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Six Feet Under: Everyone's Waiting

Nate: "You can't take a picture of this. It's already gone."

When this episode began with a birth, I thought, oh no, Brenda's baby is going to die. And then when Willa lived, I thought that this would be the only episode with no death. But no. That would have been wrong for this series. Instead, everyone died.

The last six minutes of this series delivered an emotional punch that I have never experienced before with a television show. It was the best series ending I have ever seen. Ever. Period. It was a celebration of life, but completely in keeping with the chief premise that in the midst of life, we are in death. Death makes life important, as Nate said in season one. Everything ends. It isn't good, it isn't bad. It just is.

Much of this episode was "Six Feet Under, the Next Generation," the ultimate truism that life goes on through our children. It was about the Fisher girls and the Fisher-Charles boys, and finally, finally, finally about Claire, who had always taken a back seat to her brothers. Claire was ready to give up her job opportunity in New York to take care of Ruth, and I loved that Ruth turned her down and gave her the trust fund money. Just like the spirit of Nate, Ruth encouraged Claire to leave home and make a life for herself. It was exactly what she should have done, the opposite of what she did with Nate when Nathaniel died.

The Fishers and the Chenowiths finally became one family. Ruth was a mother for Brenda and there for her when she needed someone the most; I loved Brenda and Ruth finally making a permanent, loving peace. And I loved Nate and Nathaniel holding Willa. And Nate kissing Brenda goodbye. With Brenda's help (with Brenda's help!) David and Keith bought out Rico and made the Fisher house into something different and wonderful, a beautiful new home for their boys. At Claire's farewell party, everyone left their pain behind and reminisced tenderly about Nate.

Claire left home, and the final six minutes of the series showed us the future as she drove away to find her own life. (Yeah, life is a journey, got it.) There were so many emotional body blows in this segment. By the end, I had tears literally dripping off my chin.

Ruth spent the rest of her life with her friends and her grandchildren. She started a doggie day care, and enjoyed it. She never remarried George, but kept him in her life. She died with David, Claire, and George at her side, and Nathaniel and Nate came for her. "Ruth O'Connor Fisher, 1946-2025." She was 79.

Keith started his own business, too, Charles Security. He and David got married, hopefully after it became unquestionably legal because it freaking should be legal, dammit. Keith was shot and killed in a hold-up. "Keith Dwayne Charles, 1968-2029." He was 61.

David taught Durrell the business, and I think Fisher & Sons went on. Right before David died of a heart attack at a family picnic, he saw Keith coming for him. That one made me cry the most. "David James Fisher, 1969-2044." He was 75.

Rico dropped dead on a cruise ship. That made me laugh a little, maybe because he looked like a typical portly retired businessman and it was odd but believable to see sleek little Rico looking that way. He was still with Vanessa, which was nice. "Hector Federico Diaz, 1974-2049." He was 75.

Brenda married again and had another baby, and she had a good life. Elderly Billy talked elderly Brenda to death, which actually made me laugh out loud. "Brenda Chenowith, 1969-2051." She was 82.

Claire met Ted again when he came to Ruth's funeral, and they were married sometime after 2029, when they were middle-aged. She died surrounded by photographs of the many people in her life, and all that went before. "Claire Simone Fisher, 1983-2085." She lived to be 102, and that was the loveliest thing of all.

The last shot was of Claire's blind eyes seeing something we couldn't see. I wonder who came for her? Maybe they all did.


— "Willa Fisher Chenowith, 2005- ." Appropriate that this final episode about the future began with a birth instead of a death.

— Claire's job that fell through was with a company called New Image.

— When Nate appeared to Brenda with apprehensions about the baby, he was often floating above her.

— Claire and Ruth had a conversation on either side of those internal windows in the Fisher house, just before they separated and Claire finally left home.

— Rico and Vanessa healed their marriage by going into business together. Rico needed and deserved his own business. In this episode's spirit of the next generation carrying on, Rico and Vanessa pretty much became the next generation of Fishers, too.

— In the final goodbye scene, Claire was wearing a tee-shirt with a white dove on it.

— I've always meant to mention that the opening discordant chords of the theme music sounded like the bell that tolls for thee. Better late than never.

And pieces:

— Pretty much everyone was in this episode, including Nathaniel. All except Patricia Clarkson as Sarah, who probably had another commitment.

