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October 22, 2014

Seven Satisfying Series Send-Offs

by Brad Trechak, posted May 27th 2010 9:24AM
The FugitiveWith the series finales of 'Lost' and '24' all wrapped up, it got me thinking about previous cult (but not necessarily popular) shows that actually wrapped things up nicely and left relatively few unanswered questions (unlike 'Lost,' whose encyclopedia-sized list of unanswered questions can be found here). The first person that complains about spoilers for these long-gone series will be whipped with a wet noodle.

1. 'The Fugitive' - This series finale set records for television viewing until it was revealed who shot J.R. in 1980. It also did something unprecedented in 1967; it actually resolved the running storyline of the show by having Richard Kimble catch the one-armed man, even going so far as to using callbacks to previous episodes. In the end, Richard Kimble and Phillip Gerard shook hands after Kimble was declared a free man, giving everyone the happy ending they wanted.

2. 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' - A brilliant and poignant ending in which the entire staff of WJM-TV is fired except for the disliked Ted Baxter (played fantastically by Ted Knight). It ended with a group hug. Who doesn't love a group hug? More importantly, it had the sense of optimism for the future despite current hardships that was prevalent in Mary's character.

3. 'M*A*S*H' - When you have the most-watched series finale of all time (and almost the most-watched American television show until the Super Bowl ruined that record), you better wrap up some storylines. In this case, the major storyline of the show finished. It took 11 years to end a three-year war, but the Korean War ended and most of the cast went home to the United States. During Hawkeye's departure, they presented the emotional moment of having B.J. Hunnicutt spell out "goodbye" in rocks below the chopper.

4. 'Cheers' - 'Cheers' used its final episode to wrap up any lingering doubts about the Sam/Diane relationship, wrapping up the early central premise of the show by making certain the two would never get together. Both characters would eventually end up on the sequel show 'Frasier' (which in itself is an honorable mention of finales) and in each case they were in a relationship with someone else.

5. 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' - Yes, it led to a pretty bad movie franchise, but the finale was a nice sequel to the pilot episode. Q put Picard and his crew in a situation that nicely summarized the philosophies behind the show. It also involved time-travel. I'm a sucker for time-travel stories.

6. 'Babylon 5' - This was one of the first American series with a definitive story from beginning to end. Creator J. Michael Straczynski had a five-year plan over a decade before the six-year plan of 'Lost.' The fifth season dragged a little, but only because the fourth season was rushed in anticipation of cancellation. The finale was even filmed at the end of the fourth season but not broadcast until the end of the fifth. Most of the stuff in the fifth season is filler. Most major storylines were nice wrapped and in the end, the station blew up real good.

7. 'Angel' - I saved this series finale for last not just for chronology but for controversy. After all, given the comic book sequels, it's tough to argue that it was even a finale. The episode ended with Angel and company about to start a seemingly hopeless battle against an army of demons. Creator Joss Whedon had suspected the series would be canceled that year and planned accordingly. Like its predecessor, 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer', 'Angel' always had a central theme. 'Buffy's' theme was female empowerment while 'Angel's' was redemption. The series asked if a bad person can achieve redemption for his previous deeds? The answer found in the last minute of the finale was yes, but only if that person keeps fighting for it.

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EZ2

Absolutely Six Feet Under. Right up there with MASH. I faithfully watched SFU year after year and was never disappointed!! I was really depressed when I found out it was going to end. But the finale was one of the most outstanding pieces done EVER!! No chance of a movie sequel here. And no, not everything was tied up in a pretty little bow, which is how life rolls. LOVED IT!!!

June 03 2010 at 9:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Marie

It was tough to let go, but I think 'The Golden Girls' ended wisely. Dorothy had been especially raked over the coals in relationships so it seemed right to 'fly her from the cuckoo's nest.'

May 31 2010 at 3:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Libby

None better than "The Bob Newhart Show" So original and creative !!

May 31 2010 at 3:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bcrnbs

the final reunion of babylon 5 was the best..

May 31 2010 at 3:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
laurie

They ought to do an article on the shows that NEVER got a proper send off.Like Mercy.What a cliffhanger they left us with,and then cancelled it.There is a petion on facebook to save it as well as going in the search under save mercy.(over 3000 signatures on that petition)I hope if NBC doesn't bring it back,that another network will.It's a great show.

May 31 2010 at 2:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
laurie

I hated the Roseanne finale.The whole last season was awful,with them being rich.Then she says Dan really had died and Becky and Darlene were married to the opposite guys.When she said that Jackie was gay,that left us all hanging.Did Jackie's son,Andy ever really exist?

May 31 2010 at 2:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jasoncoker1

I like seeing respect given to the Angel finale. It's easily my favorite series finale of all time and may be my favorite episode of television ever.

May 31 2010 at 1:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joseph

You have got to kidding me. Any such list that doesn't put "Newhart" at the top (in fact, leaves it off altogether) can't be taken seriously. "Newhart" as innkeeper wakes up from a dream to find himself back in his prior TV series as a psychologist. That is nothing less than sheer genius!

May 31 2010 at 1:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
CJ

What about Battlestar Galactica? That was the best series on tv for the time it was on Sci-Fi.

May 31 2010 at 12:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike

The worst was Seinfeld.

May 30 2010 at 11:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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