Worst Television Finales

March 14, 2019 by Steven M. Peters

Source: Courtesy of Netflix
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.

Click here to see the worst television finales.

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.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Network

13. The Mist
> Original run: (2017)
> Finale title: The Tenth Meal
> Rating: 6.9/10
> Starring: Morgan Spector, Alyssa Sutherland, Gus Birney

“The Mist” — based on the work of Stephen King — ran for just one 10-episode season before it was canceled by its network Spike. The show’s finale matched its lackluster run, being described by TV critic Vinnie Mancuso as “jarringly nonsensical.”

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Source: Courtesy of HBO

12. Hello Ladies
> Original run: (2013 – 2014)
> Finale title: Hello Ladies: The Movie
> Rating: 6.7/10
> Starring: Stephen Merchant, Christine Woods, Nate Torrence

British writer and actor Stephen Merchant’s comedy series “Hello Ladies” ran on HBO from 2013 to 2014, concluding with a second season that consisted of a single feature-length special. But the sentimental finale failed to connect with fans of the show.

Source: Courtesy of Music Box Films

11. Wallander
> Original run: (2005 – 2013)
> Finale title: Sorgfågeln
> Rating: 6.4/10
> Starring: Krister Henriksson, Charlotta Jonsson, Leonard Terfelt

Swedish detective drama “Wallander” was released as three seasons of feature-length films. The series was popular enough to inspire an adaptation for British television. The series’ final film has only managed to generate a 6.4/10 rating, however, compared with the overall series’ 7.6/10.

Source: Courtesy of CBS Television Distribution

10. Under the Dome
> Original run: (2013 – 2015)
> Finale title: The Enemy Within
> Rating: 6.4/10
> Starring: Mike Vogel, Rachelle Lefevre, Alexander Koch

Like “The Mist,” “Under the Dome” is based on the work of Stephen King. Unlike “The Mist,” “Under the Dome” was a big success upon initial release. Viewership gradually dropped, however, and the series was canceled after three seasons. The show failed to go out on a high note, with critic Matt Fowler describing the final episode, “The Enemy Within,” as “a horrid episode filled with utter nonsense and awful dialogue.”

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Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Television

9. Scrubs
> Original run: (2001 – 2010)
> Finale title: Our Thanks
> Rating: 6.3/10
> Starring: Donald Faison, John C. McGinley, Eliza Coupe

Hospital-based comedy “Scrubs” ran for an impressive nine seasons before being canceled. The show’s final season — and final episode — didn’t sit especially well with long-term fans, as the ninth season shifted focus from familiar cast to a host of new faces. While the series’ last episode has a rating of only 6.3 on IMDb, the final episode of the eighth season — titled “My Finale” — has a 9.8 rating.

Source: Courtesy of KVH Media Group

8. The Good Wife
> Original run: (2009 – 2016)
> Finale title: End
> Rating: 6/10
> Starring: Julianna Margulies, Matt Czuchry, Alan Cumming

“The Good Wife” won five Emmy awards and a Golden Globe over its seven seasons run. Yet the series’ final moments — which consisted of one major character slapping another across the face — left many fans unhappy. In a 2016 interview with “Variety,” the show’s creators Michelle and Robert King defended the ending, yet acknowledged that they “knew fans, a lot of fans, would be upset.”

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Source: Courtesy of HBO

7. Girls
> Original run: (2012 – 2017)
> Finale title: Latching
> Rating: 5.8/10
> Starring: Lena Dunham, Allison Williams, Becky Ann Baker

Lena Dunham’s original and oftentimes controversial HBO series “Girls” seemed to have produced an acceptable finale with the ninth episode of its final season, titled “Goodbye Tour.” However, one more episode was released at the urging of executive producer Judd Apatow. Featuring just two of the show’s main characters, many felt the episode unnecessary and tacked on.

Source: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Television

6. How I Met Your Mother
> Original run: (2005 – 2014)
> Finale title: Last Forever
> Rating: 5.6/10
> Starring: Jason Segel, Alyson Hannigan, Neil Patrick Harris

“How I Met Your Mother” was an undoubtedly popular series, running for nine seasons with a current overall rating of 8.3 out of 10 on IMDb. Many viewers felt the show’s writers dropped the ball when it came to the final episode, however. Fans went so far as to create a petition on Change.org, requesting a new ending. The petition acquired more than 5,000 signatures.

Source: Courtesy of CBS Television Distribution

5. Star Trek: Enterprise
> Original run: (2001 – 2005)
> Finale title: These Are the Voyages…
> Rating: 5.3/10
> Starring: Scott Bakula, John Billingsley, Jolene Blalock

“Star Trek: Enterprise” is the sixth series in the Star Trek franchise, and the last prior to J.J. Abram’s 2009 cinematic return to the sci-fi property. The series was well-received prior to its final episode, which featured a tie-in with “The Next Generation.” Even series creator Brannon Braga later admitted to regretting the finale at a Star Trek Las Vegas Convention. “It didn’t work out so well,” he recounted.

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Source: Courtesy of HBO

4. True Blood
> Original run: (2008 – 2014)
> Finale title: Thank You
> Rating: 5.2/10
> Starring: Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell

Vampire-drama “True Blood” ran for seven seasons on HBO, during which time it won a Golden Globe and an Emmy. The show seemed to be running on fumes by the end of its tenure, with TV critic Carrie Raisler finding the finale forced, “silly,” and — worst of all — “boring.”

Source: Courtesy of CBS Television Distribution

3. Dexter
> Original run: (2006 – 2013)
> Finale title: Remember the Monsters?
> Rating: 4.8/10
> Starring: Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, Desmond Harrington

Showtime’s serial killer series “Dexter” is generally well regarded, with more than 590,000 IMDb users giving it a combined rating of 8.7/10. By the end of season 8, the show seemed to have lost much of its spark. Referencing the finale on Den of Geek, reviewer Nick Harley stated, “the series didn’t conclude so much as it just shrugged and kind of gave up.”

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Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution

2. Two and a Half Men
> Original run: (2003 – 2015)
> Finale title: Of Course He’s Dead: Part 1 & 2
> Rating: 4.2/10
> Starring: Bob Bergen, April Bowlby, Roger V. Burton

CBS sitcom “Two and a Half Men” ran for a notable 12 seasons, over which time multiple prominent actors — including Charlie Sheen and Angus T. Jones — left the show. The show’s bizarre finale, which featured everything from 3D animation to a “Silence of the Lambs” homage, indicated that it was finally time for the show’s cast and crew to pack it in.

Source: Courtesy of Netflix

1. House of Cards
> Original run: (2013 – 2018)
> Finale title: Chapter 73
> Rating: 2.7/10
> Starring: Robin Wright, Michael Kelly, Diane Lane

Political thriller “House of Cards” was a huge critical success throughout most of its six seasons run, during which time it won seven Emmys and two Golden Globes. Following allegations of sexual misconduct against Kevin Spacey, Netflix fired the star and announced that it would cancel the show following its sixth season. While the entire final season was poorly received, the final episode hit a new low, receiving an abysmal 2.7/10 rating on IMDb.