What makes an ending great? Ideally, a finale that ties up all the loose ends (without getting to neat and completist), that proves to be emotional (without getting all sappy and sentimental) and hooks you the way the episodes leading up to it did. It's a topsy turvy balancing act that few ever manage to pull off.
Many endings prove to be divisive, going against what viewers had longed for and providing an ill-fitting conclusion (looking at you Lost). Others lose sight of themselves and end by taking a great big squat on what had come before (Game of Thrones and Dexter were both infuriatingly guilty of this).
The endless hours spent immersed in a show's world sprout fandoms like weeds. People grow attached to characters, immersed in plot lines and spend hours discussing what'll happen next. When a show ends on a dour note, it sours the whole experience. For those lucky few who got it right, a great ending solidifies their place in the TV history books. The fan bases and acclaim will live on long past the end credits and web articles will commemorate how great they were in top 10s years later...
Warning: spoilers ahead (obviously).
There are few finales in TV history as polarising as this mean-spirited, hilarious farewell to 4 very unpleasant people. For 9 years, Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer caused mishaps and misfortunes everywhere they went. Guilt-free and uncaring, the quarrelsome quartet were bound by writer Larry David's no.1 creative rule, "No learning, no hugging." This principle ensured they never grew as people in any capacity, remaining as narcissistic and selfish in the finale as they were in the pilot.
After a brief spell of great news (Jerry's sitcom, Jerry, is getting a second chance), the group witness a man being mugged. The 4 have a good laugh at the victim's expense with Kramer filming the whole thing. Unbeknownst to them, the Good Samaritan law has come into effect and they're all in a lot of trouble.
A wide range of previous guest stars return for this callback-laden send-off, all testifying against Jerry and co. for their sins. The 4 are ultimately sentenced to hard time for their abysmal behaviour with Jerry now performing his stand-up routine behind bars. While the final episode didn't stick to its traditional 'show about nothing’ formula, it suited the characters to a tee.
Larry David has since revealed he "was not interested in an emotional ride, and neither was Jerry." A wise decision that ensured the finale fit the themes of the show in memorable, outrageous fashion.