Sometimes you don’t realize how much a TV show means to you until a few hours after the series finale when you realize you’ve cried yourself through three tissue boxes. The saddest TV finales become even more tragic once it hits you that the whole show is over and there are no more episodes to redeem the one you just watched. When you watch a show week after week, year after year, it’s impossible not to get invested in the narrative and its characters. They become your family and their goodbyes are your goodbyes.
If you followed the shows on this list, just reading the titles of these series finales may be enough to make you tear up. Not all of these sad TV finales lived up to fans’ expectations, but they still delivered emotional, and sometimes soul-crushing finales that left viewers choked-up, sobbing messes. From the cathartic end of Breaking Bad to the syrupy closer of Gilmore Girls, these sad TV series finales encourage you to have a good cry. As Gandalf tells Frodo, “not all tears are an evil,” so loosen up those tear ducts and let go.
While you are dredging up old memories, be sure to vote on the saddest television series finales that made you cry.
I, Done (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air )
Just as Will wasn’t ready to say goodbye to his family, we weren’t ready to say goodbye to Will and the Banks family. The series finale of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air delivers an emotional sendoff for the characters we came to love, the most emotional of which is probably Uncle Phil telling Will, “You are my son. End of Story.” Sob.
Original Airing: May 20 1996
Season: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - Season 6
Episode Number: 24
Director: Shelley Jensen
Previous Episode: I, Done (1)
Brave New World, Part 2 (Boy Meets World)
In the final episode of Boy Meets World, Cory, Shawn, Topanga, and Eric say goodbye to the man who shaped and inspired them, Mr. Feeny. It’s an emotional goodbye as each of them thank their mentor for everything he’s done for them, especially for pushing them to be better people. By the time Mr. Feeny utters the final word of the series, “Class dismissed,” there isn’t a dry eye in the house.
Original Airing: May 05 2000
Season: Boy Meets World - Season 7
Episode Number: 23
Director: Jeff McCracken
Previous Episode: Brave New World (1)
The last episode of M*A*S*H is set during the final days of the Korean war. It’s a bittersweet two-hour long ending that shows the viewer how all the characters were affected by the war. While there’s a shocking revelation about a traumatic event in Pierce’s past, the saddest moment is probably the final shots of the show as Pierce and Hunnicutt say their goodbyes. Hunnicutt rides off on his motorcycle, telling Pierce he left him a note. Pierce boards a helicopter, and as it ascends, we see the word “GOODBYE” spelled out in stones.
Original Airing: Feb 28 1983
Season: M*A*S*H - Season 11
Episode Number: 16
Director: Alan Alda
Previous Episode: As Time Goes By
Saying goodbye to Friends was like saying goodbye to your baby blanket, the one you secretly took with you to sleepovers to make you feel safe. Over the course of ten seasons, the characters in Friends became our family, and seeing the apartment stripped of its colorful kitchenware and furniture left fans feeling as empty as the apartment.
Original Airing: May 06 2004
Season: Friends - Season 10
Episode Number: 17
Director: Kevin S. Bright
Previous Episode: The One With Rachel's Going Away Party (a.k.a. The One Where Rachel Goes To Paris)