Top 10 Most Heartbreaking Cartoon Series Finales

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Top 10 Most Heartbreaking Cartoon Series Finales

VOICE OVER: Emily - WatchMojo WRITTEN BY: Nick Spake
The most heartbreaking cartoon series finales knew how to say, “That's all, folks.” For this list, we'll be looking at the final episodes of animated shows that delivered the feels, whether they made us happy-cry, ugly-cry, or just outright broke our hearts. Our countdown includes “Steven Universe,” “BoJack Horseman,” “Adventure Time,” and more!
Transcript
That’s all, folks. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Heartbreaking Cartoon Series Finales.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the final episodes of animated shows that delivered the feels, whether they made us happy-cry, ugly-cry, or just outright broke our hearts. This goes without saying, but SPOILERS!

#10: “Change Your Mind”
“Steven Universe” (2013-19)


Granted, “Steven Universe” technically continued with a TV movie and a limited series serving as an epilogue. “Change Your Mind” was the main show’s conclusion, however, closing out the story creator Rebecca Sugar initially wanted to tell. While the finale does feature a thrilling battle between the Crystal Gems and Diamonds, this show has never been about physical strength. If Steven taught us anything over five seasons, it’s that true strength comes from one’s heart and mind. In an especially poignant moment that shows rather than tells, Steven’s individuality triumphs over oppression, forever changing White Diamond’s mind. Following a satisfying montage, the series naturally ends with a simple yet effective song, encompassing the show’s central themes of acceptance and the power of change.

#9: “Last Day of Summer”
“Phineas and Ferb” (2007-15)


There’s 104 days of summer vacation, although in Phineas and Ferb’s case, it was more like 222 days. This Emmy-nominated finale appropriately feels like the last day of summer. It’s a grand and special occasion, making effective use of every major character in a plot revolving around time travel. At the same time, it’s a bittersweet affair that unfortunately can’t last longer. Nowhere does this hit us more than during the closing musical number, as the gang reminisces about the memories they made together. All good things must come to an end, be it three glorious months of summer or four seasons of a wonderful show. While this wasn’t farewell forever, how can you not shed a tear as Phineas gives us a wave goodbye?

#8: “A Regular Epic Final Battle”
“Regular Show” (2010-17)


“Regular Show’s” final battle is indeed epic, combining elements of “Star Wars” and “Dragon Ball Z.” The episode is also heavy on wit and laughs, bringing the series full circle in meta fashion. We weren’t prepared to get so choked up, though, as the finale reached its climax. While Pops insists that this is a happy ending, we still couldn’t hold back our sorrow as he made the ultimate sacrifice to save his friends and universe. Pops’ demise wasn’t in vain, as the gang returns to Earth where everyone is given a fitting ending. Muscle Man meets his daughter for the first time, Rigby and Eileen start a family of their own, and even Mordecai finds love, all while Pops watches from Heaven. Good show.

#7: “Weirdmageddon 3: Take Back The Falls”
“Gravity Falls” (2012-16)


Like the “Phineas and Ferb” finale, “Weridmageddon” is largely about saying goodbye to summer and the friends you made along the way. What makes this ending especially gratifying is that it completely delivered on the mystery that had been unfolding for two seasons. The final fight against Bill Cipher gives the fans exactly what they want while still playing with expectations in all the right ways. All the creative imagery and jokes aside, this show has always been about the bonds of family, particularly between siblings. From the second they step aboard the bus out of town, Dipper and Mabel immediately miss Gravity Falls, as do we. As Wendy’s letter to Dipper and the credits remind us, though, nobody will ever forget this summer.

#6: “Nice While It Lasted”
“BoJack Horseman” (2014-2020)


What did you expect from “BoJack Horseman,” a happy ending? BoJack may not be able to make amends with everyone that he wronged, but the final episode does give him a chance to reconnect with his closest friends. Mr. Peanutbutter, Todd, and Princess Carolyn all seem to be where they should be, although BoJack and Diane’s fates remain up in the air. One will go back to prison to finish his sentence while the other will return to her new life in Houston. What about later down the line, however? Will this be the last time BoJack and Diane speak to each other? The uncertain silence speaks volumes as these two look up at the night sky together, leaving us feeling blue yet oddly optimistic.

