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The Most Satisfying '90s TV Finales Ever

It's hard not to get nostalgic for the '90s, especially when it comes to '90s television. Sure, the "golden age" of television was yet to arrive in those days, but there was no shortage of great TV shows. Plus, in the days before streaming, there was something special about that feeling of anticipation you got before your favorite show came on. Plus, these shows only came on once per week. A cliffhanger ending meant you had to wait a full seven days before getting any answers!

With fans religiously blocking out a half-hour or hour of their time for a beloved show every week, sometimes for years, the cast and crew of these classics knew they were under some pressure. Getting a finale episode right was of particular concern. Some of the most popular shows of the decade didn't manage to stick their landings, but others wrapped themselves up with memorable finales that still make fans sentimental. Let's go back a couple of decades, and revisit the most satisfying '90s TV finales.

Twin Peaks -- "Episode 29"

By Twin Peaks' splendidly bizarre second season, the audience knows who killed Laura Palmer — but the story is far from over. FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper has, at this point, discovered that the murderer is actually a demonic spirit called Killer BOB, who possessed the body of Laura's father. But Cooper's attempt at departing Twin Peaks is stopped by his former FBI partner Windom Earle, who is now trying to enter the supernatural Black Lodge.

In the series finale, Earle kidnaps Cooper's love interest, Annie Blackburn, and brings her into the Black Lodge, forcing Cooper to follow him. As soon as Cooper enters, things take a turn for the surreal. In this eerie funhouse, time seems to bend, characters morph into each other, and after Cooper tells Earle that he'll trade his soul to save Annie, Killer BOB himself arrives. As Cooper tries to flee the Lodge, his doppelganger appears, catching him just before he can escape. When Cooper wakes up the next morning at the Great Northern Hotel and sees BOB's face in the mirror, it becomes clear that his possessed doppelganger made it out of the Lodge. A third season, entitled Twin Peaks: The Return, was released in 2017, adding a new chapter to the story. This late-coming addition was welcomed by fans, but the original finale remains strong on its own.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air -- "I, Done"

When Will Smith moves in with his relatives in Bel-Air, his life is turned upside down, as he recounts in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air's unforgettable theme song. But a few years later, another big change arrives in Will's life: The members of the Banks family are ready to pack up and move, and he has no idea what to do next. Hillary is heading to New York City with Ashley, Carlton is off to study at Princeton, and Uncle Phil, Aunt Viv, and Nicky are moving east, to be closer to the rest of their family. So what is Will going to do?

Realizing that he has no plans for the future, Will starts feeling like he hasn't achieved enough. With the house up for sale, Uncle Phil helps Will find his own apartment, and he decides to stay in California to finish his bachelor's degree. When the Banks family members say their goodbyes in their empty home, it's hard not to shed a tear — but when Carlton comes running down the stairs after Will turns off the lights, it's equally hard not to crack up. It's a moment that illustrates everything that makes Fresh Prince so funny, so heart-warming, and above all, so unforgettable.

Star Trek: The Next Generation -- "All Good Things ..."

Over the decades, there have been several Star Trek series. But Star Trek: The Next Generation undoubtedly has one of the best finales among them. Captain Picard finds himself shifting through time between the past, present, and future, jumps that occur without warning. Why is this happening? As Picard finds out, the omnipotent being Q is presenting a last chance for humanity to prove itself, by challenging Picard to solve the mystery of this mysterious temporal anomaly.

Picard has a wild revelation: The only way to stop the anomaly is by flying the past, present, and future versions of the Enterprise into the center of it at the same time, creating static warp shells. All of the ships are severely damaged in the process, and the future Enterprise explodes. But when Picard ends up back in the courtroom with Q, he is told that the anomaly never truly existed — it was all a test from Q, who was impressed with humanity's ingenuity. Picard's past and future are restored, and he's able to return to the present. Finally, he joins a card game with the Enterprise staff, and realizes that he wishes he'd done this more often. This isn't the end of the Star Trek universe, but it is a fitting end to this narrative.

