The 10 Most ‘WTF’ Television Series Finales

Published 5 years ago by , Updated March 3rd, 2014 at 6:44 am,

top 10 wtf series finales The 10 Most WTF Television Series Finales

Everybody loves television. If you don’t, you’re lying and if you’re not lying then why are you reading an an article about television? Either way, week after week, hundreds of millions of people tune into their favorite televisions shows.

Each year, a select few series must come to an end – either by their own choosing or because of cancellation. In a series finale, writers are forced to find a way bring together everything that viewers have seen in the past seasons and provide a conclusion that leaves fans feeling justified for investing so countless hours watching over the years.

Due to the recent Lost series finale outcry, we put together a list of the top television series finales – not the best ones, not the worst ones, but the ones that make you say, “WTF?”

While I’m sure that many finales could fit this bill, we’ve narrowed it down (using an extremely complicated and nerdy mathematical formula) to the top ten. Some finales that were considered, but not included are Roseanne, The X-Files, Felicity, Veronica Mars, Twin Peaks, M*A*S*H (yes, M*A*S*H) and the aforementioned Lost series finale.

Although, with over 1,700 comments (and counting) in our Lost finale explanation piece, it does appear that maybe I should amend this article and include it as an honorable mention.

Be warned, if there are now-canceled TV shows that you plan to watch on DVD or Blu-ray, this article contains MASSIVE spoilers about what many would consider the most critical episode in a television series entire run.

You have been warned…

In any case, sit back, relax… and get ready to say, “WTF?”

10. Life On Mars (US): “Life Is a Rock”

wtf television series finales life on mars us The 10 Most WTF Television Series Finales

WTF? It’s literally about life on (the way to) Mars.

What better way to start off a WTF list then with an Americanized version of a popular British television show. While the U.K. version of Life on Mars was a brilliant series, the U.S. version paled in comparison. This was never more obvious than in the terrible series finale.

The story of Sam Tyler, a modern-day police detective, who gets hit by a car in 2008 (2006 in the U.K. series) and wakes up in 1973 was a brilliant premise. The mystery of the series was whether or not Sam Tyler actually traveled back in time, is dead or simply in a coma.

After 17 episodes (that’s 1 more episode than the U.K. series had), it was revealed that Sam Tyler had not actually traveled back in time, nor was he was dead or in a coma.

As it turns out, Sam Tyler was actually an astronaut on the first manned mission to Mars, sleeping in a hibernation chamber. The chamber was equipped with computer software that helped the astronauts dream about whatever they wanted. Unfortunately, Sam Tyler’s computer screwed up and thus created the world of 1973.

Suffice to say, this is nowhere near the brilliant ending of the original version. While I won’t spoil it for you, I will tell you that the U.K. version of Life on Mars was voted the #1 greatest TV ending of all time.

You can check out both the terrible U.S. ending as well as the far superior U.K. ending, but if you were at all interested in this series on ABC, I implore you to seek out the original version – you won’t be disappointed.

U.S. Ending

U.K. Ending

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TAGS: 24, Lost
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  1. I’m kind of surprise you left Battlestar galactica off the list. Kara Thrace disappears… WTF!? Baltar and #6 are… what, exactly? WTF?! Sam is sent into the sun… WTF! need I go on?

    • Kara Thrace disappears…

      She died earlier in the series and was an angel(?) when she returned in the white ship.

      Baltar and #6 are… what, exactly?


      Sam is sent into the sun…

      I remember the ship being sent into the sun, but I don’t remember a person being sent with it.

      But yeah, that episode was kind of WTF.

  2. Sam Beckett never returned home. Still brings tears to my eyes, although I wrote a new series and brought Sam home, with his daughter travelling in his place.

    • Actually, if memory serves and it is quite possible it doesn’t :-), Sam did go home in one episode. He had to go back into the chamber to save Al. I actually thought the series finale wasn’t that bad. Time, God, Fate, whatever, took control of Sam’s leaping once he started it and now he must continue because satan has plans of his own. It wasn’t a brilliant ending but it was one I accepted.

      • I actually like the ending, its horribly sad but I think it works. The ending itself isnt the WTF part, its the whole bartender being God thing.

