The End Is Nigh: A History Of TV Series’ Finales

“Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt(FINAL)…” 


Why does a favorite TV show have to end? Depends on which TV buff you might ask; It could be that the reason a TV show decides to end its run may be of either factor: It could be because of low/bad ratings, but particularly a beloved TV series just wants to end because it has plain gotten tired of being on its own run week after week, and therefore a series just has to quit.

But how do series finales get its start, you might want to ask? Well for the answer, you might want to go back to the very beginning, in which the early TV shows had then consisted of stand-alone episodes rather than continuing story arcs, and as so such, there was very little reason to provide closure at the end of a certain run of a television series. However, the earliest television finales that had occurred just happen to be the finale episodes of the early TV series of yesteryear, such as The Howdy Doody Show, which aired its finale in September of 1960, as well as Leave It To Beaver in June of 1963, and the finale of Route 66 in early 1964.

In 1967, ABC aired what was considered to be “the series finale that invented the modern-day series finale”, the final episode of the popular crime-drama series, The Fugitive entitled “The Judgement, Part 2”; That episode attracted a 72% audience share when it was broadcast on the network, while that number remained the highest viewership percentage in U.S. television history until the 1977 finale of the legendary Roots mini-series on ABC, as well as the 1980 resolution episode that was the very popular Who Shot J.R.? cliffhanger of the CBS nighttime soap opera, Dallas. 

Now, you might want to ask what is the most watched TV finale of all time, right? Well, that position happens to belong to the M*A*S*H finale entitled, “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen”, which has been viewed by a grand total of 105.9 million viewers, and that held the record for the most-watched program of all time for decades until Super Bowl ZLIV in 2010, which edged it out with 106 million viewers, and coincidentally aired on the same network as the finale, CBS; However, that final episode of M*A*S*H would remain the most-watched U.S. television episode of all time.

Meanwhile, the television series finale is not without controversy, and there are a few television finales that would end up pleasing critics and audiences, as well as escaping controversy more or less, thus leading to this fact that not all series finales are great(for example, the 2007 finale of the popular HBO drama The Sopranos had somewhat of an ending that had caused millions of viewers to temporarily believe that they had lost cable service due to an abrupt blackout!).

And now, for a conclusion: The series finale of The Lucy & Desi Comedy Hour (which happens to be drawn from I Love Lucy ) was surprisingly fitting, because its two stars, Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz, were about to end their marriage as well as end the show; The final show’s guest star, Edie Adams, sang a prophetically appropriate song called… “That’s All”.


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