— Billy and Olivier were wonderful comic relief. Goo-gooing over Willa, which made me again wonder about Nate's two daughters being raised by those lunatic Chenowiths. Olivier got Claire the job in New York, which was sweet and made me forgive him for being an asshole, even though the job fell through. And I loved Billy and Ted's conversation about Claire.

— Those final six minutes... was it intentionally six minutes, for Six Feet Under?


Ted: "You're too smart. You're too good. Don't waste that. (pause) Okay. I just turned into my father. Like, exactly. That was my father."

Claire: "I'm eating fruit salad in bed with a naked frat boy who voted for George Bush. And we're listening to what sounds suspiciously like... Christian music?"

Margaret: "Ruth, it isn't the fifties any more, no matter how you dress." Ruth had been wearing clothes she hated her entire life. Time to stop doing that, Ruth.

Vanessa: "You know what, Rico? I liked when I helped you out with that funeral yesterday. It was sort of like being a nurse, but without all the blood and bedpans and pills. And I got to wear better clothes."

Vanessa: "We could put an espresso bar in this nook."
Rico: "I always wanted to do that, but David thought it would be disrespectful."

Keith: "You could go back to school and become a lawyer like you've always dreamed."
David: "I don't think I ever really even wanted to be a lawyer. I think I just wanted to have sex with Harry Hamlin."

Margaret: "I've never seen you act this way."
Olivier: "So?"
Billy: "So it has to be analyzed and diagnosed and turned into an example of some kind of pathology. I mean, this is the Chenowith family."

Brenda: "Come on. We're family."
David: "We are."
Keith: "Yes, we are."
I loved this. It was beautiful. The thing about Bern's money also explained how Brenda could afford that house.

Claire: "You're too smart. You're too good. Don't waste that."
Ted: "I promise."

Bettina: "It's gay. This is a one hundred percent gay kitchen."

I could write a novella about this episode (I almost have), but I'm going to stop here. Like I already said, this was the best, most appropriate, most moving series finale I've ever seen. It was practically perfect, a fitting end to an extraordinary series.

All possible stars,

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


  1. I couldn't agree with this review more! The finale was gut-wrenching and perfect. Excellent review befitting the series and its powerful finale!

  2. I've really enjoyed reading your thoughts on this amazing show. I've just finished it myself and still can't get my head around how good it was and how it actually affected me. Thank you!

  3. Oh wow. I almost forgive them for killing Nate. This was just perfect. Thanks for writing these reviews Billie. I'm tempted to replace Buffy for this one. (nah, who am I kidding ;)

  4. The other day I finished watching the entire series in order. It took me about 40 days. I still can't get the show out of my head. It's the most brilliant, deep and wonderfully entertaining show I've ever seen. I really thought I was watching real people go through their lives versus watching actors in a show. It is that real to me. I was crying, just like everyone else, at the very last show of the series. It was so touching and beautiful. I'm pretty sure that this is a once-in-a-lifetime show. I really will miss being with these people every night, if you can believe it.

  5. I loved this series from the first episode I watched. I ended up watching the entire show in just a few short weeks. It was a wonderful and yet depressing couple of weeks. I loved and rooted for Nate and Brenda from day 1. I loved the relationship between Nate and David where it blossmed from hostility to where they could count on each other the help each other through the worse moments of their lives. One of my favorite scenes was when Nate was out looking at his wifes abandoned car and CLaire and David showed up at the hotel for support. I cried so hard at the end of that episode. It didn't hold a candle though to the last six minutes of this episode. I was sobbing as we watched the rest of our beloved characters die in the future. Thank you so much Billie for all your reviews. I have your page saved a one of my favorites and read all of your and your friends reviews on all my favorite shows!

  6. I just saw this episode again...and again I was crying for like an hour. Those last six minutes are just killing me, the most wonderful way to end a series ever.

  7. I have been reading your reviews after some of the episodes of six feet under. I just wanted to say well done, you are a great writer.

    Amazing finale, can't stop crying.

  8. Finished entire series.. in order..yesterday. Watched the original airings on HBO and never saw the episodes after Nates' first brain surgery. This is the best series I have EVER seen. And thankful for ending it in a beautiful way. Perfect. The writers directors actors...ANYONE involved in this show...my hats off to you....I related to everyone on this show. Masterpiece.

  9. Finished watching the show today. It was my "to-see-alone" show for whenever my husband is out of town.

    He came back exactly at the end of it and found me weeping..and really had to calm me down with a long long hug.

