There comes a day in every person’s life that is full of both, excitement and sadness. A day that is so bitter-sweet, there should be a heart wrenching melody written about it. That soul shattering day is known as the series finale of your favorite show. Some series finales are best remembered for the controversy they created, while some attempt to go out in a blaze of glory. The following is a list of series finales that have created so much controversy that they are still creating a buzz, many years later. Keep in mind, just because the word ‘controversy’ is being tossed around, it doesn’t make a series good or bad. It’s about the complicated, and sometimes confusing emotions that arise out of its passionate fan-base. Here is a list of some of the most controversial finales.
10) True Detective
“Form and Void” – March 9, 2014
Since True Detective is an anthology series, it means that next season we get a whole new cast and characters. Even though we got closure for the two main characters, Rust and Martin, there were still a few questions left unanswered . For example, was Errol Childress the Yellow King? Who else was involved? and will those people be brought to justice? Although the mystery was unraveled slowly and in the creepiest way possible, the ending did cause much debate with fans, some feeling that it was the perfect ending and others wanting more of a twist.
9) The Prisoner
“Fall Out” – February 1, 1968
This series finale continues to be debated to this day. Back in 1968, fans were so outraged with this ending that the creator, writer and star, Patrick McGoohan had to go into hiding with hopes that angry critics would not find him. Instead of having names, each character was given a number, for example our protagonist was called Number Six. His main goal became finding out who Number One was, but that damn Number Two kept getting in the way. Finally, Number Six confronted Number One and pulled off his mask to reveal…a monkey mask which he also pulls off to reveal himself. The ending is left open to interpretation but at the time fans wanted more of a clear answer. One of the popular interpretations suggested McGoohan was trying to say that everyone was number one.
8) Twin Peaks
“Beyond Life and Death” – June 10, 1991
A critical and commercial success, Twin Peaks was considered “ahead of its time” and through the years has become a cult classic. Created by David Lynch and Mark Frost, the series was one of the first to be serialized and is remembered for its strange characters and surreal dream sequences. The show was initially built around the mystery “Who killed Laura Palmer?” Instead of allowing the writers to slowly reveal the mystery, the network forced them to reveal the murderer midway through season 2. This led to a decline in ratings and inevitably the show’s cancellation. The finale was equally as ambiguous and controversial as the series itself. It ends with main character, Agent Cooper smashing his head into a mirror, leaving the audience with a cliff-hanger.
“Into that Good Night” – May 10 , 1997
After her successful stand up comedy career, Roseanne Barr made a huge impact on television in the early 90’s. The show itself at the time, was surrounded in controversy over the content and the taboo subjects they dealt with. The ending is still debated by fans, whether it was appropriate to the style of the show, or if this finale was simply out of character for Roseanne. The ending reveals that Roseanne had been writing a story based on her family this whole time. Several things are revealed to be different in real life than compared to what we had been watching in her story. Including finding out that Roseanne’s husband, Dan had died one year earlier. Although mixed reviews, Roseanne delivered a memorable performance in the series finale.
“The Last Newhart” – May 21, 1990
Filmmaker Christopher Nolan may think he dreamt up Inception, but the truth is, Bob Newhart incepted that idea into all of our minds with the series finale of Newhart. In Fact, this was Bob Newhart’s second show, the first being The Bob Newhart Show which ran from 1972 to 1978. This is important because the two shows collided together in the finale of Newhart. The series is revealed as the dream of the main character in the original series. Bob Newhart is so talented that he can dream up an entire show in his sleep, on his own show, now that’s impressive.
5) St. Elsewhere
“The Last One” – May 25, 1988
St. Elsewhere was a critically acclaimed medical drama in the 80’s. The show is remembered for its excellent writing and ensemble cast, which included some that went on to become the biggest names in Hollywood. Some of the biggest being Denzel Washington and HowieMandel. The series is also remembered for its controversial finale. Similarly to Newhart and Roseanne, with St. Elsewhere we’re not sure if what we saw was real or “just a dream”. The reveal is that the entire series may have taken place in the mind of an Autistic boy named, Tommy Westphall. The hospital may or may not have been in a snow globe.
“Remember the Monsters?” – September 22, 2013
The summer of 2013 saw two great television series come to an end. One was about a teacher turned drug dealer and the other was about a serial killer. Many agree that one of the shows offered a very satisfying ending, while the other offered up lumberjacks. Dexter realizes that, as long as he’s around the people he loves, he will never be safe. So he leaves Miami and becomes a lumberjack. Dexter ends up alone, isolated and unable to satisfy his urge to kill.
“The Finale” – May 14, 1998
What’s the deal with series finales? Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David had a rule, no hugging on Seinfeld. In the finale, the four main characters witness a car hijacking and mock the victim which leads to their arrest and trial for breaking the “Good Samaritan Law.” At the trial, a parade of former characters return as witnesses to testify to how selfish and bad the four are. Viewers felt betrayed by the portrayal of the characters. The final scene shows the four friends sitting in a jail cell, having a conversation about the button on George’s shirt. Fans felt that the characters were out of place and the ending wasn’t appropriate with the tone of the rest of the show. “The Finale” is the 3rd most watched finale of all time with 76.3 million viewers.
“The End” – May 23, 2010
What’s more disappointing then socks on Christmas when you’ve been promised a puppy? The answer is the series finale to LOST. Everything seemed to fall apart at the very end, or was it the beginning, or future, or purgatory? The showrunners, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, guaranteed that they knew the ending before they wrote the show. The show’s obsessed and loyal fans thought they were finally going to get the answers they’d been dying for but more or less, that didn’t happen. The finale brought in 13.5 million viewers.
1) The Sopranos
“Made In America” – June 10, 2007
One of the most controversial season finales of all time is HBO’s hit television sh-cut to black. Some people might get upset if that is how this article ended. Well, that’s precisely how The Sopranos went off the air with their finale. David Chase, the creator and show-runner, seems to always like to leave things left open and up for interpretation. In a lot of ways, it was up to the viewers to decide Tony’s fate. Many fans were angry and so irate at the time, but David Chase offered no explanation. The finale drew in 11.9 million viewers, if a show with this amount of popularity goes off air, it should definitely go off with a BANG!
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