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There are plenty of great shows that ended on a sour note, but that doesn’t mean a few that teetered on the brink of terrible weren’t saved by their finales, as well. Thanks to the mighty moneymaker that is Hollywood, many series go well past their prime, but that’s not to say they don’t sometimes still end well. Here are a number of finales that pulled these spiraling shows’ bacon out of the fire. Or is it their chestnuts? Oh, who cares. Just read and avoid doing more of your work.

The Office
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NBC’s “The Office” started out with a rough pilot trying to copy its BBC counterpart, then found its way for a spell, lost its footing and finally picked itself back up at the end for one of the best finales in sitcom history. Its incorporation of classic Steve Carell is what made it classic, otherwise it might’ve felt like another day at the office. The 75-minute closer was its best performance in 16 months, specifically due to the departure of the Michael Scott character. What’s even more impressive is that eight other shows had finales that same Thursday night.

Parks and Recreation
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One of NBC’s brightest comedies did a weird, fairly unnecessary time jump to the year 2017 for its final season. Mind you, the futuristic gadgets were a unique addition to a mockumentary-style show, but it was still trying too hard. While attempting to close all the gaps and find new lives for each of its characters, the show misfired a lot, gave few laughs relative to its previous seasons and scrambled in what seemed like a thrown together season. However, the series finale pulled everything back home, including Rob Lowe — literally, thee best —and the rest of the department. It scored the biggest ratings for show since 2012.

The O.C.
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After killing off Mischa Barton, TV’s hottest teen drama went from top-tier to bottom of the barrel, trying to make sense of the high school to college jump in a shortened final season that pulled in less than half the viewers of the first. In the end, however, the series came full circle, showing Ryan help out a troubled kid much like himself from the pilot episode. Sadly, everything prior to that had been a downhill spiral, but we still miss those eyebrows, Sandy Cohen.

Friday Night Lights
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The final episodes “Friday Night Lights” were an attempt to somewhat reboot the show, but it had already lost its footing due to letting go of some of its original cast. The first three seasons focused on the same team, but the final two were built around a new school with all new players. While it was fun to root for the underdogs of East Dillion, the original charm was gone. The finale fortunately resurrected the show, helping us forget about the original cast — charm shmarm — as Coach T finally got out of dodge, leaving his mark on the Texas town of Dillon. Clear eyes. Full Hearts. Kyle Chandler.

Californication
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After going about three seasons too long, depraved New York writer Hank Moody dropped into L.A. for one of the series’ worst seasons. At least the finale did a good job of making some sense of Hank’s world, setting Charlie — even more depraved — and Marcy on the right path while keeping their daughter Becca out of it completely. All in all, the show had little resolution but at least it had a lot more heart in it — handwritten letters, black 911 convertibles, public displays of affection — than the rest of its final three seasons combined.

Smallville
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After the departure of Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum), smalltown boy Clark Kent grew into an adult, abandoning the show’s initial premise. Though it was fun to see him spread his cape and land in Metropolis where the original backstory of Superman is widely known, the show struggled without a counterpoint in Lex and instead added big bads like Doomsday, Darkseid and Lex’s female lesser part Tess Mercer. The finale did justice to the show, the legacy of Superman and all the characters by coming up with a decent explanation for what happened to Lex and a surprise return from Rosenbaum at the end. Coupled with the red-and-blue suit payoff everyone had been waiting for, there were certainly worse ways for the series to close things out.

Sons of Anarchy
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This brooding biker boy story slowly devolved from a tale of edgy ruffians to straight up murderous villains. After a dragging, bloody seventh season, “The Shield” writer Kurt Sutter managed to pull the show’s head out of its ass at the very end, giving the only appropriate ending to a love-hate relationship spearheaded by an antihero killing his own mother the episode before. It was highlighted in one of those classic eight-minute Sutter montages.

Saved by the Bell
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After the successful original series was followed up by failed spin-off “Saved by the Bell: The College Years,” the gang ended on a high note with an extended eloping episode/TV movie “Saved by the Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas.” It’s best remembered for the boys getting thrown in the can and cross-dressing like Vegas dancing girls (as well as for Tiffani Thiessen being way hotter than that show allowed and Dustin Diamond not yet being the star of his own porno).

Home Improvement
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The fact of the matter is that those kids were way too damn old to be hanging out with their parents so much by the end. The first four seasons in the early ’90s held the show’s highest ratings, but the final four faltered as the kids growing taller than Tim Allen. The finale was worth it after eight seasons and some of its lowest ratings just to see Tim Taylor accidentally burn down the “Tool Time” set, the full manifestation of his incompetence. It was worth it to see Wilson’s fence finally come down.

Dawson’s Creek
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We’re really struggling to think of a tenth series that applies to this subject matter, but all those years of whining and crying and terrible teen moments between Joey, Pacey, Dawson and what’s her name were worth it to see one of them get killed off. OK, that’s terrible, and we apologize…we still mean it though. But why’d they have to kill off Michelle Williams when they could’ve ended James Van Der Beek? The shock value alone would have been huge, and lots of people would’ve probably cheered.

10 TV SERIES FINALES THAT SAVED THE SHOW

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