Sci-fi Series Finales: The Ones That Worked and the Ones That Flopped

Sense8 comes to an end tonight (June 8), in a two-hour series finale that will hopefully soothe our dismay that it’s been canceled after just two seasons.

Final episodes of our favorite TV shows are a mixed bag: for plot line that’s resolved, there’s can be a sentimentality overload or questions left unanswered. Below are 10 long-anticipated finales; some of which succeeded in living up to our expectations, and some that failed.

1. Star Trek: The Next Generation (1994)

Technically, of course, “All Good Things…” wasn’t the last we saw of Captain Jean-Luc Picard ‘n’ crew; they embarked on a number of new adventures in movies over the next decade. This episode is a perfect end to the series though, with the captain finally joining in on a game of poker with his crew.

Hit or miss? HIT.

2. Lost (2010)

It was always going to be hard to wrap up every storyline left hanging after six seasons of island mayhem, but even so, many felt Lost‘s two-and-a-half hour finale left too many questions unanswered.

‘Lost’ memorabilia on auction after the show ended in 2010. (Photo: Getty Images)

Hit or miss? MISS.

3. Battlestar Galactica (2009)

The epic finale to Ronald D. Moore‘s sci-fi reinvention spanned not one, but three episodes, in which the survivors of the Cylon holocaust finally found a world they could call home. Though some found their individual fates a little too neat, it managed to find a way to use the spiritual and divine to answer its mysteries, while making a profound statement about the nature of humanity — and ultimately succeeded where Lost failed.

The ‘Battlestar Galactica’ cast in 2004. (Photo: Syfy)

Hit or miss? HIT.

4. Quantum Leap (1993)

“Mirror Image – August 8, 1953” wasn’t meant to be Dr. Sam Beckett’s (Scott Bakula) final jump, but when NBC pulled the plug on the time-traveling series, they hastily tacked on a message to the end, saying what happened to Al (Dean Stockwell) and his wife Beth, then adding, “Dr. Sam Becket never returned home.” It was so rushed together, in fact, they didn’t even spell the main character’s name correctly. So why did Sam see his own image in the mirror at the start? And who or what is forcing him to leap in the first place? We’ll never know.

Hit or miss? MISS.

5. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1981)

Arthur Dent (Simon Jones) and Ford Prefect (David Dixon) end up on prehistoric Earth in the final episode of the short-lived but perfectly formed TV series based on Douglas Adams‘s sci-fi classic. In a typically bitter twist, they realize the human race is not descended from the planet’s native cave dwellers, but from the group of middle-managers and hairdressers they arrived with. The episode ends on a lovely note, as they lament the coming destruction of the Earth, “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong playing in the background.

Hit or miss? HIT.

6. The X-Files (2002)

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Two seasons into its reboot, it’s fair to say The X-Files specializes in disappointing finales, but back in 2002 we still had hope the truth would “finally be revealed.” The two-part season finale was called “The Truth,” after all. Instead, the show ended with the promise of an imminent alien invasion — in 10 years. Yes, they were setting up a future movie, but given how poorly 2008’s The X-Files: I Want to Believe was received, it was a shame to end the show on a feeble note.

Hit or miss? MISS.

7. Firefly (2003)

(Photo: Getty Images)

It’s no wonder Joss Whedon considers “Objects in Space,” the 14th episode of this one-season wonder, to be his most exemplary work. Inspired by an experience in his youth and Jean-Paul Sartre‘s existential novel Nausea, it heightened the stakes with a new terrifying villain and offered a tantalizing window on where a second season could lead. Sadly, it was not to be.

Hit or miss? HIT.

8. The Prisoner (1968)

Fans of ‘the Prisoner’ celebrate the show’s 40th anniversary in 2007. (Photo: Bruno Vincent/Getty Images)

“Why did the Prisoner resign?” and “What is the purpose of the village?” are among the great questions of science fiction, so viewers were rapt when the final episode of this cryptic, dreamlike British show aired in 1968. Unfortunately, the answer turned out to involve a clone wearing a monkey mask, and, unsurprisingly, some psychedelic drugs.

Hit or miss? MISS.

9. Life on Mars (2007)

(Photo: BBC)

Sam (John Simm) finally returns to the 21st century in the last episode of the original U.K. series, but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Ultimately the finale raised more questions than it answered, but the lack of closure left us all able to believe what we wanted to believe, and ended the series on a magical note.

Hit or miss? HIT.

10. Life on Mars (1999)

There were many different things about the U.S. version of Life on Mars, not least its bizarre final episode. Whereas Detective Inspector Sam Tyler (John Simm) discovers his life in 1973 is the result of a coma-induced dream, his NYPD counterpart (Jason O’Mara) finds out he is in fact in space, it’s 2035, and the whole thing was the result of a glitch in a reality simulation caused by a meteor storm. Hmm. Okay. We think.

Hit or miss? MISS.

Do you agree with our list?

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