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mygif

I’d kinda disagree with the TNG one, or at least put it on the same level as The Office: season seven is *monumentally* mediocre (spiderBarclay! spiderBarclay! Does whatever a spider, um, harcklay.) and only the fact that All Good Things is basically perfect (and the the spectre of season one is still hanging over the show) keeps people from noticing that.

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mygif

The Shield had a large number of problems, especially as it keep adding seasons, which in turn extended the main storyline way past the point of believability. But the last two episodes including Mackie’s confession and the final shot did a perfect job of underlining the idea that character’s actions had consequences while reminding them that it is the pervasiveness of corruption that lets monsters exist rather than simply being a product of their monstrosity.

Also Terriers ending is almost perfect to the point that it almost makes me glad the show wasn’t renewed.

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mygif

One can’t dispute that this was the ending they planned, given the footage of the kids. But if this was their plan, there are huge arc issues with the seasons leading up to it, which fairly comprehensively reframed Ted/Robin as something he needed to get over, and went to considerable strides to develop Barney as a person (which this finale then needed to trash, only to redo the whole process in a single scene). Now, I never actually liked Barney/Robin as a pairing, so them divorcing honestly didn’t bother me that much (though their fans have every right to be cheesed).

Also, and this is weird to say given that Tracy/Cristin Milioti was the best thing about this season by a country mile, but if this was the ending the writers wanted, they should have stuck to their guns on not making a big deal around the Mother’s introduction (another thing that was exacerbated by the way the series dragged out the ending over the last few seasons, and would probably not have been nearly as big an issue if this had been a 4-5 season show).

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mygif

Then there’s the perverse dissatisfaction viewers seem to have when the main character of a show like The Sopranos or Dexter doesn’t die in the last episode. In which case I always want to ask why they watched a show for ten years if all they were hoping for was to see a jerk die.

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mygif

did you know I didn’t watch this show you watched

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mygif

I really liked the ending. I was worried it was going to be a downer (we all suspected the Mother’s fate) but it still ended on an upbeat note.

Plus I liked Barney’s character arc. I remember they did a similar thing on Ally McBeal but, whereas that relationship made me wish someone would call child services, Barney actually grew up. He’s going to be a scary overprotective father when that kid starts dating though.

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drmedula said on April 1st, 2014 at 1:25 pm

I thought it would have worked a LOT better if they had done it at the end of LAST season, like they were SUPPOSED to.
To their credit, when pressured into an unplanned 9th season, they chose to try something ambitious and experimental.
To their detriment, it was counterproductive to the story as a whole;it would be much easier to accept Ted and Robin ending up together if they hadn’t spent an entire YEAR trying to get us to REJECT that very idea.(and, of course, Christin Millotti was probably WAY more effective in winning audience sympathy than they ever planned, but we can’t fault her for doing her job better than expected).

And for the record: Best Indisputedly Great Series Finale Ever: THE SHIELD. Best Controversial Series Finale: THE PRISONER.

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Elijah Fly said on April 1st, 2014 at 1:27 pm

The Shield pulled it off in my opinion.

enjoyed the finale, too.

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mygif

While TNG had a great finale, D’S had a better one.

And any list of series finales that got it right absolutely needs to include Newhart.

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mygif

I wonder if this finale wouldn’t have worked better if they had used the format to give more of the information out much further ahead of time: If we’d found out that the Mother was dead in 2030 in the first or second season; if we’d found out that Barney and Robin wouldn’t last sometime in the middle of last season.

I mean, as it was, people who weren’t in deep denial from The Time Travellers onwards pretty much knew how it was likely to end (apart from not knowing if Barney would be alive or not), so it isn’t as though they were keeping a stunning twist secret.

I’ll add ER to the “great finale in mediocre final season” pile. And I’m one of the few people out there who’ll defend the ending of Quantum Leap to the death, so that’ll go on my controversial pile. And for absolutely perfect finales, I’ll submit Blake’s Seven.

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Christian Williams said on April 1st, 2014 at 3:08 pm

MGK: I want to thank you for getting me to go back and rewatch the Friday Night Lights finale to decide if it was as good as I remember… and really it was. I think what I like most about that finale, is that they make what is ostensibly the most important (the football title) utterly secondary and is revealed only as part of the revelation of how things play out for other characters.

I’m also a fan of the fact that for the most part the FNL finale was not about telling exactly what would happen for some of the characters. With the exception of coach and his wife, it was mostly hints, suggestions, and promises of what might happen… no guarantees.

In some ways I guess that was my issue with this final season of HIMYM. In some cases there was too much effort to put a bow on everything / everybody. I think a bit too much time was invested in the Robin / Barney story… given that the marriage explodes in 4 minutes of screen time.

On the other hand Miloti was pretty perfect in the Mother role, and they did a good job of making us care for the mother, and be sorry for what happens.

In the end, the show was always about Ted / Robin and that’s where it ends up… and that’s not really so bad.