        • I have to agree about the final “Quantum Leap” episode. It is quite the WTF… but it also fit with the tone of the series. I think if the series ended with Sam finally getting back home for good, it would have been rather forgettable. It might not have been the ending everyone wanted, but it was the right ending.

  3. Wow, those are some serious WTF moments… way to screw up a show. I didn’t saw The Sopranos, and I hadn’t watched the ending until today, but I must say… WTF??????? That’s the way the show ended? That sucks!

    I really loved Lost’s ending, not so much about 24… but in comparison they’re both masterpieces now.

    Anyway, I have to disagree with you a little bit, I liked the Seinfeld finale, I don’t think it was horrible.


  4. Also, I found Lost tedious and boring, the words “making it up as they went along” spring to mind. It’s such a shame 24 finished the same weak, a groundbreaking and original show that changed action/drama television for the better, and got no coverage because of Lost’s nonsensical finale.

    • Ah, good to know you didn’t actually watch Lost, then, if you think “making it up as they went along” actually describes anything. Please don’t comment on things you didn’t bother to watch as if you know what you’re talking about.

      • Yeah, “making it up as they went along” is EXACTLY what the finale, and the rest of the series, felt like. And I stuck to Lost like a tick to a dog, sucking as much of that blood red mystery that was the island… sure felt like a sucker at the end. WTF?!? The island really isn’t the mystery… the mystery is the Sideways, a device created for the last season, and it’s a form of purgatory? The numbers meant nothing… just a big coincidence? The “cork in the bottle” really IS a “cork” in a “bottle”? Jack’s half-assed passing of the torch actually sticks? Some people aren’t “ready to be woken” in the Sideways? Please! It was all made up as they went along! ’nuff said! Blah!

      • I did watch it for 2 years!

  5. Wow. The Prisoner finale sounds like the most nonsensical thing I’ve ever heard.
    Hopefully the odd doesn’t ruin the entire Sopranos series. I’m kind of interested in checking it out since I love The Godfather so much. (Nobody tell me what happens in the finale! I skipped that part of the article in case I decide to watch the show).
    BTW, love the new homepage layout, Screen Rant. I can see more stories now without going to a different page.

    • I meant to say “finale” in between “odd” and “doesn’t ruin.”
      And I realized it’s unreasonable to tell people not to discuss the end of The Sopranos on a thread about TV show finales. I’ll just try top avoid those comments :)

  6. Pretty ballsy to not even mention, the site from where half of this list came.

    • I thought this list seemed really familliar! Although I will say a WTF ending of a show will undoubtedly end up on multiple “bad series endings” list.

      • Pretty ballsy to assume we pulled our list from there and Jessie is correct. Are you saying that only Cracked personal watch TV shows and therefore can are the only ones qualified to put together a list of bad show finales? Most of these shows had HUGE followings and were watched by millions of people (including us). Duplicate lists on the billions of websites are bound to happen.

    • It wasn’t ballsy at all. I didn’t even know the list existed until someone showed it to me AFTER the piece was already written.

      Although, unlike Crack, we don’t have readers write our articles for us in backdoor forums paying them off with $50 gift cards for the “best idea.”

    • What’s the matter, Cracked couldn’t “get it up” to 10?

      That’s why people come to the “longer stronger deeper” lists here at Screen Rant.

      They don’t want no short-tort lists!

      And yeah… These are pretty much the ONLY crazy series finales in TV history (with a few omissions), so what are you saying bro?

    • I remember reading this somewhere else not long ago but couldn’t find it. Wanted to find out if they are from the same author. Apparently it’s not.

  7. I’m not trying to spawn another 100+ meassges thread related to LOST but I’m suprised you gave it only an Honrable mention when comparing it the 10 you did list. Was this because LOST is so recent or you just don’t want to spawn another huge list of replies?

    I can honestly see why one wouldn’t want to because at that scale it becomes impossible to keepo track of the thread if you work for a living. Some fo the same questsion that have already answered get asked again and aagain simply becaus ethe answer gets buried to fast for the original person who asked teh question to see the answer.

    I realize this may be a limitation fo the technology but it would be great if there were a way for the Link you get on email notifications to take you to the message the email is for.

    BTW – tahnks for taking the time to put this together especially with teh inclusion of video links for each shows finale; very cool.

