There really is no easy way to end a series. You’re always going to have loose endings and dropped plotlines. The viewer will always wonder “but what happened next” – perhaps with a lingering feeling that the story isn’t finished yet. Some endings have gotten a lot of praise for how they handled things. MASH, Breaking Bad, even Newhart’s comedic ending. And then there are the endings that really make the fans mad. Some with good measure, sure – what the hell were they thinking with Rosanne? Still – some deserve a second viewing with an objective mind. Come, journey with me into a few of these “terrible endings.” Perhaps your point of view will change.
Lost: The End (2010): I’ve written about this before: Lost was a series about life and death. Lost was not a puzzle to be solved, though there were puzzles certainly in the series. Lost was not about providing all the answers – yet so many fans wanted a perfect ending that spelled out every answer to every unanswered question. Maybe it’s not the fault of the viewer mind you; maybe it’s the fact that we’ve all been weaned on Chekov’s gun. I respect the concept of Checkov’s gun – it’s a solid concept that applies to most good fiction. Having said that, a literary theory is not a scientific theory. If a Literary theory does not fit with the overall piece of fiction, it can and should be thrown out with the compost. Lost was one of these instances where there were several “guns” in the room which were never used (or explained): Why was Walt special? Why was Desmond able to see Charlie’s future? Why were those specific numbers asigned to those specific people? The answer – happenstance. I’m digressing into things I’ve written before. The point is the theme of Lost was life and death. Of course it’s going to end in a scene where everyone is dead. Be it Jake, Kate, Hurley, Desmond, or even Jacob, all have to die. Some might die early and heroically, such as Jack. Some might die a long time afterwards, such as Hurley. But all died in their time. This was the final message of Lost, and this is why “The End” fit so well into the rest of the series.
Battlestar Galactica: Daybreak (2009): Before we get too far into apologetics, I will agree it was kind of lame to find out the entire series happened what, 150,00 years ago? But this plays into the theme that echoed throughout the theme: All this has happened before, and all this will happen again. There was nothing special about this specific race of humans. They died to give birth to us. Maybe we’ll die to give birth to the next race of humans in a few million years, maybe we won’t – but these humans did. Regardless – it was a bold move. Bold moves such as this often cause dissent and contempt amongst viewers, true, but such bold moves can also give us a bit more subtext. In this case, the bold ending really made us think that maybe, just maybe, we’re not all that special. Maybe we’re just playing a game that’s been going on for eons upon eons. Or maybe we’re just special enough to break the mold. That’s the literal interpretation, sure. However, if you’ve watched the series, you know that you can’t just go on literal interpretations alone. Daybreak was a metaphor for the civilizations of the past, present, and future. Of the past – they’re gone; they were either too weak to avoid other civilizations, or they ended up destroying themselves. The Romans, the Ancient Egyptians, the Ancient Chinese, the Mayans – sure, they have decedents, but their civilizations are gone. The Future is not known – but the present; well – we’re in the present and for every technical marvel we produce, we also seem to produce something not so wonderful. Poverty, mass shootings, environmental catastrophes, wars, terrorism, politicians acting like children. If we don’t wake up – we (21st century America) will be a distant memory, destroyed by our own strength and technology. Just like the Romans, and the people in the 12 colonies of Kobol.
Seinfeld: The Finale (1998): Yes, yes, they all ended up in jail – but is that really a bad thing? Four narcissistic people who really didn’t give two shakes about anyone but themselves got locked away. Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer have been treating other people like circus animals for years – as if other people had no value other than to amuse the four of them. This was, essentially, what they got locked away for too. They saw a guy they could have helped get robbed. They didn’t have to put themselves in danger, they could have just called for help. Instead, they just sat there, watching, laughing, and saying I’m glad that isn’t me. Annnnd then they get arrested and every single person they’ve treated like a circus animal for the last nine years got to testify against the four. This episode was so Karma for so much schadenfreude. Still, going beyond locking up four sociopaths before they did any physical harm was just the surface. The Finale sent a message to its audience. The Finale told us all not to take the series literally – it is NOT, repeat, NOT ok to treat people like Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer treat other people. You might notice a running theme in this article: that the ending episode has one last message, one final thing to say to its audience. This was Seinfeld’s: Treat people as though they’ll be a witness at your day in court.