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mygif

The problem with the Buffy finale is that, not only was it a bad end to a bad season, but they also had at least three season finales (one, three, and five) that would have made better series finales than what we got.

Futurama’s last episode (for now?) was a perfect end to a perfect show. The American Office’s last episode is the perfect end to an imperfect show*.

*Yeah that ran on longer than it should have since NBC really had nothing else that could pull those kinds of numbers. Still, I’m going to commit nerd blasphemy and say that I still prefer a “bad” episode of the American Office to a “good” episode of the British one.

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Christian Williams said on April 1st, 2014 at 4:12 pm

On another note on series finales: Burn Notice. Your thoughts? I thought it was actually a pretty decent capper to an uneven series.

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switchnode said on April 1st, 2014 at 4:28 pm

I don’t think a mediocre final season necessarily makes a good ending worse. Season 5 of Leverage was downright bad, but if anything that made me love the finale even more—it was clear that there wasn’t anything more to give. It was time to go, and the series was graceful enough to stick a perfect landing on the way out.

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mygif

I was a fun of Chuck’s finale, to add to the list of good ones.

As for this, I thought it was just telegraphed so clearly that I’m surprised people were upset. I might have been had it not been obvious where they were going, but it was. I think HIMYM was a victim of its success. Had we not had the last few seasons with everyone turning into caricatures of themselves and Ted/Robin being rehashed over and over, I think it all would have worked better. And, of course, if Milotti hadn’t been so good at making us like her almost instantly (I think the writers also deserve some blame as they made her almost too perfect for Ted, whereas Robin still didn’t seem like a good choice based on all their history).

On another note, what’d you think about the show’s successor, “Friends with Better Lives”? I have to admit, I laughed, in part because of a friend who bears some resemblance to the single female lead (that small hands thing hit was dead-on).

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mygif

On another note, what’d you think about the show’s successor, “Friends with Better Lives”?

It is perhaps the most eminently hateable show I have ever seen, right down to casting E from Entourage in a major role.

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mygif

I’m confused. How did a search for Breaking Bad on a discussion of perfect finales come up empty?

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Tenken347 said on April 1st, 2014 at 11:31 pm

It says a lot that MASH is still the high water mark for a long-running series finale. It’s just plain hard to “stick the landing” as MGK says. For my money, I also really liked the ending of Quantum Leap (although the sudden introduction of overt spirituality was a bit much), and surprisingly, the finale of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which was basically the introduction of the Will Smith that would come to dominate popular American cinema.

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mygif

I thought the HIMYM finale was a major misstep, if only because they tried to shove too much into one episode after dragging out the Barney/Robin wedding over an entire season.

The tone whiplash of dealing with Tracey’s death just ruined it for me. I don’t mind dealing with the outcome of relationships realistically, recognizing that Barney and Robin likely wouldn’t last, but it felt like they glossed over Tracey’s death, killing her off just moments after we see Ted meet her.

That’s my issue with it. I didn’t hate what happened, I understand what they were trying to do, but I didn’t like the way they did it. We found out she died in a montage, for Pete’s sake.

They had to, of course, because there was so much they wanted to cover in that episode, from Barney’s development as a character (which was reasonably well-handled) and Robin’s distancing from the group (which was really well done). Focussing on all of that meant paying Tracey short shrift and it felt glossed over.

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mygif

I thought Breaking Bad‘s ending was pretty great. It’ll be interesting to see the direction the next season of True Detective takes; if they’re all stand alone and each season could in its way be treated as its own series, the first was excellent. Quantum Leap nailed it after a somewhat sporadic final (and gimmicky) final season.

I think my favorite though was Supernatural. I loved how Dean realized Castiel had been God all along, and while Sam’s self-sacrifice to close the gates of Hell once and for all was sad, it was also noble. That Dean went on to live a healthy, happy life with his wife, stepson, and little Sammy made Sam’s action even more poignant.

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Sean D. Martin said on April 2nd, 2014 at 12:23 pm

@drmedula: “it would be much easier to accept Ted and Robin ending up together if they hadn’t spent an entire YEAR trying to get us to REJECT that very idea

Exactly my thought. The entire last season was about Barney and Robin getting married, and adding the Mother to the gang.

We got many nice moments of Barney passing his “legendary” torch, Ted letting go of Robin, etc. etc. All leading up to the wedding and Ted’s meeting the Mother.

And in the last episode both wedding and Mother are wiped away and, in a way, much of the series as we end up back where we were in the pilot.

Imagine a Star Wars (original trilogy, of course) which spent three movies growing Luke from farmboy to Jedi and building to a his climatic confrontation with Vader. Then, in the last 20 minutes, has Luke decide to hang up his saber and retire to farming while Wedge takes on Vader.

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mygif

soo… not an april fool’s joke or?

