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Kromm

The End is Here: Best and Worst TV Finales

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Champion your choices, or debate that of others...

WORST:  Up until this past Monday I bet many people would have said Seinfeld.  Some might have gone with Lost.  Maybe even some votes for M*A*S*H (because of how depressing it was).  But the crown, in my opinion, definitely got taken by How I Met Your Mother.

BEST:  This is harder in a way.  But after a lot of thought I have to go with Newhart.  Just for that ONE final scene which was so brilliant.

SPECIAL MENTION:  St. Elsewhere.  One of my faves, but uber-controversial because it has so many people who would put it as the worst, or near the worst.

 

Edited by Kromm
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Best: Six Feet Under for the future death scenes. I remember sobbing for days.

Worst: Never watched HIMYM or Seinfeld so can't comment on those. I was aggravated with Lost but not completely enraged. Will have to ponder further and report back.

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Worst: It sounds as if a number of people were disappointed with Dexter.  I couldn't say since I never watched.

Special Mention (Controversy): Sopranos.  Lots of people loved the ending; lots of people hated it.  I thought it was disappointing, but I thought the Sopranos had been treading water anyway for its last few seasons.

Sometimes the creators have an ending in mind but the show is canceled before it can be put into place

Best Ending That Never Happened: Lou Grant.  The Los Angeles Tribune was supposed to shut down for good.  I think it could have provided an interesting episode, or series of episodes about the changing economics of the newspaper world, in particular why more and more cities were becoming one newspaper towns, and how that affected coverage of the news.  I believe some of the producers or staff of the show even visited the Washington Star when it was closing.

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BEST - Friday Night Lights. Pretty much a perfect summing up of the series, and all the characters in it. Even if I wasn't happy with how one or two characters ended up, there was still a warm, almost fuzzy feeling to watching that final montage, set to Devil Knows You're Dead by Delta Spirit.

Angel - Sad? Yep. All the characters either dead, dying or surely about to die? Yep. Great finale that perfectly captured the spirit of the series? Absolutely. I love that final scene, of Angel and his crew facing completely insurmountable, hopeless odds, and not taking a single step backwards. Final line: "personally, I kinda wanna slay the dragon". Stirring stuff.

Life on Mars (UK version) - Sam gets back to the present day, but only by abandoning his friends, pinned down in the middle of an ambush by a bunch of crooks. After struggling to reconnect to the present day, 'real' world, he decides he wants to go back to the 1970s, and takes a big jump to do just that. I love the moment where John Simm smiles that knowing little smile, as the backing music reaches the line, "take a look at the law man, beating up the wrong guy"

I can't really say that I find any series finales uniformly bad. There was stuff about the Chuck, Friends and Battlestar Galactica finales that irritated me, but they all still had good points.

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Best: M*A*S*H, so sad, so touching and so poignant. Seinfeld, yes Seinfeld... I thought that the characters got what they were owed in it. 

They deserved to be in prison for how they treated others over the years,

 

Worst: Dexter. 

Totally hated when they killed off Debra.

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Best: M*A*S*H This was strange because MASH was a show that didn't have a whole lot of long term or even short term story arcs. Henry Blakes death was only mentioned in a few episodes after he left. I don;t understand why people would say the final episode was depressing, it was real. At the end of a war or a deployment you don't all get to go home at the same time, and as much as you say to each other that you'll write or call or get together, you say those things while knowing in your deepest being that it isn't true. Oh sure, you'll start off writing a letter a month, maybe even a week, but then you get back to your 'real life' and then a couple years later you might get a letter that mentions a reunion of the 4077 and you think "Hey, I 'll get to see everyone and this time in civilian clothes. Except that night you have horrible nightmares about some of the things you experienced and you find yourself expressing deep regrets but you can't make the reunion. And those people that you spent the war with slowly fade away.

Friday Night Lights. An interesting thing I've seen is the belief that Tim "lost" because at the end of the show he was still in Dillon, still drinking, not moving forward. Tim won. He never wanted to go to college, everyone else kept forcing it down his throat, but he knew it wasn't for him. "Texas Forever." That was for Tim. The huge open sky of Texas the plains, the house he was building  with his own hands on that beautiful stretch of land that HE owned. That was all he had ever wanted. Luke's going into the military was true. Not everyone gets a football scholarship.

