Many great shows have a hard time crossing the finish line without stumbling. Shows capture your interest with compelling story telling, laughter and memorable characters. You have certain hopes of how our favorite series should end that it’s hard to live it up to the expectations when it comes to the grand finale. Many shows try to get too nostalgic or have forced plot points with their heavily hyped final episodes which usually leads to a lackluster swan song. There are a handful of shows that managed to go out on top with their final episodes. We just had one particular show pull off that feat this week, but more on that later. So without further ado, I give you The 4: TV Series Finales.
4. Newhart “The Last Newhart”
This is my least favorite series and finale to appear on this list. Newhart stumbled in the ratings its last two seasons and was creatively out of gas. The final episode was mostly filled with the weird characters of the small Vermont town becoming rich and more eccentric. I almost thought of omitting this series from the list, but I can’t deny the bravery of Newhart. When that golf ball knocked Dick unconscious and he awakened to find out Newhart was all a dream, the show was way ahead of its time. Then you find out that Newhart was not only a dream, but he was back in The Bob Newhart Show universe with his former wife Emily (Suzanne Pleshette). It blew people’s mind! Situational comedies with goofy laugh tracks and jokes about two brothers being named Darryl just didn’t take creative risks like that back then. The genius twist earns my respect and gives the Newhart finale a place on this list. People have even made jokes inspired by the Newhart finale that Breaking Bad would end with Walter White entering Witness Protection and that’s when Malcolm in the Middle would start. A crossover explored by the final episode of Newhart. Speaking of Breaking Bad.
3. Breaking Bad “Felina”
Breaking Bad was the series finale that inspired this list. Breaking Bad just recently ended its successful run and gave fans a finale they loved. I can give you one word that describes why this finale was so successful. Closure! No cut to black, no Lost Island questions that go unanswered and our protagonist does not turn into a lumberjack. We get Walt on his Kamikaze mission to set things right with his family and take revenge on the people who did him wrong. Plus I’ve stated many times in previous columns, who doesn’t love seeing NAZIs getting killed. Almost every character gets some form of a final goodbye with Walter. We get a blaze of glory moment we usually expect in a finale with a machine gun and a Jabba the Hutt chain choke out scene. But for me, this episode makes the list for the simple scene of Walt walking around the lab admiring his life’s work while Badfinger’s “Baby Blue” plays. It was the ending fans wanted and deserved for the conclusion of Breaking Bad.
2. The Wonder Years “Independence Day”
Technically there were two episodes back to back for the final night of The Wonder Years, but “Independence Day” is actually considered the series finale. The episode had it all. Winnie cheats on Kevin, they break up and then presumably have sex in the abandoned barn after realizing their childhood love will not last forever. It’s heartbreaking, but very realistic. Most of us don’t end up with their grade school loves. In the narrative you find out that Winnie and Kevin remained friends, but do not wind up together. That’s not even the saddest part of the finale. The audience finds out the hard-nosed patriarch Jack Arnold passed away two years later down the road. The man most people feared when watching The Wonder Years becomes the one your heart aches for the most. The Wonders Years may not have been as appealing when Fred Savage got into his later teen years, but the show found a way to go out on top with a final episode about growing up with family and friends we could all relate to.
1. Six Feet Under “Everyone’s Waiting”
In my opinion, Six Feet Under did the best job of wrapping up their series with an episode that happened to be the best of the whole series. No small feat for a show that had killed off its main character three episodes prior. Six Feet Under was a show about the business of death, so we got to see the Fishers grieve, cope and move on from the untimely death of Nate. There’s a farewell dinner with the surviving characters who are reminiscing over stories that seemed so real as if you were sitting at the table telling them yourself. But the last six minutes of the show is what earns Six Feet Under the number one spot on this list. The show was known for their fade to white death scenes at the beginning of each episode, so it was fitting we got to see each character on Six Feet Under have their fade to white moment with Sia’s “Breathe Me” playing along with the montage. It was the most satisfying and unique ending to a series in the history of television.
So what four series finale do you think should have made the list? Sorry M*A*S*H* fans, but your finale was long and bloated. Let me know on Twitter @CW44CouchPotato or become a fan at Facebook.com/CW44CouchPotato.