    It was one of the best shows I've seen recently, amazing how you can get attached to everyone, even if you don't always identify, and how human they feel like. I mean, it's just watching life as it is, no prettying up, slow paced, with people making mistakes or even not really changing in some ways, but are deeply involved in each other's life. as I came to be in them.

    When Claire was about to leave at the very end, it really brought me back 10 years ago to the time I was going to the big city for studying, with mixed feelings. I kept think whether those 6 minutes were one possible future, maybe something she saw in her imagination, out of possible many like Nate had after his surgery. (did they really have to shoot down Keith like that?)

    I found those reviews at the end of Season 3 and read them side-by-side with the episodes as I went along. Thanks for them! I like the additional insights the provided.

  10. Thank you for taking the time to write this wonderful blog. Since I was watching this show years after it was first ran, I was alone with my thoughts. When I discovered your blog by the middle of the 1st season, I felt like I was watching this show with a friend. I had watched the last 6 minutes on YouTube years ago because someone mentioned they liked the song that was played. I didn't know the characters so I didn't feel much about what I saw. After watching the whole series, I've been crying like I've lost someone. Wonderful.

  11. Just finished the show... I know I'm basically a decade late but figured, better late than never.

    No words to describe how moved I was by this episode and the series as a whole, and wanted to thank you for your reviews! None of my friends have seen the show, so being able to read your writing after each episode really helped and made the experience very worthwhile for me.

    Thank you.

  12. I love the comments on this particular episode. Thank you all.

    Today, August 21, 2015, is the tenth anniversary of the airing of this finale, and Vulture republished a beautiful piece about its filming that includes remembrances by Alan Ball and members of the cast. I read it, and watched that last drive again.


    And here's the clip of those last few minutes. Have tissues ready.


  13. Those last minutes... it was all amazing. One of the best shows ever with the best end ever. It really disturbs me, it's so horrible and at the same time banal that haunts me, still.
    Renember me when superman (in a movie or a serie, i don't know) fears the possibility of all the persons that he loves will die and he will stand alone. That was what happens to Claire; she's the last "old" fisher. I Always think she is The most charismatic character of SFU, my favorite story and the most heartreaking end- i mean, there's no one of her loved ones of the show to hold, she's very old and she can't see more. And after survive... there's no escape; she fade away as we all will sometime; And this reminder a ironic thing: All of the history of fisher that last is their bodys (who will be forgotten and) and These photos that could be the only one thing to be renember as time pass ( 'cause Claire is a great artist and her Works will have, probably, value). Inanimates things is what lives forever...

  14. What a thoughtful comment, Anonymous. Thank you.

  15. I cried the first time when the Fisher-Charles had dinner and David thanked the kids. Then when Ruth set Claire free. And when the final minutes started, it was all a blur.

    I never thought Alan "True Blood" Ball was able of such fine TV, especially such a moving hour. SFU didn't have one bad episode, not one.

  16. Thank you so much Billie, what you wrote for each episode was an amazing companion piece for me as I watched this series for the first time. I completely regret not watching it when it first aired - what an idiot I am. Regardless, I finished the finale 10 minutes ago... my entire face covered in tears. I am an emotional wreck right now. Floored. I knew this series would be good, but... wow. It's transcending. I don't think I've cried like that in such a long time. I can't decide if I feel closer to life, closer to death, or more haunted by the reality of it all. I do know this show was incredibly important, and will remain so.

  17. We just finished the series last night. Amazingly, never heard about the ending, no spoilers. And it paid off.

    Im still crying. Sobbed so long and so hard last night watching that magnificent 6 minute montage, I couldn't speak. I woke up crying and it took most of today to work through the grief and pain. Now, all I've done is read what people wrote 11 years ago. I'm so sad and want to talk about the show, their lives, their deaths.

  18. Have been watching this series for the first time this summer, we are half way through Season 4. I don't like surprises, so I have looked ahead, and seen the last episode. Just found your reviews today, they are wonderful! I have never gotten so choked up by a TV series in my entire life. Choke up reading your reviews, needed to have "conversation" about the meaning all of this. Thank you so much! I must get back to viewing my episodes.

  19. Wow, what an amazing ending for what was such an incredibly good show. This is the first time watching it for me (just discovered the show by accident really) and I have to say, it was just an incredible and entertaining ride up until the very end. This is definitely one of my favourite shows ever. I think the last 6 minutes, were the most emotional and beautiful I have ever experienced in a tv show and I would like to thank everyone involved in the show. Thanks also to Billie, really enjoyed reading your reviews for SFU and will look for more soon!

