A television show’s final episode is the culmination of all that came before it. Audiences are looking for closure and a sense that the time they’ve invested in the series — sometimes tallying in the hundreds of hours — has been well spent. A bad finale can sully a show’s reputation in ways no other single episode can.
In the age of serials — shows that tell one continuous story from episode to episode — an ending that doesn’t sufficiently tie up loose ends risks alienating huge portions of a show’s viewership. Shows may also be forced to end too abruptly due to an unexpected cancellation or, in some cases, a show has been on the air for too long and by the time the finale roles around audiences have simply had enough. And some finales are simply bad endings that don’t reflect what it was that people enjoyed about the show.
24/7 Wall St. has identified the 13 worst television finales based on user ratings from the Internet Movie Database. These are the finales that have left viewers angry, annoyed, and disappointed.
In many cases, series finales are rated higher than their respective series. The final episode gives writers a chance to make a final statement — no narrative decision is too extreme as there is no need to follow it up later in the series. In the cases of the worst finales, however, the ratings are frequently significantly lower than their series. The endings, specifically, have let down fans of the shows.
CBS sitcom “How I Met Your Mother,” for instance, was a highly popular show that ran for nine seasons. Fans followed the series for 208 episodes, anticipating the meeting of main characters Ted and Tracy as promised in the show’s title. Audiences were less than pleased with the information that Tracy had died and Ted was looking to move on.
A show’s writers are not always solely to blame. The final episode in the eighth season of “Scrubs” was a smash hit. The series, which won two Emmy Awards, was then resurrected for one more season with a nearly all new cast. By the time the final episode for that season — which was also the series finale — rolled around, the network’s desire to keep “Scrubs” alive had outlasted the viewers’ interest in it.
To determine the worst television finales of all time, 24/7 Wall St. identified the television episodes with the lowest ratings on the Internet Movie Database that were also tagged “series finale” by the site. Each episode was also required to have at least 400 user ratings in order to ensure a wide consensus on the show’s level of quality.