People invest a lot of time in their favorite television shows. They get wrapped up in the characters and the plot and soon they start gibbering about what happened like it actually went down in real life. This is because we are a culture of lunatics. And that’s why when a television show has a less than satisfactory ending, people go batshit crazy. I wish I could say I was above such things, but... well, here we are. And that’s why I decided to create this list, in celebration both of our collective lunacy and the terrible, terrible finales of these nine shows.
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Dinosaurs was an insane idea to begin with, like a studio exec got all coked up one night, watched some "TGIF" and decided that the only thing that could make it better was if there were dinosaurs involved. Which, admittedly, is always a pretty reasonable stance since dinosaurs are awesome, but not when they’re wearing people clothes and arguing about the weather, you know? That’s just weird. So I suppose it shouldn’t have been a surprise that the final episode of Dinosaurs was, well, really, really weird. I mean, here’s the episode synopsis: Earl, the dinosaur family patriarch, ensures the extinction of his entire race. Good times! I’m surprised they didn’t just go all the way and (spoiler alert!) show the family home getting blown to bits by a giant asteroid. I mean, I guess it’s admirable to not pull any punches when it comes to the fate of the dinosaurs, but I think you’ve already set historical accuracy aside once you put a giant overgrown lizard in flannel. I mean, couldn’t they at least have had the Sinclair family escape via some Land of the Lost style wormhole or something? See, I could totally be an ABC exec.
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Everyone hated the Seinfeld finale because they were expecting something more. Why you would expect more from a television show that describes itself as a show about nothing, I have no idea. But the weird trial of the Seinfeld Four isn’t why this finale ended up on this list. It’s on this list because it was basically a glorified clip show, a dumb excuse to go back through the vaults and show footage of actually entertaining episodes rather than come up with something interesting for the finale. Then again, maybe in some meta way that was the appropriate route to take. Maybe the only way a show about nothing could reasonably end was with a completely nonsensical episode that everyone hated. Or maybe people are right when they speculate that the gang actually died in a plane crash and their trial was actually a metaphor for their judgment in purgatory. Or maybe it was just a shitty series finale after all. I don’t know. My head hurts now. Leave me alone.
Photo credit: NBC, Gawker
The only thing missing from the about four years too late series finale of Entourage was a scene in which the boys all go down on each other while Mrs. Ari rolls her eyes and a parade of shitty guest stars parade by the camera and spout hilariously wooden dialogue. Oh wait... you mean that’s pretty much what actually happened? Well, okay then.
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The truth is out there. Well, unless you’re a fan of this show. Or one of its producers. Or one of its writers. Or... you get the point. The truth is, is that no one involved with this show had one friggin’ clue about how to end it. Which is kind of a problem when your whole show is based around their being some dizzingly complex conspiracy with a mind-shattering answer at its core, you know? Instead of answers, what fans of The X-Files got was a show that dragged on well past its expiration date until finally its own stars weren’t even interested in hanging around to see how it all played out. And then, finally, when the end did mercifully come, those stars were dragged back to take part in some nonsensical crap about Mulder being put on trial for murder in some weird desert compound. I don’t know. I don’t really remember all of the details, which is kind of the point. What I do know is that nothing was really cleared up or solved, which left them enough room to create a movie follow-up almost a decade later that nobody saw. So, yeah, the truth is out there and the truth is that the series finale of The X-Files was, to put in purely scientific terms, a butt.
Photo Credit: FOX, Wikia
Veronica Mars was a show that was known for ridiculously entertaining season finales which always wrapped up the season’s mystery in a clear and satisfying way so it was reasonable to expect something great for the show’s series finale. Yeah, not so much. Instead of an exciting and entertaining episode which wrapped up the series in a way that would satisfy fans, the show’s bosses decide to go out on an episode built around a local sheriff’s race, which... come on. Yeah, I know it would have been sweet justice for fans to see Keith Mars finally get his job back but the show didn’t even bother letting us know who won! Furthermore, the show left the show’s central relationship, between Veronica and Logan, open-ended, which... okay, fine, I’ll stop now before I grow ovaries. Still, uh, things could have been done better. That’s all I’m saying. Wait, where’d my penis go?
Photo Credit: Sidereel
After several seasons of making its fans care about all the characters of St. Elsewhere, here’s how the show’s producers chose to end it: the whole thing was just the delusion of some autistic kid staring into a snow globe. Since then, this episode has become famous as the ultimate copout, made fun of almost universally for its faux-cleverness. Whoever thought of it clearly believed they had stumbled upon some genius idea, a radical twist that would make even M. Night Shyamalan’s O. Henry designed panties get moist with excitement. In reality, though, the whole thing just became the standard for the ultimate TV land copout, a stupid slap in the face that rendered the whole show meaningless. Well, more meaningless anyway. It’s not like a good finale would have somehow caused world peace. Let’s not get carried away here.
Photo via Vulture, NBC
The series finale of Roseanne was basically a variant on the St. Elsewhere finale, a cop-out which essentially rendered the events of the entire last season – which, admittedly, was pretty bizarre – utterly meaningless. Instead of an autistic kid staring into a snow globe, though, Roseanne ended with the reveal that the whole thing was just a dumb book being written by Roseanne and, oh yeah, Dan was dead. Good times! The whole thing just felt like a delusional self-indulgent trip down idiot lane by Roseanne, like no one involved with the show had the guts to tell her that her ideas sucked and that nobody wanted to watch something like that. Then again, by the time it ended, nobody was watching. Also, thanks to writing this article, I had to Google Image search Roseanne and that resulted in me having to see Roseanne in lingerie on the cover of Vanity Fair. That was enough to move this up at least three or four spots on this list. Good Lord.
Photo Credit: Oxygen Media
The series finale of Lost followed The X-Files method of promising answers and then revealing to the world that the writers and producers had no idea what the hell they were doing or where they were going the whole time. When the episode first aired, I remember convincing myself that it gave me at least a sense of closure, but in retrospect the whole thing was kind of a debacle, like the show runners had spent all their time carefully putting together a giant puzzle only to get desperate and then try to mash in one last piece that didn’t quite fit. Instead of answers, fans were just left with a million more questions. What was the island? That’s the one thing that fans wanted to know from the very beginning. And then the show ended and they were all told that it didn’t matter what the island was because what mattered was a bunch of treacly bullshit. People wanted to get answers to a mystery. What they got instead was Jack and the gang crying and laughing in some church together, having finally found redemption after all that time. Hey, good for them, but what about the rest of us?
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Everyone was excited to see how The Sopranos, that great American soap opera, would wrap things up. Would Tony make it out alive? Or would he finally get what was coming to him? The episode itself seemed to be going just fine and
Photo Credit: Will Hart/HBO
(Originally published on December 8, 2011.)