- Not every good television show ends on a good note, as hit series like “Game of Thrones” and “Seinfeld” have shown.
- Whether it’s due to a lack of character development or plot resolution, the finales to some big-name shows haven’t always been loved by critics.
- Shows like “Gossip Girl” and “House” have been chastised by reviewers for their final episodes, as have sitcoms like “How I Met Your Mother” and “Two and a Half Men.”
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Even the most-hyped TV shows don’t always get good reviews for their final episodes, and shows that have received high praise for multiple seasons may fall apart at the end.
For instance, critics were big fans of “Dexter” for most of its duration, but the series is one of the most despised in recent years. The “How I Met Your Mother” finale also disappointed critics and fans alike, and who could forget the widely-derided “Game of Thrones” finale?
These shows are proof that sometimes, it’s pretty difficult to stick the ending. Here are the worst series finales of all time, according to critics.
Anjelica Oswald contributed to an earlier version of this article.
“Game of Thrones” finished its final season on a rotten note, as many critics mourned the loss of character development and found the plot rushed.
What critics said: “As a fan of the TV show, I felt battered into submission. This season has been the same story over and over again: a lot of tin-eared writing trying to justify some of the most drastic story developments imaginable, as quickly as possible.” – The Atlantic
“Had Game of Thrones given itself more time – an added season, perhaps, or even just a few more episodes – it might have worked its way to a similar place but laid its bread-crumb trail more effectively so that we could all follow along and the right kind of closure could be achieved. … But in this last season, there was too little surprise, too many high-dollar digital theatrics, and less drive to really drill down into the essence of what made Westeros a place where so many people wanted to spend their Sunday nights.” – Vulture
Not even Robin Wright could save the lacklustre final season of “House of Cards.”
What critics said: “‘House of Cards’ didn’t need to scorn its own history in order to create a satisfying conclusion, but fans have a right to expect it to be fleeter-footed in giving them a tale worth caring about post-Frank, which would have called for meaningfully moving past him. In the moments when Claire is allowed not just the camera but the story, ‘House of Cards’ is a ride; when the past is re-litigated and the specter of Frank rears up once more, it feels like that worst thing a binge-able drama can be: a trudge.” – Variety
“More than half the final season passes before ‘House of Cards’ feels like Claire Underwood’s (Robin Wright) story instead of his epilogue, and even when she starts to see her vision borne out, the lingering questions are all about Frank. Despite the hype, season six isn’t Claire’s show. It’s still Frank’s, which undercuts the season’s many attempts at women-first stories and keeps momentum stagnant.” – IndieWire
Critics called the finale of the “Roseanne” reboot “uneven” and “ridiculous” after all of the Conner family’s problems were magically solved.
What critics said: “It’s an uneven end to an uneven nine-episode season for the revival, with 13 more episodes due this fall.” – USA Today
“This is as ridiculous as it is infuriating, and it’s disingenuous to boot. All season long, ‘Roseanne’ has deliberately poked and prodded at some of the most tender, aching spots in the American cultural psyche.” – Vulture
Some critics felt that the 2015 “Mad Men” finale didn’t tie up enough loose ends — especially ones regarding the creation of a hit Coca-Cola ad, ostensibly by Don Draper.
What critics said: “The finale was characterised by a lack of urgency that has been emblematic of the show’s brand of storytelling, but especially true since its return in April. So while the hour mixed in some wonderfully graceful notes and tied up a few loose ends, others were left dangling.” – Variety
“I didn’t expect “Mad Men” to tie everything up neatly – far from it, given what the show has been about for the past seven seasons. But let’s just say that some past season finales were more satisfying and resonant than the series finale was.” –Huffington Post
“Two and a Half Men” came to a terrible end, with critics saying it was offensive and unfortunate.
What critics said: “The most egregious aspect of the finale was the ending itself, which, again, I reiterate was garbage. … I swear to God, I don’t think I could come up with a worse ending than a faceless Charlie Harper walking up to the front doorstep of Alan’s home, a grand piano falling on his head, and then a pull-out to Chuck Lorre sitting in his director’s chair and turning around to say, ‘Winning!’ – and then a grand piano falling on his head…” – IGN
“During this last season, the show went off the rails in terms of absurdity and offensiveness. … It became so unequivocally terrible that hardly any critics stuck around to watch it long enough and analyse how awful it was, instead checking in only periodically.” – Grantland
The conclusion to “Under the Dome,” adapted from Stephen King’s novel of the same name, was a let-down for critics and fans who stuck with the show from the first season.
