The list of TV finales stretches into the hundreds, if not the thousands. Viewers have to wait decades in some cases, and in others, like “Jeopardy!”, that are still running, they may have to wait long into the future. Viewers of “Gunsmoke” had to wait 20 years until 1975. Viewers of “Lassie,” one of the earliest TV series, waited from 1954 until 1974.
Not all finales are created equal — with some panned by viewers and critics alike, while others certainly worth the wait. Coming at the end of its fifth and final season, the best TV series finale ever is “Breaking Bad,” “Felina.”
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. Beware that we include spoilers.
When writers have months to prepare for the end of the series, they often write a final script to wrap up what has gone before. A major character may die or retire or the character may simply move away from where they lived through the earlier episodes. (These are the 100 best TV dramas of all time.)
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.
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. (Check out the best TV spinoffs of all time.)
With a nearly perfect score, the best TV series finale of all time is “Breaking Bad,” “Felina”. Here are the details:
> Series finale rating: 9.9/10 (20,857 votes)
> Full series rating: 9.4/10 (1.5 million votes)
> Year of finale: 2013
In the show, chemistry teacher Walter White embarks on a life of crime to set up his family’s financial future when he learns he’s dying of cancer. But selling crystal meth proves dangerous, and the finale of this well-regarded series sees Walter settling old scores and ensuring his son gets the drug money. In the end, he dies, but not of cancer. (“Breaking Bad” contributed at least one saying to these popular tv quotes that are now part of everyday vocabulary.)