Best TV Show Endings

January 19, 2022
Max Gruber 0
TV

What makes a fantastic television series finale? Of course, it depends on the show. But, no matter what series you’re watching, you want an ending that wraps up loose ends without being overbearing, gives you emotion without being overly sentimental, and, of course, leaves you feeling just as delighted, sad, exhilarated, or compelled as you did with each existing episode.

These are (some of) the ultimate series finales of all time, in honour of what it takes to execute a terrific last episode.

Breaking Bad – Felina

Few series finales have ever met such high expectations and succeeded to live up to them as well as Breaking Bad’s final episode achieved in 2013. Walt’s final discussion with Skyler, that fantastic revenge shoot-out including the sabotaged machine gun, Jesse’s defiant cry of emancipation as he drives away, Walt’s fall, and that small smirk of triumph on his face: “Felina” offers everything you could want from a Breaking Bad send-off. Some series finales give you exactly what you desire, while others give you exactly what you need. “Felina” manages to do both at the same time.

The Sopranos – Made in America

“Made In America” is notable for making millions of viewers believe that their television had turned off at a crucial moment, when in truth, creator David Chase deliberately selected that one seemingly at random point would be the exact second when Tony Soprano’s adventure would come to an end.

The Sopranos’ series finale spent the majority of its time tying up a mafia conflict that had decimated the family, before dedicating the last minutes to a family supper set to Journey. The sense of physical unease Chase built up in those closing moments, signifying Tony’s permanent condition of watching his back, was a fantastic way to end a series that began as a reflection on existential dread in the first place.

Seinfeld – The Finale

Seinfeld’s series finale is also one of the most controversial in television history, and it all starts with a hilarious swerve. The show begins by giving the impression that Jerry and George are about to pursue on a traditional sitcom send-off, bidding New York City goodbye as they venture to California to produce a television series, but the real plot begins when the show’s ensemble of central characters is arrested for essentially doing nothing while a man is carjacked.

The excellence of the show’s characters causing trouble for the very same thing they’d been doing for nine seasons in a “show about nothing” then switches to a trial that does follow the sitcom principle of enabling old fan-favourite characters to return as witnesses, then unleashes into an ending that ridicules the characters, the show’s fans, and the show’s own apparent significance in the pop culture scene. The ending of a sitcom is usually more like a curtain call; “The Finale” was a daring closing gag.

ER – And In The End

It was the ensemble cast who made up the fictional County General Hospital, which was commonly described as a medical drama. The series finale featured some major, emotional medical cases (such as an adolescent with alcohol poisoning and an HIV-positive patient who learns he also has terminal cancer), but it also gave fans the opportunity to sit back and relax as some of the show’s most important characters shared drinks. It also didn’t forget about those who were no longer with us, such as Mark, whose adult daughter returned to the hospital to apply for a job, allowing everyone to reflect on how far the programme had progressed.

Blackadder Goes Forth

Not all happy endings are good endings. In its final season, Blackadder had already accomplished the remarkable accomplishment of making the horrors of WWII humorous, but then they did the complete opposite: they made us weep.

After failing to have himself declared insane (‘Wibble’), Blackadder musters the fortitude to lead his team over the cliff – and to their inevitable deaths.

The scene in which Rowan Atkinson’s reluctant leader says “good luck, everyone” before they meet their death in slow motion as the field slowly turns into poppies is still remembered as one of the best TV moments of all time, and it was an appropriate tribute to those who fought in the war.

Gavin and Stacey

When they might have easily continued this beloved comedy for years, James Corden and Ruth Jones made the correct call to stop it after only three seasons.

Technically, Gavin & Stacey doesn’t have much of an ending, but they could never really ‘end’ it like other sitcoms because they’ll all continue to be family members and friends and stay where they are. However, we did have Smithy persuading Nessa not to marry Dave, and then we see a visibly pregnant Stacey six months later, while Smithy is staying in Barry Island with Nessa and their baby Neil, and we get a very tiny pat on the shoulder, which for Smithy and Nessa effectively signifies they’re in love.

Life On Mars

Life on Mars, BBC One’s time-travelling cop drama, offered a satisfactory conclusion to John Simm’s Sam Tyler’s saga without getting bogged down in metaphysical nonsense.

In the last episode, Sam, a 21st-century cop who was suddenly transported back to the 1970s following a major traffic accident, manages to find his way home, waking up from what we discovered to be a long term coma.

But he quickly found himself yearning to rejoin Gene Hunt and the group, played by Philip Glenister. Sam jumped off a rooftop to go ‘backwards in time’ once more, as the idea had become more alluring than reality.

Find all the latest TV show reviews with Ready Steady Cut

So those are just a handful of what we think were the best TV show endings, we hope you agree! If you’re thinking of starting a new TV series but not sure if you should make the commitment, head over to our latest TV show reviews where we can give you the lowdown on whether they’re worth your time. Stay up to date with everything Film and TV with Ready Steady Cut!

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