Top 20 Greatest Cartoon Series Finales of All Time

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Top 20 Greatest Cartoon Series Finales of All Time

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Derick McDuff
The greatest cartoon series finales had us all animated. Our countdown includes "Gravity Falls," "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," "BoJack Horseman," and more!
Transcript

Top 20 Greatest Cartoon Series Finales


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Greatest Cartoon Series Finales.

For this list, we will be looking at the very last episodes of cartoon shows. Movies and other continuations like “Ed Edd n Eddy's Big Picture Show” won’t appear. Neither will “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood’s” perfect ending and other anime finales as they deserve their own list. One more thing: major spoilers ahead!

Which animated finales were your favorite? Tell us in the comments below!

#20: “Spider Wars”
“Spider-Man: The Animated Series” (1994-98)


Long before “Into the Spider-Verse” saw multiple Spider-Men team up on the big screen, the iconic 90s “Spider-Man” show saw Peter Parker team up with his counterparts from other dimensions. Many of these alternate Spideys were references to events in the show’s past, comic iterations, or were wholly original webheads. They faced their most dangerous foe, one that threatened to destroy the entire multiverse, Spider-Man himself! Specially, a version of Spider-Man that bonded with the Carnage symbiote. After our Peter’s heroic sacrifice, he was taken to meet his maker, Stan Lee, and the show ended with him attempting to track down his true love, Mary Jane.

#19: "A New Dawn"
“Ben 10: Omniverse”


Cartoon Network managed to squeeze 80 episodes-worth of this animated science fantasy featuring the beloved wielder of the Omnitrix into just 2 years. “Ben 10: Omniverse” alternates between an 11-year-old Ben and 16-year-old one, with the eighth and final arc covering The Time War. As both the last episode of the Classic Continuity and the series, “A New Dawn” more than delivered. While going after Maltruant, Ben and Rook encounter George Washington, a young Vilgax and some Contumelia - and there are a ton of alien transformations along the way. In the end, Ben not only saves the day by using the Anihilaarg against the rogue Chronosapien, but he also gets to reap the rewards with his pals when they set off to explore the recreated universe.

#18: “The End Is the Beginning”
“Voltron: Legendary Defender” (2016-18)


This reboot of the ‘80s’ “Voltron” franchise and the Japanese anime TV show, “Beast King GoLion,” debuted on Netflix in June 2016 to much praise. 77 episodes and almost two and a half years later,“Voltron: Legendary Defender” managed to maintain positive critical reception for pretty much all of its ensuing seasons, including its series conclusion. While the show’s LGBTQ+ representation has courted controversy, many will agree that season 8 still came to a satisfying end. "The End Is the Beginning" didn’t shy away from emotional storytelling, high stakes or empathy. With highlights including Allura and Honerva’s sacrifice, the Lions’ having completed their task and universal peace, things end on a hopeful note - with the Legendary Defenders’ next generation already in progress.

#17: “Nice While It Lasted”
“BoJack Horseman” (2014-20)


Bojack spent years doing terrible things with his attempts to make amends often backsliding. The penultimate episode seemed to suggest he’d be redeemed in death, but the finale averted that in a big way. Instead, the final episode was truly a bittersweet one that made Bojack live with the mistakes he’d made. He was forced to realize that despite the fact that he’d changed, he couldn’t change his past and undo the hurt he had done. The episode saw him talk to those he had been close to over the course of the show, most of whom had moved on. Ultimately, the ending wasn’t really an ending at all, as it showed that even when things change, life goes on.

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


As the show’s subtitle would suggest, the running theme was “friendship” and the final episode reinforced this thesis. Serving as an epilogue for the series, the final episode has a framing story set in the future with Twilight Sparkle ruling over Equestria, teaching a young pony the value of friendship. Alternating between this future and Twilight’s coronation, the episode showed how even when friends take different paths in life, you never really lose them. It gave us a look at where almost all the fan-favorite characters would end up and literally closed the book on this fairy tale.

