We all love a happy ending. More than that, we love a satisfying ending. In an age of incredible television and Netflix original series, there is nothing better than reaching the end of a 16-hour binge-watch with tears in our eyes, clutching our hearts, and praising some distant writer for such a compelling, fulfilling and enjoyable show. So what are some of the most satisfying TV finales around? Let's take a trip down memory lane and revisit some of the best — and if you think I have left any out, feel free to add your number one in the comments section.
Major spoilers for a whole bunch of TV shows lie ahead so proceed with caution...
1. Six Feet Under (2001 - 2005)
No season finale has ever wrapped things up quite so literally as the final moments of Alan Ball's brilliantly morbid drama Six Feet Under did back in 2005. Even if you have never seen the show before, this montage of mortality will surely bring a tear to your eye.
2. Blackadder Goes Forth (1989)
2016 marks 100 years since the Battle of the Somme, but nothing put the tragedy into modern consciousness quite like final episode of Blackadder Goes Forth.
3. Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997 - 2003)
Sunnydale's collapse into the Hellmouth was a fitting end to a show which has remained iconic to this day. While the story continued in comic book form, the TV show closed on a melancholy but satisfying note.
4. Angel (1999 - 2004)
Buffy's spin-off Angel was a hit after it first aired in 1999. After five seasons the show wrapped up with each character spending their last day on Earth, before facing the wrath of hell itself.
5. The Wire (2002 - 2008)
We said goodbye to Baltimore in this closing montage from Season 5 of The Wire, but there's no life-and-death apocalypse here — all we learned is that the drug trade continues, and everyone just gets on with their lives.
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6. Fringe (2008 - 2013)
Parallel universes, weird science and time travel; Fringe had it all. The finale of the show wound back the clock, creating a world where the Observers were never created, and Peter got his happy ending.
7. Mad Men (2007 - 2015)
It's clear that the some of the most satisfying endings tie up all of the loose ends with a montage. Mad Men was no different — except for the addition of the 1971 "Hilltop" ad for Coca Cola.
8. Gravity Falls (2012 - 2016)
It's rare that an animated kids show can get grown-ass adults right in the feels, but Gravity Falls managed it with this stunning finale.
9. Parks & Recreation (2009 - 2015)
I will miss Parks & Recreation very much, but it was great to see the gang succeeding in the final episode; especially Leslie achieving her dream of (possibly) becoming President of the United States. Knope 2020, am I right?
10. American Horror Story: Asylum (2012 - 2013)
Okay, okay: so AHS is still on TV, but each season is its own independent grand design of twisted horror. One of the most messed up was Season 2, which featured Briarcliff Mental Asylum, aliens and the notorious Bloody Face. Episode 13 rounded the season off nicely: yes, there were questions (Kit's abduction), but ultimately Lana got her revenge— and that was the most satisfying moment of all.
11. Futurama (1999 - 2013)
For such a brilliant and funny show, this finale was actually pretty heartbreaking. Fry and Leila 4ever.
12. Breaking Bad (2008 - 2013)
I would say that the last few episodes of Breaking Bad were some of the best I have ever seen, all part of an epic conclusion that closed the show in the only way it possible could — with Heisenberg's death.
Why more TV shows can't follow in the footsteps of these epic finales is beyond me (I'm looking at you, Dexter). All you really need is a montage, some emotional music and an A+ script with a well-rounded conclusion.
Which TV show do you think had the best closure? Which TV show do you think had the worst?