TV Series Finales

This post is inspired by the highly controversial finale of How I Met Your Mother that aired on Monday night. I didn’t actually watch the finale since I’ve only seen a handful of episodes, and I won’t spoil you all on here, in case you’ve somehow managed to avoid spoilers and don’t want to know the end, but I can certainly understand why after years of character development, fans of the show would be upset with the ending.

This led me to think about the finales of the various series I’ve watched, the finales where they knew it was their finale and had the chance to plan properly for it. Here’s my ranking of eight TV show finales, all from TV shows I watched from beginning to end, staring with my favorite going down to my least favorite…

1. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, “What You Leave Behind”

ds9-vic-loungeWhen I watched this finale and saw the above scene at Vic’s, it felt so right. It was exactly the sort of note Deep Space Nine needed to end on after the turmoil of war the characters had gone through. It’s hard to get a much better finale than Deep Space Nine, I think, and the only way it really could have felt more complete was if they actually made movies afterward to follow up what happened, because even though it was closure enough, it definitely left an open door and a desire for more. There are books that explore what happens next, which I might get around to reading one day. But sometimes it’s also fun just to imagine for myself.

Story Closure Satisfaction: 4.5/5

Character Closure Satisfaction: 4.5/5

Emotional Satisfaction: 5/5

The more things change, the more they stay the same.” – Quark

2. Fringe, “An Enemy of Fate”

fringe-my favorite thingIf  you ever binge watch Fringe, just be sure the tissues are ready when you reach the end because HOLY GENE (that’ll make sense if you watch the show ;)) the feels are real. Unfortunately, Fringe never answered all the questions I wanted them to and some of the finale lacked logic to me, but it was still really satisfying, especially emotionally.

Story Closure Satisfaction: 4/5

Character Closure Satisfaction: 4.5/5

Emotional Satisfaction: 5/5

“You are… my very favorite thing.” – Walter Bishop

3. Babylon 5, “Sleeping in Light”

babylon6-finaleLike most finales, Babylon 5’s was very bittersweet. It was sad, but I don’t think it could have really ended any other way. And it was a pretty powerful conclusion for the grand story arc J. Michael Straczynski had planned (errr… minus a lot of season 5). This is only #3 on the list because the two before it are so strong, but this one really was too.

Story Closure Satisfaction: 4.5/5

Character Closure Satisfaction: 4/5

Emotional Satisfaction: 4.5/5

“A toast… to absent friends, in memory still bright.” – John Sheridan

4. The West Wing, “Tomorrow”

west-wing-tomorrowWest Wing ran for seven seasons, which means we got to see most of President Bartlett’s two term Presidency, and fittingly, the last episode is him and his crew leaving the White House to make way for the new President. In this episode there’s a lot of reminiscing and a lot of having to show the new folks the ropes for when they take charge. From this list, this is the finale I saw longest ago so it’s the foggiest on my mind, but I do remember being very satisfied overall with the conclusion.

Story Closure Satisfaction: 5/5

Character Closure Satisfaction: 4/5

Emotional Satisfaction: 4/5

Man: Hey, you work there?/ C.J.: Pardon?/ Man: I said, do you work up there? In the White House.C.J.: No. I don’t./ Man: Oh, sorry./ C.J.: No problem.Man: Must be something, huh?/ C.J.: Yeah. Yeah, it must be something.

5. Star Trek: The Next Generation, “All Good Things”

tng-pokerThe closing scene of “All Good Things” is perfect, and while there is some callback in the episode that is nice, it also involves a lot of Q. I’m not a big fan of Q (John deLancie, yes, Q, no) and his antics, and especially his antics from the first episode of TNG, which unfortunately is where a lot of the callback in this episode comes from. It also shows some of the future, and all I remember from that is one thing that left me disappointed. Still, I think that future never really comes to fruition anyway, and we see more of the characters in the movies (though let’s not talk about Nemesis being the end for it all… sigh…). I do remember enjoying this finale pretty well though.

