The best TV series finale: 15 of TVs most unforgettable finales

The best TV series finale: 15 of TVs most unforgettable finales

What makes a grand TV series finale? It depends on the show, of course. But no matter what series you may be binge-watching, you want an ending that ties up loose ends without being annoyingly completist. One that makes you feel just as happy, sad, thrilled, or compelled as you did with each previous episode. It’s a tricky needle to thread, and some series have undoubtedly done it better than others.

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A person holding a clapboard. Photo: @Jakob Owens
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Wrapping up multiple seasons of complex characters that have provided escapism or even comfort and reflection to millions of fans is not an easy feat. However, over the years, there has been a unique selection of series that more than stuck their landing, sending their stories off on a high note and raising the bar for others who were following behind.

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15 most unforgettable TV series finale

TV series finales spark different emotions and reactions to different people. Some make fans go “what the heck just happened?” and spark years of debate over the true meaning of what did happen. Others ignite a “loved it!/hated it!” war that cement their places in pop culture history. Regardless of where you might fall, here are the best TV finales:

1. Made in America in The Soprano

IMDb rating: 9.2/10 | Runtime: 55min

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The Soprano had one of the best series finales as depicted in Made in America episode. It had millions of fans briefly thinking that they were experiencing an internet connection problem at seemingly the most crucial time. But, it was the moment to end Tony Soprano's journey.

The finale was wrapped up with a mob war that crippled the family, with the final minutes being devoted to a family dinner to set the entire journey. The final scene essentially signified Tony’s perpetual state of watching his back. It was an excellent way to end a film that began as a meditation on existential dread in the first place.

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2. Everyone's Waiting in Six Feet Under

IMDb rating: 8.7/10 | Runtime: 1h

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With all its resolutions, new beginnings, and flash-forwards, the Six Feet Under finale really seemed to neatly wrap up the lives of the Fisher clan. It wasn't nearly the weep fest that the funeral for Nate was, but who could forget the haunting notes of Sia's ''Breathe Me'' playing throughout the final six minutes as Claire drove away?

3. Felina in Breaking Bad

IMDb rating: 9.4/10 | Runtime: 49min

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Walter White had good motivations, but for five seasons he did some bad things. White was dying of cancer, but he was determined to go out on his own terms. That’s why, even though he lay dying on the floor after being hit by machine-gun fire at the end of the drug drama, the corners of his mouth were turned up in a bit of a smirk.

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He did what he had to do — including getting in one last conversation with Skyler — and he wasn’t going to wither away but rather go out in a blaze of glory. While some viewers may choose to believe he had a pulse when the police officer checked, it feels much more poignant if he does not.

4. Goodbye, Farewell and Amen in M*A*S*H

IMDb rating: 8.4/10 | Runtime: 25min

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After 11 seasons of hilarity and heartbreak, the Korean War comedy M*A*S*H ended with a two-and-a-half-hour TV movie that aired on Feb. 28, 1983, and is still the highest-rated series finale ever.

By the end of the episode, the war has drawn to an exhausted close, and the residents of the 4077th are scattering after many tearful farewells. The teariest is saved for last. As Hawkeye takes off in a chopper, he spies a message from his old pal B.J. ''Goodbye'' spelt out in stones on the launch pad.

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5. Start in The American

IMDb rating: 6.3/10 | Runtime: 1h 24min

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For most of its run, The Americans action set-pieces were all mostly emotional. That was especially true of its subdued yet powerful series finale, which contains two stunning sequences.

First, there's the parking garage scene during which Stan finally confronted Philip, Elizabeth, and Paige about their double lives and lies; a scene six seasons in the making that didn't disappoint, especially because of the way Philip uses the intimacy of his relationship with Stan against him.

6. -30- in The Wire

IMDb rating: 9.3/10 | Runtime: 59min

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Speculating from the entire show, The Wire would never end anything in a clean, cut-and-dried way. However, the show's creators managed to wield the various talents in the series to finish everything on an ambitious and relatively comprehensive note.

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From the nature of justice to the fragility of power systems and how far people will go to keep them in place were some of the questions fans asked, and this was no different at the finale. But, luckily, it was crafted to offer a solution to the homeless serial killer hoax, illegal wiretapping, and the all-important future of Tommy Carcetti.

7. The Finale in Seinfeld

IMDb rating: 8.8/10 | Runtime: 22min

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Seinfeld bears one of the most divisive TV show finales in the history of television. It all begins with an amusing swerve leading off by making viewers think Jerry and George are about to embark on a typical sitcom send-off, bidding New York City farewell as they head to California to make a television series.

