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'Friends', 'Cheers': Greatest Sitcom Finales - Friday Fiver

By and Catriona Wightman
The cast of 30 Rock

© NBC Universal

Last night (January 31) marked the end of an era in the US as NBC screened the last ever episode of 30 Rock - it might never have been a ratings giant, but Tina Fey's smart comedy was beloved by critics and loyal fans the world over.

Since the show's UK broadcaster Comedy Central is a little behind the US, we won't spoil how things ended up for Liz Lemon and co, but as our way of paying tribute to 30 Rock, this week's Friday Fiver lists off the five greatest sitcom endings - let us know if you agree with our picks below!

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Friends - 'The Last One' - aired May 6, 2004
She got off the plane! Yes, the Friends finale is unbelievably, inescapably corny. But no matter how many times I see it, it never fails to make me sob. If you ever need a good cry, by the way, you can't go wrong by sticking on the last ever episode of everyone's favourite sitcom.

It's not just Rachel getting off the plane (sob!) Monica and Chandler welcome their twins, there's a lot of fun with phalanges, and there's even a brand new chick and duck. In terms of the impossibly hard task of wrapping up one of the most beloved comedies ever, the finale doesn't really go wrong - and the gang standing in the empty apartment at the end of the instalment gets us choked up just thinking about it. Excuse us, we need to have a moment...



Seinfeld - 'The Finale' - aired May 14, 1998
It may have divided the critics, but we're rather fond of how everyone's favourite 'show about nothing' drew to a close - a frankly staggering 76 million viewers tuned in to watch Jerry, George, Kramer and Elaine get sent down, with a number of old faces making return cameos to remind fans of some of the show's greatest moments...

Jerry Seinfeld reportedly turned down NBC's offer of $100 million to continue his show into a tenth season, though a 'reunion' of sorts did take place years later on series co-creator Larry David's HBO comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm.



Cheers - 'One for the Road' - aired May 20, 1993
One of the all-time great series finales, 'One for the Road' saw mismatched lovers Sam (Ted Danson) and Diane (Shelley Long) reunite one last time before parting ways for good, with Sam ultimately choosing to remain faithful to his "one true love" - his bar.

The climax to the eleventh season of Cheers was another ratings behemoth, with approximately 42.4 million households tuning in to watch the triple-length episode.



The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - 'I, Done' - aired May 20, 1996
Before he shot off to Hollywood for good to embrace his new-found movie stardom, Will Smith found time to wrap up the superbly silly sitcom that made his name and the series finale of Fresh Prince get the balance between comedy and sentiment just right.

There's plenty of fun to be had as the cast of Diff'rent Strokes cameo as potential buyers of the Banks family home, or as Will and Carlton dance to Tom Jones classic 'It's Not Unusual' one last time, but you'll also feel a lump in your throat as the Fresh Prince parts ways with his family, stepping down from that throne of his for good.



M*A*S*H* - 'Goodbye, Farewell and Amen' - aired February 28, 1983
Many argue that M*A*S*H* went on too long - it covered a three-year military conflict across 11 seasons - and that's before you even get into the misfire that was sequel series AfterMASH...

But in its prime, the show was classic television and this series finale wrapped up the story of Hawkeye and company in fine fashion. Oh, and you can forget those Seinfeld and Cheers viewing figures - the last episode of M*A*S*H* topped them both with a stunning 105.94m viewers (that's 60% of all households in America) making it the most-watched broadcast in US TV history!



Do you agree with our picks? Name your favourite sitcom finales below!
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