#5: “Meanwhile”
“Futurama” (1999-2009; 2010-13)


Since “Futurama” was in danger of cancellation on multiple occasions, Seasons 4-6 all ended with potential series finales. Season 7’s “Meanwhile” is the true conclusion and while we’d love to see the Planet Express crew return, it’s hard to imagine a more perfect goodbye. Almost every character appears in some capacity, but the main focus is kept on Fry and Leela, whose relationship gave this show its beating heart. In an emotional climax that’s tragic, humorous, and romantic, everything is frozen in time except Fry and Leela. The two make the most of their time together, living happily into old age until Farnsworth offers them a chance to go around again. Whatever their future holds, this finale fills us with nothing but warm memories.

#4: “Come Along with Me”
“Adventure Time” (2010-18)


Between BMO singing a comforting song to Jake, Betty’s sacrifice, and the final montage, you’re going to cry at least three times throughout the “Adventure Time” finale. The tears are balanced out with plenty of uplifting moments, leaving each character on a note that feels just right. The major takeaway from “Come Along with Me,” though, is that there really are no happy endings. Even when everything appears to be wrapped up, life keeps going and eventually a new adventure presents itself, for better or worse. That said, showrunner Adam Muto has noted that the finale isn’t necessarily a happy one. The future Land of Ooo is much bleaker, but not deprived of hope or new heroes ready to take up Finn and Jake’s mantle.

#3: “Starcrossed”
“Justice League” (2001-04)


Like the “Superman” finale, “Starcrossed” was an equally epic and bittersweet way to cap off the original “Justice League” series. Part of what makes this three-parter such an emotional rollercoaster is that it sees one hero stab her teammates in the back. With Hawkgirl torn between her homeworld and the world she’s called home for years, the League is thrown into total disarray. Secrets are revealed, bridges are burned, and hearts are broken, namely Green Lantern’s. While the day is ultimately saved in rousing fashion, nothing will ever be the same again. As Shayera flies off into the sunset while a teary-eyed John watches, the book is seemingly closed on a star-crossed love story, although the sun would fortunately rise again in “Justice League Unlimited.”

#2: “Sozin’s Comet”
“Avatar: The Last Airbender” (2005-08)


With a feature-length runtime and cinematic animation, “Sozin’s Comet” certainly would’ve been worthy of the big-screen treatment. Even on the smallest screen, however, we feel every ounce of this finale’s dramatic impact. “Avatar” is all about restoring balance to the world and that’s the best way to describe this ending: balanced to a T. Virtually all of the characters and ongoing plotlines are given proper closure, providing no shortage of emotional payoffs. There are two moments in particular that get to us every time. First, there’s Zuko’s reunion with Iroh, who brings his estranged nephew in for a loving embrace. Then there’s the very last scene as Aang and Katara share the franchise’s most romantic moment, except for maybe the ending to “Legend of Korra.”

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“The Last Problem”
“My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” (2010-19)

“Graduation”
“Kim Possible” (2002-07)

“Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie” (2017)

“The Unknown”
“Over the Garden Wall” (2014)

“Is It College Yet?”
“Daria” (1997-2002)

#1: “CI”
“Samurai Jack” (2001-04; 2017)


The ending to “Samurai Jack” tears us up inside for several reasons. For starters, it’s a finale we never thought we’d see since the series was prematurely cancelled in 2004. It was worth the thirteen-year wait to see Jack defeat Aku with a little help from his friends. This victory isn’t without sacrifice, as Aku’s demise means that his daughter Ashi can no longer exist. With the woman he loves erased from existence, the grief-stricken Jack is left to wander the world alone. As a ladybug lands on his hand, however, our hero is given a glimmer of hope with a new day dawning. Be they tears of sorrow or tears of joy, you’re going to cry as the samurai’s story comes to its close.
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Lovely picks absolutely spot on