TV Show Finales – the good, the bad and the what the hell were the writers thinking

I’m always sad to see a good TV show finish. Writing an ending that is going to satisfy every fan is an impossible task. Let’s take a look at some of my favourite shows and how they ended.

Buffy_the_Vampire_Slayer_title_cardBuffy

If I didn’t love the Buffy universe as much as I do, I’d be harsher about the finale. What was the point of The First? How did destroying the hellmouth in Sunnydale prevent The First from world domination? If anyone can help me with that one, I’d appreciate it.

Why did Willow wait until the last possible moment to do that spell to turn potentials into slayers? Why did Buffy and Angel kiss? Their relationship was over years ago. I think the writers were trying to please the Bangel fans, but it made no sense really.

Forgiving all that, I admit to still tearing up when I watch the scene before the battle when it’s just the original gang: Buffy, Willow, Xander and Giles in the school hallway, a nostalgic nod to season 1 and a fitting bookend to the series. The first glance into the mouth of hell was scary and the potentials becoming fully fledged slayers was a powerful moment. Buffy ended over ten years ago, and it’s just a pity there haven’t been very many powerful female superheroes since.

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250px-AngelIntroAngel

I stopped watching Angel after the horrible shenanigans of season 4 and the total destruction of Cordelia Chase’s character, so I can’t comment on the finale. If anyone watched Angel to the end, let us know your thoughts in the comments. I’d love to hear what people thought of season 5 in general.

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250px-Medium_IntertitleMedium

I watched Medium a few years ago and fell in love with the Dubois family. Recently I went back and watched all seven seasons, knowing full well I hated the finale the first time around, but hoping that on the second viewing, I’d manage to appreciate it. I didn’t.

I felt the finale ignored the heart of the TV show. Medium on the surface may have been a show about a psychic woman who used her powers to help her employer, the DA of Phoenix and the police. But at its heart, Medium was about Allison and her family: her devoted husband Joe and their three beautiful daughters. The finale destroyed the family dynamic and I can’t help but view it as a slap in the face to loyal viewers.

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Darkangel_logoDark Angel

One of the best finales – in my opinion anyway. “Freak Nation” was a double episode that opened up so much possibility for another season. It’s a real pity Dark Angel wasn’t given a third series.

Seattle is now fully aware of the existence of genetically engineered humans, and the majority couldn’t be happier to see each and every one of them exterminated. After a tense hold up at Jam Pony, Max and her friends flee to Terminal City  where they make their stand. Jessica Alba delivers a powerful speech and the transgenics gather on the roof to raise the unique flag Joshua created for them.

A fantastic end to one of my favourite TV shows. Jessica Alba delivered in Max a  strong, witty, intelligent, at times vulnerable, but always capable woman.

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250px-RoswellTVSeriesRoswell

One of my favourite finales. It was sad watching the gang say goodbye to their loved ones before they went on the run from alien hunters, but the ending was so happy.

Liz sent her journal home so her parents would know why she had to leave, and while she spoke in a voiceover, we watched her & Max get married in the future with the rest of the gang there celebrating with them. They drove off together in hippy van to the upbeat sound of Ash’s “Shining Light”. It was a really lovely way to finish the short three seasons.

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Friends_titlesFriends

A bittersweet ending, although it baffled me how Ross went on and on about Rachel moving to another country and not being able to see her every day, yet didn’t once mention how he felt about his daughter moving to Paris. Very strange.

Monica and Chandler became parents, Chandler got the last word – of course, and then the final shot of the purple door to the apartment…

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ThexfilesThe X-Files

I gave up on this show towards the end, so can’t remember how it finished, but I think Mulder spent most of the time in jail? Can anyone fill me in on this one? The X-Files was my favourite TV show until Buffy came along. Mulder & Scully remain two of my favourite characters.

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250px-TruCallingTru Calling

The final episode was great, but the show was cancelled, and so we never got any resolution.

Tru Calling was getting so good at that point. The last episode delivered suspense and intrigue amid a Christmas setting. Adding Jason Priestley to the cast halfway through the first season was the best thing this show ever did.

Tru believes it’s her duty and calling to save people who have died when they ask her for help. The day rewinds and she does her utmost to make sure they avoid ending up in her morgue.

Jack on the other hand believes Tru is messing with the natural order, and when a person dies, they should not be saved.

