The harsh reality to any television show is that at some point it has to come to an end. Even shows like The Simpsons and South Park will at some point have a series finale that will hopefully do the series justice. While some shows like Breaking Bad and Psych gave their fans amazing finales, others sometimes fall just short of the mark or might even leave some fans a bit angry at those final moments (Dexter, How I Met Your Mother, The Sopranos, etc). But no words can describe that feeling when you watch that final scene with a smile on your face and a bit of a tear in your eye knowing that a chapter in your life has had their final moments. Here's a list of six of my favorite cartoons that I believe ended their runs on the perfect note.
Hey Arnold - The Journal Part 1 & 2
One of Nickelodeon's all time best Nicktoons! You know that a television show has struck gold when they can have multiple episodes highlighting many of the supporting characters and yet they were still done beautifully. It's also a little odd that, to an extent, the viewers know more about some of the secondary characters than we do about Arnold. From episode one and to this day we still don't know what Arnold's last name is or where his parents are. Earlier in the final season, we hear the story of how his parents met and how they went off to save dying villages to never return. In the final episode (production wise), Arnold finds a long-lost journal written by his father.
Every episode that centers around Arnold and his parents are incredibly heartwarming and tugs at your heart strings. You just really feel bad for Arnold and want him to find the answers to his parents mysterious disappearance. The producers of Hey Arnold actually wanted to use the final episodes as a segue to another Hey Arnold theatrical movie entitled, "The Jungle Movie." In this movie that was never produced, Arnold leaves for South America in search for his parents. Although it has been over a decade since the episode aired, the demand for 90's Nickelodeon (and even 90's pop culture in general) is still incredibly strong. With the possibility of Nickelodeon executives reboot some old shows, it would be great if they will bring life to this scrapped project and closure to a giant cliffhanger!
X-Men Evolution - Ascension Part 1 & 2
What better way to end an X-Men series than to take on the biggest and baddest enemy of all: Apocalypse. Throughout the final season, the rise of Apocalypse was a looming threat which all comes together in the last two episodes. In this two-part finale, we see the rise of Apocalypse, him capturing his four horseman (in this version Professor X, Magneto, Storm and Mystique), the execution of his plan to activate the dormant X-gene within humans while eradication those who are too weak, and the X-Men's efforts to stop him.
Although the fight scenes were short, it was nice to see most of the mutants we met throughout the course of the series come together to take down their biggest adversary and his horsemen. After trapping Apocalypse back in his time capsule and sending him through time, Professor X shares his final thoughts on the the battle and of the future. In the final scenes we see the X-Men continue to grow, forming the New X-Men, Magneto becoming a teacher at the X Mansion, The Brotherhood joining S.H.I.E.L.D., and Jean Grey succumbing to the Phoenix Force.
Pinky and the Brain - Star Warners
Pinky and the Brain was a short-lived but loved spin off series of Animaniacs. With the dynamic between Brain and Pinky, it seemed like only a matter of time till the two got their own show. The smart and goofy paradigm has been seen so many times over with Dexter's Laboratory, Jimmy Neutron, Invader Zim, and many others but none really hit the mark as well as Pinky and the Brain. The series culminates in their final episode "Star Warners," a brilliant parody of the hit franchise Star Wars.
What makes this finale great (aside from it being Star Wars related) is that it not only acts as a finale for Pinky and The Brain but also the Animaniacs franchise as a whole. The two shows aired their finales on the same day, November 14, 1998, back to back which acted as one big finale for the two. Not just that, but the episode is not even focused on Pinky and Brain who are stylized as C3PO and R2D2 (renamed C-PinkEO and Brain2-Me2). The main roles of Han, Luke and Leia were played by Yakko, Wakko and Dot, respectively. Not to mention all the other characters in Star Wars personas, Slappy Wanna Nappy (Slappy's parody of Obi-Wan Kenobi), Girth Plotz (Thaddeus Plotz's parody of Darth Vader), Skippoda (Skippy's parody of Yoda), and so many more!
