Breaking Bad and Other TV Series That Ended Things Perfectly
Few things beat a great ending. Few things get a great ending.
Particularly in movies or television, it doesn’t necessarily matter what types of acting performances were put on the screen or the plot that got us to the final moments.
If you can’t nail that final scene, everything else feels like a waste of time.
Of course, it’s not always just about one scene or how it’s shot and edited. It can be an entire series finale or perhaps even the last season or two as a show winds down. Whatever the case, a truly special TV show knows to maintain momentum and tie the knot before a story plateaus.
If you can throw in a twist or two and keep everyone on the edge of their seats before dropping the hammer, all the better.
This is an art, to be sure. It’s also something that can and very frequently gets completely botched. There’s a whole different time and place to dissect the worst TV show endings of all time, but I’m here to focus only on the good.
We live in an age where you can bet on what happens in your favorite TV shows. Entertainment betting is a budding market, but not just because it can create profit for people sitting on their couches or because the top novelty betting sites see another avenue toward cash; it’s because film in general is highly engrossing.
Everyone needs a distraction from time to time, and losing yourself in a captivating television series can help you escape. Some shows have simply done it better than others, and when it comes to capping things off brilliantly, there are a precious few that truly found the sweet spot.
Most of the shows that make this list have been off the air for a while, so there is a strong argument we’re far beyond the “spoiler” expiration date.
If you’re worried I might give something away (I’ll try my best not to), just quickly click out of this post if you see me touching on a show you haven’t seen yet. Chances are, based on how I look at the way the showrunners ended things, you’ll want to check that series out.
Without further haste, let’s dive into the best TV shows that ended things perfectly.
Let’s start this list of TV shows with the greatest endings off on a light note. Many will disagree here, as some critics and fans tend to think this finale was a bit cheap.
I’m not seeing it. Seinfeld was a timeless classic, but it had to end at some point. The joke that these four outcasts of society would be forced to continue their meaningless conversations together for a year in prison is hilarious.
We also got to see the show come full circle, too. Jerry and George finally got their pilot off the ground, Elaine almost professed her love for Jerry, and Kramer was — of course — the main reason for the entire plot.
The idea that all four of these characters would stand by as someone got robbed at gunpoint isn’t at all shocking, but it set up an interesting storyline where their immediate future was very much in doubt.
This also offered the perfect stage to bring in all of the old bit characters and say farewell while also poking holes at the hilarious flaws of our four favorite stars.
I get it if you didn’t want to see Seinfeld come to an end, but it was ultimately for the best, and it delivered an iconic finale that didn’t disappoint.
Six Feet Under
Most people think of Dexter when they think of Michael C. Hall, but the accomplished stage actor first rose to stardom on television via Six Feet Under.
Hall was part of a family-run funeral home, where he teamed up with on-screen brother Peter Krause to deliver five glorious seasons of existential intrigue.
Many shows have attempted to manipulate that dance between dark comedy and chilling reality, but few have succeeded in the manner Six Feet Under managed to. Peter Krause and company asked the questions everyone is afraid to either ask or answer, doing so with a delicate touch and unnerving accuracy.
After a small dip in season four, Six Feet Under’s final season (handed a 96% grade at Rotten Tomatoes) ties up all loose ends and wraps a poignant series beautifully.
The answers to some of our most earnest questions are strewn out across some of our favorite characters’ lives, allowing for actual closure to a series that struggles to define the word and so much more.
It’s one thing to give away some details to a comedy like Seinfeld, but I can’t spoil Six Feet Under.
It’s quite the journey through the first four seasons, but season five and the series finale can’t be described. They need to be experienced.
It’s rare that a show is cancelled after just three seasons and leaves a lasting mark, but The Leftovers was so enthralling that you couldn’t help but be sucked in from start to finish.
The same menacing melody courses through each episode, constantly reminding you that this series was out to tug at your spiritual heartstrings.
Justin Theroux is controlled and emotionally magnetic as he reels the viewer in during his journey of self-discovery and an endless search to fill a gaping hole in his psyche.
The Leftovers takes you down a rabbit hole you really never see coming, starting with the random disappearance of a good chunk of the population, without offering any kind of explanation until the very end.
Along the way, bonds are formed and tested, while several stories branch off in an attempt to cater to the bigger plot and also get to the point: that life itself is worth, well, living.
That’s discovered the hard way, while the final episode’s revelation as to what happened to our favorite characters — as well as everyone that disappeared in the pilot — drops the cherry on this ice cream sundae with emphatic pizazz.
Rotten Tomatoes agreed, giving the final season of this underrated series a stellar 99% rating.
From one HBO gem to another we go. The landscape is completely different, and so is the pace, but The Wire is no less riveting. It’s honestly possibly better, as viewers get dropped into a raw world of crime and pursuit in Baltimore, Maryland.
Nobody is going to turn away from a series dealing with drugs, murder, and detectives hell-bent on uncovering the truth. When you get piercing takes from both sides and follow the dirty line that connects these characters and stories, it just puts it over the top.
Unlike a lot of crime shows, however, The Wire doesn’t get tired and repetitive. It only gets more engrossing through five meticulous, character-driven seasons.
