The Greatest TV Show Finales

Anne-Marie Lyons looks back on the greatest closures to our most beloved TV shows.

From the tearful goodbye to our favourite Friends to watching Walter White’s demise, Anne-Marie Lyons runs through the best endings to our most beloved TV shows.TV show finales are often surrounded by expectations, dread and anticipation, as viewers of the show want a satisfying conclusion to a world that they have loved so dearly. Many shows often fail to achieve this, but here are some that have somehow managed to create finales that will stand the test of time and leave viewers with a tearful but satisfying goodbye to their beloved characters and their worlds.The classic sitcom Friends about a group of twenty-somethings in New York City provided one of the most iconic television moments in history. As the group prepare to leave Apartment 23 behind, and Chandler and Monica begin their new life as parents, it is the on-off relationship of Ross and Rachel that takes centre stage. With Ross chasing after Rachel in the airport, to her standing in the doorway of his apartment saying that “I got off the plane”, the will-they-won’t-they couple pull on the heartstrings of audiences across the globe. As the Central Perk regulars leave their apartment building behind, a single tear can’t help but fall down your cheek.
“TV Show Finales are often surrounded by expectations, dread and anticipation”
For the finale of the universally beloved Breaking Bad, expectations were set high for this dark story, with lots of buzz surrounding its final episode. Like any Shakespearean tragic figure, Bryan Cranston’s cancer-ridden chemistry teacher-turned-drug kingpin meets his demise in the end of this story. As Walter White finally admits that his malicious acts were purely for pleasure, and partially redeems himself by helping Jesse Pinkman escape his ruined life, the conclusion to the hit-show most certainly delivered on its final episode. Ryan Murphy’s show-stopping high-school musical TV show Glee didn’t receive the best responses over its final few seasons but most certainly delivered in their final episode. After the original ending had to be abandoned, following the unexpected death of the show’s star Cory Monteith, Murphy still managed to satisfy the viewers of this beloved show. As we see our favourite original Glee members achieve their showbiz dreams, and the return of the majority of the cast for one final group number, the smile just appears on your face. And with the final heart-wrenching shot of Cory Monteith the show’s finale did what the show did best – it made you feel something.   The Sopranos had a finale as controversial as the protagonist. Whether you loved it or hated it, the ending of The Sopranos definitely had you talking. The cut-to-black finale of the mobster drama, which gave no indication as to whether Tony Soprano lived or died was a poetic ending was fitting for a character with such a nebulous life.
And with the final heart-wrenching shot of Cory Monteith the show’s finale did what the show did best – it made you feel something.”
After losing the comedic powerhouse performance of Steve Carell, many criticised The Office (US)’s final seasons. However, the finale, for which Carell returned, gave a satisfying conclusion for those working in Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. With all characters getting a reasonable ending – Jim and Pam resolving their marital issues, or Andy’s music career, the finale was praised for its fulfilling ending. The finale of the eighth season of the medical comedy Scrubs is a masterful series end. The sitcom with (sacred) heart saw the protagonist, JD decide to leave the hospital, in order to be closer to his son. Because of this, the audience is gifted with hour-long goodbyes, and the emotional dreamlike sequence where every character (big or small) returns, and JD finally getting a hug from Dr. Cox. The send-off was what JD and the audience deserved after eight years.Of course with the good, comes the bad. As JD said as he leaves Sacred Heart hospital, “Endings are never easy, I always build them up so much in my head they can’t possibly live up to my expectations and I just end up disappointed” – many shows struggle to achieve such satisfying endings (anyone who watched How I Met Your Mother knows this all too well), but the few that do, do them brilliantly. Soon we’ll see some of the current biggest shows, like Game of Thrones, The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family meet their demise, and with the trailers and teases, much is expected. However, the question remains – will their finales be a victory or a travesty?Ann