  8. The Seinfeld finale was brilliant, it just wasn’t what everyone was expecting. You should rewatch it, I think you’ll find there’s more to it than initially thought. The characters in Seinfeld are, in a sense, bad people. And karma finally caught up with them, it makes sense and it was a great twist.

    • I kind of see where you’re coming from. But I don’t know if I would call them flat out “bad” people. They’re not the most moral bunch but they are so endearing and likable. I haven’t seen the finale, but I would definitely be upset if they made something bad happen to them.

  9. Being a huge Trekker, I would be sent to Grethor if I did not mention the horrible ending to Trek: Enterprise. They not only killed the fan favorite character, but the whole episode was a holodeck recreation. I expected it to end with the captain, Archer, giving the famous “Where no one has gone before” speech during the initial stages of the Federation. Instead, we get some stupid story about Riker trying to figure out how to tell Picard he knows about the phasing starship they are looking for.

    • Not sure whether I’m a Trekkie or a Trekker, but I’m a big fan of Star Trek, and I agree. Though there were things I liked about the finale. Got to see Riker and Deanna again. But killing off you-know-who was an incredibly stupid choice. Didn’t really like the holo-deck choice, even if it was kind of cool seeing Riker as the ship’s cook giving everybody advice. It was especially stupid cutting the episode off before the speech. That could have been one of the biggest redeeming points of the episode.

      And why set the episode two years after the rest of the show? They pretty much totally destroyed any chance of continuing the show with that episode, which sucks, because they had some awesome ideas for the coming seasons.

    • Actually, I think the DS9 series ender was a bit more bizarre.

      But yeah, the Enterprise finale didn’t even show Archer’s speech or even a part of it. Even it could have been…I don’t know… “Space is the final frontier…even after my crew is gone, we have a continuing mission…we will explore new worlds and new civilizations, boldly go where..”

      What a waste. I personally disown it; if the series ended with the previous eps (Peter Weller as an adversary) it would have gone out with grace.

      Come to think of it, Voyagers Endgame was just as cruddy.

      But DS9 what the WTF moment.

      • I think I liked the DS9 finale, but it certainly felt like a Ronald D. Moore ending. Plenty of ambiguity.

      • I accepted DS9′s ending, although it could have been better. When I first saw Voyager’s finale, I wanted to hunt down Berman and Braga; but when I watched it again, and paid more attention, I didn’t dislike it. For me, TNG had the best finale of them all.

        • The TNG finale was absolutely perfect, wonderfully acted, great story.

          As for DS9, well, its my favourite Trek. I loved the ending, it fit the themes of the show perfectly, i always get a tear in my eye during the montage of the old clips as the characters move on.

          Voyager. Well, its finale was everything that was wrong with the show.

          ENT, I’m one of the few who didnt hate it completely. it was nice to those characters again. but it had plenty wrong with it. Killing Trip was a horrendous error, which the current novels have thankfully rectified. But I will forgive it everything for one scene, that final ” Space, the final frontier” With Picard, Kirk and Archer, because it was magic. Shame they missed out Harriman and Garrett though.

          • I’m gonna have to check out those novels. I also liked what Shatner did with his novels to rectify the error of killing off Kirk.

  10. @ Anthony: I’ve been trying to figure out the WTF moment with the “M*A*S*H” finally that would have it be taken into consideration? Is just the fact that the awesome show was ending?

    “Life on Mars” is a perfect example of why British shows should just be aired on American TV. I can really only think of “The Office” that transitioned well – - and they were given what, six episodes for a first season? Just a toe in the water to make sure it was warmly recieved. If I hear one more story about American producers wanting to Americanize “Torchwood” or “Spaced” I might just lose my mind. Where did I get off on that rant… :)

  11. LMAO @ them misspelling Dr. Sam Beckett’s last name in the finale, lol.

    About Seinfeld, I think a better ending would have been all of them getting hit by a meteorite. Sorry, never found the show that entertaining, just thought they were all really annoying…

    And seriously, WTF with them killing off the MTM cat in that St. Elsewhere ending??? What was the point of that?? lol

    And I agree about the ending of The Prisoner, that is just some wacky stuff…

  12. Flash Forward! WTF?

  13. i loved lost and thought the sienfeld finale was funny- being that i was too young when it was on to have seen the recap clips before it aired. at least lost didn’t use the “dream” thing. that would have wasted six years of my life…

  14. Truth be told, that wasn’t intended to be the last episode of ALF. Just a season finale, but then the network decided to not pick up another season.

