The Most Hated Series Finales Of All Time

Especially in serialized television, it can be hard to nail an ending. After so many years of built-up anticipation, fans expect a wrap-up that’s exciting, satisfying, and unexpected, putting a lot of pressure on the writers to meet expectations. Not to mention, dedicated viewers expect a sense of closure and happiness for the characters, though this isn't always the case.

While a lot of shows have ended on a high - take Breaking Bad, for instance - it’s quite common for series finales to be hugely disappointing. Still, there’s a big difference between a finale that’s downright bad and one that’s hated – although they’re often both. Here are some of the worst TV finales ever put to screen.

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Updated on July 11th, 2022, by Shawn S. Lealos: Fewer TV series now are scheduling seasons as they did in the old days. These days, the streaming services are putting out shows that have 10 episode seasons at the most and then stop after a set amount of seasons, with many shows lucky to end with five. This helps the showrunners plan out their endings and hope they stick when the time comes.

However, this was not always the case and in many situations, a show would go on and on, and then when it ended, it didn't satisfy viewers at all. When someone puts in countless hours to follow multiple seasons and it ends on a bad note, it can sour the entire series for viewers. Even with fewer episodes than ever in stories now, it is still a case where a bad ending ruins everything that came before.

Will & Grace (1998-2006)

Grace and Jack - Will and Grace Cropped
  • Streaming now on Hulu

When Will & Grace ended in 2006, it was something that fans hated and the main reason was that it was not loyal to the characters. The fact that Max Mutchnick was able to bring the show back over a decade later and offer up a new ending that was more honest to the characters tells the entire story.

RELATED: The 10 Best Season Finales Of The Decade, Ranked

In the original series finale, Will and Grace had a rift between them and they ended their friendship for 20 years. It wasn't until their grown children met in college that they were able to rekindle their relationship. While it wasn't the worst series finale of all time, it made fans angry. In the redo in 2020, they moved into a bigger house to raise their kids under one roof, an ending that fans loved.

Gossip Girl (2007-2012)

The Gossip Girl series finale wedding.
  • Streaming now on HBO Max

Gossip Girl is another show that is getting a new shot on the air right now. When the original series aired, it was a huge success and fans followed these characters all the way to the season finale. Sadly, it ended up as one of the worst endings in TV history. What went wrong?

For six seasons, the show followed wealthy and elite teens as they navigated scandals all thanks to a mysterious person known as Gossip Girl revealing all their secrets. Then, in the finale, it turned out that Dan was actually Gossip Girl. The problem is that it made no sense based on the six seasons of scandals, and fans rejected this and reacted in anger to the hated finale.

Angel (1999-2004)

Angel The Series Season 5 Finale
  • Streaming now on Hulu

Some fans consider the ending of Angel to be perfect. Throughout the series, the vampire with a soul was helping people in Los Angeles with his group of allies. The series ended up canceled in Season 5 and Joss Whedon had a chance to end it, but with fewer ordered episodes than planned. That made the ending seem rushed, which some people attributed to how it ended.

In the end, it seemed the characters didn't get their proper sendoffs. Wesley died in a shockingly sudden moment and Lorne killed fan-favorite villain Lindsey in a shocking betrayal. Then, with Gunn slowly dying from a wound, he stood by Angel, Spike, and Illyria for a final battle with demons and the show ended. Fans hated the sudden deaths of fan favorites and then complained about not seeing a final battle. However, the idea that the fight never ends was always the theme of Angel.

St. Elsewhere (1982-1988)

The St. Elsewhere Snow Globe
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St. Elsewhere was the most popular show on television for six years. There wasn't another show bringing in the ratings of this hospital drama, and it also featured some huge stars in early roles, including Mark Harmon, Denzel Washington, David Morse, and Ed Begley Jr.

However, it is widely known to have one of the worst series finales of all time. The show used the trope of being all in one character's head, and it turned out nothing that happened was real. It was all the imagination of a young boy on the spectrum named Tommy and the hospital was a construct in a small snow globe that the boy played with as he imagined the stories in his mind.

House, M.D. (2004-2012)

House MD Series Finale
  • Streaming now on Prime Video

For several seasons, Gregory House has run rampant over the hospital in which he worked. He was a brilliant doctor who could diagnose and help cure just about any patient who crossed his path. He was also a jerk who treated his co-workers like garbage, had no bedside skills when dealing with patients, and in the final seasons, was an addict who didn't even really try to help himself.

