Finding a TV show that you enjoy watching on a regular basis is sort of like entering into a committed relationship. Once you stumble upon something that you can’t imagine going without, it’s hard to not become invested in every moment. Soon, all you can think about are your favorite characters and what’s going to happen next. Before you know it, you’re counting the hours until you get to see them again.
The appreciation, the admiration, the love, the anticipation; all of these are the magic ingredients to must-see TV. But what happens when you invest years into a series, only to have it all end on a bad note? Breaking-up is always hard to do, especially when things don’t end the way you want them to. While the perfect goodbye is hard to come by, some shows seemed to almost go out of their way to monumentally let us down when it came to the final farewell.
Here are examples of 15 times a great TV series won us over, only to tear us down in the end. (Warning: spoilers ahead)
In 2005, when Patricia Arquette stepped onto the screen as Allison DuBois, a medium who helped solve crimes for the District Attorney’s office in Arizona (playing a character who was actually based off of a real person), the show was impossible not to watch. For seven seasons, we tuned in to see the DuBois family (Allison, her husband Joe, and their three kids) along with some other great characters, catch murderers and talk to ghosts. While Allison struggled with her gift, part of the beauty of the show was in how her family always kept her grounded; especially her husband, Joe.
Oh, Joe. Sweet, Joe. You almost thought the real struggle of the series would’ve been watching the couple persevere through life (and death) together. Turned out, the only one who would be persevering through life would be Allison. And Joe, he would have to face death all by himself. In one sad and shocking series finale, they killed off Joe DuBois in a plane crash. With some weird dream/premonition/alternate reality you thought for a second might not be real but turned out to be very real, Joe had crossed over. In the end, Allison had to wait another 40 years to be reunited with her long-dead love. They say parting is such sweet sorrow. There was definitely nothing sweet about this.
14. True Blood
True Blood fans may have been some of the fiercest and most dedicated in television history. Whether you read the novels by Charlaine Harris or not, the second you turned on the TV and met the telepathic (fairy) waitress Sookie Stackhouse and tortured vampire Bill Compton, you fell in love with the show as quickly as those two fell in love with each other. Half the time, you didn’t know if your favorite character would make it into the next episode. Still, that never swayed anyone’s loyalty. Viewers anxiously awaited its return, year after year, for seven absurd seasons.
While the storylines definitely took some strange twists, in the end, the finale just turned out to be a disappointing pileup of attempts at closing plot holes. When all was said and done, some people made it and others didn’t. There would be no Bill and Sookie, or Sookie and Eric, or even Sookie and Alcide. Instead, there was just a weird façade of normal, which was well… weird. For a brave show that tackled hot-button topics through metaphors and magical creatures, the end of True Blood all-around kind of just sucked.
13. The Newsroom
Anyone who has seen The Newsroom, or is familiar with Aaron Sorkin, knows that the series began with the promise of being one of the best shows EVER on television. That now-famous scene (which has become increasingly relevant in today’s political climate) where Will McAvoy gives a speech at a college about all the reasons America is not the best country in the world, might actually go down as one of the best-written monologues of all-time. And, on top of Sorkin, with a cast like Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer and the amazing Sam Waterston, there was no way the show would fizzle out so fast, right? Wrong.
In three seasons, the once-exciting concept about life in a network newsroom managed to get run over by romantic side plots, had a lot of flashback drama, added a super controversial storyline, and then killed off one of the main characters. While ideas of journalism and politics were called into question, and that was what fans actually loved most about the show, when all was said and done, all we got was a funeral and some closure on a few loose ends. Sad to say, but in this case, no news turned out to be good news.
The series finale of Dexter killed a lot of people; both literally and figuratively. The very thought of how you end an awesome show about a serial killer who is actually the hero calls into question a few scenarios one might think of as a fitting finish to all of the madness. But when it came to Dexter’s final moments, the show and its characters went out in what was probably the saddest way possible.
Some projected that Dexter and Debra Morgan wouldn’t have a happy ending, but most didn’t expect just how devastating their end would actually be. After eight seasons, Debra would get shot by a serial killer, Dexter stabs the guy with a pen (in public), dumps his sister’s lifeless body into the water (after unplugging her from life support), leaves his son to be raised by his serial killer soulmate, and then cruises right into the eye of a hurricane, only so he can fake his own death and live life alone as a lumberjack. Any way you slice it, when it comes to disappointing finales, this one was enough to get every fan’s blood boiling.
Most kids who grew up in the late ‘80s and early ’90s regularly watched Roseanne on TV. The Conners spoke to all of America. They were a middle-class family who were just trying to get by in life – and there was a ton of inappropriate jokes along the way. It was a Roseanne Barr show, after all. At one point, the series was so successful that it even became the most-watched show on television. In fact, people loved the wonderfully-written, incredibly touching sitcom so much, they didn’t even seem to mind when the character of Becky Conner seamlessly switched from one actress to another.
