Remembering TV Finales

The other day, I watched two-part finale to season eight of Scrubs, cleverly entitled “My Finale, Part 1 and 2”. I assumed–and the episodes did nothing to dissuade me–that these were also the series finale. The final show was packed with the usual goodbyes and sentimentality that you expect from such last episodes. You can watch the last few minutes on YouTube.

As it turns out, there will apparently be another season of the quirky medical show. Wikipedia offers this explanation:

On June 19, 2009, it was announced that the reformatted ninth season of Scrubs would “shift from the hospital to the classroom and make med-school professors of John C. McGinley’s Dr. Cox and Donald Faison’s Turk.” According to Lawrence, the ninth season will “be a lot like Paper Chase as a comedy,” with Cox’s and Turk’s students occasionally rotating through the halls of Sacred Heart and encountering former series regulars.

The other leads, Zack Braff and Sarah Chalke, have apparently signed on for guest appearances in six episodes each.

Regardless, Scrubs got me thinking about other final episodes that I remember. There actually aren’t that many:

  • I remember the final episode of M*A*S*H as a particular sobfest. “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen”, as it happens, is still the most watched American television broadcast in history.
  • Cheers had a really classy ending, with Sam adjusting a photo of Geronimo near the piano, which has been on the set since Coach’s (Nicholas Colasanto) death.
  • I only vaguely recall the final episode of Buffy, which, in truth, felt a little rushed and (typically, I’d say) quite unsentimental.
  • In talking about TV finales with others, I remembered that the cast of Family Ties took a curtain call at the end of their final episode, which was a nice touch.

Like everything else on the planet (and beyond), there’s a website dedicated to TV finales.

What are your favourite (or least favourite) last episodes?


  1. Best: HBO’s “Six Feet Under”. Leaves you emotionally drained yet satisfied. The opposite of the ambiguous ending of “The Sopranos”.

    1. It left me laughing at the awful make-up and appall ing lame futuristic set dressing. Keiths death was surely the funniest, staggering out of the back of a Security Van (Yeah those will still exist in 30 years time!!) like an extra from a bad sit-com, and then getting shot by the baddies! Seriously, this was a ridiculously smaltzy chunk of some of the worst make up and silly death scenes in tv history, and anyone who didn’t collapse with laughter at it’s sheer Monty Pythoness must be American!! What a huge letdown after the wonderful promise and insight of Seasons 1 2 & 3, It just goes to show, that should know when a series has run it’s course, and it’s time to stop while people still remember it fondly.

  2. Newhart,” for sure, for having the chutzpah to bring back the ’70s “Bob Newhart Show” character (with wife Suzanne Pleshette), and also to mock the whole “it was only a dream” trend in TV programming of the time.

    1. Newhart was cool but my favourite is The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Worst was Seinfeld.

  3. I’m a fan of the Star Trek TNG finale 2-parter where Picard travels back and forth through time looking at different eras of human history, including a visit to his very first moments on the Enterprise. Brought a tear to my eye! [Everybody turn away!]

  4. Must agree that the last 7 minutes of Six Feet Under was outrageously fantastic. The show had really slipped for me by that point, but that end was relentless catharsis. Fantastic. I think I cried for a quarter of an hour.

    Sopranos… I have to disagree with Robert R. The ending was brilliant. >SPOILERS!< They been telling us every four episodes for the past three seasons that you never see the bullet that gets you. And as the show is Tony’s show… It’s over the moment that bullet comes. And YET! The real genius… if they want to do any kind of follow-up, it’s wide open. I could not have been more impressed at how they played both ends of that.

    Sort of a cheat… Serenity was a great way to wrap up Firefly.

    Oz – was terrible! It felt like they found out afterwards that the show was cancelled and then decided to retrofit their promotion of the season ender – which as a series ender was a complete non seqitur.

  5. The Buffy finale WAS rushed – I am still confused about the whole cookie dough / everyone’s a slayer now thing.

  6. I recently watched the Canadian mini series ZOS – Zone of Separation, and the last 5 minutes were insane in a surreal everyone shooting everyone kind of way. Scary, crazy but pretty good!

  7. The finale of The Shield was fantastic…wrapped everything up in a way that seemed appropriate to the series and yet satisfying to the audience.

  8. Worst: Battlestar Galactica. It was such a shitty episode that it actually ruined the entire series. I can’t even think of the episodes I LIKED now without thinking “But it meant NOTHING!”

    Damn them.

    1. I didn’t quite dislike it as much as you, but I was kind of disappointed by it as well. It was rather dragged out, and that silly epilogue set in a modern-day city was ridiculous.

  9. The last episode of Six Feet Under, for sure. Absolutely the best 10 minutes of TV, bringing the show full circle and returning to all its central themes, like the writers knew 5 years earlier that the series would end with exactly those 10 minutes.

  10. Unfortunately, where I live I haven’t seen a lot of the above-mentioned shows…

    So, my favourite ending is going back quite a few years. The end of Blake’s 7 was amazing. The sets and costumes were crap, but there’s something about British Sci-fi that must be watched!

    The gang was picked off one by one, and then Avon was surrounded….Fade to black, sound of gunfire. So cool.

  11. Hill Street Blues — exactly as expected: it’s just another day on the job.

    St. Elsewhere — a *brilliant* *brilliant* Rorschach test.

    Newhart — @Derek: nah, it wasn’t chutzpah, it was inspired.

    @Darren: the link to the website dedicated to finales, is really a link to a linkfarm/sales site.

  12. Six feet under turned into a ridiculous slapstick farce of really bad ageing make up and ludicrously lame futuristic set dressings from Thunderbirds. It should have finished after series 3 with a Jumbo Jet landing on the Fisher and Diaz Funeral Home, Alan Ball must have been on Ectasy when he wrote series 4 and 5, what a shame after the humour and quirkiness of the first 3, at least he redeemed himself with True Blood. One final thing, Davids constant pursuit by an extra from Don’t Look Now and Nates punchably smug lameness will live with me for ever!!!

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