Worst: Seinfeld, but not really. It was interesting in that it was essentially a clip show, without showing any clips. But Larry David is on record as saying he deliberately set out to piss off as many people he could with the finale

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Best: Six Feet Under, no question. It was a perfect way to end the show, and it was a true ending that provided closure. I also loved the Breaking Bad series finale.

Worst: Gotta go with HIMYM here, and I didn't even see it, just read a few recaps. I gave up on the show a couple years ago because the stale, reheated cliche of the Barney/Robin/Ted love triangle ruined the show for me, and then that's how it ended, just because they had some old footage of the kids they wanted to use. Also on the list is The Sopranos. It was a complete cop-out and to me it read as David Chase flipping everyone off. And Dexter: ludicrous. He becomes a lumberjack. Really??

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Best: Newhart, Mary Tyler Moore, Six Feet Under (better than much of its final season), The Wire, Leverage.

Not ideal but it worked, and didn't bother me: Seinfeld (having enjoyed how awful the characters were, I rather enjoyed their comeuppance), M*A*S*H (rather too much of a self-important "event," but wrapped everything up well), St. Elsewhere (the final bit just seemed like a little meta joke, and I was happy to take it as such without it affecting the rest of the series), Hill Street Blues (life goes on), 30 Rock.

Lou Grant was mentioned. They held over two episodes to air in August after being cancelled, and I thought they possibly tweaked the very last one (centered on Charlie Hume and the number of fires he had to put out in any average day) to create another "life goes on" ending. He starts listening to Donovan's problems after hours, and the camera pulls back out of his office and shows us the whole newsroom, everyone going about their business. The Trib is still going to be there, even if we're not.

Worst: HIMYM, hands down. The YouTube fan-made "alternate ending" has actually helped me calm down a lot.

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I join with Kromm in the St. Elsewhere finale appreciation. It was weird, unexpected, and slightly unsettling -  just like the show itself.

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Yes, Danny Franks! "Angel" was amazing because it left a teeny crack of the door open for a return (which I've finally given up on), plus what a great last line. And "Life on Mars" (UK) also had a great ending.

Conversely, I would throw "Ashes to Ashes" in there as having had an abysmal ending. It was interesting, yes, but SO didn't need to have it all spelled out for us, at least IMO. I always thought LoM and A2A were meant to be a little ambiguous.

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Best: Everwood. Every character and relationship got a satisfying, positive, ending. At the time, I was very annoyed that it was canceled in order to bring 7th Heaven back, but having seen the alternate "season finale" ending on the S4 DVD, I'm more than OK with the series ending.

Worst: Kyle XY. Man, that was so bad that I boycotted ABC Family for four years, only coming back because of The Fosters. Not even their Harry Potter weekends and exclusive trailers could get me back. I remember reading an article that said if you skipped the last five minutes, you'd be more or less happy. However, I didn't realize that those five minutes were coming up, so I ended up seeing that awful cliffhanger and screaming at my TV. I was so pissed. Later on, the head writer (I think) said what they had planned and it sounded like garbage, so perhaps it was good that it was canceled. But they should have been able to edit the show or film a series finale ending instead.

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I join with Kromm in the St. Elsewhere finale appreciation. It was weird, unexpected, and slightly unsettling -  just like the show itself.

 

Most unsettling: A ten year old coming up with Peter White.

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I don't remember any of the details now, but I used to watch "Santa Barbara" a thousand years ago. It was your normal daily soap opera but it actually had an ending and plots were resolved. At the time, I was very surprised and happy that it ended with closure.

I still complain about the Quantum Leap finale. Specifically with the text at the very end : 

Dr. Samuel Beckett never returned home.

Really? Just leave that off and let us pretend.

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For worst series finale, I hereby nominate The Glades:

On the way to his wedding, main character Jim Longworth stops by the house that he'd just bought for his bride-to-be and is shot twice by an unknown assailant. He's left lying on the floor, bleeding out, while everyone at the wedding are all wondering where he is.

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I hated The Medium. Tried to do he hat Six Feet. Under did but it didn't make sense.

Loved. The Sopranos.

I didn't like MASH. I guess I'm weird. It seemed forced to me.

