The most exciting part of any television season is when shows get around to making their finales. That’s when they pull out the big guns, kill off major characters, and leave us with jaw-dropping cliffhangers that leave fans desperately waiting for the next season to come around. Or, in some cases, a series will end and viewers will gather one last time to enjoy the final episode of one of their favorite shows.
2007 was no exception, and it was full of extraordinary finales, some seasons, some series. While there were a number of decent candidates, this was our easiest list to put together. We knew what shows ended on high notes: they were the finales everyone was talking about for days, weeks, and sometimes even months after they aired.
There were very few shows under consideration that didn’t make this list. We briefly considered adding a big reality finale, but none seemed to jump out at us as a truly spectacular finish. NBC’s Thursday night comedies were all mentioned, but only one was clearly a winner.
If you’ve been an avid TV fan all year, you can probably write this list up yourself. Just think about those huge, defining moments that left your mouth agape. Did one of your favorite shows come to a sad end? Did the creators completely change the entire dynamic of the series? Did things cut to black? Without further ado, please begin to read our top 7 list of the best finales of 2007.
#7 – The Sopranos
David Chase wasn’t going to make it easy. For any pantheon-level TV series like The Sopranos, creating a satisfying finale is a losing proposition. How can you end years and years of quality television in one hour and please the fans while doing so? So, David Chase turned everything on its head and left the audience asking questions with the riskiest and most mysterious series finale TV has ever seen. As Tony Soprano waits for his family to arrive at a diner, he throws Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” on the jukebox.
#6 – Veronica Mars
Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) of Neptune, California is one of the most kickass female protagonists among kickass female protagonists. Although the series ended prematurely after only three seasons on the air, Veronica Mars ended with a vengeance in the episode entitled “The Bitch is Back.”
Though the quality of the series languished somewhat in the third season, the series finale brought back elements from the brilliant first season that made us die-hard fans swoon over what could have been, if only the show was renewed for a fourth season. After a sex tape starring Veronica and Piz (Chris Lowell) was leaked to the Internet, Veronica went on a hunt to find and stick it to the culprits, reminiscent of the first season when she tracked down who raped her at Shelly Pomroy’s party. Other shoutouts to the first season were bringing Jake Kane (Kyle Secor) back as a member of the super-secret society known as the Castle that Veronica ultimately bests. Veronica even finds herself face-to-face with an oversized oil painting of her dead best friend Lilly Kane, whose death provided the season-long arc during the show’s freshman season.
The series finale brought a dark, ambiguously unethical atmosphere back to Veronica Mars, after a lighter, cheerier third season. Veronica broke the law to get revenge on the Castle, and her father Keith (Enrico Colantoni) broke the law to protect her. We even got to see Logan (Jason Dohring) embracing his self-destructive ways again, beating the crap out of the guy who posted Veronica’s sex tape on the Internet. The episode ends on an open-ended note, with Veronica simply walking down the street in the rain, after voting for her father for sheriff. Does Keith become sheriff, or did tampering with evidence cost him the election? Does Veronica eventually work for the FBI? These questions can only be answered in our imaginations now.
#5 – Gilmore Girls
During its seven-year run, Gilmore Girls consistently delivered as one of the smartest-written shows on television. It was nearly as perfect as the idyllic New England hamlet of Stars Hollow in which it was set. A story about how a 16-year-old gets pregnant and flees her life of privilege to raise her daughter on her own isn’t going to make Gilmore Girls a favorite of the Parents Television Council. But Gilmore Girls was heartwarming, wholesome family entertainment because it was a story about complicated mother-daughter relationships and it showed that the family you build with your community can be even more supportive than the family you are born with.
This kind of surrogate family was showcased beautifully in the series finale when the entire town of Stars Hollow came out in the pouring rain to join Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham), who remains one of the best TV moms ever, to say goodbye to Rory (Alexis Bledel) before she goes off into the world. I cried the entire hour, even during the kind of icky part when Kirk (Sean Gunn) presented Rory with a sash made from his mother’s satin nightie. It was a triumph over conventionalism when Richard (Edward Herrmann) and Emily (Kelly Bishop), Rory’s WASPy, blueblood grandparents, and commended Lorelai on raising her daughter so well. Half a year later, I’m still tearing up just thinking about it.