This led to the House, M.D. series finale where he didn't have to pay for any of the crimes he committed as the show came to a close. In one of the worst endings in TV history, House faked his own death. Then, while everyone attended his funeral and his best friend Wilson admitted that he hated him, he called Wilson to admit he was alive. With Wilson dying, and there being no cure, the two set out together to live out the rest of his days. House not getting what was coming to him and dragging Wilson down with him seemed cruel.

Supernatural (2005-2020)

Supernatural Series Finale (Featured)
  • Streaming now on Netflix

Supernatural was a long-running show that seemed like it would never end, but recently had its final episode in 2020. The series' original showrunners left after the 5th season and many feel that the show started declining after that.

Many fans were upset with the final episode in season 15 that attempted to end the Winchester brothers' story. Fans felt that Dean Winchester really didn't have a satisfying ending, neither did Sam and Cas, who had been in the show for several seasons, and a fan favorite wasn't even mentioned. For that alone, it was one of the worst TV show endings.

Gilmore Girls (2000-2007)

Gilmore Girls Season 7 Finale
  • Streaming now on Netflix

Gilmore Girls is another lovable show that faltered in its season finale that failed to give its character a successful send-off. The show ended with Lorelai and Rory leaving town and everyone's come together to throw them a hasty going-away party.

Luke and Lorelai's relationship is still fuzzy although it's implied they might have gotten back together, and then the episode ends. It was an abrupt finale for most fans, but the Netflix revival helped to quell a lot of the frustration of the original finale.

Quantum Leap (1989-1993)

Quantum Leap key art with Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell
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Quantum Leap followed a scientist, Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula), who was stuck leaping from body to body across time and space. He helps whoever he's inhabiting and then moves on to the next person.

It's a fun and popular show that usually finished a story a week as Sam helped whoever he was tasked with helping and then moved on to new characters each week. But, the finale tried to state that Sam always had the power to leap home, and the final images are of a title card saying that Sam never made it home, one of the worst endings in TV history.

Scrubs (2001-2010)

  • Streaming now on Prime Video and Hulu

The last episode of season 8 of Scrubs seemed to be a proper send-off for the characters as J.D. viewed a potential future involving him and Elliot getting married and having holidays with Turk and Carla and Dr. Cox and Jordan, but the show decided to come back for another season.

RELATED: Scrubs Main Characters, Ranked By Likability

Season 9 attempted to introduce a slew of new characters and put the characters fans had grown to love in the backseat for the final season. Even worse, the season finale didn't even feel like a final episode, and most fans choose not to rewatch the 9th season.

Jane The Virgin (2014-2019)

  • Streaming now on Netflix

The CW's critical darling Jane the Virgin concluded in 2019 on its own terms. After five seasons and one hundred episodes, it seemed like a good place to end the show on a high. Jane had faced so much already, as had her family and friends. Some important characters like Lina had already faded into the background, but season 5 decided to bring one back: Michael. Only he is no longer Michael, but a cowboy who goes by Jason.

He's unrecognizable and feels like an insult to Michael's memory. He only sticks around to throw Jane back into the love triangle that fans had gotten tired of three seasons ago. Jane marries Rafael, who behaves immaturely and irresponsibly throughout the entire season, so their union feels wrong. Furthermore, the identity of the narrator is revealed to be Mateo, something most viewers had guessed long ago.

The 100 (2014-2020)

Callie in The 100 Season 7 Finale
  • Streaming now on Netflix

The whole seventh season of The 100 feels confused and lost. After introducing some big ideas in the previous seasons, fans expected a lot of season 7 - perhaps too much. Clarke seems to be completely sidelined, sometimes disappearing for a whole episode at a time, and Bellamy only appears in three episodes - just to be pointlessly killed off.

Furthermore, the show's creator decides to deviate from the action entirely and throw a backdoor pilot into the middle of the season, right at the height of the tension. The pilot itself is interesting enough, but a little out of place at such a critical moment. It also undermines the current cast of characters. Then, of course, there's the finale: essentially, the extinction of the human race. What kind of message are viewers supposed to take away from this? Not only does it not make sense for the characters to support Clarke at this moment, but the finale leaves no room for any kind of hope.

Reign (2013-2017)

Reign Mary Execution
  • Streaming now on Netflix

The CW's Reign started out quite strongly and even gathered steam for a little while until the show's tone changed completely after Francis's death. Of course, this is inevitable, given how rooted the series is in history, even if it does take a few liberties.