After making numerous lists as one of the greatest shows of all time, when it came time to say goodbye, Roseanne went out in one of the oddest series finales in history. After watching a very bizarre last season that was almost like an alternate universe, it turned out that the whole thing was just in Rosanne’s head. Everything we thought we knew was not real at all. The Conners didn’t win the lottery, Jackie turned out to be a lesbian, the couples on the show we thought were couples weren’t, and oh, Dan (John Goodman) had died. Needless to say, fans were a bit shocked at the direction the show took in the end. That might even be an understatement.
10. Dead Like Me
Dead Like Me was a terrific but short-lived TV show that, sadly, only ran for two seasons. The idea was that in death, certain people were chosen to be reapers. Those people lived on Earth, were given new identities, and sent out to reap souls before horrific accidents (caused by gravelings) would happen. They were even cleverly given the ETD (estimated time of death) of souls they were supposed to reap on post-it notes by a character named Rube, played by Mandy Patinkin.
Fans loved the show, the characters, their dynamic; and we were just barely scratching the surface of deeper storylines. The final episode, while sweetly put together, left us all just hanging with a bunch of unanswered questions about the characters. There was so much potential for this quirky dark comedy that seeing it yanked off the air only after 29 episodes was what made the finale leave a sour taste in our mouths.
Seinfeld originally found success off the heels of Cheers, and some say that the coveted time slot may have saved the Larry David show from falling into one of the many pockets of NBC obscurity in its early days. But once Seinfeld was off and running, there was no stopping it. It had become its own phenomenon. Every week we watched Jerry, Elaine, Kramer, and George maneuver through life in New York City. Out poured ‘90s catchphrases and recurring characters such as Newman and Puddy, and it appeared as if the show about nothing actually meant something after all.
That is, up until the finale. The two-parter began with things looking up for Seinfeld and friends. Similar to its predecessor, Cheers, it seemed like it was primed for one of the best endings of all-time. And then, in what was like a twisted version of This Is Your Life, the four of them end up doing hard time for just pretty much existing; condemned by those who knew them best. It was a rough way to go out. Disappointed fans were expecting to end with series with some “yada, yada, yada” and instead got a whole lot of nada, nada, nada.
There was so much hope for the supernatural show that starred hunky vampire/private investigator Alex O’Loughlin and his “old” vampire friend (Veronica Mars favorite) Jason Dohring. With the backdrop set in Los Angeles and centuries of relationships to explore, this series had so much going for it. Plus the whole vampire/human love story with Beth Turner, a reporter whom O’Loughlin’s character (Mick St. John) shared a questionable history with, was super interesting stuff. The unique mythology they tapped into, in addition to the introduction of new theories and old acquaintances, proved to be a perfect combination for fans – but the timing was all wrong.
Unfortunately, the show didn’t live long enough to answer any of the questions we had. The impact from the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike left it lifeless. In the end, there was a final kiss between Mick and Beth that got everyone’s heart racing, which sadly turned out to be our last goodbye.
7. Being Human (U.S.)
While both the UK and the US versions of Being Human began with a similar concept, the US version of a ghost, a vampire, and a werewolf all living together gradually took a different turn from its European counterpart. Jeremy Carver and his wife Anna Fricke were developing double the amount episodes every year, so we were lucky to get more of the awesome-ness that was Being Human on the Syfy channel. Over the course of four seasons, the US version moved away from being merely a struggle about these supernatural creatures having to navigate their way through life, and started encompassing these love stories between Sam and Sally and Josh and Nora.
But by the final episode, “There Goes the Neighborhood Part 3,” things came full circle in very predictable/ happy ending way. Sally gave her life to save Aidan. Aidan gave his life to save Josh and Nora (and their baby). Sally and Aidan were reunited. And Josh and Nora ran off to raise two kids, whom they named Aidan and Sally (surprise, surprise). Everyone lived (and died) happily ever after.
6. Penny Dreadful
This fantasy/horror show only ran for three seasons, and it tapped into a morbid array of 19th-century subject matter that didn’t even get to reach a small percentage of its potential. It almost seemed like things were actually just beginning to get good when the series unexpectedly wrapped-up with two back-to-back finale episodes. There wasn’t even any real warning that the end was near.
While some met with surprising closure, other characters fell flat, and certain storylines had not even begun to be explored. One of the biggest letdowns was the introduction of a couple of new faces, such as Dr. Henry Jekyll, who wasn’t allowed any time to develop EITHER side to his character. While no one could have expected any happy endings (as we know, it’s all been written), people were more disappointed by how insanely rushed it all was. In the end, it was a dreadful way to bid adieu to dedicated fans.
