The Five Worst Series Finales of the Last 10 Years

5 Jul

I ranked my top 10 series finales since the Sopranos ended ten years ago. Now for my five worst. The top three are the worst in a tier of its own, and four and five are also bad for their own reasons. Let’s start it up with the most infamous.

1. Lost

The only saving grace for the Lost finale was that I had given up on Lost long before so expectations were low; and yet it still blew those expectations under the water. I couldn’t even bring myself to watch the final season; I read recaps and Wikipedia entries to keep up on the goings-on (and it gets crazy – remember that Japanese other who gets killed by Sayid? That’s what I thought), but decided I had spent enough time and energy on this journey to be there for the finale. And it was every single bit as awful and stupid as I feared. Let’s move past the Jack on the island bit, which was rife with problems (the explanation for Desmond’s doings in that stone chamber just seem invented on the spot but everyone acts as if they obviously make sense) but even that isn’t really the reason this is here, it’s just a nice bonus. This is at the top because of the awful conclusion to the awful idea of the flash-sideways, which really started as a sliding-doorsesque fake out after Juliet set off the nuke at the end of season 5 (even this sentence follows my iron-clad rule that you can’t talk about Lost for more than 30 seconds without sounding like a crazy person). They’re in magical purgatory. Why are some characters here and not others? Who knows? Who cares? I know this is supposed to give you all the feels but it was mindbogglingly ill-conceived and the details break down after any amount of thought. This is on top of the fact that Lost led us to believe they were at least going to try to answer some questions asked early on, almost none of which they did. This was the ending a show this disappointing deserved.

2. Battlestar Galactica

There are so many things wrong with this finale it’s hard to catalog them all and I’ve gone back and forth many times between this and Lost. It’s really 1 and 1a. I never liked BSG as much as I once loved Lost. On the other hand, I never became as fully disillusioned with BSG even though the ups and downs as I had with Lost, possibly because I never quite cared as much. I knew I was going to be disappointed with this finale before it aired, because I knew they telegraphed the fact the planet they reached was Earth, but I still hated that decision because it was just incredibly stupid to bring the BSG world into ours and it just made no sense. So they had sex with cavemen and thus propagated modern humanity? Shouldn’t we have found their bones? What about the English language? They just got rid of their technology because all technology bad now? Lee suggests they do it and everyone agrees like that’s obviously a great idea. Oh, and Kara’s an angel because of course that’s a thing that obviously requires no explanation whatsoever and she just disappears off the face of quite literally the Earth. And just when you think it’s all bad, which you do, there’s one last, possibly most terrible part. Ghost or angel or whatever they are, Baltar and Six appear in OUR TIME, look at all the TECHNOLOGY we’re using and declare IT’S HAPPENING AGAIN!

3. Dexter

This might actually be the worst finale, minute-for-minute.  It’s quite possible that other shows had a finale this bad but I simply stopped watching those shows long before those series concluded. But, for reasons which I can’t quite fathom at present, I stuck it out with Dexter to the bitter end no matter how utterly execrable the final three seasons were. And that, ironically, is one of two reasons why this isn’t number one. The expectations was just so low by this point, the show was already so awful, that the finale caused me merely to laugh and laugh and laugh rather than be angry or disappointed. The second factor was the lack of series long plots that needed to be dealt with. Dexter was generally an extremely seasonal show, so that the first four seasons were not affected at all by the terrible finals seasons and the finale itself. They attempted to wrap up a bunch of stupid shit with a bunch of terrible decisions, but there was nothing I really cared about that had to be dealt with at that point and for that I just hate the finally rather than resent it with all my heart like the first two. Still, I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least offer a reminder of what was so awful about this finale rather than a mere explanation of why it’s not higher on the list. Dexter steals his dying sister from the hospital with nobody noticing because of hurricane, honors her remains by dumping them where he dumps the bodies of the killers he kills, and then fake dies before returning as a lumberjack. Fantastic.

4. Entourage

Entourage dated worse than almost any other show in the last 15 years, seemingly coming of age when many people my age were growing up and slowly coming to terms with the line between light male escapism and misogyny. Entourage straddled that line often, to be generous, but by the final season, it was way past it, and extremely ridiculous to boot. This finale follows the Dexter rule of having already been a pretty lousy show by the end (albeit not as laughably lousy as Dexter because the gap between the best Entourage and worst Entourage was never quite as wide). But the finale definitely was more than just the cherry on top of an already lousy season; it put in the work to be an offensive finale above and beyond what came before. This was highlighted by the absolutely absurd engagement of Vinny to a journalist played by Alice Eve, playing on the absolute worst tropes of female journalists sleeping with their subjects, and having this allegedly smart and confident woman who was just about the only woman previously to be able to refuse Vinny’s charms become engaged to him on a whim felt like adding insult to injury. Entourage had some genuine merit over the life of the show, but those positives seemed long gone after watching the finale, replaced by laughs at how ludicrous the show had become.

5. Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation will always be one of the best comedies of our time, a Hall of Fame show, and by all means the final seasons were much better than, say, The Office, always good for a laugh. But the show started losing the sense of scale that had made it so charming towards the finish line. That’s not to say Leslie shouldn’t be shooting for more; she can and did, but maybe when she moved past a certain point that was a good sign it was time for the show to end. The show was very much about Pawnee Indiana, and it being a small (well big enough to have an airport and its own television programs) town. This seemed odd when the National Parks Service decided to move an office there and a billion dollar tech company decided to come to town.  The Parks and Recreation finale was a classic case of more is less. I wanted to see all our friends warmly having a good time together, feeling good about their relationships with each other. That was the essence o Parks and Rec. The finale should be happy and have all the feels, that’s what the show was about, and true to its core. But I don’t need to see Leslie maybe become president. It’s not that I don’t believe she can but she can do it after the show. It’s too much. I didn’t need to see Andy and April disagree for about 30 seconds about having children, only to come around a scene later, defeating the point of having any interesting conflict, which, when you think about it, was emblematic of the final season. Tom becomes a nationally successful author for writing a book on failure. Not everyone has to have everything ever for a show’s ending to be happy.

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