With most things in life, it isn’t necessarily how you start, but how you finish that really matters. In the world of television, that is especially true when your series finale will be the last tidbit that your fanbase will ever receive.
End on a high and you can leave the millions of people that followed the series from the start incredibly satisfied and make them feel like they didn’t completely waste their time by following the story till the end. End on a bad note and you run the risk of completely ruining the series as a whole, because you’ll never be able to wash the bad taste of an awful series finale out of your mouth.
There are a few different ways that the end of the series can bring on disappointment in the fanbase. One way is making sure that by the time the last episode airs, nobody cares anymore. The history of Hollywood is filled with shows that started off with such promise, but ended up faltering down the finish line.
It’s not like it’s easy to end a series. No matter how you do it, there is no way that you are going to satisfy everyone. You just need to hope that your series finale doesn’t piss off the majority of your fanbase, but unfortunately that's exactly what these shows did.
All of the shows that made the list, made it for their own unique reasoning. Some endings left people feeling confused, others angry. Other shows are a clear example of what can happen when the writing staff goes on strike, or even worse when a show ends before the creators were even aware. There is a great ending to My Name Is Earl (read below to find out), but nobody ever got to see it because the show got pulled too soon.
For all the highs that these shows brought us, it’s unfortunately the awful series finales that stick with most fans. Reader beware, because spoilers are ahead!
8 The Sopranos
7 My Name Is Earl
It’s never easy when a show gets cancelled and the writers weren’t exactly expecting it. My Name Is Earl has the fantastic honor of getting to end on a “to be continued.” Talk about an open ending to fans of the show! Though because the internet is wonderful, somebody asked the creator of the show when he did an AMA on Reddit, “did Earl ever finish the list?”
“I had always had an ending to Earl and I'm sorry I didn't get the chance to see it happen. You've got a show about a guy with a list so not seeing him finish it is a bummer. But the truth is, he wasn't ever going to finish the list. The basic idea of the ending was that while he was stuck on a really hard list item he was going to start to get frustrated that he was never going to finish it. Then he runs into someone who had a list of their own and Earl was on it. They needed to make up for something bad they had done to Earl. He asks them where they got the idea of making a list and they tell him that someone came to them with a list and that person got the idea from someone else. Earl eventually realizes that his list started a chain reaction of people with lists and that he's finally put more good into the world than bad. So at that point he was going to tear up his list and go live his life. Walk into the sunset a free man. With good karma.”
If you were watching Roseanne, the entire last season might feel like a giant middle finger. The season revolves around the family winning the lottery, and it greatly altered the tone of the series. The last season was also plagued by the removal of John Goodman’s character for most of the season. Roseanne Barr stated that the last season is “not about the [lottery] money. It’s about transformation and redemption.” And that is perhaps best exemplified by the last scene of the series which is described as the following
“Roseanne reveals the entire series itself is actually a story written by Roseanne Conner about her life. To cope, Roseanne twisted major elements of her life for the story, which the audience does not discover until the final moments of the series. In reality, Dan's heart attack near the end of Season 8 was fatal and the Conner family did not win the lottery. Also, Jackie is a lesbian and Beverly is straight. Scott is a probate lawyer that Roseanne befriended, and set up with Leon—who she claims isn't very hip like she wrote him to be. Another difference is that Mark and Darlene were a couple all along, as were David and Becky, rather than the opposite (Becky with Mark and Darlene with David).”
I never got behind the art style of the TV series Dinosaurs but I am sure there was an audience out there for it (after all, it did get made). Personally, they looked creepy and it instantly removed any of the cute factor that the show tried to have going for it. For a show that was geared at kids, the series finale is absolutely appalling, so much so that it has to be on the list.
2 That '70s Show
1 1. How I Met Your Mother
There is no doubt in my mind that out of every show on this list, HIMYM is most deserving of the award for worst ending. It literally threw away the entire relationship with the Mother (as she dies in the series finale), showed all the characters hating each other for most of the finale and then Ted ends up with Robin. Are you kidding me? I waited so long for THAT? Not to mention that all of season 9 is based around Barney and Robin’s wedding, only to have them get divorced in the series finale. The show tried to show where the characters' lives would be years down the line, but it was horribly executed and made many fans really resentful of the series.
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