You dedicate hours and years of your life to watching your favorite TV shows. You’re invested in the characters, and you feel like you’ve lived the storylines along with them. You’re anticipating the series finale, dreading having to say goodbye – and then the writers butcher it. Nothing is what you expected and it feels like a personal attack.
There are a few shows that we can all agree didn’t end how we expected them to, and that’s what we’re here to talk about. These are the TV finales that make you angry, that you pretend don’t exist, and that you never watch again.
Till Death Do Us Part – How I Met Your Mother
After nine years of waiting, fans were finally given the piece of the puzzle we’d all been waiting for: we know who the mother of Ted’s children is! We spent the entire last season learning about her, getting to know her, and then they kill her? Seriously? Ted rekindles his romance with Robin – who divorces Barney in order for this to happen – and it feels like the cheap ending that nobody asked for.
Many die-hard HIMYM fans are still upset over the finale because they feel it disrespected every episode that came before it, undoing the entire premise of the show.
No Retribution For Dexter
You commit 8 years of your life to a TV show, and what do you get in return? Dexter pulling the plug on his sister and disposing of her body, then disappearing in a hurricane and reemerging as some sort of bearded backwoodsman.
The finale was a complete cop-out. The main point of tension in Dexter was you were constantly wondering if he would be found out, but they didn’t touch on any of that. Many dedicated Dexter fans equate this finale to the Lost series finale: unnecessary and unsatisfying, with a disregard for the rest of the series.
Two Pianos For Two And A Half Men
The series finale left fans lacking the closure they were hoping for. After spending the whole episode building up whether or not Charlie Sheen’s presumed-dead character would return, he finally does, only to have a piano dropped on him. The camera then cuts to show creator Chuck Lorre who says Charlie Sheen’s signature catchphrase “Winning!” then a piano promptly falls on him.
Rather than actually wrapping up storylines, the writers chose to take a cheap shot at the former main character, for no particular reason.
Viewers Were Just As Lost As The Writers
After six seasons of twists, turns, and polar bears, fans were hoping that the Lost series finale would give at least some of the answers they’d been looking for. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.
The show ended by coming full circle back to the day of the crash, ignoring any sort of logic and creating even more plot holes. Fans were left to interpret the ending on their own, leaving us with more questions than we started with. Some fans rave about the genius of the show to this day, while others basically pretend the last few episodes never happened.
Unimpressed Upper East Siders – Gossip Girl
After six seasons of listening to Kristen Bell voice-overs, fans finally learned the true identity of Gossip Girl, except no one was satisfied with the ending.
From the beginning, Dan was painted as the outsider, but when you rewatch the series you realize there is no possible way logistically that Penn Badgley’s character could’ve been the omniscient scheming narrator. Why would he post a picture of his then-girlfriend buying a pregnancy test in season 1? Why would he have outed himself for having an affair with a teacher in season 2? Why would he reveal that his sister is a drug dealer in season 3?
It Was All A Dream – Roseanne
The entire point of the 1980s-90s sitcom was that the Conners were a middle-class family that viewers had a fascinating weekly insight to. Then the final season came around and re-framed everything. Having the Conners win the lottery changed the premise of the show, taking the family out of the working-class realm.
To make matters worse, the series finale shows that every storyline was actually written by Roseanne and that they weren’t all accurate. The Conners never won the lottery, among other things. It’s still unclear what the point of this narrative twist was but viewers weren’t happy.
The Prodigal Son Returns – The Office
The choice to have Steve Carrell come back for the series finale is the saving grace for The Office, after season nine had severely under-delivered. Unfortunately, as much as we love when prodigal son Michael Scott returns, it will never fully make up for a season filled with Pam and Jim’s made up marital problems and an extremely insufferable Andy.
The show is beloved regardless, but after seasons 8 and 9 it’s hard not to think maybe the show should’ve ended when Michael Scott left.
Playing Games With Us – Game Of Thrones
After eight years of commitment, and a two-year hiatus before season 8 premiered, the reaction to the series finale in May of 2019 was mixed, to say the least. Fans felt like the Game of Thrones finale betrayed the realism they’d come to expect from the show, simply wrapping up loose ends without thinking of what the show had built the previous seven seasons.