In season 4, Mary returns to her home country of Scotland, which is an interesting story arc, but the show is undeniably darker. Instead of rushing through Mary's life, the series takes its time to expand on what is recorded in history, which is why the series finale comes as such a shock. Until a week before filming wrapped, the creators weren't sure if the series would be renewed or canceled, so they had already filmed a final scene just in case. When the news came, they had no choice but to cut Mary's story short and skip ahead twenty years to her execution.

13 Reasons Why (2017-2020)

  • Streaming now on Netflix

As if viewers didn't already have enough reasons to hate 13 Reasons Why, the finale completely ruined all hopes of an uplifting storyline. Clay spirals into what appears to be delirium, Jess is forced to forgive Bryce, and nobody ever learns the truth about any of the crimes committed by the teens.

RELATED: 10 Best Ensemble Teen TV Shows, Ranked According To IMDb

What's more, the group of friends has lost all faith and trust in one another right at the moment they should be growing closer together. There's also Ani's unexplained absences, and of course, Justin's death to top it all off as one of the worst endings in TV history.

Skins (UK) (2007-2013)

  • Streaming now on Hulu

If each generation's final episode wasn't gloomy enough, the show decided to add an extra season of doom and gloom. The series is notorious for killing off its most beloved and innocent character of each generation (Chris, Freddie, Grace), but season 7 takes this to a whole new level.

Just when viewers were hoping to get some closure on their all-time favorite characters, the show does the exact opposite. Split into three parts, season 7 picks up a few years after the events of the regular seasons to follow the adult lives of Effy, Cassie, and Cook. Effy is sent to prison, Cassie has a stalker, and Cook is still wrapped up in drugs and violence, only on a much bigger scale. The episodes are bleak, and the endings are completely devoid of hope.

Star Trek: Enterprise (2001-2005)

The Cast of Star Trek: Enterprise
  • Streaming now on Paramount+

Arguably the most hated finale of any of the Star Trek shows to date, Star Trek: Enterprise delivers a final episode that is both disappointing and frustrating. With the events of the episode being viewed in the distant future via holodeck – by none other than The Next Generation’s William Riker – the show’s fans and cast expressed anger at the finale.

Feeling the episode’s disconnected framing device cheapened the importance of Enterprise’s key characters and events, viewers couldn’t help but feel let down by “These Are the Voyages…” ending four seasons of increasingly well-told stories on a sour note.

Chuck (2007-2012)

Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski in Chuck
  • Streaming now on HBO Max

The series finale of NBC’s fan-favorite spy-comedy Chuck was well-received, boasting an impressive 9.3 on IMDb. This isn’t a list of the worst series finales of all time, however, but a list of the most hated. And some fans really hated it.

With the romance between lead characters Chuck and Sarah serving as the crux of the show’s story, fans were shocked when Sarah suddenly lost her memory – forgetting her entire past with Chuck in the process. While fans may have assumed the writers would reverse this, the show was left on an ambiguous note, as the pair’s future was left uncertain – a move that star Zachary Levi claimed left certain fans "apoplectic".

Seinfeld (1989-1998)

  • Streaming now on Netflix

Although the intent of Seinfeld’s season finale – to provide just desserts to the morally reprehensible characters – seems a smart idea on the surface, long-time fans of the show expressed distaste for how the show ultimately wrapped up.

RELATED: Seinfeld's 10 Most Self-Aware Episodes

Falling victim to its own impossible-to-meet expectations, the show alienated fans who felt the finale left a lot to be desired. Others, however, firmly believed the finale is entirely in keeping with the show’s tone. After all, taking a show like Seinfeld and trying to force some meaningful, over-sentimental send-off would have been a much worse idea.

Roseanne (1988-1997)

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Of all the directions that the popular sitcom Roseanne could have gone during its final season, what fans ended up with remains one of the most bizarre and baffling finales of any show in TV history. For some context, Roseanne’s final season saw a sharp change of course, with the previously working-class family suddenly winning the lottery. This altered the show's tone so much that it was almost unrecognizable to loyal fans.

It doesn’t end there, however, as Roseanne’s series finale goes a step further. It’s revealed that Rosanne’s husband Dan didn’t survive his heart attack at the end of season eight, with the entire final season’s events taking place in Roseanne’s imagination – rendering the entire thing pointless and needlessly depressing.

