Tonight The Office bids farewell after eight seasons and 200 episodes. Series finales have a complicated history; final episodes have left viewers with tears of joy as well as fists of fury as beloved characters have ended up in prison, happily in love, having mental breakdowns...or alone.
Keep reading for four classic TV finales.
4. Seinfeld Larry David's sense of humor led the characters straight into prison in the series finale. Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer watched a man get carjacked and characteristically, instead of helping the man, they heckled him about his size while Kramer recorded the crime on his camcorder. In the second part of the two-part finale, the gang was sentenced to a year in prison and the show ended with the comic convicts having a typical conversation in a jail cell.
Since Seinfeld was essentially a show about nothing, a seemingly random ending was somehow fitting. The characters were all lovable messes in their own ways, and it would be very difficult to find an episode in which the gang wasn't in some kind of predicament that was entirely their own fault. However, this setting was also so out of the ordinary that it left many of its faithful viewers feeling uneasy.
3. Friends Every romantic should have been satisfied with this ending. The happily married couple with the inability to have children adopted twins, the quirky blonde married the divorced hunk who'd sworn he'd never marry again, the on-and-off couple who had a child together ended up together, and the ditzy ladies' man got a short-lived spin-off.
Skeptics might call this finale cheesy, and they might be right. The friends definitely got their happily ever-after -- even Joey, who didn't end up with a family, because any fan knows that all Joey needs is a meatball sub and a pretty lady. So yes, this ending was quite cheesy; however, had it ended any other way, the series might have felt inconclusive.
2. M*A*S*H Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen tied up all the loose ends in two and a half hours -- a finale longer than the average movie. In the most tear-jerking part, Hawkeye Pierce recovered repressed memories during his stay in a mental hospital. The woman that he had thought suffocated her chicken to save people on a bus had actually suffocated her crying baby; his difficult emotional revelation made this episode one of the most memorable, and wrenching, in TV history.
1. Cheers In short, Sam and Diane don't end up together. This episode led us to believe -- for just a second -- that Dam would make it, but Diane went back to her stardom and Sam ended up at the bar. Carla, the sassy waitress, ended the show as a single mother. Norm ended up unemployed and Cliff was still the mail carrier who lived with his mother, seemingly untransformed by eleven seasons. On the other side, Woody left the show with a wife, a job in politics, and a child on the way.
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Obviously, anyone rooting for Sam and Diane was disappointed with this ending. The series ended with Sam talking to an unseen customer, which made the Jack and Dianne-sized hole in my heart swell. However, the end for the other characters seemed fitting. They all wound up pretty much the same as they'd started: average and happy.