‘Breaking Bad’ Ends: 10 Great Series Finales

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It’s over. It’s really, truly over.

Breaking Bad ended with a bang on Sunday, sending Walter Hartwell White off into the pages of television history in glorious fashion. An explosive ending to an explosive season, the Bad finale, titled “Felina,” easily and immediately ranks as one of our all-time favorite series finales. But how about some of our other favorites? In honor of the AMC drama’s departure, here are some of Spinoff Online’s favorite finales.

(Because we would be here forever without some boundaries, we’re limiting ourselves to shows that ended in the new millennium; there’s no touching the likes of M*A*S*H and Newhart. We’re also sticking to the one-hour drama and avoiding sitcom territory. No disrespect, Friends and The Office. Your finales were awesome.)

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“All the Time in the World,” Alias
Many fans abandoned Sydney Bristow after she demolished SD-6 during the Super Bowl. That’s a satisfying ending in and of itself. But if you stuck with Alias through the end, the work was well worth it: a climactic battle against Irina Derevko, a brilliant ending for Arvin Sloane, and one of the most badass sacrifice plays ever captured on screen.

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“Not Fade Away,” Angel
Tragedy. Sacrifice. Triumph. Words that are often associated with Joss Whedon’s work, and fully on display in the final episode of Angel, between the sudden deaths of fan-favorite characters like Wesley Wyndam-Price, Angel walking away from the Shanshu Prophecy, and Hamilton’s demise. Action-packed and full of heart. What more can you ask for from a Whedon finale?

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“Discos and Dragons,” Freaks and Geeks
It could have continued. It should have continued. But it didn’t. And where it ended was honestly pretty perfect. Lindsay goes full-freak and abandons her summer program to chase the Grateful Dead. Daniel goes full-geek and joins Sam, Neal and Bill for an eventful night of Dungeons & Dragons. Nick leaves his worries behind on the groove line. Satisfying endings for just about every single character, even if you’re left wanting more.

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“Always,” Friday Night Lights
Let me tell you something: You can take the Taylors out of Texas, but you can’t take Texas out of the Taylors. Even as Coach and Tami Taylor move on to a new life in Philadelphia, the “Clear Eyes” mantra remains in their hearts, ensuring the finale could never lose. Add one last Riggins-fueled “Texas Forever” beer sesh, and you have one of the most satisfying series finales imaginable.

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“Exeunt Omnes,” Oz
Not HBO’s best show by any stretch, but often its most satisfying. The ending was no different. Some take issue with the anthrax curve that displaces the prisoners from Oswald State Correctional Facility. Those same viewers forget that the anthrax killed all of the nazis in one fell swoop. Plus, there’s Schillinger’s climactic “Macbeth” death, Keller’s calculated suicide, and Alvarez’s deeply depressing unending ending. It was an over-the-top conclusion for an over-the-top show — in other words, pretty close to perfect.

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“Family Meeting,” The Shield
Death’s easy. Life’s hard. That’s the lesson that Vic Mackey is forced to confront in the final moments of The Shield. He’s dodged more bullets than Neo by the end of the series, but was it worth losing his family and his identity as a street cop over? Based on Mackey’s final actions — violating his immunity agreement by grabbing a gun and hitting the streets — the answer is a resounding “nope.”

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“Everyone’s Waiting,” Six Feet Under
Often cited as the greatest series finale of all time. We’ll stop short of such hyperbole, but holy feels, those finals few minutes represent everything good about drama. Words don’t do it justice. Just go watch it.

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“Made in America,” The Sopranos
The words “Don’t Stop Believing” never carried more power. Sure, the abrupt cut to black wasn’t everybody’s basket of onion rings, but how can you get mad at an episode that ran a car over dead Phil Leotardo’s head and

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“Hail Mary,” Terriers
It could have continued. It should have continued. But it didn’t. And where it ended was honestly pretty perfect. (That sounds familiar.) One of the most underrated and sadly underwatched shows of the last several years, Terriers ended on the same high-quality note that marked its entire run, punctuated by a perfect final scene: a literal fork in the road for friends and business partners Hank and Britt. Which path did they take? We’ll never know, but it’s still fun to think about.

