The last episode or episodes of a season, consisting of a story which ties up most of that season's loose ends and aims to be as dramatic as possible. They may be TheClimax of an ongoing StoryArc, or simply a new story, the most dramatic yet. They may kill off main characters, bring back villains from earlier in the series, and [[SequelHook set up the next season]]. {{Cliffhanger}} endings are common.

Season finales are pretty much guaranteed to draw in large audience figures.

While this is by no means [[UniversalTropes universal]], it's still very common.

Of course, when the show is ending for good, they really [[GrandFinale pull out all the stops]].

See WhatNowEnding, SeriesFauxnale, CliffHanger and DenouementEpisode for specific varieties of Season Finale.
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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Fanfiction]]
* ''Fanfic/CalvinAndHobbesTheSeries'':
** Season 1: "The Case of the Rogue Water Balloon", a NoirEpisode which has Calvin facing a ClearMyName plot, eventually finding out [[spoiler:''Hobbes'' was the culprit.]]
** Season 2: "The Alien Huntress", which blows the first one away by introducing [[HarmlessVillain Sheila]] [[BigEater Brainstorm]] as she captures [[spoiler: and attempts to ''kill'']] Calvin, as well as [[MassHypnosis brainwashing several of his acquaintances.]]
** Season 3: "[[MadeForTVMovie Thunderstorm]]", this time ''[[SerialEscalation really]]'' blowing the first two out of the water. This one again introduces a new villain - Thunderstorm, who along with his KillerRobot Shadow is the series' first really ''competent'' villain. He manages to actually TakeOverTheWorld with Shadow, [[spoiler:and killing the MTM after Calvin attempts a BatmanGambit on him.]] Plus, [[spoiler:Hobbes ''finally'' [[CharacterDevelopment grows a backbone]] after a pretty impressive TheReasonYouSuckSpeech from Calvin.]]
** Season 4: "Our Solemn Hour", a two-parter in which [[spoiler:Holographic Retro reveals himself as the BigBad of the season, [[ArcWelding having orchestrated some of the season's events in a year-long effort to best Calvin]], and sets up a deadly [[RaceAgainstTheClock time-limited]] trap. The duo barely make it, and ''then'' the ensuing duel ends with Calvin and Holographic Retro [[TakingYouWithMe taking each other with themselves]], ending the season on a {{cliffhanger}}.]] [[{{HSQ}} Wow.]]
*** What's more, the Season 5 opener reveals [[spoiler:[[CharacterDeath Holographic Retro didn't make it!]]]]
* ''Fanfic/TheLionKingAdventures'':
** Series 1: ''Army of Evil'' [[MultipartEpisode and]] ''Friends to the End''. [[BigBadEnsemble Hago and Scar]] join forces to conquer the Pride Lands, leading to a FinalBattle with Simba and Nala that results in [[spoiler: both villains' deaths]]. In the aftermath, Simba and Nala finally confess their feelings for each other.
** Series 2: ''Goodbye Nala''. [[EnfantTerrible Tama]] finally [[VillainousBreakdown snaps]] and decides to ruin Simba and Nala's lives out of pettiness [[spoiler: but is eventually talked into a HeelFaceTurn]].
** Series 3: ''Darkness Falls''. Simba, Nala, and Haiba finally confront [[spoiler: [[TheGrimReaper Death]]]], the [[BigBad entity behind]] everything bad that happened that season.
** Series 4: ''The Master Plan''. [[spoiler: The [[AlienInvasion Vimela]]-[[DemonicPossession possessed]] Mufasa and Sarafi enact their plan to destroy the Pride Lands.]]
** Series 5: ''The Message'', ''The Final Task'', [[MultipartEpisode and]] ''The End'' serve as the series' GrandFinale, wherein the heroes deal with all the tensions that have built up over the DarkerAndEdgier FinaleSeason, while facing the arrival of, and FinalBattle with, [[spoiler: [[GodIsEvil the Writer]]]], the UltimateEvil behind all the other villains.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* The new ''Series/DoctorWho'' has so far ended every series up until 2010 with multi-episode arc-ending stories. The first series had "Bad Wolf"/"The Parting of the Ways", the second had "Army of Ghosts"/"Doomsday", the third had "Utopia"/"The Sound of Drums"/"Last of the Time Lords", and the fourth had "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End".
** Despite being specials, the 2009 episodes were filmed as a continuation of series 4, and thus the ''The End of Time'' was treated as a series finale, rather than just a two part Christmas/New Year's special...
** The 2010 series finale, "The Pandorica Opens"/"The Big Bang" in contrast to the previous post-revival finales, does not solve every mystery from within the series. Most of these are resolved in series 6, which broke form and had a single-part finale, "The Wedding of River Song".
* Each series of ''Series/{{Torchwood}}'' ends on something game-changing, like a departure or even a death. In ''Series/TorchwoodMiracleDay'''s "The Blood Line", the finale ended on [[spoiler:the death of Esther and the resurrection and immortality of Rex]].
* The first and second series finales of ''Series/TheSarahJaneAdventures'' featured returning villains set to give Sarah Jane a rematch.
* While ''Series/{{Heroes}}'' is more of a continuous story, "How To Stop an Exploding Man" probably qualifies as this.
* ''Series/{{House}}'' season finales usually show something going wrong with the titular character. How he became a cripple (actually the episode ''before'' the series finale, much more memorable than the real one), when he got shot, losing all his team, being in an accident, possible brain damage and losing his best friend are some of these.
* ''{{Primeval}}'' series one ended with the dramatic "Episode 6", and series 2's "Episode 12"/"Episode 13" was even more dramatic.
* ''{{lonelygirl15}}'' has so far ended two series with multiple episode dramatic stories. The first ended with the 12 episode epic "lonelygirl15 Season Finale", the second with the four-part story "Bloodlines".
* Each season of ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' ended with a huge fight against the BigBad.
** Season 1: [[spoiler:The Master is killed after escaping. Buffy has died for a few moments previously, an important plot point for the next 7 years.]]
