Best Finale Episodes of the 21st Century: ‘Justified,’ ‘Stranger Things’ & More

Homeland - Damian Lewis as Nick Brody and Morgan Saylor as Dana Brody in Homeland.
Kent Smith / Showtime
Damian Lewis as Nick Brody and Morgan Saylor as Dana Brody in Homeland.

[Stay tuned to TV Insider daily as we countdown the 65 Best Episodes of the 21st Century. It’s all leading up to the top pick reveal on Tuesday, April 3. Plus, sound off on our choices in the comments below!]

True, all good things must come to an end. But it’s a select group of shows that manages to cap off a season—or, in some cases, an entire series—in a way that’s not just memorable but completely unforgettable.

Better Things

“Graduation” (Season 2, Episode 10) The episode concludes with an unexpected and totally touching musical number that flawlessly encapsulates the boundless love between single mom Sam (Pamela Adlon) and her children.


“Marine One” (Season 1, Episode 12)  This installment of the taut thriller is when bipolar CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) finally connects the dots about who stood where on terrorist lines—like her lover, Marine Corps Sergeant Brody (Damian Lewis)—only to have the truth likely wiped out by her electroshock treatment.


“Bloody Harlan” (Season 2, Episode 13) Here, Justified brings an escalating Kentucky drug war to a crescendo with all the raw carnage we anticipated—and also some heartache we didn’t. (RIP to Margo Martindale’s mesmerizing kingpin, Mags Bennett!)

Six Feet Under

“Everyone’s Waiting” (Season 5, Episode 12) For a drama like Six Feet Under that dwelled on death, it was only fitting that its last bow would flash forward to the passing of each Fisher family member—resulting in a stirring celebration of life.

Stranger Things

“Chapter Nine: The Gate” (Season 2, Episode 9) This finale honored its core DNA with a pitch-perfect homage to angsty teen ’80s genre fare, culminating with the young monster-slayers (including Gaten Matarazzo’s Dustin) gathering at the Hawkins Middle School dance, the Police’s “Every Breath You Take” soaring in the background.


“The Getaway” (Season 4, Episode 12) The jaw-dropping fourth season conclusion featured the titular serial killer (Michael C. Hall) discovering his love, Rita (Julie Benz), brutally slain in the bathtub as a direct result of his own actions? Let’s just say we’ve been taking showers ever since.