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“–30–,” The Wire
An uneven final season. A fantastic final episode. The serial killer story gets wrapped up in a neat red ribbon while McNulty and Freamon’s careers are eulogized by Baltimore’s drunkest finest. Carcetti’s ambitions get him all the way to the Governor’s office. Daniels finally walks away from the force and fulfills his dreams of becoming a lawyer. And poor, poor Dookie. That’s just a small slice of the closure the final Wire episode gives to its fans — closure that was by no means guaranteed, given the sudden and jarring endings so many other fan-favorite characters received over the years.

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Comments

  • Kevin Brettauer

    ‘Reckoning’, ‘Daybreak’ and ‘An Enemy of Fate’ are each better than ‘Made in America’ and ‘Hail Mary’ could ever hope to be.

  • Dorna Mal

    Oz? Seriously? That ending SUCKED.

  • Josh

    Rescue Me’s finale was pretty awesome as well.

  • Cyborg6971

    There’s an error on this list, and that would be made in America. That was one of the biggest cop outs in tv history.

  • turnthepagecomics
  • Ryan Smack

    Smallville. .

  • andrew11

    Six Feet Under will always be the greatest finale in my mind.

  • KrisXX

    Agreed. David Chase is/was an egotistical asshole. His finale was pretty much a FUCK YOU to the fans, pretty much like a child saying “this is my toy, you can’t play with it anymore. its mine mine mine”. HBO had to put up with his BS, 16 months between seasons? Chase’s excuse for the delay “deal with it, it will be ready when I say so”.

  • Bill G

    I have to agree that the Sopranos ending was extremely unsatisfying. Yes the war with Phil Leotardo ended but so much more was left open. We never find out if Tony gets indicted, what happens with Sylvio or Janice or the family with the loss of 2/4 of its inner circle of bosses. Plus the ending in the restaurant was just plain stupid. Chase kept hinting that a movie would explain all but he never got around to that and with Galdofini’s death, that won’t happen now.
    It’s a shame that such a well written show like that would end with such a bad ending.

  • reubendevries

    I felt at first that Sopranos was a terrible ending, then this past summer my fiancee mentioned to me she never watched The Sopranos… like ever, after telling her what a major injustice she has served herself I forced her to watch the entire series over the eight weeks of summer, and when you watch the entire series like that the final season makes a whole lot of sense, basically David Chase builds this whole concept of isn’t Tony Soprano’s life amazing, he gets do what he wants, when he wants and he doesn’t care about anything and you get absolutely hooked with his lifestyle… by the beginning of the second half of the sixth season David Chase lets you see the negative side effects, how his family and friends cope with him and the final episode he puts you in Tony’s shoes, the last moment in the diner you are him, and you see his paranoia, the way he looks around and you are constantly wondering is that the guy, is that the guys that’s going to kill me. The fade to black part is a pull back to the scene in the 6th season where bobby and tony are fishing and talking about death, and tony mentions that he heard when people die they see nothing, just black….

  • Mike

    I must say, you hit the nail on the head with your comment. I have never been more satisfied with a series ending, then with Smallville.

  • James Mason

    star trek the next generation.. all good things.. was one of the best series finales i have ever seen.

  • Shawn

    Say what u will but Lost doesnt make the cut, but Freaks and Geeks and Terriers does? Fuck You.

  • Brian from Canada

    Angel doesn’t belong there: the series doesn’t come to a satisfying conclusion and kept going in comicbooks to prove it.

    Smallville definitely deserves to be there. It ties the entire series together with a bow.

    If you’re still stuck on cable, the UK version of Being Human ended a bit stronger than some of these finales.

  • http://www.buildstudio.ca/ Kevin Brennan

    No love for Seinfeld? I kid. I kid.

