What makes shows like ‘Mad Men’ so great?

Jon Hamm as Don Draper in “Mad Men.”

Michael Yarish/AMC

What is the tie that binds “Mad Men,” “The Wire,” and others that puts them in a more rarefied group?

After 33 years in late-night television, 6,028 broadcasts, nearly 20,000 guest appearances, 16 Emmy Awards, and more than 4,600 career Top Ten Lists, David Letterman has retired.

A modest goodbye from David Letterman

The real finale, it turns out, was the final month of the show. During those moments, we got to watch the king of irony.

The ticket: TV

A day-by-day glimpse of this week’s TV highlights.

The “League of Legends” world championship finals drew an enthusiastic crowd in Paris last year.

Game On

Attention-getting exit puts gamer in a league of his own

Professional gamer Austin “Link” Shin quit his team, issuing an 18-page manifesto on his way out the door.

ty burr

Saying goodbye: ‘Mad Men,’ Letterman, B.B. King

Farewells are hard in a culture that’s all about hello.

David Letterman during the taping of his final show.

Highlights from the last ‘Late Show’

Alec Baldwin, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Chris Rock turned up to share “things I’ve always wanted to say to Dave.”

David Letterman

David Letterman’s weatherman days

Old footage from Indianapolis’ WTHR (formally WLWI) shows the comedian sharing the forecast with his hometown.

David Letterman talks to the audience during the opening of the “Late Show with David Letterman” on Monday September 17, 2001.

Top 10 of what Letterman did best

There are about a hundred classic David Letterman bits. Here, for your enjoyment, are 10 of them.

Television Review

// An inspired ending for Don Draper — and for ‘Mad Men’

The AMC show went out on top, and with a big exclamation point at the very end.

// Jon Hamm speaks about ‘Mad Men’ finale

Hamm talked about his interpretation of the series finale, and how hard it was to film some of those last scenes as Don Draper.

// Meet the man who really created the ‘Mad Men’ Coke ad

Like Don Draper, Bill Backer was an adman who created the “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” jingle that appeared on the show.

Critic’s Notebook

Letterman upended late-night genre

In subverting late-night television in the ’80s, David Letterman also set a comedic tone that defined a generation.

// ‘Mad Men’ never shifted its gaze from its wronged women

As “Mad Men” leaves the air, it’s clear that one of its most powerful, least romanticized, and most tenacious themes was sexism.

ty burr

// Ranking the characters of ‘Mad Men,’ from worst to best

Call it a coping mechanism as I contemplate the end of “Mad Men”: arranging the characters in order of how much I’ll miss them.

summer arts preview

// Denis Leary isn’t too old to rock and roll

Leary returns to FX with a new comedy about a never-was rock star in “Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll,” premiering July 16.

Special section

summer arts preview

// The best of upcoming arts events

Critics suggest where you should go, what you should see, who you should hear, and what you should be reading this summer.

What's on TV

// Critic’s Corner: What’s on TV this weekend

Sarah Rodman’s picks, including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Saturday on HBO.