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True Blood is ending. We've known that all season, but Sunday night the HBO drama will air its last episode, titled "Thank you." Gratitude appears to be on the menu with this final installment, which prompts me to express some of my own before True Blood takes its final breath and makes its grand exit, after which it will inevitably find a place in pop culture history.

Let's be honest here, True Blood wasn't a perfect series, but few shows are. There are arguments to be made that True Blood might have been better off wrapping up a couple of seasons ago, and I'll admit, I'm actually kind of thankful that the story is coming to an end. Stories have to end sooner or later, though TV shows aren't always assured such a luxury. With True Blood's end upon us, here are the reasons to be thankful for what the HBO series has given us...

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Thank you for being a barely-guilty pleasure.
Let's face it, no one's going to try to argue that True Blood was a subtle drama full of nuance and depth, but its willingness to step outside a conventional genre and play by its own rules may be its biggest contribution to modern television. And by never taking itself too seriously, True Blood gave us permission not to either. It allowed us to indulge in all of the melodrama, sex, romance, love triangles, blood, violence, humor and supernatural mayhem, while also allowing us to feel invested in the fate of the characters.

Thank you for being about more than Sookie. - True Blood has a sizable ensemble of characters, and while Sookie has always been at the center of the series, True Blood didn't always insist on working her into every plot. This is less a complaint against Sookie as it is an acknowledgment that some shows work too hard to push certain characters into every situation just to to be around. Having characters like Jason, Alcide, Jessica and Lafayette, who were interesting and likable enough on their own allowed the series to develop stories for them that didn't require Sookie to be in the room every time something was happening.
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Thank you for the bloody violence and ridiculousness.
Remember that time Russell ripped that guy's spine out? Or when Bill twisted Lorena's head all the way around? Or that really, really gross (NSFW) thing Eric did to that guy last season? This ties into the guilty pleasure aspect of the show, I'm sure, but True Blood didn't shy away from violence. In fact, the series dove head first into it, finding new and creative ways to shed blood.

Thank you for the sexy -- Where there was violence, there was also romance and lots of vampire sex! This is an HBO series after all and True Blood made the most of that with some of the steamier -- in in some cases, completely ridiculous -- sexy moments on television in recent years. It wasn't all hearts and butterflies. While Sookie made eyes for Bill or Eric or Alcide, lust ran amuck in Bon Temps' human and supernatural population alike, providing some entertaining not-safe-for-network-TV moments.
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Thank you for -- and to -- the characters.
Thank you, Sookie, for being fae and fearless and willing to put yourself in danger for our viewing entertainment. Thank you Bill for always keeping us guessing and thank you Eric for the smolder. Thank you Jason for being sweet and a bit dim in a funny way, and for always being ready to stand up for your (ever-shifting) beliefs. Thank you Tara for telling it like it is. Thank you Lafayette for dropping some seriously necessary perspective on any given situation. Thank you Andy for wanting to do the right thing. Thank you Pam for not giving a shit, nor taking any from anyone.

Thank you Sarah Newlin for being judgmental, completely ridiculous and hilarious. Thank you Steve Newlin, for the same. Thank you Arlene for staying grounded in a town that never is. Thank you Bon Temps residents like Terry and Hoyt for reminding us that humanity still exists in this world. Thank you Russell Edgington for your flare for dramatics. Thank you Jessica for being sweet and strong and not at all the annoying character I was afraid you would be when they first introduced you. Thank you Alcide for being big and strong and good.

Thank you, True Blood for thinking outside the box and reminding us that drama can be fun. Thank you for the escape. Thank you for the humor. Thank you for keeping us guessing. Thank you for shocking us. Thank you for being totally twisted and just-plain-weird sometimes.

Thank you, True Blood, for seven summers of entertainment.

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