In the last episode, we got to see Tru and Jack work together for once.  Their banter was entertaining, and I even felt sorry for Jack admitting he didn’t want to be alone on Christmas Eve. Yet behind it all, Tru’s father has a dark hold on Jack, and while Tru in the spirit of Christmas invites her estranged father and Jack into her home for holiday drinks and seems genuinely happy for them all to be together in that moment, the sinister atmosphere is evident, and the audience knows it’s only a matter of time before they betray Tru’s trust.

 

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Did you watch any of these TV shows? What’s your favourite TV finale, and which did you find lacking?

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33 thoughts on “TV Show Finales – the good, the bad and the what the hell were the writers thinking

  1. The finale to Angel is one of the greatest ever in my opinion. I agree that season 4 wasn’t great but the way things went in season 5 was fantastic with some awesome episodes and the finale, wow!
    Wesley dies, Lorne kills Lindsay (the Wolfram and Hart lawyer) and the rest of them face off in an alley against an army sent by the senior partners.
    Last scene is of them charging down the alley. I remember screaming at the TV when I watched it and it went to black without knowing who survived.
    I strongly recommend you look up Smile Time episode from season 5. Brilliant and hilarious, possibly the best episode bar the finale.

    1. Hi Karl. I’ve seen a smattering of season 5 Angel episodes. I’m glad to hear the last episode was great, and I’m curious to check it out myself. I kind of liked Lindsay. 🙂

  2. Love this post Emma. I’m a bit of a TV addict and when it comes to watching finales I’m filled with anticipation. When they’re good it helps me have closure with a show. Highlander comes to mind. The music alone helped me let go of the story. MASH was good too because it tied up a lot of loose ends. I found Buffy’s ending chaotic. And I too stopped watching Angel long before the end. I think that’s a problem with books and shows. The writers sometimes drag them out too long.
    And yes we need more Buffy type characters.
    Best
    Jo-Ann

    1. I’ve been a TV addict as far as I can remember. I watched Highlander as a kid, but I can’t remember the end. I’m hearing the theme music in my head now as I type – fond childhood memories. 🙂
      Buffy ended in 2003, and I’m sad to say I don’t see much improvement when it comes to female leads on both the small and big screens.

  3. I never saw Roswell all the way to the end. It’s nice to know how that one worked out. I watched X-Files for several seasons but didn’t stick with it. I can’t say I ever saw any of the others but I remember wanting to give Medium a try.

    I hate when you devote yourself to a show and it ends badly. I’m currently addicted to Once Upon a Time. If and when it ever goes off the air it better end the way all fairy tales should end . . . “and they all lived happily ever after.” Crossing my fingers on that one. Hopefully, it will be many seasons yet until that happens!

    1. It’s been a while since I watched Roswell. I caught in on TV randomly when I was 16 years old and immediately fell in love with Michael and Maria’s bantering. Aw, good teen memories. 😉
      If you ever give Medium a try, let me know. Fantastic series.
      Can you believe I still haven’t watched Once Upon A Time, and you’ve been recommending it for ages. It’s going to be a show I treat myself to the entire boxset and enjoy over the summer or Christmas holidays I think.
      I’ll keep my fingers crossed with you for the happily ever after.

  4. Emma, Emma, Emma! How could you question the eternal love between Buffy and Angel? They kissed because they will love each other forever despite the insurmountable obstacles!! It was not just for the BAngel fans, it was true love!!!! 😀 I for one, was not happy about the finale of Buffy! You know I’m a huge Buffy fan, but it was too convenient an ending for the hellmouth to just stop forever at Sunnydale. Not believable, and too hurried an ending. Plus the Slayers bugged me. The Angel ending was disappointing to me also, running down the alley and then black??? What the hell?-literally! I loved Roswell ending though – very good! 😀 Friends also had a good ending, but it was well overdue, I think the actors were getting fed up of it in the last 2 series! Great question anyway Emma, but am shocked that you could dismiss kiss between Buffy and Angel! The point was that he was going to be there for her no matter what! 😀 Sin é! 🙂

    1. Laura, I can actually see you shaking you head at me writing “Emma, Emma, Emma”. I know how much you loved Angel, so I won’t say anything further about his and Buffy’s relationship once he left town. 🙂 The first half of the final season of Buffy was good, but once those annoying potentials started arriving, it went downhill.
      Can’t comment on the Angel ending. The writers wanted you to decide the characters’ fate maybe?
      Slán go fóill.

