The television season winds down during the May sweeps, the ratings period which started Thursday night and ends May 24. There will be many goodbyes. Some are just for the summer. Others salute concluding series. Two networks – UPN and the WB – unveil their final major offerings before going out of business and making way for the CW this fall.
Here’s a look at some marquee events and their dates, which can change at the last minute.
“Gilmore Girls,” the WB, May 9: Lorelai (Lauren Graham) delivers an ultimatum to Luke (Scott Patterson) as season six ends.
“Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC, May 14-15: Chris O’Donnell appears in part one. Listen up, fans: The second part continues for two hours the next night.
“Prison Break,” Fox, May 15: The really big episode happens May 8; the May 15 show sets up the second season.
“The Unit,” CBS, May 16: Two episodes air back to back; in the second, a Bosnian general seeks revenge on the team.
“Boston Legal,” ABC, May 16: The two-hour episode features Robert Wagner, Jeri Ryan and Parker Posey.
“CSI,” CBS, May 18: As the sixth season ends, so, too, could a character’s life.
“ER,” NBC, May 18: Ernie Hudson and Sheryl Lee Ralph appear in the 12th season finale.
“Without a Trace,” CBS, May 18: Jason Priestley has a showy role as the FBI agents look for a missing assistant district attorney.
“Desperate Housewives,” ABC, May 21: A two-hour episode explains how the women arrived on Wisteria Lane.
“24,” Fox, May 22: The final two hours air, and Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) calls it another day. Are we ready for the showdown between Bauer and the president (Gregory Itzin)?
“Two and a Half Men,” CBS, May 22: Charlie (Charlie Sheen) could marry as season three ends. Or he might not, which seems more likely.
“House,” Fox, May 23: Hugh Laurie can celebrate because his medical drama has grown into a big, fat hit.
“Lost,” ABC, May 24: The island adventure ties up season two with a two-hour episode. The first hour must go against the American Idol finale.
“7th Heaven,” the WB, May 8: Barry Watson and Jessica Biel appear as the Camden family completes a 10-year run.
“The West Wing,” NBC, May 14: The Bartlet administration looks back at seven years on the air.
“Malcolm in the Middle,” Fox, May 14: It seems like only yesterday that Frankie Muniz started as Malcolm, but it was seven seasons ago.
“Will & Grace,” NBC, May 18: Harry Connick Jr. and Kevin Bacon appear in the one-hour episode that completes the show’s eight-year run.
“That “70s Show,” Fox, May 18: Ashton Kutcher will return for the one-hour episode. Fox isn’t saying anything about Topher Grace. A retrospective on the eight-year run airs May 11.
“Charmed,” the WB, May 21: The witches couldn’t extend their powers beyond eight seasons, but they will look into the future.
“Alias,” ABC, May 22: In a two-hour farewell, Jennifer Garner stops running after five seasons.
“Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise,” CBS, April 30.
“Dynasty Reunion: Catfights & Caviar,” CBS, May 2.
“Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America,” ABC, May 9.
“Oprah Winfrey’s Legends Ball,” ABC, May 15.
“10.5: Apocalypse,” NBC, May 21, 23.
“Stephen King’s Desperation,” ABC, May 23.
“Academy of Country Music Awards,” CBS, May 23.