** Season 2: [[spoiler:Angel is reensouled, however Buffy is forced to stab him and send him to a hell dimension, presumably killing him. Buffy leaves for [[strike:LA]] an unknown city.]]
** Season 3: [[spoiler:At graduation, the Mayor turns into a giant snake. He's blown to hell along with Sunnydale High. Faith is in a coma. The third happiest season ending in the show]]
** Season 4: [[spoiler:Adam is defeated by having the Scoobies combine their power with Buffy as well as every Slayer in history. This really pisses off The First Slayer, who proceeds to try to kill them in their dreams, which are major mind fucks. They stop her. Second happiest ending to a season.]]
** Season 5: [[spoiler:Glory is stopped, but Buffy is dead. Really dead. Deader than last time. Not that it stops her from getting better next season. Most depressing season ending and some believe it should be the Series ending.]]
** Season 6: [[spoiler:Dark Willow is stopped via ThePowerOfLove, Buffy and Dawn are getting along better than ever and Buffy promises to lower the sheltering, which actually does happen in Season 7 (notable occurring as Buffy really becomes a bitch in S7).]]
** Season 7: [[spoiler:Sunnydale is destroyed, Faith is back and is fighting for the side of good (and is actually in a relationship, though it falls apart before Season 8 even starts), Willow is officially the most powerful being on the planet, only really limited by the fact that using all that power would turn her evil, Xander's a cyclops, Anya's dead and all the potential Slayers on Earth have been activated. Still the happiest season ending if only because the characters are no longer alone in their fight.]]
** Season 8 [[spoiler:The source of all magic is destroyed and Giles is dead. If you haven't read the comics and highlighted this I bet you're saying something along the lines of "HOLY SHIT!"]]
* ''Series/StargateSG1'' often has a huge, dramatic season finale, ending on a {{cliffhanger}}.
** In fact, of the ten seasons only season 5 and 7 aren't cliffhangers if we don't count the series finale. ''Series/StargateAtlantis'' had every single season finale being a cliffhanger:
*** Season 1, The Siege: Atlantis coming under siege from two Hives... until the Daedalus fights them off
*** Season 2, Allies: two Hives are on the way to Earth... until the Daedalus and the Orion stop them
*** Season 3, First Strike: [[spoiler:Atlantis is stuck in space with critical power levels... until they steal a ZPM from the Asurans]]
*** Season 4, The Last Man: [[spoiler:Sheppard travels 48000 years into the future... then the team recovers Teyla]]
*** Season 5, Enemy at the Gate: [[spoiler:Atlantis fights off a Super-Hive and makes an emergency landing on Earth]]
* ''Series/{{Life On Mars|2006}}'' came to a head in the first series, but it wasn't the conclusion Sam Tyler thought it would be. Similarly with his spiritual successor, Alex Drake, in ''AshesToAshes''.
* The second-season finale of ''Series/DesperateHousewives'' was padded out to two hours with Mary-Alice {{flashback}} scenes.
* ''Series/{{Lost}}'' has ended each of its five seasons with a two-hour (in season 1 and 5, this is a two-parter with three hours total) finale. Each has featured simultaneous action on multiple parts of the island, involving all regular characters (in contrast to weekly episodes, which often have multiple characters who do not appear.) Each finale has partially wrapped up that season's focus, setting up the focus of the following season. Each has also featured a "secret scene," referred to by a code word. Only the actors who appear in the scene know its contents:
** Season 1's "Exodus": "The Bagel": Walt is [[spoiler:kidnapped by the Others.]]
** Season 2's "Live Together, Die Alone": "The Challah": the island is [[spoiler:detected by an Arctic]] listening station and reported to [[spoiler:Penny,]] the first non-[[spoiler:flashback, off-island]] scene in the series.
** Season 3's "Through the Looking Glass": "The Rattlesnake in the Mailbox": the flashback is [[spoiler:actually a flashforward]]; Jack and Kate, and possibly others, have [[spoiler:left the island.]]
** Season 4's "There's No Place Like Home": "The Frozen Donkey Wheel": [[spoiler:Locke]] is finally revealed to be the person inside the coffin.
** Season 5's "The Incident": "The Fork in the Outlet": [[spoiler:Ben stabs Jacob and Jacob's nemesis (in the form of Locke) kicks him into a fire]].
** The GrandFinale also had one, but not codenamed: [[spoiler: Christian reveals to Jack that they're in Purgatory.]]
* ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'' always has ''huge'' season finales where all the events and issues in the season come to a head.
** The first had ''Devil's Trap'' - Meg [[spoiler:gets killed]]. We meet [[spoiler:Bobby]] for the first time. All but one of the [[spoiler:bullets from The Colt]] get used. [[spoiler:John is possessed]], pins them both to the wall and [[spoiler:tortures Dean]]. And the Impala gets [[spoiler:totaled, leaving all three men]] unconscious and bloody.
** The second had ''All Hell Breaks Loose'' - Sam and the other [[spoiler:psychic children get kidnapped by Azazel]] and then he [[spoiler:dies in Dean]]'s arms at the end of the first half. Dean, driven over the edge of emotional endurance, makes a [[spoiler:DealWithTheDevil to bring him back]], doesn't actually want to ''tell'' him and has a [[spoiler:year to live]]. [[spoiler:Azazel pins]] Dean to a grave, Sam to a tree ([[JamesBondage sensing a pattern here?]]) and Sam learns that he [[spoiler:was dead]]. With a little help from [[spoiler:John, they manage to kill]] him but are told by [[spoiler:Bobby that the war's just begun.]]
** And the third had shout-outs all over the place, {{fanservice}} with the [[spoiler:boys singing Bon Jovi]], pure NightmareFuel with [[spoiler:Lilith]] and a [[ShootTheShaggyDog massive]] [[spoiler:DownerEnding with Dean getting torn apart by hellhounds]] while Sam watches, Sam sobbing while he [[spoiler:cradles Dean's dead body]] and Dean [[spoiler:in hell screaming for Sam]] to help him. They have been known to produce many TearJerker scenes and [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome Crowning Moments of Awesome]] for all characters.
