That’s All Folks: The Best Series Finales of Our Generation (Part I)

As the end of May grows closer, we must face the stark reality that the end for many of our cherished television programs is near.  No matter what your viewing taste may be, there is no doubt that if you are a fan of television you will be losing at least one of your precious shows forever once the spring season concludes.  I am doubly victimized by the much anticipated conclusion of what is my undisputed favorite show, Lost, and the final countdown of 24 that promises to bring more on-air death in the remaining 6 hours than the entire body count from Total Recall.  If you aren’t a sci-fi/action fan like myself there are plenty of other shows that are taking a final bow.  Ugly Betty and Scrubs both have already aired their series finals, and with Law & Order, Chuck, FlashForward, and V facing extinction, the broadcast landscape come fall may look drastically different. Rather than dwelling on the inevitable, I encourage all of you to recall why you loved your favorite shows in the first place and embrace their crossing of the finish line, because the mere fact that any pilot gets picked up for a continual run is a near miracle with such limited primetime openings.  To pay tribute to the end of the road for many of our boob tube classics, let’s take a look at some of the greatest series finale episodes in recent memory.

Family Ties (1982-1989)

I couldn’t have told you the plot of this one without looking it up (Alex graduates from Leland College and moves to New York for a Wall Street career). But I know, from fans I have spoken with, that they all cried like babies when the cast of their favorite 1980s sitcom gathered for their final curtain call (newer addition Courtney Cox among them). Seeing Michael J. Fox cry and embrace his co-stars was truly heart wrenching television.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)

Sarah Michelle Gellar gave us so much, and we have given her so little since she retired her supernatural stake. Reliably wild and always great fun, Buffy took her final stand against a legion of suburban vamps and had to choose between her two great loves: debonair David Boreanaz and acid-tongued James Masters. Good triumphed, Angel got a spinoff.

The Kids in the Hall (1988-1985)

The cancellation of this absurdist genius was a deathly blow to the rich tradition of Canadian sketch comedy. The final scene ends with a long three-minute shot of the funny boys getting buried alive in an open grave—because that’s what syndication feels like.

Sex and the City (1998-2004)

It’s kinda strange to think about the SATC finale now that we know what happened to Carrie and Co. after the fact, via the blockbuster movie released following the series finale, but no matter: The HBO hit’s finale was a genuinely sweet conclusion to the best show ever written about adult female friendships. Carrie and Big’s dramatic Paris reunion aside, it was nice to seei Miranda move to Brooklyn for Steve, to see Charlotte and Harry realize their dreams of being parents, and Samantha stay fabulous after cancer. This finale hit all the right notes for a chick-fest’s swan song.

Arrested Development (2003-2006)

We all know what an epic mistake it was to cancel the irony-laden show—even though the ink is drying on the freshly signed movie deal. The writers knew it, too, and made this finale one giant “screw you” to the suits who axed them and to the clueless viewers who never got the joke. It was two hours of inside Bluth family baseball and a barrage that digs at critics. It would be terrifying to anyone who just tuned in. Best line: “I don’t see it as a series…maybe a movie.”

Don’t touch that dial as The Campus Socialite will be back with the top five series finales after these messages.

Related Posts