Story Closure Satisfaction: 4.5/5

Character Closure Satisfaction: 4/5

Emotional Satisfaction: 4/5

So, five-card stud, nothing wild… and the sky’s the limit.” – Captain Picard

6. Star Trek: Voyager, “Endgame”

voyager-endgameThe ship Voyager spends seven seasons in another quadrant of the galaxy, trying to make its way back home, and so of course for the finale, everyone wants to see Voyager make it home. But how will it happen? How long will it take? I don’t want to spoil what happens, but let’s just say that maybe this wasn’t the best execution of the idea. But not the worst either. It was just a little more convoluted than I prefer. They also made an interesting choice with a couple of characters I didn’t really see coming, and I didn’t love it or hate it, but now that I know the real life back story of why it happened, it seems kind of lame. But overall, it’s a pretty good finale.

Story Closure Satisfaction: 4/5

Character Closure Satisfaction: 3.5/5

Emotional Satisfaction: 4/5

Set a course… for home.” – Captain Janeway

7. Chuck, “Chuck Versus the Goodbye”

chuck-goodbyeThe Chuck finale was good for the secondary characters. If I were to rank my satisfaction for that part of the finale alone, the numbers would be higher. But for our two main characters, Chuck and Sarah, completely different story. Again, without spoiling anything, all I can say is it does feel like an undoing of previous character development, and that was frustrating and heartbreaking both. I mean, it could have been worse, but it was more than bittersweet.

Story Closure Satisfaction: 2.5/5

Character Closure Satisfaction: 2.5/5

Emotional Satisfaction: 2.5/5

“… tell me our story.”  – Sarah Walker

8. Star Trek: Enterprise, “These Are the Voyages…”

These_are_the_VoyagesSorry for the butt shot, but almost every picture I found for this episode was a major spoiler. This episode is truly the sorriest excuse for a finale or a “Valentine to the fans” (as Rick Berman and Brannon Braga called it… gag me…) EVER. Which is so disappointing because to this day, it’s the last episode we have of Star Trek ever, and the episode before this one was really quite good and would have made a fitting finale. But this is terrible garbage. The premise is ludicrous, what happens to some of the characters is inane, and it just made me ANGRY. I’m giving story closure a rating of .5 only because we see the beginnings of the Federation. That was the ONE good thing that happened. I really enjoyed Enterprise overall but this finale was truly the biggest disappointment for a TV show ever, and from what I gather, nearly every Star Trek fan agrees.

Story Closure Satisfaction: .5/5

Character Closure Satisfaction: 0/5

Emotional Satisfaction: 0/5

Here’s to the next generation.” – Captain Archer

What are your favorite and least favorite finales? (And please avoid spoilers, unless you’re talking about the aforementioned shows.)

14 Responses to TV Series Finales

  1. I’m so glad All Good Things made your list! That was the first series finale I ever saw and I had no idea what to expect and in a lot of ways I loved it and was disappointed. Not by the finale itself but by that feeling of, “This means there won’t ever be anymore.”

    I did like the Fringe finale. I thought it brought together a lot of the emotional elements of the story and, especially the preceding couple of episodes laid important groundwork for it to be a good finale. And I think also it was similar to some of the best episodes like the White… Lily? Orchid? It’s very early in the morning 🙂 I’m mostly sure it was a lily.

    I did actually like the HIMYM finale. I stopped watching the past two season because it was a lot of the same old stuff. But I thought the resolution they came up with made a lot of sense in a way.

    And I stopped watching the last two seasons of The West Wing (maybe three- after Rob Lowe and Aaron Sorkin left) but I did like that finale also. I thought it fit really well with the course of the story.

    Merlin is also one of my favorite finales. They built up to it really well and it’s really satisfying on an emotional level and kind of fun even though it’s sad.