  • guest

    All Good Things hits major themes, demonstrates character growth, and connects to the first episode. Having Q does give a certain amount of freedom for storytelling, but he did lack the ability to let the crew fit into their classic uniforms.

    I think the ST:TNG finale despite the two weeks Moore and ? took to write it took the air out of any NextGen movies because they sent the series off with a love letter while keeping the “continuing missions” intact. Generations was just surreal fanfiction with an excuse to demonstrate that as soon as they let a woman drive she would crash the ship. The blind guy never crashed the ship.

  • Dijonase

    Angel’s finale is absolutely perfect. The show may be over, but the surviving characters don’t just stop fighting because the cameras aren’t rolling. The only show that had a better finale, in my mind, was The Shield, which may never be topped.

  • Ryan Smack

    Smallville is in no way a perfect show, but I grew up with it (11 years old to 21 years old), and despite its annoyances and stumbles, it had lots of quality to it as well, and the final season was just superb when thinking about its budget. The Smallville series finale was fantastic, if a bit rushed.

  • Ryan Smack

    Daybreak!

  • Kevin Bell

    Sarah Connor Chronicles’ last episode was great but it needed at least one more season.

  • http://paulburrows.carbonmade.com/ Pauk Burrows

    My favorite series endings have been Lost and Fringe, such a beautiful way to end two great series.

  • beane2099

    For me, the best ending for a show was Newheart in the 80′s. At the end of the final episode of the show Bob Newheart wakes up next to his wife (same actress too) from the show he did in 60′s/70′s . Turned out the whole show was a dream his previous character had. It was genius for its time. But this list seems to only go back into recent history so I wouldn’t expect this show to be there. The newer Battlestar Galactica had a decent ending too.

  • K.a. Stone

    Third Watch. Talk about a blaze of glory.

    Also, Miami Vice.

  • jamie douglas

    Cant say the breaking bad finale was as good as you are making out, I felt like it could have been so much more but just didnt pull it off. not with a bang but a fizzle.

  • Billy’s Kingdom

    as much as i do agree, if u look online chase explains that tony dies and the abrupt ending is the gunshot. definitely not the same as seeing it, but that’s all that’s on offer..

  • Billy’s Kingdom

    agreed. but in the shows defence they thought they were getting another season. so really they were just gearing up for a “shit hits the fan” season 6

  • Planetary

    List fails without “Sleeping In Light”.

  • Sid Marxim Moorthy

    Battlestar Galactica. BATTLESTAR!

  • Pat

    That’s not true. Joss asked midseason if the WB would renew them. The WB told him “no.” “Not Fade Away” was the planned finale of the series.

  • John Harmon

    Really? You do realize that Smallville has continued in comics as well, right? Smallville season 11. You can read through it right now.

    Also, the ending to Angel was perfect. It was what it needed to be. It wrapped up Angel’s story arc throughout that series perfectly, and had some seriously heart wrenching moments. The moral of Angel’s story is that the fight is never over. Especially not for him.

    The ending wasn’t about never having to fight evil again, it was about him coming to terms with his place in the world. Enough relying on ancient prophecies. It was great.

  • enemyisyou

    Fringe needs to be on this list. I just re-watched the final season and the series finale was absolutely perfect. One of the only finales where I didn’t say “Seriously?? THAT’S where it ended??” after the final scene.

    Smallville ended on a good note, but I felt that it rushed a lot of the story elements to tie up loose ends. There was a lot of buildup for the final battle with Darkseid only to have it basically be over in about 1 minute.

    I also liked the finale for Roswell. Granted, the show jumped the shark a bit in the final season (a result of switching networks more than anything I feel); but they tied everything up pretty well there too.

  • Sagir Khan

    And nobody mentions Fringe, House or Chuck? Really?

  • Billy’s Kingdom

    Yh, I knew that. I was thinking that they would’ve had an outline of the season, and the cancellation made just made them end it. I mean it ends on a cliff hanger, but yh you’re most likely right.