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Best Series Finales Ever, Including 'M*A*S*H,' 'The Shield,' 'The Sopranos,' 'Friends' And More

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted:

Lost
The 14 best TV series finales ever

It's been exactly two years since the series finale of "Lost" and you probably still love it/hate it as much as you did that night.

No matter your stance on "Lost's" mystical ending, the fact that a series could polarize fans so instantly means that it did its job -- even if you didn't get all the answers you wanted. The "Lost" series finale will go down as one of the most controversial in TV history, and that's saying a lot.

But was it one of the best series finales? With the "Lost" anniversary and "House" and "Desperate Housewives" both recently being laid to rest, HuffPost TV thought it'd be a good time to round up the most iconic, hilarious, touching and perfect series finales of all time -- click through our gallery to see what we deemed the top 14. Then, share your thoughts in the comments.

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  • "The Sopranos"

    How do you end six seasons of mob antics, whackings, intense therapy sessions and major family drama? With some sweet Journey tunes, onion rings, lots of suspicious looks around a diner, some horrible parallel parking and one very controversial fade to black. The Sopranos live on forever ... or do they?

  • "Friday Night Lights"

    Quiet, nuanced, realistic, sob-inducing: This is what "FNL" always was at its best, and the terrific finale embodied all the show's finest attributes. There were lovely sendoffs for all our favorite Dillon residents: We got to see where they were and where they were headed next. The finale showed that the show's creators team and cast loved the world of "FNL" as much as we did. Texas forever!

  • "Friends"

    In "The Last One," "Friends" fans got everything they ever wanted: A happy ending for Ross and Rachel (she got off the plane!), Monica and Chandler had twins, Phoebe was happily married, Joey was still Joey, and they even got some laughs with the goodbye tears by acknowledging that their huge apartment -- which was almost like the seventh friend -- was, in fact, rent-controlled.

  • "The Shield"

    Is there any worse punishment for a crooked cop like Vic Mackey than being rendered useless and badgeless at a desk job where the fluorescent lights hum louder than your thoughts? Still, Mackey got off easy compared to the rest of the strike team.

  • "Battlestar Galactica"

    Sure, the ending annoyed a substantial subset of fans, and nobody around here is going to say the final episode of the sci-fi classic was flawless. But the good parts of the finale were pretty damn great and the codas for several of our favorite characters were memorably moving. So say we all!

  • "Terriers"

    Sure, this show only lasted one season, but what a season it was. The final scene of the series embodied everything we loved about this hardscrabble, charming detective show: We won't tell you what happened, we'll just tell you to get on Netflix and enter Hank and Britt's wonderfully poignant, funny, gone-too-soon world.

  • "The Wire"

    The final season of the show was patchy, but "The Wire's" rigorous yet passionately felt finale gave us yet another reason to appreciate the indelible Baltimore panorama created by David Simon and his cast and crew. Is it wrong that, post-finale, it's still hard for us to see any of these actors as anything but their "Wire" characters?

  • "Arrested Development"

    Yes, the show only lasted three glorious seasons, but at least we got some temporary closure. When we last left the Bluths, Michael and his son George Michael had made a final (unsuccessful) attempt to ditch their insane family, while Maeby pitched the story of their lives to real-life producer and voice of the show Ron Howard, who said the Bluths would make a better movie than TV show. Luckily, we now know we're getting both.

  • "Angel"

    Hey, so that Joss Whedon guy? Before he directed one of the most successful blockbusters of all time, he dabbled in television (true story!). As far as seasons of "Angel" go, the amazingly dense and wonderful Seasons 3 and 4 were stronger than Season 5, but the way the fifth season wrapped up was wonderfully Whedonesque (i.e., twisted, heartbreaking and absolutely right). And now you have an excuse to watch the show if you haven't yet.

  • "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine"

    The forgotten stepchild of the "Trek" universe is actually the best "Trek" series, and the war arc of the last few "DS9" seasons is the most badass ongoing narrative of any of the franchise's TV incarnations. The finale wrapped up the various threads in compelling ways, but it's the haunting final image of Jake Sisko that has stayed with us all these years. <em>Correction: A previous version of this slide misidentified the character who appears at the end of the finale as Benjamin Sisko; it is in fact his son, Jake.</em>

  • "Newhart"

    Bob Newhart's follow-up to the hit "Bob Newhart Show" ended with him getting knocked out during a particularly crazy scene at his Vermont inn and waking up in Chicago next to his <em>former</em> TV wife, played by Suzanne Pleshette. So it was all a dream ... that explains Larry and his brother Darryl and his other brother Darryl then, doesn't it?

  • "Six Feet Under"

    How do you lay a show that's all about death to rest properly? By diving into the future and showing us how all of our favorite characters pass away as well. Touching and amazing, you kind of can't listen to Sia's "Breathe Me" without thinking of these final scenes. And then crying all over again.

  • "The Cosby Show"

    After celebrating big milestones in their children's lives -- including Denise's happy baby news and Theo's graduation (finally!) -- in their series finale, Cliff and Clair made each other smile once more as they danced in their empty house, waltzing right off stage to end the series.

  • "M*A*S*H"

    This is still the most watched television series finale in history for good reason ... they ended 11 seasons of drama and laughter with a special two-and-a-half hour send-off. The last scene showed Hawkeye leaving the base in a helicopter as it flew over the word "goodbye" spelled out on the ground below. <br> Clarification: Some readers have suggested the word is spelled out with bedpans. We thought they were rocks. What are those things?


Need more help processing all your "Lost" finale feelings? Relive our immediate thoughts following the "Lost" series finale with our old Instant Dharma video series, featuring opinions from more than 15 different TV critics and "Lost" super fans:

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