Avatar The Last Airbender - Sozin's Comet Parts 1-4
Nickelodeon's show Avatar The Last Airbender was a phenomenal series. So much so that it spawned a spin off series, The Legend of Korra (the Avatar after Aang) and multiple comic book mini series published by Dark Horse. Starting from Book One, Aang (the last airbender) goes on a journey to master the other three elements in order to bring down the leader of the Fire Nation, Fire Lord Ozai. The finale of Avatar was such a major concept that it took FOUR episodes to complete the final storyline. (SPOILERS) Here's the climax of the fight four seasons in the making:
So many other stories and final battles take place simultaneously, it's almost hard to keep track. Zuko and Katara finally takedown Zuko's crazed sister, Azula, Sokka, Toph and Suki battle the Fire Nation airships who are trying to burn down the Earth Kingdom's land, AND Iroh and the members of the White Lotus attempt to liberate the Earth Kingdom stronghold of Ba Sing Se. With so many epic battles taking place at once, it's no wonder that the producers decided to make the entire story four parts. And the final scenes, it is nice to see a contrast where the great warriors enjoy the tranquility and peace that they finally brought to the world as opposed to the action-filled scenes that just took place. The entire finale really captured what made the show great in the first place, humor, romance, moral lessons and action blended perfectly together in a great story and concept.
Teen Titans - Things Change
In most cases with action series, the final episode would be the last battle between the heroes and the nemeses. But in the case of Teen Titans, that fight takes place in the second and third to last episodes. The episode "Things Change" shows The Titans return to their home town after taking down the Brotherhood of Evil only to see that some of their favorite places have changed. In the middle of a battle with a new threat, Beast catches a glimpse of Terra, a former member and enemy of The Titans who sacrifices herself to save them from a possible eruption. The rest of the episode shows Beast Boy in his attempts to get Terra to remember her former life while The Titans track down the monster that is terrorizing the town. In the end, Beast Boy must choose to either let go of Terra and join his group or continue his heart's pursuit.
This episode might not be the most action packed episode of the season but the closure and symbolism the episode gives the audience is amazing. Many thought that Terra getting trapped in stone would be the end of that particular story arc, but the producers brought her back in a brilliant way. This episode not just brings an end to Beast Boy's subplot to bring Terra back to life but they do it in a way that symbolizes that you can't always live in the past. The creators use a new, mysterious creature to represent the new challenges of the future while Beast Boy's struggle with Terra is a symbol for living in the past. A simple but strong message that many of us forget at times. Don't get me wrong, it's nice to reminisce from time to time (case and point this article), just as long as it does not cloud your future.
Phineas and Ferb - Last Day of Summer
Phineas and Ferb may have just ended recently but it had an amazing finale. With a show that focuses on make the most of every day of summer, the natural ending to the show is to have it on the last day of summer. And in true Phineas and Ferb fashion, an episode would not be complete without a song written specifically for that episode. Here's the final song from the show, enjoy!
Oh the magic of breaking the fourth wall... This song basically just encapsulates some of the shows greatest hits and most memorable moments. Not only that, but the creators are able to use their show to literally thank their fans for supporting and watching the show throughout the years. Not many other shows can say they've done that besides doing a talk show after the finale airs. It's almost ironic that the final episode is centered around Candace trying to bring back Phineas and Ferb when people have forgotten who they were when in reality it will probably to take decades for that to possibly happen.
Just remembering how these great shows ended makes me want to go back and watch them again. I can watch any one of these shows now and the episodes never get old for me. As much as we all get emotionally attached to certain shows, we know all good things come to an end. I'm just glad that some of my favorites had finales that proved how amazing the show was.
Sources: Wikipedia - List of Hey Arnold! Episodes; Variety - Nickelodeon Mulls Return of Classic Shows; Wikipedia - List of X-Men Evolution Episodes; Wikipedia - List of Pinky and The Brain Episodes; Animaniacs Wikia - Star Warners; Wikipedia - List of Avatar The Last Airbender Episodes; Wikipedia - List of Teen Titan Episodes; Wikipedia - List of Phineas and Ferb Episodes