Ask any writer or creator of a television show, and they will tell you the same thing: endings are arduous. As endings typically leave the most lasting impression on the viewers, it is important to get them right. Regardless of how exceptional the show has been, one bad ending can and will ruin what has otherwise been an entirely good show.
Some shows that have unfortunately fallen into those categories include Sherlock, Game of Thrones, and Lost. Whether it was for practical, production, or creative reasons, these bad TV show finales were infuriating and puzzling.
10 ‘Bloodline’ (2015 – 2017)
For many years, the Rayburn family has been the pillars of their Florida Keys community. But when the family’s eldest child, Danny (Ben Mendelsohn), returns home and tells the family his plans to stay permanently, things turn dark in Bloodline, and the family’s secrets come to light.
Although the series stayed consistent throughout its run, the overall rating was brought down by the last two episodes of the final season. The removal of a tax incentive for movies and television shows in Florida was one of the main reasons Bloodline ended the way it did. As this meant a considerable rise in production costs, writers and producers decided to end the show after the third season, which affected the rushed ending that did not give the closure that the viewers had wanted.
9 ‘Pretty Little Liars’ (2010 – 2017)
Four former best friends, Aria (Lucy Hale), Emily (Shay Mitchell), Hanna (Ashley Benson), and Spencer (Troian Bellisario), reunite one year after the disappearance of their group leader, Alison (Sasha Pieterse). Upon their reunion, however, they began to receive threatening messages from a mysterious character who identifies themselves as “A” and who happens to know every detail of their lives.
Throughout the seven seasons of Pretty Little Liars, the viewers have been guessing on who “A” (later known as A.D.) might be. Much to the viewers’ disappointment, though, the ending was far from what they expected it to be. It turns out that “A” or “A.D” had been Spencer’s evil British twin sister, Alex Drake, all along. Many viewers were angered by the fact the culprit had been a relatively new character with whom the viewers felt no emotional attachment. Needless to say, the motives behind why Alex Drake haunted the girls for so many years left the viewers highly unsatisfied. The ending did not bear any emotional weight for the viewers who had invested in the series for many years.
8 ‘Gossip Girl’ (2007 – 2012)
Gossip Girl is a drama series that revolves around the scandalous lives of privileged high school teens in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Over six seasons, the secrets and lives of these teens were exposed by the anonymous and ruthless blogger, and the ever-elusive Gossip Girl. Whatever these characters chose to do, one thing remained the same: there was no hiding or escaping from Gossip Girl.
Naturally, the much-anticipated reveal of Gossip Girl was kept hidden until the end of the show, in the series finale. It turns out that Gossip Girl had been Dan (Penn Badgley), one of the main characters, all along. Not only did this confuse and infuriate the viewers, but it also had the same effect on actor Penn Badgley himself. In an interview with Badgley, he admitted to not knowing the identity of Gossip Girl until shooting the series finale. The actor also pointed out that there were many instances where Dan appeared to have been shocked by a Gossip Girl report while alone, which would not make sense if Dan had been the one posting on the blog site all along. Keeping Gossip Girl anonymous would’ve perhaps been a better end to the series.
7 ‘Supernatural’ (2005 – 2020)
Supernatural follows brothers Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles), who acted in their father’s footsteps by protecting the innocent and hunting down evil supernatural creatures and demons. Over its 15-season run, the show has gathered a large following of loyal fans, but its reputation was, unfortunately, ruined by its finale.
In the final episode of Supernatural, “Carry On,” Dean loses his life after clearing out a vampire nest. Fans were angered by the fact that his death was accidental and that the character deserved a grander closure. Sam’s life, on the other hand, is shown in a montage before he dies of old age and reunites with Dean in heaven.
6 ‘How I Met Your Mother’ (2005 – 2014)
For nine seasons, How I Met Your Mother follows the lives of five best friends living in New York City. Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) is a playboy who uses his success to seduce women; Robin (Cobie Smulders) is a Canadian news anchor and aspiring journalist; Lily (Lily Aldrin) and Marshall (Jason Segel) are the naive and inseparable yet legendary sitcom couple, and Ted (Josh Radnor) is an architect and college professor, who narrated the show by telling his kids the story of how he met their mother.