** SerialEscalation means nothing when it comes to season finales here. Season Four's finale reveals [[spoiler: the entire series has been planned by the start by Azazel and Lucifer. The angels reveal one of the most foolish ideas in the series, Ruby is outed as TheMole and is killed, and Lilith is killed.]] The only problem is, [[spoiler: that was part of the plan too. Lilith's death releases Lucifer, and the screen fades to ''white'', as the [[LightIsNotGood Light Bringer]] comes...]]
** And ''then'', in Season Five's finale: [[spoiler: Sam allows Lucifer to possess him, then regains control long enough to jump into Hell, taking [[ArchAngelMichael Michael]] with him. Then Dean gives up hunting to live a normal life, and it's implied that the Prophet Chuck is actually ''God'']]
** And in the Season Six finale: [[spoiler: Castiel absorbs all the souls in Purgatory, kills Raphael, and declares himself the new God, demanding the brothers and Bobby to kneel down before him]].
** Season Seven ends with: [[spoiler:Sam and Dean teaming up with Broken!Castiel, Meg, and Crowley to take down the leader of the Leviathans, Dick. With Castiel's help, Dean manages to kill Dick, but in the process the two of them are sent to Purgatory, where they are trapped with the souls of ''every'' dead monster (and Leviathan). Meanwhile, back on Earth, Crowley betrays Sam, leaving him to take care of the remaining Leviathans, while kidnapping Meg and the newest Prophet of the Lord, Kevin, in what appears to be an attempt to become the new BigBad.]]
** Season Eight: [[spoiler: The Winchesters try to purify Crowley as the last trial to seal the gates of Hell, but Dean talks Sam out of it when he realizes that doing so would kill Sam in the process; despite stopping, however, Sam is still left crippled with pain. Meanwhile, Naomi has a HeelRealization, only to be [[RedemptionEqualsDeath killed]] by [[EvilAllAlong Metatron]], who reveals that the other "trials" he's had Castiel undertaking won't seal off the now corrupt Heaven, but are actually components of a spell to banish ''all'' angels, as petty revenge for being cast out himself. The last scene is of the angels falling to Earth as their wings burn off.]]
** Season Nine: [[spoiler: Gadreel [[RedemptionEqualsDeath sacrifices himself]] to give Castiel a chance to turn Metatron's followers on him, defeating and imprisoning him. However, he fails to do this before Metatron fatally stabs Dean. [[FromBadToWorse And then]], Dean's exposure to the Mark of Cain and the First Blade [[BackFromTheDead brings him back]]... [[AndThenJohnWasAZombie as a demon]].]]
** Season Ten: [[spoiler: Dean makes a deal with Death to remove himself (and the Mark of Cain) from the world, in exchange for killing Sam, but at the last minute Dean ''kills Death'' instead. Meanwhile, Rowena casts the spell to remove the Mark, only to then run off with the Book of Damned after hexing Castiel to attack a defenseless Crowley. Oh, and removing the Mark? Breaks the [[SealedEvilInACan seal]] on [[UltimateEvil The Darkness]], an entity God locked away at the dawn of time.]]
* ''{{Series/Firefly}}'', which only ran for one season, arguably had what qualifies as a true SeasonFinale in its fourteenth episode, "Objects in Space." By the end of this episode, most of the immediate loose ends in the plot have been tied up. The romantic tension between Mal and Inara is more or less resolved. Simon and River have settled into fairly solid positions as part of the crew. There were plenty of hooks to hang a second season off of, some of which were used in the subsequent movie, but most of those hooks would require a new story arc to develop fully.
* ''TheSecretLifeOfTheAmericanTeenager'' is usually just [[InfoDump 90% dialogue]], but something significant/show-altering always happens in the season finale.
** Season 1: [[TeenPregnancy Amy]] gives birth to John, and her father and sister move out of the family home.
** Season 2: Leo and [[HookerWithAHeartOfGold Betty]] get married, Cindy and Reuben get married, and [[spoiler: Adrian finds out she's pregnant]]. They try to play the last one off as a maybe/maybe not CliffHanger, but practically every viewer could tell.
** Season 3: [[spoiler: Adrian and Ben's daughter is stillborn]] and [[spoiler: Ricky and Amy have sex for the first time]]. Well, technically, [[spoiler: It's the second time, but the first time they'd done it while being in a committed relationship with each other]]
* One of the most famous season finales is the third season finale of ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'', which is also a CliffHanger. Riker [[spoiler:gives orders to fire on Picard's ship]].
** ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'', ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'', and ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'' had a stardate system that corresponded to the season, meaning that many of the important events in the season finales (and season premieres) tended to happen right around the same time of the year: Wolf 359, the Klingon Civil War, first contact with the Jem'Hadar, the Klingon invasion of Cardassia, the Dominion taking control of Deep Space Nine, the invasion of Species 8472, the first invasion of the Chin'toka system, the final battle of the Dominion War, and so forth. (Not to mention all of the other major personal events that tend to go on right around this time too!) Rule #1 of the Star Trek universe: celebrate New Year's Eve in a isolated, quiet part of the galaxy, well away from everyone!
* Each season finales in ''PrisonBreak'' not only left the audience on a cliffhanger, but effectively wrapped up the then-current premise of the show and introduced the new one: the season one finale has them [[spoiler:escaping prison]], the second season finale has the protagonist [[spoiler:being thrown in a new prison]], and so on, so forth.
* ''Series/BattlestarGalactica2003'' loved [[CliffHanger Cliff Hangers]], [[MindScrew Mind Screws]], and {{HSQ}} for its finales.
** Season 1 ended with a two part epic that revealed [[spoiler:supposedly fictional Earth is real. It ended with ''Sharon shooting Adama.'']]
** Season 2 closed with KarmaHoudini / {{Jerkass}} President Gaius Baltar [[spoiler:surrendering humanity's colony of New Caprica to the Cylons.]]
** In one of the greatest [[MindScrew Mind Screws]] of all time, the Season 3 closer revealed that not only is [[spoiler:Starbuck alive, but Tigh, Tyrol, Anders, and Tory are four of the Final Five Cylons.]]
