There are tv shows that touch us. There are tv shows that move us. There are shows that inform who we are as people.
The problem is, they end. Some end well. Some end in a way that we think “My god, that is correct. That is right. That is how that should have ended.” I’m doing two lists. This first one is not those shows. These are the ones that left questions, and wanting, and… what? They left us with a feeling of something left on the table. Without ranking, here is what I am considering the worst finales of all time.
I know, this was a show that had a very selective audience. But damn, when it was good, it was spectacular. Lea Michelle was a big bright shining, very attractive star. The fact that the show ended with so little fanfare, so much indecision, was a tragedy. This group of kids, who clearly should all have been Broadway stars, end up as teachers, local town stars, and sundry other non-Fame jobs. Did no one have the number of a talent agent? No one from Hollywood saw any of their “Regionals” competitions? Just disappointing.
I mean, this one just hurts. One of the best, most quotable shows of all time. Ends on a whimper. Yes, we get it, they’re terrible people. That’s why we watched them for 10 seasons. They were the worst of what we thought about other people. But we don’t say that shit out loud. And we sure as shit don’t get arrested for it and sent to prison. For a show that was about “nothing”, that last episode sure felt like a moral-of-the-story kind of thing.
How I Met Your Mother
There have been few finales as divisive over the last few years as this one. They spent 8 fucking years building up to the reveal of the mother, and then ended with Ted (an admitted annoying douchebag) chasing after the girl he never could have earned in the first place, Robin Scherbotski, And what’s worse, the mother was amazing! She was everything douchebag pretentious dick Ted needed in a mate, but also very cool and relatable. So what do they do? Kill her. There is a fan edit of the ending that is everything the show should have closed with, but didn’t.
Are you fucking kidding me?
Deb is dead and Dexter ends up as a lumberjack? Get fucked.
This was a promising show at one point. That first season, up until the end, was tv magic. Save the Cheerleader, Save the World. And the cheerleader was hot, which helped. But after the debacle of the first season ending (where we weren’t sure what happened, but we knew we weren’t happy) and the following seasons of familial mistrust (is Syler the long lost Petrelli son? Of course not), we all kind of lost interest. Then comes the carnival season. As much as I love Robert Knepper, and as great a villain as he can be (Prison Break, iZombie, etc) we just couldn’t care that much. And when HRG got trapped under the earth with his hot cheerleader daughter Claire, we mostly didn’t care if they survived.
What really makes most tv procedurals watchable are the characters. Solving mysterious illnesses is not what made House great, it was Hugh Laurie. Same story with Castle. Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic gave great life to some very rich, compelling characters over the course of 8 seasons, But the finale was a total cop-out. After a meandering final season filled with a mystery that was too complex and not intriguing, they had to deal with whether or not the show was going to return for a ninth season. In the finale, both Castle and Becket are shot, and then we fade to… their relatively normal and happy life some time later. It was just jarring, continuity wise.
The season 8 finale was perfect. The main doctors we’ve gotten to know are all happy and satisfied, they get to look back over their time at Sacred Heart, and JD and Elliot end up together for real. Wonderful. And then they went and made another season, and I can’t even be bothered to remember what the actual series finale was, because it didn’t matter. They were dragging a dead horse around the racetrack by that time.
Annie and Auggie were clearly meant to be together, and I feel like that would have come back around had the show not been canceled by USA at the end of its fifth season. The main problem with this shows end was that it was done in the old style. The show runners didn’t know if it was going to be canceled or not, so they wrote an ambiguous, unsatisfying ending. We don’t know what’s going to happen, and we’re never going to find out.
Honorable Mention but not actually on my list of worst finales, LOST
I get it. They didn’t answer our questions. They left unfulfilled all those promises of “We know what we’re doing and it will all make sense.” And I’m ok with that. They answered enough that we get the jist of it (everything that happened on the island really happened, it was not purgatory. The weird sideways world of the final season WAS purgatory, but that all took place after everyone had lived their lives and died normally). The main joy of this show was in the figuring out, and the community it built online, and in researching, and reading opinions. So when Jack closed his eye in that bamboo forest for the final time, we all knew it was ending one way or another, and I felt ok.