Jerry in prison from Seinfeld, Ross and Rachel hugging on Friends

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Fans know that a TV show must come to an end, even after they spend years connecting with characters and their stories. After a series finale, there’s a definitive emptiness as fans realize they can no longer tune in to their favorite TV program. As such, many TV shows have done reunion episodes, like when the cast of Friends got together in 2021.

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However, if the series finale is done right, then their departure doesn’t feel as bad. There have been some great and memorable finales over the years that have perfectly concluded the series. Conversely, others were so dreadful that they left a permanent stain on the overall show’s reputation.

Updated on May 24, 2023 by Ajay Aravind: Every story has (and needs) a solid conclusion — without a satisfying ending, fans would never receive the closure they deserve when their beloved TV series come to a close. Some endings are naturally great, whereas others are rather inadequate. We’ve therefore revamped this list with some more relevant information.



TV Shows With Great Endings


Friends was a long-running sitcom that shifted the paradigm of its genre. The stellar cast, writing, and directing have ensured that Friends has remained one of the most popular sitcoms, even since its finale in 2004. Fans of Friends still rewatch the sitcom on streaming services such as Netflix and HBO Max.

Ross and Rachel’s on-again-off-again relationship was a major plotline throughout Friends’ 10 seasons. However, the revelation that Ross still loved Rachel created enormous joy for fans. “The Last One – Part 2”saw Rachel leaving for Paris but ultimately deciding to get off the plane to stay with Ross in New York. Since the series finale tied up many loose ends, it was extremely satisfying for fans.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show

Before The Mary Tyler Moore Show, few TV programs had a true series finale. Typically, a television series simply ended. This changed when Mary Tyler Moore took its final bow in 1977. The Mary Tyler Moore Show featured a formula that many other programs have used since.

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After a 7 season run, the series finale managed to hit the right mix of comedy and sadness. “The Last Show” showed the main cast hugging and bursting into tears, and the emotions felt very real. Mary started the “lights off” trend as she looked at the empty newsroom and shut the lights off for the last time.

The West Wing

The West Wing is one of the preeminent political dramas in TV history. With a framework established by Aaron Sorkin in the first seasons, The West Wing deftly mixed comedy, drama, and plenty of walk-and-talks. Though John Wells took over showrunner duties from seasons five through seven, The West Wing remained extremely popular.

The series finale detailed the transition of power between Bartlett and Matt Santos and featured most of the original cast, including Rob Lowe, in a brief appearance. Furthermore, after Toby Zeigler was fired for revealing state secrets, the president pardoned him. It was a fine last page to an amazing show.


On February 28, 1983, 106 million viewers tuned in to CBS to watch the series finale of M*A*S*H, which still remains the highest-rated series finale of all time. M*A*S*H was a Monday night staple that lasted eleven seasons, most of which were well-received by critics and audiences alike.

The episode “Goodbye, Farewell And Amen” was almost like a feature-length film, running for nearly two hours. It allowed the show to stretch into serious drama with Hawkeye Pierce’s breakdown. Furthermore, viewers had the opportunity to say goodbye to all the characters in a long sequence.


The Newhart finale is the epitome of endings — it was so surprising and entertaining that others have had a hard time achieving such a feat. That said, it might not have happened if Newhart‘s eponymous star Bob Newhart didn’t already have a previously successful sitcom.

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In Newhart, Bob plays a mild-mannered Vermont innkeeper surrounded by quirky characters. In the series finale, the property around the Inn is purchased by Japanese investors for a golf course. When Bob’s character is hit on the head, he wakes up in bed beside Emily Hartley, his wife in the 1970s hit The Bob Newhart Show. This finale is still regularly viewed on YouTube.

TV Shows With Disappointing Endings

Babylon 5

When Michael J. Straczynski put together the concept for Babylon 5, he considered a five-season run. With its long story arc and underlying plot, Babylon 5 was considered a novel for television. However, when he found out the Prime Time Entertainment Network (PTEN) was about to fold, Straczynski shoved all of the remaining plotlines into season four.

Due to its popularity, TNT picked up Babylon 5 for one more season. Since Straczynski had closed most of the stories out already, the end of the fourth season was considered Babylon 5’s true series finale. The finale that closed the fifth season seemed empty as viewers already knew what the future held for the characters.


The reason that Angel’s series finale seemed a little empty is because Joss Whedon wasn’t ready to end it. In the middle of Angel’s fifth season, he asked The WB’s executives for a renewal. Not willing to make a commitment, they simply pulled the plug.

IDW published a comic book version of season six called Angel: After The Fall in 2007. After The Fall was released three years after Angel ended. Even though illustrations could show more, viewers wanted to say their farewells to the live-action heroes.

The Sopranos

The 2007 series finale of HBO’s The Sopranos was disappointing, mainly because of its confusing premise. Even today, fans still speculate on what it all meant. The final minutes see Tony Soprano and his family gather together at a local diner while Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey plays in the background

As the family eats a plate of onion rings, Tony looks up to see his daughter Meadow enter the diner. The scene and music abruptly end and everything goes to black, concluding The Sopranos. Fans either screamed in frustration or wondered what happened to their beloved characters.

Star Trek: Enterprise

The finale of Star Trek: Enterprise could have been so much more. After all, it was about Captain Archer’s part as a founder of the United Federation of Planets. Further, it was an opportunity to show how the crew of the NX-01 Enterprise had grown, as it took place six years after the penultimate episode.

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Viewers soon realized the whole thing was a holosuite program utilized by Will Riker on the Enterprise-D. Troubled by events in the Next Generation episode “The Pegasus,” he looks to Counselor Troi for advice. Critics thought Enterprise’s finale didn’t conclude the series itself, but rather felt like an episode of The Next Generation. Needless to say, reviews of the Enterprise finale were negative.


Like Friends, Seinfeld broke the genre mold. Seinfeld ran from 1989 to 1998 and is hailed as one of the best TV shows of all time, remaining iconic to this day. Because of Seinfeld’s immense popularity, fans thought the series finale was going to be phenomenal. In the end, it turned out to be a huge disappointment for some.

The four main characters were brought to trial in a small town after their selfish and narcissistic attitudes finally caught up with them. Characters from the past were then put on the witness stand to describe the horrible antics of Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer. The final scenes show them in prison, with Jerry doing his stand-up routine.

NEXT: The 20 Best TV Show Endings, Ranked

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