** The writer's-strike-induced halfway finale of the final season ended with [[spoiler:humanity reaching Earth to find a nuked-out, radioactive shell.]]
** The actual finale to the series blew previous [[MindScrew Mind Screws]] out of the water. [[spoiler:In summary: Head Baltar and Head Six, along with Starbuck, are really angels. The series takes place 150,000 years before our present day, and Hera is a precursor to humanity as we know it. The song All Along the Watchtower is apparently one of God's tools for change.]] Non- MindScrew, but still big: [[spoiler: The Galactica, along with the rest of the fleet is flown into the sun by Anders. Humanity and the human-model Cylons settle down on our Earth. Roslin ''finally'' dies. Tyrol strangles Tory, preventing Resurrection technology from ever again being created. The Centurions take the last remaining Basestar for parts unknown. And it ends with [[NightmareFuel footage of modern-day robotic advances.]]]]
* Half of the ''{{Friends}}'' season finales involved a CliffHanger: Ross is coming from China with a new girlfriend; Ross says the wrong name in the altar; Ross and Rachel got married in Vegas; Rachel is pregnant; and Joey enters Rachel's hotel room and kisses her.
* ''Series/BlueHeelers'', in its later seasons, went the cliffhanger route.
** 2000 had Jack being taken into surgery for a riskyoperation for his back.
** 2001 had Hayley reveal to Tess her real mother was going to take her away.
** 2002 ended with Tess revealing she was married, with it being hinted it was to Evan.
** 2003 had Ben shoot Susie's husband, in self defense.
** 2004 portrayed Tom murder the girl who killed his dog in cold blood.
* ''{{Smallville}}'' also tends to use cliffhangers in its season finales (and in the later seasons, battles with the BigBad of the season):
** Season One: "Tempest" - [[spoiler: A series of tornadoes hits Smallville, threatening Lana's life; reporter Roger Nixon threatens to expose Clark's secret; Clark's ship activates for the first time.]]
** Season Two: "Exodus" - [[spoiler: Clark destroys the ship in an attempt to free himself from Jor-El's will, but accidentally causes Martha to miscarry; guilt stricken, Clark starts using red kryptonite and runs away to Metropolis; Lex's plane goes down in the ocean.]]
** Season Three: "Covenant" - [[spoiler: Lionel is arrested and sent to prison; Pete and Lana both leave Smallville; Lex is poisoned; Chloe's house is bombed; Jonathan is placed in a coma; Clark is taken by Jor-El to prepare for his destiny.]]
** Season Four: "Commencement" - [[spoiler: A second meteor shower hits Smallville; a black Kryptonian ship arrives; Clark gathers the Stones of Power and is transported to the Arctic.]]
** Season Five: "Vessel" - [[spoiler: Brainiac unleashes a computer virus that shuts down the world's power; Chloe and Lionel are attacked by a mob; Zod possesses Lex and sends Clark to the Phantom Zone.]]
** Season Six: "Phantom" - [[spoiler: Clark reveals his powers to Lana, whose car is bombed; Lex is arrested for Lana's murder; the last Phantom copies Clark's body and becomes Bizarro.]]
** Season Seven: "Arctic" - [[spoiler: Brainiac sends Kara to the Phantom Zone; Chloe is arrested by the DDS; Clark and Lex confront each other in the Fortress, which is destroyed.]]
** Season Eight: "Doomsday" - [[spoiler: Clark confronts Doomsday; Lois is teleported to the future; Clark abandons his human emotions; Zod returns.]]
** Season Nine: "Salvation" - [[spoiler: Zod's army makes its move to conquer Earth; Zod and Clark engage in an epic final fight.]]
** Season Ten: "[[GrandFinale Finale]]" - Clark confronts [[UltimateEvil Darkseid]] and embraces his [[{{Superman}} destiny]].
* ''Series/{{Community}}'', The first season really has three SeasonFinale episodes, while the second season ends in a two part SeasonFinale.
** "[[Recap/CommunityS1E23ModernWarfare Modern Warfare]]": This episode focuses on the cultural referencing aspect of the show, by having a paintball battle break out with many ShoutOut to various action movie film franchises.
** "[[Recap/CommunityS1E24EnglishAsASecondLanguage English as a Second Language]]": This episode focuses on the academic setting aspect of the show and what is keeping the study group together going forward.
** "[[Recap/CommunityS1E25PascalsTriangleRevisited Pascal's Triangle Revisited]]": This episode focuses on the emotional aspect of the show. With someone contemplating moving away, another moving in with a classmate, a BettyAndVeronica descision being forced to the surface, all ending in a BigDamnKiss.
** "[[Recap/CommunityS2E23AFistfulOfPaintballs A Fistful Of Paintballs]]": Sees a return to paintball in the second SeasonFinale, but this time with many ShoutOut to SpaghettiWestern and TheWestern. It is revealed that the study group has voted out one of their members.
** "[[Recap/CommunityS2E23AFistfulOfPaintballs For A Few Paintballs More]]": Reveals the continued existence of Greendale College is at stake, and everyone must work together to save it.
* All season finales of ''Series/HowIMetYourMother'' featured major shakeups to the status quo:
** Season 1: [[spoiler: Ted and Robin get together, while Marshall and Lily break up.]]
** Season 2: Marshall and Lily get married, while [[spoiler: Ted and Robin reveal that they have already broken up.]]
** Season 3: [[spoiler: Ted proposes to Stella, Barney realizes he is in love with Robin.]]
** Season 4: [[spoiler: Barney and Robin get together.]]
** Season 5: Marshall and Lily decide to try for a baby, Robin breaks up with Don.
** Season 6: [[spoiler: Lily gets pregnant, Robin realizes she is still in love with Barney, it is revealed that Barney is going to get married in the near future.]]