  20. I feel kind of strange to b e commenting in the year 2020, in the middle of a pandemic, but that is when I decided to rewatch this entire series (which I first watched in 2013, I did not see it during the first run) with my 22 year old son. I first need to say it is a series that should be watched a number of times, at different points in one's life. I took so much more from it this time around, at the age I am now, and i intend to watch it again as deaths will simply continue to pile up in life, as they generally do! I have really enjoyed the comments here and find so much more depth in each episode by reading the takeaways of other people. This series is simply a masterpiece- there is no other way to put it. Of the many takeaways I had this time around I will share only two. First, I found myself much more sympathetic to Brenda in this viewing. I feel she had the most growth as a character. Her reconciling with Ruth in the final episode brought me so much joy and tears. While she was so unbearable at other points in the season, I see now that I was watching a damaged and immature woman grow up. We were doing the same with Nate but I found him to be more spoiled than damaged. My other takeaway is about Nate- I felt an indescribable peace watching him interact with all the random funeral home mourners. I took much in his words, even when while watching him I could not be sure if he truly believed the words of comfort he was offering others. I could write for days and days about this show, having just viewed the finale yesterday with my son (watching it through another person's first time viewing is also lots of fun). Thanks to all who have commented here. May SFU live forever!

  21. Kelly G, thank you for your lovely comment. I haven't been able to rewatch this series in years because it upset me so much, I admit it.

    1. I rewatched it during COVID with my 24 year old daughter and loved her loving every minute and pronouncing it her favourite show of all time - not bad for a millenial to say about a show produced over 20 years ago. I just re-rewatched the finale. Mindblowing.

  22. Just finished watching the whole series first time through. It was so hard getting near the end knowing this wasn’t going to be in my life for much longer. It will be a while before I feel ready to watch any other show after this. It enriched the experience so much reading your reviews and the comments as I don’t know anyone else who has seen it and I knew nothing about it before starting. Very grateful to have found you all these years after you first posted them.

  23. Lisa, thank you so much. I love the comments I still get on this particular review because it was such an unforgettable series finale.

  24. So I’m 20 years late to the SFU party. Maybe being in a pandemic drew me to it, even though living in Western Australia means we are luckier than most right now.
    I finished the show a few days ago but have come back to the last six minutes a few times. Watching it alone 20 years into the future means I have no one to say “How that was finale last night?” So I think I’ve found your blog as a way to share the experience and what an impact the show and especially the finale have had on me. Incredible writing. That moment when Nate is seen running in Claire’s side mirror. Wow.

  25. Just finished watching all five seasons for the second time after a gap of - what is it now - seventeen years ?
    It still seems very fresh, maybe because it was so far ahead of its time when it first came out, and I have to agree with some of the comments above about some characters coming across more sympathetically on second viewing - especially Brenda - perhaps because I'm now ten years older than the character, whereas first time round I was ten years younger than her.
    I'm not sure the ending has been bettered (and can't say. that I was looking forward to it).
    Great reviews, thanks very much.

  26. Just finished this show for the first time. I was reading the old reviews on The AV Club but they unfortunately stop after season 4. I was glad to find these to read as I watched through season 5. It’s amazing to read through these comments over so many years and see that this episode wrecked all of you too. I have never cried at any media like I did at that finale and keep starting up again when I think about it. The most recent thought that had me weeping again was about how we see Claire in her bed and Nate tells her “everyone’s waiting” for her downstairs at her party, and when we see her dying at the end, she is in her bed again and everyone is waiting for her in a different way. Just beautiful, beautiful storytelling all around.

  27. Just watched the series for the first time words cannot describe how this show has touched me internally.This has to be one of the best series ever in TV History…kinda of wish there was 10 more seasons.I loved it that much.And the end of course was magic!

  28. I love how we're all gathering here to comment after watching the finale. Especially since it's not happening after the premiere. I like to imagine how that was - meeting some people in person maybe the day after watching in on tv, sharing the impressions, thoughts, and the feeling of "so, what now?". Instead what I'm living now is happening almost twenty years later, after watching the series on some streaming platform, and now commenting on a website - a blog - that seems a miracle on its own, a vestige of a different Internet era.

