13 Shows That Went Out On Top

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We've already taken a look at the 11 worst series finales of all time. Scientifically speaking, that is.

But what about the best? We didn't look to science to pull these, but the general consensus is that these shows were firing on all cylinders on their way out, pretty much as they did the entire way through their television runs. That's what makes these so special.

They also belong to a rare breed of show that delivered consistently throughout and were given an opportunity to end in the manner they deemed appropriate. Whether or not everybody agreed on how they decided to end things? Well, that's still up for debate in some instances. Let us know what you think.

These are not ranked in any way! 

1. Breaking Bad, "Felina," 2013

Amazingly, Walter White managed to salvage himself in his very last act by saving those he loved while he died, lovingly caressing the shiny metal holding his baby blue. Jesse Pinkman escaped, Walt's family appeared to be in the clear, but Walt's fate always seemed predetermined. The finale didn't let anybody down.

2. The Sopranos, "Made in America," 2007

It's still impossible to watch this without doing a double take, and almost impossible to imagine the implications of having watched this particular finale if Twitter had been as huge in 2007 if it was today. The world would have gone mad. Did HBO cut the feed? What happened? Did I miss something? No. We don't know what happened to Tony Soprano and his family and we weren't meant to know.

Of the many people who walked into the restaurant that night, one of them could have killed Tony. Many of them could have cut down the entire family. Or the Sopranos could have simply gone on with their dinner and their lives. That's the beauty of the finale. Any finale that can create that kind of conversation after doing so consistently throughout the series run has done something very right. Don't stop believing.

3. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Chosen," 2003

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Chosen," 2003
After two resurrections and with a whole stable of slayers at her side, Buffy and her friends were fighting the to the death to close the hellmouth which had swallowed Sunnydale. Everything was riding on their cause and lives were lost, both valiantly (Spike) and without much fanfare at all (Anya) showing much the series had grown and matured over the course of seven years.

4. St. Elsewhere, "The Last One," 1988

On a series that always pushed the envelope, it probably shouldn't be a surprise that the writers would choose to end St. Elsewhere as they did, but the ending was extraordinarily controversial. Tommy Westphall is the severly austic son of Donald Westphall, St. Eligius' Chief of Staff. Except he's not. He's the son of Donald Westphall, construction worker, and created the entirety of the series in is head as he sat daily shaking a snowglobe with a tiny replica of the hospital inside of it.

Was it a cop out to fans who came to love the characters and stories? Possibly. But the writers wanted to ensure there would never be a revisiting of their creation or a spinoff of any kind, as well as to create an ending true to the spirit of their bold storytelling. Mission accomplished.

5. Newhart, "The Last Newhart," 1990

Newhart, "The Last Newhart," 1990
All of the Newhart series were entertaining, but the thing that stands out for most is the finale of Newhart, and the connection between it and his previous series, The Bob Newhart Show, in which Suzanne Pleshette played his wife. Why? Because in the closing minutes, after feeling as though he couldn't take one more minute of the antics of his crazy life, he's hit on the head with a golf ball and wakes up after a crazy dream – next to his wife, Suzanne Pleshette. This, again, is a series finale that would upended the Twitterverse instead of ignited the water cooler conversations the next day.

6. Six Feet Under, "Everyone's Waiting," 2005

Although Sia's "Breathe Me" has been used many times over since appearing on the finale of Six Feet Under, never will it be associated with anything in the way it was with this scene. A series that was known for death, as it was about a family of morticians, wrapped up the stories of every major player in the final scene hauntingly well. Life doesn't have to have an utterly happy ending to end on a high note, and as Claire Fisher left her life in LA for new adventures, viewers saw the through the end of all those who meant to much to us during the series' run. It was an emotional punch reminding us about the beauty of a life well lived.

7. The Shield, "Family Meeting," 2008

The Shield, "Family Meeting," 2008
In the series finale of The Shield, Vic Mackey paid for the many sins he committed during the run of the show. While he may not have faced prison time, he faces a different sort of lockup. He loses everybody and everything he loved, but you realize he deserves every bit of it and more. His family in witness protection and analyzing data, Vic's story came a long way from the place where viewers first met up with him.

8. Frasier, "Goodnight, Seattle," 2004

Frasier leaves Seattle after giving a great speech and reciting Tennyson to his listeners for San Francisco and a new job. Except at the last moment he's on a plane to Chicago, chucking it all for a chance at love with a woman named Charlotte, played by Laura Linney. Finally deciding to take his own advice and grab at happiness for himself, it upended the way viewers had come to know Frasier, making for a truly surprising finish.

9. Battlestar Gallactica, Daybreak Part 2 & 3," 2009

Battlestar Gallactica, Daybreak Part 2 & 3," 2009
It was highly contentious at the time, but looking back, it all fell together nicely. They found earth. Not the one they were seeking, but our planet (yes, us), and the Cylon-Human conflic was resolved. It was amazing seeing everyone walking through the grassy fields and there was a lovely moment between Adama and Roslin, not to mention Baltar and Six in modern day New York City.

10. Cheers, "One for the Road," 1993

Earlier in the series, the will they/won't they relationship of Sam and Diane came to a screaming halt as Shelley Long left the series and Diane left to try to become an actress. In the finale, the two met up once again, only to realize they would have never lasted as a couple. And one by one, all of Sam's best customers started to find new leases on life. Norm got a job, Rebecca a new love, and Sam Malone realized he was exactly where he was supposed to be, as his relationship with Cheers was the most important in his life. The final words spoken are from Sam to a shadowy customer standing at the door, "we're closed."

11. The Mary Tyler Moore Show, "The Last Show," 1977

The Mary Tyler Moore Show, "The Last Show," 1977
In this finale, the entire staff of WJM, the station where Mary works, is fired. By the end of the show they're in one big group hug, grabbing a box of Kleenex through their tears. It's Mary who is left to turn off the lights in the newsroom one final time. Endings like this, that are all ecompassing and sweeping in scale, really give the series a sense of closure and are very emotional. The office setting has an appeal that most people can understand, giving it a feeling of a real goodbye.

12. M*A*S*H, "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen," 1983

Whether you loved it or not, you have to admire the fact that M*A*S*H was on the air for 11 years, while the war was only around for three. The finale is exactly what it should be, the men and women of the 4077th were finally heading home. In what is still the biggest non-sports broadcast television show of all time, it is surpassed only by the 2010 Superbowl with over 121 million viewers. It was over two hours long, delivering one hell of a conclusion to all of the storylines, ensuring nobody would feel they hadn't been given their due.

13. Angel, "Not Fade Away," 2004

Angel, "Not Fade Away," 2004
It's really admirable to end a series mid-scene, especially when the entire band of heroes has just chosen to take a stand come what may. They're going stay together and fight the good fight and we'll never truly know what becomes of them. Or, we probably do and just don't want to admit it.

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