ENTERTAINMENT
12/20/2013 10:37 am ET | Updated Dec 21, 2013

The 9 Best Series Finales

HBO

There is nothing more heartbreaking for a TV-obsessed individual than when their favorite show ends on a very, very low note. (We just can't talk about "Dexter" yet.) But when writers and show runners hit the nail perfectly on the head, a series finale can be heartwarming, tear-inducing and tragic.

Saying goodbye to your favorite show is like bidding farewell to a dear friend. Here are the shows that made that goodbye bearable, the 9 best series finales.

  • 1 "Friday Night Lights"
    How do you end something as earnest, funny and heartbreaking as "Friday Night Lights"? With a whole lot of Explosions In The Sky (the band responsible for the theme song), a fight for Tami Taylor's career and a pilgrimage away from Dillon, Texas. — Jessica Goodman
  • 2 "Six Feet Under"
    Well, who would have thought this HBO show would do something nobody else attempted and [SPOILER] kill off all of its main characters in a dreamy, understated, understanding way. The finale is hailed as one of the most satisfying TV endings ever and is reason enough to start the series from the very beginning. — JG
  • 3 "The Sopranos"
    You just can't beat that fade-to-black ending. Many essays and think pieces have been written about this hour of television, and it was revisited after the James Galdofini's tragic death earlier this year. Does Tony Soprano die in that restaurant? We'll never know. — JG
  • 4 "Breaking Bad"
    It's debatable whether the "Breaking Bad" series finale was even "real" -- there is plenty of justification for an interpretation of "Do It Yourself" in which Walt is simply a ghost, living out his sad and terrible dying fantasies. Yet, obsessing over the tangibleness of the episode is a misunderstanding of authorial intent. It doesn't matter if there is a distinct answer as to whether Walt died when he last saw Skyler in "Ozymandias" or powered through his expensive version of the Witness Protection Program in order to save Jesse and enact Nazi revenge. Walt left himself with a colossally tragic Shakespearian fate and, though he was (rightfully) denied a happy ending, the loose ends of the mess he wrought were ultimately tied. So sure, it all seemed a little easy, "too good to be true" even, but you'd be a fool to fret over that instead of sitting back to enjoy what have been the most emotionally satisfying episode in television history. -- Lauren Duca
  • 5 "30 Rock"
    Instead of tying up loose ends, the two-part finale was about the series itself, celebrating its weird little whatsits and whosits.Tina Fey gave us one last chance to say, "What, Why?" while Kenneth remained immortal, naturally. -- JG
  • 6 "The Office"
    Andy Bernard defined the series in the finale when he said, "I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days before you've actually left them." But it was the return of Michael Scott (Steve Carell) that gave the wacky, deadpan comedy its heart and legs in the series finale. He stood in the background at Dwight and Angela's wedding, allowing the rest of the cast to shine. No doubt, this was Carell's doing, but it worked in all the awkward, perfect ways. — JG
  • 7 "St. Elsewhere"
    An autistic child with a snowglobe. It's an image "St. Elsewhere" fans will never forget, and it set the bar high for TV series finales to come. Dr. Westphall (Ed Flanders) laments how frustrated he becomes when trying to reach his autistic son. The camera zooms in on his son's snowglobe to reveal a replica of the show's St. Eligius building. Was the entire show assumed to all be part of the autistic son's imagination? Why, yes. — JG
  • 8 "Freaks And Geeks"
    Paul Feig's one-season show about teenagers in the early '80s only got the recognition it deserved in its Netflix-induced afterlife. But the finale sums up why it's a series that can withstand time and place. Lindsay Weir (Linda Cardellini) embarks on a summer road trip to follow the Grateful Dead with bad girl Busy Philipps. She acts out ever teenage good girl's dream: to do what you actually want for once in your life. — JG
  • 9 "Newhart"
    Beloved '80s show, "Newhart," challenged TV viewers when Bob Newhart went to sleep as the Bob Newhart viewers came to know and love -- a Vermont innkeeper -- and woke up as a Chicago therapist next to his wife from the "Bob Newhart Show," which ran almost a decade earlier. "Newhart" was just a dream, and the live audience went wild. — JG

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