May is a big month for television. New shows are announced and old shows (along with some new ones) are canceled, while others enjoy their season finales (which are most likely huge, nail-biting-how-can-we-possibly-wait-until-the-fall cliffhangers). And, if a series is lucky enough to have been on the air for more than a handful of seasons, there is the much-anticipated series finale before it rides off into the ol’ syndication sunset.
Because we’ve invested so much time into a series, when it finally does bid adieu, we expect to be satisfied. We count on loose ends being tied up, on-and-off couples to go back on, for the bad guy to get his comeuppance and, yeah, maybe a baby or two is born. Bottom line: we expect a happy ending, or at least one, that will make the hole in our TV viewing experience that much easier to swallow.
So when our favorite show’s ultimate finale fails to give us any of the above, and instead leaves us hollow, empty, confused, and disappointed, well, there’s just no worse feeling in the world for a TV viewer. You think to yourself, “I invested eight seasons of my life for this?!” and then you think of all the other things you could have been doing on a Thursday night – reading, knitting, petting blind kittens – other than watching a sitcom about nothing.
I may not have watched each and every horribly awful TV series finale that’s ever aired, but here are five that I have watched and loathed.
'ALF,' Series Finale – March 20, 1990
I’ll be the first to admit that ALF kinda creeped me out. The thought of E.T.’s freak me out, and I’m a cat lover, so ALF wasn’t exactly my favorite, uh, thing, but is there a more soul-crushing finale than this one? ALF was a wise-cracking, fairly good-natured guy. Did he really deserve to be captured by military scientists and subjected to “intense heat, freezing cold, high voltage, toxic substances, pain, sleep deprivation, inoculation [that's needles], and, of course, dissection”? Of course, the finale didn’t show that, but when the agents close in on ALF and the credits roll, we’re left to assume that’s exactly what happened. WTF.
'Dinosaurs,' Series Finale – July 20, 1994
For a series that made “Not the Momma!” a popular catchphrase, and which put dinosaurs in a brighter light, making them look all friendly, cuddly and funny, it sure went out on a depressing note. Basically, the dinos are alive one second, and then the entire family freezes to death. OK, we all know that dinosaurs are no longer with us, but did the show really have to go out like that? I’m all for educating kids about the realities of life, but the well-loved show deserved a happier ending. I mean, that was just really, really sad.
'Roseanne,' Series Finale – May 20, 1997
What a mess. I wasn’t a fan of the whole “we won a lottery and we’re super rich now” final season anyway because not only did I think that storyline was completely ridiculous, but it also took away the heart and soul of the original premise of the blue-collared ‘Roseanne.’ But, then, to have it all been just a dream?! And, to make it even worse, Dan was actually dead?! And if that wasn’t bad enough, then Roseanne calls into question which events of the show were actually real before Dan’s heart attack (what do you mean David’s Becky boyfriend?! WTF.) and fans were left wondering what they had invested for all those years. Ugh. The finale just felt like a total slap in the face.
'Seinfeld,' Series Finale – May 14, 1998
Yes, the show was about nothing. And, usually, it did nothing really well, and really, really funny. But, call me crazy, but I expected the series finale to be about something! Or, at least, something funny. Sure, it was great seeing all those previous characters coming together in one episode (The Soup Nazi with Newman?!), but what was the point of using them if the jokes weren’t there? There wasn’t a climax or a resolution, there was nothing, which, I guess, was kind of the point for a show that’s always been about just that. Too bad it felt lazy and inflated, and, well, not at all funny.
'Gilmore Girls,' Series Finale - May 15, 2007
Before my favorite mother/daughter/BFFS signed off for good, I was prepared to cry some major tears and feel something warm and fuzzy, akin to my serious feelings for the Lorelai and Rory. Instead, I felt nothing. Nada. I didn’t feel warm or fuzzy, just mad and empty, shouting, “That’s it?!” I mean, I’m glad Rory turned down Logan’s proposal (they were way too young), but their breakup seemed too quick and rash to me. And don’t even get me started on Lorelai and Luke. A simple kiss was supposed to satiate an audience who had wanted these two to get their act together for years? This ending just left me uneasy and uncertain whether Lorelai and Rory were actually happy, and I hate wondering if all is good in Star’s Hollow or not.