20 of the Best & Worst TV Show Finales, Ranked

Nicole Pomarico | Apr 24, 2019 TV
20 of the Best & Worst TV Show Finales, Ranked
Image: Art Streiber/ABC via Getty Images

The cast of Lost
Art Streiber/ABC via Getty Images

All good things must come to an end, and unfortunately, that's also true of beloved TV shows. After following along with favorite characters and story lines season after season, it's easy for fans to get attached -- and that means when the time comes for the finale to air, reviews can certainly be mixed. Some shows take their final bow by perfectly tying up all the loose ends and giving their characters a happily ever after. Others, however, end with far less satisfying final episodes. Across the board, there have been some finales that have been both universally loved and hated by fans who've followed along with these series since the beginning.

Some of these shows generated bad buzz immediately after the finale aired (who can forget the straight-up outrage that fans felt after How I Met Your Mother ended?!), so it makes perfect sense that they're still upsetting people today. Others, such as the end of Friends after a 10-season run, still feel like the perfect way to tie up a show that fans are still connecting with years later on Netflix

But there are plenty of surprises when it comes to the finales that were a hit with fans ... and ones that ended up leaving many really disappointed. It's impossible for a series finale to make everyone happy, but it seems some of these shows really managed to seriously miss the mark with most of the people who previously couldn't get enough. 

E! News has a rundown on the best and worst TV finales of all time -- including how many fans loved and hated these episodes. It might be too late for the writers to go back and rewrite TV history, but it can be a little validating for fans to know they're not alone in hating where certain characters ended up.

Here's a look at 10 of the worst and best television series finales.
  • Worst: 'Girls'

    1

    Ranked as the worst series finale of all time, the HBO series Girls was hated by over 69 percent of people polled, and it's easy to see why. After how groundbreaking so much of the show had been, it ended in a very unsatisfying fashion: Hannah and Marnie caring for Hannah's baby with neither of them in a much better place than the ones they started out in. Considering what big dreams they both started the series with, fans were likely hoping for something more.

  • Worst: 'The Good Wife'

    2

    When it comes to The Good Wife's series ender, more people loathed than liked it -- yikes. The way the show that starred Julianna Margulies and Christine Baranski ended was very polarizing, mostly because Diane slapped Alicia. Yes, it was a callback to the way the series began, but many didn't think it was actually necessary. And apparently, it was enough to change the way they felt about the finale as a whole.

  • Worst: 'Dexter'

    3

    Not even Dexter's cult following could save the Michael C. Hall show from making this list. The Showtime series didn't exactly end happily, with Deb's death and all. There were more questions than answers, and it left fans wanting more -- in a bad way.

  • Worst: 'Big Love'

    4

    After five seasons of the HBO show about a family living the plural marriage lifestyle, fewer than 35 percent of fans surveyed were happy with the way Big Love came to an end. Bill's death was definitely a dramatic (and surprising) plot twist, and some fans weren't impressed with the way things played out for Bill Paxton's character. But at least his wives seemed happy in the end?

  • Worst: 'How I Met Your Mother'

    5
    Neil Patrick Harris and Josh Radnor in How I Met Your Mother
    Richard Cartwright/CBS via Getty Images

    More than 63 percent of people surveyed loathed the How I Met Your Mother finale when it aired in 2014 -- mostly because of the way Ted Mosby's story ended after years of waiting to find out how he and his kids' mother would finally get their happily ever after. Finding out that their mother had died after the audience had fallen in love with her was one thing, but then learning that he'd ended up with Robin -- who never seemed right for him -- was really putting it over the top.

  • Worst: 'Seinfeld'

    6
    Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander, Michael Richards in Seinfeld
    George Lange/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

    Seinfeld still has a loyal following today, but that doesn't mean that fans of the '90s sitcom were necessarily in love with the way it all ended. In fact, more than half the people surveyed didn't like the series finale. Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer all ended up in jail, sentenced to a year behind bars ... and most fans didn't find it funny.

  • Worst: 'Weeds'

    7

    After watching Nancy Botwin start her own pot-growing business, only 43 percent of fans surveyed were pleased with the way it all ended. The finale was a flash forward to see where the characters were in the future, which left Nancy selling her chain of weed cafés to Starbucks.

    Unfortunately, it left a lot of people feeling unsatisfied.

  • Worst: 'Lost'

    8
    The cast of Lost
    Art Streiber/ABC via Getty Images

    Considering the fact that there's still buzz about the way Lost ended almost a decade after the finale, it's not surprising to find out that roughly 54 percent of the people surveyed hated it. (The characters were all dead at the end of the series -- who wouldn't be upset?) Even now, it's still a super emotional watch, even for people who aren't huge fans of the way it all played out.

    Perhaps things will get rectified as there's talk about a Lost reboot.

