Tuesday, September 10, 2013

50 Great Series Finales

Every great story needs a great ending. A story should not keep going and going and going like the Energizer Bunny: it has to have a stopping point. A conclusion. Even the most open-ended endings possible are acceptable if they're done right. The quality of an ending can make or break how a story is perceived and remembered. TV series' do not always tell stories. They can be episodic or plotted and serialized depending on the content. But like stories, great TV shows should have great finales. Something to really cap off the experience and prove that it was all worthwhile. So in this entry, I've selected 50 TV shows I've seen that I feel had particularly great series finales. Most of them are animated 'cause I have not caught up with all the live action TV shows of my time yet. Please keep in mind that this is for TV series', not movies, books, or video games. Those are a similar but different matter. Without further delay, I'll cover 50 great series finales of my TV experience!

Winnie The Pooh And Christmas Too (The New Adventures Of Pooh) - This show did the whole "ending on a Christmas special" thing better than "The Care Bears Family" did. This actually feels like a special episode of the series and was a worthy cap-off to a fun show. 

Aladdin And The King Of Thieves (Aladdin The Series) - Yeah, I'm disappointed we never got closure on Mozenrath or Mirage, but Aladdin's father Cassim more than made up for that. He was an incredibly interesting character with a marvelous design and the voice of John Rhys Davies. The conflict with him and Aladdin really felt appropriate for Aladdin's final outing.

Leroy And Stitch (Lilo And Stitch The Series) - Like "Aladdin", this was a great end to a mediocre Disney spin-off. Stitch faces his evil twin, every experimental creature from the series gather together for an awesome payoff, all the main characters realize their places in life, 625 gets a name, he and Gantu become deputized space officers, Dr. Hamsterviel is sent to jail for good, and we get to learn the "hello" and "goodbye" meanings of Aloha. A very well done finish.

Mewtwo Returns (Pokemon: Indigo League) - This came out during the second Johto season due to being set on the Kanto-Johto border, but Takeshi Shudo specifically wrote it to be very much the conclusion to the Kanto saga, and Mewtwo's arc in particular. Granted, it throws out a ton of ideas and philosophies that make it lack focus, Mewtwo's wangst wears thin, and it probably could've done better with it's running time. But it's still a very strong adventure for the cast to go out on, Giovanni is just epic as the villain, and it really gives this story arc the proper resolution that we were cheated out of in the first movie. And it had Domino! Not only was this the finale for the first Pokemon series, but it was the finale for Shudo as well. It's a strong way for him to go out. 

Sozin's Comet (Avatar: The Last Airbender) - Most words about this epic 4-part finale has already been said by others. The conclusion to the storyline of this series was nothing short of nigh-perfection. It had everything I could have asked for in a conclusion and more! The animation was phenomenal, the emotions were tense, the stakes were high, the action was epic, and the characters all received proper ends to their stories on the show. Re-watching Aang's battle with Phoenix King Ozai and Zuko's Agni Ki with Azula always has me on the edge, even though I know how they turn out. And the way the conflict is all resolved, while sudden, does make total logical sense and is a brilliant culmination of Aang's journey. While I have my nitpicks (the way Aang gets his Avatar State back is bullshit, and that "where is my mother?" bit was totally unneeded), it's overall just a beautiful, beautiful series finale. One of the best in any show, animated or otherwise. 

The Ceremonial Duel (Yu-Gi-Oh!) - The culmination of the two Yugi's story. It all had to come down to this eventually. Everything was building to it. Yugi duels against his alter-ego, Pharaoh Atem, and Atem's fate hinges on Yugi's victory. After an intense, riveting, thought provoking, emotionally stirring duel of a children's card game, Yugi wins and thus the door to the afterlife is open to Atem. Thanks to his friend, he is finally at peace. It's a bittersweet ending to see the pharaoh's story finally close but Yugi's life on his own just beginning now that he's had these experiences and become a stronger person for it. As he puts it, "the end of one adventure is the
start of another." It was a great end to a great manga, and the anime version did it well by playing the "EYES" song over an ending montage. It really makes it feel like a complete ending to a great ride.

The Fate Of Two Worlds (Digimon Adventure) - Following the rather cheesy penultimate episode where the Digidestined faced down the final boss from out of nowhere and then recapped all their developments, this episode concluded the first and best Digimon anime series. It's unique among finales in that it gets the final battle out of the way in the first act, dedicating the rest of the episode to emotional goodbyes to the Digital World and the kids' Digimon partners. The heartfelt final times the kids and monsters spend together shows how far the gwoth of the characters and relationships have come since when this adventure started. It all ends with a big goodbye done to an awesome song ("Butterfly" in the original, "Hey Digimon" in the dub). Perfect

Such Sweet Sorrow (Digimon Tamers) - The opposite of the above-mentioned finale, this one does great on the final action but rushed with the goodbyes between the kids and their Digimon. The compensation is that it milks every last drop of emotion from both of these areas! You are so invested in the final battle with the D-Reaper and how Jeri and everyone
else gets rescued, and then you're as heartbroken as the tamers when their Digimon are cruelly and suddenly taken from them. The logic and reasoning behind these things makes it all the better. It's the definition of a bittersweet ending, and it ends on a hopeful note that maybe this separation won't be forever. I know a CD drama made some years later debunked this, but I chose to ignore that. 

End Of The Line (Digimon Frontier) - Yeah, one of the weakest series' of Digimon gets a very strong finale! Who would've guessed? This one manages a satisfying balance between the epic final battle and the storyline's conclusion. All the Legendary Warriors' fuse into Susanomon and bring down Lucemon Satan Mode, which is then topped by all the warrior spirits finishing off the evil son of a bitch in his larval form. We get our heartwarming goodbyes from the spirits and from Bokomon of all people, and are faced with the drama of Koji almost losing his only brother. (I didn't care much for Koji or Kouichi, but that is just...damn.) It all ends in happiness as our so-called heroes are now better people from their experience and they all vow to stay friends for life. 

The Final Fusion! (Digimon Fusion) - Quite possibly THE most epic thing to ever happen in Digimon and it's the pinnacle of the franchise as far as I'm concerned. It hasn't been dubbed yet since the "Fusion" series has just started in the US, so I'll only spoil this: it's every single good Digimon in the Digital World fused together to stop the evil DarknessBagramon from destroying all worlds! Never since the "Our War Game" movie has the franchise seen such an epic moment. It cannot be topped, not even by all team leaders' Digimon fighting a Myotismon army!

