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Top Season Finale Cliffhangers of All-Time


With plenty of shows making their fall returns, I couldn’t help but think of some of the top season cliffhangers that left me aching for the next season to come. Here I’ve compiled a short-list of some of those jaw-dropping finales.

The Simpsons: Who Shot Mr. Burns?

Airing in May 1995, this episode was the final episode of The Simpsons’ sixth season. As we all know, Mr. Burns is the type of character that will do ANYTHING to make a profit and in this episode he angers many in the process. With so many people with motive, we’re all left wondering and waiting to find out: Who Shot Mr. Burns?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Gift

In the final episode of the fifth season, Glory uses Dawn, Buffy’s sister, to open a portal to other dimensions. Buffy then recalls what she was told in the past. She and Dawn share Summer’s Blood, so death is her gift. As a result of this discovery, Buffy sacrifices her life for her sister. So what comes next when the main character is killed? It took five months before anyone would find out.

Dallas: A House Divided

One of the earliest cliffhangers and an inspiration for the "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" episode in The Simpson’s came from a 70s/80s television series named Dallas. In this episode, we have several people upset with J.R. Ewing, one of whom went so far as threatening to kill him. But who really did it? [Spoiler alert] J.R. survives but we don’t even find out who shot him until the fourth episode of the fourth season.

Friends: The One with Ross’s Wedding Pt. 2

In the fourth season of Friends, Rachel asks Ross to take her boss’s niece, Emily, out so that she can go on a date. While Ross is uncomfortable with it, he does the favor and ends up dating Emily. Despite only dating for a short period of time, Ross and Emily get engaged. Unfortunately when it came to saying the "I do’s," Ross says Rachel’s name instead of Emily’s. The camera shifts from face-to-face, and finally to Rachel’s, to close out the season.

Lost: Through the Looking Glass

It’d be hard to make a case that Lost was not one of the most noteworthy shows of our time. In this Season Three finale, viewers are taken through a narrative thought to be a flashback (like the many others they’ve done) but come to find out that it was actually a flash forward. The world was #shook with so much to look forward to in the following the season.

Breaking Bad: Gliding Over All

While only a mid-season finale, if you know Breaking Bad, then you know it qualifies just as well as the rest. This episode ended with something the audience had been waiting for five and half seasons: [Spoiler Alert] Hank finds out! We’d all been waiting and wondering how the astute DEA agent hadn’t put it all together already, and when he finally does, we wait again to find out what he does next (at least we technically found out within the same season).

Alias: Before the Blood; The Telling

Alias had plenty of great cliffhanger endings, but the finale of it’s fourth season was one to remember. After everything that had happened, Sydney and Vaughan finally got their getaway together. Too bad it ended in more bad ways than one. Just before the episode closes, a truck hits the side of their car as Vaughan reveals that he isn’t who Sydney believes him to be.

The X-Files: Anasazi; Gethsemane

This episode comes at the end of Season Two and gives its audience more questions than answers. While Scully finds tapes with information on her abduction, Mulder also finds evidence related to his sister’s abduction—something he’d been pursuing for a long time. However, before we can get any resolution, the Cigarette Smoking Man sets the boxcar Mulder is in on fire; potentially killing Mulder.

Twin Peaks: The Last Evening

Twin Peaks offered one of the most intense endings to what the audience thought was the series finale. After saving Annie and escaping the Black Lodge, Cooper wakes up in his bed at the Great Northern Hotel. Cooper asks about Annie, then matter-of-factly says that he needs to brush. While in the bathroom, he stares into the mirror and hits his head against the glass where we see BOB in place of his reflection. Many believe this to mean that the real Cooper is still at the Black Lodge. Unfortunately for viewers, they wouldn't find out for another 25 years when the show was rebooted.

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