All good things must come to an end, including your favourite TV series. While it’s definitely a sad moment to see the people and places you’ve come to love for the final time, there’s no better send off than a well-executed series finale. Read on to discover the best TV series finales ever aired, from Breaking Bad to The Sopranos.
Best TV Series Finales Off All Time
The ability to preserve the memories that a great series finale provides allows you to gain closure with the show. Great closing episodes, quotes and defining action encompassed in the show also allows it to be held in high regard through the ages. This list subsequently chronicles some of the best TV series finales of all time. All such epics that they have left us discussing them more than a decade later.
***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD FOR EACH AND EVERY SHOW***
Breaking Bad, “Felina”
September 29, 2013
The Breaking Bad series finale is always in the conversation of “greatest shows ever”. The show’s ending is considered among the best conclusions in TV history. Especially based upon how well they tied up virtually every loose end.
Director Vince Gilligan didn’t put a neat, tidy and cliche bow on the 62nd episode in the Breaking Bad timeline. But rather, he wrapped things up in a more poetic sense.
In his heroic-tiptoing-on-tragic final actions, Walt manages to ensure a future for his child. He also reunites with quarreling family members, and take down an entire Nazi compound. Viewers also last see him on the show surrounded by what he loves most in life. The episode is bookended by two impeccable song choices, namely Marty Robbins’ “El Paso” and Badfinger’s “Baby Blue”. These centre around the themes of true love and getting what you deserve. They also couldn’t be more fitting for wrapping up a show about a dying high school chemistry teacher-turned mega-rich meth producer.
“Felina” had the highest ratings of any Breaking Bad episode, with 10.28 million in the U.S. It was near unanimous in receiving critical acclaim from all major media outlets. Needless to say, it firmly established itself as a worthy inclusion in the discussion for best TV series finales ever.
The Office’ “Finale”
May 16, 2013
Next on the list of best TV series finales is The Office, widely regarded as one of the best American comedy series of all-time. The show made its name on being a faux-documentary, complete with employee interviews, chronicling the day-to-day operations of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. The final two seasons, following the departure of Michael Scott (Steve Carell), weren’t regarded as highly as the show’s earlier seasons. However, “Finale” wrapped everything up in the most Office-y way possible.
The finale pulls a fast-forward, with the faux-documentary characters adding more content for a documentary that they had created in the show. Yes, it’s kind of like Inception, but not really! The 200 and 201st episodes of The Office then revolves around a quirky wedding, fantastic cameos, classic zingers and plenty of awkward moments. “Finale” also brought some emotion to the show and gave quite fitting – and generally optimistic – endings for each of our beloved characters. Ultimately, fans were left fulfilled with the send off given to the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin.
Directed by Ken Kwapis, who also directed the series’ pilot episode, “Finale” was watched by nearly 5.7-million viewers. It subsequently received three Primetime Emmy Award nominations, and won Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series.
Person of Interest, “return 0”
June 21, 2016
“Sure. Everyone dies alone. But if you mean something to someone, if you help someone, or love someone. If even a single person remembers you. Then maybe, you never really die at all.”
Does any quote better describe one of my personal favourite shows, Person of Interest? I think not. The show started as two rogue civilians using part of an advanced AI to prevent crimes from happening to ordinary people. POI then evolved into a war between two advanced AIs, with the fate of the world (unknown to the general public) hanging in the balance.
But what made Person of Interest so great was not just the action, conspiracy, or pure heroism of stars John Reese (Jim Caviezel) and Harold Finch (Michael Emmerson). The show – and specifically “return 0” – served as a brilliant expose on the debates of good vs. evil, and right vs. wrong. As well as the value, not just of a life itself, but of humanity as a whole.
The series didn’t necessarily end up with right triumphing over wrong. However, it certainly was good prevailing over evil. Admittedly, each character didn’t meet the typical happy ending. Nevertheless, fans would all agree that each characters’ fate was a perfect fit for how we came to view them over five seasons and 103 episodes. This alone would qualify it as one of the best TV series finales ever made.
Seinfeld, “The Finale”
May 14, 1998
A dry, wacky and zany comedy “about nothing,” Seinfeld is forever in the pantheon of television’s greatest sitcoms. The show was built upon awkward human interaction. Therefore, the hilarity came from tension and conflict. Not to mention, the need to find self-worth through wisecracks and potshots at everyone else in your world. It’s all-too fitting that the show’s core of Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer would fit themselves in hot water for – you guessed it – being terrible people.
Unlike the other finales on this list, Seinfeld didn’t show up here because it wrapped things up with a pretty bow, happy ending or tied up all the loose ends. Instead, this double-episode finale, the 179th and 180th episodes over nine seasons represents one of television’s most decisive finales. Some fans think it was underwhelming. Others thought that the attack on the character of each was also a personal attack on the very fans that watched the show. Meanwhile, others asserted that a show with so many insane, over-the-top and barely-believable events happening couldn’t have had any other ending than an insane hard-to-believe series of events (and the plethora of character cameos) that the Seinfeld crew experienced.
“The Finale,” written by series co-creator Larry David, was of the most anticipated series finales ever. It subsequently became the first primetime television series (and non-sporting broadcast) to draw at least $1 million for a 30-second advertising spot. In addition, it was the fourth-most watched series finale ever. In fact, it was so respected that TV Land did not run any programming against “The Finale”. Similarly, competitor ABC’s Dharma & Greg made mention of the upcoming finale in an episode the day before.
The Sopranos, “Made in America”
June 10, 2007
Concerning the best TV series finales that have sparked plenty of discussion, there is none bigger than “Made in America“. This was the series finale for what is arguably the greatest show ever. One that was led by arguably the single greatest TV character of all time: James Gandolfini’s Tony Soprano.
Forget about whatever happens in the 55 minutes of the 21st episode of the sixth season (86th episode overall). It’s the final moments of David Chase’s masterpiece that is simply one of the greatest stretches in television history. Furthermore, this was the only episode Chase directed, other than the pilot.
I said at the beginning of this list to beware of spoilers. So, if you haven’t seen The Sopranos and thus you’ve never seen the finale… please, please, don’t read this.
Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” is blaring in the background, while Tony is in a diner, waiting to meet his family. Through multiple camera cuts, different angles and different points of view we then see every person enter one-by-one. It’s not only the incredible peacefulness, but also the mounting suspense that put viewers at the edge of their seat, wondering what Tony’s fate would be. All television shows give us a resolution in the finale, be it good or bad, right?
Wrong. The abrupt end, the uncertainty; the lack of an ending was in fact the most perfect ending possible. Debates have raged on, millions of theories have been born, argued and shot down as to what the end of “Made in America” meant ever since.