Game of Thrones is over, and few are totally satisfied. We know that all good things come to an end, but in the realm of television it's rare that things come to a good end. You've already read the headline to this article, so here are a few other tv finales that left me wanting more.
1. The Sopranos
The Sopranos is remembered as one of the greatest television programs of all time, and a real trailblazer for the medium, setting all-new standards of excellence. The ending however, remains divisive. The setup: mob boss Tony Soprano goes to meet his family at a local diner, amidst threats that he'll be whacked by his rivals at any moment. A jukebox plays Journey's hit song "Don't Stop Believing" as the Sopranos ruminate on the lyrics, how you have to enjoy the good times in life, and that they love each other in amidst it all. Then, as the tension rises to a fever pitch... the screen cuts to black and the music stops.
The ending was divisive, with many bemoaning the ambiguity of the main characters' fate. However what really upsets me is that I love that Journey song, and would loved to have heard a little bit more of it. It's just one of those songs that gets me going every time I hear it, and series creator David Chase took a huge creative misstep in not letting me enjoy it in full.
Another divisive ending, Seinfeld's two-part finale saw the main characters on trial for criminal negligence, and saw iconic guest characters from the series' run come in and testify against Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer. It's a really clever way of reliving some of the show's most memorable moments and might have stuck the landing were it not for the final scene, in which the characters all go to prison, and Jerry is seen performing his trademark standup comedy routine to an audience of inmates, who boo him offstage. It's the scene that finally proved that Jerry Seinfeld's material wasn't as funny as we were lead to believe and I, as a viewer, suddenly felt betrayed by the past nine seasons of shows, where Jerry's lame comic observations were always met with laughter and applause. It's an ending that revealed Jerry for the fraud he truly is, and that still stings to this day.
3. How I Met Your Mother
In the end, Ted's story wasn't actually about how he met his children's mother, it was about how he really had feelings for his friend Robin, and wanted his kids' permission to pursue a new romance after the tragic death of his wife. It's touching.
My only complaint is it never answered other questions, like how he met my mother, what he was doing with her, and why has she never mentioned him to me? I deserve to know these things, especially when the opening titles of a television show spent nine seasons promising to answer the question "How I Met Your Mother". Oh God. Thinking about it now, I don't even know who the "I" is. What if it's the directors of the show? Or the person who designed the titles and typeface when they wrote the words "How I Met Your Mother"? Just how many people lay claim to having met my mother? This is the opposite of closure.
Whilst Game of Thrones has drawn flack for ignoring character arcs and character development in its final episodes, the tradition is nothing new with television finales. M*A*S*H will always be remembered for its ending where Hawkeye looks down from the window of his helicopter to see the message B.J. has written out for him in rocks: "GOODBYE". This ending never fails to coarse hate and fury through every cell in my body. B.J. was in the millitary; he'd been trained, honed for survivial, to conserve resources and act with efficiency - so why would he go to all the effort of speeling out "GOODBYE" when a simple "BYE" or "CYA" would have sufficed? I mean, do they think we're all idiots?
5. Breaking Bad
Is it just me, or was Bryan Cranston severley miscast in the final episode? Cranston is a comedy actor - the funny dad from Malcolm in the Middle - and putting him in a serious, gritty, meth drama like Breaking Bad is such an odd and uncomfortable creative decision. You'll forgive me for not thinking "wow, best ending ever!"
Dead TV image courtesy of Flickr.