#15: “Ascension”
“X-Men: Evolution” (2000-03)


The X-Men have had a number of cartoon iterations, and the finale of the 90s series, “Graduation Day,” deserves a mention. However, we feel that the end of “Evolution” was a perfect sendoff for the mutants. The finale saw the culmination of the long building threat of Apocalypse’s doomsday plot coming to fruition. Transforming Professor X, Magneto, Storm, and Mystique into his four horsemen and extending his network of power over the entire earth, it seemed there was no hope. Old enemies and rivals that included every major player to appear in the show’s history banded together in a last-ditch to save humanity and ultimately give the world a chance at a brighter future.

#14: “The Last Stand”
“The Legend of Korra” (2012-14)


Few shows aimed at children have had as complex villains and dealt with as intense themes as “Korra'' did. In its final season, a mentally and physically broken Korra struggled with PTSD and depression. She also had to deal with an antagonist, Kuvira, who mirrored Korra in many ways. Korra’s final showdown with Kuvira was both thrilling to watch and emotionally rewarding while also giving her supporting cast meaningful resolutions to their arcs. Korra was finally healed enough to enter into a healthy relationship, with her and Asami walking into the Spirit World as a couple. Establishing Korra as an LGBTQ+ character was revolutionary for children’s television and paved the way for other shows on this list to follow suit.

#13: “Heart”
“She-Ra and the Princesses of Power” (2018-20)


Unlike the other shows on this list, “She-Ra” was released on a streaming platform, meaning that it was largely designed to be binged. This amounted to arcs lasting over multiple seasons and culminated in an ultimate battle between the forces of good and evil. This included the allies that Adora, the human who transformed into She-Ra, had encountered from across the universe, even the former main antagonist Hordak, all working together to defeat Horde Prime. Through love, they were able to prevail, with Adora and her best friend/bitter rival/love interest Catra finally professing their love for each other in a moment that had been built to since the first episode.

#12: “Perfect”
“Courage the Cowardly Dog” (1999-2002)


This surreal cartoon was a lens for examining issues like anxiety, paranoia, and depression. It also focused on grotesque characters filled with imperfections. The last episode saw a character called “The Perfectionist” (who may have only existed in Courage’s imagination) prying on Courage’s insecurities, pushing him to be perfect. Again and again, Courage failed to live up to her perfect standards, further fueling his insecurity. Eventually, however, Courage was given some sage advice that he didn’t need to be perfect and saw the people he cared about as being full of flaws. Ultimately, the show ended with a message of self-acceptance.

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


Steven Universe was envisioned by creator and showrunner Rebecca Sugar to run five seasons with all of the plot points culminating in this final episode. While the show would later be followed by a film and a limited series follow up, “Change Your Mind” still served as the conclusion to the original series and tied up ongoing plots, most notably the war between the Crystal Gems and the homeworld. The final showdown between Steven and White Diamond encapsulated the themes the show had built as well as concluding the development of Steven and other characters.

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


When “Samurai Jack” ended its initial run in 2004 there was clearly some unfinished business, as the last episode of season four provided no conclusion to the ongoing story. For more than a decade it seemed that that was it. However, in 2017, fans got a final fifth season. The season culminated in a finale that began with a number of Jack’s past allies rescuing him before he finally headed back to the past to defeat Aku. However what truly set the episode apart was the bittersweet ending for Jack when the love he’d brought back from the future was erased from time as a result of his victory over evil.

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


“Phineas and Ferb” was built on the premise of finding an incredible way to spend each day of summer vacation; therefore there was really no other way for it to conclude than with the end of summer break. The show continued its trademarks of callback jokes and meta humor in a plot that involved Candace and Dr. Doofenshmirtz caught in a Groundhog Day-esque loop. Of course the title characters had plenty to do, figuring out how to escape a void dimension and build a machine to save the world. To top it all off Doofenshmirtz finally came around to the side of good, joining forces with his former rival Perry.