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I hated The Medium. Tried to do he hat Six Feet. Under did but it didn't make sense.

 

Do you mean "Medium", starring Patricia Arquette?

If so, yeah.  I do recall the finale kind of sucking (actually the entire last season and change sucked).  The character of Joe in particular really got mega-screwed over.

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Best: Newhart even if it was a riff on the St. Elsewhere ideal

Worst: Third Watch, being the NYPD and FDNY show for me when 9/11 happened and having the characters deal with it only to end with Sergeant Cruz becoming a suicide bomber left a foul taste in my mouth

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I really liked the finale of Carnivale, I know that it was cancelled and they had planned 4 more seasons planned, but I did like the ending - maybe because I knew there were only two seasons when I started watching it

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I still have issues articulating my rage at the Dexter finale. No, just, no. They basically took everything I didn't want to happen and...made it happen. I think it's the only finale that made me actually shout "WHY THE FUCK DID I WATCH THIS SHOW?!?!?" The depths of my rage could probably supply a useful source of energy for Earth if we ever decide to move beyond fossil fuels.

BSG was partly rage-inducing because I hated that

Starbuck was actually dead and Lee was left to...drift. His father went off (presumably) to pine over Roslin's grave for the rest of his life, the other people who he could count among his friends were either coupled-up (Athena/Helo and Baltar/Six) or also off on their own (Chief) or were already dead (Dualla). I'm not saying I necessarily wanted him and Starbuck together romantically, but I just felt so sorry for him in the end.

. That said, it did have a sort of neatish ending and I'm glad that most of the characters ended up more or less happy.

Other shows I watched until the end: Loved the ending to ST:TNG. Really well paralleled with Q and with the quality cast this would have had to have been completely screwed over to not work, and it wasn't.

Farscape was frustrating because it was cancelled, but at least they got to tie things up in a movie (and another one is rumoured, so yay).

Ditto Lois and Clark - it's a pity because S4 has a couple of nice moments but some of the plots are downright dumb. Lois and Clark's grief over their inability to conceive broke my heart, though, and the advent of the baby gave them the opportunity to do different stuff which obviously never materialised.

Edit:forgot about Carnivale - again, just plain frustrated that it was canned. Sometimes glacially-paced but utterly, utterly addicting.

Quantum Leap's finale made me desperately sad (and still does) but I'm not sure it wasn't fitting in a strange way. As another poster mentioned though I wish they'd left it ambiguous, then the optimist in me could 'fix' it.

And you can now infer my propensity to rage-quit from the fact that these are the only shows I have watched until the end.

Edited by pootlus

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Life on Mars UK edition was brilliant and subversive with both of their finales. Will always be a favorite of mine. 

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I love Newhart's as well.  It may have been somewhat done once before, but the nostalgic twist definitely added something unique. 

 

A finale that probably isn't one that is at the top of many people's lists because the sitcom in general kind of got lost in NBC's plethora of celebrated Thursday night comedies but I'd nominate Wings for "Best finale."  I can't think of a comedy that introduced a theme/thesis in its pilot, went through 7/8 seasons and was able to come back to it and stick the landing quite in the way Wings did. 

 

For those who don't remember, or didn't watch, the pilot was about two very opposite, and somewhat antagonistic, brothers coming together after their father died in order to hunt for a "treasure" they believe was left to them. They're both pilots and the older brother owns a small airline. After they find the money, the plan was to part ways again.  At the end of the treasure hunt, instead of money, they find a note that basically implies that true richness is family.  By that time, the brother who was going to leave had decided to stay. 

 

Fast forward to eight seasons later, the idea of a "treasure" is brought back up and it turns out there really was money for the brothers. Initially, the younger brother plans on going to the tropical island he wanted to go to in the pilot.  The older brother's wife, a cellist, is given an opportunity to go to Vienna to play and/or study for a year.  She had spent eight seasons trying to make it and this was her big break.  The older brother decides that he has to sell his airline because he was able to live his dream of owning an airline, it was time for them to go to Europe so his wife could live hers.  The younger brother decides to delay his tropical island dream for a year so his older brother doesn't have to sell the airline in order to support his wife. 

 

So yeah, family did end up being the most important thing.  And as an aside, I can't tell you how much I loved that the happy ending for the female lead wasn't a baby but rather a career goal.