What critics said: “So this is where we leave things. With a horrid episode filled with utter nonsense and awful dialogue. Like we were watching a parody of an action/adventure series from ‘SNL’ or some other late night comedy show.” – IGN
“Under the Dome Season 3 Episode 13 was indeed the series finale, and it didn’t quite have the closure you’d have expected. In fact, I’d even go as far as to say that it was a slap in the face to us fans who have hung in there for three seasons for a conclusion to a show that should have ended after the first run.” – TV Fanatic
The “How I Met Your Mother” finale introduced the mother and killed her shortly after, infuriating many people. It also took back character growth that had developed over the seasons and felt like a cop-out.
What critics said: “Recent seasons of ‘How I Met Your Mother’ have disappointed me. But it’s one thing when a show makes character choices or pacing decisions I don’t care for – and boy, ‘HIMYM’ has made a lot of those. It’s another thing, though, when a show makes a choice I don’t respect. Killing the mum is bad enough, but making this a Ted-and-Robin love story is bailing on the central conceit of the show. You might even call it a slap in the face.” – Vulture
“Stories change over nine years, characters do, people do. And people did over the course of ‘HIMYM’ – only to be wrenched back over the course of an hour, because that was the Plan. That show you followed since 2005, it turns out, was the longest retcon in the history of retcons.” –Time
“True Blood’s” finale season was not well-received from both fans and critics, who thought the show became too convoluted and lost its focus.
What critics said: “In the case of ‘True Blood’ at least, the thin-stretched and scattershot nature of its emotional threads have made it difficult to garner the sense of true satisfaction to any end, creating a prism of viewer expectation to interpret ‘Thank You’ every which way.” _ ScreenCrush
“‘Nothing’ was the final word spoken in ‘True Blood’s’ final episode. Maybe it was fitting: What did this deeply radical show ultimately stand for? Nothing. What did we spend seven seasons watching this show for? Nothing.” – Entertainment Weekly
On “Dexter,” the serial killer’s end as a lumberjack with a new identity wasn’t appreciated by many critics.
What critics said: “As the closing scene faded from my television screen, my reaction wasn’t shock or sadness. It was anger….It’s the kind of anger you feel after investing so much time into a show that you once loved, only to watch it fizzle out in the most unsatisfying of ways.” – Vulture
“It’s a feat for a finale to make you regret having watched a single moment of the series, but ‘Remember The Monsters’ made it look easy.” – AV Club
Critics felt that the series finale of “House,” called “Everybody Dies,” didn’t do justice to the cynical lead character Dr. House — and, in general, just “sucked.”
What critics said: “Finales are a chance to shoot the moon, to make up for lost time, to, I dunno, not suck. “Everybody Dies” is a failure of ambition, a frustratingly slapdash affair that tries to hide its lack of ideas behind the usual forced theatrics, reeking of a fan-fiction-like conviction in its own awesomeness. And it sucked. Hard.” – AV Club
“Had House himself been watching, he would have rolled his eyes and said something incredibly snide and dismissive.” – The Toronto Star
According to critics, the 2012 season finale of “Gossip Girl,” called “New York, I Love You, XOXO” lacked depth.
What critics said: “If you were looking for depth, morals or solid characterization, the ‘Gossip Girl’ finale didn’t provide them, but then again, the show never has, so let’s simply be grateful that we can say XOXO to the series for the last time, and never speak of it again.” – Huffington Post
“You know, for an episode that had two weddings, a death, and the long-awaited unveiling of the gossip girl herself, ‘New York, I Love You, XOXO’ is excruciatingly boring. Anticlimax follows anticlimax in a kind of funeral procession, slowly marching the juggernaut that was ‘Gossip Girl’ to its long-awaited death.” – AV Club
The “Weeds” finale jumped years into the future offering a glimpse of what the main characters were up to in later years, but critics were unimpressed.