    I remember seeing the pilot in high school, as my art-focused school's media class program that year was supposed to focus on television - we all watched that first episode together before a discussion in which our teacher was pointing out Six Feet Under is a perfect example of great television, and how you could see all those elements from the pilot alone. I went on to watch on my own after that, and to love the series, but I never finished it - was probably busy at some point, then felt like I couldn't pick it up again without a general rewatch. I also find myself avoiding tv series in recent years - no matter how great they are, they're never mind-blowing, so they seem to function as escapism rather that adding much to my life. That, and because of my tendency towards binge-watching as escapism. But this, this is a window - not only on a place and time that I never got to experience first hand (as someone who was a child when the series came out, and who, to this day, never left Europe), but also a window on life itself in all its complexity.

    Now, years later, living in a different country, homebound for a week as I'm recovering from illness, I find that what was left was the whole last season. I've been looking for episode recaps and reviews, at first as a refresher as I couldn't commit to whole five seasons, and then - to just feel close to it. I started from rewatching the fourth season and then finished the series, and after each episode I would read the related post on here. That was a nice way to decompress, and to have some company, to see what others' impressions were. It's been nice to feel grounded, in that way.

    As much as I'm always in love with the setting, I couldn't stand most of the characters in some moments, as eventually everyone would get their turn of being a complete and unlikeable mess that lets you down. But that's just how life works. That's what people tend to do. And through that, that's what we get to see - how everything is big and scary and fragile and precious. Six Feet Under as a whole is so big, an universe on its own, as it encompasses life itself. I sit here and after crying my eyes out through the finale - that, yes, it's just so incredible, as I've been hearing everyone say about it for years - I think of all the other people that shared the same tears as me, during different moments in time. And about how many others will do the same, as the series will live on. Isn't that beautiful?

    A. M.

  29. Billie! Wow - really love your commentary throughout. Sadly, I only discovered your work after binging the series - I couldn't remember if Claire had ever wed and Google offered you as the foremost authority on the matter and directed me here ( gleefully! ). I would have loved to have read your commentary as the series was airing but am looking forward to some quite - episode by episode - reading.

    Thanks so much !
    ~ T

    1. T, you're very welcome. I hope you'll consider posting comments when you do. :)

  30. First time totally absorbed by this dark yet brilliantly funny Series back in 2020 after my husband died at age 48 in an accident. The show helped me through the grieving process and taught me so much; about life, death, family, relationships, compassion... The spiritual aspects in the story line throughout are brilliant. Since 2020 I've lost a 2nd husband, both parents, friends, so now have a new perspective of meaning and characters. Such a great show, Timeless. Thanks Billie!

  31. I just finished the series…. Had to watch the last 12 minutes 5 times in a row and listen to the song Breathe Me by Sia, over and over and over. YES I cried through it all. Amazing is all I can say right now. Making me think of life, people I have lost and all the love and sorrow through my life. That last scene was me driving in the car across country….WHICH I did at 30 because I had to leave! It just brought me back to that moment and all my emotions . Such a powerful series!

  32. I just finished the finale. I’m speechless. It’s the middle of the day and I’m sitting here with tears streaming down my face thinking about the inevitability of life and death. I have to go to work soon. Thank you for writing this blog, it’s been a lovely ride checking in with your posts after each episode

  33. Until I binged SFU over the last 3 weeks, I realized I had loved this show just from watching a few episodes when it had originally aired. It blows my mind how well this show held up over 20 years. Your recaps were great and just enough.

  34. This show was my best friends favorite show when it was airing 20 years ago, but I never got into it at the time. 2 weeks ago marked the 10th anniversary of my best friends passing, and I just finished the finale tonight.

    I heard a lot about how this finale was the best ever but avoided any spoilers at all costs. I, like many, had some tears run down my face during this finale! The brilliance of the show is how you completely connect with every single character as if you are also inside of their circle. I cannot say I’ve consistently loved or hated any characters throughout, I either wavered or was in between. Which is kind of what real life is too! This show conveys so well how things are never black and white. You are setup in life with some circumstances and events and then you have to make do with them. It’s painful at times, beautiful at times, boring at times. It’s really the blessing of life to experience all of that because before you know it…it’s gone, like Nate said.

    My only criticism would be with Keith’s death- why did he have to die that way?! I would’ve rather seen him and David grow old together, especially after all they’d been through. My heart dropped when I saw that part.
    Also- I feel the end was a tad bit rushed. I don’t think it needed to be drawn out, but I do feel some of those deaths could’ve had more time/context/dialogue within some of the scenes.

    But those are really just nit picks. This show has made us all love and mourn the Fishers, as they represent the beauty and tragedy that is life for us all.


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