 

For all the great Thursday night comedies, none come anywhere near to satisfying me as much as the Wings finale does.  I think the closest is actually Seinfeld because it was so bizarre.  It's just the execution wasn't as sharp as it could have been.

 

HIMYM is the opposite of Wings.  It tried to go back to its early premise even though the show had completely moved beyond it.  At some point I knew I was wasting my time watching HIMYM in the latter seasons but I hoped the finale could bring it home.  Instead, it literally turned out to be a waste of time.

 

Dexter--oof.  Another one where I should have stopped watching earlier than I did.  When will I learn that bad seasons likely will mean bad finales?
 

 

Quantum Leap's finale made me desperately sad (and still does) but I'm not sure it wasn't fitting in a strange way. As another poster mentioned though I wish they'd left it ambiguous, then the optimist in me could 'fix' it.

 

 

Right. I don't know if it's because I'm a contrarian but for some reason I can accept this finale even if it leaves me feeling sad. 

The Sopranos finale is another one I kind of liked. 

Edited by Irlandesa
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Lost annoyed me because it confused the average viewer enough that I was forced to listen to completely wrong interpretations (Read: not mine) on the radio during my drive t work the next morning..

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If memory serves the last scene of Hill Street Blues was a Sergeant at roll call briefing the next watch to go out. I always thought Law & Order should have ended with two detectives at a crime scene when one makes a pun to break the tension

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The Shield had an absolutely brilliant (and deceptively low-key, depending on how you viewed the two episodes prior) final episode that was completely faithful to the show--and depressing as hell in places.  It was also rather daring in that two of the biggest scenes in it, including the final scene, gave nearly zero dialogue to its central character--and he still managed to carry the whole thing.

 

On the worst side...I suppose somebody has to take the bullet and mention Enterprise and the infamous These Are The Voyages...  I'm going to be a little contrarian myself and say that the episode on its own merits (what few there were, anyway, and that's definitely not counting

the death of Trip

) probably might have been accepted had it come at any other point in the season than at the very end.  In doing that, though, its status as an epic if well-meaning misfire was cemented...

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Best..

 

Six Feet Under

 

Breaking Bad

 

The Shield

 

 

 

Worst...

 

St. Elsewhere

 

Dynasty

 

BBC's Being Human

 

Melrose Place

 

Forever Knight

 

Crime Story

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Worst Finale - Roseanne

Didn't care for the rewrite of the history of the show and it's characters 

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I am SO HAPPY to see other fans of the Life on Mars UK finale! It's the finale I measure all others by, or at least all other dramas. It has everything I want: tears, laughter, lump in the throat, exhilarating ups and downs, and knowing the characters will go on even if I don't get to see them anymore.

 

I appreciated the finale for In Plain Sight. It was very low key, no "dramatic" deaths of major characters, just very much in keeping with the tone of the show overall. It was clear that there were changes but the relationships and work would go on. I would've appreciated the end of Warehouse 13 more if they hadn't caved to cliche and stuck Pete and Myka together. Other than that, it was pretty satisfying.

 

Still burning with red hot hate for the finales of Chuck, Burn Notice, and Lost.

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Bill C. Beat me to the comment about Enterprise's finale. I did not nor do now believe that BS the producers spewed two months after the finale aired that this was gonna be the close of season four even if the show had been renewed. No writer could misfire that horribly by accident, just like Voyager's finale four years earlier.

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I'd like to throw 30 Rock into consideration for best. All of the characters got to say goodbye in their own way. (This may be biased because Tracy Morgan is currently in ICU from a car accident. So 30 Rock is on my mind.)

I was really going to vote for Parks and Rec, but then I remembered that was just a season finale. The show isn't even done! It felt so complete.

 

Worst: HIMYM 

 

It's such a rare occurrence that shows get to end the right way. Usually they are cancelled without any closure, or they are dragged out and unrecognizable by the end. I appreciate the ones who tried to end how they started. Friends, The Office and Gilmore Girls all made an effort to come full circle. But not in the crappy way that HIMYM force-fed their "full-circle" ending. (Eff them.)