Hunter's Moon (Gargoyles) - The three part conclusion to Season Two, and the story that the show ended on since a third season never got off the ground. It's a real gripping story involving the three descendants of Canmore as a team of Hunters who seek to destroy all gargoyles, and of the evil Demona's most heinous plan yet, one that the despicable Dr. Sevarius has a hand in. My favorite thing about the story is how the three Canmore siblings are introduced individually in part one before their identities as the Hunters are revealed and established in part two. My most hated part is that Goliath's character development pretty much gets shit on just so Brooklyn can come out looking like a better leader. A step forward for one character should not mean big steps backwards for another. It ends rather bittersweet: Demona is still at large, Jon Canmore is now as big a vengeful maniac as she is, and Xanatos has pretty much exactly what he always wanted from the Gargoyles since day one: them under his roof. But hey, the clan gets their castle back! Full circle

King Igthorn (Adventures Of The Gummi Bears) - This show wasn't perfect and I always thought that it should've brought in a more menacing villain to serve as the final conflict. But to be fair to Duke Igthorn, he was never an entirely incompetent 80's villain, and that gets shown more clearly than ever in this finale. In it, Igthorn takes advantage of the Gummi Bears lowering their guard and then successfully swipes the secret of their Gummiberry juice at last. With it's power, he usurps Gregor's throne and becomes king of Dunwyn at last! The Gummis and humans have to work in unison in order to restore order for the kingdom before Igthorn has it all blasted to kingdom come! This was a worthy finale for the series, providing closure to the roles of the human characters, Igthorn included, and leaving it on an open-ended final scene telling us of the Great Gummis' return. I wish we'd gotten a movie special that followed on this, but this was a good end.

The Spongebob Squarepants Movie (Spongebob Squarepants) -
I know there were more seasons and episodes after this one, but fuck that. This was made by creator Stephen Hillenburg to be the series finale and in his mind, and the minds of others, it still is. Plankton got the Krabby Patty formula, initiated his most evil plan ever, Spongebob and Patrick have a near death experience, Spongebob proves himself a man and becomes manager of the second Krusty Krab, and then that "Ocean Man" song plays over the credits. What more can be done after?

Evangelion Final Chapter (Neon Genesis Evangelion) - The ending of the original anime was a great emotional payoff to everything but a terrible conclusion to a story by all means. The alternate ending movie, "End Of Evangelion" took the reverse approach and it was just plain wretched. After so many years, the manga finally ended and gave the series a proper ending. All the events leading to it was "End Of Eva" done right, and the conclusion was not only conclusive and a solid payoff, but it made total sense as well. The world ends up a post-apocalyptic reconstruction of civilization and the characters who have returned from Instrumentality forgot the details of what they'd been through in their lives before Third Impact, but they're all psychologically better off and hopeful for the future. Shinji's last internal monologue mirrors his first, but the cynicism about life has turned to optimism and he now has a sense of self-worth and is content with his existence. You can almost hear "Cruel Angel Thesis" begin playing on the last page's closing shot.

To The Future (Yu Yu Hakusho) - Coming off of a tedious arc in the Demon World that I like to pretend never happened, we got a truly moving and amazing final episode. There's no fighting, no action, no huge events. It's all the main characters talking about how life will be now and receiving closure to their runs in the series. It climaxes in a moment where Kuwabara recaps the series (he mentions "Sensui" before "and now this" so see, that previous arc didn't happen!) and then we go into the beautiful final scene on the beach. Yusuke returns to reunite with Keiko and all his friends, and the full theme song "Smiling Bomb" plays over the end credits. 

Epilogue (The DC Animated Universe) - Okay, the story of this episode has a ton of issues that I'm not getting into here, and it's not even the last episode of JLU, even though it was (like the Spongebob movie) written to be the series finale. So what makes it such a great series finale? It serves as the end to "Batman: The Animated Series", "Batman Beyond", AND the entire DCAU all at once. The closure for Bruce and Terry is great, the backstory with Ace and Batman is great, the Phantasm cameo is great, and the best thing of all is the ending. It book-ends the DCAU by mirroring the first scene of the first episode of "Batman: The Animated Series."

 Lost Heroes (The Batman) - While the fifth and final season arc of Batman joining the Justice League is easily the least interesting of the show, it ended with a grand finale for the entire series as the League assembled to fight the alien invaders that surfaced at the end of the previous season and got Batman involved with this Justice League business in the first place. And to complicate matters, Batman's most personal adversary, Hugo Strange, had allied himself with the aliens in order to claim the vast knowledge of the universe. Strange takes the heroes' superpowers and gives them to alien cyborg duplicates that then go on a rampage. Since Batman and his sidekicks lack powers, they're the only ones who can stop this. It all boils down to a great final fight and a satisfactory conclusion to a show that ran us through the Batman's mythos.

Things Change (Teen Titans) - The "Epilogue" of this show, following after the fifth season's epic two-part finale. To this day, this episode remains very controversial due to just how strange it is. It's weird, melancholy, and pretty damn depressing. As a series finale it does not work nearly as well as the previous episode would've. But as an epilogue, I think it works well. It closes Terra's arc while both closing Beast Boy's current arc and opening up a new one for him, that's represented by how he runs into the light in the last shot. Right after saying "over" as the final word in the show, signifying that it was indeed over. It's got a lot of heart and depth in it, as it teaches a tough but very meaningful and important lesson. Things change in life, and so do people. As symbolized with the mysterious changing monster, you cannot fight and stop change. You can only embrace it. Beast Boy thus finally matures and heads on his way to becoming an adult. That is a poignant end. In fact, it's only become more poignant with age. Fans who felt entitled to watching their favorite show go on for longer without things changing needed to grasp the message this finale sent. The show had a good run and is always available for revisiting, but it's run as an ongoing thing is now just a memory.