  15. The Prisoner finale was a definite WTF episode. But I have to admit, I thought it was awesome.

  16. If we were to go with series endings it would be one thing. But you include ALF, which was a season ending and the show wasn’t picked up for the next season. We might as throw in Crime Story (plane crash) or Twin Peaks (bad Agent Cooper/Bob possession).

    I agree with St. Elsewhere on the list.

    But to replace ALF on the list, I have to up the ante.

    But boy did you guys miss the best. Maybe because it was a comedy, it was a funny HUH moment but never questioned.



    Where’s Newhart?

    • I love the “Newhart” ending! That was an amazing ending to the show. I’m thinking it was left off the list… well I would leave it off the list simply because when I say ‘What the f…” (never WTF) I mean it incredulously. Like ‘I can’t believe you just did that’ but in a bad way. The above list has the honor of being filled with WTF moments as well as being quite bad and disappointing. “Newhart” was neither of those things.

    • I was giving WTF a more negative connotation with this list. I loved Newhart’s ending and it was incredibly well done. That’s why it wasn’t included. Sorry.

  17. What about Dark Shadows the ’80′s version…. the last episode was completely unfinished… WTF… and I say that every time they re-run the series on SYFY or whatever channel I happen to stumble upon while it’s running.

  18. Blake’s 7. C’mon… That was a hurried cop-out ending if there ever was one.

    Sliders. One of my favorite shows. I know, they left it open for a wrap-up movie or maybe another season, but after a year or two of “will it get canceled”, and a major casting overhaul which saw the series lead leave the show, they should have seen the end coming and written an ending for it.

  19. Someone had on their big boy pants when they wrote the Dino finale. They should have just had a blinking graphic below that said “MESSAGE!”.
    Soprano’s was bad but in all reality the show had stunk for the past couple of seasons. People complain about Lost being made up as the went along, Sopranos is way ahead in that category.
    St. Elsewhere was bad but killing the cat at the end was just twisting the knife.

  20. I thought Battlestar Galactica 2004-08 should be on the list !!

  21. well, guess I’m alone. I loved the ending of Dinosaurs.
    And I LOVED the ending of Battlestar Galactica.

    As for Seinfeld, I can’t comment.. I hated the series so much, I – like a previous poster – would have enjoyed seeing a meteorite splat them out of existence.

  22. The finale of Dinosaurs gave me an unabashed hatred towards enviornmentalists that still persists to this day.

    That episode seriously scarred me for life, and I was 19 when it aired.

    Enviornmentalists of today have the same armageddon mentality, and they literally suck the life of everything that surrounds them.

  23. @Mike – wow – so sorry Environmentalists that you have had experiences with left you with that impression – never happened to me. The ones who scare me are the warmongers, the corporate profit-at-any-cost CEOs, the religious fundamentalist whackos, the anything-to-get-a-vote politicians, the bigots, the mean, and the ignorant. Luckily there are those few who take the time to educate themselves on how to preserve what little beauty is left on this planet thanks to the above parties.

    • LMAO!!! :-D

      Sorry, I find naiveness hilarious, don’t mind me…

    • Um, yeah… wow.

      Must. Not. Type. Further….

      • Must. Not. Type. Further……

        Good advice. And yes, WOW!

        • Hey, now I’m not saying there aren’t political agendas involved with Environmentalists. I’m not saying the world could be a big ball of fluffy happiness – Utopias are only possible without human greed, and this would be impossible without some kind of implant that would kill you the moment you made an agressive move aginast another. Kinda takes the mickey out of free will. But to do what one can to preserve the planet’s food chain seems to me to be a healthier activity beneficial to all rather than supporting war, oil rape, politician’s pockets, or hatred. Now if some guys who have as their avatar icons a terminator and a klingon can’t understand this I can see where they are coming from, but I don’t understand why not feeling like environmentalists are more dangerous than the others is naive.