The final shots of the final episode were of Lorelai and Rory enjoying breakfast together at Luke’s (Scott Patterson) for the last time before Rory takes off. It’s the quintessential scene, and the perfect way to say goodbye to the Girls.
#4 – Battlestar Galactica
Season 3 of Battlestar Galactica may have been the most frustrating in terms of the show’s quality, but there’s no denying that the finale was BSG at its best. What other sci-fi show would have the guts to reveal one of its biggest secrets through the power of a Bob Dylan song? No matter what else happened, that’s what left us completely floored: Tory, Colonel Tigh, Anders, and Chief Tyrol are Cylons, and apparently, they’re also big fans of Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower.”
Aside from the huge Cylon reveal and the absolutely riveting trial of Gaius Baltar, the biggest shocker of Battlestar Galactica‘s finale was the return of Starbuck. We all suspected that she might return, but how deliciously cruel of the writers to bring her back without giving us any hint as to how she avoided death. That mystery has left us with crazy theories swimming in our heads and topics to discuss all year long, which is exactly what a great finale should do.
#3 – Friday Night Lights
I have rarely seen a finale as beautiful, thematically fitting, and emotionally powerful as the first season ender of Friday Night Lights. The Dillon Panthers went all the way to the state championships, and thanks to their undying spirit and the inspirational coaching of Eric Taylor, they walked away with a victory.
Considering that we’ve seen last-minute victories in countless sports movies, it would have been easy for Friday Night Lights to subvert expectations and have the Panthers lose. I’m thankful they didn’t. The characters, as well as the audience, deserved a triumph after all the emotional turmoil throughout the season. We lived with those characters, we cheered them on, and we deserved to see them celebrate.
Though the big game was a win, the emotional lives of the characters weren’t so easily wrapped up. Tami discovered she was pregnant, Eric wrestled with whether to take a job in another city, and we were all left not knowing how the greatest couple on television would make things work. The ending left us with questions, but it also left us feeling that, somehow, everything would work out for the best. After all, as the show has often reminded us, with clear eyes and full hearts, you can’t lose.
#2 – The Office
Why was this finale of The Office better than the previous season? After all, it’s hard to top the first time Pam and Jim kissed at Casino Night. However, in the season 3 finale, Jim decides to bail on Karen and asks Pam out on an official date. It left fans over the moon – after all, The Office wouldn’t pull them apart twice on us, would they?
The season 3 finale of The Office also featured Michael, Jim, and Karen all competing for a position with Dunder Mifflin’s New York office. Unfortunately, the position they’re fighting for is Jan’s. She gets fired for being inconsistent and unstable at work. She thinks it’s because of breast implants. Jan finds out that she’s being fired from Michael, who tries to make it up to her by asking her to move in with him. Oh, and Ryan is now Michael’s boss and that may be the best new dynamic on the show. The Office ended strong back in May and left us wanting more … more Schrute bucks, that is!
#1 – Lost
After three seasons, we expect Lost to leave us asking questions, scratching our heads, and gasping over jaw-dropping cliffhangers. So how is it that, knowing we were in for a shocker, this year’s finale still left us feeling like our brains exploded in the best way imaginable? It all comes down to two words: flash forward.
The big reveal that the bearded and broken Jack we were seeing was actually in the future, and not the past as we all expected, may go down as one of the greatest twists in TV history. Not only did the flash-forward completely subvert the expectations of the audience, but it immediately opened up an entire world of storytelling possibilities for the series. We were comfortable, thinking we knew what to expect from Lost as far as story structure goes, but the writers spun us around and dropped us on our heads. What a wonderful, rare experience in the world of television.
While the twist alone was mind-boggling, the remainder of the episode was equally stunning. The war against the Others was full of suspense, Charlie’s sacrifice was gut-wrenching, and the threat of strangers, who may or may not have good intentions, coming to the island left us talking for months. All other shows take note: this is how a fantastic season finale is done.