12 Notable TV Shows With Terrible Endings

As great as any show can be, it’s sad that even the greatest TV shows of all time can succumb under their own weight. When it happens, we’re left with amazing shows with endings that, for one reason or another, fail to live up to their astronomical expectations.

The saying “the bigger they are, the harder they fall” rings true regarding TV shows. Whether due to inexplicable executive decisions or because the writers simply ran out of ideas after many successful seasons, these ten TV shows disappointed fans and critics with their unsatisfactory – and even downright terrible – endings.

Warning: The following slideshow may contain spoilers.

St. Elsewhere (1982-1987)

Photo Credit: MTM Productions.

This medical drama is infamous for its massively disappointing ending – a finale so unexplainable that it still bewilders fans to this day, nearly four decades later. Imagine a show where you care for the characters and their everyday dramas. Now, picture that same show – only everything was a figment of an autistic child’s imagination – because that’s how St. Elsewhere ended.

The worst part is that St. Elsewhere had a lot of cameos and crossovers with other shows of the time. It begs the question: how far does the rabbit hole go? Is every show just part of that kid’s hyperactive mind? Or are we just reading too much into an awful ending? I lean more toward the latter option.

Seinfeld (1989-1998)

Photo Credit: West-Shapiro, Castle Rock Entertainment.

Seinfeld was a groundbreaking sitcom that ran for nine seasons on NBC. The show followed the lives of four friends in New York City, and it was known for its observational humor, self-reflexivity, and primarily for being “a show about nothing.” However, the show’s ending was widely criticized for being anticlimactic and disappointing. In the finale, the four friends are all arrested for misdeeds throughout the show, eventually landing them in prison.

It felt like a betrayal of Seinfeld‘s humor style – one where none of its characters, no matter how despicable, ever faced any consequences. It’s also not the best idea to end your show in a clip show episode – especially a show as original as Seinfeld.

Lost (2004-2010)

Photo Credit: Bad Robot, Touchstone Television, ABC Signature.

This mystery drama ran for six enthralling and increasingly more confusing seasons. While it’s true that not every mystery needs an answer in a show like Lost, after six seasons, you owe it to your fans to at least give them a few more meaningful clues about what’s going on with the world you’ve created.

Lost ended in disappointment for fans and critics, who were quick to point out how the show had seemingly run out of steam by its final season.

How I Met Your Mother (2005-2014)

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox Television.

Ted Mosby’s quest to tell his children how he met their mother captivated fans for nine successful seasons. With relatable humor and genuinely heartwarming moments, How I Met Your Mother was a comedy with a heart of gold and some of the most charismatic characters we’ve ever seen in a sitcom.

In the show’s final season, we’re hastily introduced to the titular mother: Tracy McConnell, who died six years before Ted began telling his kids her story. Why Ted decided to tell his kids the story of the nine years of his life he spent falling in and out of love with Robin – who should’ve been the mother all the time – is never adequately addressed.

Dinosaurs (1991-1994)

Photo Credit: Jim Henson Productions, Michael Jacobs Productions, Walt Disney Television.

Before we delve into the series finale of Disney’s Dinosaurs, I must be honest: I don’t think this is a “bad” ending at all – it’s just so bizarre and unexpected for a kid’s show that’s still worth checking over. 

Dinosaurs‘ final episode sees the Sinclair family dealing with their unavoidable demise due to a sudden bout of climate change that’s sure to cause the extinction of the dinosaurs on Earth. A far cry from the usual comedy skits we usually see on the show, that’s for sure.

13 Reasons Why (2017-2020)

Photo Credit: Paramount Television/Netflix.

13 Reasons Why became an overnight sensation for Netflix with its controversial but outstanding first season. The show handled its touchy subjects with the right degree of finesse, delivering an experience that hooked fans for four seasons – even if only the first season was based on the titular novel.

The final season, however, undermined almost everything the show once stood for. With its rushed character development and even redeeming one of the series’ most irredeemable characters, the final season of 13 Reasons Why proved that the show might have worked better as a miniseries after all.

Ozark (2017-2022)

Photo Credit: Netflix.

