It’s never pleasant to learn a favorite TV series is ending, but if the writers are able to bring the narrative to a satisfying conclusion, it can go a long way towards giving a sense of closure to fans. This is especially true for science fiction and supernatural shows that have super-dedicated viewers. On this week’s Sci Fi Fidelity podcast, we discuss some of our favorite examples of shows that were able to end well.
Paradoxically, we found that some of the best finales provided closure by leaving the story open-ended enough to allow the audience to decide what happened next. Such was the case in both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spinoff, Angel, both of which ended with massive battles between good and evil where the outcome was unknown. As long as major character deaths were balanced by happy endings elsewhere, it seems to work well to leave something to viewer imagination.
The podcast continues with more controversial examples like Game of Thrones as well as a very recent series finale from Syfy’s Killjoys. A more classic example arises in the form of tying the circumstances of the series finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation to possible plot details for the upcoming Star Trek: Picard on CBS All Access. Will elements from the flash forward in “All Good Things” show up in the new series?
Two time travel series make our list of satisfying endings, and although both were cut short, they did the best with the cards they were dealt. Travelers created a reboot of its entire story with character moments that were both tragic and hopeful, and it would have been difficult to continue except in our minds. 12 Monkeys, on the other hand, crafted one of the most perfect conclusions ever, bringing the story full circle both narratively and temporally.
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Michael Ahr is a writer, reviewer, and podcaster here at Den of Geek; you can check out his work here or follow him on Twitter (@mikescifi). Dave Vitagliano has been writing and podcasting about science fiction television since 2012. You can read more of his work here.