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Every time season and/or series finales are drawing ever closer, some set up to be good and some set up to be forgettable. I often find myself looking back over these past shows and hoping the current crop of shows splattered across our screens will aspire to achieve what they did. Everyone out there is certain to have their own personal opinions based on not only what they’ve seen, but personal preference. One man’s masterpiece can easily be the bane of another man’s existence. It is with that in mind that I bring you this list of what I consider to be some of the best series finales out there; love them or hate them.
The Sopranos - Made in America
The Sopranos and its polarizing finale is unlikely to have escaped any serious television viewer’s grasp or really anyone that accessed the internet shortly after its airing, lauded by some, hated by others, the finale had just about the most risky ending that has ever been written, or, rather, not written. As the bloody mob war between the New York and New Jersey “families” reaches its end Tony Soprano faces indictment by the federal government. After saying his last goodbyes to fallen comrades and his uncle Junior, Tony calls a family meeting at a restaurant. Still on edge and suspicious of everyone around him, he sits and watches as, one-by-one, those nearest and dearest to him arrive. As his daughter Meadow walks through the door, Tony looks up one last time and then... an ambiguous ending to an epic series.
Battlestar Galactica - Daybreak
“All of this has happened before and all of this will happen again.” After four seasons of political, social, and religious drama, the sci-fi epic comes to a close as the survivors of the human holocaust head into their last battle with the cylons. Siding with cylon defectors, the crew of the Battlestar Galactica assaults an enemy stronghold to recover Hera Agathon - the only half-human half-cylon in existence - and the prophesized “face of things to come”. After saving the child and sitting seconds away from destruction, the Battlestar jumps blindly into uncharted space finding its broken self floating above an unknown planet. With no other option, the remainder of humanity settles on this new world and names it Earth. The final 40 minutes of this fantastic finale deal with the emotional aftermath of everything that has come before, and despite some frustratingly vague endings to plot points, it serves as a fitting end to one of the best shows ever made.
The Shield - Family Meeting
The Shield is one of those shows that some people consider to be the best thing ever and others have never heard of. From its pilot episode it established that it really wasn’t looking on the bright side of life, as Vic Mackey and his elite police strike team murder a fellow officer just so they can keep the status quo in their day-to-day lives. After seven seasons of crooked law enforcement, countless murders and deals with far from reputable people, the team is divided after the murder of one of their own, by one of their own. As the less corrupt amongst the force seek to bring down the strike team once and for all, Mackey makes a deal with the federal government to be pardoned for all of his crimes, provided that he tells them everything that he and his team have done. Sending one of his best friends to prison for life, Mackey’s post-corruption job sees him stuck behind a desk filing papers. Unable to cope with this dull existence, the ending scene sees our now hated hero head off into the night one last time with a gun and no badge. An emotional and tense close to a gritty police masterpiece.
Six Feet Under - Everyone’s Waiting
For a show who’s premise sounds about as dull as watching paint dry, Six Feet Under somehow managed to deliver some of the most emotional and tense character drama ever put to screen; never more so that in its finale. After the untimely death of Nate Fisher, “Everyone’s Waiting” sees the characters that people have come to know and love try and move on with their lives. Whilst a substantial portion of the episode is only on par with the rest of the brilliant series, the last ten minutes are sure to bring even the toughest amongst us to tears. Set to Sia Furler’s “Breathe Me”, the ending sees the entire main cast killed off one-by-one later in their lives, allowing us to see the true and definitive end to the show. With some dying tragically soon and others living to see one hundred, it really is an emotional sucker punch and one hell of a way to go out.
Arrested Development - Development Arrested
A show being so self-aware has never came across my path before. Knowing full well that their cancellation was imminent, the crew behind Arrested Development took every possible opportunity to plug themselves for a pick up on another network, get people to ask their friends to watch and maintain the same level of original comedy that made the show great in the first place. Mirroring their pilot episode, the Bluth family returns once again to a boat party after their legal disputes are finally settled, only to find themselves right back where they started. Unlike last time however, Michael really has had enough and decides to take his son and get well clear of his insane family. In the epilogue to this fantastic ending the suggestion that the show could translate better to audiences as a film has kept fans of the show on the edge of their seats for five years and counting, with the project still not certain to go ahead.