New World (Death Note) - Following up from a major cliffhanger, the title makes you think that Light has won and shall become God of his new world. It turns out that the episode is instead all about showing how Light got outmaneuvered and Light's epic breakdown that comes with it. In his last moments, he shows himself as the pathetic wretch he truly is. It is perhaps the most satisfying downfall of any villain in manga/anime. The one part of the episode I hate is when Mikami kills himself with his pen and Light crawls out the door and runs to a vacant warehouse before Ryuk (who is suddenly outside) writes his name down in the Death Note and kills him. That's not how it happened in the manga! But Light's actual death is pleasing since he dies pitiful, broken, alone, and defeated, a death most unworthy of a righteous so-called God. It goes to show murder doesn't pay. 

Doug's Marriage Madness (Doug) - The finale for Disney's Doug is actually a very fitting finale for the series as a whole, much better than the random road trip filler that ended the Nickelodeon version. Patti gets a new family, Judy goes off to college, Bud White is now running for re-election, the lesson of the first "Disney's Doug" episode gets a callback, and it closes out with Doug running out of space in his journal only to receive a new one as a gift from his dog. The theme music plays once more and the last line from Doug is his own name. Can't continue now!

The Journal (Hey Arnold!) - A dramatic full episode in which Arnold finds the journal of his father that tells the full backstory of his parents and why they disappeared into the jungle. A plot involving his parents, the Green-eyed people, La Sombra the river pirate, and Arnold as some sort of "miracle boy" with a special destiny gets built up, and at the end Arnold finds a map hidden in the journal that tells where his parents might be found! And then...the series ended. Unlike "Gummi Bears", I'm flat out pissed that this didn't get a movie follow-up, because that was what was planned! But no, Craig Bartlett sold it out to go make that crappy "Party Wagon" thing that never caught on instead! I'm so angry about that! This episode is still a great series finale as it is, but I really wish we could have seen what happened after that. Maybe one day we will. One day...

See Me, Feel Me, Gnomey (The Powerpuff Girls) - I don't count the anniversary special made years later as the grand finale. That felt more like a closure to Mojo Jojo than anything else. This episode was made as the series finale and it really does feel like an epic end to a show. It's also the musical episode. Out of nowhere it begins with the villains forming a legion of doom to terrorize and destroy all of Townsville, and the girls cannot defeat them all. Just as out of nowhere it becomes this emotional, dark, and deep episodes with really heavy themes such as the responsibility of power, organized religious cults, communism, people's rights and freedom, how yin and yang balance each other out, the nature of life itself, learning to co-exist as individuals while accepting differences, and even a suicide! The story is the Garden of Eden in reverse: the girls give something up to a devilish gnome (but one who poses as a Messiah figure) in order to bring a flowery garden paradise to their world. For all these reasons, and one about epileptic seizures, this episode got banned from airing. But it really is an amazing series finale, and not something you should skip. 

The Real Folk Blues (Cowboy Bebop) - There could not have been a more fitting and perfect end to this series than this. The story of Spike's past was the running arc throughout the show. Hints about it and foreshadowing to it's inevitable conclusion were scattered everywhere. Then after the Bebop crew seems to have broken apart, this finale hits us and it is just grand and epic. Vicious takes over the syndicate and does everything in his power to destroy Spike. You think that since Spike faked his death before, he may be able to make it out of this, right? Then his love Julia gets killed and suddenly you just know there's no other way this can end. Spike has his final moments with his friends on the Bebop before heading off to face his closure, and it is just gut-wrenching, even as the exciting final action sequence plays out and Spike gets his last showdown with Vicious. Spike kills the bastard but ends up succumbing to his own fatal injuries and dies. The end credits and final song plays over a scene that keeps panning up higher and higher, giving a sense of our hero ascending to Heaven to reunite with his love. It even says "I'm ascending". Watching it is tense enough, but just thinking about it gives me chills! You're gonna carry that weight.

Go to Next! And Then Again! (Slayers NEXT) - The best finale in any Slayers anime. The monstrous Hellmaster Phibrizzo has taken almost everything Lina holds dear and now threatens to kill Gourry unless she performs the Giga Slave. When she does, she ends up under possession by the Lord Of Nightmares, who proceeds to lay waste to the the frightened and insane Phibrizzo. Lina is almost taken by the demon lord, but Gourry rescues her through the pure strength of his will and the power of love! The ultimate testament to two characters who fell in love without the author intending it. The full team then leaves for more adventures and the credits roll. 

The Sailor Senshi Die! & Usagi's Everlasting Wish! (Sailor Moon) - No Sailor Moon finale in any medium can ever match up the this one from the first anime series. The emotions and the stakes are just so high and personal in this one! One by one, the four Senshi sacrifice their lives to defeat Queen Beryl's strongest minions in the first part, sending Usagi into near depression. When she confronts Beryl in her lair, her brainwashed lover Endymion is sent to kill her, but the power of love restores his memory...and then Beryl kills him. Beryl herself is gravely injured, so Queen Metalia fuses her own consciousness into her so that they are now one big Final Boss for Usagi to face down. The showdown that ensues is epic and it takes the Silver Crystal's full power and the spirits of the moon princess' friends to vanquish Metaria forever. Sure the heroes all get their lives reset as the outcome of Usagi's dying wish to the crystal, but that doesn't make what came before any less grand. Sad how the US dub butchered this finale (aside from "Carry On").

Burning Gundam's Triumph! (G Gundam) - For the third time in a row, an anime finale where the power of love wins the day. It sounds so cheesy, but so is everything in this series and yet it still really, really works! This is likely the most positive conclusion out of any Gundam show, which really makes it stand out above the rest. A great wrap-up to the best Gundam. 

Journey's End (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood) - After the first FMA anime had such a letdown of an ending, it was great seeing this adapt the much better ending
of the much better manga. It's a bittersweet end, but much heavier on the "sweet." The world has been ravaged and Honheim Elric dies, but Al gets his body back, Ed and Winry hook up, Roy and Riza are happy together, characters like Ling and Scar are content, and there's hope for the future. 

The Real Monster (Monster) - A brilliant and chilling end fitting for this story. Johan has been defeated and hospitalized, and all loose ends seem to get tied up nicely. But then Johan makes a revelation about his childhood trauma that throws us all for a loop and further deconstructs how and why he's so troubled. The last shot is Johan's now vacant hospital bed. The monster is loose out there again! It's a testament to the idea that pure evil will always be out there, and while pure good might never be able to kill it, it can conquer it. A great ambiguous end. 

