This year saw the end of two shows I've been watching week to week since their inaugural seasons. One was long overdue and done poorly, the other went out on a high and is one of the best series finales I have ever seen. The former is Castle, the latter Person of Interest.
I have been so disenchanted with Castle for the past three seasons (at least) that it had become more of a stubborn-see-it-through-to-the-end hate-watch. But even shows which are past their prime can surprise you in the end. No luck here.
People have argued that if Castle had known they weren't being picked up, they would have scripted a better end for their eighth (and worst) season. That's a cop-out. If you've run out of stories to tell, you go out and find some new writers or you cut the cord.
I can't imagine anything worse than getting the call that your show has been cancelled but your work should speak for itself, regardless of whether it's a season or a series finale. Stand by your decision to shoot the two mains; leave the show on a cliffhanger and let the audience decide for themselves whether or not Kate and Rick lived happily ever after.
Fans who have been invested in this story and these characters for the past eight years deserved better than a people-pleaser scene which was thrown together at the last minute. It was an awkward and embarrassing way to end a show that had once been so original and entertaining.
Person of Interest were in the same (on the bubble) boat and they chose to put the story they wanted to tell ahead of the network's decision. With CBS taking a ridiculously long time to confirm or deny season six, showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Greg Plagueman took it upon themselves to dub season five their swansong.
It can't have been easy but they did it to alleviate the cast and crew's uncertainty (meaning they could seek out their next job), and gained the freedom to go out on their own terms.
While CBS shackled them by demanding a continuation of the procedural format (despite only ordering 13 episodes), season five of POI was always moving towards the big showdown between Samiritan and The Machine. And it was done beautifully*.
Person of Interest is one of the smartest television shows in recent years and the bold move by its creators proves they're just as thoughtful and intelligent as the lead protagonist. If only all television shows could be handled as exquisitely.
*review to follow