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I always thought Law & Order should have ended with two detectives at a crime scene when one makes a pun to break the tension

 

That would have been great, except that no one at L and O knew they were being cancelled. The same exact thing happened to Leverage, with that thrilling finale - which turned out to be the series finale - broadcast on Christmas Night.  I have to say though the Leverage finale was excellent

I don't know how soon I'll be able to watch it again after seeing most of the characters pretending to "die". A great ending after that though.

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The Leverage people seem to have had a pretty good idea that that fifth season would probably be their last. They've said since it aired that they decided to use for its season finale the series finale they'd imagined from the start, just in case. So in that sense it worked out great. (And in my opinion, as it turned out, the series lasted exactly long enough -- a rare achievement.)

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Seconding the 3o Rock nomination. I'd also like to add that the Liz-Jack relationship was one of my very favorite TV relationships and am forever grateful they didn't ruin it by making them a couple (see also: Marshall and Mary on In Plain Sight). So many shows should've learned from those examples.

Edited by ABay
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That would have been great, except that no one at L and O knew they were being cancelled.

True.  But even though L&O didn't know it'd definitely be the final episode, I think it worked pretty well for a final episode and final season with everyone coming together for Van Buren. I think the story would have been the same, except perhaps with a few more cameos, had they known it was the end.

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Of the shows that got a premature finale Kings did a great job on 1 Samuel. And today I just look at it as a mini series and wish their producers got a crack at another Bible story before Roma Downey does another more traditional telling. Firefly had a natural end before Serenity but the funeral was one of the unaired episodes The Message but FOX couldn't even burn the series off. I guess because of no Saturday schedule for them.

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Best:

Ds9: All major storylines were tied up, with a bit left open for viewer to theories about. The finale had me at the edge of my seat the whole time and is one of my favorites of the show.

sg-1: the last movie tied up all loose ends and showed the team go off and continue the aventure.

Dead like me: the show ended nice of course it was followed by a movie that ended in a cliffhanger (really?)

 

worst:

Star Trek Enterpise: the only episode I actually turned off while watching. I can rant on and on about how bad this episode was but in reality it was simply a really bad TNG episode that didn't focus on the Enterpise characters. And stupidly killed my favorite character.

 

Lost: this episode I didn't entirely hate. I love all the island stuff just hated the afterlife stuff. But even more annoying is that no one seems to understand the ending, they weren't always dead. Which is explained in the show that they all died at different times and this is after they all died. So I always find myself defending a storyline that I personally didn't care for.

 

Honorable mention:

 

the 4400: The last episode was great, but the stupid network chanceled the show without warning. So it ends in a massive cliffhanger.

Edited by blueray
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I loved the last episode of Dead Like Me. I watched it again last Saturday, thanks to Chiller, and my DVR.

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I would definitely put Leverage in with the best series finales. I wish they'd done a little better with setting up the future (the three person team with their new outfits in a new client's house was a little on the cheap side) but it was a solid episode and left the characters in a good place. 

 

I'm conflicted when it comes to Dead Like Me and Pushing Daisies. Both shows struggled a lot at the end with the threat of/knowledge of cancellation. While Dead Like Me had some nice moments in the episode it also felt off and not really like a finale leaving too many things in the air. In a bad way. Not in a life goes on way but in a, oops, we don't have time for all these plot threads way. Pushing Daisies kind of went off the deep end in season 2 and I found Chuck so annoying but through sheer force of will they pulled it together for the finale and tacked on a very cute epilogue that gave us closure. I rewatched it recently and it wasn't as good as I remembered but at the time it gave me all the feels. Charmed similarly had a bumpy road to the finale and a finale that was far from the best episode but tacked on a very sweet epilogue that left me with a good feeling about the series. 

 

When I watched the Gossip Girl ending, I was happy with it. I actually think the epilogue they tacked on made things worse. It was very Harry Potter. Oh, good. They have kids and the actors don't actually look any older. Great job, guys. But I liked getting the gang together and Chuck and Blair finally got married and their son was cute so as with every other episode, if I focused on Chair, I felt pretty good about the finale.

 

Being Erica and Ugly Betty had similarly weak finales. Things were sort of wrapped up but they also tried to send the characters off into a great unknown future of adventures. But both shows had lost their way prior to the finale and the "resolution" just left things feeling unimportant. With Being Erica too many questions were left unanswered and I would have preferred the series go on a little further into Erica's life as a therapist. It was the wrong place to end. 

