In honor of the Shadowhunters Series finale and Game of Thrones Series finale, both two shows I loved ending, today we’re going to talk about some TV Series’ finales that gave us beautiful, satisfied endings and compare them to ones that didn’t.
Short disclaimer: each of these voices my own personal opinions and I’m sure there are lots of you out there that disagree and I’m happy to know your own opinions of the endings on this list.
Let’s get started!
Let’s start off with examples of some of the best series’ finales I’ve seen and enjoyed and talk about them. These are in no particular order, since to me, they all gave me feels, tied up loose ends, and gave the fans an ending that the show, characters, and everyone who worked on it all deserved.
It aired several years ago, but Smallville remains one of my favorite shows to this day. The series finale was one all fans had been eager to see for years and it was so bittersweet because we all loved the show so much we didn’t want it to end. It raised the bar for series finales high. One thing I loved was that it had the villain and boss fights of all boss fights. An epic villain that put the entire world at jeopardy. It brought back many characters we had longed to see again – Lex Luthor, even Clark’s earthly dad if only in spirit. It also gave us a sweet ending to the couple, Clark and Lois’ story and most of all, it gave us a full character arc of Clark and everyone else involved. It set the stage for the superman legend we all loved, so it respected the characters, tied up all loose ends. The very ending showed a scene between Clark’s best friend as she finished reading the story of Clark’s life to her son, implying that had been the entire series. I mean, it was so bittersweet and to me, remains one of the most perfect series finales ever to be made.
- Avatar, the Last Airbender
Man, I still get chills thinking back to this one. Like Smallville, it gave the fans a satisfying ending that I could watch over and over again. The heroes call came together for a huge boss fight – I mean, the boss fight we had all been waiting for years to see – literally. It had the major showdowns between the villains and heroes we had been waiting to see. Aang versus the Fire Lord and then Zuko versus his sister Azula. It tied up all loose endings, the heroes won. Zuko’s arc came full circle when he became Fire Lord, vowing to do better than his father. He and hang hugged as friends when they had originally started off as enemies. Aang became the Avatar he was always meant to be, gained control of his Avatar State and ended up with Katara. The villains got what they deserved and Aang even found a way to take away the Fire Lord’s bending so he didn’t have to kill him. It was so sweet and so epic and to me, is one of the most exciting and epic, action-packed series’ finales of all time.
- Vampire Diaries
I still haven’t quite recovered from this one, since it only ended a few years ago. I’ve only watched it once, so I can’t quite remember the arc that was going on, but there’s always a twist and epic stuff going on with this show. It brought us full circle and even though the lead female protagonist, Elena’s actress had left the show a few seasons ago, they brought her back strictly for the finale to give us the ending we and the characters all deserved. She played Elena perfectly and gave us an ending we cried about. Especially when it came to Stephan becoming human and sacrificing himself – from what I can remember. This one was so bittersweet and just full of feels, the one full of the most feels out of all the other finales on this list, I think. Okay, well Star Wars Rebels ties with it.
- Star Wars Rebels
Speaking of which… This show. I love it so much and could watch it over and over again. Kanan sacrificed himself and tied like a true Jedi toward the end of the season. They raised the stakes in the finale, bringing it all back to Lothal, where the show started. Ezra grew up. He became strong in the Force after all his training and all his hard work and was finally able to overcome Thrawn. In the end, Ezra sacrificed himself to send he and Thrawn across the galaxy to save Lothal. At the very end, the scene jumps time to well after Star Wars Episode Six took place, showing us where the squad was and how they were doing. It did so well at tying up loose ends – the best in my opinion. Lastly, it showed Sabine, one of the characters who loved art – staring at a murial she painted on a wall. It showed the whole group back together again and then she left with another Jedi named Ahsoka to go search for Ezra, which left it open for them to be brought back in another movie or series somehow. It also showed Kanan’s wife with a child, implying they had a child together which gave me so many feels and gave us a little piece of Kanan after his death. All in all, this finale made me cry and have so many feels I couldn’t contain them all.
Ah, Reign. This was one of those shows that started off one way and by the end of it, it no longer feels like the same show and yes, in Reign’s case, it’s a good things. The characters had gone through so much and changed so much that they felt like different people than when they started. So the ending, jumping time to Mary’s beheading later in life, was quite a shock. It did feel a bit rushed, but that was easily overlooked because of what they did at the very end. It literally showed Mary waking up in bed with her first husband who had died years ago. In death, she and Francis were reunited and it showed them dancing together, laughing, all the while a montage of clips from their most romantic moments together played, flashing between them and the past. It was soooo bittersweet. That even though Mary died, she was reunited with Francis. It brought the show back to season one, where it all started, and filled me and the audience with so much nostalgia that hasn’t been topped by anything.
So why did all these shows do such great jobs at their endings? They each brought something amazing that the audience needed, whether it was intense action, nostalgia, feels, a bittersweet feeling, and leaving us with a feeling of contentment on where it ended. They each brought their characters in full, complete character arcs – you could look back and see where the characters started and compare it to where they ended up and who they became as the show continued. They tied up loose ends, left us wanting more without making us need more to feel satisfied.
