Essential in maintaining the curiosity of viewers high until the following seasonthe season finale episodes of tv series are arguably even more important than the pilot of the same, really making a difference in what will later be the fate of a television serial product. Closing a season by answering enough questions but leaving a fair amount of mystery that drives the audience to continue watching is no easy feat; for this reason the creators of the TV series are increasingly committed to bringing the best possible season finales to the small screen, therefore using all the strategies designed to leave viewers in suspenseunleashing shocking twists and cliffhangers or driving fans crazy with unexpected protagonist deaths and essential questions left unresolved.
Those listed below have definitely driven us crazy, but they are undeniably among the best season finales of TV series seen in recent years, becoming real cult episodes of the small screen.
1) Lost (Season 3)
The drama series Lost gave us some of the most thrilling season finales in television history; among these, one undoubtedly placed himself above any other. Let’s talk about the episode Through the mirrorwhich closes the third season of the JJ Abrams series.
Season finale divided into two parts, the episode it condenses all the elements that make a chapter’s epilogue shocking: the death of a main character, the fate of the other protagonists remained unknown and multiple unsolved mysteries waiting to be answered. The episode Through the mirror it also radically changes what had been the structure of the show up to that moment, moving from the classic use of flashbacks through which we had known the life of the protagonists before the crash, to an unexpected flashforward showing the survivors who managed to escape from the island.
In the present timeline the protagonists are meanwhile engaged in a mission to find a submarine station that will change Charlie’s fate forever (Dominic Monaghan); to find out the meaning of message he leaves for Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick) and viewers will have to wait for the fourth season.
2) Breaking Bad (Stagione 5)
Il mid-season finale of the latest installment of the drama series Breaking Bad saw the most shocking revelation ever.
The episode Gliding Over All (Flying high) he is alone the beginning of the end for chemistry professor Walter White (Bryan Cranston) became the biggest drug lord under the alias Heisenberg. When DEA agent Hank (Dean Norris) puts the pieces back together by learning the truth about the real identity of his brother-in-law Walter White, the viewer perceives all the poignant, mortifying and disappointing nature of the discovery of the protagonist of the final cliffhanger, who had always lived alongside the most wanted criminal of his division without knowing it.
Hank’s bitter discovery also implies the awareness that one of the most significant chapters in the history of television is coming to an end, thus increasing the dramatic nature of the event.
3) Twin Peaks (Stagione 1)
Twin Peaks is the tv series that it marked a real turning point in television storytelling for being absolutely innovative and different from what was broadcast on the small screen up to that moment.
Difficult to characterize in a predefined genre, viewers were captivated by the incomprehensible and dreamlike surrealist images, the extravagant cast and the gradually more complex plot that offered, episode after episode, many more questions than answers, increasingly distancing the resolution of the brutal murder of young woman Laura Plamer (Sheryl Lee). The finale of the first season therefore really made its audience go crazy as not even the epilogue of the story shed light on the tangled mystery, leaving the fate of FBI agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) unknown until the following season.
4) Yellowstone (Season 3)
Among the best season finales of TV series it is impossible not to mention the epic episode The World is Purple which closes the third season of the neo-western series Yellowstone.
The powerful Dutton family is grappling with the escalation of conflicts with the nearby Broken Rocks Indian Reservation, with the various criminal empires and with rival politicians; one of the three parts stands in fact orchestrating a daring assassination attempt addressed not only to family boss John (Kevin Costner) but also to his children Kayce (Luke Grimes) and Beth (Kelly Reilly), his daughter-in-law Monica (Kelsey Asbille) and his grandson Tate (Brecken Merrill).
The gripping action offered by the third season finale episode therefore leaves the fates of many key characters in the story uncertain but, above all, offers a surprising twist about the identity of the bombermaking viewers literally jump out of their seats.
5) Game of Thrones (Stagione 5)
The HBO series Game of Thrones has always accustomed the public to expect everything; however the final episode of the fifth season is arrived like a bolt from the blue for those who hadn’t already read the novels of the George RR Martin saga from which the series is based.