Wish Upon A Star & New Order (Eureka 7) - The first title is the last episode of the series, which gives the story a truly beautiful closure. The second title is a follow-up special that gives an alternate conclusion that renders the sequel "AO" impossible. I'll take both! 

We Will Not Be Held Responsible (Excel Saga) - Ever since episode 14, this series had been slowly building up an actual plot. After episode 21 it really got going, culminating in this episode that, according to Koshi Rikudo at the start, officially ends the series. (The extra episode on DVD doesn't count!) And what an ending. The episode mixes action, humor, and serious drama in a way that really grabs you as you're watching it. Pedro's final battle with That Man is goofy and yet genuinely exciting to see, and the big confrontation between Excel and Lord Ilpalazzo is just perfectly done. The story ends with ACROSS destroyed, the city liberated, and all the characters living happily ever after. The credits playing the crazy theme song helps to wrap up.

The King Is Dead, Long Live The King! (Shaman King) - Just look
at that image! Hao Asakura gets it in this ending, which makes it superior to the ending the manga ended up having. This is another show that gives nice closure to the cast yet leaves it open-ended.

Zatch Bell Final Chapter (Zatch Bell) - The anime didn't really get a proper finale: it just ended after it's rushed version of the Faudo arc's conclusion and then showed the start of the final Zatch vs Brago battle. The manga tied everything up in a more satisfying way and it showed the bittersweet outcome of Zatch becoming the mamodo king. Kiyo and Zatch are separated for who knows how long, but are both completely matured from their experiences together. It's not as final as the ending to "Yu-Gi-Oh!" but it's a similar deal. It's a fitting and appropriate end.

RE: (Code Geass) - While the Zero Requiem was an insultingly inane plan, it's end result was pretty much the only outcome the series could give itself at this point. All sides of the conflict had committed too many sins for the world to be united in peace, and both Lelouch and Suzaku had committed too many sins that needed penance. Thus both problems got taken care of with one plot. The world is united in their hatred of the evil emperor Lelouch, Lelouch has his name vilified and gets killed by his own alter-ego Zero while everyone cheers Zero's name (a sort of karmic retribution for Euphie, I guess?) and Suzaku gives up his right to exist as himself since Suzaku Kuruugi is presumed dead, having to be Zero forever now. The way the moment plays out, in spite of all writing issues, is masterfully done, creating a grand finish to this mediocre series. 

Eternal Love (Vision Of Escaflowne) - So much happens here. Dilandau is defeated for good and his true self is revealed, Donkirk gives up and ends the war, all the characters decide on their fates, and we get one of the best examples of two lovers doomed to be separated. They do not get together, for there's no way they could. Their hearts belong to each other, but they belong to different worlds. It's sad and yet not a downer end since their love really is eternal.

Towards Tomorrow (Inu-Yasha) - This one is more of a great finale for the reason of "I can't believe it's finally over! Huzzah! We're free!", but it actually is a very good and sensible conclusion to the story, even though it's sort of the exact opposite of the one above. Granted I'd like to know if Kagome really is stuck in the past forever now since that would suck for her family and friends at home, but at least she and Inu-Yasha are finally together, and Naraku dies

Hellsing X (Hellsing) - The great war was waged, the Earth is ravaged, Seras and Integra move on with their lives until Alucard rises again one day and hooks up with Integra. After all the freaky shit that went down, did you really ask for or expect another ending?  

Wolf's Rain (Wolf's Rain) - Darcia kills the entire cast and then dies himself when he sets foot into Paradise, Cheza's seeds allow Paradise to re-grow so that the wolves souls are saved, but Darcia's eye in the water seems to corrupt it. The end shows Kiba and the rest were cast out of Paradise so the cycle begins all over again. Cue end credits as the rockin' theme song blares in the background. The Hell was that? It was dark, depressing, ambiguous, and brilliant

The Gift (Buffy The Vampire Slayer) - The 100th episode of the series was originally advertised as the series finale and was supposed to be just that until the show was unexpectedly renewed and moved to UPN. But those following two seasons sucked and this was way more powerful a series finale than the one we ended up getting, so I like to pretend this was the end and everything else never happened. Buffy gives her life in order to save the entire world, all her friends, and the only family she had left, even if she wasn't really related by blood. It's epic, emotional, tragic and yet so fitting a conclusion. It's a big ending, but it was actually supposed to be even bigger. Xander was meant to be Glory's vessel rather than Ben, and ideas that got used in the eventual series finale (Angel and Faith returning, the Hellmouth imploding in on itself, a role for the First Evil, and kinda-sorta Anya's death) were created for this one, but both finales ended up not being the big events Joss had in mind. Nonetheless, this is as perfect a finale for "Buffy" we've got. 

Come Undone (Scooby Doo: Mystery Incorporated) - This finale was just mindblowing. I mean, the whole show was, but this finale topped everything it ever did when it comes to being dark, intense, thrilling, and emotional. It's the ultimate moment where you go "THIS is a fucking SCOOBY DOO show?" when you see an evil entity taking the form of a parrot-faced Cthulhu and devour people in order to gain strength, and then you're literally watching the freaking apocalypse unfold! The sky is red, the town is flames, the Nibiru entity unleashes a hoard of demons to grab the entire population, whom he starts eating. Yes, everyone is really getting killed off here! On Scooby fucking Doo! Then Scooby and the gang unite in realizing their friendship is "the heart of the Jaguar" that cannot be beaten, make their final stand against the forces of evil, Scooby hurls the spear and kills the entity, and then...BOOM! I cannot begin to spoil what happens after that but it's a Gainax style ending that ends the show beautifully, literally reconstructing Scooby Doo from the ground up. There's a bittersweet outcome for our heroes in the same vein as "Lord of The Rings", but after all the darkness, it's a huge relief to see the story end on a light note...and a laugh track. 

