By Nick Bond

Some beloved TV shows go out with a bang - and others with a whimper.

For every Six Feet Under or The Sopranos, bowing out at the top of their game with memorable finales, there are other TV shows that waned in popularity, sticking it out for another season or two before wrapping things up in front of a smaller audience than they enjoyed in their prime. Here's how the shows we all stopped watching eventually bowed out:

Dawson's Creek

Finishing up after six seasons in 2003, Dawson's Creek wrapped up with a two-hour finale set five years in the future. Dawson (James Van Der Beek) had been living in LA making an autobiographical TV show called - what else - The Creek.


Joey (Katie Holmes) lives in New York as a successful book editor. Pacey (Joshua Jackson) still lives in their hometown and owns a restaurant, while Jen (Michelle Williams) is a single mum art gallery manager. Until: Jen is struck down with a heart condition, dying in the final episode.

The wake-up call of her death makes Joey break up with her New York boyfriend over the phone and then face the question that's been dogging her all series: date Pacey or Dawson? She kinda hedges her bets, telling Dawson they'll 'always be soulmates' but that she chooses to be with Pacey.

Dawson gets a happy ending of his own, though - a meeting with his idol since episode one, Steven Spielberg.

Will & Grace

This finale earned mixed reviews - which the show's upcoming reboot will apparently address. Despite having been best friends since episode 1, Will and Grace have a massive falling out in the season eight finale.

Flash forward 20 years, and the pair are suddenly reunited when they're helping their respective adult children move into their college dorm rooms. From there, the friendship is finally rekindled. A happy ending then, but many fans were upset by the notion that the show's main characters would spend 20 years estranged from each other.

Oh, and the show's real stars? Karen loses her entire fortune in the finale - but at the same time, Jack inherits a massive windfall from Beverley Leslie and equilibrium is restored.

Melrose Place

Most of the stars who made this show such a hit in its heyday had already moved on to greener pastures by the time it finished in 1999, so we'll stick to the characters you know.

In the classily-titled 'Asses to Ashes', Amanda (eternal Special Guest Star Heather Locklear) and Peter (Jack Wagner) fake their own deaths to evade 'murderous police', taking refuge on a remote tropical island where they get hitched.


The show's only other original cast member, the sleazy Michael Mancini (Thomas Colabro), covers for his missing friends and receives $1 million in bribe money.

Malcolm in the Middle

Super-smart Malcolm is readying for college, but his plans are under threat when dad Hal realises the family may not have the money to pay for it. Malcolm is offered his dream job in lieu of college, but his mum Louis turns it down for him, leading to an angry confrontation between the pair.

She explains that she and the rest of the family expect Malcolm to become president, and realising how much his education means to his family, he agrees to keep at it.

An odd ending for Lois though: Having birthed and raised four boys - one of whom is well into his twenties - she discovers she's once again pregnant in the finale. Umm, congrats?


Strap yourself in, this one's a wild ride. Roseanne's ninth and final season was truly bizarre, as the show betrayed its working class roots to see Roseanne and family win a giant lottery prize of $108 million.

Cue an entire season of cartoonish exploits and lavish spending, culminating in what many saw as a cop-out of a final scene: Over voice over, Roseanne announced that the entire season had been a dream of sorts, a coping mechanism to get through life after husband Dan's death from a heart attack a year earlier. Oh, and her sister Jackie is actually a lesbian.

Home Improvement


This three-part finale saw Tim quit his TV show Tool Time after a new producer turns the show into a Jerry Springer-style trainwreck. Tim's wife Jill is offered a great job in Indiana.
During a ride to school, Tim and his sons reminisce about the great times they've had over the years, leading to the ultimate finale cop-out: A compilation of clips from previous episodes.

Oh, and next door neighbour Earl finally shows his full face! Spoiler: He looks like a normal dude.

That 70s Show

The finale of That 70s Show takes place on December 31, 1979 (makes sense, huh).

Topher Grace returns for a cameo as Eric, getting back together with Donna. The gang sit down for one final 'circle', and the series ends in a final shot of the basement with only the sound of the friends upstairs counting down to midnight - the 70s are over, and so is the show.

The O.C.

Did you stop watching The O.C. when Marissa (Mischa Barton) died? Yeah, us too - but it spluttered along for one final season. In the finale, the Cohens take shelter at the Roberts' family home after theirs is destroyed by an earthquake (that's so O.C.). We then flash forward a few years to see how life pans out for the attractive young cast: Seth (Adam Brody) and Summer (Rachel Bilson) get married, with Ryan (Benjamin McKenzie) as their best man.

Now a successful architect, Ryan takes a young boy under his wing, giving him the same leg up in life that the Cohens had offered him when he was young.

Mad About You

The show's 1999 season seven finale flashes forward 22 years into the future, focusing on Paul (Paul Reiser) and Jamie (Helen Hunt) Buchman's now-adult daughter, Mabel.

Played by Janeane Garofalo, she's a documentary filmmaker like her dad. She's making a biopic about her life, and in it we learn that her parents separated for years in the interim, before finally reconciling. In the end, she assures viewers her parents lived "happily ever after."