5. How I Met Your Mother
As the show that boasted its finale from the VERY FIRST EPISODE (hence the title), living up to the hype was not going to be an easy task. That being said, when such a popular series goes on for nine years, and the showrunners allude to certain outcomes, only to fake out viewers in the end, it’s safe to say that most fans are not going to be happy with that decision-making process.
Of course, the characters each had qualities we loved about them, which is really what made the show so great. We adored the antics between Marshall and Lily, and always pondered if Robin would end up with Ted or Barney. We all knew she was “Aunt Robin” but still, she was Ted’s main love interest. How were we going to get that happy ending?
Here’s how – introduce the mother just before the series ends and then reveal in the finale that she eventually dies. Piece together the stereotypical behavior of everyone else, thereby allowing inevitable outcomes which of course, eventually brings Ted and Robin back together. The show really should have been called, “So, I totally met your mother but I really always wanted to marry your aunt.”
Talk about an all-star cast with storylines that had infinite possibilities. Bloodline started off strong; it was mysterious and just ripe for critical acclaim. The Rayburns were a wealthy family from Florida with a dark past, and plenty of skeletons just begging to come out of the closet. Kyle Chandler, Linda Cardellini, Chloë Sevigny, John Leguizamo, Sissy Spacek; when it came to talent, that was one area that definitely did not disappoint.
But in three short seasons, the show started to go downhill fast, and by the finale, there was so much ambiguity that it left us all thinking, “that’s it?” While the Inn is getting ready to be sold and pieces start to come together, some of the family gets closure and some don’t. Kevin and Belle can’t outrun their own mess and John Rayburn, well; he’s talking to ghosts and confessing to police. None of which makes any bit of difference. In the end, a haunted John stares into his nephew’s eyes and the show ends, never revealing if he told the truth or not. It’s hard to know what he would do left up to imagination, seeing as he was imagining things himself.
3. Star Trek: Enterprise
While Enterprise was once considered being on its way to becoming one of the best Star Trek series ever, after four seasons, in one terrible finale, the showrunners obviously decided to take themselves out of the running, here. There was hope for a fifth season at one point, but it would never see the light of day, and laying down some groundwork for the Federation seemed all for naught.
Instead, in one pretty insulting series finale, they brought in Next Generation’s Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis, leaving little time for Scott Bakula’s Captain Archer and the others in the final episode of their own show. Adding insult to injury, or maybe just injury to injury, they also decided to kill off one of the show’s most popular characters, Commander Charles Tucker III (‘Trip’), stemming from a series of random events. In the end, Jonathan Archer never even got his “farewell” Federation speech. Instead, they just weaved together a narrative with him, Kirk, and Picard in an attempt to tie everything up. That’s right. They boldly went there.
As depressing as the title sounds, “Consider Me Gone,” is an appropriate name for the 24th and final episode of ALF. The ‘80s sitcom about an alien who crash lands on Earth and takes up residence with the Tanners (a nice middle-class family who welcome him into their home) was a funny, family-oriented show that had some oddly inappropriate jokes about eating cats, but was all-around a cute story that was even rooted in some very real science.
Unfortunately, while ALF (short for Alien Life Form) spent most of his time hiding out from the Alien Task Force and attempting to rebuild his spacecraft, it was in the twisted finale when the sweet, sarcastic puppet was thought to have met an untimely end. After ALF receives a transmission from his Melmac family letting him know they’re alive and they’re coming for him, the Tanners say their goodbyes and the alien prepares to go… except… the Alien Task Force has intercepted the message. The last thing we see is a frightened ALF being taken away to probed and dissected. As it turned out, the show was not originally scheduled to be canceled, which was what led to the series finale cliffhanger. Sadly, that is not a disclaimer they gave to children.
Obviously, with a show like Dinosaurs (even though it’s a kids show) we already know how this all ends. From 1991-1994, children tuned in to watch the comedy about a family of dinosaurs, living in a modern-like world set in prehistoric times. The main characters were the Sinclair family (dinosaurs) who used appliances like it was no big deal and thought of cavemen as pets. Strangely, there were even a lot of petroleum references like Phillips, Hess, B.P., Richfield, and Ethyl, made throughout the show. Although it was the work of Jim Henson and ABC, the series also took on hardcore topics such as sexual harassment, civil rights, and drug abuse. It even touched on masturbation and religion, and that’s all just the tip of the iceberg.
When the show went off the air, it was literally the end of the world, and Dinosaurs gave us what might actually be the most dismal, upsetting finale of all-time. When Earl’s plan to save the environment fails, he inadvertently brings on the Ice Age and destroys Pangaea. While the lesson here is to be kind to nature and to be careful with technology, watching a family of Dinosaurs huddle together and prepare to meet their doom, in retrospect, seems like an awfully harsh way to prove a point.
If you have any TV shows you think should be on the list, leave a comment and let us know!
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