After ten years of coffee-house meetings, on-and-off romances, and memories both hilarious and heartwarming, the series wrapped up with fans feeling a sense of closure. Ross and Rachel were in it for good, Monica and Chandler had twins, Phoebe was happily married to Mike, and Joey had a new chick and a duck. With new sets of goals all around, the characters seemed ready to move on with their lives, but the same can't be said for us. Much like Monica's purple-walled apartment in the final scene, we will always be a little empty without our Friends.
No matter how many docs came through County General over the 15 years the show aired, it was the storytelling that made us care so much. That said, the ending gave us what we wanted: a big-scale medical emergency and a chance to say goodbye to favorites we remembered so well. We got to reminisce about Dr. Mark Greene (Anthony Edwards) when his daughter Rachel (Hallee Hirsh) toured the hospital and ended up going out for drinks with some of the cast members who defined the show for us, including John Carter (Noah Wyle), Peter Benton (Eriq La Salle), Kerry Weaver (Laura Innes), Elizabeth Corday (Alex Kingston), and Susan Lewis (Sherry Stringfield). It was the poignant goodbye we wanted.
We knew there'd be no happy ending for Kiefer Sutherland's CTU agent, constant-savior-of-the-world Jack Bauer, but we did get to see him let loose as what he was trained to be and always tried to transcend: a remorseless killer. He became a true vigilante, claiming ''I am judge and jury.''(Not to mention that he went all Mike Tyson on Reed Diamond’s Jason Pillar and bit off a chunk of his ear). As Ken Tucker wrote at the time: ''Finally, in his greatest moments of grief and fury, he showed us the most vulnerable, despairing side of the man of action.'' And we got our touching Chloe/Jack moment when he told her ''I never thought it would be you who would cover my back after all these years.''
But the satisfaction came from having 24 go out as a wonderfully self-contained record of a post-9/11 mood, as well as maybe something more — ''a clever experiment that turned into something more searching, as it surfed the wave of national discourse about politics and policy, hanging-ten on terrorism.''
17. SIX FEET UNDER (#1 IMO)
With all its resolutions, new beginnings, and flash-forwards, the finale really seemed to neatly wrap-up the lives of the Fisher clan. It wasn't nearly the weepfest that the funeral for Nate (Peter Krause) was, but who could forget the haunting notes of Sia's ''Breathe Me'' playing throughout the final six minutes as Claire (Lauren Ambrose) drove away.
16. THE WIRE
If the Sopranos finale was willfully oblique, refusing to tie up the 8-year saga of Tony and his goons into a tidy little package, HBO's other prestige drama ended on a far more conclusive note. Carcetti (Aidan Gillan) was elected governor, Carver (Seth Gilliam) was promoted to lieutenant, and McNulty (Dominic West) celebrated his forced early retirement from the po-lice with a traditional Irish wake — a perfect final instance of the troublemaker's macabre humor. While there were happy endings — Bubbles (Andre Royo), clean and redeemed at last! — they were the minority. Nothing was more tragic than the sight of poor, teenage Dukie (Jermaine Crawford) shooting up in an alleyway, well on his way to becoming the junkie Bubbles once was. Like every other moment of The Wire, the finale left us grappling with hope and despair — in other words, looking real life and all its infuriating complexity straight in the eyes.
So much about this ender is great, but we're going to single out the parade of past favorites who file into the courtroom to testify against Jerry and the gang — who're on trial for, well, being horrible people. Here's to you, Soup Nazi, Virgin, and Sidra (''They're real and they're spectacular!'') Holland.
14. BATTLESTAR GALACTICA
Some questions were answered, while others were left up in the air, but as the survivors of the Cylon holocaust finally settled on a world they could call home — and the wounded Battlestar that carried them there flew into its cosmic funeral pyre — executive producer Ronald D. Moore's sci-fi reinvention concluded with the same intelligence, grace, and kick-ass space battles that it started with.
13. STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION
''All Good Things...'' brought this über-successful extension of the Star Trek franchise to an end, and it did so in high style. Capt. Picard (Patrick Stewart) found himself skipping through time, visiting his loyal Enterprise crew at the beginning of their voyages together and, poignantly, joining them for one last old-age adventure.
