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A season finale (British English: last in the series; Australian English: season final) is the final episode of a season of a television program. This is often the final episode to be produced for a few months or longer, and, as such, will try to attract viewers to continue watching when the series begins again.
A season finale may contain a cliffhanger ending to be resolved in the next season. Alternatively, a season finale could bring storylines to a close, "going out on a high" and similarly maintaining interest in the series' eventual return.
In the 2000s, the terms "mid-season finale", "fall finale" and "winter finale" began being used by some cable and broadcast networks in the United States to denote the last episode in the first half of a split television season. Such a "finale" is ahead of a break in the broadcast schedule in order to make room for a mid-season replacement series, or it can simply demarcate the interregnum between November sweeps and the end of the Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year holiday period, when most regular programming is in hiatus.
The final episode of a television series often concludes the entire premise of the show, wrapping up any loose ends and storylines. On occasion, the season finale has become the series finale due to cancellation of the series, sometimes unexpectedly so, leaving plot points unresolved.
In American English, the term has evolved to describe the final event of a sporting season, e.g. in soccer or motocross, perhaps partly because of the popularity of these with television viewers.
- Soccershout.com, "07-05-29 – Season Finale" Archived 2008-01-13 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved September 26, 2007
- Crash.net, "Strijbos wins season finale, Ramon crowned" Retrieved September 26, 2007