Have you watched a TV series for several years, taking in each season as it was released, and kind of going about your life with it in the background? You finished high-school when the show was airing season 2, and remember one of the main characters being killed off. Then, years later, while writing your bachelor thesis, you’re still watching it, now at season 6. Such a process creates a strange type of attachment and emotional involvement, which further nurtures a strive for a fair finale. Because, you know, nothing is ever perfect (except when it is), but it needs to feel at least fair, and respectful to the viewers. If it manages to convince you that a finale which you did not expect to see is the most fitting one, then may the writers bask in their fully deserved glory. If not… well, your beloved show may end up like the ones on this list.
When faced with the ever-growing mystery on a seemingly deserted tropical island where a plane had crashed out of the blue, I was lost for words – pun intended. This was THE thing to watch in the mid-2000s – smartly built by J.J. Abrams, throwing question after question, plot twist after plot twist and cliffhanger after cliffhanger in what was probably one of the most viral things on the Internet as it was a decade ago. The first two seasons were amazing. The two after that were great, but not more than that. Everything that came later was a disjointed mess – with no apparent direction, and a lack of ideas to move further, Lost eventually lost its way, and delivered a finale which tried its best to sort out the mess it had created, but (arguably) made a mess of it as well.
Final episode IMDb rating: 8.2
In about the same period of time, Heroes made an even bigger mistake: it reached its peak in terms of quality during its first season. Now, of course this guarantees an automatic renewal, but in this case, what followed was simply a series of problematic decisions, from which even more problematic decisions were forced to stem. Character development went off the rails, which sparked continuity issues, bad acting, and peculiar plot twists which, aside for lacking logic, bore no entertainment value either. Thankfully, everything ended with the fourth season, which was a bit of a step up in terms of quality. Until the reboot, that is – don’t even get me started on that abomination.
Final episode IMDb rating: 7.8
The most recent lesson of ‘how not to end a popular TV series’ comes from none other than Game of Thrones. To be honest, ending a storyline which features no central character, and which is based on a book series which is not yet finished, was always going to be a tough task. No matter how it ended, a significant percentage of the fans would have complained. And lo and behold, they have. We’re going to discuss this in detail in a separate article, once I give everyone enough time to catch up on Season 8, but let me just briefly state my opinion. I like, borderline love, the way it ended. I hate the way it got there. Makes sense? No? Good.
Final episode IMDb rating: 4.3
The problem with this one was not necessarily the waning quality of the final season(s), although we did have a bit of that, too. It’s not even a problem with the writing, or inconsistency with regard to character development. It’s the very ending. It pulled a sort of reverse Prison Break, and it felt extremely forced and unnatural. In what was probably an attempt to endow the franchise with ressurection potential, the writers actually messed up the show’s very essence.
Final episode IMDb rating: 4.7
There’s only so much that you can stretch a mystery, and 5 or 6 seasons in, X-Files started to get tiring. The one-episode-one-case style was still fine and preserved freshness, but the hit or miss ratio started to lean heavily toward the latter. The larger storyline of Mulder and Scully started to get really repetitive, and all major plot twists failed to really add some fresh and creative impetus to the mix. The formula was somewhat altered, Mulder went missing for a few seasons, but nothing really changed. And the same goes for the two more recent seasons. Here it’s less of a problem with a particular ending per se, but more to do with a waning direction and evaporation of creativity.