'Six Feet Under' Gets Happy Ending... Sort of

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Series finales often give insight to what the characters' futures hold. But the final episode of the HBO drama "Six Feet Under" gave viewers a chance to see how the Fisher family died.

The finale of the show about a family that owns a funeral home prompted speculation that the entire Fisher clan would be killed off by the end of a five-season run.

After all, at the start of each episode, someone met his or her demise in a fashion that might be heartbreaking, grotesque or morbidly funny.

The show's patriarch, Nathaniel Fisher, was killed in its premiere four years ago while fiddling with his cigarette when a bus smacked into the hearse he was driving. His oldest son, Nate Fisher, a conflicted man-boy, died in the July 24 episode from a brain hemorrhage.

Some viewers suspected other characters would meet their end in Sunday's 75-minute finale, but for the most part, the characters avoided untimely deaths.

As daughter Claire left Los Angeles to begin a new life in New York, she had visions of the future, which showed her family beginning to heal after a series of tragic events. They culminated with each character's death years down the line.

Matriarch Ruth passed away in bed while her companion, George, and son David stood by her side. Keith, David's boyfriend, was shot in the back of an armored truck, while an aged David later keeled over during an imagined glimpse of Keith.

Brenda, Nate's estranged wife, died while listening to her elderly brother, Billy, ramble on about emotional closure. Rico, the Fishers' business partner, collapsed on a cruise ship.

And Claire died in bed in 2085 at 102, surrounded by evidence of a love-filled life.

A groundbreaking series when it premiered in June 2001, "Six Feet Under" dared to whistle past the graveyard with its fancifully discomfiting look at life and death. It fulfilled a promise by creator Alan Ball (who wrote and directed the finale) to be "a show about life in the presence of death."