Novelist James Clavell once said, “All stories have a beginning, a middle, and an ending, and if they’re any good, the ending is a beginning.” Stories are all around us. For many people, they provide familiarity, comfort, and a sense of peace when things in reality get hectic. The tales can come in the form of books, recipes, and memories. One of the most common type that attracts millions of people are television shows. When we fall in love with a show’s plot, we become attached to the characters and their lives. We end up rooting for them and hope they live happily ever after. Unfortunately, all shows have to end with a finale. Hopefully, that finale ties up all the characters’ plots and loose ends. Some do just that, but other shows may still leave us hanging. Let’s take a look at the TV show finales we can’t forget.
- M*A*S*H – Titled “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen” the finale of the timeless series M*A*S*H garnered over 106 million viewers in 1983. The episode’s plot is centered on Hawkeye Pierce and the others saying goodbye to the Korean War. They know they are heading their separate ways after many years together dealing with the realities of war. “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen” wraps up the series’ 11 years on the air with a balance of comedy and drama that brought tears to many viewers.
- The Sopranos – A simple search online can show the audience’s shock that came with the finale of The Sopranos. The episode, “Made in America,” gives viewers a last look at the lives of the Soprano family. Patriarch Tony’s life of crime with the mob has him in hiding and in trouble. Over the course of 60 minutes, the lives of Tony Soprano, his family, and acquaintances are completed. However, the final scene of the series left many viewers with theories on what exactly happened to Tony. In the last few minutes, the Sopranos meet in a diner. As the family catches up, a mysterious man enters, as well as Tony’s daughter, Meadow. Yet, the shock comes when the screen cuts to black after Meadow arrives, a bell rings, and Tony looks up.
- Cheers – Another long running classic is Cheers, a story about a Boston bar and its frequent occupants. Fans were hoping for the reunion of Sam and Diane Chambers when actress Shelley Long appeared in the finale. Although this didn’t happen, Sam did return to his other love, his bar. Viewers are given the closure they hopefully needed when the show ended with the final words “Sorry, we’re closed.” But, for many, this didn’t mean the bar would be permanently closed; instead it would stay open forever, at least in our hearts.
- Friday Night Lights – For years, people followed the tale of Texas high school football coach, Eric Taylor, his wife Tami, and the others in the small town of Dillon. Challenges are faced as the team heads towards the football championship and the Taylors are at a crossroads with deciding on where to go from here. “Always” finishes with the Taylors realizing it is time to move to Pennsylvania and follow Tami’s new opportunity.
- Seinfeld – Sometimes TV shows don’t finish in an expected way. Sometimes they take a twist and turn the plot into something completely out of the ordinary. Speaking of which, the finale for the hit series Seinfeld starts out with the gang heading onto a plane and setting off for Paris, before Jerry and George leave for California. Things take a turn when the airplane needs repairs, leaving the friends in an unfortunate situation that places them in jail and awaiting trial. The episode received mixed reviews and became the fourth most watched series finale in the U.S. behind M*A*S*H, Cheers, and The Fugitive. 3 million people tuned in to the conclusion of Seinfeld.
We all have our favorite TV show finales that complete the characters’ plots and sometimes leave the viewers wanting more. However, the one good thing to remember: TV shows are like books. You can watch them over and over again and experience those well-known feelings once more. That way, the story will truly never end and be just another beginning.