“Breaking Bad” and Other Memorable TV Finales

In honor of AMC's hugely successful "Breaking Bad" reaching the end of the road, we look back at the best and worst season finales.

18 photos
This image released by AMC shows Aaron Paul, as Jesse Pinkman, left, and Bryan Cranston, as Walter White, in a scene from the finale of "Breaking Bad." The popular series about a chemistry teacher-turned drug dealer ended on Sunday, Sept 29. (AP Photo/AMC, Ursula Coyote)
The initial critical consensus is that "Breaking Bad" delivered a satisfying end to fans of the Emmy-winning drama about a chemistry teacher-turned drug kingpin. During the season 5 series finale, Walter White (Bryan Cranston) exacted revenge on his remaining enemies, finally admitted that providing for his family hadn't been his primary motivation, yet still managed to leave what was left of his fortune to his children and die on his own terms. Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) strangled his tormenter (and girlfriend/child killer) Todd then drove away to freedom. Click to see other memorable TV finales.
Associated Press
BEST: The 256th and final episode of MASH, Feb. 28, 1983, showcased a show-turned-television movie, "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen," chronicling the end of the Korean War. The 2 1/2-hour finale was the highest-rated television show in Nielsen Media Research history, and with 121.6 million viewers, still hasn't been topped. Multiple story lines wrapped into one big closure, "MASH" had a unforgettable 11-year run on network television.
BEST: It's been 20 years since everyone's favorite pub closed its doors to patrons for one final last call May 20, 1993. The sitcom series "Cheers" ran for 11 seasons and was the career kickstart for then-unknown Woody Harrelson. And 20 years later, any aspiring bartender still wants to be at the local joint where everyone knows your name.
Associated Press
BEST: Viewers bade a final goodbye to America's favorite blue-collar family in a two-part finale titled "Into The Night" May 20, 1997. All 221 episodes wrapped into one memorable two-part finale. And as long as Roseanne refrains from singing the national anthem at Chicago Cubs games, she will remain America's favorite blue-collar mom.
Getty Images
BEST: Before "True Blood," "Twilight" and the revelation that President Abraham Lincoln was moonlighting as a vampire hunter, there was "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Joss Whedon's series about Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and her ragtag team of friends taking on Sunnydale dominated vampire-crazed viewers for seven seasons. Although the finale May 20, 2003 saw the takeover of Sunnydale, the emotion, suspense and action did not disappoint the strong cult-following the show produced.
Associated Press
BEST: Stiletto Feminism, Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her closest confidants – Charlotte (Kristin Davis), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and Samantha (Kim Cattral) – dominated New York for six seasons and made it all the more entertaining to see them have the pick of the New York City crop. But it was the finale that turned "Sex and the City" to "Love in the City," as Carrie (spoiler alert) chose to stay in New York with Big (Chris Noth), and the rest of the gang decide to settle down with their significant others in the city. The two "Sex and the City" film spin-offs did not fare so well.
Associated Press
BEST: NBC's "Frasier" ended its 11-season run with a finale titled "Goodbye, Seattle" on May 13, 2004. The finale (another spoiler alert) remains a highlight of the show as radio personality Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) says farewell to his viewers after announcing he accepted a job elsewhere. A little bit of a twist, a dog swallowing a ring, and 33.7 million viewers tuning in to witness Frasier's farewell on network television: another Emmy award-winning series off the air.
BEST: "I went to Cornell. You ever heard of it?" Quite arguably one of the most successful spinoffs, "The Office" came to the U.S. in 2005 as an adaptation of the BBC series. After eight years, nine seasons and ever-lasting memories of Scranton, Dunder-Mifflin, and Schrute Farms, "The Office" came to an end May 13, 2013. It was an end that was 75 minutes of one-liners, plot twists and (spoiler alert) Steve Carrell returning as Michael Scott.
BEST: The show-within-a-show comedy, NBC's "30 Rock," starred Alec Baldwin as the self-centered network executive Jack Donaghy, Tina Fey as head writer Liz Lemon, overseeing the fictional show " TGS With Tracy Jordan" and Tracy Morgan as the eccentric and unpredictable star of the sketch show over the course of seven seasons. The finale on Jan. 31, 2013 featured Julianne Moore and Salma Hayek in reprise roles as Jack Donahy's ex-girlfriends and Liz Lemon gathering the troops for one last show, and received rave reviews all while gathering quite the cult following.
WORST: Who can forget the likes of George Costanza, Kramer, and of course, Jerry Seinfeld himself? It's hard to believe its been over 15 years since "Seinfeld" called it quits after nine seasons on May 14, 1998. The surprisingly unfunny finale received some of the most mixed reviews for a long-running television series.
WORST: A zip code that is a household name for not only celebrities, but the show that chronicled the lives of teens living the high-life in an upscale and iconic neighborhood for ten seasons and nearly 300 episodes. After all, who doesn't love watching the affluent have first-world problems like everyone else? Yet the finale May 17, 2000 was almost too good to be true (sorry fellow binge-crazed Netflix viewers): a marriage proposal on an airstrip? How romantic.
WORST: NBC's "Will and Grace" ended its eight season run with a special hour-long finale May 18, 2006. Despite an estimated 18.1 million viewers, the finale received mixed reviews. The idea that Will (Sean Hayes) and Grace (Debra Messing) – lot of spoiler alerts here – have their own children and then reconnect 20 years later just did not sit well for the many fans who envisioned Will and Grace living together forever.
WORST: "The Sopranos" six-year run on HBO came to an end with the finale on June 10, 2007. Although it remains HBO's most watched show, the controversial finale was panned by many viewers. It was expected that the main characters would be killed off with a mob plot line, but a cut to black? Viewers called the ending too abrupt and lacking closure.
Associated Press
WORST: A 98-minute finale on March 9, 2008 still left the streets of Baltimore in disarray, the drug trade and bureaucracy still alive. In one of the more dysfunctional endings to "The Wire"'s five-season run, the biggest problem with the finale is that it ended too soon. Questions remained unanswered, and The Wire remained, well, The Wire: abandoned row houses, high-rise public housing projects and run-down bodegas.
WORST: The sixth and final season of Lost ended with a two-hour season finale May 23, 2010. Just when it seemed the survivors of Oceanic 815 would never leave the island, the finale left viewers right where the show started: lost. The confusing, "sideways-world" of Season Six seemed more like a spin-off of "Inception" than a group of plane crash survivors on a deserted island looking for a way out. Three years later, viewers are still perplexed.
WORST: Showtime's favorite pot-smoking comedy "Weeds" ended its eight season run with a one-hour season finale on Sept. 16, 2013. In the series' 100th episode, Andy (Justin Kirk) and Nancy (Mary-Louise Parker) consummate their relationship, relieving the tension that existed over the course of many episodes. However, the finale's 10-year time jump disappointed. Viewers were left confused at the flash-forward to Nancy's very profitable marijuana enterprise and the vague gloss overs of other characters.
WORST: And there's Dexter. Everyone's favorite "killer" Dad. After eight seasons on Showtime and the loyal viewership's obsession with Dexter's (Michael C. Hall) double life as blood splatter analyst/serial killer, the season finale Sept. 22, 2013 revealed the fate of Dexter Morgan and his sister, Debra (Jennifer Carpenter). The ending to "Dexter" was universally panned by critics and viewers alike and considered one of the strangest, unconventional and disappointing endings to a long-running series.
Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us