"Murphy Brown" ended its run 15 years ago on May 18, 1998. The comedy from Diane English starring Candice Bergen lasted 10 seasons and produced 247 episodes and its impact is still being felt today.
The character of Murphy Brown made her TV debut having just returned from a stint in rehab. Unapologetic, quick-witted and hard working, the character was a trailblazer. Candice Bergen won five Emmys for playing Murphy Brown.
In 1992, Dan Quayle attacked "Murphy Brown" for being a single mother. The comments took off and the series even incorporated them into Season 5. "My goal was to get people to believe that Murphy was a real person," series creator English told The Hollywood Reporter during a recent "Murphy Brown" writers reunion. "[T]he vice president blamed her for the fall of Western civilization."
"Murphy Brown" had a long-running gag with Murphy's secretaries. Often a little wacky, these characters were played by actors such as Bette Midler, Don Rickles and Sally Field. Watch some of Murphy's secretaries below.
What's your favorite thing about "Murphy Brown"? Tell us in the comments below.
The two-and-a-half-hour movie that closed out the series, "Goodbye, Farewell, And Amen," held the record for the most-watched broadcast in American history for almost two decades. That's not to say it didn't generate controversy: The Korean War ends and all the characters bid farewell to return to their "normal" lives, but some (like poor Hawkeye, as seen in the video here) don't end up quite as viewers hoped. The iconic ending is as big a tear-jerker as you'll ever see on TV.
"St. Elsewhere" (1988)
One of the most spoofed and widely referenced finales of all time, the "St. Elsewhere" finale ended with the revelation that St. Eligius hospital and its staff (which included Denzel Washington, Helen Hunt, Howie Mandel and Mark Harmon) were all the creations of an autistic child, Tommy Westphall, taking place inside a snowglobe. Fans weren't too thrilled about investing six years of their lives in characters who never existed in the first place, which is kind of ironic when you think about it.
"The Prisoner" (1968)
45 years later, we're not sure if anyone has figured out what this televisual acid trip actually meant or whether any of it even happened. Did Number 6 truly leave The Village? Was he really Number 1 the whole time? And why the monkey mask? If you were frustrated by the ambiguities of the "Lost" finale, this cult British classic might send you off the deep end.
"Little House On The Prairie" (1983)
Walnut Grove blows up. Yep, it <em>BLOWS UP</em>. In order to stave off a greedy baron and save Walnut Grove from a takeover, everyone collectively decides to eradicate the town to make sure it doesn't fall into the wrong hands. Faulty logic, but effective! Fittingly, all that's left standing is the Little House.
Another infamous finale -- though undeniably inventive at the time -- saw main character Dick Loudon get hit in the head by a golf ball in the final minutes of the episode, only to wake up as Dr. Bob Hartley (the main character from "The Bob Newhart Show," which ended in 1978). This revealed that the whole of "Newhart" had taken place as a dream inside the mind of one of Bob Newhart's previous characters. Trippy!
To be fair, the powers-that-be behind "ALF" didn't realize this would be the final episode, but it's still no excuse for going out like this: In a nutshell, ALF is taken into custody by the authorities rather than escaping back to his home planet of Melmac. A sad, jarring ending to a family-oriented sitcom.
We all know the question "Who shot J.R.?," but fans of the show were left with that ultimate cliffhanger when the series came to an end (the first time). Did he kill himself? Was it Adam? (Luckily for fans -- or unluckily -- at the end of the current Season 2 "Dallas" finale, we found out who shot J.R. for real.)
"Twin Peaks" (1991)
Full of mysteries and subtle imagery, "Twin Peaks" wasn't the easiest show to get a grasp on. The finale was essentially a series of cliffhangers, leaving devoted fans in the lurch forever. There's a bank explosion, Agent Cooper is trapped in a lodge while his "doppelganger" (possessed by an evil spirit) runs free, and we get a promise of something happening in "25 years."
The third-most watched series finale of all time behind "M*A*S*H" and "Cheers," "Seinfeld's" finale clocked in at an hour and 15 minutes and saw the central foursome on trial for "criminal indifference" (i.e. doing nothing, much like the central premise of the show). The final minutes saw Jerry, Kramer, Elaine and George sentenced to a year in jail, closing with Jerry doing a poorly received stand-up routine in prison. Although the finale was seen by more than 76 million households, many fans felt that it mocked the audience and portrayed the characters as callous with no respect for society -- but that was part of their charm, right?
"Xena, Warrior Princess" (2001)
Ever the hero, Xena sacrificed herself to ensure that 40,000 damned souls could find peace, which meant that -- unlike earlier seasons that saw our heroine cheat Hades numerous times -- she had to stay dead, leaving her ass-kicking mission to BFF/soulmate Gabrielle while she hung out as a ghostly sidekick. While it was sweet that even death couldn't separate the pair, it was still a fairly depressing climax for a show that, until that point, had unashamedly celebrated female empowerment. Didn't they deserve a happy ending?!
"Dawson's Creek" (2003)
If you grew up with this series, you'll probably recall the angst surrounding Joey's choice: Would she pick lifelong friend and crush Dawson, or the sweet-yet-devilish Pacey? Her ultimate pick (Pacey) left half the viewers elated and the remainder peeved. Think of it as the original Team Edward vs. Team Jacob.
"Battlestar Galactica" (2009)
Die-hard "BSG" fans were waiting eagerly (after many hiatuses) for a cumulative finale that answered all their questions: Is there one God or multiple Gods, or maybe not at all? Who/what is Kara Thrace? Are there any more Cylons? Is this planet Earth? Unfortunately, the writers painted themselves into a corner, and we were left with a bunch of barely-there explanations.
"The Sopranos" (2007)
Which is worse -- finding out that the entire show was a dream, or never knowing what happened to your favorite characters at all? "The Sopranos" kept things deliciously ambiguous, building up the tension as viewers wondered whether some shady character was about to shoot up the diner in the show's final moments, but instead, the finale cut abruptly to black, leaving the fate of the titular family uncertain.
The great debate about what it all means still rages on even three years later, but after six seasons of ever-deepening mysteries, there was no way that everyone was going to be satisfied by "Lost's" eventual ending. Whatever your feelings are about the show's grand ruminations on the nature of life, death and redemption, your level of finale satisfaction probably depends on whether you were moved by the uplifting/sappy ending of our island-dwellers disappearing into the bright white light of the afterlife together, or left frustrated by the show's unanswered mythological questions. The battle continues!
The "Smallville" finale featured plenty of satisfying moments for longtime Superman fans -- from Perry White exclaiming "Great Caesar's ghost!" to an Olsen in a newsboy cap and the legendary John Williams theme -- but audiences had been waiting 10 years to see Clark Kent don the iconic cape and red underoos and embrace his destiny. What they got was a tiny, CGI speck that looked vaguely like Tom Welling and one shirt-ripping final moment, leaving many viewers feeling understandably short-changed.
"Gossip Girl" (2012)
LONELY BOY IS GOSSIP GIRL? In some ways, it made total sense (Dan was always way too obsessed with the scandalous lives of Manhattan's elite). On the other hand, it was so obvious that the big reveal hadn't been planned from the very beginning and it seemed to assume all of its viewers were idiots. The show found it disturbingly easy to handwave away all of Dan's betrayals just to give him a happy ending with Serena. Ick. (We were rooting for Dorota!)