Dinosaurs was a family comedy that ran from 1991 to 1994. In many ways, it was a pretty formulaic sitcom about a family with a fat dad and tall, skinny mom. One notable difference was that the characters were all animatronic dinosaurs. It was a Jim Henson creation (though he died right before it went to air), and thus had many Henson hallmarks, such as the voice of Elmo behind the toddler character named Baby. The family patriarch was Earl Sinclair, a Homer Simpson-esque father figure best known for his part in the show’s most (only?) memorable joke, where Baby hits him on the head with a frying pan and says, “Not the mama!” Given the ludicrousness of the show, it’s reasonable that one wouldn’t expect an astoundingly heartbreaking ending. But one would be wrong.
With one of the worst TV series finales ever, the ending of Dinosaurs was depressing as hell. Earl worked for a shady, run-of-the-mill corporation called Wesayso that, through its greed and irresponsibility, brought about global ruin. It was a commentary on human consumption and environmental destruction, and it portended the end of life on earth and portrayed the imminent death of this family huddled together for warmth before the credits rolled. Yikes. Let’s take a deeper dive into the dark ending of the Dinosaurs sitcom finale to see just what the hell was going on.
The Wesayso Corporation have effectively wiped out the bunch beetles by building a wax fruit factory on their mating grounds. Without the bunch beetles, there is no species to keep the invasive creeping poppies from growing out of control. Wesayso is rightfully blamed, so their solution is to spray the land with a defoliant to kill the poppies. Which, of course, kills all plant life on the planet. Great.
Now that things have gone from bad to worse, how can they compound the issue? How about bombing volcanoes? That's right, Wesayso drops bombs into volcanoes with the express plan of producing rain clouds, concluding that rain will bring back the plant life. OR! The resultant volcanic ash thrown into the atmosphere will block out the sun and bring about an ice age that will ultimately end the dinosaurs. Wesayso, you rascals!
The final scene of Dinosaurs sees the Sinclair family huddled in their living room as snow piles up outside the window. The whole family knows the end is coming, but the baby doesn't understand, so he begins to question his father. Earl starts explaining what his corporation did to bring about the Ice Age, taking responsibility for his own complicity (imagine that).
The baby still doesn't understand what is to come of them, and the family doesn't have the heart to tell him, so they essentially just tell him they'll stay together and everything will be all right. The camera pulls away, revealing the exterior of the home covered in snow, then cuts to the sign of the wax fruit factory also piled with snow, and then to one final news cast.
In this final scene, as the Sinclairs await their doom (along with the rest of the world), there's a curious attempt at humor. The one remaining bunch beetle is with the family of dinos, and he's a bit of a creeper. The Scaramucci beetle wonders aloud if the teenage daughter of the family would be willing to hold him in her "comforting bosom."
It's not just the mounting snow that induces shivers. The levity is a bit out of place, to say the least.
Howard Handupme is the Walter Kronkite of Dinosaurs, but in the finale, he did his best Ed Murrow impression - or at least, paraphrased the broadcast journalist in the most heartbreaking fashion. "And taking a look at the long-range forecast... Continued snow, darkness, and extreme cold. This is Howard Handupme. Good night." He pauses and looks down in absolute dejection. Then he looks back up at the camera and chokes, "Goodbye." Fade to black.
WHAT THE F*CK?! How does a goddamn prehistoric turtle puppet in a parka named Handupme deliver a line with such devastating poignancy? Seriously though, what a depressingly messed up ending to an animatronic puppet show, man.