What critics said: “Pour one out to Showtime’s ‘Weeds,’ y’all. But not the good stuff. The show no longer deserves it. However, as we reflect upon last night’s weak, bummer of a series finale, let’s remember the good times: The first three seasons. It was once a great show.” – Uproxx
“The Botwins – if we can still call them that – said farewell Sunday, with a ‘Weeds’ series finale that a stoner might describe as … ‘a total bummer, man.'” – TV Guide
The “Lost” finale has been panned by fans and critics, who felt that the flash-sideways plot took away from the island and the importance of the entire story.
What critics said: “So the sound you heard ’round about 10 Sunday night was thousands of non-romantics wishing for a time slip that would give them those two and a half hours and possibly six seasons back.” – Los Angeles Times
“The ending felt contrived and disappointing, which was probably inevitable. After years of insane complication of plot and character, no ending could have ‘explained’ the show in a wholly satisfying way, and it might have been better not to try.” – New York Times
“Scrubs” was supposed to end after season eight, but continued for another season. Critics felt the show should have ended a year earlier.
What critics said: “Networks, like doctors, need to know when to pull the plug. For ‘Scrubs’ that expiration date should have arrived last season … Yet, inexplicably, ABC is trying to reanimate the corpse, replacing most, yet not enough, of the cast and shifting the focus to med students. The result is a deadly, deal-driven mistake that takes a network that has made great sitcom strides forward one unfortunate step back.” – USA Today
“At this point, ‘Scrubs’ has turned its original style into a formula; the fantasy sequences are more predictable, the earnest denouements are automatic. It’s a good formula, but one that’s no longer vibrant. I still think ‘Scrubs’ should have stood behind last season’s series finale and gone off the air. But given that the show is back for a ninth go-round, things could be a whole lot worse.” – Boston Globe
The “Heroes” finale wasn’t meant to be a series finale, but it was, and ultimately, critics found that it wasn’t successful.
What critics said: “Yet here we are anyways at the season, possibly series finale, with an episode so bad, it somehow made me feel retroactively like I wasted more time watching everything that preceded it.” – AV Club
“There was no suspense and no emotional attachment to anything going on. There was nothing especially awful about the hour, but nothing remotely season finale worthy, either.” –TV Fanatic
The “Will & Grace” finale was absolutely derided by critics, who called it “bloated” and “confusing.”
What critics said: “Thus we endure a swirl of confusing, unnecessary sequences, from Grace’s dream to current reality to two years later to their kids’ first day of college to their kids’ impending wedding. By the end, instead of being sad to bid adieu, we’re just relieved not to have yet another disbelief-suspending flash-forward thrust upon us.” – Entertainment Weekly
“Last night, ”Will & Grace’ said a big fat goodbye. Seriously, the last episode of the series was sadly bloated and oversized, like Debra Messing in the fat suit during the opening dream sequence. For every minute of strong material, there were at least five of flab.” – The Boston Globe
The final season of “The X-Files,” before it was revived years later, was panned by critics who felt the show had lost its touch.
What critics said: “It’s safe to say I now actively dislike this once-great show, creator Chris Carter and the Fox network for the way they’re jerking viewers around. … There was a time I couldn’t wait to see what ‘The X-Files’ would come up with next. Now I’m praying for it to end.” – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Season 9 was terrible. Really, really terrible. I hate to be so negative but this was honestly the only season of the show I found so bad as to be borderline unwatchable. Previous seasons have had their low points, but this one lacked even a few good standalone episodes to salvage it.” – The Mary Sue
The polarising “Seinfeld” finale ended with Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer in prison for being bad people.
What critics said: “It was such a terrible letdown…Still, future scholars will be poring over this last episode like the Dead Sea Scrolls. But, for now, I’d just like to say: It goes to prove money isn’t everything in the writing of comedy.” – Newsday
“The hype before the ‘Seinfeld’ farewell was one event the country should never go through again. The sitcom had its weakest season this year and should have gone off the air a year ago.” –Orlando Sentinel
The original “Roseanne” finale turned the entire season nine on its head by revealing Dan’s death and the fact that Roseanne had basically made up all of the events of the final season.
What critics said: “The effect on the series of this mutation was to take it further and further from its heartland – the experience of those who live on the underlip of the American dream. Nothing, though – not the winning of the lottery, nor the arrival of terrorists – could have prepared you for the program’s final episode, as bizarre a piece of television as I have wrestled with in many years.” – The Independent
“Even by the debased standards of the landmark sitcom’s ninth and final season, the series-ender was off-the-rails loopy.” – Time
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