23 Most Memorable TV Series Finales (For Better Or Worse)
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.
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 tormentings. 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.
After four brilliant seasons, Netflix’s hit series Ozark is sadly coming to a close. And when fans tuned in to watch the final episodes, well, many weren’t happy. First off, fans of Julia Garner’s character Ruth Langmore were still fuming from January’s mid-season finale that showed Wyatt Langmore vowing to marry Darlene Snell.
The final episode, “A Hard Way to Go” gave fans a plot twist they weren’t expecting nor wanted, as Ruth was then killed off! Fans took to Twitter with one user saying, “Ruth Langmore will forever be one of my favorite characters in the history of television. I love you so much, Julia Garner.”
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.
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.