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Best and worst endings to long-running TV shows

From Lost and How I Met Your Mother to Friends and Breaking Bad...

Published: Wednesday, 2nd April 2014 at 3:34 pm

[Warning: contains spoilers]


Saying goodbye is never easy.

So when a long-running TV show decides it's time to close the curtain, some tough decisions have to be made about how it's going to be done. Many a TV exec has got it right... but oh so many of them have got it disastrously wrong. 

Here are some of the worst... 

How I Met Your Mother

Whether it deserves its place on this list is really yet to be seen. Fans have been up in arms since the final episode aired in the US earlier this week, but once the dust has settled (and we've actually got to watch it over here in the UK) it might not go down as one of the worst series endings of all time.

But, I mean, the show is called How I Met Your Mother... and the final moments of the final ever episode? Well, they did kind of deviate from the point.


So did those early purgatory conspiracy theories turn out to be right, then? To be honest I'm still not sure. And there are a lot of other things we still can't get our heads around. 

The final ever episode of JJ Abrams' Lost failed to tie up all those (THOUSANDS of) loose ends or deal with our unanswered questions.

In fact it left many Lost fans open mouthed in front of their TV. And some of them could very well still be there...


The general consensus was that this American drama, about high-performing serial killer Dexter, went sharply downhill in its last couple of series. But the ending? Wow. No one predicted it would get THAT bad. 

The last episode of the drama nearly tied up lots of loose ends - Harrison and Hannah left town, Deb died and so did Dexter. We thought. Until he turned up with a beard in in exile. A universally acknowledged frustrating and disappointing ending.

Gossip Girl 

Lots of us stuck with Gossip Girl through the good and the bad. And, let's face it, there was quite a lot of bad. But were we rewarded for our dedication and long service? Erm, no. We were not. 

Dan Humphrey is Gossip Girl? What?! That makes no sense. No sense, we tell you. And then everyone just forgave him? We don't know about you. But we're not convinced...


It might have aired 16 years ago, but that doesn't mean we've made our peace with the final episode of Seinfeld. 

The disappointing series finale of the hugely successful show, which ran for 9 seasons between 1989 and 1998, saw the gang put on trail and then ultimately imprisoned for "doing nothing". It was watched by millions of fans. It just didn't go down well...

And because we don't like to focus on the negative, some of the very best...


The final outing for Joey, Ross, Rachel, Monica, Pheobe and Chandler was an emotional one. It tied up all important plot points - namely Rachel and Ross finally got on with being each other's lobsters - and sent our wonderful, much-loved friends out into the world to be happy and live lovely lives. It can't get much better than that, can it? 

The final few moments, where the gang left their keys and headed off for coffee while the camera did a final spin around Monica's apartment, was sure to leave fans shedding real tears. It certainly had that affect on the cast.

Breaking Bad

Ending a show like Breaking Bad is an almost impossible balancing act.

For the story of Walter White, a mild-mannered chemistry teacher who turns his expertise to producing crystal meth after a cancer diagnosis leaves him fearing for the financial future of his family, is a complex character study of a man who starts out as a hero, turns into an anti-hero and then goes full-blown villain.

How, exactly, do you resolve that? Do you give the man who, through the course of five seasons, poisons children a happy ending? Or do you give this character who, for better or worse, is still love by many the ruthless death he deserves? 

The finale to season 5 miraculously struck a balance between them both; with White redeeming himself by saving Jesse Pinkman from meth-Nazis, and coming as close as he ever could to justice by finally dying in the final sequence – fantastically soundtracked by Badfinger’s Baby Blue.

There are some who disagree, of course; who feel that White should have rotted in a cell, or that it was even all in Walter White’s head. But, after the journey viewers had been on, it was about as brilliant a send-off as they could have hoped. Stephen Kelly


After 11 seasons the Korean War comedy ended with a two-and a half hour TV movie, which certainly pleased the shows fans. All 121.6 million of them. The episode, which aired in 1983, was the most watched broadcast in American history (until 2010 when the Super Bowl XLIV overtook it). 

The finale saw the characters scatter in a series of tearful farewells. The most gut-wrenching of which is the last, as Hawkeye spies a farewell message from his pal BJ spelled out in stones on the ground. 



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