  5. P.S. – I think why destroying the Hellmouth prevented the First from world domination was because the source of The First was the Hellmouth, and to destroy that, destroyed The First! I think!!?!

    1. HI Emma did you know there is a re-run of Buffy on sky now from week one. I haven’t watched it this time being that I watched it I don’t know how many times with my daughter with also the programme Charmed. Which I must admit I did enjoy the daughter mother time even though it was far too many times re-run and now again.
      :-))

      1. Hey, Debs. I didn’t know that. I re-watched the entire series last year, so I think I need a breather for another six months at least. 🙂
        Mother-daughter Charmed bonding time sounds good.

  6. I watched most of these… Tru Calling probably my favorite. I was so angry when Fox cancelled the show. I bought the DVDs to watch, so I could see at least everything that was filmed; but I still don’t think the show truly wrapped up cleanly. The Buffy finale made me cry; I thought the Friends finale was just fine; and I sadly can’t remember the Medium finale, which tells me it didn’t leave much of an impression.

    Now, as to a series finale handled just right… Psych. Oh, I was crying my eyes out last week and I can’t wait for the rumored movie.

    I haven’t watched last night’s How I Met Your Mother finale yet, but my Twitter and FB feeds were full of haters. Uh-oh.

    1. I never got in to How I Met Your Mother, but yes, a quick glance on Twitter and at reviews online tells me a lot of fans were not happy with the finale.
      I haven’t seen Psych but because of your blog posts last week, I’m definitely keeping an eye out for it.
      All the episodes of Tru Calling were screened over here – think in the US they only showed the first season? Such a pity the show didn’t get a few more episodes to wrap things up.
      Major spoiler now for Medium!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SPOILER!!!!!!!!!!!
      But Joe died in the last episode. 😦

  7. I was happy with the Buffy ending–that final shot sticks with me to this day. Didn’t ever watch Angel. I was really into Medium for a long time and then it just went all bizarro the last two(?) years. You know I love Dark Angel and my only problem with the season finale was that it was the END! 😦 Still mad it was cancelled. I really will have to check out Roswell!

    1. The final shot is good. I smiled when Buffy smiled.
      I loved Medium, but the ending. Noooo! Next time I go back and watch it from the start, I’m pretending it ends the episode before. Dark Angel rocked, loved the cast. I borrowed a book from a friend that picks up from the last episode and gives some resolution.

  8. This is such a brilliant topic you have brought up, Emma!

    I must admit I adore the Buffy ending, I wasn’t sure at first but now I feel that it was the right way to leave everything. (Although I will never forgive Joss for making Buffy kiss Angel and do that god damn cookie dough speech, or for not letting Buffy and Spike end up together, god I cry every damn time when I watch that episode!)
    I completely agree with you about Angel, the whole Cordelia thing was a train wreck, and Connor and all that bizarre stuff. I liked season 5 a lot, partly because it had Spike in it (my one true love, always, LOL) but also because it didn’t have any overly weird story-lines like the past few seasons and it seemed to go back to the original essence of Angel. However the ending was one of the worst I have ever come across, not entirely the fault of the writers however as they were cancelled but I just found it really irritating that we waited 5 seasons for so many unresolved issues and the killing off of so many main characters. Ack. It still annoys me!
    I watched the last episode of Dark Angel last year after picking up on your enjoyment of it and some of the parallels with Buffy. I was so angry at the last episode! Not because it was bad but because it was so damn good and I couldn’t take the fact that it would be ending unresolved! I still miss it, I was just starting to get so into it.
    I was also a big fan of Tru Calling, I watched the first season originally but never got around to the second because I knew that it was cancelled and that made me sad. 😦

    In terms of other TV shows…I was really disappointed with Ringer ending unresolved, I also really liked the OC which trailed off in the last series. Oh, and Lost, that ending really freakin’ annoyed me!!!

    I never reached the end of the XFiles, think I reached season 6-ish and got bored with the repetitiveness. I need to check out Rosewell after your recommendations, sounds right up my ally! Have you ever watched Smallville? I’m making my way though that at the moment, I think I have about 3 seasons to go and I have been really enjoying it. Although it’s more sci-fi, it has the same sort of set-up as Buffy, Dark Angel, Tru Calling, etc., so definitely give it a go if you haven’t already. 🙂

    (Whoa, sorry. This was a looooong comment!)

