Best and Worst Series Finales

Until our favorite show came roaring back to life with the Jonah era, MST3K had an absolutely inspired series finale with Diabolik, especially with that wonderful closing host segment that bookended everything.

So, that got me thinking about other shows, and I have to ask: What do you think are the best and worst TV series finales ever made? What stands out as personal favorites? What comes across as your least favorites?

And because not everyone may have seen the finales you’re describing, try to keep spoilers out of the discussion (or use the Blur Spoiler feature under the gear icon if you feel that you need to discuss spoilers).

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Among the best: Person of Interest. Even with that reduced final season order at CBS, it still managed to provide compelling and satisfying closure to the series and its characters.

Among the worst: Seinfeld. After an entertaining and nostalgic clip show, we basically got a de facto clip show (it became a tedious parade of “oh, hey, remember that thing that happened that one time?” material at one point) that kept the main characters on the sidelines and… didn’t really do much in the way of laughs. It didn’t feel like a closing note that said, “See this? THIS is why we love this series!”

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Best: Six Feet Under. I really liked the end sequence with Sia’s “Breathe Me” and showing the deaths of all the main characters. The Good Place’s finale was really good too, but it practically broke me.

Worst: How I Met Your Mother, to the point I can’t even rewatch it now.

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Best: For older shows The Prisoner neatly resolved the series in a very effective way that continues the overall commentary of the show itself. In more recent times almost every season of American Horror Story delivers a satisfying conclusion.

Worst: There are many, and their numbers grow regularly thanks to the “open-ended, keep telling until you’re canceled” flow of many series. Emblematic of these is Lost, a show that had a cop-out ending that was tired even by old Twilight Zone standards. It was made worse by hundreds of fans having much better ideas for concluding the show, any of which would have been more satisfactory.

EDIT: Honorary shout-out to the series Newhart for its hilarious conclusion. It was perfectly in keeping with this often-surreal gem of a sitcom.

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Best: The Good Place, hands down.

And even though I’m one of the few people who actually liked the ending of LOST, I’m still gonna have to go with LOST for worst because it disappointed so many people.

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The Good Place finish I liked, though I got a little restless and felt that it could’ve been shorter. *M*A*S*H* was the same.

I felt like the ending of Bojack Horseman was a cop-out, though not the worst thing I’ve ever seen. (In terms of what happened to the title character.)

Drop Dead Diva’s finish was of course super-corny and implausible, but that’s what you watch a show like that for, so it was fine.

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I prefer the first MST3K ending to the second one. Is that weird?

I don’t mean to say that it’s bad the show came back, or that the second ending is terrible. But the first is so bittersweet. I’d almost call it haunting. They never made it home, and yet they became immortal and knew eternal happiness. (Oh, and I definitely like Laserblast much better than Diabolik, though the skits in the latter are a joy: especially “To Earth.” <3 )

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Best final episode: Somebody’s going to have to do something pretty special to top Newhart. It seems like an obvious joke now, but only because Newhart did it in '90. Nobody saw it coming.

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Best: 12 Monkeys - It’s rare for a Sci-fi show ON Sy-Fy to even get a final season, and much rarer for it to land it as well as 12 Monkeys managed.

Worst: Already mentioned How I Met Your Mother, which after a not great season, was frankly insulting.

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Some great animated ones: Phineas and Ferb, Gravity Falls, Kim Possible, both Nick TMNT series, (for 2012 you could probably choose to treat Tales separately), DuckTales, both Avatar series, Justice League and Unlimited

In the realm of kids TV there have been some really great ones when given the chance: Hannah Montana, iCarly, Good Luck Charlie, Wizards of Waverly Place, Austin & Ally, Liv and Maddie

I know it’s very listy but I just wanted to put them forward

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Gravity Falls is DEFINITELY one of my top choices for best finale. DuckTales as well.

I’d like to also add My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and Adventure Time. Honestly, for some animated series, I lump the last several episodes as a big ‘finale.’ An honorable mention goes to my other favorite series Over the Garden Wall, but that’s a miniseries, so I dunno if that counts. As for live action, The Mary Tyler Moore Show was always sweet for me. WandaVision and Loki were excellent too.

