So we’ve covered the shows that ended too soon, and the ones that went on for far too long, but what about the shows that ended at the EXACT right time? Well they’re a rare breed, and here are five that left the airwaves on an exquisite creative high.
The only problem I ever had with Mad Men is that it would often take me a few episodes to really get into the season’s atmosphere and groove. This is a slow-moving show that begs total immersion in every little detail. Over the course of seven seasons, Mad Men never really felt like it overstayed its welcome, and it was perfectly plotted (apart from Betty’s somewhat clunky journey although even that ended beautifully). Moreover, the period drama delivered a downright fantastic series finale that supplied the entire narrative with the impact and gravitas it deserved.
Every once in a while, I find myself missing Ugly Betty‘s vibrant and cartoon-y world. It might not have received much acclaim after its breakout debut season, but Betty was one show that never lost its quirky tone and hilarious vibe. Vanessa Williams was particularly extraordinary as the duplicitous Wilhelmina Slater, and she always imbued the show with a whole lot of reliable snark and awesomeness. It might often be forgotten, but this is an uplifting gem of a show with a poignant message underneath its colourful exterior.
Although its legacy isn’t as celebrated as its parent show (Buffy), Angel had an almost perfect run. The first season was a bit too standalone-ish to my liking, but after that it was a non-stop rollercoaster until the very end. Its characters were always complex, and the serialised storytelling always maintained a remarkable balance between momentum and emotion. In addition, Angel ended its run with one of the greatest series finales ever – powerfully bringing everything to a close with a pulse-pounding final sequence that embodies the sheer strength and determination of our heroes. That final moment was sudden and jarring, but so very memorable.
Say what you will about Joss Whedon but he sure knows to end his shows at the right time. Before he did so with Angel, Joss crafted a stunning series finale for Buffy. It was an ending that gave the show’s premise an insanely fitting thematic resolution. There’s a reason that Buffy is analyzed in universities across the globe, and that’s because it overcame a cheesy title with raw character exploration and careful storytelling. It makes me giddy with joy to know that people will continue to discover this iconic show for many years to come.
Buffy could have been at the top spot, but it had its weak years (four and six to be specific). Nikita on the other hand sustained its creative juices throughout each of its four seasons. In fact, a case could be made that the show could have continued for even longer. But I’m satisfied with what we got because the show never felt like a chore to watch and it went out with a bang. Throughout four seasons, Nikita never lost sight of its characters or its thrilling adrenaline-infused core, and the series finale was near-perfect.