On TV Show Endings

Season finales are great.

Series finales are great.

But you know what’s not great? Season finales that end up being series finales. Those suck. Show cancellations suck.

As a fan, I know that writers/showrunners don’t technically owe me anything, but I like to think that at the very least, I do deserve a good ending. A kind of thanks for sticking around. The same way a DJ plays a really great song to end their set. And I know that writers/showrunners aren’t purposely withholding these from me, but I think there should be some changes as to how show endings are approached.

It’s all about ratings. I know. Even shows with the most loyal fans and the highest critic reviews can be cancelled. Networks want money the best, and shows want to be on for as long as possible. But that means that sometimes shows start losing quality after a while. It happens to the best.

That’s why I think a lot more shows need to realize when it’s time to quit. They need to look at their ratings and see what the fans are saying and think about what they should do. If they really cared about their fans, they’d bow out and give the remaining loyal watchers a great ending. Yes, they may be able to survive for another year or so, but should they? Will things get better?

It’s not just the cliffhangers that bother me. Yes, those suck too, but mostly I want to know that these characters I fell in love with find peace.

I think about all the shows that had planned endings and how freaking great most of those endings were. FRIENDS, ending by closing the door to the apartment and all walking to get coffee one last time. Glee, ending with a fabulous, group song. Parks And Recreation, by giving us glimpses into each characters’ futures. Even How I Met Your Mother, ending by finally explaining Ted’s love life. Those last episodes and last scenes leave marks on viewers.

Image result for friends last scene gif

Compare that to Agent Carter, ending with Jack Thompson getting mysteriously shot, or Under The Dome, ending with more complications even when outside of the dome.

Writers/showrunners should, when writing and planning season finales, take a look at their ratings and talk to networks and really think about the possibility of this being the end, and if there is a chance, just make it a nice ending.

Smash was cancelled after two seasons, but it ended on a good note. Tonys were won, romances were had. It was fine, and I didn’t feel cheated. Same with The New Normal, getting canned after one season; Bryan and David have their child and it’s all happy.

I don’t think people are going to be upset that the season didn’t end on a cliffhanger. And I know that cliffhangers keep people coming back but newsflash! People can’t come back if the show is cancelled!

But you know what? I don’t think things are going to change. Whether thoughts about cancellations are being had or not, shows will still likely pretend that things are fine and dandy. So what can they do instead? Is there still a way to provide closure? Yes.

Fans of Team Starkid may have seen their old web series called Little White Lie, a show about siblings who start a band by stealing music from an acquaintance in a coma. Season 1 ends with Kevin, the guy in the coma, opening his eyes. So of course, fans like myself were desperate for more, but at the time, Starkid didn’t have the funding or time to make Season 2, and some of the cast has moved on since. But what one of the writers (Eric Kahn Gale) did years later was release a general outline for what they had planned for the second season. That was outstanding. There was no more hypotheticals or fans writing their own second season, as a canon ending was provided.

Why can’t TV shows do that too? I’m not looking for a novel (though I’d happily read one) but just a general summary of how any loose ends would be tied up. Take Agent Carter for example. As much as I’d love to know if Peggy and Sousa would have stayed together in Season 3 or how Ana is doing, what I really need to know is who shot Thompson and how that ties into Peggy’s story/future at the SSR. I’m talking like half a page of writing. Or like, six tweets, I don’t care. And if writers want to give more info, then they can, and fans will happily read it!

Just think about it, folks. Think about how much happier fans will be knowing that even if their favourite show gets cancelled, they’ll still get to know what happens. No longer will fans be forever haunted by these endings. No more nights spent lying awake wondering what if. It’s win-win because not only do fans get the info, but writers/showrunners get to share their Cool Plot Ideas. There is literally no downside.

There are several shows I watch right now that I absolutely adore, but I think a few of them are nearing their deaths. I don’t want them to end, but I’m not ignorant enough to miss the signs. I’m just crossing my fingers that they have good endings. Planned endings. Ones that satisfy fans, the cast, and the writers.

Image result for closure gif

Anyways, I’m just brainstorming here and trying to express how I feel about TV show endings. These are just hypothetical ideas, but it’d be great if they were ever used for real.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter, so leave a comment. Or tell me which cancelled show’s ending bothered you the most.

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23 thoughts on “On TV Show Endings

  1. I totally agree with this – it bothers the rubbish out of me when a show isn’t allowed to finish properly. Even if the cancellation is sudden, the network really needs to spot them a bit more money/time to make, say, one more episode, or an extended version of their last episode, so that they won’t receive the public/media relations backlash/hell.

    For example – “Chuck” knew it had been cancelled, so they developed an ending they felt satisfied with. I personally didn’t agree with some of their decisions, but I totally respected their strategy, and it did wrap most things up. Same with “Warehouse 13” and “Buffy” (too bad we can’t say the same of “Angel”!)