Worst finales? Star vs. the Forces of Evil springs immediately to mind. Rushed, shoehorned elements, and lackluster all spring to mind. Buffy the Vampire Slayer would be another. Angel’s was much better. ALF was another one, but that’s not really the creators’ fault, I guess, as they thought they’d be picked up again, but that TV movie was just terrible. Not so much as a cameo from any of the Tanners. Heck, if they wanted, they could’ve just cast someone as a grown up Eric.

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Worst: How I Met Your Mother. Castle was pretty bad too. Some say Game of Thrones, but I didn’t hate that ending as much as most people did. (Not that I liked it, particularly.) Same with Lost.

Best: Maybe Newhart. Mary Tyler Moore Show had a good one too. I liked both the Buffy and Angel finales, though I know both are far from consensus opinions.

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I feel like people are too harsh on the HIMYM finale, and also I’m honestly not so comfortable judging final episodes that weren’t constructed as series finales. Like Batman TAS, Angel, Milo Murphy’s Law, or pandemic-induced renewal reversals like GLOW (I haven’t seen GLOW yet, but it would apply even after watching it)

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Game of Thrones stands as my most disappointing- not because I hate where it went, but because the entire final season felt like it took unnecessary shortcuts to get to that point and was more focused on famservice scenes between characters (which, admittedly, I loved) than getting those characters into a position where their actions in the last two episodes made sense with their arcs.

The flip side for me is Battlestar Galactica which, despite never really making its mysticism worthwhile, had one hell of a final half-season with a “nothing really matters so let’s try to accomplish one thing that might” desperate attempt at a rescue followed by some decent closure for the characters with some gorgeous scenery.

In between is LOST, which was as wonderful in the peace it gave to its characters who had endured such hardships and who I grew close to as it was downright infuriating in how little it did to provide promised answers to its own questions and a satisfying narrative conclusion outside of the fates of those involved.

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It’s almost like the Lost writers enjoyed watching the viewers outsmart themselves.

“Hey, remember the VERY FIRST theory everyone had way back at the pilot episode, but then said nah, couldn’t be that, it would be too obvious? Weeeeellll…”

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Best: Angel- “I don’t know about you, but I kinda want to slay the dragon. Let’s get to work.”

Batman: The Brave & The Bold- Henry Winkler as Ambush Bug AND Ted McGinley breaking character? SOLD!

Worst: Quantum Leap- Blargh.

Smallville- Congratulations, producers of Smallville. You managed to make Darkseid invading Earth boring.

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Some of my favorite shows over the years include Glee, Agents of SHIELD and Once Upon a Time, and their finales were pretty great too. Even “The End” (the season 5 AOS finale) and of course “The Final Battle” (the Emma-as-main-character and season 6 finale) were great too.

Fairly OddParents had a perfect stopping point in “Meet the OddParents”, but kept going and ending on a run of the mill episode. Scrubs has this problem, in part due to branding, and I don’t remember if 7th Heaven does with season 11, but I think it’s just as series finale-y as season 10’s. Oh, and pick any of Futurama’s 4 finales and there won’t be anyone to call it bad

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Oh, I don’t know, the whole last season of The A-Team, very tiresome. The whole trotting out Robert Vaughan as some kind of shadowy government agent. The last and greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams .

Maybe not exactly that bad, but very wearying.

Seinfeld? Just disappointing. Too much “on the nose.”

Bad as Lost? No, not really, just tired.

Don’t really have a comment on Diabolik as a final experiment. I guess they shut it down in a pretty stylish manner. No complaints.

To continue with the theme of annoying last seasons as a whole, The High Chaparral had already started to wear out its welcome. Cameron Mitchell’s shtik had got a bit old, as did Henry Darrow’s and Linda Cristal’s.

And, the less said about Alias Smith & Jones, the better, but they didn’t have a chance without Pete Duel. It was sad to see his last performances on the show. Something was clearly not right with him, which was too bad.

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I could’ve been down with Robert Vaughn being a recurring antagonist for the team. I was NOT down for the team being forced to be agents for “the man.”

I love The A-Team, but that whole final season felt like a betrayal along so many wavelengths. A shame, too, since it came right after one of their all-time best episodes, “The Sound of Thunder” (featuring Zombie Nightmare’s own Tia Carrere!).

I mean… they turned the theme song into a synthesizer/drum machine nightmare. Why would you do that?

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Newhart has to be the all-time best, and the live audience reaction makes one wonder how they pulled it off.

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