It’s easy to remember the shows where you were utterly furious about the offensively lousy ending. Hell, we’ve all felt it – we’ve even written about it here before, because we have feelings on the matter.
And every unsatisfying ending is terrible for individual, specific reasons: an abrupt cancellation, a sudden series episode cut causing a desperate cramming of plot into a handful of episodes, a network sell-off, a show that was meant to continue until one of the main actors got #metooed and had their character abruptly killed off-screen – the reasons are as many and varied as the frustratingly truncated shows themselves.
Conversely, there’s one common about the times when a show on TV ends well: they knew it was coming.
It’s worth noting because a bunch of shows are winding up in the next little while, and it’s particularly unusual that they’re being given the chance to go out on their own terms rather than just not being renewed or axed mid-season, as is so often the fate for anything that’s a more of a cult-hit than The Big Bang Theory.
Gloriously over the top crime dramedy Claws is filming its final series, which is almost a relief given how nuts the last series was. Netflix recently announced that the coming series of genius animated series BoJack Horseman will wrap the show up (although according to Aaron Paul apparently it was the network’s call, not the creators).
And two of the biggest series on TV are calling it quits. The last series of The Good Place is currently screening, and promising a satisfying (if almost certainly heartbreaking) conclusion. And Breaking Bad prequel Better Call Saul is putting a bow on its final series, as we watch Jimmy McGill finally, irredeemably become the amoral Saul Goodman of its parent programme.
And this should be noted because it’s actually pretty unusual for a show to end when and how it wants to go out.
A show that’s not doing well might not have the sort of clout required to negotiate their own thrilling conclusion, while a show going well has it even harder because no networks wants to kill a successful show and will throw money at a series to keep it running even if, say, Arrested Development already managed a perfect ending and didn’t need to come back for a fourth series godammit.
That’s why you have zombie shows like The [US] Office or Gilmore Girls staggering on when key personnel have opted out (star Steve Carell in the former example, writer-creator Amy Sherman-Palladino in the latter).
And it’s wonderful when a TV show ends well, and it’s something to be celebrated. A good ending is a rare and beautiful thing.
And look: there’s a lot to be said for going out on one’s own terms. Cheers, team.