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 already listed five of some of the worst TV series finales last week, but due to popular demand – and because there seems to be an awful lot of bad TV series finales out there – here’s five more terribly, awful TV series finales.
‘Little House on the Prairie’ – Series Finale: Feb. 6, 1984
For a show that was basically sunshine and rainbows and all about the simple things in life, it sure ended with a (depressing) bang. In the series finale, the town of Walnut Grove is revealed to have been built on land owned by a railroad tycoon. Though Charles Ingalls (Michael Landon) and his family had dealt with typhus and damaged crops, this one took the cake. When the tycoon brings Union soldiers to force the residents from their land, they decide they’re going to leave their way, and blow up the town in a “take that, sucker!” send-off. Well, at least, we definitely knew the series was over, but it still left us thinking, “You just blew up your homes, people! Now what?!”
‘St. Elsewhere’ – Series Finale: May 25, 1988
This series ender surely lands in the “WTF” category. The medical drama, set in a teaching hospital, ran for six successful seasons, won a bunch of Emmys, and launched the careers of Denzel Washington, Helen Hunt and Howie Mandel. It was a pretty prestigious show, to say the least, so it’s super weird and unsettling that the show’s final episode would reveal that the entire series was nothing but the imaginings of an autistic child named Tommy (who?!). In fact, the whole hospital was actually inside this kid’s snow globe. WTF, indeed. Fans felt ripped off, and, really, who could blame them?
‘The X-Files’ – Series Finale: May 19, 2002
I was a huge fan of the show – in fact, I was a hardcore X-Phile – but even I have to admit that the series ending left something to be desired. Sure, it was great to finally have Mulder (David Duchovny) back where he belonged – right alongside Scully (Gillian Anderson), fighting the good fight for the “truth” – but that’s probably the only highlight of the episode (besides Mulder and Scully getting all snuggly). It was ambiguous and confusing, with too many loose ends. I know series creator Chris Carter was hoping all would be revealed with later spin-offs and follow-up movies, but even after two movies and ‘The Lone Gunmen,’ the truth is still out there.
‘The Sopranos’ – Series Finale: June 10, 2007
It was the “cut to black” at the end of the episode that divides people from thinking this was either a great ending or an aggravating one. As the Soprano family sits around a table in a diner and Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin” is heard, tension builds and fans are left wondering: will the family be knocked off? Will Tony dispense some sage advice to his family? But, then we cut to black, and what becomes of the Soprano family is left forever unknown. Many viewers at the time thought their TV stopped working because we had to have been missing some kind of scene, some kind of closure…right?! Wrong, suckers. The credits started to roll, and fans of the show have been angry ever since.
‘Lost’ – Series Finale: May 23, 2010
After six seasons of intricate storylines, a never-ending series of loose ends, and questions about the true nature of the island, it was revealed that the inhabitants were indeed lost in the worst possible way – they were actually in purgatory. Instead of answering the die-hard questions that fans had been waiting years (and endured a very long finale) for, everything was smoothed over with the overly simple (and empty) “they were in limbo” explanation, leaving fans more confused and lost than ever before. Thanks a lot, Damon.