It launches into a wrap-up that mocks the characters, the show's fans, and the show's place of seeming importance in the pop culture landscape. Sitcom finales are usually more like curtain calls, "The Finale", making this particular one a provocative final joke.

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8. Daybreak Parts 1-3 in Battlestar Galactica

IMDb rating: 8.7/10 | Runtime: 44min

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Some questions were answered, while others were left up in the air, as the survivors of the Cylon holocaust finally settled on a world they could call home — and the wounded Battlestar that carried them there flew into its cosmic funeral pyre — executive producer Ronald D. Moore's sci-fi reinvention concluded with the same intelligence, grace, and kick-a*s space battles that Battlestar Galactica started with.

9. All Good Things in Star Trek The Next Generation

IMDb rating: 8.6/10 | Runtime: 44min

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The first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Encounter at Farpoint is a famously slow, bloated affair that was a sign of things to come for the relatively weak first season. Luckily, the season finale All Good Things brilliantly repurposed the story as a time travel saga.

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It is a brilliant conceit that makes an elegant circle out of the series while also allowing Picard to give viewers a grand tour of the series' entire history, including his future.

10. Brothas & Sisters in Happy Endings

IMDb rating: 7.7/10 | Runtime: 22min

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The third season finale of David Caspe’s friendship comedy wasn’t explicitly intended to be a series finale. However, the show had been on the bubble for its first two seasons, so the writer-producer was smart enough to create a close-ended story that included the modern classic hijinks for which the show had become known.

They included Penny and Max changing the news cycle with a number of rumours to keep the truth about a breakup from getting out but ended on a much more grounded, sweet sentiment as the six main characters all simply danced with each other at a wedding.

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11. The Last Newhart in Newhart

IMDb rating: 7.7/10 | Runtime: 30min

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For a writer to say “it was all a dream” at the end of a story an audience invested a lot of time and emotion in is usually considered a cop-out. But maybe that’s because no one can do it as cleverly as Bob Newhart.

At the end of his second self-titled sitcom, his character awoke in bed after one such crazy dream — but he found himself in Dr Bob Hartley’s bedroom and the wife laying next to him was Emily Hartley.

12. Part 17 and Part 18 in Twin Peaks: The Return

IMDb rating: 8.5/10 | Runtime: 1h

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The famous Twin Peaks came to an end in the early 1990s, run with a cliffhanger. This was followed by a joyous reception that accompanied The Return, an 18-hour monument to creative freedom. This was the period where everyone hoped some answers would be provided.

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The finale ended in a twist as fans and followers were left with even more questions towards the series' end. The last two hours of The Return were among the most mind-meltingly intense episodes of television ever devised. The time all built to a daring and stunning final scene that still has fans talking.

13. Tomorrow in The West Wing

IMDb rating: 8.8/10 | Runtime: 44min

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The West Wing had one of the most outstanding TV most unforgettable finales depicted in Tomorrow's episode. It was crafted to bear a year-long election storyline, which meant that its final episode was bound to be the combination of both an end and a beginning.

The storyline culminated in the inauguration of a new president and a farewell to Martin Sheen’s President Josiah Bartlet. However, the sense of transition inherent in the plot managed to imbue the series with a new sense of potential energy as it made the turn toward home.

14. Ten of Swords in Halt and Catch Fire

IMDb rating: 8.4/10 | Runtime: 1h

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The AMC drama started seemingly centred on two men who were out to change the computer industry but soon enough revealed that the women were a real driving force, too. As the show went on, it was the power of four characters that made it magical, but after losing one (Gordon) earlier in the season, the remaining trio finally had to acknowledge and move on from what they once were.

15. Last Lunch in 30 Rock

IMDb rating: 8.2/10 | Runtime: 22min

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30 Rock was one of the most acclaimed comedies due to its refusal to be straightforward about anything. Each plot was characterized by numerous instances of jokes on top of jokes and references on top of references. This created a show that rewarded fans who can’t seem to get enough of rapid-fire wit.

The season finale, Last Lunch, continued that tradition while injecting some genuine emotion into the affair. This was mainly seen as Jack Donaghy, and Liz Lemon reconciled their friendship in a half-hour packed with so many gags and callbacks.

Endings are tricky, especially when it comes to your favourite television shows. After investing so much emotion in these beloved characters, they become family. Therefore, fans expect the series finale to offer closure that takes them out on a high note and ties up all of the show's loose ends.

Yen.com.gh listed the top 20 popular family TV shows worth watching with family and friends. Finding the best programme to watch as a family will make the moment memorable. This is because nothing beats spending time with your family while watching an exciting TV show.

Family TV shows are an excellent way for families to bond with one another. While watching these shows, you can all laugh, cry and feel the suspense together.

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