How I Met Your Mother: Last Forever 2014: I can already feel the hate from my readers for even suggesting that this episode has any redemption. It’s been almost two years, and people still act as though Last Forever was a slap in the face. Two things specifically anger people: a) Robin and Ted DO end up getting together after all is said and done, and b) the mother dies. And guess what – you should have seen both of these coming. With the latter, the series has always hinted that the mother was dead at the time of Ted’s epic story to his kids. Firstly. The series creators always stated that the destiny would always be the same, despite changes in course. The mother being dead wasn’t the only possible ending that could remain intact despite changes to the series, but it was a definite possibility. Secondly, in the episode “The Time Travelers,” the theoretical speech that Ted gives the mother says he wishes he had the extra 45 days between then and when he finally meets her. This implies that there is a finite amount of time the two had together. Sure, that’s true for all relationships – eventually someone dies. But in this case, Ted’s speech really does make us wonder – how much, or how little, time do these two have together? Thirdly, and finally – if Ted had really spent all this time (maybe two or three hours) telling his children this long story about how he and their mother actually met, wouldn’t she have interrupted at some point? If the mother had been Stella, we KNOW this would have happened (as this happened in Ted’s head). True, the mother could have been out for a few hours, but the vibe that this story gives is not one of telling a story about someone who could walk through the door at any minute – it’s one of someone who isn’t there. But, like Ted does so many times during the series, I digress. Let’s tackle the Robin and Ted thing. This will be shorter, I swear (Please imagine that being said in Bob Saget’s voice). The show began with a story about how Ted and Robin meet. Every time we think Ted is finally over Robin, something happens. Robin even, indirectly, causes Stella to leave Ted before their wedding. If it was not for Robin, Ted would have married Victoria after he bridenapped her from Klaus. And at the end of the series, we have a very sad Robin. We have one that no longer wants to hang with her ex-husband, a married couple that hardly has time for her, and the guy she probably should have hung out with. Tracey took Robin’s place in the group. At the end of the series, we have Robin who is sad and lonely, we have Ted who has his kids and the memories of his dead wife. Why not let these poor souls have a little bit of happiness? So you see (kids) – the two reasons that people really despise “Last Forever are pretty much moot points. You’re allowed to your opinions mind you, but the series ended in a logical and compassionate way. I recently watched the ending again, and I felt like I had just watched an independent romantic film – it made me giddy with joy. And the blue French horn? Perfect!
Dexter: Remember the Monsters (2013): You’re probably going expecting me to say that this ending was perfect. You’re probably expecting me to say that Dexter faking his own death and fleeing to Oregon, Deb Dying, and Hannah and Harrison getting abandoned in Buenos Aries is the ending I wanted for this series. If you’re saying anything along those lines, you’re wrong. But not as wrong as the writers of this episode. Seriously, what were these idiots thinking? Even Micheal C. Hall – the guy that played Dexter and created the freaking series hated the ending. The lack of hope alone – just makes me mad! They spent so much time saying that maybe Dexter could actually get rid of his dark passenger and lead a normal life, only to say “nope! we lied about that, Dexter is screwed for life.” So, why did I include Dexter in this list? Well, this is more of a plea than anything. Maybe a bit of wishful thinking. They’re thinking about starting the series again – continuing the story. This is my official plea that if they do this, the entire last season ends up nothing but a dream. That at the end of the series, Dexter is happy, and mentally healthy – that Harrison gets a normal childhood – that Deb is well adjusted – and that well, you get my point. Seriously guys – let’s make this happen! Don’t let the bastards drag us (and Dexter) down!