Okay, I know many of us hate it when a show ends, especially when the show isn’t given any closure due to being suddenly cancelled. But what about the times a series has been given the chance to end on its own terms? Here are my top five series finales. Here be spoilers for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Farscape, House, Fringe and Babylon 5.
5. House season eight “Everybody Dies”
There aren’t many shows that include a Greek chorus, let alone in their last episode. Watching House try to realise a plan that sees him stay out of jail and keep Wilson company during his final months as he succumbs to the cancer that is slowly eating away at him was a painful watch. The episode helps to redeem House as a character, though many would still find his sense of morals questionable. I actually cried when it looked like House had died in the fire that he would eventually use to fake his own death. The rollercoaster of emotions the episode provides is one of the reasons it needs to be seen at last once.
4. Farscape season four “Bad Timing”
After several episodes of insane dodging and diving through space politics and arms trades, John Crichton and the crew of Moya aren’t given a single break. Having finally screwed over galaxy nasties the Scarrans, seemingly, for good in the previous episode – John then has to save Earth in this episode after the Scarrans discover that the planet plays host to its food source. It’s all do or be damned and highly emotional, as John finally realises that the only way to save the Earth is by cutting it off from the wormholes network that permeates the universe and that he’ll probably never see his home and family again. And then once everything seems absolutely fine, that all is well with the galaxy, John and Aeryn are turned into shards of crystal just after getting engaged. This lack of catharsis truly made it a powerful ending to the main series.
3. Babylon 5 season five “Sleeping in Light”
It’s amazing how, after hating the series as a kid, I grew to love this one as an adult. Set many years years after the events of the previous episode, and originally filmed at the end of the fourth season in case the series wasn’t renewed for a fifth, it follows the final weeks and days of John Sheridan’s life. There’s nothing huge and super dramatic in this episode. Everything is set up with characters saying goodbye to Sheridan as he gathers them to him for this purpose, knowing that his time is near. Once Sheridan has said goodbye to his friends, he travels to Babylon 5 in order to make peace with the station that was his home and life for so many years, and then on to one final star system where he was previously told to go when his time was up. When Sheridan dies and is welcomed into the arms of the First Ones – I cried. And writing about all of this now still brings tears to my eyes.
2. Fringe season five “An Enemy of Fate”
The final fight for humanity and all that jazz – but damn did the crew and actors of the episode do a fantastic job. Running out of time to save the world of 2036 and the future of all humankind, Peter, Walter, Olivia, Astrid, the Resistance, Donald and Michael must out think the season’s menacingly calm enemy, the Observers, and dole out all their tricks. True, the fifth season was shorter than all of the previous seasons, but the conclusion everything was given was very satisfactory. This is one of the few series where everything from the previous seasons seems to find its final resting place and have a happy ending at the same time, though bitter in its own way too with the removal of Walter from the lives of his remaining family when he finally saves the world from the Observers alongside Michael.
1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer season seven “Chosen”
Buffy is pretty much my all-time favourite TV series. I grew-up with it over the course of the late 90s and early 00s. The finale had, like Farscape and Fringe, a battle to save the world from almost certain doom and characters who were willing to sacrifice themselves in order to stop the big bads getting their way. Going up against The First, the odds are of course stacked against Buffy, the gang, and the dozens upon dozens of potential slayers that they have managed to recruit over the final season. But even though they are all at least even a tiny bit scared, the characters give it their all. It’s a sad episode as several characters meet unfortunate ends, but again it is one that offers a huge deal of catharsis. Even as Sunnydale finally crumbles into the Hellmouth – the original Scoobies are still alive.
And those are my top five series finales. Which are yours? Let me know in the comments below.