Television shows come and television shows go. But what really sticks in fans minds are the endings that define them. A good television show ending can cap off an amazing run for a popular television programme. Get it wrong however and fans are left feeling angry, disappointed or just generally bemused. These are the endings that writers want to avoid at all costs.
So we decided to ask the team what their least favorite television show endings were. From sci-fi to sitcoms – these are the television show endings that robbed audiences of the finale they deserved and left us here at Screen Critics wishing for better endings.
Which television show endings got you hot under the collar?
10. True Blood (HBO)
As True Blood marched towards its demise, the show lost touch with its more campy elements. Audiences dropped away and when it came time to drop the curtain – the writers bizarrely opted to double down on the shows more serious tones.
Marrying off Jessica and Hoyt, all amid the backdrop of “having kids is the most important thing” ultimately robbed the finale of its glory. It gave audiences the worst of the show and left an awkwardly bad taste in the mouth. Add in the fact that Sookie killed off Bill, and you’re left with pretty much the single worst way to end a once beloved show.
9. Scrubs – Season 9 Ending (ABC)
Scrubs made its name as a funny yet touching look into the lives of hospital nurses and their daily lives. Arguably the show had a perfect ending when Season 8 wrapped up, as J.D. finally left Sacred Heart Hospital and began a new adventure. So, of course, ABC just had to ruin it by ordering another season, which only served to harm the show’s legacy.
The entire ninth season is something of a bad joke, but “Our Thanks” really struggles to be any good in the shadow of the season 8 finale. Worse still, it’s hugely disappointing to see so many non-plots being thrown in the air. I dare you to recall anything that happened during this final outing. It’s not even that it’s a bad episode, it’s just hugely disappointing and doesn’t warrant being the footnote of an otherwise great show.
8. Star Trek: Enterprise
Enterprise is an interesting hot topic among Star Trek fans, who go back and forth on just how good the show really is. What many fans will agree on though is that “These are the Voyages” is a downright disappointing way to end a popular show.
Attempting to showcase the events of the episode as a Holodeck recreation by the Next Generation’s crew – it failed to wrap up any of the shows more interesting ideas. Reportedly even the shows cast hated out things turned out, particularly the decision to off Commander Tucker with next to no fanfare. What a way to sour an otherwise solid show.
7. Dragon Ball Z
“Goku’s Next Journey” served as both a jumping off point for the Dragon Ball Z series (Which would continue in the much despised Dragon Ball GT) and a summing up of the shows best and worst points. Rather than leaving audiences feeling satisfied at the end of the journey, the series was too busy building to the future.
The fact that Goku waves goodbye to his family and friends after spending so long fighting to get back to them felt disingenuous. His decision to train Uub leaves the show with a bizarre sense of “well that was pointless” as it introduces a potentially game changing character in the final episode. I guess this is what happens when you have a new spin-off to build towards – but it doesn’t make the last episode of Dragon Ball Z any more enjoyable for it.
6. Desperate Housewives (ABC)
Desperate Housewives made the bold play of time jumping late in its run – helping to give the writers new material to write with. Sadly that didn’t really do much outside of infuriating fans – who felt that they’d been robbed of time with the core cast of characters.
In this finale, the show tried to reconnect to the old core focus of Bree, Gaby, Susan and Lynette. The decision to cram so much into the shows final two outings only created an exhaustive combination of events (Seriously, there’s a wedding, murder trial, death and a new baby).
It wasn’t the closure audiences wanted and what was once a hugely hyped show staggered out of existence with more of a confused whimperer. Incredibly disappointing.
5. Felicity (The WB)
J.J. Abrams is known for being a solid hand behind the camera – but even he couldn’t save this shambles of an ending. After filming Felicity’s closing graduation – it looked like the show had reached its natural conclusion – only for The WB to renew the show for five episodes.
The resulting need for drama led to Abrams introducing a convoluted time traveling storyline, which sees Felicity choosing Noel over Ben. The ripple effects affect everything, needlessly creating drama where it really didn’t need to exist. Audiences hated it, and it seems Abrams did too – as he practically undid it all before the ending of the show. Sometimes you just have to wonder…
4. Dexter (Showtime)
You know a show has missed the mark when even its main star feels down reading the finale script – as Michael C. Hall stated about this mess.
Rather than doubling down on the themes that made the show so strong originally, Remember the Monsters paints Dexter as a remorseful soul. It’s a huge betrayal of the character for fans – who had come to expect his actions were buried well within the characters sense of righteousness. It didn’t help that the writers handed the worst series in the build up to this disaster, setting a particularly horrid stage for the mess they were about to unleash.
Perhaps the best way to sum up this shows ending is on the shot of Dexter as a lumberjack, complete with beard. Confused? So were the rest of us. There has been whispered talk of the show potentially returning at some point to resolve the mess it created – the big question there is would anyone actually care?
3. Lost (ABC)
Some people declare Lost’s finale as the greatest thing since sliced. That’s fine and those people are entitled to their opinion. For me, it was just self-indulgent tripe.
The problem is that in the rush to try and be ever clever – the show’s writers forgot to wrap up a number of key plot holes in the process. Audiences who’d stuck with the show as it deviated ever more from its original premise ultimately were divided on whether the finale really delivers. The idea of the show being some sort of purgatory is interesting – but not in the way this delivers on that idea. The side-flashes were undermined and it was just hard to not feel let down by the execution of the ideas on the whole.
Plus, those closing moments in the church were a bit too on the nose. For a show the indulged in all manner of dark themes – the religious overtones were too much to handle.
2. Two and a Half Men (CBS)
At its peak, Two and a Half Men was the largest television show by far. A huge audience tuned in every week to see the exploits of Charlie Sheen and company. Sadly when Sheen had his well-publicised breakdown, it also started the timer on the shows inevitable demise.
The finale ultimately served as a middle finger from creator Chuck Lorre, who brought back Sheen’s character (Awkwardly explaining that he’d been kept a prisoner in Rose’s basement). The final shot shows a piano dropping on his head, as Chuck Lorre takes to the camera and declares “Winning”.
Ignore the fact that audiences really wanted to see Sheen back on screen one more time – it showcased how bitter the entire thing had become. What a painfully bitter end to a show that once couldn’t do any wrong.
1. How I Met Your Mother (CBS)
Part of the problem for How I Met Your Mother is that by the time the show crawled to its finish, audiences were desperate for it to be funny again. The finale not only squashes these hopes, it arguably destroyed the legacy of the show in the process.
Killing the titular Mother off-screen was cold while forcing audiences to endure a torrent of rushed story lines (Did audiences deserve only 2 minutes with Barney’s daughter?) was incredibly ill advised. Perhaps the biggest stick in the pile falls to the fact that the shows writers opted to lump Ted and Robin together at the end – despite audiences pleading for the show to move on.
It was a series of decisions that ultimately harmed the final outing of the show – and left audiences feeling hurt, confused and really wondering why the show couldn’t stick one of televisions most obvious endings. No one was expecting Shakespeare, it was in the title.
So bad was the ending, it killed off the planned How I Met Your Dad spinoff (Which still lumbers around Fox apparently)
(You should also totally check out our ranking of How I Met Your Mother’s entire 208 episodes)