** Season 7: [[spoiler: Marshall and Lily's baby, Marvin, is born and it is revealed that Barney marries Robin eventually]]
** Seasons 8: [[spoiler: Barney and Robin are about to get married, Marshall and Lily are preparing to move to Italy but Marshall accepts a Judge appointment in NYC, it's confirmed that Ted meets the mother while waiting for a train after the wedding and the audience is shown what she looks like for the first time]]
* ''Series/TheWestWing'' always rained down the shock and awe for their season finales:
** Season 1: [[spoiler: two gunmen open fire on the ropeline where the president is shaking hands with supporters, multiple hit the ground, and in the complete chaos, neither the viewers nor the characters are sure of [[WhamLine "who's been hit".]]]]
** Season 2: [[spoiler: Bartlet decides after much debating that yes, he will run for a second term.]]
** Season 3: [[spoiler: Bartlet orders a successful assassination of a terrorism sponsor, Agent Donovan is fatally shot.]]
** Season 4: [[spoiler: Bartlet invokes the 25th Amendment in light of his daughter's kidnapping and gives power over to the Speaker of the House, Toby and Andy's children are born.]]
* ''{{NCIS}}'':
** Season 1: [[spoiler: Ari, the terrorist from earier in the season, returns and kidnaps Kate.]]
** Season 2: [[spoiler: In the penultimate episode, Tony is infected with pneumonic plague and almost dies, and then Ari comes back yet again and kills Kate.]]
** Season 3: [[spoiler: Gibbs is injured in an explosion, causing amnesia, and the rest of the team is forced to work on an assignment without him. Gibbs ends up leaving the NCIS, [[StatusQuoIsGod although not for good]]]]
** Season 4: [[spoiler: Tony and his girlfriend are held hostage.]]
** Season 5: [[spoiler: The last episode of t0he season ends with Director Shepard dead. The first thing the new director does is split up Gibb's team, putting [=McGee=] in another place in the building, assigning Tony as Agent Afloat and sending Ziva home to Israel.]]
** Season 6: [[spoiler: After Tony kills Ziva's [[DirtyCop boyfriend]], Ziva doesn't want to work with Tony anymore since she thinks he did it for the [[MurderTheHypotenuse wrong reasons]], so she asks Gibbs to choose between her and Tony. Gibbs chooses Tony and leaves Ziva in Israel.]]
** Season 7: [[spoiler: It turns out Gibbs is guilty of killing the Mexican drug dealer who killed his wife and daughter. The children of the drug dealer, who now run a [[TheCartel drug cartel]], would very much like to see him punished for it.]]
* ''QueerAsFolk'':
** Season 1: [[spoiler: Justin is [[{{Gayngst}} gay-bashed]] at his senior prom.]]
** Season 2: [[spoiler: Brian helps Michael and Justin to advertise their new comic book and organizes a huge party at Babylon to launch it for them. Justin leaves Brian for Ethan, whom he's been sleeping with.]]
** Season 3: [[spoiler: A good part of the season is devoted to [[VillainWithGoodPublicity police chief Stockwell]]'s mayoral campain. In the final episode, it's finally the day of the election, and the episode ends with the entirety of Liberty Avenue dancing in the street, celebrating Stockwell's loss.]]
** Season 4: [[spoiler: The end of the Liberty Ride. Justin gets an offer to move to Los Angeles to work on the movie about Rage. Jenny Rebecca is born.]]
** Season 5: Also the GrandFinale. [[spoiler: Ben and Michael offers to adopt Hunter. Melanie and Lindsay move to Canada, taking Gus and baby [[OnlyKnownByInitials J. R.]] with them. Justin and Brian are planning their wedding, but in the end decide not to get married after all, so Justin can move to [[BigApplesauce New York]] to become an artist.]]
* ''Series/{{Merlin}}'' aims for at least one iconic moment of Arthurian lore for each season finale.
** Series 1: Nimueh dies at Merlin's hands.
** Series 2: Merlin finds his father, masters his Dragonlord abilities, and defeats the dragon.
** Series 3: Arthur forms the rudimentary Knights of the Round Table and Merlin retrieves Excalibur from the Lady in the Lake.
** Series 4: Arthur pulls the sword from the stone and marries Guinevere.
** Series 5: [[spoiler:Arthur dies at Mordred's hands]].
* ''Series/TwentyFour'', in addition to wrapping up the season-long plot and having the BigBad either killed or brought to justice, usually has some sort of change up in the finale:
** Day 1: [[spoiler: Jack discovers that his wife has been murdered.]]
** Day 2: [[spoiler: In what's probably the ''happiest'' ending for him in the entire series, Jack manages to finally reconnect with Kim, while an assassination attempt is made on David Palmer's life.]]
** Day 3: [[spoiler: The events of the day cause David Palmer to ultimately leave the Presidency while Tony Almeida is imprisoned for treason.]]
** Day 4: [[spoiler: Jack is forced to fake his death and goes into hiding]]
** Day 5: [[spoiler: After exposing President Charles Logan as the one who made a deal with Russian terrorists, Jack is taken prisoner by the the Chinese Government.]]
** Day 6: [[spoiler: Jack is forced to say goodbye to his love Audrey Raines and dejectedly leaves with nothing really left in his life, while Chloe discovers she's pregnant.]]
** Day 7: [[spoiler: The now FallenHero Tony Almeida reveals that everything he's done for the day has been to avenge the death of his wife and unborn child and ultimately gets arrested, this time for good, while a dying Jack prepares to accept his death only to have Kim come in after he's put into a medical-induced coma and agree to a procedure that could save his life.]]
** Day 8: [[spoiler: Allison Taylor ultimately decides to expose the Russian Government as the masterminds behind a foreign President's assassination while stepping down from her own Presidency after previously taking part in covering their involvement up, Jack is now an international fugitive after his actions against said government, and an epilogue on the DVD and Blu-ray sets reveal that Chloe has been arrested for helping Jack escape.]]
* ''Series/{{Chuck}}'' was well-known for pulling out all the stops in its {{Season Finale}}s. This was driven by the show's struggle to find an audience, with each season finale being written as if it were to also serve as the GrandFinale. And then taken UpToEleven in seasons three and four, which were actually given ''two'' season finales: Originally the show was only picked up for thirteen episodes in each season, before receiving an extended order (6 additional episodes in season 3, and 11 in season 4). Which means two very climactic and satisfying season finales had to be topped ''again'' by the actual finale. Season 3 and 5 also had two-hour finales on top of ''that''.
