I Can't Get No Satisfaction: Are Series Finales Ever Satisfying?
Series finale. The last episode. The end of its run.
These are all terms used for a TV show that, for better or worse, is ending. Series finales can be the creme de la creme of a shows run, the cherry on top of a delicious sundae of resolved arcs and emotional payoffs. Or it can be a flat, messy attempt to resolve storylines and character arcs that should’ve either never happened or been resolved waaay sooner. This week’s TBT is the series finales that I think did a good or great job of ending gracefully without too many unanswered questions or unresolved issues. So in no particular order it’s the FIIIINAL countdown:
Okay, I know the last few seasons had their issues, but the series finale was *chefs kiss*
There was Jim’s sweet line: “Even if I didn’t love every minute of it, everything I have I owe to this job. This stupid, wonderful, boring amazing job.” If you didn’t tear up, I question if you have a soul.
This finale tied up all the characters stories in true-to-them fashion. Reckless and irresponsible Ryan and Kelly. Dwight becoming the regional manager at Dunder Mifflin, Michael finally getting the family he always wanted. Pam realizing how afraid of life she used to be. It was just a good heartwarming and hilarious finale.
I will leave you with one of the best lines of the series (surprisingly said by Andy!): “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.”
Oh, Jessica Day! You truly are the TV me of this world. I loved the time jump we got in the last season and the realistic growth we got for the four leads (five counting CeCe): CeCe and Schmidt happily content being married parents, Schmidt choosing to be a stay at home dad because he misses Ruth. Nick and Jess FINALLY getting engaged and married! Winston becoming a dad! One last go of The True American drinking game!
And the twist ending!!! Winston Bishop really went all the way over the edge for that prank and it made me cackle!
But the sweetest part was that “daydream” sequence of them all playing True American with their kids — was it meant to be Jess’s wild imagination or were we given a glimpse of the sweet future our faves have in store? I prefer to go with the latter.
Parks and Recreation
Leslie Knope and gang really went out on a high note, wrapping up each character’s whole life essentially through copious amounts of time jumps spanning literally like 40 years. Jerry (Garry) lived to be 100 and was Pawnee’s mayor 10 times, Tom made a successful business out of failing his first business, Andy and April had a long healthy marriage and became probably the most “unsafe to actually raise children” parents, but they at least love their kid a lot.
Ron Swanson got his dream job given to him by Leslie as the head of national parks in Indiana, Donna got married to a wonderful man, became a fabulous real estate agent and started a nonprofit! Ann and Chris had two kids and lived long happy lives, and Leslie and Ben got it all! They had successful careers, Leslie ran for governor and won! They raised their triplets and and either Leslie or Ben was president by 2045 but we are left to wonder which one (imo Leslie, obviously).
The ending of this series, much like The Office and New Girl, leaves you feeling light and happy...and a little sad that the ride is over. That’s the sign of a great ending.
I was always pro Clark/Lana but I knew he wouldn’t end up with her because Superman’s soulmate has always been Lois Lane in every iteration, so I would expect nothing less. But they sell Clark and Lois well! I really ended up rooting for them! The flash forward showing them as successful journalists and getting married!
Chloe and Oliver being together and having a kid (this is and will always be the only Oliver Queen I claim) and of course, the end scene of Clark changing into his signature suit and leaping off the Daily Planet building in a single bound and flying to the rescue while the original John Williams Superman score plays! It gets you right in the feels. And I was left with a satisfied smile. Only thing I missed was real Lex Luthor and an appearance of Lana Lang.
The Vampire Diaries
Okay, I know a lot of folks have very strong opinions about this particular show and series finale, BUT I was not around for fandom drama or anything and just finished my binge watch of it so maybe I’m still in a rose colored glasses phase? And don’t get me wrong, some things did not work great for me (Bonnie, I am so sorry bb you deserved better than having nothing but your passport to travel the world with), and of course I’m still not 100% on board with how they finished Stefan and Damon’s story (particularly Stefan) but I will tell you one thing — I cried, and it takes a lot to make me cry in a TV show.
It was a genuinely moving series finale (the “ghosts” of everyone telling their loved ones bye for now? My heart!). I loved the reconciliation we got for the Salvatore bros (finally!) but it happened a little too late in the show, and I’m sad because I wanted to see more of “good” loving brother Damon and peaceful untormented Stefan.
But, my goodness, those few precious moments when they are both trying to sacrifice themselves for each other? Why is liquid coming out of my eyes! I am also here for endgame Stefan and Caroline (even though it was brief) and for Damon and Elena getting to live as humans together...but we needed more of that part of their story on screen. All in all I was satisfied with the ending and it’s very heavy handed look at forgiveness and what it really means.
Man this show deserved more time in its last season; it was so rushed, and the series finale is no exception — but! They made it so perfect with what they were given! The story comes full circle, Walter finds his redemption and Olivia and Peter find their happy ending with the little daughter just as they wished and hoped they would.
Peter and Walter started off this show a little less than flat-out antagonists with each other, and ended with a bittersweet “I love you, Dad” from Peter. There was so much heart put into this series finale you could feel every emotion from the characters as they raced to right their universe. All ending with Peter getting that envelope from Walter with the “white tulip”, Walter's last act of love to his son he crossed universes for...Sigh. What a story.
I was not a fan of how they chose to end Jen’s story, but that video Dawson records of her for her daughter...it was a moment that made you tear up and think about what’s really important, in the end. I was overjoyed that Pacey and Joey found their way back to each other — it was only a matter of time — and were gloriously happy best friends in the end.
Dawson got his dream job and his mom found love again. Jack and Pacey’s brother adopting and raising Jen’s little girl. Pacey Witter’s character development really was the greatest thing about this show so I am glad that they gave he and Joey the right ending. It was a great wrap up for such an iconic series.
And I can’t end this article without a quick mention of my least fave series finales ever:
Covert Affairs (it was cancelled so I guess I can’t be too harsh but man was I disappointed)
Merlin (that end scene? I mean if that hadn’t been included it would’ve been better overall)
One Tree Hill (guys that last season as a whole was ridiculous; the writers jumped sharks jumping sharks but honestly how could you have the series finale and NOT bring back Lucas and Peyton?)
Larkrise to Candleford (just no to all of that finale episode)
What is your favorite series finale episode? Which one makes you want to scream at your TV to this day? Let us know in the comments below or on twitter at @tbtmedia!