Top Ten Tuesday: Worst/Best Series Endings

Confession: I rarely get past the first book in any series, even if I enjoyed the first book immensely (see The Hunger Games or The Knife of Never Letting Go). The problem is a simple one: I’m simply too distracted by other shiny new books. I forget about the second installment, even if I actually own a copy (see Catching Fire).

Instead, I decided I’d discuss television series for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. By the way, I don’t have 10 shows. I tend to give up on the few series I do watch several seasons before they end because I lose interest for one reason or another. See The Sopranos, Weeds, The Walking Dead, Glee (although, oh, sad review of tribute to Cory Monteith brings tears), etc.

Really, I’m just considering  endings of series I watched all the way through—and there aren’t many. Do I think these endings are the best? Well, maybe in some cases. The worst? Generally if I manage to finish a series, I’m so committed to the overall story that it would be difficult for me to say an ending was the worst—maybe just less likely than some other possible ending. In fact, for me the worst ending is no ending at all, so we’ll just start the list there:

Freaks and Geeks. This is a bittersweet thing, because the season ending of this show is pitch perfect. But as it was also the series ending, it sucked. What happened to Lindsay and Kim? Did Dungeons and Dragons turn Daniel into a full-fledged geek? Did any of the geeks become freaks? Where did Nick go after getting on the Groove Line?

Battlestar Galactica. It occurs to me that these endings are difficult to talk about because what if some of you haven’t seen the show? What if you’re on season three of five seasons. Grr. Well, we’re talking about endings so I guess if you’re reading this, you should expect spoilers. Now, the writers knew exactly what was going to happen with this one, because they had mostly plotted the show’s entire arc through all five seasons. I was satisfied, some things were surprising and still are, even after watching the whole thing three times. I know some people hated the ending, but as I said, once I’ve committed, I’m in for the long haul.

Big Love. Just…well…I don’t know.

Sex and the City. I loved the ending–of the show. I don’t care if I lose any of my feminist street cred for saying so. For me, the main thing was that she ended up back in New York with her friends, not that she ended up with Mr. Big. I hate the movie (the first one; I refuse to acknowledge the second one). I had all the closure I needed with the show’s finale.

The Wire (2002) PosterThe Wire. In my very unimportant opinion, the only show better than this one—and only by a hair—in the history of television is Breaking Bad. The neat thing about The Wire is how each season basically covers a different story line, without ever really losing the thread of the original story and the terrific characters developed by David Simon and team. It’s another show that has an ending that’s basically just a point at which we are no longer privy to the action, but in a mostly satisfying way, rather than THE ENDING. When a show’s creators have done such a good job with the characters that I imagine what their lives are like outside the confines of the show, this is the best way to end it, so I can all imagine they are all still out there, doing what they do.

Felicity. Back in the day I thought it should have been Noel. But recently I started re-watching it, and I see it all now. Ben.

Lost. Just file this under, I was so committed to them all and I cried. I’m not a religious or overly spiritual person, so maybe that’s actually why the idea that someone might have a difficult time moving on—to whatever—resonated a bit. But I still wish Kate had picked Sawyer, so I am not entirely satisfied.

Breaking Bad (2008) PosterBreaking Bad. I am not going to spoil this for anyone because I know some people haven’t caught up, but I loved the ending and thought it was perfectly fitting for Walter White. I didn’t think it was too tidy, because plenty of questions were left unanswered and a lot of people have some rather large looming issues. But this was Walt’s story, and his end was fitting.

I realize this list consists of mostly recent shows. The truth is, I can’t remember the endings of a lot of shows I know I loved when they were on: Moonlighting, Family Ties, Cheers, Chicago Hope, Beverly Hills 90210 (don’t you judge me), Malcolm in the Middle. And Northern Exposure! Why can’t I remember how that one ended? Oh, Chris in the morning…

I’ll be interested to see how they decide to end Mad Men after this next season, which is its last. I loved the closing image this past season of Peggy in a pantsuit, going over files in Don’s office. That’s a show it will be difficult for me to part with. True Blood ends next year, and I plan to see it through even though I started to lose interest when they brought in the Lilith story line.

