Good TV shows with bad endings are a more common occurrence than you might think. That disappointing finale usually happens when a series has already run its course, but the network insists on keeping it around for the sake of ratings. A bad finale could be due to the creator - for instance, perhaps they tried taking a huge risk that didn't exactly pay off the way fans were hoping.
Everyone makes mistakes, especially in TV land. Some shows start shaky, but eventually find their groove, like The X-Files. Others lose momentum when they decide to pair up two of the main characters - remember how hard The Office stumbled once Jim and Pam settled into happy cohabitation? Even in the era of TV on demand, when viewers have little patience for bad plots and stale dialogue, a mishap or two can be forgiven along the way. But when a great show jumps the shark towards its end, you can’t help but scratch your head in disbelief.
The worst TV show endings carry an extra sting because viewers have already invested years following the series, and want their loyalty rewarded. They’re accustomed to a certain level of quality, so they buckle up for an exciting final ride - only to have the show fizzle out. There's nothing else to do but try to move on with life, and work out that angst by voting on these TV shows with bad final seasons.
- Photo: Game of Thrones / HBO
Cultural juggernaut Game of Thrones has had devout fans ever since Jaime Lannister pushed poor Bran out of the tower window in the pilot episode. After a two-year wait, the fantasy drama came back for its eighth and final season in April 2019, and fans felt let down by anti-climatic battles and loose story ends. Some fans noted the mistreatment of characters, especially women and people of color, while others were simply miffed at the slow pace of the season, lackluster culminations of multiple strong character arcs, and all-around disservice to George R.R. Martin's tale by the writing staff.
Still, devout fans were ready to stick with it through the end to see who would finally end up on the Iron Throne and make sure Ghost got the pats he deserved.
- Actors: Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Aidan Gillen
- Premiered: April 17, 2011
- Photo: That '70s Show / FOX
It’s never a good sign when a lead of a show leaves and the series continues. That was the case on That 70’s Show. Eric left for Africa, Kelso only appeared sporadically, and Season 8 introduced Randy, a character who never managed to fully become a part of the group. Don’t even get viewers started on the Jackie-Fez romance or Hyde's stripper wife.
Season 8 ushered in the end of an era both on the show and in it, according to The New York Times: "But with both [Ashton Kutcher and Topher Grace] absent from the regular cast and the others looking a bit too mature still to be partying in dad's basement, the program...experienced its own sort of energy crisis."
- Actors: Topher Grace, Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, Danny Masterson, Laura Prepon
- Premiered: August 23, 1998
- Photo: Dexter / Showtime
Oh, Dexter. It still breaks fans' hearts to acknowledge that horrible last arc - not to mention the finale, which was a slap in the face to long-time viewers. Everything that happened during Season 8 was dumbfounding. Hannah, once a complex character, lost pretty much all her layers. Deb suffered no repercussions after shooting LaGuerta. Masuka had a daughter for some reason. New characters were introduced, only to be disposed of quickly. Overall, it was a mess of a season that barely resembled the Dexter that we once knew.
Critics were harsh as well. "Dexter has become almost laughably predictable and the creators have hardly sought to take any major steps outside of the dramatic structure and machinations set up in the first season and reinforced in the second," Slant Magazine's Chris Cabin wrote.
- Actors: Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, C.S. Lee, David Zayas, James Remar
- Premiered: October 1, 2006
- Photo: True Blood / HBO
True Blood was a bloody good time during its early run and was always highly entertaining. Then... Season 7 happened. Lackluster storylines. Meaningless new characters. The ending was particularly insulting to viewers. Bill dies? Sookie is happy with someone else who is never shown on screen? Maybe someone should have put a stake in the show’s heart sooner.
U.K. Telegraph critic Rebecca Hawkes said the finale's forced ending: "[It] felt very anodyne - a betrayal of everything that originally made the series so much fun... At its very end, True Blood had lost its fangs."
One Reddit user put it more succinctly: "I'm just glad this is the last season."
- Actors: Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell, Ryan Kwanten, Rutina Wesley
- Premiered: September 7, 2008