More is not always better.
With just two seasons, it would be nice to have more
Flea bag, Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s masterpiece about a messy, grieving woman and her messy but funny family. But the arc for the two seasons is perfect, with season 1 taking Fleabag to its darkest spot, and season 2 subsequently seeing her move toward healing. The love story with Hot Priest in season 2 is particularly heartbreaking, but is left exactly where it should be. The last shot of Fleabag walking away from the camera — leaving his crutch with the fourth wall — is cathartic and the perfect end to our journey with this character.
The good place
The good place burned through stories and plot twists faster than almost any other show in history. What would take at least one season (or more) for another show to work through, The good place could do without in a matter of episodes. The creators told this strange and wonderful adventure after death in a way that primarily served the story and the characters, meaning that in just four seasons, they were quite literally ready to move on.
Alan Peebles / Netflix
Love sick is a charming British romantic comedy series told in non-linear flashbacks, where each episode focuses on a different relationship between Dylan, the main character. But it is his relationship with friends Evie and Luke that gives the series’ narrative heart and the overall arc. Where all three of these characters end up as season 3 approaches feels right, and it’s the best place to leave them, even if it’s hard to let go.
Over three exquisite, gut-punching, heartbreaking seasons,
The remains explores grief and life and love and everything (or lack thereof). It always left its mysteries quite ambiguous – especially what exactly happened to the 2% of the world’s population that suddenly disappeared – and that’s true right up until the last episode, where some answers are offered but left completely open to interpretation. Yet season 3 pulls together the threads of the two previous seasons in remarkable ways and tells a complete and satisfying story.
Sitcoms tend to drag out forever to the point that the characters are nothing but hollow caricatures of themselves, spitting slogans and getting into increasingly ridiculous situations long after everyone involved, including the audience, actually cares.
Schitt’s Creek gives us six seasons – not a small number, but for some fans it’s still not enough. But in the end, the Rose family’s adventures in the town of Schitt’s Creek have evolved to a point where we can comfortably and happily leave them.
Friday night light
Friday night light had some shaky moments during its five-season run, but it’s one of those rare teen shows where its final seasons — and especially the last ones — are strong and not painful. Eventually, it maintained its focus on people and relationships at the heart of its world and followed through their narratives to a very natural conclusion.
Gavin and Stacey
Does not count the offers,
Gavin and Stacey lasted only three seasons and a total of 21 episodes. It is a simple story of long-distance love that does not need to be pulled any further. Each episode is tightly told and extracts the situation for as much comedy (and a dose of heart) as possible and then ends before the joke gets old.
Please like me
Please like me is a story about growing up, grief and mental illness. It explores a particular moment in the protagonist Josh’s life, and although the ending is devastating on a number of levels, it also gives the feeling that this particular chapter is over – but that does not mean that his story is over. There is more to life in all its ups and downs for him and we do not have to witness it to know it.
The third and final season of
Dark is not quite as strong as what came before, but it wraps up the story effectively and irrevocably. Continuing the story would have been too much – for the characters and the audience. We learn a lot of answers to questions asked in previous seasons, and see how Jonas and Martha will solve the big problem of their time travel, universe-leaping, messy, intertwined existence. It may not be the solution we were hoping for, but within the world that has been created, it is the one that makes the most sense.
Breaking Bad weaving so big in our culture, it’s a little surprising to think it only lasted five seasons. Not a small number, certainly, but not near the length of many other prestige shows – most of which admittedly exceeded their welcome. Not so for Breaking Bad, which follows Walter White’s descent from ordinary family man to crime lord in a masterful tale that culminated in what many believe is one of the greatest series finals ever.
Hannibal lasted only three incredible seasons, and while many fans still want more – and series creator Bryan Fuller has been open about having plans for a season 4 – there is no doubt that the story ended well. And by good place I mean a terrible place, but for this show it works. After all the twisted will-they-want-the-tension (killing each other? Kissing each other? WHO KNOWS) between Will and Hannibal, their fateful path to mutual destruction reaches its natural conclusion. It’s painful and shocking – and just as it should be.
Traveler was canceled ahead of his time, the final episode of season 3 served well as a series conclusion. Although it left a lot to be desired — virtually resetting its entire world — it somehow feels appropriate as an end to this strange, apocalyptic, existential time travel show.
Orphan variety is an intense sci-fi series that occasionally went off course, but mostly told an action-packed, twist-heavy and clever story about a group of human clones trying to find their way in the world. Sarah and her “sisters” are at the heart of the show, and at the end of the series they all moved to a place of healing and hope, making their overall journey incredibly satisfying.
Superbutik is one of those sitcoms that started out shaky and got better as it progressed. In the second half of its run, it was one of the best – and perhaps most underrated – comedies on television. It managed to continue it right up until its sixth and final season and ended up on a high rather than pulling the plot and joke out for longer than they could resist.
The office (United Kingdom)
While the US version ended up running for a full nine seasons, the original version was off
The office, from the UK, lasted only two – only 14 episodes in total. And for this particular iteration of the show, it’s just right. It retains its sharp and dark tone throughout and sticks to its message of the darkness of modern office life, which the American version steered away from as its seasons unfolded.
Crazy ex-girlfriend was a high, glorious, funny, heartbreaking exploration of a woman’s mental health and the pursuit of happiness. Over four seasons, it often swelled in the mess of life, with the protagonist Rebecca making mistakes but continually trying to make it better and get better. The growth of all the characters during the show is incredible, but it’s Rebecca’s arc – learning to find herself after looking in all the wrong places – it’s the most powerful. Things are not perfect in the end, but it reflects real life. Rebecca knows who she is and what she really wants, and that’s what matters.
Guards consists of only one convincing season – nine episodes in total. Show creator Damon Lindelof, instead of continuing the story for the sake of it, told it exactly how he wanted, and left it. While we all like to see more of it, there is power in this move. Like a good movie, a well-told tale in a series does not necessarily need a sequel. It can stand on its own.
Which TV shows do you think ended at the perfect time? Let us know in the comments.
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