  • Worst: 'The Shield'

    9
    Michael Chiklis and David Rees Snell in The Shield (2002)
    FX

    When it comes to The Shield, fewer than 47 percent of people surveyed enjoyed the finale, making opinions on it fairly mixed. The Shield ended with Mackey running from the police after being forced to work the front desk at ICE ... but what happened after that?

    Fans may never know.

  • Worst: '24'

    10
    Kiefer Sutherland in 24 (2001)
    FOX

    The series finale of 24 left over 48 percent of fans surveyed unsatisfied. Jack Bauer had to flee the country after his assassination attempts, but it was unclear what would happen to him next. Of course, this wouldn't be the true end of the series, with 24: Live Another Day in the future, but fans didn't know that then.

  • Best: 'Sex & The City'

    11
    Cynthia Nixon, Kristin Davis, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Cattrall in Sex & The City
    Paramount Pictures/HBO/Getty Images

    Considering that Carrie Bradshaw has become one of the most iconic TV characters of all time, it's no surprise that the Sex & The City finale is one of the most beloved series finales -- and that 80 percent of people love it. Carrie and Big finally get their happy ending, Charlotte gets her baby, Miranda and Steve are happy, and Samantha learns that she doesn't have to be as independent as she thinks she does. It's almost as if fans didn't even need the movies -- even though those are fabulous, too.

  • Best: 'Grimm'

    12

    NBC's Grimm also scored a high approval rating with over 84 percent of people surveyed loving the series finale. The show was inspired by creatures from the Grimm Brothers' fairy tales and ended in a way that satisfied fans. At the end, a time jump revealed that Nick's Grimm heritage continued on through his daughter, Kelly.

    What could've been more fitting?

  • Best: 'Broad City'

    13
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    oh no trey, baby, noooo #broadcityfinale

    A post shared by abbi & ilana (@broadcity) on

    It was only recently that Broad City came to an end, but 85 percent of fans seemed to love the finale -- no matter how bummed they were to see the show go. Abbi and Ilana had to go their separate ways, but the love between them was still so obvious (a friendship like theirs is seriously sweet).

    Who doesn't love a feel good finale every once in awhile?

  • Best: 'Bones'

    14
    David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in Bones (2005)
    FOX

    All good things have to come to an end ... even after 12 years. Fortunately, 86.7 percent of fans surveyed loved the way Bones made its final exit. Despite the explosion -- and that Brennan's brain injury kept her from feeling like herself -- dear Bones and Booth lived happily ever after.

  • Best: 'Friends' 

    15
    Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, Jennifer Aniston David Schwimmer, Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox Arquette
    Brian D. McLaughlin/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

    It's been 15 years since the Friends finale aired, and people still love the show, including the finale. Monica and Chandler moved out of their apartment after welcoming twins, finally making them parents. And Ross and Rachel ended up together after everything they'd been through, tying the series up in a perfect happy bow.

  • Best: 'Glee'

    16

    Fans were quite invested in the students of McKinley High School on Glee, and 89 percent of peeps surveyed loved the series finale. A time jump showed that everyone got a happy ending. Rachel won a Tony Award and carried a baby for Blaine and Kurt, Artie became a filmmaker, and Mercedes opened for Beyonce. For a show that was often over the top, the finale couldn't have been more fitting.

  • Best: 'Person of Interest'

    17
    Michael Emerson and Carrie Preston in Person of Interest (2011)
    CBS

    When Person of Interest came to an end in 2016, over 92 percent of people surveyed loved the finale. Although it meant that Reese had to die, fans still felt satisfied. After all, a happy ending isn't always the best ending.

  • Best: 'Breaking Bad'

    18
    Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad (2008)
    AMC

    Breaking Bad received all kinds of critical acclaim while it was airing, and fans felt the same way about the series finale as 94.38 percent of them loved it. Jesse and Walt said their final goodbye, and it seemed like Jesse was able to get away. But as for Walt? He seemed to have finally met his end ... or did he? 

    Fans were left to their own imaginations to answer that one.

  • Best: 'Parks and Recreation'

    19

    It was hard to imagine saying goodbye to Parks and Recreation, but lots of fans felt the ending was satisfying. Jumping into the future, viewers discovered that Leslie and Ben are happily married and raising a family -- with Leslie possibly running for president. Chris and Ann are together and moving back to Pawnee. Meanwhile, April and Andy have a kid of their own, and Ron is in charge of his very own park.

  • Best: 'Parenthood'

    20
    Craig T. Nelson and Lauren Graham in Parenthood (2010)
    NBC

    The ending of Parenthood made fans' hearts hurt, but in the best way possible. In fact, 95 percent of fans loved watching the Braverman family's final bow, even if it meant saying goodbye to Zeek. That shot of everyone scattering his ashes on the baseball field is unforgettable, but no matter what happens, this is one family that sticks together.

    No wonder Parenthood is considered the best TV series finale.

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