Summary

  • Marvel and DC TV shows can struggle to deliver satisfying endings, but these ten shows successfully wrap up their stories.
  • Smallville, Arrow, The Flash, and Daredevil all provide emotional and meaningful conclusions for their characters.
  • The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and WandaVision deliver strong finales that set up future storylines and character development.

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Characters from DC and Marvel have inspired wildly popular TV shows, but only a few have truly nailed their finales. DC, which had many shows on the WB before it merged with UPN to become the CW, brought fan-favorite characters Superman, Green Arrow, and The Flash, among others, to the channel with significant success. Marvel’s recent TV outings have been a bit more complicated, with several well-received shows from network stations and Netflix sitting in canon limbo. The shift to Disney+ has meant more canon consistency matched with more uneven quality.

However, many great shows still struggle to deliver great endings. Given Marvel and DC characters rarely get true closure in their comic books, it’s understandable that finality can be challenging to nail. However, sometimes, the extended nature of TV means some shows can deliver stories better than movies, including emotional finales. These ten shows based on Marvel and DC characters offer wonderful examples of ending a show right.

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From mature storylines to gruesome fights, some of the best DC animated shows work better for adults than they do for younger audiences.

10 Smallville Ended With A New Beginning

Clark Kent Finally Becomes Superman

Tom Welling with a ripped black shirt in the shape of an S in a Smallville promo poster and opening up his shirt to reveal the Superman suit in the series finale

From 2001 to 2011, Smallville followed Clark Kent, a.k.a. Superman, who lives in Smallville, Kansas. Although the show had a solid ten years, it was canceled after its tenth season, likely due to lower viewership or ratings. Despite that, the show gave the audience a satisfying end, a feat not always pulled off by canceled shows. The two-part series finale, titled “Finale,” ends with a shot of Clark opening his shirt, revealing his iconic symbol, a beautiful homage to Christopher Reeve’s Superman movies, signaling that he will continue to fight as Superman. The finale also confirms that Clark and Lois will get married, a nice on-screen closure for the couple.

9 Hawkeye Comes To Terms With His Past

The Hawkeye Finale Offers Closure To Clint And Yelena

Kate and Clint shooting arrows in the Hawkeye series

The Hawkeye season 1 finale, which at this point seems to also be the series finale, is all about redemption, and that works particularly well for Clint Barton (Hawkeye) and Yelena Belova. Yelena had last been seen in Black Widow, at the grave of her sister, Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow), after a film dedicated to depicting the deep the two had for each other. Yelena enters the scene in Hawkeye convinced that Clint is responsible for her sister’s death and determined to kill him because of it. Instead, Clint convinces Yelena that Natasha really did sacrifice herself, and Yelena emotionally says, “I loved her so much.”

In addition to providing that closure to Yelena, this humanizing moment for Clint was necessary. Much of Hawkeye is about him coming to terms with the violence he carried out after his family disappeared in the MCU Blip. These slaughters, done under yet another alias, Ronin, haunted Clint, but this moment with Yelena seems to have brought him back to a certain degree. The series also brought back characters like Kingpin and introduced the character Maya Lopez, who went on to be the lead of Marvel’s Echo. In so doing, the end of this series successfully moved the franchise on toward the next.

8 Arrow Ends With A Touching Sacrifice

Oliver Queen Helps The Greater Good

Oliver Queen in full Arrow attire in Arrow season 5

Based on the DC superhero Green Lantern, Arrow follows billionaire Oliver Queen, a.k.a. Green Arrow, for 8 seasons, beginning in 2012 and running until 2020. Arrow was DC’s Arrowverse front-runner; in addition to this show, the DC universe included The Flash, Batwoman, Black Lightning, and others. Because of its prominence in the franchise and its popularity during its long TV run, Arrow deserved a meaningful, emotional end, and the show delivered. In the end, Oliver stands out as a true hero, sacrificing his life to save the multiverse. In the show’s final scene, he is reunited with his wife, Felicity Smoak, and the two are seen together in the afterlife.

