pitch-perfect series finale can often seal a show’s place in the pantheon of TV greatness.
From classics like M*A*S*H and Cheers to recent examples such as Mad Men and The Deuce, a great series finale is a sure-fire way of ensuring that a show’s reputation will endure. But what happens when TV creators get it wrong?
Either by playing it too safe or taking too much of a risk, many otherwise beloved programmes have seen their shine dulled by the stigma of a finale misfire.
Some are universally despised, while others are simply divisive, works of arguable genius that nonetheless alienated large portions of their fanbase.
The most recent series to make the list is the hit BBC One drama Line of Duty, which concluded its sixth season on 2 May, 2021.
It is currently unknown whether Line of Duty will return for another run of episodes. If this was indeed the series finale, it will go down as a divisive one; many fans bemoaned the long-awaited reveal of “H” as “disappointing”, and claimed the episode as a whole was “boring”.
Here is a selection of the 20 most hated series finales of all time…
20. Breaking Bad
Wrapping up a series as electrically popular and perpetually surprising as Breaking Bad was always going to be a tough task – and the initial reaction to the finale (“Felina”) was one of widespread adulation. But while the episode still has its high points – Jesse’s euphoric escape from captivity; Walt’s theatrically tragic demise – its reputation has cooled, for many, to one of gentle disappointment. When you’ve made one of the medium’s all-time great series, a finale that’s simply “good” won’t quite cut the methstard.
19. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Rachel Bloom’s cult musical comedy series made some questionable calls towards the end of its four-season run – which included re-casting erstwhile love interest Greg with an entirely different actor. But its finale was still viewed as a particular cop-out by some fans, as its dysfunctional lead Rebecca sidestepped the choice between her three potential suitors and chose instead to focus on music. Thematically satisfying? Maybe, but most viewers had already picked a side, and anyone watching to “ship” was left unfulfilled.
A new child being born in a TV finale is as common as it is hackneyed (think Chandler and Monica in Friends, or Niles and Daphne in Frasier). Girls put its own spin on the cliché in “Latching”, which saw insufferable writer Hannah Horvath (Lena Dunham) rebuild her relationship with the even-more-insufferable Marnie (Allison Williams) after giving birth to a son, Grover. For a show originally premised on the hip, quintessentially millennial friendship between four twentysomething women in New York City, Girls transformed into something radically different – and not altogether successful – in its dying breath.
17. The Undoing
Hugh Grant and Nicole Kidman’s tense psychological thriller had viewers entranced when it aired on Sky earlier this year. But many were disappointed by the finale’s predictable grand reveal. In a two-star review of…