When every TV fan had a painful Breaking Bad-sized hole in their hearts to fill, Ozark came in. This Netflix show had a fantastic run, with each season upping the ante for the Byrdes and their unlikely descent into the criminal world. In the final season, they changed things for the worst.

With characters getting in – and out – of the most absurd situations to the showrunners killing off some of the most beloved characters, Ozark‘s ending felt dull and uninspired compared to the rest of the series.

The Sopranos (1999-2007)

Photo Credit: Home Box Office (HBO), Brillstein Entertainment Partners.

To this day, there are two kinds of fans of The Sopranos: those who loved the ambiguity of the show’s finale and those who loathed it. The show’s ending feels somewhat out of place for a series that never shied away from showing the grittier aspects of the mafia.

Still, the way the camera abruptly cuts to black has been the subject of constant revisionism over the years, with some fans claiming that it was a superb way to portray Tony’s alleged passing. Whatever the case, it was still a strange decision for the show that cost it the love of many fans immediately after it aired.

Dexter (2006-2013)

Photo Credit: Showtime Networks.

While the ending of The Sopranos might have had its defenders, Dexter‘s finale is universally considered one of the worst closures in TV history. While the idea of following a serial killer for eight seasons sounds nonsensical enough, the entire final season feels like a ridiculous fever dream.

In the end, Dexter Morgan gets his “happily ever after,” and he becomes a lumberjack, far away from the glam of Miami. It was weird then, and it’s still now after Dexter: New Blood.

Game of Thrones (2011-2019)

Photo Credit: HBO.

This one still hurts. Eager Game of Thrones fans saw the writing on the wall when the show’s last two seasons displayed a notable decrease in the quality of its storytelling. From characters suddenly teleporting all over Westeros to them undoing years of development in just a few scenes, the intricate world of Game of Thrones was slowly falling apart.

When the White Walkers were swiftly defeated, the show devolved into a fantasy drama, with characters that felt two-dimensional and where stakes no longer mattered. The silver lining here is that House of the Dragon seems to be on its way to undoing the bad taste that the Game of Thrones finale left us with – let’s hope that the showrunners can keep their momentum to the series finale.

Scrubs (2001-2010)

Photo Credit: Doozer, ABC Signature.

Scrubs earned its status as a beloved TV show thanks to its blend of humor, heart, and realistic portrayal of the medical profession, endearing viewers to the lives of the staff at Sacred Heart Hospital. However, its disappointing finale for fans stemmed from the fact that the series had already concluded satisfactorily at the end of its eighth season, with a poignant and emotionally resonant closure to the characters’ journeys. The subsequent ninth season, featuring a mostly new cast and shifting focus, failed to capture the charm of the original, leaving viewers feeling disconnected from the characters they had grown to love and ultimately diminishing the impact of its final episodes.

Supernatural (2005-2020)

Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

Supernatural was widely regarded as a great TV show that captivated viewers with its blend of horror, humor, and brotherly bonds. The series followed the Winchester brothers, Sam and Dean, as they battled supernatural forces, developed complex relationships, and delved into a rich mythology. However, the show’s final season concluded with a disappointing finale for many fans. This disappointment arose from the perceived rushed and unsatisfying resolution to long-running storylines, including the ultimate showdown with the main antagonist, leaving some fans feeling that the characters’ journeys deserved a more fitting and emotionally resonant closure.

11 TV Shows That Should’ve Ended With The First Season

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Whether it’s because the show-runner clearly ran out of ideas or just because some shows’ concepts are only meant to last for a season, these are ten series that should have ended with the first season.

11 TV Shows That Should’ve Ended With The First Season

12 Netflix Shows That Crossed the Line

Photo Credit: Netflix.

Netflix has never been shy about pushing the boundaries regarding its original series. From tackling taboo subjects to stirring up intense debates, these shows have left viewers shocked, outraged, and craving more.

12 Netflix Shows That Crossed the Line

13 Shows on Netflix That Flew Under the Radar

Photo Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

From laughter-inducing sitcoms to gripping mysteries, these hidden gems will keep you hooked and hungry for more. So grab your popcorn, dive into these binge-worthy shows, and prepare for a thrilling escape into the world of extraordinary storytelling.

13 Shows on Netflix That Flew Under the Radar

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