Boy Meets World -- "Brave New World"

Boy Meets World is a classic coming-of-age series, so naturally, it ends with Cory, Topanga, Shawn, and Eric saying goodbye to their hometown and moving on to a new chapter in their lives. In the final episode, Cory and Topanga are stressing out over whether or not they should move to New York for an internship that Topanga has been offered. Eventually, they commit to this big move, and Eric plans to tag along. When Shawn becomes surprisingly emotional at the though of saying goodbye, Topanga invites him to come along on the journey too.

After Cory leaves his younger brother Joshua with a few words of wisdom, the crew is finally ready to say farewell to everyone's favorite teacher, Mr. Feeny. Mr. Feeny has taught them practically everything that they know. As they leave his classroom for the final time, Mr. Feeny says, "I love you all. Class dismissed." Years later, fans got to reunite with Cory, Topanga, and their kids in the series Girl Meets World, but the power of the original finale lives on.

Mad About You -- "The Final Frontier"

Mad About You follows the story of newlyweds Paul and Jamie Buchman, who deal with everything from difficult in-laws to navigating the early days of parenthood. By the end of the series, they have a daughter named Mabel, and when the series fast-forwards 22 years into the future for the final episode, viewers see the events through an adult Mabel's perspective. It's a risky move for the finale to pull — but given all the emotion the show has invested in its characters by this point, it works.

Mabel has been creating a documentary about her family, explaining that she's become who she is because her parents are a bit neurotic. Along the way, she reveals a few things the audience never knew about Paul and Jamie. They were never legally married, for one thing — their minister wasn't ordained — and they separate at one point. But their family brings them back together again during a showing of Mabel's film, Stabbing Bob. They rediscover their love for each other and remarry (for real this time) on their old anniversary date. This time, they're in it for the long haul — Mabel says they lived "happily ever after."

Friends -- "The Last One"

After spending a decade with Rachel, Ross, Chandler, Monica, Phoebe, and Joey, the final episode of Friends aired in 2004. Even after all those years, however, viewers were still dying to know whether or not Ross and Rachel would end up together.

In "The Last One," Monica and Chandler officially adopt twin babies and prepare for their move to the suburbs. Rachel says goodbye to Ross and heads to the airport to board her flight to Paris, where she's supposed to start her new job. But Ross decides he can't let her go, and with Phoebe driving, the two race to the airport so that he can confess his love for her. But, of course, they end up at the wrong airport, prompting Phoebe to call Rachel and yell about a fake problem with her plane. Overhearing her phone call, the other passengers get up and leave, forcing Rachel off the plane.

When Ross finally does arrive at the right airport and tells Rachel how he feels, she turns around and gets back on the plane — until she has a change of heart, disembarks, and surprises him at Monica and Chandler's apartment. The next morning, the group gathers there together one last time to reminisce. When they leave their keys on the kitchen counter, it feels like the end of an era — because when it aired, it absolutely was.

The Wonder Years -- "Independence Day"

In the final episode of The Wonder Years, Kevin Arnold worries that he's about to lose his best friend and first love, Winnie Cooper. Winnie has taken a job as a life guard at a resort, and after a fight with his father, Kevin decides to apply for a job there rather than working for the family furniture business. Winnie's been distant, and when Kevin arrives, he finds out why — she's got a new boyfriend. After Kevin gets into a brawl with him, Winnie is fired, and the two end up hitchhiking in the same car after leaving the resort on foot. When the elderly couple driving gets tired of their bickering, they kick them out of the car, and after finding shelter from the pouring rain, the two finally kiss and make up.

Kevin and Winnie arrive back home just in time for a Fourth of July parade. As the episode winds down, Kevin reveals each character's future, ending the series with a touching narration about looking back on his childhood in wonder. It's enough to make anyone feel nostalgic for simpler times.

Saved By the Bell -- "Graduation"

The Saved by the Bell crew is getting ready to graduate in the series finale — but there's one obstacle remaining for Zack Morris, who needs to earn a single additional credit to get his diploma. His usual hijinks ensue when he enrolls in a ballet class with Kelly, Jessie, and Lisa out of desperation. When two other dancers get the flu, Slater and Screech also have to get on stage to save the performance of "Swan Pond" and help Zach graduate.

