The 10 Best TV Show Finales of All Time

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The 10 Best TV Show Finales of All Time: Reliving How Some of the Most Iconic Programs Ended
By The Staff
Sept 13, 2023

All good things come to an end … some better than others. Here’s a ranking of the 10 best TV finales of all time.

10. ‘The Sopranos’

Fans still can’t fuhgeddabout this show’s end on June 10, 2007 — as it abruptly cut to black, leaving the fate of mobster Tony Soprano in doubt! Admitted creator David Chase: “I had no idea it would cause that much of an uproar.”

9. ‘Mad Men’

On May 17, 2015, Don Draper found self-acceptance and a great idea to sell Coke, making it the perfect way to wrap up seven seasons for star Jon Hamm. “He realizes who he is. And who he is, is an advertising man.”

8. ‘The Tonight Show’

Following a rousing penultimate episode with Bette Midler, Johnny Carson’s 30-year run as host ends on May 22, 1992, with his simple sentiment: “I am one of the lucky people in the world. I found something I always wanted to do, and I have enjoyed every single minute of it.”

7. ‘Friends’

I’ll be there for you! Chandler and Monica had twins, but fans got what they really wanted on May 6, 2004 — a happy ending for Ross and Rachel. “We had d–ked the audience around for 10 years with their ‘Will they or won’t they?’” confessed co-creator David Crane.

6. ‘The Fugitive’

Originally, there was to be no resolution to Dr. Richard Kimble’s chase for the One-Armed Man. But then ABC VP Leonard Goldberg “realized we were going to leave viewers empty-handed, and that was wrong.” Good call. On August 29, 1967, nearly three-quarters of TV viewers tuned in for the conclusion.

5. ‘Cheers’

“I was disappointed that Sam and Diane didn’t get together,” shared Shelley Long of the last episode, “One for the Road.” Yet, an estimated 84 million viewers disagreed — making it the second most-watched finale ever on May 20, 1993.

4. ‘ER’

With its 331st and last episode on April 2, 2009, showrunner John Wells brought the series full circle in wanting to show just another busy day at County General … like the many more that would follow. “My inclination [was] to feel as if we’ve simply walked away from the hospital with the cameras.”

3. ‘Newhart’

Hi, Bob! Complete with former TV wife Suzanne Pleshette, Bob did a callback to his previous sitcom for this now-famous final episode on May 21, 1990. “When the audience saw the old bedroom, the set got applause,” Bob recalled. “They didn’t even know that Suzie and I were in bed. Inanimate objects don’t usually get applause.”

2. ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show

“My favorite moment from that show was the group hug,” admitted Mary Tyler Moore when the gang from the WJM newsroom said their goodbyes on March 19, 1977. But here’s a scoop: It came about spontaneously during rehearsal. “Wasn’t that a pot of gold?”

1. ‘M*A*S*H’

Airing on February 28, 1983, the two-and-a-half-hour “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen” finale saw the folks of the 4077th return home from Korea and kept people in their homes — as nearly 106 million tuned in, making it the most-watched TV episode ever. “I’m not sure we ever knew what kind of impact it was having,” said star Alan Alda. “By the time that huge audience watched the last episode, we were kind of shocked.”

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One thought on “The 10 Best TV Show Finales of All Time

  1. I’ve been listening, in my truck, to that last Johnny Carson show w/Bette for about 2wks, and i was lucky enough to see it live. It was so so super! . BTW, I adore that song!

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