All good things must come to an end — and sadly that includes your favorite television series. Unlike a movie, a TV show comes into your home every week, or you binge watch over a weekend. So it’s natural to get attached to the characters and their triumphs and sorrows.
There is no one right formula for ending a series. Some shows finish on a high note, like “The Office” and “Friends,” where everyone gets their happy ending and all loose ends are tied up. Those finales leave their fans satisfied and content that all turned out well.
Sometimes things seem unresolved when a series ends, but that’s not necessarily bad. Does anyone know what really happened to Tony Soprano at that diner when the screen suddenly turned to black? It’s still being discussed and interpreted — which is probably what made it a great finale. (Of course, other shows end ambiguously or conclude in a way that just doesn’t make sense. These, for instance, are the worst series finales of all time.)
Some shows leave open the possibility for more episodes or a continuation of the series. Both “Star Trek” and “Star Wars” have already spawned enough sequels, for instance, to suggest that there might be more go-rounds in the future when the creators find further storylines to explore. (Maybe they’ll be among the best TV spinoffs of all time.)
To determine the greatest television finales, 24/7 Tempo reviewed audience ratings from IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, as of October 2021. Only finale episodes with at least 2,000 user ratings were considered. In the case of ties, episodes with a greater number of user ratings were ranked higher. Full series ratings and year of finale also came from IMDb.
Whether it’s a sitcom about coffee-drinking young people, Japanese anime characters, space travelers, or hardened criminals, these series touched our hearts, made us laugh, and sometimes shocked or at least surprised us. They all have one thing in common — they kept our interest season after season before coming to an end.