were aware when they were picked up for seasons four and five that they would be the last. This allowed the writers to start setting up the characters' ultimate paths rather than hastily wrapping everything up in the final hour, as so many finales tend to do. In the end, we witness Coach Taylor and his wife Tami move to Philadelphia, Matt and Julie become engaged, and all our favorite characters find their own versions of a happy ending. This solidifies the series finale of Friday Night Lights as one of the greatest in television history.
Life on Mars
The supernatural police procedural "Life on Mars" follows the story of Sam Tyler (John Simm), a straitlaced detective who, after being struck by a car in 2006, wakes up in the year 1973. As Sam attempts to unravel the mystery of his situation — whether he is insane, in a coma, or has time-traveled — he must contend with the unorthodox methods of his superior, DCI Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister).
In "Episode 8," Sam agrees to betray Gene and the rest of his team in order to eradicate the corruption within Manchester's police force and return home. He succeeds, and by the final act of the episode, he has indeed returned to 2006. However, his friends from 1973 are nonexistent, the conventional policing techniques of modern times bore him, and he no longer even feels the physical pain of accidentally cutting his finger. Sam may be back home, but he is barely alive. Seeking solace, he climbs to the rooftop of the police station and, accompanied by David Bowie's "Life on Mars," jumps off. Subsequently, Sam finds himself back in the past, saving his colleagues from a train robbery shootout, winning the girl, and riding into the sunset.
The finale of "Life on Mars" resonates for several reasons. Beyond John Sim's outstanding performance, "Episode 8" deliberately avoids providing explicit answers and instead focuses on the emotional journey that viewers have embarked on throughout the two seasons. The seemingly bizarre and antiquated world inhabited by Gene Hunt gradually becomes familiar and comforting with each passing episode, leaving audiences practically pleading with Sam to remain. In the end, he does just that. Although the truth of what has actually occurred remains uncertain, the return to 1973 feels nothing short of triumphant.
Opinions regarding the "Sopranos" finale, "Made in America," vary widely. For many, it stands as either the finest or most despised TV finale of all time. Most of the anger directed at the finale centers around its closing scene, in which Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) sits at a diner with his wife, Carmela (Edie Falco), and his son, A.J. (Robert Iler). Accompanied by Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'," the scene cuts between Tony at the table and Meadow (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) struggling to park her car outside. Eventually, Meadow successfully arrives at the diner and walks through the door. Tony glances up, and then... the screen goes black. The credits roll.
When "Made in America" aired in 2007, it provoked a strong reaction from audiences, even crashing HBO's website with complaints. In an interview published shortly after the finale, creator David Chase explained that he had no intention of providing any explanations. "No one was trying to be audacious, honest to God," he stated. "We did what we thought we had to do." In the years since, fans have endlessly debated the meaning of "Made in America," though one prevailing theory suggests that an unseen figure assassinated Tony right after the abrupt cut to black, with Bobby Bacala's earlier comment that "you don't even hear it when it happens" foreshadowing the suddenness of the ending.
In this context, "Made in America" delivers one final, cruel twist to the narrative of "The Sopranos," extinguishing Tony's story as abruptly and ruthlessly as his life met its end. Is it fair? Perhaps not. However, as Tony himself tells Bobby, "No risk, no reward." Above all else, "The Sopranos" is a series that explores the consequences of a man who consistently took those perilous risks and subsequently reaped the dire rewards.
In the vast landscape of television series, some endings triumphantly soar while others fall flat. However, amidst the countless shows that have graced our screens, a select few have managed to leave a lasting impression, forever etching themselves into the annals of television history. From the gripping finales of "Breaking Bad" and "The Sopranos" to the heartfelt conclusions of "The Good Place" and "BoJack Horseman," these series have demonstrated the magic of a well-crafted and emotionally riveting ending. As we bid farewell to these beloved characters, we can't help but be grateful for the profound impact they've had on our lives. These TV series may have ended, but their legacies will continue to captivate audiences for generations to come.
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