Posted in TV Stuff

5 Series that stuck the landing

Endings are hard.

Too often TV shows are either cancelled before their time, or are victims of their own successes and go so far past the logical end point that could have been. But every now and again, a series gets the chance to go out on a high.

Destroyer: Justice League Unlimited

Aired May 13 2006

Plot summary : Darkseid and the armies of Apokolips attack the Earth and only the combined Justice League, plus some of their villains can beat back this invasion.

Shining Moment: Superman explains how he has held back his entire life, but Darkseid can take it.

How did it stick the landing? Everyone had a hero moment, the action was high octane and yet there was still somewhere they could go, but it was a love letter to DC and they went out on a high.

What We Leave Behind: Star Trek: Deep Space 9

Aired 2 June 1999

Plot Summary: The United Federation of Planets, The Klingon Empire and the Roman Star Empire head for Dominion controlled Cardassia to end the war, just as Gul Dukat is trying to release the Pai-Wraiths, both plots coming to a fiery conclusion.

Shining Moment: The tide turns as the Cardassian revolution reaches their fleet.

How did it stick the landing? Apart from resolving the Pah-Wraith and Dominion war plot, it had a gentle moving on theme. Half the crew where going on to other jobs, or other challenges and those left on the station had relationship changes that were just as jarring and it felt like a warm goodbye. There could be more stories told, but I don’t think any more was needed as so many arcs came full circle.

Episode 2.8: Life on Mars

Aired: 10 April 2007

Plot Summary: Trapped in the past/his own mind Sam Tyler is trapped in the early 1970s and is investigating a murder. Part-way through this case he comes out of his coma and returns to his original life, but he no longer sees it as a life worth living and he questions how to leave 2007 and go back to where he was.

Shining Moment: Sam chooses to go back, sacrificing his life to save people that most consider figments of his imagination.

How did it stick the landing? The character comes full circle, going from an unreal life that he feels trapped in, to one that he understands and can live in, they’re just not the ones he started the series thinking of like that. In the end, Sam feels alive and doing what he loves.

Sozin’s Comet part 3 – Into the Inferno: Avatar the Last Air Bender

Aired: 19 July 2008

Plot Summary: As Ozai, now going by the title of Phoenix King, leads the invasion of the Earth Kingdom, Ang the Avatar must stop him whilst his friends (Sokka, Katara, Toph and Zuko) try to save as many lives and help bring the Fire Nation’s war to and end and Ang has do decide how to finally deal with Ozai and whether it is finally, as everyone but him wants it to be.

Shining Moment: I was going to say Ang finally defeats Ozai. But honestly it’s Zuko facing his father telling him that they are going to talk about his mother.

How did it stick the landing? The end of the war, the beginning of a new world and the end of a saga all wrapped up. The future was set up without anyone really needing to see more. Very few series have nailed this novel on the screen approach.

Well I say that but finally we have…..

Sleeping in Light: Babylon 5

Aired: 25 November 1998

Plot Summary: It is the year 2281, 19 years after he left Babylon 5 and 20 years after his ‘death’ on Z’ha’dum John Sheridan feels his end is near and sends for his old friends to have one last party. Days later he leaves his wife and flies both to Babylon 5 and to Corianus 6, the site of the last battle of the Shadow War to finally die. We then see how everyone reacts to it and where they go from there.

Shining Moment: This is not a triumphant story, so it’s either all of them, or none of them.

How it stuck the landing: This was a 5 year novel, with introduction, rising action, complication, finale and denouement. This was the epilogue and final chapter. We saw how the main cast got on afterwards. Some vanished, others died and a few became successes. Here we say them say goodbye to an old friend as he cherishes the last few days of his second chance before saying goodbye for the last time. This episode was the intended end, with some changes because of cast changes, but the ending it was always supposed to have. It’s the benchmark for how you end a genre show and few ever go in these terms, most are cut short, others carry on a little bit too long or are retooled into being unrecognisable, but Sleeping in Light did the job, faith manages.

This is not an exhaustive list, nor in any way definitive, but it is a list. I stuck to sci-fi/genre stuff, since that’s what I know best, what did I miss? What other types of shows did I ignore? Please let me know.



Liverpool based unrepentant geek, trying to understand what's going on in my own head, which is not always being a good place to be. Remember always, we live in a world of wonders.

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