Meanwhile, Jessie finds out that she's been named valedictorian. But when she learns that this is because Screech has given up his title for her because he knows how much it means to her, she decides to welcome him on stage for her speech. In turn, Screech brings Zack up on stage too, giving him the podium for the closing remarks. In the end, Principal Belding gives Zack his diploma. After all of the trouble he has gotten into over the past four years, Zack can finally say that he's graduated high school.

Frasier -- "Goodnight, Seattle"

Frasier Crane is never particularly lucky in love, and by the time the series finale of Frasier rolls around, his luck hasn't changed — he's just said goodbye to his girlfriend Charlotte, who has left Seattle for Chicago. After boarding a plane to an unrevealed destination, he finds himself sitting next to a woman who seems surprisingly anxious, so he opens up to her in the hopes that conversation will help her time in the air feel shorter.

Frasier reveals how life is changing for everyone in his social circle back home in Seattle: Daphne and Miles have had a child, Martin and Ronee are now married, and Roz has been promoted to station manager at KACL. He says that he'll be taking a new job in San Francisco after hosting his final show. But when the plane finally lands, it turns out he wasn't flying to San Francisco at all — they've touched down in Chicago. Frasier asks his seat mate for good luck as he walks down the aisle, presumably to go meet Charlotte. Perhaps he really did find the one after all.

Babylon 5 -- "Sleeping in Light"

Babylon 5 is beloved for its defined story arc and narrative structure, giving it a coherent feel that other sci-fi series sometimes lack . This is no small part of how the final episode of the series ties everything up so well.

Captain John Sheridan knows that his time is limited — he got a 20-year life extension after the Shadow War, and the time has come to finally say goodbye to his loved ones. His friends and family gather for one last meal together, and afterwards, Sheridan decides to leave Minbar and head back to Babylon 5, preferring to die in space. He says an emotional goodbye to Delenn, and after arriving at the Babylon 5, he chooses to visit the Coriana system. Knowing that his body is shutting down, he sees Lorien, who tells him that his old life is behind him, and he must begin a new journey. The cabin fills with light, and Sheridan is gone.

With its mission accomplished, the Babylon 5 project is over for good, but Sheridan is not forgotten. Every morning, Delenn still watches the sunrise to remember her husband.

Murphy Brown -- "Never Can Say Goodbye"

After spending years working as a news anchor at FYI, Murphy Brown is ready to move on to something new — or so she thinks. In latter-day episodes of the show, Murphy Brown takes an unexpected turn when Murphy is diagnosed with breast cancer. Just when she thinks she's totally cancer-free, her doctor says she needs one more surgery. It's a sobering direction for the final episode of this long-running series to take, but it's not all doom and gloom: When Murphy is put under for surgery, she ends up landing her biggest interview yet.

As the anesthesia takes effect, Murphy envisions herself taking to an elevator to heaven, where she has an opportunity to interview God. She asks him about the nature of free will, the reason she ended up with cancer, and what she should do next in life. God suggests that staying at FYI would be the best choice, but before Murphy can ask any further questions, she wakes up to find her surgeon telling her that it was a false alarm — her cancer hasn't come back. Feeling certain of her next steps, Murphy decides that she will be happiest working at FYI.

3rd Rock from the Sun -- "The Thing That Wouldn't Die"

In 3rd Rock from the Sun, a group of four extraterrestrials are sent to Earth to study the behavior of human beings. After spending years on Earth, camouflaged as everyday people, their mission finally comes to an end, meaning it's time for the crew to return to their home galaxy.

Mary, a human professor who has fallen in love with Dick Solomon, the leader of the expedition, catches him turning Dr. Liam Neesam into a chimpanzee. He had to take action to stop the evil Dr. Neesam from turning Earth into Planet Monkey World, but the damage has been done, and he is forced to confess his true identity to Mary. After thinking back on his strange behavior over the past few years, she has to accept the truth. Dick wants to bring Mary back to the aliens' home planet, but at the last moment, she panics, realizing she can't abandon Earth. Instead, Dick agrees to wipe her memory of their relationship, leaving only positive emotions. Harry gives her his coat to lay on until she wakes up. In a bittersweet moment, they sing their mission song together before getting beamed up into the sky.