It’s the end of May, which means it’s finale season in the television world.
As shows on the air wrap up their seasons and their runs, and try to pull viewers in with very dramatic episodes, we’re fondly looking back on some of the most shocking finales ever.
Finales are usually some of the best episodes of TV shows. They wrap up the season, or the series, and pull a twist or two that leave viewers hanging until the next season (or in some cases, forever).
Here, we collected some of the most shocking season and series finales that left us shaken from a twist, revelation, or character moment.
Here are 15 of the most shocking TV finales of all time, from “Lost” to “The Good Place”:
“The Sopranos” — season 6 episode 21, “Made in America”
When it aired: June 10, 2007
The series finale of “The Sopranos” was so shocking and abrupt that millions of people watching live assumed their power had gone out. The Soprano family meets at a diner for dinner, Meadow struggles to parallel park, and once the entire family is at the table, the screen goes black without explanation.
“Penny Dreadful” — season 3 episode 9, “The Blessed Dark”
When it aired: June 19, 2016
The third and planned final season of “Penny Dreadful” packed in a lot of plot and new characters. It was messy in good ways and bad. In its shocking series finale, which was jam-packed with some of the best action ever made for the small screen, its main character, Vanessa (played by Eva Green) begs her on-and-off lover Ethan (played by Josh Hartnett) to kill her to save the world from complicated supernatural beings.
“Lost” — season 3 episodes 22 and 23, “Through the Looking Glass”
When it aired: May 23, 2007
The season three finale of “Lost” took an unprecedented turn for a network series, or even any TV series. In the two-part finale, it’s revealed that the flashbacks shown throughout the season have actually been flash forwards. What a twist!
“Breaking Bad” — season 4 episode 13, “Face Off”
When it aired: October 9, 2011
By the end of “Face Off,” villain Gus Fring’s face literally comes off. Throughout the episode, Walter White plots to build a bomb that will end his rival and make him the king of the meth business.
“Mad Men” — season 6 episode 13, “In Care Of”
When it aired: June 23, 2013
This episode of “Mad Men” was shocking in a way that no other episode on this list is. For the first time in the series, Don Draper starts getting honest about who he is: he tells his co-workers and clients in a very important pitch meeting that he grew up in a brothel, and by the end of the episode he’s taken his children to see it.
“Grey’s Anatomy” — season 5 episode 24, “Now or Never”
When it aired: May 14, 2009
In the fifth season finale, Seattle Grace gets a patient so tattered from an accident that he’s unrecognizable. By the end of the episode, Meredith Grey realises that the patient is George O’Malley, but they can’t save him. George was one of the most beloved characters on the show, and his death marked a new era, and proved that the show could function without the original cast.
“The Sopranos” — season 4 episode 13, “Whitecaps”
When it aired: December 8, 2002
“Whitecaps” is one of the best episodes of “The Sopranos,” and one of the best TV episodes of all time, with incredible performances from Edie Falco and James Gandolfini. In the episode, we see Carmela and Tony’s relationship go from sweet to the messiest it’s ever been, as Carmela starts to call Tony out on his infidelity and lies throughout their entire marriage. Oh, and she also tells Tony that she’s got a huge crush on Furio, the long-haired Italian who was one of Tony’s most loyal associates.
“Westworld” — season 1 episode 10, “The Bicameral Mind”
When it aired: December 4, 2016
In the season one finale, Robert Ford, one of the main characters in the series, is shot in the head by Dolores. Ford also gives the hosts free will. This was a shocking turn of events that for most shows wouldn’t happen until later in a run. This really set up a lot of violence, high stakes, and intensity in season two.
“The O.C.” — season 3 episode 25, “The Graduates”
When it aired: May 18, 2006
Everyone knew that Mischa Barton’s character Marissa Cooper was going to get killed off on “The O.C.,” because the actress wanted to pursue a career in movies. But her death was still devastating, especially because Ryan was there in her final moments.
“Orange Is the New Black” — season 1 episode 13, “Can’t Fix Crazy”
When it aired: Entire season became available on Netflix July 11, 2013
The first season of this early Netflix hit ended fittingly: Piper’s journey in prison, which started to reveal sides of her she didn’t even know about, ends with her beating up fellow inmate Pennsatucky, who threatened her life. Pennsatucky survives, but it was agony waiting to find out what happened.
“Jane the Virgin” — season 4 episode 17, “Chapter Eighty-One”
When it aired: April 20, 2018
“Jane the Virgin” both embraces and satirizes the telenovela. At the end of the excellent season four finale, Jane’s relationship seemingly comes to an end when she finds out that her husband Michael, who died years ago, is alive.
“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” — season 2 episode 13, “Can Josh Take a Leap of Faith?”
When it aired: February 3, 2017
The season two finale of “Crazy-Ex Girlfriend” takes a quite unexpected turn: Josh Chan leaves Rebecca Bunch alone at the altar, because on their wedding day, he decides that he wants to join the priesthood. It’s both hilarious and devastating.
“Game of Thrones” — season 4 episode 10, “The Children”
When it aired: June 15, 2014
People who read the books saw everything in this episode coming, but most fans were shocked to see Tyrion Lannister kill his father Tywin on the toilet, right after he killed the love of his life, Shae, who betrayed him. This action-packed finale also had a brutal fight between Brienne and the Hound, and ended with Arya heading across the Narrow Sea to Braavos.
“The Good Place” — season 2 episode 13, “Somewhere Else”
When it aired: February 1, 2018
“The Good Place” completely changed what the show was capable of in its season one finale, and did it again with the season two ending. At the end of the episode, all of the main characters who are in the afterlife are sent back to the moment right before they died. There, they can prove if they have truly become better people so they can make it to the Good Place.
“The Office” — season 2 episode 22, “Casino Night”
When it aired: May 11, 2006
In the season two finale of “The Office,” Jim tells Pam that he’s in love with her, and it’s one of the sweetest moments in sitcom history.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.