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14 Emotional Series Finales That Didn't Turn Out To Be Actual Finales

List Rules
Vote up the finales that were already perfect endings.

Ironically, TV series finales, TV reboots, and revivals go hand-in-hand-in-hand. There’s an age-old saying (evoked by at least two bands): You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone... and then comes roaring back to life. Whether audiences are slaves to a weekly release schedule or binging television shows in one sitting, characters, plotlines, and, ultimately, endings permeate their thoughts. As is always the case, fans usually don’t realize how invested they are in shows like Community or Arrested Development until there are no more episodes to watch. Even if no one dies and everyone gets a happily ever after, emotional finale episodes mark the last time you get to see your favorite characters. Or, maybe they don’t. 

Sometimes, TV shows that were canceled or ended prematurely are brought back to life. Of course, a resuscitation risks undercutting the saddest TV series finales that now aren’t finales at all, which means you wasted your tears. This will be a roundup of season finale episodes that ended a series, but were eventually or will eventually be undone by reboot projects. 

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  • ‘Meanwhile’ And ‘The Devil’s Hands Are Idle Play Things’ - 'Futurama'
    Photo: Fox

    Futurama first aired on Fox in 1999 before being canceled in 2003. Then, Comedy Central picked up the show for two more seasons, which ran from 2008 to 2013. The final episode of Season 10, “Meanwhile,” sees the Professor invent a button that causes the entire universe to jump backward 10 seconds in time. Naturally, Fry misuses this, which ultimately results in time being stopped for everyone but him and Leela. With the world theirs and theirs alone, the pair finally get married and grow old together. In the finale’s final moments, the Professor appears, revealing he has a way to restore the entire universe as it was, but they won’t have any memory of their life together. Fry asks Leela if she wants to “go around again,” to which she replies, “I do.” The end. 

    Recently, it was announced most of the original voice cast will be returning for a Futurama revival on Hulu. It remains to be seen if an additional 20 episodes will live up to the series’ previous finale and/or undercut it. 

    78 votes
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation originally aired from 1987 to 1994. The Season 7 finale, “All Good Things,” sees Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s mind alternating between the past, present, and future, and he must combat a threat in all three timelines to save humanity from annihilation. The episode’s plot allows for a fair amount of retrospection, putting the series and its main character in perspective. Of course, Picard prevails and, in the series’ final scene, he joins the crew for a game of poker - something he wishes he would’ve done a long time ago. 

    Following The Next Generation’s finale, the series’ characters would go on to return in four films: Star Trek Generations (1994), Star Trek: First Contact (1996), Star Trek: Insurrection (1998), and Star Trek: Nemesis (2002). In 2020, Patrick Stewart returned to headline his own Paramount+ series, Star Trek: Picard

    57 votes
  • ‘My Finale’ - 'Scrubs'
    Photo: NBC

    Scrubs first aired on NBC and ABC from 2001 to 2010. The series follows the employees of the teaching hospital, Sacred Heart. The final episode of Season 8, “My Finale,” focuses on J.D.’s last day and ends with an emotional montage set to Peter Gabriel’s “The Book of Love” as he remembers the last eight years at Sacred Heart. The episode was conceived as the show’s true finale.

    However, Scrubs was unexpectedly revived for a ninth season, subtitled "Med School," which follows new characters (and has a new narrator) with the previous main characters either in supporting roles or merely making cameo appearances. It pales in comparison to the seasons that preceded it. 

    76 votes
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    40 VOTES

    ‘The Break Up’ - 'Psych'

    Psych aired on the USA Network from 2006 to 2014 and followed Shawn Spencer (and his reluctant friend, Burton “Gus” Guster), a low-key mentalist who uses his observational skills to get a job as a consultant for the Santa Barbara Police Department, which is convinced he’s a psychic. In the Season 8 finale, “The Break-Up,” Shawn decides to move to San Francisco to be with his beloved, Juliet. However, he has a hard time telling his best friend and defaults on a goodbye DVD. When he sees the DVD, Gus abandons all that talk about his career as a salesman, admits he’s loved solving crimes with Shawn, and moves to San Francisco so the pair can continue doing what they love together. 

    Psych’s adventures have continued with Psych: The Movie (2017) and Psych 2 (2020), the latter of which launched with the streaming service Peacock. The most recent film to be released was Psych 3: This is Gus (2021). In total, creator Steve Franks hopes to make five Psych movies. 

    40 votes
  • ‘Development Arrested’ - 'Arrested Development'
    Photo: Fox

    Arrested Development followed the dysfunctional, affluent Bluth family from three seasons on Fox from 2003 to 2006. The Season 3 finale, “Development Arrested,” brought a handful of storylines full circle - beginning with George Sr. being cleared of all treason charges and ending with Michael and George Michael sailing off to Cabo and away from their toxic family. The epilogue even throws in George Sr. and an appearance by series narrator, Ron Howard. 

    Despite its lackluster viewership, throughout those first three seasons, Arrested Development was critically acclaimed - so much so that Showtime wanted to pick up the series for a fourth season, but creator Mitch Hurwitz declined because he'd told the story he wanted to tell, he was worried about the quality of the show, and the actors were ready to move on.

    Propelled by its fan base, Netflix revived Arrested Development for a fourth season in 2013. Unfortunately, Season 4 lacked the spirit of the original seasons - which was largely a byproduct of each episode focusing on only one character. That said, “Blockheads” was not a satisfying finale. Therefore, Arrested Development was revived again for the fifth season in 2018/2019. Still, no finale ever lived up to “Development Arrested.” 

    24 votes
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    12 VOTES

    ‘The Promise’ - 'Justified'

    ‘The Promise’ - 'Justified'
    Photo: FX

    Justified’s pilot, which aired on FX in 2010, is almost a direct adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s short story "Fire in the Hole." The main difference between that story and the Season 1 episode of the same name is Boyd Chowder survives - which marked the beginning of six seasons of back and forth between him and Raylan Givens. In the finale, “The Promise,” Raylan goes to see Boyd in prison. There, he lies to Boyd about Ava being dead (when really she’s living in California with Boyd’s son) to give him closure. When Boyd asks why Raylan came to Kentucky from Miami just to tell him that, the pair agree it’s because “they dug coal together” - a bond that kept Raylan from aiming for his heart in episode 1. 

    Earlier this year, FX announced Justified: City Primeval, inspired by Leonard’s novel of the same name. The only character confirmed to return is Timothy Olyphant’s Raylan. The limited series - which might even be directed by Quentin Tarantino - will pick up with Raylan in Miami eight years after leaving Kentucky. Work as a marshal will take him to Detroit, where he must hunt Clement Mansell/The Oklahoma Wildman.

    12 votes