With Baltimore splitting at the seams and no pillar of justice immune to the fray of moral decay, The Wire closed the book on a truly captivating story of authentic characters trapped in the madness that is true, dark everyday life.
There’s never been a show that intertwined regular family problems with the life of a mafia boss better than The Sopranos, and it’s possible nothing will ever surpass it.
The landmark of James Gandolfini’s career was built on murder and betrayal, as The Sopranos perfectly tapped into the comings and goings of an intricate mob-centric web. And it did it with unbridled tension and suspense as the backdrop.
Beyond the storytelling, though, there were well-thought-out characters to drive an angry vehicle that, over time, morphed into one of the most iconic series in television history.
Tony Soprano was the ultimate anti-hero, and his constantly teased impending doom had the final installments of The Sopranos walking on eggshells until that final moment where we cut to black.
I don’t really need to spoil anything here, as there’s not much to spoil. But The Sopranos takes you on a wild ride that leaves bumps and bruises but is courteous enough to let you out of the car.
Where you go from there is up to you, and it’s positively genius (and thoughtful).
True Detective: Season 1
If this weren’t an anthology series, I’d be right there with you in the “this isn’t the end of the show” chants.
But it is, so, well, it is.
True Detective’s original and best-rated season to date (87% at Rotten Tomatoes) features cinema icons in the gruff Woody Harrelson and the thought-provoking Matthew McConaughey.
The two detectives work hard to live up to the show’s namesake as Martin Hart and Rust Cohle, two head-butting partners who can’t crack a harrowing case in a dark Louisiana story.
There’s no denying that the edgy, comical, and engaging performances by Harrelson and McConaughey reel you into the first installment of True Detective. But impeccable storytelling, a ghost of a villain, and a heinous crime lay the groundwork of a destructive story that retells a timeless classic: who wins in the battle of good versus evil?
Cohle litters a long line of introspective anecdotes along the highway of this surprisingly brainy and thought-provoking adventure — one that spans 17 years and forces both men to work beyond their given titles.
The two seasons that followed never delivered the same characters, acting performances, storytelling, look, or feel. Maybe it’s not fair to compare the three, but this first attempt at gold struck so early that viewers couldn’t help but be spoiled.
Threads unravel as a torrid pace speeds up to the season finale, which answers most of the pressing questions while spraying one last mist of light vs. dark rhetoric.
To me, though, what this show did best was make you truly care about the characters and have you believe once again that there are some good guys out there that — while never truly infallible — will stop at nothing to right the wrongs.
Nobody did it better than Vince Gilligan in his final stanza of Breaking Bad. Things change with the arrival of a Breaking Bad movie, but the story as we knew it was wrapped up neatly and tightly.
You wanted a twist? You got it. You wanted vindication for Jesse Pinkman and all the bad guys to get theirs? Consider it done. Walter White finally realizing the terrible man he was and taking ownership of his mistakes before finally paying for all the wrong he did?
Yep, you got that, too.
Never mind that this is arguably the best TV show ever made, along with some of the best lines, acting performances, storytelling, and memorable scenes.
Breaking Bad also delivered one of the most methodical final seasons and a never-waste-a-moment series finale that collectively left you wondering and appeased all in the same breath.
Bryan Cranston’s run as a boring science teacher turned meth cook drew rave reviews throughout Breaking Bad’s five seasons, while Aaron Paul’s Jesse Pinkman is ironically enough the perfect partner in crime and ultimate frenemy.
Breaking Bad rolls out the slow con in an underrated first season but picks up the unrelenting pace from there and won’t let go until everyone’s story is resolved or they’re in the ground for good.
Precisely who dies, how, or when isn’t necessary information for you to know that this is one of the most engrossing TV shows in history. The series is perfectly wrapped up with one last “guns blazing” jaunt into the tense abyss that Vince Gilligan has created for us all.
Cancer, family, drugs, and a plunge into the disintegration of all things moral. Bryan Cranston is both insufferable and engaging, charming his way into the shoes of an anti-hero you can’t help but root for but long to see get his in the end.
A true masterpiece would find a way to bring that character full circle and have him answer for his errors while also protecting the audience from an all-too-obvious fate. Breaking Bad does that, and it does so in methodical style.
The goal here is three-fold: to avoid giving too many back-breaking spoilers away, to show you some fantastic TV shows with amazing endings, and to remind you that betting on TV shows can be a ton of fun.
Just think of all of the Breaking Bad prop bets we could have enjoyed if the top entertainment betting sites were offering them from 2008-2013.
Whether you bet on TV shows or anything else for that matter, you’re still going to want to watch these series. The direction, writing, acting, and storytelling is incredibly top-notch, and all of these shows also offer something very few series can promise: a final season and series finale that isn’t awful.
Seriously, how many brilliant shows start to lose their steam after the first few seasons, turning absolute gold into melted copper — or worse?
I can think of a long list of great TV shows that ended horribly. Whether it’s Weeds, Dexter, LOST, or a handful of others, those awesome series missed the cut because while they’re worth watching, they didn’t close the deal as well as they could have.
The aforementioned seven TV shows certainly did that, and if you watch them, I doubt you’ll be disappointed.