Having detached herself from the books on more than one occasion, many wondered how similar the fate reserved for the beloved protagonist Jon Snow (Kit Harington) in his television adaptation. The answer came in one of the most painful and best season finales of the series Game of Throneswhich left the question on the fate of the acclaimed protagonist open for more than a year, making fans of the iconic series wait until the second episode of the sixth season to have a definitive answer.
6) The West Wing (Stagione 1)
The gripping political drama The West Wing staged the turbulent tenure of US President Jed Bartlet (Martin Sheen), brought to life by Hollywood screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. The finale of the first season of the series contributed to the enormous success of the following season.
Told mostly through flashbacks, the episode What Kind of Day Has It Been? (The Attack in Italian) opens with the preparing President Bartlet for a public appearance, an event that arouses no small concern in the secret service agent Toscano (Jorja Fox). Between the frenzy of the moment and the president juggling an international crisis, the episode is about to come to an end when shots are heard in the very last seconds of the season finale. The series then leaves the open question about who was fired and who fired the shotmaking the dramatic conclusion one of the TV series’ season finales that have most freaked out its fans.
7) Sherlock (Season 3)
The cliffhanger that ended the third season of the BBC series Sherlock it was among the most talked about television events ever and, needless to say, among the best series finales of the last decade.
The third installment of the television retelling of Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic culminates with the clash between Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his nemesis Moriarty (Andrew Scott) on the roof of a London building. With the lives of his friends in danger, Sherlock then chooses to sacrifice himself in one of the most intense and heartbreaking sequences shown by the TV series, yet managed to survive. Believed dead by all the protagonists of the story, he will remain a mystery to the public until the following season how he managed to escape certain death and to solve Professor Moriarty’s latest enigma, giving life on social networks to detailed theories and analyzes that have forever changed the viewers’ approach to television products.
8) The Good Place (Stagione 1)
The finale of the first season of the series The Good Place really drove viewers crazy because, while they are the norm in dramatic productions, it is much rarer to see big twists in the comedy genre.
Series creator Michael Schur said in an interview that he consulted the director of Lost Damon Lindelof to craft the best possible season finale, wowing dark comedy fans with a surprising twist. The first season had introduced us to the protagonist Eleanor (Kristen Bell), who found herself by mistake in the part of the afterlife reserved for good people. In the course of the story, the young woman understands that she has been mistaken for another and that her place should be her in the bad part; however, the final episode overturns all the beliefs of the protagonist and of the viewers themselves, realizing that the one shown up to that moment was already the bad part.
9) The Walking Dead (Stagione 6)
In the sixth season of the series The Walking Dead zombies are definitely the last concern for the group of survivors protagonist of the storycalled to fight against vicious tyrants and greedy opportunists.
Among them is the ruthless Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), the most diabolical adversary that Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and his group have ever faced. Remained an unknown and menacing presence throughout the seasonis in the final episode Last Day on Earth (The Last Day on Earth) that finally we get to know the character psychopathwho entered the scene brandishing a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire with which savagely beats one of the protagonists to death in what will be the most violent scene of the entire series. The episode was particularly upsetting for the audience, which it had to wait until season seven to learn the identity of the victim.
10) Friends (Season 4)
The comedy manifesto of the 90s Friends reserved one of the best season finales of TV series with the two-part episode The One with Ross’s Wedding (Ross’s wedding).
As per the title, Ross (David Schwimmer) is ready to wed Emily (Helen Baxendale) in London. Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) understands at that point to be still in love with her friend and therefore tries to prevent him from pronouncing his vows. However after seeing how happy Ross seems to be, she decides to step aside and calmly watch the ceremony. However, it is Ross himself who completely overturns the fate of the wedding, saying Rachel’s name at the altar and leaving open to the public the interpretation of what will be the fate of the couple and of the TV series from the following seasons onwards, really driving fans crazy who have always wanted to see the two protagonists together.
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