I'm not asking for perfection here. Happy to include something like Babylon 5 (had an intended arc plot from the beginning, was derailed by the studio, and half of season 5 was a mess, but still worked overall, and had the ending it started out towards).
I'm just curious what other examples there are. Far more TV seems to consist of lots of exciting set-up, but with the writers later admitting they didn't actually know where they were going. I still enjoyed Battlestar Galactica, but it definitely suffered from this. Lost was the epitome of this, and nobody at all seems to have enjoyed its ending.
A better model for most TV seems to be a season arc. Where you've dealt with your Big Bad at the end of the season, but left things open for future ones. Buffy excelled at that.
In any case, the only things I can think of recently that fit this mould are the She-Ra reboot and Steven Universe. And going back fifteen years there's Avatar: The Last Airbender. All of which were animated kid's shows.
I hear Breaking Bad did pay off at the end, with what the creators had been aiming for since the beginning. What else did?
Original post on Dreamwidth - there are comments there.