The one storyline from the finale that everyone can agree on is that Jon reuniting with Ghost was the ending the dedicated direwolf deserved. Other than that, it’s all a toss-up.
My Name Is Earl Just Kind Of Ended
The show ended abruptly after four seasons, leaving the audience with a major cliffhanger that they never had the chance to see through. The episode ended on the question of the paternity of Joy’s son, an arch the show had been building for a long time.
The intention had been for NBC to pick up the show past its fourth season but it never happened, so viewers were left wondering. There had been talks about a movie as well but that has yet to come to fruition, now a decade since the finale aired.
A Year In A Life We Didn’t Want – Gilmore Girls Revival
Every Gilmore Girls fan had come to terms with season 7 of Gilmore Girls. Sure, it wasn’t what we wanted, but we accepted it. But then Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life happened, and we had to get upset all over again.
Amy Sherman Palladino has always said she knew how she wanted the show to end, and we understand that, but so many parts of the revival leading up to those last four words left fans wondering ‘why?’ There was more wrong with the revival than right, and it’s hard to say if another would make things better or worse.
Imprisoned Along With Them – Seinfeld
The fourth most-watched series finale in U.S. TV history, with an estimated 76 million viewers tuning in to watch the Seinfeld finale in 1998, left at least many of those fans disappointed. The most successful show about absolutely nothing ended with the main characters locked in a cell together after witnessing a carjacking, leaving a lot of fans feeling absolutely nothing.
Jerry Seinfeld told an audience in 2017 at The New Yorker Festival that “I sometimes think we really shouldn’t have even done it. There was a lot of pressure on us at that time to do one big last show, but big is always bad in comedy.”
Weeds Should’ve Been Pulled Out Of The Garden Long Before
Weeds was a show that everyone can agree should’ve ended many seasons before it did, and the series finale really proved that. The finale jumps forward to the Botwins gathering for Stevie’s bar mitzvah, where we see that Silas is the only one of the three sons that is remotely happy or successful. Andy shows up, and we learn he and Nancy haven’t spoken since their fateful night many years ago.
What started as a grieving widow trying to provide for her two boys ends with Nancy having emotionally wrecked all three of her sons and ruining basically every relationship she has.
Mad Dash To The Finish For Mad Men
If you can honestly say you’re happy with that fact that all of Mad Men led up to him meditating and then coming up with the “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sign” Coca Cola campaign – you’re lying to yourself. After everything that Don Draper had faced, and the mental state he was in at that time, suddenly all is well and good?
No matter if you like the ending or not, it’s still a critically acclaimed show. But many fans say this felt like a rushed ending, just racing to resolve the story and tie up loose ends.
All Good Things Must Come To An (Abrupt) End – The Sopranos
The question with this series finale isn’t ‘was it good or bad?’ No, the real question is ‘Is Tony Soprano dead?’ And that’s an answer nobody can agree on. Some believe the quick cut to black means Tony is dead, while others say it could’ve been a literal transmission issue. For argument’s sake, some fans think if Tony were dead it would’ve been a disservice to not show his death after everything we went through alongside him.
It’s still widely debated among Sopranos fans, and has never been confirmed by the show creator or any actors.
Progression or Regression? – Girls
This was a series finale that left the audience divided. Some felt what we saw was a deep regression for Hannah’s character, while others felt the ending was a true testament to the show. The New Yorker described it as “fittingly imperfect” whereas Vanity Fair and Business Insider pointed out all the flaws and deemed it an overall failure.
Through all its seasons, Girls was a divisive show, meant to be a “self-aware commentary on privileged white womanhood” according to creator Lena Dunham. It only seems fitting that there’s no clear response to the series finale.
A Not So Pretty Ending For Pretty Little Liars
Per the book series, Mona is revealed as ‘A’ at the end of season two of PLL, but the show continues for five seasons after that, straying far away from anything resembling the book series. By the time we reach the series finale, it feels like showrunner Marlene King could come up with any storyline and we’d just have to deal with it.
