10 controversial TV series finales

A still from the Seinfeld finale.

A still from the Seinfeld finale.

Steve Tilley, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:57 AM ET

So THAT’S how he met their mother? Are you freaking KIDDING ME? More I like How I Screwed Up This Show’s Ending and Played Devoted Fans For Fools, AM I RIGHT?

Series finale rage isn’t uncommon, and the latest show to taste viewers’ wrath is the long-running CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother, which wrapped up this week in a way that had many fans crying copout. (If you haven’t seen it and don’t mind a massive spoiler, it went down like this: the mother died, Barney and Robin divorced, and Ted and Robin got together in the end.)

Fans have already started a petition on change.org demanding a do-over, saying that the finale chucked out all the emotional weight the series had built up, relying on a hackneyed, disappointing pseudo-twist before the curtain fell one last time.

But when it comes to controversial finales, How I Met Your Mother is in good company. Here’s a look at 10 of the most divisive series finales ever, and the level of fan rage each one inspired. Needless to say, if you haven’t watched these shows and you plan to get caught up some day, there are spoilers galore ahead.

Dexter

Nearly everyone thought the noble murderer couldn’t be allowed to live. But after mercy-killing his sister and abandoning his son, Dexter apparently travelled across the U.S., grew a beard and got a job as a lumberjack. And that was not OK.

Rage gauge: 4.5 out of 5.

Only the fact that Dexter had already been in decline for years mitigated the foulness of the finale.

Lost

After six seasons of intricate mysteries, some fans felt Lost’s ending either left too many questions unanswered or was too depressing. Or both. But for a show that never really spelled out what was going on, Lost’s finale wasn’t terribly out of character.

Rage gauge: 3 out of 5.

While some fans were genuinely angry, most just seemed either confused or disappointed.

Dinosaurs

Sure, dinosaurs went extinct in real life. But in real life, dinosaurs didn’t talk and wear clothes and live in houses. So when Earl Sinclair unwittingly triggered the ice age that doomed his planet and his family, all fans could say was... WTF?

Rage gauge: 3 out of 5.

Some viewers were genuinely upset that a kid-friendly series would have such a dark and dreary ending.

Newhart

After eight seasons of running his Vermont inn, Bob Newhart’s Dick Loudon is knocked out and wakes up in bed... as Bob Hartley, the character Newhart played on the ’70s sitcom The Bob Newhart Show. It seems Newhart was all just a dream.

Rage gauge: 1 out of 5.

You’d have to have been weirdly invested in the reality of this wacky sitcom to get mad at its shocking, hilarious ending.

Battlestar Galactica

The reimagined adventures of a ragtag fugitive space fleet was one of the best shows on TV... during its second season. But when the show ended after four seasons with the Galactica gang finding prehistoric Earth, it went out with a whimper instead of a bang.

Rage gauge: 3.5 out of 5.

The ending was equal parts silly and baffling, and didn’t answer the final season’s biggest question: who, or what, was Starbuck?

Seinfeld

Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer probably deserved to end up in jail at some point, but imprisoning the gang to end one of the best shows on television wasn’t funny or fitting.

Rage gauge: 3 out of 5.

Again, this was more a case of disappointment than outright anger. But you won’t find many people defending the Seinfeld closer.

The X-Files

The truth is out there... but you can’t know all of it. Although fans were happy that David Duchovny returned for the series finale, the show ended with some loose ends dangling.

Rage gauge: 2.5 out of 5.

Like Lost, The X-Files was a series that was guaranteed to have a divisive finale. Isn’t it about time for a third movie?

St. Elsewhere

Saying Newhart was all a dream was one thing. But to end one of TV’s best-loved doctor dramas after six seasons by suggesting the entire thing had been imagined by an autistic kid with a snow globe... what’s the medical term for oversized gonads?

Rage gauge: 2 out of 5.

While some fans felt betrayed by the ending, it was nothing if not provocative. Also, it gave rise to the Tommy Westphall universe hypothesis. Google it.

Roseanne

When the Conners won the lottery, the final season of Roseanne went off the rails. And then when the finale revealed it had all been Roseanne’s daydream, and that husband Dan had actually died from a heart attack months earlier, the show crashed. Spectacularly.

Rage gauge: 3 out of 5. While it was an unexpected way to end the series, the finale – heck, the whole final season – was too far removed from Roseanne’s blue-collar roots.

The Sopranos

Oh, that last scene. The Soprano clan gathering for dinner at their favourite restaurant. The tension. The dread. What’s going to happen? Is Tony going to get whacked? And then... blackness. Roll end credits.

Rage gauge: 4 out of 5.

Some of us maintain this was a brilliant way to cap the series, but many fans howled over the show’s ambiguous ending. Still, it was a hell of a talker. Kind of like How I Met Your Mother, only not, you know, insulting and awful.

Twitter: @stevetilley

Steve.tilley@sunmedia.ca

 

 


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