Finale episodes to a TV series can be a tricky bitch. You want to go out with a bang while at the same time not having it feel like “A Very Special Episode.” So, without a doubt, someone somewhere is going to be pissed off about the ending of their favorite show. Case in point:
So many people loathed that ending that you would have thought that creator David Chase spit on their grandmothers and kicked their dogs (or vice versa). And though there were plenty of people who loved the finale – I did even though I didn’t understand it – there was still enough scrutiny (more like insanity) over it to put that last episode on both the best and worst TV finale lists.
But with last year’s finale to “Breaking Bad” being very good and the soon-to-be-finished “Sons of Anarchy” which should be very good (it better be or I will start my own motorcycle gang and go on a rampage – as soon as I learn how to ride a motorcycle), hopefully television will be on a roll for really kick ass season finales, just like these ones from TV’s past.
(Note: As much as I hate calling out “spoiler alert” because, let’s be honest, you’ve had enough time to watch all of these shows by now – you’re not that busy – here I go… SPOILER ALERT!)
The most watched television broadcast in the history of American TV until 2010 when it was usurped by Super Bowl XLIV (Stupid Super Bowl). The Korean War ends, all the characters hug and cry, and the last shot is from a helicopter where the word “goodbye” has been arranged in large white stones by BJ Honeycutt, who the whole entire episode had trouble saying that to his best friend, Hawkeye. Cue tears welling up… now.
We learn that the whole entire series was a dream and that when Bob Newhart wakes up he is still the same character from his previous TV show, “The Bob Newhart Show,” which had ended twelve years prior. That finale was meta before meta was even a thing.
Sam and Diane decide not to get married. Sam returns to the bar, alone, but happy with the decision. As he closes up the bar, a stranger knocks on the door. Sam says, “Sorry. The bar is closed.” Best. Last. Line. Ever.
The darkest ending to a series since television was invented. The Ice Age arrives because the dinosaurs on the show unwittingly poison the planet and EVERYONE ON THE SHOW DIES. Oh, and might I remind you that this was a kid’s show done with Muppet-like characters from Jim Henson Productions?! Even “The Sopranos” didn’t have the balls to do that.
“The Larry Sanders Show” (1998)
A real TV show finale about a fictional TV show finale is the textbook definition of “a proper ending.” Watching Garry Shandling as Larry deal with the emotions and egos that come along with ending a show is priceless. And the Jim Carrey moment of him singing “You’re Gonna Love Me” to Larry is pure comedic brilliance, as is his haranguing of Larry moments later.
“Freaks and Geeks” (2000)
A bit of an anomaly as the show was canceled after only one season (which is a crime because the show was so good that it should still be on today with all the characters now living in 1994 as middle-aged parents), but the last show of the series is a great example of how to portray real teenage problems. Some characters remain lost (Jason Siegel as Nick trying to find himself in the fading disco fad), some find themselves (James Franco as Daniel hanging out with “The Geeks” to learn about Dungeons & Dragons), and some rebel because that’s what you do as a teenager (Linda Cardellini as Lindsay blowing off a prestigious summer school program and instead following The Dead).
“Six Feet Under” (2005)
A six-minute flash-forward montage set to the awesome song “Breathe Me” by Sia Furler that shows what happens to the lives of everyone on the show (deaths included) as the youngest sibling Claire leaves Los Angeles forever. No dialogue – just images. Killer.
“The Shield” (2008)
Detective Vic Mackey, after all the dirt he has done in the name of right and wrong, is now stuck doing a paper-pushing desk job and is no longer allowed to work in the field. So what does he do? He takes a gun out of his desk drawer, smiles, and walks out of his office. What is he going to do now? More good? More bad? We don’t know and that’s why the ending is so satisfying.
“The Office” (2013)
An entire “meh” season was redeemed by the series finale. No one saw Steve Carrell’s cameo coming. NO ONE. And the fact that he only said one line – “That’s what she said” – was just inspired. So when his cameo did happen, you suddenly realized how much you were going to miss this show.