It was revealed in the finale that Spencer had an evil British identical twin named Alex Drake who was behind all of the latest torture and tormenting. Despite claims by the showrunner that this was the plan all along, fans are confused and dissatisfied.
True Blood Was Not True To Form
True Blood’s series finale was one that critics and fans believed didn’t capture the essence of the show. The show had never shied away from tackling the ‘tough topics’ in their storylines. It was known for being a progressive show, and yet the finale was conservative at best.
Many fans pointed out the final episode disregarded the powerful queer-focused and sexually charged storylines of previous seasons, ending with a focus on deeply heteronormative relationships that implied only marriage and children can bring happiness. The writers could’ve done much more with this finale and instead gave lackluster story endings.
It is widely accepted by Scrubs fans that the true series finale happened at the end of season 8, disregarding Scrubs Med School as a whole. Med School was not so much a spinoff but a season 9 where the writers asked us to forget about some of the staple characters of seasons 1-8 and to get involved with new med school students we knew we wouldn’t ever see after the season.
The finale of Med School saw the return of many familiar faces, but it still can’t compare to the beauty that was the season 8 finale.
Blind Leap With Quantum Leap
This is a tough one because the final episode of Quantum Leap was never supposed to be the series finale. It was meant to be the season finale with more to come. What many fans take issue with though is that they didn’t wrap it up in ways they probably could’ve, instead just tossing in some extra storylines to try to create some form of closure.
The biggest issue is the episode ends with a simple black screen that reads, “Dr. Sam Becket never returned home.” and they spelled his name wrong. They couldn’t even bother to spell the main character’s name right.
Heroes Needed Saving Of Its Own
Heroes is a bit of an easy-out because realistically, the show was never very good, so having a shaky series finale was just following suit with the rest of the show. This show had a lot of potential, but unfortunately, it missed the mark consistently through its run.
The series was canceled after four seasons but was given a second chance in the form of the mini-series Heroes Reborn in 2015. Heroes was canceled by NBC for the second time after just one season of Reborn. It seems that the world just wasn’t ready!
Keeping with the theme of Netflix reviving shows only to break our hearts, see Arrested Development. The cult classic was canceled after only three seasons in 2006 but revived in 2011 for a final season on Netflix. The much-anticipated revival season left many fans disappointed. The flow of the show was wrong, having the actors film most of their scenes separately due to scheduling conflicts, and the story dragged.
What was once a quick and witty show became underwhelming. Since the release in 2011, rumors have swirled of a second go at a revival in the form of a prequel or a feature film. But nothing has been confirmed.
Curb Your Enthusiasm
In 2011, we saw Larry David take on Michael J. Fox in a battle of “who is more favored” in New York City. Fox took that victory and David was forced out of the city. After leaving LA to avoid an event he was invited to, he chose to go to New York but that didn’t end up going too well, clearly.
Once he was kicked from the city, he and J.B. Smooth uproot and go to Paris. The final scene was David arguing with some random person in a different language, in true Larry David fashion. Does he stay in Paris or was this a temporary thing? That was how the show ended but luckily the series returned six years later to answer our questions revolving around David.
Battlestar Galactica was a clever science fiction show with a large, devoted following. After four seasons, the show came to close with viewers tuning in hoping for a solid finale complete with answers. Instead what they got was the easy answer that everything is explained through a higher power: God. The revelation that everything is determined by a higher power felt like a cheap move by the writers, an easy way to wrap up the series without giving any actual answers.
The finale left fans enraged. The lack of a satisfying ending ruined the entire series for some, changing their entire opinion of the show.
Beverly Hills 90210
One of the most recognizable sitcoms on this list had a questionable ending. Beverly Hills 90210 called it quits after ten seasons on Fox in 2000. Fans got to see David and Donna (Brian Austin Green and Tori Spelling respectively) finally tie the knot! Outside of that passionate relationship, Kelly ended up pursuing her relationship with the chick magnet and rolling stone, Dylan.