Two And A Half Men (2003-2015)

  • Streaming now on Peacock, DirecTV, and Fubo

Following the infamous fallout between Two and a Half Men star Charlie Sheen and the show’s creators, Sheen’s character Charlie Harper was killed offscreen and replaced with Ashton Kutcher’s Walden Schmidt in the show’s final few seasons.

While this already rubbed fans the wrong way, teasing the return of Charlie Harper in the show’s final episode only to kill him off again was probably not the best decision. The show’s final seconds consist of a piano crushing Sheen’s character before cutting to show creator Chuck Lorre, who says “winning!” Whereas most series finales attempt to provide some sense of comfort and closure to fans who’ve stuck with it for so long, it’s clear that Two and a Half Men’s ending was made for the pleasure of one person – Chuck Lorre.

The Sopranos (1999-2007)

The Sopranos Finale
  • Streaming now on HBO Max

Another finale that was divisive more than it was bad, the climax to HBO’s long-running gangster epic The Sopranos split its fanbase right down the middle. The episode’s final scene sees mob boss Tony and his family eating at a diner when a shady character enters – prompting Tony to look up as the screen cuts to black.

RELATED: Every Sopranos Season Finale, Ranked

It’s left unclear whether the man ultimately killed Tony or not – a decision that infuriated many fans who saw the show’s ambiguous ending as a cop-out. Others, however, thought it was the perfect end to Tony’s story, indicating that he either dies or spends the rest of his life looking over his shoulder.

Lost (2004-2010)

  • Streaming now on Hulu

There are few shows whose fall from grace is as widely mocked as Lost’s. Initially one of the freshest, most compelling mysteries ever seen on television, the show quickly ran out of steam during its fourth season. Still, fans hoped that the show had a satisfying endgame up its sleeve. For the most part, they were wrong.

It turned out the events of the entire show were part of some purgatorial judgment, a revelation that not only had crossed everybody’s mind already but also cheapened years of interesting, complex mythology.

Dexter (2006-2013)

michael c hall dexter finale beard
  • Streaming now on Prime Video, Fubo, and Showtime

While Dexter’s first four seasons were highly praised by critics and audiences alike, the show quickly started to go downhill in its later seasons, losing much of the charm and compelling narrative through-line it once had.

The show could be forgiven for failing to live up to the high bar set by the John Lithgow-starring fourth season, but by the time Dexter’s final season – and in particular its final episode – rolled around, fans were glad to wash their hands of the serial killer drama. Killing off Debra with as little fanfare as possible, the finale then saw Dexter drive his boat into the eye of the storm, presumably killing him. Although that was bad enough, the show’s post-credits sequence reveals that Dexter is, in fact, alive and well, working as a logger in the middle of who knows where.

How I Met Your Mother (2005-2014)

  • Streaming now on Hulu and Prime Video

Considering the entire premise of How I Met Your Mother was centered around the mystery of who the lead character Ted would end up with, the show really managed to make that question feel pointless by the time it wrapped up.

The show’s first few seasons promised a much more interesting take on the ‘will-they-won't-they’ romance between Ted and Robin since we knew there was no way they could end up together. How I Met Your Mother managed a last-minute rug pull that’s sure to go down as one of the worst in TV history. Divorcing Robin and Barney, killing off the show’s titular mother, and reuniting Ted and Robin all in the very last episode, the show wrongly assumed fans were still invested in the Ted-Robin romance.

Game Of Thrones (2011-2019)

Game of Thrones Series Finale Jon Snow
  • Streaming now on HBO Max

Game of Thrones always had a very deliberate sense of pacing. Taking the time to slowly build up its characters and create an interesting world – even if it meant spending an entire season traveling between locations – character decisions always felt organic, like they made perfect sense.

While some criticized the show’s expedited timeline in the seventh season, it wasn’t until the eighth that things really started to go off the rails. Giving Daenerys an eleventh-hour heel-turn that resulted in her demolition of King’s Landing and its citizens, Game of Thrones’ subsequent finale episode rang hollow, delivering a series of slapdash character send-offs, nonsensical plotting, and truncated storylines. In short, one of the worst endings in TV history felt insultingly rushed, turning off fans who’d invested so much time in the series.

NEXT: 10 Best Game Of Thrones Parodies

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2022-07-11T06:05:00.000Z

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