The other night was the beginning of the final season of Downton Abbey. It’s one of my favorite shows in all the world for personal and artistic reasons. Stacey and I fell in love watching the show and is, in fact, inspiring our wedding in a way so it’s not shocking that we were glued to the PBS station while down here in Florida where we are on vacation.
As the weeks leading up to the final seasons, premiere came and went it got me thinking about all those series finales that I have watched over the years. Some were better and more meaningful than others. Some were a waste of time. While some were finales that were also milestones in my life. In general, I think a series finale is the defining moment of series. It’s the one thing that will make people love or hate the show and either remember it forever or forget. Rarely do people talk about a series premier 5, 10 or 30 years after the fact. So in the spirit of Downton Abbey, endings, and new beginnings I thought I would write a blog about my top 10 favorite television series finales.
Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show
While this isn’t a sitcom and instead a talk show I decided it deserved a place on this list. Mr. Carson’s final show was in May 1992 and I remember watching it with my dad when I was 13. I think it’s for that reason I put it on this list. I know who the guests were, grew up watching them but the it was more a personal thing for my dad who made sure I watched it with him. I thought Johnny was hilarious however and much preferred him to Leno.
I wasn’t THAT much of a fan of the show but appreciated the shows realistic and subtle humor and honesty the older I got. I get it now when I didn’t when I was younger. Truth be told I still haven’t seen the shows finale even all these years later. Why? I haven’t caught it on re-runs that’s why. The show and finale, however, is one of those finals that made its mark in the lexicon of tv history and my generation.
Parks and Recreation
Stacey got me into this show when she was pregnant and I was hooked. I loved the season finale and how much mystery there was left with it. I like stories with “what if’s” at the end and the finale of this one left us with a huge what if. Ron will always be one of my favorite characters in TV history. Garry was one of the most underrated characters and reminded me so much of Coach from Cheers (because of their lines) which is also on this list. This is one of few shows I will still make a point of watching on Amazon prime.
This show which was on the SyFy network only last one season but was one hell of a season. The series was about a group of enhanced humans which solved crimes and got into more than they bargained for. The series started acting legend David Straithairn (from David Bourne and The Blacklist). My favorite character on the show was the autistic wonder Gary Bell who could see and control electronic signals. The finale was mind blowing and I was furious when there was no more coming. I can only assume the network felt there was too much completion in the X-men filled genre. I still think it should have gotten another go. Maybe the fact it was on a cable network didn’t help the shows visibility.
I was a late comer to the series. I started watching all the seasons before the finale season started. I didn’t watch it because it was so popular and talked about. No, I’m not one of those damn hipster pricks who hate anything popular but love it when it something they like finally is. I just don’t do the bandwagon thing much with tv shows. The series finale of LOST is a show that is still embedded in my brain and something I still think about and question a lot. I felt like the finale itself was missing a lot and didn’t answer a whole lot of questions (I’m not alone there) but I think that is why I loved it so much. There is a reason people still talk about and debate this show almost 7 years after it aired. If a show’s finale isn’t talked about for years, it wasn’t really much of a show was it?
How I met your Mother
Kids, what if I told you I loved this show’s finale. I love this show because of the underlying idea that’s really there that a lot of those in younger generations don’t like to acknowledge; that at some point you have to grow up. The show isn’t just about how Ted met his wife, or Barney having sex with half the world but rather how a group of friends dealt with life and handled getting older. It showed how things really work in the grown-up world (in a sitcom sort of way) which is why many people in their early and late twenties didn’t like this shows finale. People get older, have lives, have kids and buy homes and don’t spend every day hanging out in a bar. I think the season finale really did a great job of showing just how far these characters had come and I will miss them.
This is one of the few science fiction shows that I have watched that I loved from the start. The finale left me wanting more, hoping for more and sadly let down in a lot of ways. There are tons of plot holes that were never fixed or explained but maybe that is okay. The writing was amazing and the acting was supreme even if some of the stories were out of this world but that’s sci-fi for you. This series finale is still one that I watch every so often.
With the new miniseries coming up in just a few short weeks I was sure if this should even be on the list. When I watched the finale of the original series (and watched it several more times over the years) I had mixed feelings. I wasn’t sure if I should be happy or sad or shocked. I felt let down by in a way while also happy about how it ended. Looking back, I wonder if I should have realistically expected Mulder and Scully to find the answers they had long been looking for (the one movie since offered no real culmination) and finally…win. I think in theory I would have been ok if the series continued for awhile with Agents Doggett and Reyes but no Mulder and Scully. However, I thought the final shot, where Scully and Mulder were laying in bed cuddling with an uncertain future ahead of them was a fitting one. Not exciting no, but fitting. Who doesn’t know the theme song whenever they hear it?
This shows finale kind of changed the face of a new generation of TV lovers. This was the first finale of series that was so huge and so loved that it was actually shown in movie theaters. I grew up watching this show from the start when I was a freshman in high school it was everything I wanted my 20’s to be and in some ways, it was since a large portion of my social life revolved around coffee shops. I won’t lie when Ross and Rachel finally FINALLY got together I got teary. The lines “Did she get off the plane? Did she get off the plane?” and “I got off the plane” are still burned into my mind. This show is still one of the highest rated shows on tv even in syndication and I still love it. I am glad they ended it when it did, though. Don’t lie you know all the words to the theme song and we all do the clap part.
1 . Cheers
I know kids who have never heard of this sitcom, who have never seen it and their lives are less for it. Forget Sons of Anarchy, Breaking Bad or that pile of crap Walking Dead. This is arguably one of the greatest shows ever in history of TV even 22 after the show’s finale (all the lists say so not just mine). This show was the first real sitcom I watched with any regularity even though I was young. I watched the finale with my dad who got me into the show in the 80’s and perhaps that is part of the reason I love the show so much.
I grew up with Sam, Diane, Norm, Coach, Woody and all the others. Even decades later I still quote the show and remember the finale like it was on yesterday. I owned the board game at one point in time too. Cheers is one of those shows that new shows and their writers look at for inspiration and ideas since the writing is truly timeless. Many new sitcoms tried to emulate how this show did things but none have really hit the mark. The finale was nothing short of television history and I have the theme song on my phone to prove it. The series finale was the 2nd most watched ever and was seen by 80 million people, second only to M.A.S.H’s 106 million viewers.
Shows that almost made the list
Continuum (haven’t seen the season finale yet), MASH (before my time but I’ve seen it), Home Improvement, Sarah Connor Chronicles, Hannibal (I missed almost the entire last season…shocking I know), Little House on the Prairie (The one where they blow shit up), 30 Rock, Frasier, 24.