Echoes (Code Lyoko) - The final battle with XANA was fought in the previous episode and now XANA is dead. This final episode is just the main characters reflecting on everything and coming to terms with the fact that their lives are now changed. They will now have to live without Lyoko for good. This is how they started out, but they've been Lyoko warriors for so long now that this feels strange and new to them. It also shows us how they've grown from the experience. We get one last ship tease with Ulrich and Yumi that Jeremy kills because he's the only one allowed to be in an official couple, a misunderstanding with Sissi that leads to that last return to the past that killed Ulrich/Yumi's chances, the team becoming Sissi's full time friends, a bittersweet end for poor William, and finally the super computer gets shut down. Show's over, and it was a ride

Graduation (Kim Possible) - Here's one where I'm grateful that the initially intended finale wasn't the series finale. In fact, I think I'm one of the few who feels this way. But "So The Drama" was really all about Kim and Ron hooking up (which got spoiled in the fucking previews!), not so much a satisfying conclusion to the show. This two parter, however, was. Kim and Ron face the biggest threat in the show's history right as they're getting set to graduate High School, and Drakken and Shego helping out as allies works much better than them as the final villains. As for the controversial moment where Ron defeats the bad guys rather than Kim, thus upstaging her in the finale of her own show? ...I don't give a crap. Ron always had more of an arc to go through than Kim since Kim is pretty much already nigh-perfect to start with, and the problems she did have already got resolved in "So The Drama." So him coming into his own at the end here was satisfactory. 

The Great Parent Mystery (CatDog) - For such a mediocre show, this actually got one of the best, most conclusive endings to any Nicktoon. It really feels like a big, life-changing adventure for our protagonists as they seek the secret of their parentage. They bond with each other as brothers, find the parents who raised them, and get to live a happy new life. And the Greasers are finally killed! Yay! The credits version of the theme song really closes it out. "Alone in the world is a little CatDog" becomes "Alone no more is a little CatDog." A brilliantly pleasing end. 

Ed, Edd, & Eddy's Big Picture Show (Ed, Edd, & Eddy) - This CN show had like two possible finales already, but this movie ended up being the real one, and it was the best ending possible for the series. It starts with the Eds pulling their biggest and most destructive scam yet (we never see what it was, too!) and all the other kids out to lynch them for it. The Eds go on the run as the chase is on, and along the way we get many solid moments from the entire cast, and genuinely touching developments with the Eds, particularly with revelations made about Eddy which all come to a head when we finally meet his despicable big brother. In the film's final minutes, the kids all come to like and accept the Eds at last. "Finally", Eddy acknowledges "a happy ending!" 

Operation I.N.T.E.R.V.I.E.W.S. (Codename: Kids Next Door) - Another CN show that faced possible finales before and ended up making it's real finale as brilliant and satisfying as possible. Building it's plot off of the classic premise of the Delightful Children not wanting to share their birthday cake, it ends up featuring just about every character from the show's history and references to past episodes. We get a spectacular battle between the Sector V KND
and Father, and a final showdown between Numbuh One and the Delightful Children. Then the ending comes and pays off everything that the show had been building up in it's final season. The character arc for Numbuh One concludes in a perfect way and we get a very emotional goodbye scene with a really good message to it: growing up can't be stopped but no matter how much you grow up, you should always stay "a kid at heart": keep the best parts of your youth with you at all times, all ages, and never forget it. And the image the show ends on (pictured above) is simply beautiful. Stay Young

Destination Imagination (Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends) - Yes, I know five more episodes aired after this movie premiered, but it's clearly the series finale. And it's another CN show that goes all out in it's grand finish. We have the main cast going on an exciting adventure through a whole new realm of imagination that's sustained by a crazy abandoned friend who wants to keep Frankie for himself, Frankie, Herriman, Eduardo, and others getting solid development, and moments that are genuinely heartfelt. That it ends with a montage similar to what's always in the opening, and with the same theme tune, signifies that we've reached the end. 

Goodbye and Good Riddance (Ben 10) - Made as the final episode of the original "Ben 10" series, though framed as an "imaginary story" just in case. I personally chose to accept it as the canon ending since the sequel series' are so far removed from this first one. It feels like what a series finale should be. Ben and Gwen's long Summer road trip with Grandpa Max finally ends, they go back to school, Vilgax returns to Earth to make an attack that Ben's friends and even his parents get involved with, and those bullies from episode 1 are back too. In the end the Tennyson family is united again and Vilgax is killed off for real. It feels like coming full circle.

School's Out (Recess) - There were a few cheap "movie" releases after this one, but it's still very clearly the series finale. And it's not the sort of finale I'd ever expected a show like this to have. It centers around the dark theme of an evil scientist (voiced by the great James Woods) and his terrorist forces taking over the school in order to use it as the base of his operation to freeze over the Earth. That he's doing this to destroy Summer vacation and end recess pushes it into comedic territory, but what's interesting is that he actually has a backstory for why   he's doing this: he was once the principal of the school before he was kicked out by the board for his extremism and replaced with his old friend, Pete Prickly. Speaking of whom, Prickly gets a great amount of development in this movie, showing the noble, mature side of him that puts him far from the villainous character he began the show as. All the character have great showings here, with the film's climax using them to the best of their abilities. A great end to one of Disney's best shows.

Turtles Forever (4Kids' Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) - A truly grand finale for this incarnation of Ninja Turtles because it crossed them over with all of the previous incarnations of Turtles from the entire franchise to that point. The 4Kids Turtles, Fred Wolf Turtles, and Mirage Comics Turtles all band together to stop the evil Utrom Shredder from wiping out the entire multiverse out of his undying hate for the Turtles. While it had problems with some of the fill-in voices, the Fred Wolf Turtles not being treated with much respect, and the repeated use of "what the shell?", it's still an enjoyable special and tribute to the characters and franchise and a solid finale.

Brain Washed (Pinky And The Brain) - Once again a few more episodes aired after this one but this was very clearly the series finale. It's a three parter where Pinky and the Brain take on a conspiracy behind a Macarena-style dance that's making the people of America dumber and dumber. Brainwashing, memory loss, clowns, hats, the destruction of Acme Labs, mental institutions, an alliance with Snowball, the island of Dr. Mordeau, and some random hick are all included along the way. It's a weird, funny, and awesome finish for this enjoyable show. 

Wakko's Wish (Animaniacs) - A holiday movie for "Animaniacs",  of all things, gave us what is as close to a perfect finale as you could find anywhere. The premise is built on the idea that apparently the Warner cartoon studio gets shut down, so this cartoon's story is the last reality all the characters can inhabit, which is why they're all crammed in here. OK, without spoiling too much, Wakko's wish, in the end, is to give the entire cast a happy ending. The Warners become the rulers of this land (that their made up parents supposedly ruled over in the past, making this their birthright) and learn to be responsible rather than purely chaotic, Buttons gets rewarded for once, Slappy and Skippy now live a peaceful life, Rita and Runt are adopted by Dr. Scratchinsniff and Hello Nurse, Pinky and the Brain have an opportunity for world domination left wide open and all that. Literally ever major character who ever appeared on the show gets closure. That's how it's done!

