Whether drama, sitcom, or thriller, popular TV series are sometimes best known by their final episode — how they close the series to make it memorable and live on.
Sometimes they tell us a bit more about the main characters; other times they give us a glimpse into their future. In others they sum up what the entire series was all about.
Here is Newsmax's list of the best 10 series finales in television history, in alphabetical order.
This 5-season series described the evolution of a New Mexico high school chemistry teacher Walter White as he goes from "Mr. Chips to Scarface." After learning that he's dying of cancer, he decides to go out on his own terms.
White, played by Bryan Cranston, enlists the help of former student Jesse (Aaron Paul) to take his knowledge of chemistry to a different level: He becomes a local drug kingpin.
The final scene ends with his death by machine gun fire after tackling Jesse to the ground and saving his life.
"If you have to go, go out on top," Robert Bianco wrote for USA Today. "In a stunning 75-minute extended finale, Vince Gilligan brought 'Breaking Bad' to a supremely fitting close. And he did so in a way that confirmed 'Bad's' status as one of TV's greatest series — and star Bryan Cranston as one of America's best actors."
The finale of this 11-season NBC sitcom, which centered around a Boston bar, brought back Shelly Long, as Diane Chambers, a former pub employee and love interest of the bar's owner, Sam Malone, portrayed by Ted Danson.
Diane persuades Sam to put the bar up for sale and move with her to Los Angeles, where they can reignite their relationship and start a life together.
At the airport Sam realizes that his true love isn't Diane after all — it's his beloved saloon and the wacky cast of characters comprising its employees and customers.
The final three words spoken — "sorry, we're closed" — marked it as the series ender while leaving the audience with the knowledge that they'd be open the following day.
"Was Sam really going to ditch the bar to move to L.A. with the reemerged?" asked Josh Wolk for Entertainment Weekly. "Of course not. Sitting on the tarmac he realized his mistake and returned to his true love: his bar, and the lazy, lovable friends who would never leave it."
"Friday Night Lights"
For five seasons, this sports drama described the ups and downs of a rural Texas high school football team, and the series capper managed to give proper endings to each member of its large ensemble cast.
Coach Taylor (Kyle Chandler) sets his own ambitions aside to save his marriage. After taking the team to the state championship, he follows his wife Tami's opportunity by relocating to Pennsylvania.
"The community is together. The emotion is palpable. The team is loved," Andy Greenwald wrote for Vulture. "No matter who comes down with the ball, they have already won. That was the show, right there."
The series ender earned writer Jason Katims an Emmy.
The closer for this 11-season CBS comedy-drama, which was set in the midst of the Korean War, was depicted in a two-and-a-half-hour made-for-TV movie.
As the war is drawing to a close, the members of the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital are, one-by-one, being stationed elsewhere.
One of the last to leave is Hawkeye (Alan Alda). As the chopper lifts to rake him to his next destination, he glances down and sees that his best friend B. J. (Mike Farrell) has spelled out "Good Bye" in stones placed on the helipad.
More than 106 million loyal M*A*S*H fans tuned in to watch the capper to this popular CBS series, titled "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen."
Bob Newhart, known for his deadpan, often stammering standup comedy routine, also starred in two sitcoms: "The Bob Newhart Show," in which he played a Chicago psychologist from 1972-78; and "Newhart," which ran from 1982-90, where he played a Vermont innkeeper.
He managed to bring both series together in the finale of "Newhart," called ''The Final Newhart."
As he exits the front door of the Stratford Inn to find a little peace and quiet, he's hit in the head by a golf ball and is knocked unconscious. He wakes up in bed in the Chicago apartment he shared with Suzanne Pleshette, who played his wife in the first series.
The eight-year run of the second Newhart series was all but a dream.
Inspiration for the closer of "Newhart" may have come from "St. Elsewhere," an NBC medical drama that ran for six seasons, closing in 1988. It depicted the goings-on at an aging Boston-area teaching hospital called St. Eligius.
In the final episode, called "The Last One," the hospital is sold to the Boston archdiocese, and several characters leave for new challenges at new locales.
Tommy Westphall, the autistic son of the heroic Dr. Westphall (Ed Flanders) is lost in thought as he plays with a snow globe. The camera zooms in on the snow globe after he sets it aside, and at that moment, the viewer realizes the entire six seasons were conjured in the mind of the child — the "Tommy Westphall Universe."
This was a dramatic FX 6-season series depicting married Soviet KGB intelligence agents during the Cold War. They passed themselves off as an American couple living in a Washington, D.C., suburb with their two children.
The series finale includes two especially emotional scenes. In the first, the family's neighbor confronts them in a parking garage and reveals that he's learned their secret, their lies, and their betrayal.
But the most gut-wrenching scene was when their daughter Paige (Holly Taylor) decides to remain in the United States while her parents return to the Soviet Union. Their marriage survived; their family didn't.
"The Mary Tyler Moore Show"
This was a popular sitcom that ran for seven seasons in the 1970s. It centered on the antics at WJM, a local TV news station.
In the closer, the station has been sold, and the new owner fires the entire newsroom — with the exception of its anchor, the bumbling, incompetent Ted Baxter, played by Ted Knight.
After everyone bids a tearful goobye with a group hug that has become an iconic pop culture moment, Mary turns the lights out to the newsroom for the last time, as everyone sings, "It's a Long Way to Tipperary."
Many critics have called this the best series finale ever.
Vic Mackey, a corrupt Los Angeles detective played by Michael Chiklis, runs a squad by his own brutal rules in a neighborhood marked by drugs and gangs.
In the series' finale, years of misdeeds catch up to all the remaining members of the Strike Team. Vic cuts a deal with the feds where he gets immunity for all his misdeeds – including killing a police officer — in exchange for a federal agent position. But his confession is a betrayal that saves his own skin but leads to the arrest of his team member Ronnie. Another team member, Shane, goes on the run with his pregnant wife and son, as the police search for him. In the final moments, Shane poisons his family and shoots himself to death as police come to arrest him. In the final minutes, viewers watch Vic's life fall apart. His wife, learning of his misdeeds, goes into witness protection with their children, choosing to never see him again and the feds turn against Vic after hearing his litany of crimes and assign him to a tedious desk job, making sure the cop who lives to be on the streets will be chained to a desk writing reports.
"Even with all the despicable things he's done, you can't deny that at least a part of you wanted Vic Mackey to get away scot-free on 'The Shield,'" wrote Abby West for Entertainment Weekly. "Watching Vic sitting behind a desk, filling out reports, all alone under the thumb of the FBI, it seemed clear that he was paying for his crimes in a way that cut him deeper than prison ever could."
This was an HBO series depicting the saga of crime boss Tony Soprano, played by James Ganolfini, with an assist from his therapist, Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco).
Tony and his immediate family meet to break bread at a local diner. While waiting for his wife and son to arrive he drops a coin in the jukebox and selects Journey's modern classic "Don't Stop Believin.'" He looks up each time the bell rings, signaling that someone has entered the restaurant.
The rest of his family arrives. As they nosh and engage in small talk, the bell rings again. Tony looks up and the scene abruptly goes black as the music is cut.
What does it all mean? Was the family assassinated by a rival gang? Were they arrested? Did a friend enter to join them?
Some people hated the finale because of its lack of a definitive answer to the question: what happened?
The answer is whatever the viewer wants to believe. The viewer is the ultimate screenwriter in this finale.
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