    Battlestar Galactica, though, would have to be near the very top of my favorite finales ever. There’s a lot in it I wish I could edit out because it’s almost painfully irrelevant to the story or the characters. But there are other parts – the ones that are relevant – that are so blazingly good. And the final moments are both deeply, powerfully awesome and kind of… less than. I know it doesn’t make sense that I could say such good things and bad things at the same time and still call it favorite. But the good things are just. so. good. 🙂

  2. I haven’t finished any of these shows so I couldn’t really read about them, haha.
    But I’ll share some of my feelings for shows that I’ve finished.
    Dawson’s Creek. I think this was a pretty perfect series finale. I know that some people would have been angry about who Joey ended up with, but I was happy. The other choice just didn’t appreciate her enough, and the boy she DID choose had loved her forever. But it’s also really sad and I cry EVERY time I watch it.
    Lost. Oh, gosh. More crying. More and more crying. I think this was literally the perfect series finale I have ever watched. Lost was (is) such an important show to me, and I think the ending did the entire series perfect justice.
    Merlin. I think a few things moved a little quickly, and yes of course there was more crying on my behalf, but overall it was amazing. Extremely emotional, and I really think that it touched on how much the characters had changed and grown over the course of the show.
    Smallville. I only watched this a week or so ago, and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. I was 100% Team Lana, and so I knew I wouldn’t be entirely happy because we all know Clark Kent loves Lois Lane. I cannot say I was completely in love with the ending, but I’d probably give it 4/5.
    Gilmore Girls. Talk about a crappy ending. Seriously. That show just went from bad to worse after Rory left high school. The ending was no different.
    Veronica Mars + Sarah Connor Chronicles. Both of these shows were cancelled, so I don’t know if their finales count. But I adored the last episode SCC, it was perfect and had enough closure (JUST) for me to be content. VMars, however. NO. But they released a movie to make up for that, so I’m happy. ;D
    I don’t think I’ve finished any other series, or if I have they are escaping me at the moment. But I really think that a series finale is really important. It’s the culmination of the hours and hours and hours you’ve spent investing in a show and its plot and its characters, and I think they can be terribly disappointing if done incorrectly, or terribly meaningful if done correctly.

    • I stayed pretty spoiler free on all the finales I mentioned.

      That’s too bad about Gilmore Girls! I used to see episodes of it here and there, and it did seem it was best when she in high school. It’s too bad that it just went south all the way until the finale.

  3. I did a couple of posts on my blog a long time ago about my favorite and and least favorite series finales. The DS9 and TNG ones were definitely on the Best list. Fringe wasn’t on there, but that was a good one as well. Someone mentioned Smallville above and while I liked the show, the finale was a little lackluster. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. Battlestar Galactica’s finale is good but not great.

    Guess what got number one on my Worst list? “These Are the Voyages.” That episode was bad. I remember when it first aired and I didn’t like it then.

  4. Okay okay okay, I’m totally bookmarking this so I can come back later and comment on DS9 because I’m actually in season 7 now! I completely agree with your commentary about Voyager’s ending, though. It was interesting, and clever, and I suppose fitting for the show overall, but argh… I also think it could have possibly been executed better. =/

  5. I don’t watch much TV shows, so let me mention one of my favorite animes, Fullmetal Alchemist. Fullmetal was a really great, complex anime, with lots of great twists thrown into the plot. But it was always such a question for me about the finale and the closure it would provide. As I said, complex. Would it provide the right answers and give closure too? And oh yes, did it provide an awesome finale.

    I have never watched HIMYM and the one time that I did, I found the jokes really lame and flat. It doesn’t help that it’s 9 seasons. And I already spoiled myself on the ending so, no. (Haha, 9 seasons reduced to one big controversial finale.)

    • Yeah, I’m definitely not motivated to watch 9 seasons of a show where I know the ending and it doesn’t seem all that great of one. And though I do watch sitcoms sometimes, I rarely get invested in them. The exception is I’ve watched all seasons of The Cosby Show (just realized I didn’t think of their finale while making this list… but now I’m realizing I hardly remember it…), but even as much as I love that show, I almost got tired of it since I was watching two episodes a night 3-5 nights a week. I tend to prefer more complex shows with overarching story and character arcs.

  6. I just finished Deep Space Nine, so I came back to read your thoughts on the ending. I have to agree, I was really pleased with it, despite some serious doubts all throughout the season. (I really did not like that Vic character, though.) I think I do want to read the books that came after!

    • Oh no, how can you not like Vic?! I’m curious about your doubts as well. I’m curious about the books too, though so with so much on my TBR, who knows when I’ll get to them!

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