It’s always sad when a beloved television series comes to an end, but the finale can be bittersweet if only the production team ace the last episode. Parks and Recreation got it right, with just the right amount of schmaltz and satisfying endings for the characters that felt more like the viewers extended family, and the Friends finale is still pretty close to perfect ten years on.
And now we’ve just had the Game of Thrones finale, arguably the end to the biggest television series of all time. Viewers are currently polarised, so we’ll have to see in time if the finale holds up against other classics.
But sometimes it goes the other way, with more loose ends left unthreaded and scores of questions left unanswered. When after years of build up, you never do find out what happened to the lead and that mystery that’d been bugging you for three seasons was never explained, and it’s properly disappointing. But what are these shows with rotten endings? Here’s NME’s definitive list.
Were they just in purgatory? Was it a flash sideways? Did it really make any sense? Nine years on, and fans of the show are still plagued with these questions. Turns out the main thing that was lost was the plot.
After eight season of build up and weaving together intricate storylines, Dexter was ruined in seconds with the bizarre ending that saw the titular character fake his own death and become a lumberjack. It’s as farfetched as it sounds, and has dated terribly.
How I Met Your Mother
The finale of How I Met Your Mother was nothing short of a hot mess. In the production team’s attempts to appease every single fan of the show (by having Ted end up with the mother, and then killing her off so he could end up with Robin as well), they created a disappointing ending, ripping apart storylines that they’d spent series building (like Barney and Robin’s eventual marriage), for the sake of the inveterate douchebag Ted getting two fairytale endings.
The end of season eight (when JD left the hospital) was great; but for some reason the producers of Scrubs insisted on flogging the dead horse for one final season with a host of new cast members. Nurse! The patient is flatlining!
Pretty Little Liars
After seven seasons of ridiculously complex plot lines, the final season culminated in the revelation that Spencer had a twin sister (with a terrible mockney accent), who was the antagonist of the show. No clever reveal, just an entirely new character shoe-horned into the finale.
When the final episode of The Sopranos was aired in 2007, viewers were left perplexed for several minutes as their screens went black. Despite being hailed as genius by some viewers, the ending of The Sopranos consistently comes up as one of the most disappointing finales of all time. Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ provides the soundtrack to a seemingly quiet Sopranos family meal, munching on onion rings. Was Tony Soprano shot, and the visuals cut out at that moment? Maybe, but the chance of a firm conclusion was very much left in the dark.
Two and a Half Men
As TV series go, Two and a Half Men had a rocky ride; from the Charlie Sheen scandals and his ultimate departure to re-castings and allegations of misogyny. The show’s finale, Of Course He’s Dead, had an equally mixed reaction, and the ultimate conclusion – Charlie crushed by a falling piano, like in a Looney Tunes cartoon – was too obvious a reference to feuds between the show’s estranged star and its creators.
Lena Dunham’s series about four millennials struggling to grow up was notorious for its imperfect approach and some truly dislikable but relatable characters. If anything, the series finale of Girls felt like an unnecessary add-on. Unchanging main character Hannah’s self-centred attitude was as loud and clear as ever as she grapples with new motherhood, and the penultimate episode felt like a much more conclusive end to the series.
The series that brought you all of the intrigue and privilege of New York’s Upper East Side ended with the big reveal: who is Gossip Girl? Fans weren’t massively happy with nice-guy Dan becoming the dirty culprit; meanwhile, the happy ending style of the last episode provided too much schmaltz and too many loose holes.