10 of the Biggest Series Finale Letdowns in TV History

These shows were great, but their endings were not.

Matt Branhamby Matt Branham

With series finales coming up for some of the biggest shows on television, including “Sons of Anarchy,” “Boardwalk Empire” and “Mad Men” (eventually), it makes you hopeful their endings will go smoother than the 10 biggest finale letdowns before them-some of which we still haven’t gotten over.

Dexter

TV series finale letdowns, Dexter series finale
Never before has there been a finale that built up eight years of murderous suspense only to blindly lose direction and capture an audience with its startling disappointment. Anyone who knew Dexter Morgan knew that his sister was the one person who could take him down, but instead they turned her into a vegetable after a suspense-free shooting, leaving zero resolve for her character. Dexter then somehow casually carried her out of the hospital, dropped her body in the water (after abandoning his son to a serial killer) and then sailed his boat into a storm. When the boat was conveniently found, all expected him to be dead as the show faded to black. The finale resurrected just long enough to show him working in the northwest as a lumberjack and living alone before fading to black again. The original showrunner of the first half of the series before its decline even offered up his idea of a better ending, but it didn’t matter. (Photo credit: Showtime)

How I Met Your Mother

TV series finale letdowns, how i met your mother series finale
“HIMYM” was unique in its comedic flashbacks and flash-forwards, but the finale’s disappointment was caused by too much of the very thing that made it unique-jumping around from plot point to plot point, bouncing through marriages, divorces, pregnancies and blue French horns. People who thought the show was all about meeting the mother of Ted’s kids missed the whole point of the show, or maybe it was the people writing it that missed the point. Fans awaited nearly a decade to meet “Your Mother,” and when they finally did, she was already dead. Take that. It’s just like giving a puppy to a child and suddenly taking it away after years of affection. In the end, the flash-forwards threw too many big life changes for Ted, Barney and Robin at viewers and left everyone with a “How I Wasted Nine Years of My Life” memoir to be written. Good thing they made an alternate ending. (Photo credit: CBS)

Lost

TV series finale letdowns, LOST series finale
After being lost, then found and then insanely returning back to the island from whence they were lost, and subsequently found, the displaced survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 somehow took a religious spin at the end of their run. After subtle biblical and mythological references over six years, the show fired an obvious dud with its hokey realization about helping Jack (Matthew Fox) find his way to the light and then walking through the doors with everyone from the island. Although Jack was obviously one of the lead characters, the show suddenly felt like it was all about him. Wouldn’t it have been better to make a reality show where Kate has sex with a bunch of hunks in the middle of nowhere? (Photo credit: ABC)

ALF

TV series finale letdowns, ALF series finale
The show about a lovable wiseass house pet known as “ALF” scarred children of the late ’80s generation when it failed to return the alien life form to his home planet of Melmac. The show was based around the idea that the government was after ALF and so the family gave him shelter, despite their difficulty to house train him. When a few members of his race came for him, the family bid him farewell, but instead of a happy ending, ALF was surrounded and captured by military officers and carted off for scientific research. To quote: “We’ll see how he responds to intense heat, freezing cold, high voltage, toxic substances, pain, sleep deprivation, inoculation, and, of course, dissection.” No wonder so many of us who watched this still aren’t right in the head well into our thirties. (Photo credit: NBC)

Seinfeld

TV series finale letdowns, seinfeld series finale
Everyone agrees there was no way to top what they had done as one of the greatest sitcoms in TV history, so it went without saying that the finale would be a fun, all-encompassing letdown. Pulling in all the characters they’d verbally abused and traumatized over the course of nine years, the gang was sentenced to prison after failing to meet the Good Samaritan clause, or-once again-being decent human beings in general. As the New York foursome reunited in a recent season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” they even addressed the issue themselves and sent the show off on a bit of a higher note, and without the use of Green Day’s “Time of Your Life” montage this time around. (Photo credit: NBC/Photofest)

The Sopranos

TV series finale letdowns, the sopranos series finale
All you need to know about the greatness of “The Sopranos” is that seven years after the finale aired, a little news about what creator David Chase may or may not have said about the final scene still created a huge buzz. Regardless, such a groundbreaking show leaving its fans on an ambiguous fade-to-black note is hard to label as anything but a letdown, unless you’d rather classify it as a punch in the gut. (Photo credit: HBO/Photofest)

Entourage

TV series finale letdowns, entourage series finale
For a show that represented a fairytale version of Hollywood using four douche bags you’d never want to hang out with, HBO still managed to entertain us and hang on to Vincent Chase and the boys for eight seasons, the last five of which were progressively worse than the one before. By the end of its run, Vince resolved his movie-making troubles, then met and married a girl all in one week, at which point you almost wished you were on the plane with the crew so you could jump off without a parachute. Makes you wonder what the hell the movie will be about. Let’s get imaginative and guess: hot chicks, phat cars, bad rap music, Eric being a total pansy, Ari making homophobic remarks in public, Turtle being a mooch, Drama being a poser and Vince being a terrible actor that everyone wants to bang (myself included). (Photo credit: HBO)

Roseanne

TV series finale letdowns, roseanna series finale
Most people who invest nine years into a show want at least some resolve at its conclusion. So how would you like to watch “Roseanne” for nine seasons, only to watch the simple Midwestern comedy turn to an existential mindf**k? In the finale, the family all decided to move back in with Roseanne, a classic hillbilly dream come true, but in reality Roseanne was writing a book the entire time, revealing changes in all the characters of the story. The family never won the lottery, Dan died from his heart attack years prior, all the couples were switched around and Jackie (not Bev) was gay. I mean, come on! The only thing worse than the finale was that woman’s haunting cackle. (Photo credit: ABC)

Cheers

TV series finale letdowns, cheers series finale
The only thing more depressing than watching washed-up baseball player and sex addict Sam Malone (Ted Danson) come to the realization that the only thing truly there for him was his bar (after years of love and loss with Kirstie Alley and Shelley Long’s characters), is the fact that we watched a bunch of drunks sit around a bar and talk about their lives while we were sober for 11 years. At least “Frasier” wasn’t a total crapshoot. (Photo credit: Paramount Network Television)

Breaking Bad

TV series finale letdowns, breaking bad finale
What started out as a questionable indie style show about a broken, cancer-stricken teacher cooking meth quickly became a cult phenomenon. Walter White’s character rose from the everyday pushover to a man of great power and wealth in just a couple years’ time using stronger, darker plot lines as the series continued. The show ended on an unexpected softer note than expected with most of Walt’s family surviving and him quietly passing away next to a meth lab. After killing off Hank and watching Jesse’s girlfriend being murdered in front of him, we expected escalation that was never received, possibly due to the show’s popularity and need to have a common, acceptable Hollywood ending. Basically, the problem here was the lack of Skylar dying in a brutal fashion. (Photo credit: Ursula Coyote/AMC)