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mygif

PS I agree with Will’s opinion on True Detective and wish his opinion on Supernatural was true

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mygif

Obviously it doesn’t count because it’s not a “long-running series,” but my favorite series ending remains the BBC “Life on Mars.”

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mygif

I’ve been told “Babylon 5″ had a fantastic final episode, but I’ve also been told that it had a woeful final season. Not sure that would count as “sticking the landing”, then.

Classic Who’s “Survival”, oddly enough, is a great ending in the ‘the story never really ends’ sort of way. (It’s odd because all that they did was add a cute little monologue in voiceover to an episode that wasn’t intended to end the series.)

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mygif

Angel stuck the ending, IMHO. It was a wonderful statement of “even if your chances approach 0%, never stop fighting to save the world.”

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Sean D. Martin said on April 2nd, 2014 at 7:39 pm

Babylon 5 had the unenviable situation of not knowing if it would have a 5th season or not until very late. And since the entire series was intended to get to a certain conclusion, a lot of stuff planned for Season 5 was pulled into Season 4. The final episode was actually filmed during season 4.

When the renewal came things got stretched back into season 5.

So there was a “compress it – OK, I did – Now expand it – Frak!” oscillation going on.

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laridian said on April 2nd, 2014 at 8:40 pm

Nothing about the final episode of Newhart?

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Harvey Jerkwater said on April 3rd, 2014 at 8:57 am

I agree with a lot of the folks here — the content of the ending per se wasn’t unacceptable or wrongheaded. But man, that execution was terrible. The pacing was a disaster, the tonal shifts far too extreme.

As one writer somewhere on the interwebs put it, after Ted concludes his tale with the moving and somber ode to his dead wife, his kids practically broke into the “Bangity Bang” song about Robin. Dude, c’mon. Even putting in a segue between “yer mom is dead” and “bangity bang Robin” that showed an emotional transition would have made a world of difference. Okay, the season two footage of The Kids was fixed in tone, but you could work around it. Let us adjust to “Tracy is dead” and “Ted and Robin are back in each others’ lives” for a minute before the kids pass him the tube of Astroglide and an iPod playing Barry White.

Ah, well. Still a great show.

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Tim Drake said on April 3rd, 2014 at 10:54 pm

I agree about THE SHIELD finale and would add to the list THE LARRY SANDERS show as a wholly satisfying end to the show.

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mygif

If they’d ended at season 8, the ending coulda stuck. But after season 9? It’s basically like ending 30 Rock with a Donaghy/Lemon marriage.

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mygif

“And of course there was much bitterness at the show’s endgame of ultimately re-uniting Ted and Robin following The Mother’s early death, which I did not get because people have been complaining for years now that the show focused too much on Ted and Robin for a show ostensibly about Ted telling his kids how he met their mother, which the show blatantly addressed.”

It’s because every time, the moral has been pretty concisely “it’s not gonna happen.” If we’re told for nine seasons that it’s not gonna work out, we usually stop thinking of it as the ideal ending. By that logic, GI Joe should have ended with Cobra Commander killing all the Joes and taking over the world, because otherwise why spend so much time on him failing to do so?

And I liked that Ted and Robin weren’t together. I liked that they managed to be a pretty convincing platonic relationship without treating it like friendzoning or will-they-won’t-they. That was the starting twist of the show, really; Robin and Ted were friends, not the same flirty romantic partners we’ve seen a million times before. To be honest, with this thought in mind, one of my favorite aspects of the show has now been retroactively ruined.

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Tim O'Neil said on April 5th, 2014 at 3:51 am

If no one else says it, I will: SEINFELD. It was great because with one fell swoop it erased all the rules the show had established for the entirety of its run. The characters’ actions had consequences, everyone who they had ever screwed over had their comeuppance, and they ended up locked in a cage with no one to talk to but each other.

It was hilarious. It was the perfect deadpan punchline to a nine-season long joke about nothing. Anyone who says different is wrong.

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Anonymous said on April 7th, 2014 at 4:11 pm

I just wanna say… I totally called this like two years ago. I told my roommate, right after we watched the episode where Ted says that if he could, he would have gone back to the moment where he could have met their Mom a few years earlier and gotten more time to spend with her. There was something about the way he said that, like their time together had been cut short, and I blurted out, “The mom’s dead in the future.” My roommate looked at me, and said, “That… would actually be a good twist.” It made sense at the time – why else would he tell such a meandering story, unless it was to stall for time because he didn’t want to talk about the woman he loved who was dead? Now, I didn’t call that the reason he took so long was because he wanted to be with Robin or whatever, but I did call that the mom was dead, like over a year ago.

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PepperjackCandy said on April 8th, 2014 at 7:33 pm

I saw Ted/Robin as the endgame pairing in the first episode and didn’t like them from the very beginning. After that episode, I decided that sitting on the couch watching their romance would be an insult to my backside. And that’s why I didn’t watch that show you watched.

Though that’s not why I’m commenting. I’m commenting to nominate “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” for one of the best series endings ever.

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