17 TV Shows That Ended Exactly When They Needed To

More is not always better.

1.

Fleabag


Prime Video

With just two seasons, it’d be nice to have more Fleabag, Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s masterpiece about a messy, grieving woman and her messed-up but hilarious family. But the arc of those two seasons is perfect, with Season 1 taking Fleabag to her darkest place and Season 2 subsequently seeing her move towards healing. The love story with Hot Priest in Season 2 is particularly heartbreaking, but is left exactly where it should be. The final shot of Fleabag walking away from the camera — leaving behind her fourth-wall crutch — is cathartic and the perfect ending for our journey with this character. 

2.

The Good Place


NBC

The Good Place burned through storylines and plot twists faster than just about any other show in history. What would take at least one season (or more) for another show to work through, The Good Place could dispense of in a matter of episodes. The creators told this weird and wonderful afterlife adventure in a way that served the story and characters first and foremost, meaning that in just four seasons they were quite literally ready to move on. 

3.

Lovesick


Alan Peebles/Netflix

Lovesick is a charming British romantic comedy series told in non-linear flashbacks, with each episode focusing on a different relationship of Dylan, the main character. But it’s his relationships with friends Evie and Luke that provide the narrative heart of the series, and the overall arc. Where all three of these characters end up by the time Season 3 comes to a close feels right, and the best place to leave them, even though it’s hard to let go. 

4.

The Leftovers


HBO

Over three exquisite, gut-punching, heart-wrenching seasons, The Leftovers explores grief and life and love and the meaning (or lack thereof) of everything. 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 to the last episode, in which some answers are offered but left entirely open to interpretation. Still, Season 3 pulls together the threads of the previous two seasons in remarkable ways, telling a complete and satisfying story. 

5.

Schitt’s Creek


CBC

Sitcoms have a tendency to drag on forever to the point that the characters are nothing more than hollow caricatures of themselves, spitting out catchphrases and getting themselves into increasingly ridiculous situations long after anyone involved, including the audience, actually cares. Schitt’s Creek gives us six seasons — not a small number, but for some fans, still not enough. But in the end, the Rose family’s adventures in the town of Schitt’s Creek have evolved to a point we can comfortably, and happily, leave them.

6.

Friday Night Lights


NBC

Friday Night Lights had some wobbly moments during its five-season run, but it’s one of those rare teen shows where its final seasons — and the last in particular — are strong and not painful. To the end, it kept its focus on the people and relationships at the heart of its world, and followed through their narratives to a very natural conclusion. 

7.

Gavin and Stacey


BBC

Not counting the specials, Gavin and Stacey lasted just three seasons, and 21 episodes in total. It’s a simple story of long-distance love that doesn’t need to be dragged out any further. Every episode is tightly told, mining the situation for as much comedy (and a dose of heart) as possible, and then finishing before the joke gets old. 

8.

Please Like Me


ABC

Please Like Me is a story of growing up, grief, and mental illness. It explores a particular moment in main character Josh’s life, and while the ending is devastating on a number of levels, it also gives the sense that this particular chapter has come to a close — but that doesn’t mean his story is over. There’s more to life in all its ups and downs for him, and we don’t need to bear witness to it to know that.

9.

Dark


Netflix

The third and final season of Dark isn’t quite as strong as what came before, but it does wrap the story up effectively and irrevocably. To continue the story would have been too much — for the characters, and the audience. We learn a bunch of answers to questions set up in earlier seasons, and see how Jonas and Martha will solve the great problem of their time-travelling, universe-jumping, messy, intertwined existence. It might not be the solution we were hoping for, but within the world that’s been set up, it’s the one that makes the most sense. 

10.

Breaking Bad


AMC

Breaking Bad looms so large in our culture, it’s somewhat surprising to think it only lasted five seasons. Not a small number, sure, but nowhere near the length of many other prestige shows — most of which, admittedly, did outstay their welcome. Not so for Breaking Bad, which follows Walter White’s descent from regular family man to crime lord in a masterful narrative, culminating in what many believe is one of the greatest series finales of all time. 

11.

Hannibal


NBC

Hannibal lasted just three incredible seasons, and while many fans still want more — and series creator Brian Fuller has been open about having plans for a Season 4 — there’s no denying the story ended in a good place. And by good place, I mean terrible place, but for this show, it works. After all the twisted will-they-won’t-they tension (kill each other? kiss each other? WHO KNOWS) between Will and Hannibal, their fated path of mutual destruction reaches its natural conclusion. It’s painful and shocking — and just as it should be. 

12.

Travelers


Netflix

Although Travelers was cancelled ahead of its time, the last episode of Season 3 worked well as a series conclusion. While it left a lot open — basically resetting its whole world — that feels somehow fitting as an ending for this weird, apocalyptic, existential time-travel show.

13.

Orphan Black


BBC America

Orphan Black is an intense sci-fi series that occasionally veered off course, but mostly told an action-packed, twist-heavy, and smart story about a group of human clones trying to find their way in the world. Sarah and her “sisters” are the heart of the show, and the end of the series saw them all moving to a place of healing and hope, which made their overall journey incredibly satisfying. 

14.

Superstore


NBC

Superstore is one of those sitcoms that started out shaky and got better as it progressed. By the second half of its run, it was one of the best — and perhaps most underrated — comedies on television. It managed to continue that right through until its sixth and final season, ending on a high rather than dragging the plot and jokes out for longer than they could withstand.

15.

The Office (UK)


BBC

While the American version ended up running for a whopping nine seasons, the original version of The Office, from the UK, only lasted two  — just 14 episodes in total. And for this particular iteration of the show, it’s just right. It maintains its sharp and dark tone throughout, sticking to its message of the bleakness of modern office life that the US version steered away from as its seasons unfolded.

16.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend


The CW

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was a loud, glorious, hilarious, heartbreaking exploration of one woman’s mental health and quest for happiness. Over four seasons, it often revelled in the messiness of life, with main character Rebecca making mistakes but continually trying to do better and be better. The growth of all the characters over the course of the show is incredible, but it’s Rebecca’s arc — of learning to find herself after looking in all the wrong places — that is the most powerful. Things aren’t perfect by the end, but that’s reflective of real life. Rebecca knows who she is and what she really wants, and that’s what matters.

17.

Watchmen


HBO

Watchmen is a made up of just one compelling season — nine episodes in total. Show creator Damon Lindelof, rather than continuing the story for the sake of it, told it exactly how he wanted to, and left it behind. While we all might love to see more of it, there’s power in this move. Like a good movie, a well-told narrative in a series doesn’t necessarily need a sequel. It can stand on its own. 

What TV shows do you think ended at the perfect time? Let us know in the comments.

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