But the one series ending guaranteed to make me cry in the coming television season? How I Met Your Mother. I’m not all caught up on that one, but I know it’ll get to me. What a sap.

Thank goodness Boardwalk Empire just signed with HBO for another season, so no end in sight for that one, and I can still watch the show I hate to love and love to hate: Game of Thrones.

Have I left off one of your favorites? Did you hate some of mine? Anything you recommend I watch? Please share!

All images from

16 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Worst/Best Series Endings

  1. Awesome list of shows. I totally agree with you on breaking bad. I thought it ended perfectly and I got that sad feeling knowing that the show was all over. I am also a HUGE fan of Game of Thrones 🙂 and Boardwalk Empire. I would recommend you try Spartacus or Dexter if you haven’t seen them. If you like fairy tale retellings, once upon a time.
    Here’s my TTT

  2. Oh yeah…it hasn’t ended, in fact, starts anew tomorrow night, but American Horror Story is soooo good. It’s on FX, or maybe Netflix has it.

  3. Monique, it’s going to take me a while to get over Breaking Bad. I’m still thinking about Skylar and Jessie in particular. I’ve tried to watch Dexter but it just wasn’t sticking…and I’ve had several people recommend Spartacus as well. I hear that, as with GoT, you can get past the initial soft-porn seasons, the story develops and it’s addicting. Must check it out! And thanks for reminding me of OUaT–we started watching and keep meaning to get back to it. So many good shows, so little time!

  4. Wonderfalls ended really well, I thought. It was only around for one season, but I guess they knew early on they were going to be canceled, so they made a very strong series finale.

    Awwwwww, Felicity! I should rewatch Felicity! I remember being so determined that the show would never ever ever make me like Ben, and then it did make me like him by causing Noel to become sort of loathsome and mean. :p

  5. Jenny, I don’t know Wonderfalls–I will have to check it out! As far as Felicity, during its television run I had a soft spot for Noel from the beginning and remained convinced that he’d go back to being a better guy…but watching it again now, I admit that he’s actually seemed like a bit of a controlling creep.

  6. The Breaking Bad ending was perfect. I felt like the writers were doing a lot of wish fulfillment, giving a lot viewers exactly what they wanted, which shouldn’t really work (BB especially always worked best when it threw out what I THOUGHT I wanted and subverted my expectations), but somehow was the perfect cap to the series.

    My favorite series ender of all time is for Angel. That’s hardly my favorite show, it’s wildly inconsistent at the best of times, but the last season in general was pretty great and the series finale was just perfect, I’ve yet to see it topped.

  7. Interesting to hear that an inconsistent show would get it together at the end. I only watched the first season of Angel, but you reminded me that I forgot about Buffy! I never saw the end of it, not because I got bored but just because life got in the way.

  8. Totally agree about the endings of Breaking Bad and The Wire–and how they were satisfying in completely different ways. One thing, too, that I liked about the ending of The Wire is that they did seem in the last few episodes to be putting characters on a particular path, so you could imagine a direction for them, and they made a point of at least offering a glimpse of where some of the characters who didn’t appear in the final season were–that last appearance of Poot for instance.

    Buffy was another of my favorite endings. The final season was probably my least favorite, but the ending was satisfying, especially given that they’d had a few season finales that could just as easily have been series finales. The actual finale felt properly final.

  9. Teresa, they did such a good job putting those story lines on a path in The Wire–you are right. Nothing felt wrapped up in a neat little bow, but more inevitable in a satisfying and realistic way (sadly, sometimes, as with Dukie). Guess I’ll have to watch the end of Buffy…but not before I watch all the other seasons again first. Darn! 🙂

  10. Cassie, it has a special place in my heart, always! I’m glad so many of the actors have been successful, but they will always still be those characters for me.

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