Top Best Season Finales in TV History

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With the end of every season comes the thrilling conclusion to the week-to-week storylines of our favorite TV shows. It’s an incredibly exciting time for viewers, who have followed and invested in a show for months on end. Moreover, for viewers of these shows for years, a season finale can revamp entire series’ arcs, creating an influx of new theories about what could happen in the following season and creating a lasting memory for viewers. 

Throughout the decades, there have been many finale that have surprised, shocked, moved and inspired viewers, from classic series to more recent programs. Here we look at the top 10 best season finales in TV history.

  1. “The Empire Strikes Back”, Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Almost every fan of the “Star Wars” movie franchise cites this season finale as one of the most memorable in television history. Debuting in 2008 and running for five seasons, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” revolved around the formation of the Galactic Republic by Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi and their clone troops. This particular episode shocked viewers when the dark lord of the Sith – Darth Vader – showed up in the season finale and felled Anakin’s robotic limbs. This pivotal moment set the stage for the entire “Star Wars” saga and utterly captivated viewers.

  1. “Red Wedding”, Game of Thrones

When “Game of Thrones” came to an end in 2019, it had been a consistently thrilling experience for viewers across the show’s eight seasons. But the season three finale that has gone down in TV history is “The Red Wedding”. This finale drastically changed the game for viewers and sent shockwaves throughout the fandom as the events of this episode changed the course of the series and viewers watched their favorite characters take their last breaths on screen.

  1. “Arrow on the Doorpost”, Breaking Bad

The fifth season of Vince Gilligan’s drug drama, “Breaking Bad”, came to a powerful conclusion with an episode titled “Arrow on the Doorpost”. The finale brings together the two adversaries, Walter White and Mike Ehrmantraut, and sets up some incredible sequences in the second half that culminate in a meeting between White and a German conglomerate that’s determined to get their hands on the blue meth. This finale showed how despite the odds, White could still win the battle with dark and captivated the viewers with its thrilling developments.

  1. “Paean to the People”, The Wire

The series finale of “The Wire” hadn’t yet been written when the fifth season began. It started with a single negative comment made by series creator David Simon and ended up as an exceptionally moving and uplifting session finale entitled “Paean to the People”. The finale ends with an emotional final sequence in which McNulty is forced to say goodbye to his beloved Baltimore, which resonated deeply with viewers. Despite the bleak subject material, this finale was testament to the show’s ability to provide uplifting and optimistic moments when so much negativity permeates the show.

  1. “The Day of Black Sun”, Avatar: The Last Airbender

While Season 3 of ATLA wasn’t quite as beloved as the first two, the finale episode “The Day of Black Sun” is still widely seen as one of the best episode of the show. After weeks of build up, viewers finally had the chance to see Fire Nation capital get taken by Aang and Zuko and their armies of Earth, Water and Airbenders. Not only was the fight animation great and engaging but the finale also provided some amazing moments of the characters that the viewers had been following for the three seasons, arriving at the fight with their own special ways of bending.

  1. “The Return”, Twin Peaks: The Return

2017’s “Twin Peaks: The Return”, was one of the most talked-about and beloved finales in television history. After 25 long years, the series finally returned and gave viewers an incredible conclusion to the show. The episode masterfully combines the surreal and the real, combining a dizzying array of visuals and tonal shifts in the narrative. The finale left viewers with a sense of closure and resolution, as well as an array of larger questions which has kept fans theories alive for the past few years.

  1. “One More Time”, Mad Men

Although Mad Men was one of the most celebrated dramas in the Golden Age of Television, the series finale was controversial for its lack of resolution for the show’s many storylines. Despite this, the episode was still incredibly beautiful and final shot of Don Draper meditating by a sea of blue with a smile on his face was a fitting and powerful closing image to the show. This image has stuck with many viewers and is a lasting memory that encapsulates the show’s message of finding peace in a chaotic and unpredictable world.

  1. “Goodbyes”, Six Feet Under

The fifth and final season of “Six Feet Under” was widely praised as one of the best in television history and ended with a beautiful and emotional episode entitled “Goodbyes”. The episode ends with a montage of past characters saying goodbye to each other and the show, moving many viewers to tears. This finale is a near perfect end to the series and allows the viewer to say goodbye to the characters of the show after so many years of watching them grow and change.

  1. “Paso Triple”, Dexter

The eighth season of the hit show “Dexter” shocked viewers with a bleak finale that pushed the boundaries of wild and unimaginable television finales. After years of being an audience favorite, Dexter stabs his sister and throws himself into the ocean. This finale left viewers speechless as nobody expected such a nihilistic and dark ending to the show. While not the most uplifting finale, this episode managed to leave a lasting impression on viewers, particularly due to its practical effects and powerful scenes.

  1. “DavidandGoliath”, Lost

The finale of the beloved show “Lost” was the conclusion of a six-year journey that had viewers hooked throughout the show’s entire run. This finale was, as expected, full of revelations, twists, and stunning visuals that brought the series to a satisfying end. The finale also showcased some excellent performances from the cast, who had been with the show since its inception. In the end, viewers were given a glimpse of paradise and a finale that is still talked about to this day

The above listed finales are some of the most memorable in TV history and a shining example of the art form that the medium of television can create. Finales have the potential to completely change the landscape of a series and create lasting memories in viewers minds. These finales, in particular, have stood the test of time and are still remembered fondly by viewers.

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