It might be a little extreme, but I think that a series finale can forever cement or forever taint how you feel about a show. At least that is what I thought before I began to prep this post. I fully intended to have examples of my most and least favorite series finales. I sat down with my laptop, earbuds and a list of finales to rewatch, ones that I loved along with ones that I hated. I opened Netflix, pulled up the first one on the list and settled in for a day of revisiting some of my favorite shows.
It was while I was watching one from my ‘hate’ list that I realized I didn’t hate it as much as I thought. The same thing happened a second time and then a third. My list of hated series finales was getting shorter with each one I watched. With only one finale left on my ‘hate’ list, I had to change the focus of this post.
With some time and distance, I was able to find something to appreciate in each of the finales I rewatched. Are there aspects of some of them that I still hate? Absolutely! I don’t think there is enough time or distance to change that, but at least now I can watch them without cringing or grinding my teeth.
So, here are the six finales I watched, in no particular order. The one left on the hate list? I didn’t watch it. Even after almost eighteen years, I just couldn’t make myself do it. If you’re curious about which finale I consider the worst of all time, I’ll reveal it at the end.
Here we go:
- Chuck (episode – Chuck versus the Goodbye)
When I watched this episode live, I hated it. I was completely crushed that Sarah Walker had not regained her memories. She and Chuck Bartowski were supposed to be together for the long haul, in my opinion. How could that happen if she didn’t remember him?
Watching again this week, I was reminded of the things I love about this show. Chuck got to be an awkward nerd and as well as a spy. Sarah and Chuck, in their search for the bad guy, Quinn, were able to revisit scenes similar to some of their first cases. Morgan finally stood up to John Casey, proving that even he had grown up over the course of the show. Casey had to admit that he was better with his team, Chuck, Sarah and Morgan, than he was without it.
I’ve watched this finale several times, always disappointed, okay, angry, that we didn’t know if the kiss between Sarah and Chuck on the beach triggered her memories. Watching this week, I realized it didn’t matter. Sure, having her memories back would be the ultimate happy ending. Even without them, I think they found their way back together.
- Star Trek: Enterprise (episode – These are the Voyages)
Often, when a show is not renewed, the powers that be try to pull together a finale that ties everything up in one neat little package. That is what happened in the case of Enterprise. While the three modern Star Trek series (The Next Generation, Deep Space 9 and Voyager) all enjoyed seven year runs, Enterprise was cut off at four. The finale that Brannon Braga crafted has always felt weak and rushed to me. Presenting it as if it were part of an episode of The Next Generation as an object lesson for Riker has been the driving force behind my hatred for this episode.
However, watching it again, when I looked past that aspect, I found several things I actually liked about it. The six year time jump allowed us to see the progression of the friendships of the crew, the first deep space explorers from Earth. It served to provide one last mission for the crew before the NX-01 Enterprise was decommissioned. Captain Jonathan Archer, one of my favorite Star Trek captains, was recognized for his contributions in the founding of the Federation.
- How I Met Your Mother (episode – The Last Forever, pts 1 & 2)
When this aired, nearly a year ago, I was furious. We had spent nine seasons hearing the very long story of how Ted met the Mother. We watched him fall in and out of love with Robin. We became convinced that Robin and Barney belonged together. Then, this episode aired, took everything we thought we knew and flipped it upside down.
I really liked the time jumps, checking in with the gang as the years went by. All too soon though, we jumped three years and Barney and Robin were divorced. We had just spent an entire season that revolved around their wedding weekend, yet the marriage only last three years. Disappointing, but not hate worthy.
Rewatching it this week, I enjoyed the episode until I got to the point where the Mother, Tracy, is dying. Really? I watched for nine years and just as we are starting to see Ted and Tracy together, she dies. That was followed by Ted and Robin seemingly getting back together after we’ve been convinced that is not what they want. I might have enjoyed most of the episode while watching again, but the last seven minutes never should have happened.
- Friends (episode – The Last One, pts 1 & 2)
This is one of my favorite series finales of all time. Everything ended just as I wanted it to. Monica and Chandler were moving to the suburbs with their twins. Phoebe actually found someone who could deal with her special kind of eccentricity in Mike and was smart enough to marry him. Joey was still Joey, and I love him for that. My favorite part of the episode? Rachel got off the plane. After ten years of on again, off again, Ross and Rachel found their way back together in a way that was perfectly them. I wouldn’t change a thing.
- Angel (episode – Not Fade Away)
Poor Joss Whedon. He went to the network for an early renewal and got shot down. I imagine that he had to scramble for an ending to this great series. My only complaint about this finale is that the setup felt a little rushed to me. Other than that, I love it. On that final day, when Angel gave everyone time to spend however they wanted, it not only gave the characters closure. It gave us viewers closure, too. The ending was perfect, the story was complete. Whatever happened when they walked out of that alley was a new story.
- LOST (episode – The End)
LOST is one of those series that people either really love or really hate. It’s polarizing. I don’t think that it’s possible for there to be middle ground where this show is concerned. I am a huge fan of both the series and the finale. I actually wish I had chosen this finale for this post. It has been a long time since I’ve watched the series and my memory of the events leading up to the finale was a little fuzzy. Because of that, I’m not really going to comment on the symbolism in the episode. I’ll save that for a later post. I do have two comments now on the finale. First, I loved that they all needed each other in order to be able to move on. Second, the mirrored scenes that opened and closed the series, focused on the opening and closing of Jack’s eye, were brilliant, in my opinion.
That’s it, just a quick look at the finales of some of my favorite TV shows. Trust me, if I did a post on all of my favorite series finales, we would be here for a very, very long time.
Oh yeah, the one finale that was still on my ‘hate’ list? That would be the Seinfeld finale. Admittedly, I was never a big fan of the show. I only watched because my husband did. There were episodes that I like, but the finale left a bad taste in my mouth about the series in general.
Series finales, in my opinion, should be like ending a good book – they should leave you feeling satisfied even if you can sense there is a “new story”. Angel made me sad with so many character deaths, but I also really loved how they just went back out and kept going, fighting the good fight because that was their path. Friends left us knowing that everyone has been taken care of.
And then their was Seinfeld. I agree with you. Not a good series ender. I mean, we always knew all the characters were a bit shallow and on the hair edge of being likable, but that finale? I no longer even liked them, and that is not the effect any writer would want, is it?
Other good ones for me that come to mind: Parks and Recreation, Buffy (which was good, because I wasn’t that keen on that final season as a whole), Charmed, The Office (even though I hadn’t watched the final couple of seasons), M*A*S*H
I agree, the Buffy finale was a huge improvement on the final season. M*A*S*H was an excellent finale, living up to the complete series.
I never watched the show, but I did watch the finale of Six Feet Under after reading about how great it was. The finale was so great it made me want to watch the whole series.
Another great series finale came from Wilfred. After spending four seasons trying to uncover the mystery of what or who Wilfred is, it is finally unveiled to the viewers and I think it was well worth the wait. It is on Netflix if you are interested!