7 The Flash Closes The Arrowverse With Style

The Show Ends, But The Flash’s Heroics Don’t Stop

Grant Gustin's Barry Allan running in The Flash

After an impressive nine seasons beginning in 2014 and ending in 2023, the CW’s The Flash concluded, and the finale truly did the characters justice. In the final episode, Barry Allen, a.k.a. The Flash, and Iris, his wife, welcome their infant daughter, Nora West-Allen, into the world. The episode ends with Barry promising his daughter that her life will be different and that he and Iris will work to improve the world for her. Barry also reflects on the ways that Avery Ho, Max Mercury, and Jess Chambers are the future. The show also nods to the ways Nora might be the future, too, as her eyes flash purple.

Every Show In The Arrowverse

Number Of Seasons

Arrow

8 Seasons

The Flash

9 Seasons

Supergirl

6 Seasons

Legends Of Tomorrow

7 Seasons

Black Lightning

4 Seasons

Batwoman

3 Seasons

6 Falcon and the Winter Soldier Introduces The New Captain America In Full

Sam Wilson Will Don The Shield On The Big Screen In Captain America: Brave New World

The Falcon and the Winter Solider was a complex exploration of what it means for the world to no longer have Captain America and how challenging it is to carry on that legacy. Alongside that was a frequently humorous buddy comedy with Bucky Barnes, a.k.a. The Winter Soldier, who was still recovering from his years of committing violence and murder against his will, and a larger plot about the fallout of the return of billions of people after Thanos was killed, and his Snap was undone.

Despite the heavy lift, the show lands perfectly, with Sam taking up the helm as Captain America, as Steve had hoped he would. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier reiterates the complexity of that story arc for Sam with the delivery of his speech about systemic racism and inequality in America, effectively ushering in the new Captain America era. Bucky also ends the season in a much better place, having attended therapy throughout the series and made significant progress toward true recovery from years of torture and brainwashing. All in all, the show covered a lot of ground and brought two beloved MCU characters further in their stories.

5 Spider-Man (1994) Gets Deep

Peter Parker Meets His Maker

Spider-Man crouches in the rain in his 1994 animated series

The animated Spider-Man (1994) series concluded in a deeply existential way that was perhaps unexpected for an animated series. In the series finale, titled “Farewell Spider-Man,” Spider-Man encounters not only classic villain Kingpin but also himself and his creator, Stan Lee. This ending is perfect for a Spider-Man show, as it gets at the playfulness of the comics and the many versions of the Spider-Man story. It’s also an inventive, unique way to conclude a series, and it finds itself amid many Marvel shows and movies that feature a cameo from Stan Lee.

4 Daredevil’s Ending Was Only Temporary

Daredevil Returned To The Small Screen In She-Hulk: Attorney At Law

Daredevil as Matt Murdock adjusting his collar in a moody alleyway presumably before fighting some thugs

Daredevil remained incredibly popular throughout its three seasons and ended at a true peak. Marvel has now reintroduced Daredevil, a.k.a. Matt Murdock, still portrayed by Charlie Cox, in the MCU, including in the Disney+ MCU TV series Hawkeye. Even with the character reemerging in new stories, though, the conclusion of Daredevil remains a perfect landing. In addition to Kingpin, who rules the list of finale villains, heading back behind bars, the finale sees Daredevil returning to his roots, reconnecting with his friends, and re-establishing a law firm. It’s surprisingly optimistic for a character often steeped in tragedy and self-loathing.

