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Quick Meme: Which SciFi Shows Had the Best Endings?

It is widely agreed that shows like Lost and Battlestar Galactica ended on a low note. I’ve also heard more than one person say the same for Quantum Leap. Although these shows were good overall, they shared endings that kinda sucked.

Which begs the question: Which SciFi shows had the best endings?

What’s you take? Sound off in the comments…

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

38 Comments on Quick Meme: Which SciFi Shows Had the Best Endings?

  1. I gotta go Star Trek: The Next Generation here. The rather clever callback to the pilot in the final episode wasn’t just a gimmick, it put a whole new spin on the entire series and gave every character one final arc that replicated in miniature what the show, and the franchise, was all about.

  2. Eureka. I was really worried about how they were going to wrap the show up, but I was pleasantly surprised with how they book-ended the show by harkening back to the pilot with several elements, including Lowjack and Taggert, the twins, and Jack and Zoe driving down the same road that brought them to Eureka in the first place.


  3. Daniel S // July 28, 2012 at 1:40 am //

    Angel had a great finale, IMO. It was touching and true to the message of the show. Eric Kripke’s intended finale for Supernatural in season 5.

    • Both were excellent endings (Kripke’s a little undone by Supernatural getting picked up for new seasons).

      Angel has one of the best final lines for a series. If I recall it correctly-

      I’ll take the dragon.”

      • No, the final line in Angel was ‘Let’s get to work.’

        Amazing. Facing a massive oncoming horde of demons, and they nonchalantly start chopping.

  4. David Foster // July 28, 2012 at 3:43 am //

    I will admit it had a rough beginning, but once StarGate Universe got going, it was the best show in ages (with the possible exception of Firefly).

    And the end was pitch perfect, with the crew in a risky cryo-hibernation, and our main hero unclear if he would survive, yet looking out over the ship as it shuts down, with a look that says, ‘Even if I never get home, this is where I want to be”.

  5. Firefly. Granted, “Objects in Space” was not a proper ending for the series, but it was a pretty good episode in itself. And it was a final episode.

    • nah-Firefly’s final episode really was Sernity. BTW I love the series, just voicing my thoughts on the actual final episode.

  6. Thomas G. // July 28, 2012 at 5:22 am //

    I honestly can’t think of many sci-fi shows that had planned finales. Is there a definitive list of sci-fi series that had planned finales?

    I have to agree with Jay on his assessment of ST:TNG, though.

    I would say the same about Quantum Leap.

  7. Blakes7 – everyone dead? Or not? Did Avon betray everyone?

    • I’ve watched the last two seasons of Balke’s 7, but for me the final episode will be the one that ends the second season. Avon on the Liberator’s bridge choosing to fight instead of run? If there was ever any question as to who’s show it really was it ended there.

  8. In terms of most satisfying I’d have to agree with Jay on Star Trek: The Next Generation.


  9. Babylon 5 gets my vote.

    • Bryan Price // July 28, 2012 at 12:42 pm //

      Yep. It ended in fire, just like JMS said (via the Vorlon) in the first season.

    • Yes. Thomas G. commented above that few shows had planned finales, but Babylon 5 did. He planned the whole 5 year series as a single long-term story arc and the ending was crafted from the beginning.

    • Craig L // July 31, 2012 at 3:39 pm //

      B5 certainly benefited from having a very specific five-year plan, but that was undermined by the syndicator pulling the plug mid-Season 4 and J.M.S. hurrying up the Shadow War storyline to have it end instead of providing a Season-4-to-5 cliffhanger. It left the last season to be mostly denouement for half of the storylines. I’m still not sure whether the ‘historical overview’ episode that replaced the planned Season 4 finale (which was aired at the end of Season 5) was actually a better ending, but it all did end good (if you ignore the spinoffs).

  10. I would say Star Trek Voyager. I never liked the series as whole, disliked Janeway, but there were some good episodes. The final episode was exceptional, I especially appreciated the inclusion of Commander Barkley.

  11. If you include fantasy, I’d say Buffy the Vampire Slayer had the most satisfying ending. In science fiction, I’d vote for Fiefly with Serenity.

    • I have to disagree. When a show’s ending makes me hate almost every single surviving character, and has me wanting to see them thrown into the pitt and have a rock dropped on their heads, then the series is doing something wrong.