          Unless the current status quo is benefitting you somehow, and attempting to apply the moniker of naive is just a way to vent. Perhaps if I am naive then you are just cynical and have given up?

          • Uh, lol, forget it dude, just forget we said anything, haha.

            • No no – I don’t mean to belabour the point, but please enlighten me on the specifics of my naivety…

              • OK I’ll help you out. Oil is as essential to modern humanity as trees, spotted owls and the rest. Wars, while regrettable, are simply human nature. I say the former as a person that recycles and takes my stewardship of Earth seriously, I say the later as a decorated combat vet that realizes that there are indeed evil people on this Earth that wish nothing more than to force their viewpoint on their fellow man. It is naive for a person to believe that we live in a vacuum where humans are not a factor and where everyone, if “properly” educated, can and will do their most for the environment.

                Saving the spotted owl is a noble cause, but saving the American Lumberjack is also a noble cause; there have been environmentalists that have driven railroad spikes into trees in order to cause injury and even death to those cutting down trees in environmentally sensitive areas. Do they consider the wife that was widowed by such an act or the children that will grow up without a father? Do they consider the fact that another working-class guy is going to step into the breach to cut down trees that the dead lumberjack was going to cut down? Apparently not. I’ll be honest, the only people I know that take such a hard-line environmental stance, while painting business interests and war as easily dispensable fall into two categories; College Students that have never produced crap and for whom everything is theoretical and aging hippies (normally artists or Professors) that have never contributed anything beyond theory and protests to the world around them. I hope you are neither and I hope that at some point in your life you have contributed something to the world at large; you know like the evil corporations that pay butt-loads of taxes and produce tangible products and services or the baby killing soldiers such as myself that sacrificed the best years of our lives in order to defend your right to come on a website and pretend that all the evils of the world come from people that SOLVE PROBLEMS. I would imagine that is why some might think you naive; you come across as a nut that has mad web skills and a great deal of reading, but no life experience in any area that develops an appreciation for opposing viewpoints.

                • Awesome! Thank you for a decent reply!

                  I have to disagree that there are “evil” people in such a black and white manner. The line of good and evil is drawn down the center of every soul. It’s only when people get together, usually under a committee or leadership that evil happens – jingoism, whacked out nationalism, decisions that affect the many being made by the few. The Facsism of Nazi Germany was a clear and present danger that threatened to darken the entire planet. Some jerk who ruins an 80,000 dollar fur by spray painting it with fake blood is not.

                  I respect the fact that you have served your country and that in your heart you are doing it for the freedoms of your fellow countrymen, but the need for war is obsolete, and the military of this world simply isn’t going to accept that, because it’s not about maintaining peace, it’s about preserving power, which perpetuates petty nationalism. Soldiers have to do what they’re told.

                  Sorry you seem to have something against artists, and while I would agree that many “artists” today give a terrible reputation to the nobility of the arts (thankyou rap music and lady gaga) I really don’t think people really understand what the responsible ones contribute.

                  I would never pretend that all the evils of the world come from people who solve problems. There is enough natural suffering in the world without human beings to compund it. But I would take issue with the idea that mass manufacturers are always solving problems – as if they are also not creating any. Corporations aren’t evil, they are just often greedy, and cut corners to make profit.

                  As I said before, I have never met any environmentalists that have done these things, though I am aware of some of the crazy stuff anti-whalers do. As a fellow human being I am, of course, ashamed of these people you speak of. But the fact is, is that these so called professorial theories you speak of are the same theories that create the machines that keep you safe in the midst of combat. Somehow they are fine in military application, but if they apply to what 6 billion people are contributing to their environment it’s just a nutty political move? No. If you screw up the food chain at the most basic level, it topples like a domino series and though it happens slowly, it can absolutely happen. I am glad you protect your country – will you help to protect future generations as well?

                  I do indeed appreciate opposing viewpoints, and these are mine.

                  Thank you.

              • @Kris

                “I have to disagree that there are “evil” people in such a black and white manner. The line of good and evil is drawn down the center of every soul. It’s only when people get together, usually under a committee or leadership that evil happens – jingoism, whacked out nationalism, decisions that affect the many being made by the few. The Facsism of Nazi Germany was a clear and present danger that threatened to darken the entire planet.”

