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This is the end... Good and bad TV endings

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Two of the most successful and widely critically acclaimed TV series of recent years - Game of Thrones and The Big Bang Theory - are having their final episodes this week and I can't wait to see how both series draw things to a close.

 

This got me thinking about how TV series have ended, some good (like Sopranos, Buffy and Friday Night Lights), some awful (such as Dexter, Dexter, Dexter and Dexter).

 

So what are some of the best regarded or most hated TV series endings?

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Life on Mars was great. As was Ashes to Ashes.

 

My biggest disappointment was Quantum Leap. Not a terrible ending, just not the ending I'd hoped for. Same goes for Enterprise, actually. Maybe it's Scott Bakula's curse.

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Ashes to Ashes was amazing, it pulled everything together and I wasn't expecting it to even try to do that. To this day I don't know if they even had that ending in mind when they started Life on Mars all those years before.

 

Lost is the one that always comes to mind when I'm thinking of bad endings - they meandered around for years with no idea of where the show was going then finished it off abruptly with a magic cave and an ending where everyone was dead. Apparently all the plot holes didn't matter because it was all about the characters, man. Just rubbish.

 

BSG's ending gets a lot of criticism but for me it wasn't so much the final episode itself but the slow decline over the last two series that soured me on that show. By the time it ended it was almost a relief.

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Babylon 5 kind of had two endings, both great. A slightly rushed but awesome one for Season 4, then another less epic but closer to intended and still satisfying one for Season 5 (after a slow start).

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If we're doing good endings then The Leftovers wins for having not one but two perfect endings. The penultimate episode had a brilliant ending and the whole series could have stopped there and it would have been perfectly fitting. Then the final episode was a kind of epilogue that was even more brilliant and included a scene (Nora's story of where she'd been) that was one of the highlights of the entire run.

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35 minutes ago, deKay said:

My biggest disappointment was Quantum Leap. Not a terrible ending, just not the ending I'd hoped for.

 

that's what happens when a show is cancelled. A hurried tie-up-loose-ends episode.

 

same as the end of the US version of life on mars.

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Last season of The Wire was a mixed bag and had one tremendously stupid main storyline thread, but it still had a great ending for me, mainly because:

 

Spoiler

Bubbles was my favourite character, and his story arc was the most complete and actually ended on a happy note after all his tragedy.

 

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1 minute ago, SeanR said:

 

that's what happens when a show is cancelled. A hurried tie-up-loose-ends episode.

 

 

Nah, it wasn't that. It was a good ending, and wasn't hurried - they managed to get loads of characters back from over the years. It's just not only did Sam never leap back home (spoilers!), he was basically lost from reality too. Poor Sam :(

 

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Blackadder Goes Forth has the best ending of anything ever.

 

Carnivalé has the worst.

 

 

 

Justice League Unlimited had a fantastic ending, given that it was basically the end of the original DC Animated Universe which had started with the Batman series 14 years previously. Makes the MCU look like a fat sack of crap.

 

 

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Seinfeld. But as I was never a fan I suppose just the fact that it finished was good as far as I'm concerned :)

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Do you mean Carnivale? You mean that was the worst just because it ended before the story was finished I assume? It certainly wasn't bad.

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Six Feet Under is 5 minutes of solid crying for people you hated at the start of season one. Magnificent. 

 

Sopranos. I enjoy the ending more every time - just completely appropriate and uncompromising. 

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As for the bad: Angel. It wasnt awful, but stealing the Shanshu prophecy away and basically giving it to Spike (who'd already had his major hero moment in Buffy) meant no final redemption and an unfair payoff just because Spike had become so important to the 'brand' by that point.

 

I did like the fact that pretty much everyone was dying, dead or about to die though. 

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10 minutes ago, deKay said:

 

Nah, it wasn't that. It was a good ending, and wasn't hurried - they managed to get loads of characters back from over the years. It's just not only did Sam never leap back home (spoilers!), he was basically lost from reality too. Poor Sam :(

 

 

he CHOSE to keep leaping though.

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I enjoyed the Quantum Leap one at the time, precisely because of the choice he made and the consequences.

 

Others have been mentioned, Blackadder Goes Forth, Life on Mars, Ashes to Ashes, Sopranos, The Wire. 

 

I recently really liked the Gotham finale. It did a good job of focusing on the characters who had been important and set up the rest of the Batman timeline (whichever one you pick) nicely.

 

 

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The finest finale:

 

 

Though it should really be considered as a piece with the previous episode, 'Once Upon A Time' with that magnificent Leo McKern performance (that nearly killed him!). Watching it today you just think 'how they did they get away with it'? Extraordinary television.

 

Conversely, McGoohan's prior series, Danger Man, whimpered out on the two frankly awful colour episodes, Koroshi and Shinda Shima, which were edited together into one film. They completely abandon the relative realism of the excellent black and white episodes for a fanciful plot about a secret martial arts cult in Japan whose members appear to be composed entirely of ageing British actors. A poor end to an excellent series (even the last black and white episode, 'Not-so Jolly Roger', is pretty bad compared to what came before).

 

13 minutes ago, Treble said:

As for the bad: Angel. It wasnt awful, but stealing the Shanshu prophecy away and basically giving it to Spike (who'd already had his major hero moment in Buffy) meant no final redemption and an unfair payoff just because Spike had become so important to the 'brand' by that point.

 

I did like the fact that pretty much everyone was dying, dead or about to die though. 

 

I thought the Shanshu thing was more ambiguous than that - and it was Angel himself who supposedly signed it away. If Angel had to end, I thought that was a great finale - 'the battle continues' etc. For a series that was always very much about 'work' (right from season 1), ending on the line 'let's go to work' was just perfect.

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9 minutes ago, SeanR said:

 

he CHOSE to keep leaping though.

 

I know. It wasn't really a choice though - you can be free and happy OR make all these lives better. IIRC he'd have undone all his work too - wasn't the option to leap into himself so he never leapt in the first place?

 

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Rosanne has to be one of the worst. A terrible final season and a big smelly retcon in the end credits. Fuck youuuu.

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Is Battle Star Galactica's so awful we've forgotten it? 

 

"Oh my gosh, I was wrong... It was earth, all along"

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51 minutes ago, SeanR said:

 

that's what happens when a show is cancelled. A hurried tie-up-loose-ends episode.

Oz suffered pretty badly due to this. In the last episode there was a sudden plot device that required the prison to be evacuated - anthrax, I think. Everyone was put on a bus and it drove out of the prison. The End. 

 

Shite.

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