      Those mall jokes at the end made me despise every single one of the scoobies, with the possible exception of Buffy herself.

      And I have to say, I’m not normally someone who looks for plotholes, or tries to be overly logic about sci fi fantasy shows. But the writing of Chosen was so horrifyingly bad that it made the scoobies look stupid as hell. Pretty much every decision made by any of the scoobies and Buffy in that ep was idiotic and caused them to lose more lives than they had to.

      If any fan needs only five minutes to look at that ep and can come up with dozens of plans that worked better than the one they went with, then a bunch of tv writers should have been able to do the same. But whedon was so busy with thinking of his ‘iconic’ moments that common sense was thrown out of the window.

      In comparison, I didn’t like Dark Angel’s first season, but at the end of their show finale in s2, they made me love every single main character on the show.

      Or Angel, which I felt wasn’t nearly as good as Buffy otherwise, managed to have a finale and an ending that had me actually love the characters that still stood there waiting for their potentially fatal battle. Even Illyria, whom I thought was a waste of a good character, made me like her, because all of them mourned Wesley (even though I couldn’t stand the char himself), because it showed their respect for a fallen ally. Something that was utterly lacking in Chosen.

  12. Star Trek: The Next Generation
    (I sound like a chorus at this point). It calls back all the way to Encounter at Farpoint, and ties the entire history of the ship and its captain together.

    I’m curious what Patrick thinks of the last B5 episode, Sleeping in Light. Was the fifth season too much of a mess to be able to wrap up the series? Or is the 4th season finale the real ending to the series?

  13. Blake’s 7. Depressing as all get-out but appropriate.

  14. Vic DiGital // July 28, 2012 at 10:43 am //

    Still waiting for a show to nail the landing. For a show to end well (for me), it can’t just have a good final episode. The final season and especially the episodes leading up to the finale have to be good. Too often, the final season of a sci-fi show has followed a season or two of falling ratings and desperate reactionary storytelling before reality settling in and the scramble to wrap everything up.
    Really, there were only two contenders for the title during their runs, Lost and Battlestar Galactica. Both had the potential to end their runs with a definitive finale, as both shows pointed towards an ending almost from their first frames. However both shows went off the rails in depressing ways.

    Star Trek(s), Stargate(s), et al, being episodic in nature, were never designed to “end,” so their inevitable final episodes were just episodes that happened to be the final episodes (regardless of how much closure they wanted that final episode to have).

    X-files, Buffy, Angel, etc. Also would have happily continued on forever, despite the dangling of ‘endings’. Whedon’s shows had season specific endings, but were never intended to definitively end, as evidenced by his own continuation of the show in comics form. X-files had two depressing movies, neither of which wrapped anything up satisfactorily.

    Among current shows, Game of Thrones is the only one really designed with an eventual ending, so I’m betting that if the show stays on the air, and IF it continues to follow the books, that we’ll get a bang-up ending.

    Finally, a show that isn’t sci-fi, but one I consider to FEEL very sci-fi is “Breaking Bad”. Walter White feels very much like a supervillain. Anyway, as we approach the planned ending of this show, I’m eagerly watching, hoping that this show can nail the landing and go down as the greatest show in TV history.

  15. Kyle Jelle // July 28, 2012 at 1:57 pm //

    Babylon 5’s fifth season was unnecessary, but the last episode—which was actually filmed for season 4—was pitch perfect. It wasn’t intended as a last episode, but The 4400 was structured so that each season ended on a note that worked as a finale, and when it was canceled, the last episode was just right. If we can count it, The Peacekeeper Wars was a fine ending for Farscape, though if you don’t mind brutal nihilism, Farscape’s season 4 ending worked too. I liked the endings for Eureka and Stargate: Universe, too.

    Other than that, I’m not sure what disappoints me more, the shows that never got a chance for a proper ending, or the shows that did and flubbed it. There are too many of both.

  16. Neil Ottenstein // July 28, 2012 at 4:12 pm //

    Babylon 5 had a great ending and while if they had known they were getting a 5th season ahead of time, things would have been smoother between the 4th and 5th seasons, it all still worked out quite well and did give much of what had been planned. The final episode is pitch perfect and does not fail to produce tears.