EXTRA: ONLINE SERIES FINALE

To Boldly Flee (The Nostalgia Critic) - As with the Spongebob movie, Epilogue, and The Gift, this was designed to be a series finale but ended up not being one. However I still consider it one anyway because the Nostalgia Critic, aside from the occasional good video, jumped the shark when he was forced to be brought back. In fact, this feels like the grand finale for That Guy With The Glasses, since nothing's been the same after it. So much work, effort, and heart was put into making this a grand conclusion to the Nostalgia Critic's character and the pinnacle of everything that the reviewers of the site have done, which makes it all the more tragic how pointless it's been rendered. In a fair ideal world, this would have been the Critic and the site's final journey. The site reviewers had their "Toy Story 3" moment together, Ma-Ti's spirit was put to rest, the villains were destroyed, the Critic met his creator Doug Walker, showed how much he'd evolved into a Big Good adult, and got to end his life alongside his friend the Angry Video Game Nerd before finding his final peace by fusing with the Plot Hole. The internet was changing and would go on changing. If only...

NEW ADDITIONS:


Felina (Breaking Bad) - Hands down one of the greatest series finales that has ever been put on television. I doubt there was any better way to end the story of this show. Walter White's Heisenberg drug empire has completely crumbled and all his family and friends have disowned him. Following from the end of the previous episode, Walt realizes that he died as a person long before the cancer or anything else could get to him, so he spends his final days atoning for what he's done in the only ways that are left for him. He phases in and out of the episode, successfully doing all that he sets out to do, and then he just...stops. He dies in a moment that simultaneously shows a personal triumph and the reinforcing of how much this man failed at life. He dies alone in a meth lab - no people who care about him at his side, only a bunch of meth cooking equipment and containers of his beloved blue meth. It's an epic yet pitiful end to him, and the "Baby Blue" song that plays speaks volumes about what sort of man he is even at his last moments. He doesn't truly regret cooking meth - only the direction he took things in. A selfish bastard to the end.

And They Lived (Once Upon A Time In Wonderland) - Talk about a perfect finale to an unexpectedly great show! After 12 episodes, this episodes ties up all the loose ends, resolves all the character arcs, and closes out the story in a fashion that is simply, well, wonderful. Your emotional investment in this story and these characters has gotten very high 
by the time Jafar, now all powerful with the rules of magic broken for him, raises the dead to create 
an army to dominate Wonderland and anything else he wants to control. Even Anastasia has been revived but put under Jafar's control, and as a genie, Will is powerless to do anything about it! Alice, Cyrus, the White Rabbit and all their allies have to fight back against the forces of evil, culminating 
in a final stand-off with Jafar at the Well of Wonders. We then get final resolution on our character's relationships, including a beautifully shot wedding scene! And the note the series ends on after that 
is just so perfect. A shame the main show couldn't get a series finale as spectacular as this one!

The Last Stand (The Legend Of Korra) - While definitely not on the level of "Sozin's Comet", the Avatar sequel series' finale was the best finale out of all the ones it had. As Kuvira and the Earth Empire attacked Republic City with the spirit energy powered Colossus death weapon, every single member of the main cast contributed something in fighting back against them. Asami and Varrick lend their technological knowledge and skills in order to make an opening, Tenzin and his airbender team do a lot of damage, the Bei Fong sisters take out the actual weapon, Mako makes a sacrificial risk that cements how selfless he's grown, while Bolin solidifies his hero status by saving his brother's life, and Korra lays the smackdown on Kuvira at the robot's top level. Oh, and even Prince Wu proves to be useful and competent here! But it's really all leading to the perfect resolution to Korra's story - a new spirit portal at the heart of Republic City gets created through Korra's efforts to contain the weapon's explosion and save everyone, Kuvira included, and then we have her making peace by sitting down and talking to her enemy, showing how much she's grown and learned since her aggressive starting days. Again we end a series at a wedding - fittingly one for Zhu Li and Varrick, two of the stars of Book 4. And the cherry on top? KORRASAMI END!

Meanwhile (Futurama) - Yes this show had too many points where it could have ended satisfyingly enough. But the one they ended up going with really wasn't bad at all. Fry and Leela's romance had been the big recurring thing on this show for so long that you'd think it would all be over once they officially got together as a couple. But then we ended up with more episodes until now, so how about ending the show on the next step - marriage? Yes, we get another wedding scene, but it's coupled with the two of them living their lives together while time stands still (it makes sense in context). Granted the way they move everyone and everything that's frozen in time around is sort of disturbing, but these haven't ever been the best of people anyway. 
The series closes out on a heartwarming, fairly close-ended note that just feels earned at this point. 

Last Day Of Summer (Phineas & Ferb) - This one is similar 
to the above. VERY similar, in fact. This show also had too many points where it could have ended satisfyingly enough, and the finale they ended up going with also involves the concept of time looping backwards and things repeating themselves, which a crisis emerges from. While the story itself is a good enough final conflict for Phineas, Ferb, and their friends to tackle, where it really shines in the closure it gives to the series' regular antagonists, Candace and Dr. Doofenshmirtz. After a string of repeated attempts on technically the same day fail and end up creating a horrific situation, Candace seems to recognize that busting her brothers just isn't worth it anymore - she'd rather be a part of her brothers and their friends' fun instead. Meanwhile Doofenshmirtz actually successfully takes over the Tri-State area as it's governor only to find it's empty when it does nothing to stop his daughter from drifting away from him - he soon finally realizes that he's not truly evil and can be a good guy too. But the best thing the finale gives us is it's cap-off in the final few minutes.

 My Very Best Friend (Puella Madoka Magica): Sometimes the best showing of idealism comes when it emerges from the darkest of places. After all the depressing and downright nightmarish things we were made to experience, this was absolutely the best note to end the series on. This finale wrapped up the story and characters' arcs beautifully and leaves you with the best positive feelings about life, relationships, and the nature of existence itself. Take note, "The Legend of Korra" Book One - this is how you close out a 12 episode mini-series satisfyingly.