** Season 1: The only season to not have a preplanned finale, as the first season was ended prematurely by the Writer's Strike. [[spoiler: A Fulcrum spy plants a listening device which discovers Chuck is the Intersect. Chuck is nearly forced to be taken into government custody unless the device can be recovered, while Devon proposed to Ellie.]]
** Season 2: [[spoiler: Devon and Ellie's wedding is nearly ruined by a vengeful Ted Roark. Bryce Larkin is killed, and Chuck downloads Intersect 2.0.]]
** Season 3:
*** Original Finale: [[spoiler: Shaw's FaceHeelTurn is revealed, and he uses the team to help the Ring steal intelligence to repair their Intersect while also attempting to kill Sarah. Chuck kills Shaw instead, and he and Sarah begin their relationship.]]
*** Actual Finale: [[spoiler: Ellie discovers Chuck is a spy, while Shaw is revealed to be alive, and stages a coup to take over the CIA and discredit Chuck and his team, capturing them one by one and killing Chuck's father. Devon, Morgan and Ellie rescue Chuck, Sarah and Casey. The rest of the team then plan a counter attack to unmask Shaw and destroy the Ring. The Ring Elders are successfully captured and Chuck defeats Shaw. The Buy More is destroyed.]]
** Season 4:
*** Original Finale: [[spoiler: Ellie is about to have her baby, and Chuck launches a final push to take down Volkoff and bring his mother home. Chuck proposes to Sarah.]]
*** Actual Finale: [[spoiler: Chuck must team up with Volkoff to secure a remedy for the poison killing Sarah. Chuck rebels against the CIA when they attempt to prevent him from doing so and has the Intersect removed. Chuck manages to convince Vivian to save Sarah and start her life anew with her father. Chuck and Sarah marry and purchase the Buy More as a cover to establish a freelance spy team. Morgan downloads the Intersect.]]
** Season 5: [[spoiler: Sarah's memory has been forcibly destroyed by Quinn using a malfunctioning Intersect, turning her against the team in an effort to steal a working copy of the Intersect for himself. Chuck manages to break Sarah free from Quinn, but with her memory destroyed she leaves to go after Quinn. When her attempt to kill him fails she returns, and Chuck helps her seek out the components of the Key, the final secret to the Intersect. Sarah shoots and kills Quinn, Jeffster! buys the team time to defuse the bomb, and Chuck downloads the Intersect once more. The team breaks up, to pursue their own lives, and the series closes with Chuck and Sarah kissing on the [[BookEnds beach from the pilot]].]]
* {{White Collar}} Is pretty much the master of season finales (and mid-season finales for that matter)
** Season 1 went into hiatus with [[spoiler: suggesting that Peter was the bad man behind the curtain]] and ended with [[spoiler: Neal's watching the love of his life getting blown up]]
** Season 2 went into hiatus with [[spoiler: Mozzie getting shot]] and ended with the reveal that [[spoiler: Neal somehow acquired the treasure]]
** Season 3 went into hiatus with [[spoiler: Mozzie supposedly leaving New York with the treasure and Elizabeth being kidnapped by Keller]] and closed with [[spoiler: Neal being forced to cut his anklet and leave New York]]
** Season 4 did offer the weakest hiatus so far with [[spoiler: The reveal that Sam was Neal's father]] and ended with [[spoiler: Peter being arrested for a murder Neal's father is responsible for]].
* ''Series/AgentsOfSHIELD'':
** Season 1: Coulson's team has a final showdown with [[BigBad the Clairvoyant]]; Coulson is appointed the new Director of SHIELD and tasked with rebuilding the organization; Raina is revealed to have a connection with Skye's father.
** Season 2: The conflict between SHIELD and the Inhumans results in the deaths of [[spoiler: Raina and Jiaying]]; Terrigen crystals are dumped into the ocean, where they infect fish that are then harvested and distributed worldwide; Coulson tasks Skye with putting together a team "[[Comicbook/SecretAvengers like the Avengers, but secret]]"; Ward starts rebuilding HYDRA with himself in charge; Simmons [[spoiler: is absorbed by the Kree artifact]].
* ''Series/{{Arrow}}'':
** Season 1: In the flashbacks, Oliver and his friends fight to stop Fyers' plans on the island. In the present, Oliver fights to prevent Malcolm Merlyn from destroying the Glades [[spoiler: and fails, resulting in Tommy's death.]]
** Season 2: The flashbacks have Oliver facing down Slade aboard the ''Amazo'', while the present has Team Arrow, [[EnemyMine joined by the League of Assassins]], fighting to prevent Slade's [[SuperSoldiers Mirakuru army]] from destroying the city.
** Season 3: This year's flashback storyline is wrapped up as Oliver kills General Shrieve and leaves for Coast City. In the present, he has his final showdown with Comicbook/RasAlGhul [[spoiler: and in the aftermath, Malcolm takes control of the League, while Oliver gives up being the Arrow and literally drives off into the sunset with Felicity]].
* ''Series/TheFlash2014'':
** Season 1: Barry attempts to go back in time and save his mother, and has his FinalBattle with [[BigBad the Reverse-Flash]], resulting in [[spoiler: Eddie's death ([[RetGone erasing his descendent Reverse-Flash from existence]]), and creating a black hole over the city, which Barry ends the season trying to close.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Videogames]]
* Both seasons of Telltale Games' episodic SamAndMax games have ended with a big reveal of the mastermind behind the season's events.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
* Webcomic/{{Homestuck}} always ends an Act spectacularly.
** Act 1: The main character's neighborhood is hit by a meteor, with him escaping just in the nick of time.
** Act 2: It's revealed that the desert a secondary character is wandering around on is post-apocalypse Earth. Meanwhile, Rose's mother opens a secret doorway that leads to a nearby laboratory, and Dave prepares to fight his brother.
** Act 3: Rose finally enters the Medium. Jade gets her hands on the SBURB discs, which turn out to somehow be Dave's copy, hidden in a time capsule, and John finally goes through his first gate.