#8: “Graduation”
“Kim Possible” (2002-07)


Originally intended to conclude in its third season, Disney brought “Kim Possible” back for a fourth and final season, which followed Kim and Ron now as a crime fighting couple. The final episode “Graduation,” as the name would imply saw the end of their time at Middleton High School, with a twist of course. Alien invaders kidnap both Kim and her arch enemy Dr. Drakken, leaving Ron and Shego to team up to save them, as well as the world. The episode wrapped up many of the show’s plots and gave these beloved characters a proper send off.

#7: “Goodbye to Bloo”
“Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends” (2004-09)


It is a rather recent development that western cartoons would even have definitive endings. In the past final episodes rarely concluded any ongoing storylines or wrapped much up, instead they often felt like any other episode. “Foster’s” seems to follow the recent trend by making the episode seem like it will be the end of Mac and Bloo’s friendship before Mac moves and won’t be able to visit Foster’s again. Of course in true Foster’s fashion this turns out to be a misdirect as it’s revealed that Mac and Bloo’s friendship will continue past the end of the show.

#6: “Meanwhile”
“Futurama” (1999-2013)


“Futurama” has had a number of finales, due to uncertainty about whether the show would be renewed for future seasons. While its original intended finale “The Devil’s Hands are Idle Playthings” certainly could have served as a perfect bookend to the show, it’s actual eventual final episode was equally beautiful. “Meanwhile” continued to deliver on the show’s signature mix of humor and heart. It focused on the show’s most enduring plot, the love story between Fry and Leela, giving their romance a fitting sendoff that saw them grow old together . . . and ended with them preparing to have their memories wiped and live their lives all over again.

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


“Regular Show” always had a tendency to tell stories that revolved around the exciting and surreal, and the show’s aptly named finale took those elements to their logical conclusions. The three part ending saw Mordecai and Rigby, along with their friends and co-workers, go into space to help Pops save the universe itself. A number of fan favorite characters returned for the final battle in this particularly meta episode. After saving reality, but losing one of their own, the final shots show the next twenty-five years of these characters’ lives play out set beautifully to David Bowie’s “Heroes.”

#4: “Finale: Parts I-IV”
“Star Wars: The Clone Wars” (2008-14, 2020)


For years, it seemed like we would never get this finale after the show was prematurely canceled. After several years, fans finally got the final season they wanted, and it was worth the wait. The show’s final four episodes essentially worked as a film that took place parallel to the events of “Revenge of the Sith.” The epic finale featured Ahsoka Tano facing off against the morally complicated Maul and her former allies in the 501st legion. The four-parter managed to resolve long-running threads from the show, enhance the prequels, and poignantly tie into the original films, all while giving fans one of the best lightsaber fights of all time.

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


“Adventure Time” had always been a show concerned primarily with character development and relationships - with a lot of lore, comedy, music, and of course heart in the mix. The finale delivered on all of these fronts in spades, with an extended four part episode that had a plethora of callbacks and references to the show’s mythology, as well as delivering powerful endings to multiple character arcs. The bittersweet episode contained both moments that made fans cheer, like Bubblegum and Marceline finally sharing a kiss, as well as ones that made them cry, like the heartbreaking death of Fern.

#2: “Weirdmageddon”
“Gravity Falls” (2012-16)


By its last episode “Gravity Falls” had established a unique mythos, compelling mysteries, complex characters with interesting relationships, and an immense overarching threat. All of that buildup led to the massive payoff that was the three part finale, “Weirdmageddon.” With the ultimate evil Bill Cipher unleashing the things from his own Lovecraftian dimension on our world, only a ragtag group of our favorite characters (and a couple of our least favorite ones) can save the day. The final battle between good and evil was as trippy as it was emotionally satisfying, with elements that have been hinted at since the beginning of the show finally paying off.

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


The conflict between the Fire Nation and team Avatar, which had been building for three seasons, came to a head in the epic four part finale. The ending manages to strike a perfect balance between the characters’ own internal issues and the conclusion of the overarching conflict. The formerly antagonistic Zuko faced off against the sister whose shadow he always lived in, Iroh returned to Ba Sing Se, not as a conquer but as a liberator, while Aang had to face down Fire Lord Ozai. Aang’s final battle touched on the philosophical themes of the show, with Aang managing to stop the despote without having to end his life.
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