It only seemed fitting that the 11 seasons that Frasier and company spent analyzing their lives and loves to death would end in a veterinarian's office as the setting for dad Martin's wedding and the birth of Daphne and Niles' baby. And the fact that Frasier decided to head to Chicago following after his new love, Charlotte, was just the icing on the cake.
11. THE COSBY SHOW
After eight years of dispensing his unique brand of paternal wisdom — sometimes harsh, frequently funny, always loving — Bill Cosby brought his eponymous sitcom to an end on a graceful note. Literally. Cliff Huxtable (Cosby) took his wife, Claire (Phylicia Rashad), in his arms and began to dance...and they waltzed right off the set, through the crew, and off into history.
10. THE SOPRANOS
Who needs resolution? Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) lived so much of his life in the realm of ambiguity, we shouldn't have been surprised that David Chase chose to end his mob drama with an abrupt slam to black as Tony's nuclear family gathered for a meal in a diner.
9. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) ended seven seasons of butt-kicking joy with Sunnydale sunken into a crater, Spike (James Marsters) paying for redemption with his life, and Angel (David Boreanaz) just a fond memory. Buffy and her core Scoobies lived to fight another day — just somewhere else.
8. THE SHIELD
Even with all the despicable things he's done, you can't deny that at least a part of you wanted Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis) to get away scot-free. And he did...sort of. Watching Vic sitting behind a desk, filling out reports, all alone under the thumb of the FBI, it seemed clear that he was paying for his crimes in a way that cut him deeper than prison ever could.
There was never going to be any way to wrap up every last hanging story line from six seasons of serialized Island mayhem, but Lost's two-and-a-half hour finale proved to be a high-energy epic romp, even with plenty of questions unanswered. The revelation that the Sideways world was a purgatory-ish afterlife led to a parade of tear-inducing reunions (Charlie and Claire, plus Aaron!), while the Island story line ended with a final showdown between Jack and Smokey. We dare you not to cry at the final moments, with their shot-for-shot callback to the very first scene of the series.
After 11 seasons of hilarity and heartbreak, the Korean War comedy ended with a two-and a half hour TV movie that aired Feb. 28, 1983 and is still the highest rated series finale ever. By the end of the episode, the war has drawn to an exhausted close, and the residents of the 4077th are scattering after many tearful farewells. The teariest is saved for last. As Hawkeye (Alan Alda) takes off in a chopper, he spies a message from his old pal B.J. (Mike Farrell): ''Goodbye'' spelled out in stones on the launch pad.
Was Sam (Ted Danson) really going to ditch the bar to move to L.A. with the reemerged Diane (Shelley Long)? Of course not. Sitting on the tarmac he realized his mistake and returned to his true love: his bar, and the lazy, lovable friends who would never leave it.
4. THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW
It was a weird bit of irony with The Mary Tyler Moore Show's notable finale: The new owner of WJM-TV fired everyone in the news operation — except, and inexplicably, the always-idiotic Ted Baxter (Ted Knight). (How's that for a final bit of comedy?) The tears flowed, though, as the cast gathered for the now-iconic group hug and, afterward, when the show's star Mary Tyler Moore introduced the series' seven regulars as ''the best cast ever.'' Awww.
3. THE FUGITIVE
The finale was watched by 72 percent of American TV households — a record that still stands. The public was avid to see David Janssen's Dr. Richard Kimble finally catch up with the murderous ''one-armed man'' and reclaim his good name.
2. ST. ELSEWHERE
The finale showed us the autistic son of hero Dr. Westphall (Ed Flanders) playing with a snow globe, lost in thought. The camera moves in closer, and we see it contains a replica of the hospital show's St. Eligius building. It was therefore assumed that all six seasons of St. Elsewhere took place in the son's imagination. Mind-blower!
Bob's 1982-90 sitcom ended with ''The Final Newhart,'' in which Vermont innkeeper Bob goes to sleep and wakes up as Chicago therapist Bob, sleeping next to his original 1972-78 Bob Newhart Show wife, Suzanne Pleshette. Thus the entire second series was but a dream.
Friends at the bottom of the list?? I love love love Seinfeld but it did not have a great series finale. And why isn't Six Feet Under closer to the top of the list??? Its one of the best finales ever. Off topic, I'm headed to California in a few days for my very first time! Hitting up L.A. and then San Francisco. Doing the Warner Bros. Tour while in L.A. and getting to visit the Central Perk set... you have no idea how fucking excited I am for that. #csb