The question is: why did the finale of How I Met Your Mother turn out to be disappointing? The common argument for this is that it failed to live up to what the show seemed to have promised in the beginning. It turned out that their mother was Tracy McConnell (Cristin Milioti), a character that was only introduced in the final season. And even after all the pain and experiences that Ted had to endure before finally meeting and marrying the love of his life (Tracy), he eventually returned to being with Robin again. What’s more depressing is that despite finally believing that Barney and Robin were meant to be together, their fates ended in divorce (and sadly, all done within a single episode).
5 ‘Scrubs’ (2001 – 2010)
Scrubs focuses on the point of view of a young doctor and narrator, Dr. John Michael “J.D.” Dorian (Zach Braff), who struggles to move his medical career forward as he deals with the hospital staff, unpredictable patients, and outrageous situations. Many viewers argued that Scrubs had been an incredible show, up until the original cast was replaced with a whole set of new characters in its ninth season.
Because the viewers had fully invested themselves in J.D. and the other integral characters of the show for many years, the cast replacement in the final season did not make sense. Ending the show in the eighth season would have been a better decision.
4 ‘Dexter’ & ‘Dexter: New Blood’ (2006 – 2013; 2021 – )
Is it fair to say that Dexter (Michael C. Hall) is television’s most beloved serial killer? Maybe, maybe not. Whatever the answer may be, the viewers empathized and resonated with the “ethical” serial killer enough for the show to stay on the air for eight seasons. While many had hoped for a redemption story for Dexter, the ending did anything but that. Not only did the janky green screen of the first ending (of the eighth season) frustrate fans of the show, Dexter’s final choice of faking his death and running away from his wrongdoings simply did not sit right. The ending has since been hailed as one of the worst TV finales ever.
Eight years after Dexter ended, the creators of the show released a one-season reboot (Dexter: New Blood) to progress the story and finally give the closure it should have given at the end of the eighth season. However, the supposedly “better” second ending received mixed reactions instead. While some viewers saw death as the only redemption for Dexter, others were left unsatisfied with the manner in which he died, especially since – like father like son, Harrison (Jack Alcott) also got away with his crimes. Viewers have also pointed out that many plot holes were ignored and left unanswered in the finale, with some going as far as saying Dexter: New Blood never should have happened.
3 ‘Sherlock’ (2010 – 2017)
Based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes detective stories, the titular drama follows “consulting detective” Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his flatmate, Dr. John Watson (Martin Freeman), as they solve the mysteries of modern-day London. Although Sherlock only ran for four brief seasons, the show was full of excitement and adventures.
Unfortunately, the final season and episode of the Sherlock series disappointed many viewers. Not only was there a lack of closeness between the two central characters, the iconic detective duo John and Sherlock, but the episode also chose to put its focus on an entirely new character, Sherlock’s missing sibling, Eurus Holmes (Sian Brooke). Their relationship was essentially the heart of the show and why people loved Sherlock. With so many loose ends and unexpected changes in the fourth season, the show did not end in the way the viewers had hoped it would.
2 ‘Game of Thrones’ (2011 – 2019)
Upon the release of the first few seasons, Game of Thrones took the world by storm and became one of the most beloved and talked about shows of the time. Despite the frequent depiction of sex and violence in the series, the characters were so well-written that the viewers just couldn’t get enough of them. Not only that, the impressive action sequences, dialogue, and exciting twists kept the viewers hungry for more.
Such a captivating series has set such high standards for the audiences that it was only natural for GoT fans to expect the best of finales. It had, however, done anything but that. GoT‘s ending was so disappointing that it ruined the entirety of the series. A once clever political drama in a fantasy setting has descended into a corny fan service with increasing “sexposition” that did not fulfill the promise of the early series.
1 ‘Lost’ (2004 – 2010)
After a plane crashes on a stranded tropical island, the remaining passengers must find their ways to stay alive and hope that a passing plane or ship might spot and rescue them. As time passes, the survivors become aware of the mysterious, supernatural presence on the island. While many have coined the first two seasons of Lost as a masterpiece, the beginning of the third season saw a divide in the viewers as the writing massively dipped down from the previous seasons. Thankfully, though, it picked up its momentum again in the second half of the season.
However, the whole of the final season, including its finale, disappointed many viewers. What made Lost such an entertaining piece was the mysteries that kept the viewers wanting more. Some felt that many significant plot points were only introduced in the final season and that it rushed to conclude all the characters’ story arcs. Perhaps the ending could have turned out better if it had more time.
NEXT:The Best TV Show Finales Ever