By Kyran Leahy, Film & TV Editor
TV shows come and go. When one is gone, another replaces it. It is just the way the television world works. The sad thing about most television shows is that they do not even reach their natural ending, being cancelled before they can wrap up their run. The shows that are successful enough to reach the end of their run get the all-important series finale. This is everything the people associated with the show both anticipate and dread. All of the stories throughout the previous episodes, all wrapped up in one big finisher. The directors, producers, actors, writers, they have all worked hard in entertaining the fans, who were loyal to the series until its end. We have seen some truly iconic series finales for good reason, and others are iconic for horrible reasons.
Perhaps the most iconic series finale of all time, and the one that I can safely discuss with spoilers because it is ingrained in everyone’s head, is the Friends finale. Ross and Rachel end their ten season long on-and-off relationship by making it permanent, Monica and Chandler get the children and suburban life they longed for, Phoebe lives her best life and Joey stays with the gang (can we just all agree that Joey never happened?). It was perfect. To wrap up ten seasons worth of episodes in one final hour-long instalment like they did, giving everyone a satisfying ending (again, if you ignore Joey) and solidifying the show as one of the greatest sitcoms ever takes some effort, but they did it. There are so many worthy series finales for the title as the best, but the Friends one is the pinnacle and one that has inspired several finales following it.
It is each sitcom’s finale that I generally have little chance of spoiling for everyone as they seem to be played on every channel and streaming service across the world. Some shows anticipate that their show will end abruptly, so they make sure that their last episode of a season would be a fitting end just in case. Parks and Recreations had a “series finale” from their third season to the sixth season as the show battled low ratings, but somehow Amy Poehler and friends survived to their natural end of the seventh season, which benefitted me because Parks and Rec got me through most of last Summer. Community is another example. They wrote the season five finale as if the show had reached its conclusion, but they lived another year and got their sixth season (and hopefully a movie). There are so many ways that a series could end, so it’s better to wrap up previous stories in anticipation of the worst-case scenario happening.
These are all good series finales, right? But how about when finales flop? I have never been able to finish Game of Thrones, but I strongly remember a friend talking to me about the finale. He simply said it was rubbish, along with a heap of profanity. Fans got their pitchforks out after the mediocrity of the final season, and if I stayed loyal to a show for so long for that ending, I would have joined them. Other shows that I know have had bad series finales are the likes of How I Met Your Mother, Dexter, and even acclaimed shows like Seinfeld and The Sopranos left fans desiring a better finale. Unlike the previously mentioned shows that were threatened with cancellation, making what is called the “series fauxnale”, those shows concluded with that permanent ending and there is no way of changing it. Do not let a poor finale scare you in to not watching those series, however. Every show will experience a slump, it just shows that they were extremely unlucky for that slump to happen just before the conclusion.
So, there we have it. Some shows can be blessed with good fortune when they reach their conclusion, others can fall just at the final hurdle. No matter how many writers dream of it, it is rare for a perfect finale like “Felina” from Breaking Bad to be created. There is so much pressure from the fans to create a fitting ending, so sometimes it is the most natural ending that can be satisfying. The old TV trope of all the characters going to their meeting point for the final time or saying goodbye to the location where many of their escapades took place, its simple, but there is always beauty in simplicity. One thing is for certain though, and it is that we all have to move on when something ends. In a way, if we’re talking television clichés, this can be considered the season finale of University Express, but it is definitely not the series finale. Long may it continue and here is to the next season.