 

I'm going to put Misfits in the bad finale category. There were some good moments but all in all I was thankful there was talk of a movie because it didn't feel like the ending the show deserved (not because things were unresolved but because there were poorly resolved... with bad special effects). It was like they ended the show standing in a pile of shredded plotlines that had never been explored to their full potential.

 

That's all I've got for now. I haven't seen a lot of shows through until the end until more recently.

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My worst:

 

The X-Files

Seinfeld

Roseanne

 

My best:

Cheers

As The World Turns (I cried like a baby, having watched it for more than 30 years!)

The Mary Tyler Moore Show

Newhart

 

A finale that probably isn't one that is at the top of many people's lists because the sitcom in general kind of got lost in NBC's plethora of celebrated Thursday night comedies but I'd nominate Wings for "Best finale."  I can't think of a comedy that introduced a theme/thesis in its pilot, went through 7/8 seasons and was able to come back to it and stick the landing quite in the way Wings did. 

 

 

Ya know, I'd forgotten all about it, but you are right about Wings!  That would be on my best list too.  Very satisfying.

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Seeing Reba on Hulu this past weekend, I'd forgotten what a constantly entertaining show it wad. My biggest complaint was wondering who would be watching Henry in all the scenes when Barbara Jean and Brock would be at Reba's place! LOL. But the show ended on a solid note, showing everyone in different places than they began without anything too radical or left field.

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When I watched the Gossip Girl ending, I was happy with it. I actually think the epilogue they tacked on made things worse. It was very Harry Potter. Oh, good. They have kids and the actors don't actually look any older. Great job, guys.

But didn't you see? Lily had her hair down & loose! This means she was a completely different person than the uptight Lily who always wore her hair in a chignon. After all, not everyone gets to remarry the man who gave them fake cancer.

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I agree with FNL and Wings finale. I had forgotten about Wings but it was a very good ending.

 

I would also add Spartacus. I love the finale. The show lasted only 39 episodes but told a complete story. Despite knowing how it would end, it was still an emotional ending.

 

An ending I hated was Warehouse 13. Well actually the whole last season was bad and really damaged my favorite main character Myka.

 

Also another bad ending was JAG. The show lasted a couple of years two long but then to just through the leads together at the end like that was just ridiculous.

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I liked Homicide: Life on the Street's finale (and ER, for the same reason) because it didn't tie up everything in a neat little bow; we got some movement/resolution for specific characters, but the police station/hospital kept on going as it always would. I loved FNL, because we got to see how life went on in that brief time period for the characters we loved (or loved to dislike, I suppose.) I think Tim's ending was perfect for his character; for him it was a happy ending because it's what he wanted in life. 

 

Life on Mars (US) ending was awful. Silly and contrived and not at all what I wanted. I can't say what I *did* want from a finale, but that wasn't it.

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  Another that belongs in the "Worst Series Finale" category is the one for Queer As Folk (U.S.), not just because of its predictability, but also

because of its underlying attitude towards its main lead Brian Kinney, expressed by his so-called "best friend" Michael and his then-fiance' Justin that "maturity" is a dirty word. Maybe, as Michael put it, "Some things aren't meant to change," but some people like Brian needed to change for the better and for a few brief, shining moments in the last few episodes he did, but because Michael and Justin couldn't deal with Brian's new attitude, he basically reverted back to type. While Brian was right to let Justin follow his dream, by the same token, Justin shouldn't have overreacted to Brian's wanting to cuddle. Given Brian's nature (sexual and otherwise), that request was shocking, but it wasn't like he was morphing into a combo of Martha Stewart and Mr. Rogers. As for Michael's belief that Brian "will always be young and beautiful," only if he dies that way. The way I see it, to quote the old saying, "People are just like sharks-they either move forward or die. " Instead of sending a message that being mature and boring aren't mutually exclusive, the finale copped out and let Brian act like he's going to be young forever, which he's not anymore and never will be again.

Edited by DollEyes
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worst How I meet Your mother when the finale makes you not even want to watch the show again in reruns there is a problem.

Not sure if I think this was the best as I have not seen that in a while

 Cheers I loved that Sam's true love was the bar. 

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