** Intermission: The Midnight Crew Intermission is canon, and it turns out Slick is [[GeodesicCast Karkat's exile]].
** Act 4: [[spoiler: Jack slaughters WV's army and starts the Reckoning weeks ahead of schedule. He then wrecks Prospit, sending its moon plummeting to the Battlefield below. Dream Jade throws Dream John out of the way, but is too late to escape the blast radius herself and is killed, causing her dreambot to explode and the real Jade to fall from her bedroom. The resulting chaos wakes Dream John up. Finally, Rose decides she's had enough of destiny and blows up her first gate.]] And that's not even getting into what happens in between acts 4 and 5.
** Act 5 Act 1: [[spoiler: The kids activated a rift called the Scratch, which somehow sent an unstoppable demon into the troll's universe. This meant that they were unable to claim their ultimate reward for completing SGRUB: entry into the kid's universe, which they had CREATED.]]
** Act 5: The big one.
*** [[spoiler: John starts the Scratch. As a number of huge enemies approach him, he takes them out with lava tornadoes and a single, well-placed hit of his now very-powerful hammer.]]
*** [[spoiler: Courtyard Droll kills Jade, sending Jack into a furious rage. He kills CD, then takes Jade's body to her Quest Bed before hiding in the Frog Temple's time capsule. He's finally released [[ArcNumber 413]] million years later on post-apocalyptic Earth, ten seconds after the White King is. He murders WK, WQ, and AR, and mortally wounds WV in order to get the uranium from his stomach. He then uses the uranium to power a transportalizer in WV's station, which sends him to the trolls' universe and allows him to destroy their Prospit, Derse and Lands, as well as kill all of the Trolls' dream selves. Finally, Jack uses Red Miles to attack the Genesis Frog representing Earth's universe.]]
*** [[spoiler: Piloting Derse's moon through the Furthest Ring using a map Dave drew, Rose and Dave are surprised to find that the Green Sun isn't where it should be. Undaunted, they take the Tumor to a crypt in the center of the moon, where their Quest Beds await. They set up the Tumor, and it opens up to reveal ectobiological equipment, with Earth's universe on one side and Alternia's on the other. As Jack's Red Miles ravage Earth's universe, Spades Slick finally kills Snowman, ending Alternia's universe as well.]]
*** [[spoiler: Jadesprite and Davesprite are about to be obliterated on the Battlefield when Jade and Jadesprite merge to become God Tier Jade, with Witch of Space powers, Bec's reality-warping powers, and a sprite's knowledge of the game. She then shrinks the meteor to the size of a baseball, and using her new-found powers, enlarges a battleship, and shrinks the Battlefield, LOWAS, LOLAR, LOHAC, and LOFAF, picking up John along the way. On Earth, PM witnesses the approaching Red Miles. She finds the White Queen's Ring, which WV had had the whole time. Jade enlarges a Fourth Wall, which she had had on standby ever since she created Jadesprite. Finally, as the Critical Moment approaches, a dying Doc Scratch takes a moment to send a final message to Gamzee, informing them that they are all [[UnwittingPawn suckers]].]]
*** [[spoiler: The Tumor detonates, creating the Green Sun, rather than destroying it. The light finally arrives in the troll session, and Sollux expends the last of his energy to hurl their meteor towards the Sun. Rose and Dave ascend from the Sun as freshly minted God Tiers, and meet God Tier Aradia and half-ghost Sollux. A prototyping PM arrives in the Trolls' session, visibly shocking Jack for the second time in the whole series. Finally, Jade finishes enlarging the Fourth Wall, and hurls her battleship through it right before the Scratch resets the universe.]]
** Act 6 Act 1: [[spoiler:Jane Crocker, Nanna's post-Scratch incarnation, goes to her mailbox to get the Sburb alpha...and it explodes. AndrewHussie (who is now a robot for some reason) muses about dead characters, and in lieu of messing with John and Jade (who are [[ItMakesSenseInContext passing through his study at light speed]] at the moment), he levels them up, then introduces Act 6 Intermission 1.]]
** Act 6 Intermission 1: [[spoiler:Prototyped PM heads for the Green Sun at top speed, in pursuit of Jack, who is in turn pursuing the trolls, Rose and Dave. Dreaming on Prospit, Jane sees visions of things to come in the Skaian clouds, including Imperial Drones bearing the Condesce's sigil, Roxy Lalonde (Rose's Mom's post-Scratch incarnation) hurling a cat through a Fourth Wall, and Jake English (Grandpa's post-Scratch version) on his island as the volcano there erupts. Jane witnesses the miracle of a new beginning, but is stabgreeted by post-scratch Jack Noir, who absconds just as Jane is about to do a [[HealingFactor "lifey thing"]].]]
** Act 6 Act 2: [[spoiler: As a meteor quickly approaches her house on Earth, Jane does all the setup she needs to enter the Medium, but is confused when her Cruxite Artifact never appears. The countdown ends, and she enters anyway, but as she does, she gets a glimpse of what the "meteor" really is -- Her Imperious Condescension's flagship. Years in the future -- [[RunningGag but not many]] -- we see a flooded Earth where Troll society has been rebuilt under the Condesce's rule, with humans and Dersites apparently reduced to struggling minorities. It is further revealed that Roxy and Dirk have been living in this time all along, as they prepare to fight hordes of Imperial Drones. Meanwhile, back in the past, Jake has descended into the Frog Temple for reasons that aren't further elaborated on.]]
** Act 6 Act 3: [[spoiler:Dirk and Jake are knocked out and Jane and Roxy are both killed. Dirk enacts a plan to save them which involves decapitating himself and sending his head to Jake for him to kiss so his dreamself is awoken which travels around on his hoverboard collecting Jane and Roxy and kissing them alive, too. The three of them travel back to where Jake is and, after ordering Sawtooth and Squarewave to enter Roxy and Dirk's mediums, enter Jake's. Then, Caliborn awakens, chews his leg off to free himself from the chain, and releases his kernelsprite, which turns into a black hole, sucking in everything around it. Also, Lord English appears and destroys a dreambubble, vaporising all of the dead characters inside it.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* After the epic "Siege of the North" and the WhamEpisode that was "Crossroads of Destiny", the incredible GrandFinale of ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'' managed to blow both out of the water completely.