Many thought she should have just gone on with her life but hey. And to make things more interesting, Jason Priestley was reduced to just a video message. He couldn’t even make a return in person to give his buddies warm wishes.
Star Trek: Enterprise
Nothing is quite as bad as a terrible series finale, but do you know what’s worse? Having the season finale actually be the pilot episode of a brand new show. That’s exactly what happened with Star Trek: Enterprise. Cast member Jolene Blalock spoke about the episode prior to airing warning fans, “the finale [was] a The Next Generation episode rather than an end for Enterprise.“
The backlash was so bad the studio had to hold a press conference to address the issue with fans. Yikes, not a good way to end a favorite or start a new show.
Stuck and unsure what to do, JJ Abrams went with a time-traveling storyline that had Felicity traveling back a year earlier to change the future.
The story arc felt very out of place (because it was) and kind of stomped all over the actual finale that had been planned. Luckily, the show was able to still wrap the series up exactly the way they wanted to despite the detour getting there.
Sex And The City
Sex and the City is a tricky one, and the opinion of the series finale can be pretty controversial. The issue with it is how it pretty much goes against everything viewers came to know and love about Carrie Bradshaw. This independent New York woman and her three best friends took on the city, men, and their careers for years, only for Carrie to throw it all away for the most uncommitted relationship she ever had a la Mr. Big?
The movie follow-ups, despite being fun, did not better the opinion of Carrie, making her appear weaker than she ever had been perceived before. The finale made the entire series about the importance of having a man in her life rather than herself and her girlfriends.
The Good Wife
However, the finale shattered all of that. Instead of a happily ever after, viewers were met with a scathing slap right across the face, courtesy of Diane Lockhart after Florrick betrays her in the courtroom.
The writers anticipated the backlash that was to follow ending the series this way, so much so that a video explanation was filmed and aired following the finale. Maybe they should have just given the viewers a better ending!
This show ended with a major cliffhanger. Watching one of the main characters get gunned down and to have him lying down bleeding with no word on if he survived the gunshot is something the fans would like to know.
“Southland was canceled after its fifth season, which ended with the show’s biggest cliffhanger to date,” said Highfill. “Fed up with life in general, Cooper began to beat his neighbors, and by the time the cops showed up, they saw a gun in his hand and fired. The final shot? A bleeding John Cooper lying on the pavement as sirens blare in the background.”
St. Elsewhere was a medical drama, gracing TV screens with dark comedy and drama for six seasons. The Emmy award-winning show came to a close in 1988 and left many viewers scratching their heads in disbelief. The series ended its run in the most bizarre way, revealing that the series was never actually real but dreamed up in the imagination of an autistic child, Tommy Westphall, through the inspiration of a snow globe.
The finale was a memorable one which launched a slew of conspiracy theories about TV shows St. Elsewhere crossed over with. Could those have been figments of Tommy’s imagination too?
Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman
The cliffhanger from the last slide was probably the worst but this one is up there too. A time traveler appeared and dropped off a baby to Lois and Clark and he was wrapped up in a Superman cape. It was speculated that the baby was a potential descendant of Lois and Clark from the future but that was how the show ended so fans will never know.
At the time, Teri Hatcher was the It girl and almost every guy had a crush on her. So to leave the series on a cliffhanger like that plus takeaway every guy’s TV crush was harsh.
Perfect, a show that breaks grounds by having an African American lead that just so happens to be the first female to play in Major League Baseball must be a hit, right? Mixing America’s past time with a strong and beautiful young lady is a great mixture, or so Fox thought.
The creators, Dan Fogelman, and Rick Singer ended the first season with thoughts that it would return for a second season. It took five months of waiting before Fox chose to end the series. It ended with Ginny (Kylie Bunbury) having an MRI to reveal how serious her injury was.
A highly popular show for the most part, which is why it was so bewildering that it was canceled the way it was. It had a dramatic ending that made fans have to guess what happened. We all love unsolved cliffhangers.