                - Jeffery Dahmer
                - Hitler (funny, since you mention Nazism)
                - Mao
                - Stalin
                - Charles Manson
                - Rapists, murders, child killers

                I could go on and on. How can you POSSIBLY say there are no “evil” people? Good Lord, you express your views in a well written manner, but you have a wildly naive point of view. Go talk to the parent of a 5 year old whose child was kidnapped, raped and murdered and try to convince them there are no evil people in the world.


                • @Vic – Because it’s relative to the perceived benefit of the group. I’m sure Hitler’s dog thought he was a nice fellow. And I certainly did not say that there is no evil, only that good and evil are in everyone – EVERYone! It becomes very easy to get a crowd that is down and out and looking for a saviour to point fingers at someone and say “That person/Jew/immigrant/Iraqi is Pure Evil, and the source of all your woes!”, (That’s how fascists and Sarah Palin do it) but it is a much more difficult and challenging task to find forgiveness in one’s own heart. But if we can’t find it, suddenly the world is FULL of child rapers hiding in every bush.

                  Thanks for the reply! :)

                • Vic, it was no coincidence that the Nazi’s were the only group he mentioned. Nationalism is considered right-wing. And some even consider Fascism to be extreme right-wing and that’s why he picked that to point out. Notice Communism didn’t receive any great criticism from Mr. Objective over there, lol.

                  But I’d have to disagree that Fascism being right-wing, if you really look at what that entails: Total control by the government (one dictator to be more precise) and total control over the nation’s industry, that sounds more like the big government and big government regulations being pushed by the left now-a-days…

                  But alas, he has his opinion, no logical argument will ever sway it, that’s why I was fully intent on simply laughing it off and not wasting my time with it…

                  FYI, extreme right-wing is more like Libertarian, like Glenn Beck, who believes that the Federal Government (or any single main government entity) should not have singular regulatory power over all of its people in any way. So it’s the extreme opposite of Communism or Fascism, in that the main government really cannot pass any laws that affect the entire country, all they are responsible for is printing money and national defense. All laws and the way the country is run is left to smaller government entities like state, county, or city governments (or some believe little to no government control at all on any level). So taken to its extreme it’s almost anarchy in a way, a bit too extreme for me, I like to stay more in the middle. :-)

                • @Kris

                  Oh, Vic is going to *LOVE* your statement about the whole relative morality thing, lol!!! :-D

              • “Fascists and Sarah Palin”?

                You’re really getting to the point where I’m going to tell you to head over to HuffPo for your movie news.


                • Awww, but I feel sorry for the kid… :-(

                  • @Ken – On the contrary, there are things about communism that don’t sit well with me either, and while it’s true in theory what you say about the various political parties, in practice they are all over the board – supporting deregulation until it suits them politically to support the opposite. Never be fooled into thinking that one side is really that different than the other – that’s what the spin will have you believe, and what keeps the average citizen voting against their own interests. Thanks for the pity – I know exactly how you feel.

                    @Vic – thanks for even replying to this thread at all, which devolved quite quickly from it’s intended target of attempting to assuage the “horror” of Environmentalists compared to other more horrific things. Sorry it ruined his appreciation of the ending of Dinosaurs. I love Screen Rant – great site! Respect to you and your regulars.


                    • @Kris

                      You’re welcome here. It’s just that things get dicey when they stray into political territory – I’m quite in the minority when it comes to people who run entertainment sites in my socio-political views. I try to restrain myself but some comments just push my buttons. I could say PLENTY about the current administration but go out of my way to keep my mouth shut when it comes to that and on topic as much as I can.

                      Best regards,


  24. How could you not put the finale of Roseanne on this list. The show stank up the network for at least one complete season before the cast changed partners for the roundup. WTF?

  25. WHAT THE HELL? I’m 18, watched David the Gnome and Dinosaurs, have never seen the finales, and now I find out that they all died! Way to ruin my childhood tv.

  26. I agree with Sliders…they really lost me after killing off most of the cast.

  27. Anyone else notice that the baby in Dinosaurs is the same guy that does the voice of Elmo from Sesame street lol.

  28. Dident they do a made for TV movie where they rescued Alf from the military?? I thought so but i could be wrong.

  29. WTF?!