Past The Infinite Darkness/Goodbye Again (Kill la Kill) - Both the final episode of the series and the following OVA were like an apology from the dreadful ending that was given to Gurren Lagann. Ryuko Matoi and Senketsu get their final power-up and have a fight to the finish with the depraved Ragyo Kiryuin for the fate of all humankind. The series ends beautifully on a last scene that has Ryuko, Satsuki, and Mako (who's totally wearing Nui, BTW) all hanging out together as a happy family. And then the OVA came along and fixed two major issues I'd had with the end, namely how Satsuki and the Elite Four got off way too easy for their crimes and how Senketsu died a seemingly unnecessary death. Now everything has a sense of closure.

Festival Music Part 11: End (When They Cry: Higurashi) - This one is almost too good to be true given the nature of the series. After all the mystery, horror, violence, deaths, sorrow, and suffering that the audience and characters had to endure, the main cast has finally gotten down to the heart of the Hinamizawa mystery and must thwart the maniacal Miyo Takano's selfish, homicidal plans. Now with Hanyuu on their side, they manage to overcome the odds and play a game with no losers, thus making a reality where there are no lives lost. Seeing the Cotton Drifting Festival go off without anything horrible occurring and then seeing that the endless loop has finally been broken, with the characters all contently living normal lives, is the best feeling they could give us at the end. The power of friendship prevailed, and this story has a happy ending.

Antwon Fisher (My Bride Is A Mermaid) - Much like Excel Saga, this 26 episode anime is primarily gag-based and you wouldn't expect it to have a finale worth writing about. Yet it does. The continued presence of Akeno and the Mermaid Exam finally gets it's payoff when we find out that the narcissistic Lord Yoshio has been trying to break Sun Seto and Nagasumi Michichio apart this entire time. He finally resorts to trapping the Seto Gang and abducting Sun after she and Nagasumi have already been at odds, hoping that she'll marry him now. Things take a turn from the surprisingly serious as Nagasumi fights his way through Yoshio's palace lair in order to rescue his beloved Sun. We get a corny G Gundam-esque resolution for the final battle, but it works in this series as well (though I still have no idea what was up with Yoshio screaming out for series' name for no reason...) And, of course, it all ends with a wedding scene. Honor under the seas!

 Weirdmageddon III/Taking Back The Falls (Gravity Falls) - If you're looking for a feel-good finale, look elsewhere. If you're looking for a feel-everything finale, this is for you. For this show and it's ongoing narrative, this is also as perfect an ending as it gets. All of the show's most major and minor characters are brought together at the height of the catastrophic and downright bizarre apocalypse brought about by the malignant demon, Bill Cipher. But far more crucial and investing than the physical dilemmas are the emotional dilemmas that are resolved here. The story of the Pines family, particularly the brothers Stan, comes to a close that's as fitting as you could have asked for, and the mood that is set at the end sticks with you for a while even after the special end credits have stopped rolling. Alex Hirsch managed to tell a complete story with a definite ending, but still not fully closing the door on future possibilities for the show, setting, and characters. In closing: FADED PICTURES BLEACHED BY SUN, THE TALE'S TOLD, THE SUMMER'S DONE. IN MEMORIES, THE PINES STILL PLAY ON A SUNNY SUMMER'S DAY. (No, I'm not crying!)

Aside from that last one and the three others I mentioned along with it, these are episodes from other series' that should have been their finales, but weren't for whatever reasons: 
"I Am The Night" for Batman: The Animated Series
"Free The Future" or "He's Always Late" for Dragon Ball Z
"My Dream, Pokemon Master!" for the Pokemon anime
"The City Of New York VS Homer Simpson" for The Simpsons
"The Family Tree" and The Movie for Rugrats
"Vivi Tells The Story Of Her Adventure" for One Piece
"A Clash Of Fate: You Can't Bring Me Down" for Naruto
"Rukia's Resolution, Ichigo's Feelings" for Bleach
"Kyoto, the Engraved Memory" for Rurouni Kenshin
"I Will Head Towards Tomorrow" for Gurren Lagann
"The Enclaim Part 5" for Rave Master
"Final Victory" for Voltron
"Tomorrow" for Angel
"Zod" for Smallville
"Going Home" and/or "There's No Place Like Home" for Once Upon A Time
"How To Stop An Exploding Man" for Heroes
"Lois Kills Stewie" for Family Guy
"Hot Water" for American Dad
"Episode 100" for Robot Chicken
"Finn The Human" and "Jake The Dog" for Adventure Time
"A Bridge Too Close" for Transformers Animated
"Re-Enter The Dragon" for Jackie Chan Adventures
"Abra-Catastrophe" for The Fairly Odd Parents
"The Ultimate Enemy" for Danny Phantom
"Finding Omi" for Xiaolin Showdown
Too many possibilities for Futurama
Too many possibilities for Phineas and Ferb 

