My Favorite TV Finales

Since the Scrubs finale aired on Wednesday night, I’ve since rewatched it once, and Lauren and I have agreed that the Peter Gabriel song playing at the end of the show would make an excellent first dance song at the wedding.  After watching that episode the first time, I initially thought it was a very good finale, but since then, I’ve basically decided it’s among the two best TV show finales ever.  Want the full rankings?  I do!

David Brent of BBCs The Office
David Brent of BBC's "The Office"

1. The Office, BBC: This was the best TV finale I’ve ever seen—and perhaps the best single episode of a TV show I’ve ever seen.  If you followed the original Office series on BBC, it was nearly impossible not to tear up at the end of this series where a very sad David Brent finally starts to have a few things go his way.  His music video, “If You Don’t Know Me by Now” was also freaking hilarious.

2. Scrubs: I wrote all about the Scrubs finale already, but after watching it a second time, I think it was the best sitcom finale I’ve seen.

3. Arrested Development: For as short of a time as it was on the air, AD wrapped things up very nicely in its final four-part series finale in 2006.  For a show that rarely had heartfelt moments, it was an emotional ending when Jason Bateman actually choked up delivering his final words as Michael Bluth.  At the time I think there was still hope that the show would continue, but at least there’s talk of a movie now.

4. The Wonder Years: I am a big fan of the Wonder Years finale because they not only wrap up the show very nicely, but the narrator tells us what happens in the future.  We learn that Kevin and Winnie don’t wind up together, and that Jack Arnold dies within a couple years and Wayne takes over the furniture business.  Oddly, the Wonder Years finale took away the wonder of what might have been!

5. Frasier: I had mixed feelings on the Frasier finale because when a show ends, I want closure! Frasier left the door very wide open as Frasier left Seattle to pursue the girl of his dreams, Charlotte.  We never found out if it worked out for him or not.  But the rest of the cast wrapped things up well, with Niles and Daphne having a baby, and Marty getting married.

6. Three’s Company: This was as ridiculous as all the other episodes.  Janet gets married in the tiny apartment! Probably for lack of funding for sets, they set up a bunch of chairs in their apartment and hold the ceremony.  Jack moves out and moves in with his girlfriend Vikcy, which led to the failed Three’s a Crowd spin-off.  It ends with Terri turning off the lights, looking back one last time, and closing the door.  Terri, not Jack, surprisingly!

7. Freaks and Geeks: I’m not sure if the producers knew this was going to be the last episode or not, but it was a tear-jerker nonetheless as Lindsay leaves for the summer on a bus to some sort of Michigan statewide camp for the smartest students… or does she?  No, she goes to meet Kim and they follow the Grateful Dead for the summer.

8. Saved by the Bell: Say what you must about SBTB, but as far as finales go, this was perfect!  Being that it was a series about high school, it was an easy way to end with graduation.  But would Zack graduate being the pitiful student he was over the years?  It’s Screech, Slater, and the rest of the gang to the rescue to get Zack the final credit he needs to graduate Bayside High.

Where does the Family Matters finale rank?
Where does the "Family Matters" finale rank?

Some finales that were just okay were Friends, which wrapped up in very predictable fashion; Who’s the Boss?, which didn’t end with a much-anticipated Tony-Angela wedding; and of course Little House on the Prairie where the townspeople blow up the town… yes, they took to Walnut Grove, MN with dynamite so some intruders couldn’t take over.

There were a lot of bad or disappointing finales too, like Seinfeld, where the gang goes to jail; Family Matters, where Urkel goes to outer space to save the planet; and Full House, where Michelle falls off a horse and has flashbacks.

I may be forgetting a show or two, and I have no way to reference my list of my top 100 TV shows since appears to be down temporarily.  What do you think?


  1. Let me start off by saying that perhaps you watch too much TV!! I can’t believe that you can remember all of those finales…I barely remember any of the episodes. One that does stick in my mind is the finale of MASH which was way before your time, but when we only had 2 channels to watch, it was one of the better shows on and the finale set all time TV viewing records. Most of those finales sound kind of stupid, such as the Ingalls blowing up a town…just think…where would Alex and Ann live if Pa had blown up DeSmet?

  2. Thank you, Mom…Ma and Pa haven’t been referred to by the Glanzers in quite some time. :c)
    I didn’t realize that the episode of Full House with Michelle’s flashbacks was the finale. I knew it was one of the last episodes, but haven’t ever paid close enough attention, I guess.
    I happened to really enjoy the Dawson’s Creek finale, and — of course — the Gilmore Girls. But you hate both those shows so of course they didn’t make your short-list.

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