12 TV Shows That Completely Changed For The Last Season

List Rules
Vote up the TV shows that took a left turn for the final season.

Keeping things fresh on a long-running television series is hard. With that idea in mind, have you ever thought about how many TV shows completely changed at some point during their final season? We're not talking about shows that falter from the jump and retool on the fly to become a success. No, these are hit shows that switch things up in the final act. After all, endings are hard to get right.

Like when Parks and Recreation jumped forward three years for the final season. Or how almost the entirety of How I Met Your Mother's last season takes place over a long weekend. Or how Scrubs is basically a wholly different show in a different location with a mostly different cast during its ill-fated “med school” season. Sometimes these final seasons are great… sometimes they are terrible. Whatever the case, vote up the shows you felt really changed things up during the home stretch.

  • 1
    107 VOTES
    Photo: ABC

    Ah, Scrubs. Remember when the eighth season ended? And it was supposed to be the series finale? And it was a truly incredible send-off for a long-running sitcom that meant a lot to millions of people? Yeah, that was nice while it lasted. Unfortunately for fans everywhere, Scrubs was picked up for a ninth season unexpectedly, and Scrubs: Med School was born.

    The only original cast members to sign on as regulars were Donald Faison and John C. McGinley. While those two are great actors and every Scrubs fan adores Turk and Dr. Cox, having a Scrubs show without J.D., Elliot, Carla, and the rest of the gang was near blasphemous. Where was Dr. Kelso? What about Ted? And the Janitor? The majority of the original cast showed up for guest spots but it just didn't work. The talented new cast made up of Eliza Coupe, Kerry Bishé, Michael Mosley, and Dave Franco was never going to be able to fill the gap left in their wake. What an incredible misfire. 

    107 votes

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  • 2
    61 VOTES
    Photo: The WB

    Let's just take a second and marvel at the reality of Angel even getting five seasons in the first place. After all, Joss Whedon shows like Firefly and Dollhouse were unceremoniously canceled before they got a true chance to shine. Thanks to being related to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel got to hang around for a good five years. Not too shabby.

    After four seasons of fighting against the law offices of Wolfram & Hart, Angel and his buddies were given control of the Los Angeles law firm. Oh, and James Marsters's Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a full-time cast member now! And the higher-ups at the WB reportedly wanted the production team to focus more on standalone episodes like you'd see on CSI or Law and Order instead of a season-long story arc. What fans got was a sort-of workplace drama remix of the show they knew that, against all odds, ended up being very solid!

    61 votes

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  • That '70s Show
    Photo: Fox

    How does a show get around its two breakout stars leaving? Answer: It doesn't. The late '90s and early 2000s were very kind to That '70s Show. Throughout 200 episodes over eight seasons, the sitcom about Wisconsin teenagers was a hit with millions of people. Well, at least it was for the first seven seasons. Both Topher Grace and Ashton Kutcher decided they wanted to leave for greener pastures by the time Season 8 came around. Technically, they both appear in the final season, but only as guest stars.

    The addition of Josh Meyers as Randy Pearson was meant to make up for their loss. The MADtv cast member and younger brother of Seth Meyers was essentially billed as a replacement for Grace's Eric Forman. Randy even ends up dating Donna Pinciotti just as Eric did for much of the show, but it simply didn't work. The ratings faltered, and that's all she wrote for That ‘70s Show. You know, until That ’90s Show was announced.

    66 votes

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  • How I Met Your Mother
    Photo: CBS

    If How I Met Your Father's surprising success is any indication, people look back fondly on the nine-season run of the CBS hit sitcom, How I Met Your Mother. Getting to 200+ episodes is no joke, and getting a talented cast of actors like Neil Patrick Harris, Cobie Smulders, and Jason Segel together doesn't happen very often. Ted Mosby's excruciatingly long tale of how he met his kids' mom proved to find a loyal fan base that would relish in all of the many in-jokes. Just ask any HIMYM fan about Robin Sparkles or “slap bets" and watch their face light up.

    The final season of the show, however, was more than a little different than the eight that came before it. The entire season (minus the finale) takes place during a two-and-a-half-day period that culminates in the wedding of Robin and Barney. HIMYM's prerequisite timeline jumps are still there but everything centers around one weekend. It's an interesting idea in theory, but it takes a lot of creative freedom away from the proceedings. And don't get us started on the finale

    80 votes

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  • 5
    65 VOTES
    Photo: ABC

    Considering its heyday was decades ago, it's easy to forget that Roseanne absolutely took over the airwaves for nine incredibly successful years. Millions upon millions of people tuned in each week to watch the working-class Conners go about their lives in suburban Illinois. Unlike the majority of sitcoms at the time, Roseanne was unsurprisingly centered around a working mom who wasn't afraid to be brash and tell her husband off whenever she saw fit. Throw in three kids and the financial realities of a two-working-parent household and you've got a massive hit.

    And then, the ninth season. The final season of the show sees the Conners win over $100 million in the lottery and, well, things get a bit weird from there. Money changes people, after all. Also, John Goodman's Dan Conner was noticeably less involved than he was in previous seasons as he was filming a little film called The Big Lebowski when this final season was in production. The real kicker about the whole thing is that the series finale reveals the entire ninth season was a story made up by Roseanne Conner. They hadn't won the lottery and Dan succumbed to a heart attack at the end of Season 8. 

    65 votes

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  • Parks and Recreation
    Photo: NBC

    Nothing says “massive change” like a time jump. It was an especially bold choice for a pretty straightforward sitcom, but Parks and Recreation seemingly pulled everything off quite nicely. The show had become one of the biggest cult hits on television by the time the sixth season wrapped up, and the creative team had a growing number of characters to check in with during the truncated, 13-episode final season. Leaping forward three years gave the writers some time to introduce some closure for every character… yes, even Garry (Jerry/Terry/Larry) Gergich.

    By the time the seventh season was over, Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson were friends again after a years-long rift, Indiana ended up getting the Pawnee National Park, and pretty much every principal member of the cast got a moment in the sun. Also, having Leslie and Ben's triplets appear as toddlers mere episodes after finding out they were pregnant is one heck of a way to reinforce the time jump.

    53 votes

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