As for the series' that had crappy finales: 
ALF *this one was an infamous cop-out* 
Justice League Unlimited *the crappy end to the crappy third season* 
Dragon Ball (Z) *the epilogue where Goku abandons everyone to go train Buu's reincarnation*
Digimon Adventure 02 *way to brutally kill the series in the closing act, especially in those last few minutes!*
Digimon Data Squad *Yggdrasil was an awful final boss, the drama was forced, and that end for Marcus was so wrong* 
Digimon Fusion: Young Hunters *A huge Digi-multiversial crossover event is pushed aside so Tagiru can become a super star* 
The Spectacular Spider-Man *excellent season finale, but not a series finale! We need more!* 
Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles *the clan saves one train, all racism goes away!*
End of Evangelion *the TV ending's opposite extreme: all closure but no payoff* 
Rugrats/All Grown Up *We're still babies after all these years!!!*
Naruto: *Naruto and Sasuke are abusive jerks and everyone get paired up so that they all live bablily ever after!*
Gundam 00 *Setsuna is God and magic space dust can make everything better and save you from repercussions!* 
Sailor Moon Stars *Galaxia gets an undeserved happy end, and the miracle romance becomes an afterthought* 
Gurren Lagann *after a high energy epic final battle, Simon can't save his beloved and ends up an earth-wandering hobo* 
Berserk *that's it, anime? But the real shit was just starting to happen!* 
Scry-ed *the two rivals fight forever. "Get off your ass and FIGHT ME!"* 
Ranma 1/2 *Ranma pulls a Superman to save Akane's life, so we're all back to square one* 
Rurouni Kenshin *the show ended with random filler. Then Kenshin dies in the OVA*
Rave Master *Lucia is the new King, the heroes find out some stuff, go on their way...the end?*
Elfen Lied *Kurama and Mariko meet a terrible end, Lucy kisses Kouta, and then dies yet doesn't. The f***?*
Fullmetal Alchemist *Ed and Al are separated from their friends forever, and nothing has truly been resolved*
Shaman King (manga) *Hao becomes Shaman King...okay, the ending's dead right there*
Toradora *the obvious hook-up that we all knew was going to happen finally happens* 
School Days *Nice boat. That is all* 
Heroes *a lame end to an increasingly lame show* 
Lost *one of the all-time great underwhelming endings*
Angel *"I've always wanted to fight a dragon!" WEAK.* 
Star Trek *Just like a woman, RIGHT, GENE?*
The Twilight Zone *C'mon, Rod, you had better stories to end it on than this!*
How I Met Your Mother *Wow. FALSE ADVERTISING, much, show?*
Once Upon A Time *Adam and Eddy's vision for their show's "happy ending" is fulfilled yet it's more miserable than happy*
Smallville *Tess Mercer dies, Lex Luthor is President, and Clark is Superman...after having already done too many Superman exploits* 
Danny Phantom *Danny gets glorified, he and Sam have their obvious hook-up, Tucker becomes mayor, and Vlad dies. Booooo!* 
Invader ZIM *they might as well have gone with the ending of ZIM's graphic death*
Reboot *Megabyte takes over Mainframe again and sets out to hunt everyone down for revenge...the end?* 
Storm Hawks *Dark Ace perishes, Cyclonis escapes, and our heroes are stuck in another realm...the end?*
Ben 10: Ultimate Alien *Dumbass Ben VS Dumbass Vilgax in a commemoration of all the idiocy* 
Jackie Chan Adventures *Shendu and his son get an anticlimactic end, and Valmont is a bus driver* 
Total Drama World Tour *yet again no one wins the million, but this time everyone freaking dies!* 
W.I.T.C.H *the guardians final battle is against the most incompetent villain in the series and the new plot points go nowhere*
Xiaolin Showdown *Raimundo is predictably made the leader, and then everyone goes out to fight all the bad guys* 

7 comments:

  1. Yeah the DBZ one really fails in that regard, especially when you remember that Goku has Instant Transmission and could go between home & Uub's village with no real effort. So in addition to having the "Goku abandoning his family bit" we get "lets ignore a major detail for the sake of false drama".

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    1. I know. Seeing it for the first time, I was thinking "Why are they making such a big deal out of this? Goku can just use instant transmission and train Uub during the day but still be home in time for dinner! What's the problem here?" I just think Toriyama wanted to give the moment an illusionary semblance of finality to disguise the fact that it was just his way of saying "There! The end! I'm done!"

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  2. Don't know about this or if you've even watched these shows, but I think you should add Breaking Bad to best series finale and Dexter as the worst series finale.

    The finales of the Sitcoms Seinfield and HIMYM should also be considered for worse--crappy and free usage of diabolus ex machina and sudden plot twists used in both cases to screw over the main cast, not to mention literal character regression in both cases showing of the characters at their worst combined with gratious ship sinking of popular ESTABLISHED pairings for HIMYM's finale

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    1. Breaking Bad had a perfectly fitting end for the story of it's villain protagonist, while Dexter completely botched it's chance at having a perfectly fitting end for the story of it's villain protagonist. So yes, that's accurate.

      I actually found the cast of Seinfeld ending the show in prison to be hilariously fitting cap-off to a series of their antics. But HIMYM...I actually added that one up there in crappy finales, with the description "Wow. FALSE ADVERTISING much, show?"

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    2. It's actually less of false advertising--a lot of people actually guessed who died in the end but never expected it to all go to shit! and more of complete character regression, breaking all the show's themes and fundamental principles. It's exactly like Digimon 02's epilogue, but considering that the show is built upon shipping mixed with sitcom...it's WORSE!!!

      Thus it should instead read: "Way to ruin a 9-year sitcom in 1 episode!"

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    3. The false advertising thing comes from the fact that the finale itself almost literally stated that the core of the whole 9-year story was NOT "how I met your mother", but "how I met and had/still have feelings for Robin." It's like the first episode's famous fake-out was, in fact, a fake-out itself.

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    4. IMO its not the plot or false advertising that's the problem its the execution, like I said everyone predicted Tracy would die, but they expected a teary-eyed Forrest Gump-style ending instead of the mother being treated as a footnote in Ted's life. Going from how they met, to 'Tracy been dead for 6 years' to Ted going out to get "aunt Robin" all in a whirlwind at the end is just way too quick. In-story time it was awhile, but for the viewer its not enough. The reason is that Ted and Robin are pretty much the biggest "hate sink" as far as pairings go for any couple in fiction, the show has conditioned its viewers time and time again to root against them whenever they appear, and the show has never had the viewer root for them so ending like that had to be justified--every time Barney or Tracy(and before her Victoria) came on the screen we were told to YAYYY Root for them with Robin and Ted together respectively, but it wasn't justified, they did not JUSTIFY or PROPERLY EXCECUTE the ending. Had they stretched out the finale to be the 9th season instead of focusing on a wedding or got a chance to do a 10th season with the idea they had for the finale, then I think it wouldn't have had that stigma or negative backlash. Would it still be controversial? Probably because Ted and Robin together were written to be rooted against for 90% of the show(to remove that stigma would have meant changing the nature of the show overall at a much earlier time) but it would have at least made sense or given some justification.

      So the problem is that they knew what the ending was at the end of season 2 as they had to film the final scene with the kids before they got too old. Problem is, in no way did they think they were going to last 9 seasons or plan out how they would reach the ending they got, thus they ended up commiting a flaw in a lot of writing: demonize a side of a love triangle until it became impossible to root for them....and then for no reason but simply poor writing, they said "oh f**k it, le'ts have them end up together even if the audience won't root for them".

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