“The ending of Angel was no joke: Cordelia was dead, Fred was overtaken by Illyria, Wesley was dead, and Lorne went his own way after killing Lindsay,” said Highfill. “Then, just as Angel, Illyria, Gunn, and Spike are overrun by demons and dragons, etc. in an alley, all fans see is Angel swinging his sword toward the screen as it fades to black. And then, the show’s canceled. So we’ll assume he won?”
Well, this one was foreshadowed by the title of the show, No Tomorrow. Ruth Kinane wrote a great description of the ending when he wrote this, “Guess we’ll never find out if Xavier (Joshua Sasse) and the kids at NASA can find a way to stop the asteroid hitting the earth, or if Evie (Tori Anderson) is really meant to be with dreamy Mr. ‘Doctor Without Borders If We’re Meant to Meet Again We’ll Meet Again’.
Graham rather than the doomsday predictor X-man, or if a pending apocalypse is actually great for Cybermart’s sales (people tend bulk buy in times of crisis, after all). Guess you can check ‘go crazy over unanswered questions’ off your apoca-list.”
It is said that if you enjoy shows with proper endings then you shouldn’t be viewing any series that has Tyler Labine in it. Becoming too emotionally invested in any of Labine series will leave you distraught. His track record includes Invasion, Mad Love and Animal Practice. Don’t expect a great ending to any of those shows.
With Reaper, it ended before it was to reveal something that would have changed the whole premise of the series! It’s tough to say a show had a good finale when they pull something like that. Leaving fans wondering what if.
Imagine watching ABC’s hit series, Grey’s Anatomy and in one season finale, the star of the show (Meredith Grey) goes under for a surgery but at the end of the episode, she flatlines. And not only is that how the episode ends but the show never comes back.
The Whispers was about an alien force who used children to do their dirty work. “And if abducting all the show’s children wasn’t enough of a cliffhanger, the season ended with Claire Bennigan (Lily Rabe) sacrificing herself to save her son,” said Highfill. “In other words, the star of the show was just abducted by aliens … and we’ll never know what happened next.”
“The pilot is the only thing I am particularly, extremely proud of. There were great moments along the way,” David Lynch said. “The second season sucked.” Not even the shows creator was fond of the second season which happened to be when the [first] series finale took place.
According to Lynch, the network wanted to push out who killed Laura Palmer but the premise of the show revolved around that mystery. “That was the goose that laid these golden eggs. And at a certain point, we were told to wrap that up, and it never really got back going after that.” That ultimately is what led to such a terrible series finale.
This is a show that people are still not over. It had some of the questions answered before it was canceled but there was one big one that remained a mystery. If you appeared on someone’s doorstep after having thought of being dead, how would you explain yourself?
“Even the lyrical tones of Jim Dale’s narration couldn’t soften the blow of Pushing Daisies‘ untimely demise, which came after a shortened second season that literally opened the door to a whole new show. We left Ned (Lee Pace) and Chuck (Anna Friel) on her aunts’ doorstep, waiting to reveal that she was alive,” wrote Kelly Connolly. “And although an epilogue gave viewers a sense of what was to come, the unanswered questions — how did Ned explain himself?”
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
You would think that fans of the movies would have all gravitated towards this show but that wasn’t exactly the case. This finale was not supposed to be a series finale so that made for one difficult pill to swallow for fans.
“Even with Lena Headey and Summer Glau starring, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles had a rough go at finding a stable audience throughout its two-season run,” said Dalene Rovenstine. The 2009 finale — which ended up being a series finale — saw John Henry, Weaver, and John Connor flee to the future. But once there, no one has ever heard of John Connor.”
You wouldn’t typically expect for an HBO series to have an awkward ending but Deadwood (and the show we will feature next) did and it wasn’t very fair to the fans. An elaborate set up for a finale that would not be expanded on is a heartbreaker.
“Long story short: After Trixie shoots Hearst — making Hearst thirsty for revenge — Al, Bullock, and Star kill an innocent woman to use as a body double for Trixie and fool Hearst,” said Highfill. “It works. How is that the end of the story? Well, it’s not, and it left a lot of fans uneasy.”