* The season Two finale of ''WesternAnimation/DannyPhantom'' ends one of the biggest ongoing StoryArc in the show: Vlad's quest to obtain Danny as his protege and son. It ends with him throwing off a HUGE VillainousBreakdown and the next season has the two in completely different circles.
* ''WesternAnimation/BeastWars'':
** "Other Voices" - [[spoiler: the Vok decide that the Maximals and Predacons have contaminated their experiment, and activate [[ThatsNoMoon their Planet Buster]], which will [[ThereIsNoKillLikeOverkill destroy the entire planet]] by detonating every energon deposit. Primal stops it, but at the cost of his life...apparently]].
** "The Agenda" - Megatron delivers one of the biggest TF cliffhangers of all time by [[spoiler: shooting the stasis-locked Optimus Prime in the face, creating a massive time storm.]]
** "The Nemesis" - GrandFinale.
* ''WesternAnimation/TransformersAnimated:''
** "Megatron Rising" - after eleven episodes as a scheming head, Megatron regains his body and makes his move for the Allspark, [[spoiler: eventually forcing Optimus to shatter it, scattering fragments of it everywhere.]]
** "A Bridge Too Close" - Megatron's space bridge plot comes to a head, and two big reveals set up since the first season are made: [[spoiler: that beat-up repair ship is really ''Omega Supreme'', and Sari is part-robot.]]
** "Endgame" - the GrandFinale.
* ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans'' ended every season with an epic two (or in one case, three) parter:
** Season One: "Apprentice" I and II - [[spoiler: Slade blackmails Robin into being his apprentice by threatening to kill the other Titans. They eventually break Robin free and [[CurbStompBattle curbstomp]] Slade's ass.]]
** Season Two: "Aftershock" I and II - [[spoiler: Terra fully becomes Slade's [[TheDragon Dragon]], and they take over the city by nearly killing the Titans. Terra pulls a HeelFaceTurn and performs a HeroicSacrifice to stop Slade.]]
** Season Three: "Titans East" I and II - [[spoiler: Cyborg starts his own team, which Brother Blood then brainwashes. Cyborg defeats Brother Blood and goes back to the main Titans.]]
** Season Four: "The End" I, II, and III - [[spoiler: Raven becomes the portal for her father Trigon to enter the world and destroy it. The Titans are forced to [[EnemyMine ally with Slade]] to stop him.]]
** Season Five: "Calling All Titans"/"Titans Together" (with one more episode, "Things Change", as a sort of [[DenouementEpisode epilogue]]) - [[spoiler: The Brotherhood of Evil gathers every villain from throughout the series (except the other [[BigBad Big Bads]]) and use them to capture most of the Titans and other young heroes from around the world. Beast Boy leads the remaining heroes in a rescue attempt that leads to an epic FinalBattle.]]
* Episode 26 of ScoobyDooMysteryIncorporated is the season finale and it ends in a cliffhanger. The gang has been fragmented by the revelation that Fred's dad, the Mayor of Crystal Cove was the Big Bad all along and isn't his ''real'' dad, so he's broken the gang up to find who he really is. Meanwhile, his engagement to Daphne is now in indefinite abeyance, Shaggy is being sent to military school, Scooby is being sent to a farm, Daphne is taken home to wallow in misery and Velma is taken home to stew about not coming clean to her friends about who Angel Dynamite really is.
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'':
** The first season finale, "The Best Night Ever", features the main characters attending the Grand Galloping Gala, which has been built up in several previous episodes as the biggest social event in Equestria, only to be disappointed in various ways.
** The second season finale, "A Canterlot Wedding", [[SerialEscalation blows the first season finale out of the water]] in terms of excitement. It's a two-parter that revolves around central character Twilight Sparkle's brother getting married to royalty, and features [[spoiler: an evil shape-shifting EmotionEater impersonating the bride and hypnotizing the groom, a ''huge'' fight between the Mane Six and an army of mooks, and a climax that involves a force-field bolstered by ThePowerOfLove.]]
** The third season finale, "Magical Mystery Cure", is a MusicalEpisode revolving around Twilight accidentally switching the cutie marks and destinies of her friends, ruining their lives. This gets resolved by the end of the second act, but sets up a stunning third act, wherein [[spoiler: Twilight fulfills her own destiny by becoming an alicorn, and is then crowned as Equestria's newest princess.]]
** The fourth season finale, "Twilight's Kingdom", like the season 2 finale is a two-parter. They deal with the escape of [[spoiler: [[ManaDrain Lord Tirek]]]] -- possibly the [[VileVillainSaccharineShow most terrifying villain in the franchise]] -- and the attempts to defeat him. Which involves, among other things, Twilight being granted the power of all the [[spoiler: other]] Princesses and engaging in the single most impressive fight sequence in the show's history, [[spoiler: the [[HomeBase Golden Oaks Library]] being ''[[TrashTheSet completely destroyed]]'', Tirek ultimately only being defeated when the Mane Six unlock the box they got from the Tree of Harmony and gaining [[SuperMode Rainbow Power]], and finally, Twilight gaining ''her own castle'' and being declared the Princess of Friendship]].
* "WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra" has BIG two-parters for the end of each Season, featuring things like [[spoiler: Korra's Bending being taken by Amon, who turned out to be Tarrlok's brother, before getting it restored by Aang; a massive Kaiju-esque battle against Unalaq the Dark Avatar; the near-end of the Avatar cycle at the hands of Zaheer, and most spectacularly the GrandFinale, Day of the Colossus/The Last Stand, in which Team Avatar battles against Kuvira's giant robot in a no-holds-barred showdown that leaves Republic City leveled, Hiroshi sacrifices himself and Mako nearly does the same, Korra creates a new Spirit Portal in the process of saving Kuvira from her own out-of-control weapon, and Korra and Asami get a RelationshipUpgrade.]] Wow.
[[/folder]]
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