    As far as Blake’s 7 – believe it or not, I read that the final episode that was broadcast was really intended to be a cliffhanger with the only guaranteed death being that of Blake.

  17. Agree with many of the above posters:
    ST:TNG, Farscape, Angel, Buffy, Voyager (they got home, `nuf said), and while Firefly didn’t have a real ending – the final episode on the DVDs brings enough resolution to sit back and think “Well done.”

  18. For me most series end flatly. ST:TNG ST: Voyager, and ST: Enterprise all disappointed. ST:TNG much less than the others, and while I had given up Voyager and Enterprise, I came back to see the final episodes. Quantum Leap didn’t work for me, and as much as I wanted a great ending from BSG, that was the problem. I wanted greatness and I think it was a bit, meh.

    DS9 almost pulled off a good ending. But, if we stretch things to fantasy I’d say Joss Whedon knows how to end things. Buffy, Angel, Dollhouse, and Firefly (with Serenity).

  19. I agree with the commenter above about Star Trek: Voyager. The show did have its issues. (It also had a few really good episodes in there, too.) But that ending was so hot! When Voyager came flying out of that Borg ship it just about took my breath away. Well done! And one of the finest endings I’ve seen on a scifi show ever.

  20. The British version of Life On Mars has to be my favorite. A bit depressing, a bit mysterious, answered enough questions but raised others. Way better than the American version…ugh.

    • Craig L // July 31, 2012 at 3:45 pm //

      Saw both versions, the British was a downer (but I’d seen Blakes 7 too and knew what they were capable of) and I knew the American version would never do the same. Still, as a [SPOILER] “It was all a dream” ending, I accepted it more than St. Elsewhere or Newhart (where it was really a punchline).

  21. At the risk of sounding flippant, I’d say that (the new one, ofc) Battlestar Galactica actually *did* have a great finale for a Sci-Fi show. No, it’s not a logically good or overall decent finale, but it is almost entirely a construct of deus ex machina, a good whiff of the overtly mystical, a subversion of the ‘realistic space science & life’ focus, and something that leaves many questions unanswered whilst expanding the thematic concept of the story by quite a bit.
    In other words, it is the classical ending that most Sci-Fi works (that can have an ending as such) abide to; thus for a sci-fi show to end with a typical, trope-tastic classic sci-fi ending is precisely what would make it good.

  22. Going to have to go with Farscape. All the major storylines were neatly tied up in a fully satisfactory way. Pitch-perfect way to conclude a series.

  23. Joshua corning // July 31, 2012 at 12:27 am //

    The best sci-fi ending for a show?


  24. I would go for dollhouse….. Show had the best ending for both of its seasons and show did end when it felt like ending. Not naming any names but I am tired of books and seasons which I love but. Which go on and on. And on.
    For me the best part of a story is ending and it is the most important. Part after a tantalising. Start.

  25. The Prisoner. Especially when watching the SciFi marathon with Harlan Ellison providing commentary. Just wait, everything will be revealed in the end. lol

    • Craig L // July 31, 2012 at 3:53 pm //

      How could I forget Patrick McGoohan’s one-season wonder!!! Yes, better than Babylon 5, better than any of the Star Treks, better than Farscape, Eureka, and more than likely Fringe when it ends this year. (I must note I saw The Prisoner in its US first-run when I was 12, and it was one of the first things that ever showed me what TV COULD be)

      I still cannot hear The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love” without thinking of that show…

  26. Chuck.

    The last season started rough but was pulled together by the end. It was a very satisfying finale.

    I have high-hopes for Fringe, but after what JJ Abrams did to Lost…

  27. pardusian141 // August 1, 2012 at 1:16 am //

    I would have to say Stargate Universe had a realy good ending. But, the ending wasn’t supposed to happen the way it did. It was simply the begining of a story.

    The reason I liked that ending so much was because I am a close stargate fan and I LOVED the soundtracks in SGU. RIP Joel Goldsmith, the maker of music in Stargate.

  28. The best scifi ending I’ve seen is Primeval. Which, if you haven’t seen it, you should. It’s on NetFlix and very SG-1 like. And it ends in a very satisfying, deliberately conclusive way, where you feel that the show has really finished on purpose.

    I am super psyched for the new spinoff!

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