So are the worst ones missing all that? Let’s take a look.
- Game of Thrones
If I’m being objective, the finale of Game of Thrones was just okay. It wasn’t exciting or epic, and it did tie up loose ends and give me a sense of closure which is imperative to a TV Show’s finale. But when you look at the characters, yes some of them changed over the course of the show, but some of them didn’t. Jamie died in the arms of his sister after seven seasons of changing, becoming a better man, and learning to let her go because she was a monster. Yet in the end, he still went back to her, just so he could die with her the way the writers wanted. It undid all of his development. Then you have Jon Snow. He had so much potential and had grown so much over the previous seven seasons. They brought in his true heritage as heir to the Iron Throne and then he had to kill the woman he loved, Danarys to save the world from her wrath. That scene did give me a lot of feels even though pieces of it didn’t make sense when analyzed more in depth (why was she alone when her guards knew her life was in danger, etc). But the scene gave me feels and Jon did the right thing but I still felt for what he did and it stayed true to his character. So what did he get as a reward for saving everyone? He was sent back to the Knight’s Watch… Back to the very place he first started out, which made it seem as if his entire character arc meant nothing. Why take a character somewhere, take them through all this development, just to have them end up right where they started, without some sort of change or difference in their lives? That ruins the point of a character arc in the first place. And then, what was the point of bringing up his true heritage since they didn’t do anything with it? There were a lot of things that didn’t add up and make sense and overall, it was really obvious that the writers rushed it. Why? To move on to other projects, I guess, but even though they gave us closer, they didn’t give us an ending that felt satisfying and true to our beloved characters. The cast did an amazing job acting, though, and did the best they could with the writing they had.
I love this show and have loved it ever since it started. I loved it because of the books, but then they twisted things and took it a whole new direction, so I started loving it for what it became on its own. The finale was pretty epic and full of action, or at least, the episodes leading up to it. They upped the stakes and let the main protagonist, Clary, kill her brother knowing it would take away her runes, so she sacrificed herself for her friends. Then what? They all grieved for her, saddened by her loss? Nope. They all had a wedding to get to, which was fine – overlooking my issues with it. I get that she kept it secret from them, and that storyline would have worked, but at the very end, they jumped time, showed what all the characters ended up doing with their lives. They had one scene where her boyfriend grieved and had a nice bro moment between her boyfriend and best friend. Her best friend told her boyfriend to give up on her, and he obviously didn’t. Her boyfriend went to go watch her and this time, she saw him, implying her memories were coming back, which was where the show ended. Now, ending on a cliff hanger like this is a really cool way to go, if it’s done right. Instead of focusing so much on the wedding’s after party, they could have taken way more screen time to show the moments when all of Clary’s friends found out she had already lost her memories and forgot them all. The girl who was going to be her paraboti – a special magical bond between two people – never even talked about her once. Her best friend had already given up her. Then her boyfriend’s own paraboti never once comforted him. Even though two or three episodes before that, her boyfriend comforted his paraboti when he lost his lover and all the character rallied together for several episodes to save his lover. Yet, no one tried with Clary? I get that they couldn’t save her, but showing that they wanted to and then showing us the moment they realized they couldn’t would have been a far better way to deal with it. This way, it just feels like we were robbed of what we needed to feel like this ending was satisfying.
- Once Upon A Time
So, I can’t really give an objective look at the finale of this show simply because I got about three episodes into the final season and stopped watching the show. I have watched this show ever since it aired on TV – every Sunday night my mom sister and I would watch it and we did this for several seasons. Until we lost TV and then we bought the last seasons and binged watched to catch up. Then we got to the final season. Which is basically a redo of the storyline for season one, except it’s not as exciting and honestly, its quite boring. More than anything, I want to see the finale of this show that I’ve loved, but I literally can’t get through it. I’ve been debating about skipping to the final episode or reading spoilers just to know how it ends.
I can’t think of any other series finale endings that left me unsatisfied like these three listed. There are a few that are simply on my “they were alright” list – such as Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, Touched by an Angel, Legend of Korra, and so on.
But these three were the only ones that literally felt like they didn’t give me as a fan a satisfying ending. What did they all do? Shadowhunters and Game of Thrones both felt rushed. At least, in Shadowhunter’s defense, they were canceled and had been able to at least give us the final two episodes and pull something out, so at least they have a good excuse. The showrunners of Game of Thrones don’t. They rushed it just to rush it. But what is the one thing that these failed finales have in common?
They didn’t honor the characters.
Game of Thrones didn’t honor anything the characters had been through, their arcs, or even let the characters’ actions decide what happened which was how Game of Thrones had structured itself thus far. Shadowhunters didn’t honor Clary in exchange for focusing too much on two side characters that weren’t too important at the time to what was going on with Clary. Once Upon A Time didn’t honor any of the other characters and because they lost a few actors they decided to completely leave the town we loved and do something new that felt like a terrible, cheap copy of season one. Rather than come up with a creative reason why the actors’ characters had gone – like Vampire Diaries did when they lost the lead actress two seasons before it ended.
I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below. What shows did I miss? What did you think of the ones I mentioned?