25 of the most heartbreaking TV finales that make us cry every time

17 of 26

The West Wing

The end to the West Wing was poetic because it made sense. Following the workings of Jed Bartlet’s terms as President of the United States, his time had come and he had to let Matt Santos take over as Commander in Chief.

If the show had continued on after Martin Sheen was no longer president, it wouldn’t really be the same show. West Wing was so incredible because it made the audience feel as if we were part of the White House. So often, shows attempt to bring the politics behind our country to life, and it doesn’t work as well as West Wing did.

Developing the now widely used “walk and talks,” the show was a success not only because of Sorkin’s love of politics and complex storytelling, but because of these characters we cared so much about. West Wing is woven into the fabric of our television history in such intricate ways that you don’t even realize you’re watching a reference to the show until it is pointed out to you.

Take Parks and Recreation. The show gave so many nods to West Wing and most, we missed because, like the show itself, the references were subtle but poignant. Maybe the best show to ever have existed in American history, The West Wing ended just as it should, with the transition of a president and the beginning of a new era.