    1. Lovely to see such a long comment, truly Becky 🙂
      I’m so happy you checked out Dark Angel. I went back last year and re-watched it and was surprised by how modern it feels, didn’t seem to age very much, the second season especially.
      Spike dying – I was devastated, but if I’d known he was going to reappear as a ghost on Angel, I wouldn’t have been as sad or impressed. Kind of takes away from his whole sacrifice. And speaking of Angel, the Connor/Cordelia relationship made me physically sick. Yuck. Joss Whedon let down Charisma Carpenter, big time. And then not having her around for the 5th season. A shame. She was a good sport to come back an episode to give resolution to Cordelia and her fans. My friend Laura told me she hated the ending of Angel. I’ll have to go back and check out season 5 properly.
      I watched The OC until the episode Marissa died. And I never got into the Ringer, though I really wanted to since I missed SMG on the small screen.
      I caught Smallville every now and again but can’t claim to be a big fan, though I do remember buying the single on CD “Somebody save me…..” Not sure that’s even the song title, but anyway, it was a good tune.

      1. Me too! I was the same, when Buffy ended I had no idea Spike would be coming back and that made his sacrifice has even more impact. I was so happy when they did bring him back, but as you’ve said if I had known it might have been a bit different.
        Totally agree! Yeah, I heard that Joss and Charisma had a big falling out, and that she said she would come back for one episode but only if Joss didn’t kill her off. Eventually she agreed to come back, they shot the scenes and then they told her she would be dying…DAMN. I would be irritated. But she said after she read it she was so impressed with how he had crafted the episode and sent her out on a high. Having said that, I must confess I wasn’t a big fan of her character as a whole, but Joss did royally muck her up at the end.

        Ahh yes, it definitely took me a while to get into Smallville, you have to give it a little time to grow on you. I think really get into it until I’d watched a few seasons, but after that I was totally hooked! 🙂

  9. Phew! I was worried you were going to bring up the HIMYM finale which I haven’t watched yet, but thankfully you didn’t! The only ones that you mentioned that I got through was Buffy and friends and I quite liked the ending of them, although I haven’t watched it in years so I might be a bit hazy on the details. In regards to Angel, I got through only the first season before absolutely hating it.

    I’m actually pretty terrible with making it all the way through a series, but I loved the ending to both sex and the city (lets not think about the second movie) and gilmore girls. Gilmore girls is a funny one because I only recently learned that they didn’t want to end the show (the main actors) but it was cancelled and had a hasty end. Yet I thought it summed up the show perfectly – each of them fulfilling their goals without anything in the extreme.

    1. I didn’t watch HIMYM, but I’m hearing a lot of anger and frustration from fans online about the finale. Looks like another “what the fuck were the writers thinking” scenario.
      Aw, I liked Angel for the first 3 seasons, I was very late to Sex and the City but ended up loving that show. The only thing I didn’t like about the ending to the Gilmore Girls was how they threw away Logan’s character. 😦

      1. Ooihhh I agree with the Logan thing! I loved Logan and it I still find it bizarre that he walks off and they never see each other again. In saying that, his character had gotten pretty dull all of the he last season – he kept doing stupid things, as though they were preparing to cut him out.

  10. You’ve just shocked me!!! LOL We’ve watched so many re-runs of Friends up to what’s always been shown here, which we presumed was the last one! Now I see you mention a daughter where Ross and Rachel is concerned, and that Chandler and Monica became parents. My mouth is still hanging open…

    1. Oh my God, Sandra. Lol, what did you think was the last episode of Friends? Ha ha, I’m skitting laughing now. Friends is on repeat day in and day out over here. It’s near impossible to escape seeing the finale over and over. Chandler and Monica ended up adopting twins! And Rachel and Ross had a baby named – wait for it – Emma. 🙂

  11. Agreed. The last two seasons of X-files were a mess – though by that point I liked the season 7 “replacement” agents better than Mulder and Scully. Loved the Buffy ending, though sad it ended. Angel… that “everyone into the breach” finale was noble, I guess, but I didn’t like quite so much being left hanging. Perhaps if they weren’t canceled it would have been more satisfying.

    And speaking of cancellations, the one that still gets me to this day is Eastwick. I LOVED that show and the network screwed it up by unexpectedly replacing it with sports games, and putting it so late at night. Cancelled after… what was it? 13 episodes? And only 12 ran in the US? Urgh…

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