Every Major Netflix Era Character In The MCU

Matt Murdock/Daredevil

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, Spider-Man: No Way Home, Echo, and the upcoming Daredevil: Born Again

Wilson Fisk/Kingpin

Hawkeye, Echo, and the upcoming Daredevil: Born Again

Frank Castle/Punisher

The upcoming Daredevil: Born Again

3 Echo Stands Alone But Also Sets Up A Big Villain Story

Kingpin Seems Set To Get Even More Powerful

Alaqua Cox looking on sternly as Echo

Marvel’s most recent release, Echo, revisited the character Maya Lopez, a.k.a. Echo, who was introduced in Hawkeye. In the show, Maya grapples with familial relationships in many forms, from her estranged grandmother Chula to her complicated goddaughter/godfather dynamic with Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. Kingpin. By the beginning of Echo, Maya has lost both her father and her mother, but her father’s death was much more recent and has sent Maya on a quest for vengeance, leading her to shoot Kingpin in the eye during the series. Despite that, Kingpin lives, and the two have a final confrontation that becomes a key part of the series finale.

Related

Marvel’s Echo Ending Explained

Marvel’s Echo ends with an epic finale episode, featuring Maya Lopez as she finally chooses which legacy she truly belongs to in the MCU.

In the finale, Maya taps into her powers, which stem from an intergenerational legacy connecting Maya to her Choctaw ancestors. With Kingpin, she uses these powers to get inside his head, thrusting him into past traumatic memories like the sounds of his father attacking his mother, encouraging him to let go of his rage. This ancestral connection reflects Maya’s larger journey, too, to reconnect with the spirit of her mother and her living relatives, such as her cousin Bonnie. Moreover, Kingpin is shown contemplating running for Mayor of NYC, which will likely be an important part of Daredevil: Born Again.

2 Loki Brings Stability To The Multiverse.

Loki Season 2 Made Sense Of A Complicated Story

Loki Season 2, which concluded the limited series, was another perfectly stuck landing. Season 2 had a tough act to follow, as Loki Season 1 successfully introduced characters like Mobius and Sylvie, both of whom brought unique charm and humor to the show and balanced Loki’s personality well, and had pulled off an episode about variant Lokis ranging from Kid Loki to Alligator Loki. Season 2 also had to address the chaos of He Who Remains being unleashed, essentially unraveling the sacred timeline. In light of all that, it’s impressive that Loki managed to conclude not only successfully but also in a way that fulfilled Loki’s destiny.

Aptly titled “Glorious Purpose,” the final episode of Loki sees Loki realize that his only options to heal the broken timeline are to kill Sylvie, thereby preventing her from ever killing He Who Remains, or to weave and hold together the timeline himself, forever resigning himself to solitude. Loki’s character development throughout the series is thrown into sharp relief when he chooses his own isolation rather than taking the life of a friend. He then takes over as God of Stories, adorned with particularly large horns and atop a throne, finally fulfilling his glorious purpose. The show also confirms that Mobius and Sylvie are alive and well, although missing Loki.

1 WandaVision Sets Up Scarlet Witch’s Tragic Next Story

The Darkhold Can Corrupt Even The Most Powerful

When WandaVision was released on Disney+ in 2021, it seemed like a masterclass in how to successfully write a superhero show, particularly a limited series. The characters were dynamic, the events of the show blended seamlessly with the content that came before it but could also stand alone, and the series had an extremely satisfying finale. The resolution of Wanda’s story in WandaVision was the perfect completion of her character arc; she had come to face not only her loss of Vision but also the loss of her parents and her brother, and she was forced to acknowledge her own faults and culpability in Age of Ultron and Westview.

In the final episode of WandaVision, “The Series Finale,” Wanda must make yet another sacrifice, this time wiping away the reality she fabricated, including her twin sons. Before they disappear, she gets to thank them for choosing her to be their mom, and she and Vision get a private moment to say their goodbyes and agree that they’ll surely see each other again. This conclusion also reflects a major shift for Wanda, who has learned to let go. Ultimately, The DC Universe and Marvel Studios have demonstrated that they are more than capable of perfect endings, even as the MCU, in particular, grapples with how to keep that momentum going.

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