    It flat out angered me that when “Castle” and “Nashville” were cancelled, the network did it so quickly, there wasn’t even time for the crew/cast to meet and BEG to try to put together that meaningful last episode. “Nashville” – I mean, come on, ENDING with Juliette’s plane apparently crashing and she’s missing?! That’s just cruel to the fans. The same with “Castle” – who died? Beckett? Castle? What the blazes happened to Alexis, Hayley, Castle’s mom, the other detectives? What in the world actually became of the super-secret domestic-terrorist sect that Beckett had been chasing ALL season?! Just plain mean, folks.

    It makes me really leery to keep watching regular season TV, in case I get too attached/then devastated again.

    • It’s just unfair. Fans pour their hearts into the shows the same way the cast and crew do, so to have a show end so poorly is gross.
      I love regular dramatic TV too, but the most disappointing ending never seen to happen with comedies (aside from Seinfeld, but that’s a different rant), so I’m leery too.

  2. I like your idea, but the thing is, TV producers grew up when I did. When tv shows were on once a week and then they were gone. And what happened was, you stopped watching when the show stopped being good. It wasn’t like now, when you know you’ve only got 13 terrible episodes of Glee to get through before the finale. You had no idea what was coming, and something better was on, or you turned off the tv and played Parcheesi. So unless you were an avid fan, or the show had a highly promoted ending (like Seinfeld or FRIENDS), you had no idea how it ended, and you didn’t really care. You had already moved on. TV shows were transient.

    But now, shows should be thinking about their future life on Netflix. Here’s an idea: Netflix should start funding finales. When they buy a series, they should pay for one more episode to be made, or even just an interview with the writers, that you can only get on Netflix. So the loyal fans of the thing will go to Netflix to find out the ending, and anyone who becomes a fan later will have the satisfying ending built in.

    • Yes, well, if TV viewing is adapting to new life, the makers can too.
      But I love your Netflix idea! The shows end up there anyways, so it seems logical to give fans something extra, especially since Netflix replaces buying DVDs which have their own extra stuff (bloopers, panels, ect…). The only slight problem with your idea is that shows don’t get added to Netflix for a few months after the show ends, so that gap may cause people to forget or not care right away. But loyal fans would, and they’re what matter!

  3. I love this idea. By providing closure, show-makers show that they care about their characters and their fans, and that creates just as much (or more!) loyalty as delivering a great show.

  4. Dead Like Me. There’s still no official reason as to why it ended – very hushed as to whether it was actually cancelled or just never restarted. The quality of the second season was dreadful – dialogue, character, plot – nothing hung together like the first season, so that once you got to the final episode, you were left with so many more questions than answers. You couldn’t even call it a cliffhanger because the plot progression was so dire – but they still could have, at the very least, wrapped up a couple of loose threads! Apparently there was a tv-movie that followed, but I haven’t seen it and don’t have much wish to based on the botch job they did with season two. Sad really, it had so much potential.

    One show I sensed the death of was Dexter, roughly around season 3. I loved the first season, the second was alright, and the third was a bit of a struggle with some highlights. I gave up a few episodes into four. I don’t understand how it managed to get to number eight, but by the sounds of it being titled “the worst season finale in the history of tv”, I don’t feel bad for bailing when I did. I had someone explain to me what happen in the last four seasons, and we concluded my bailing was a good thing. Grimm’s another – season four’s “finale” made me so angry, I still can’t bring myself to face five, and I’d be really surprised if it lasts anymore than seven/eight.

    • See how many shows are forever in your mind associated with disappointment? It’s so sad that we can love these shows with all our heart and then completely hate how they ended because they didn’t properly end.

  5. I totally agree. One of my favorite shows is Futurama, and they had three (or four?) series finales total, because they kept getting cancelled and then rebooted. Total madness!! They did an okay job with the earlier endings — though it definitely wasn’t the show’s strongest writing. TV shows can be such a pain like that sometimes.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Well at least the show had a few more chances for proper endings, even if they did waste them. But it sucks that you, as a fan, had to go through that.
      Thanks for commenting!

  6. Right on! I totally agree with you. Whether it’s a “Sliders” cliffhanger that never got resolved or a “Quantum Leap” final title card that got abruptly tacked on, show finales can leave us with lingering disappointments for years.

    Networks are getting a bit better about it. Someone mentioned “Angel,” and while I understand their frustration (everything certainly wasn’t wrapped up), the producers were at least told a month in advance of filming their final episode. So the writers stacked the heroes against seemingly insurmountable odds, then had the main hero smile, swing his ax and say, “Let’s get to work.” Blackout.

    That to me is a hopeful, optimistic ending, and one that underscores the show’s theme that no matter how bleak things get, the heroes keep fighting. I can understand someone else not liking it, but that’s a pretty satisfying ending to me.

    Someone mentioned the (excellent) idea of Netflix funding finales. To me, that’s sort of what happened with “Full House.” I had already stopped watching the show when it went off the air, but I know it ended on two of the worst sitcom cliches possible: one of the characters gets amnesia, and the other characters help them remember via a flashback episode. Ugh!

    When I saw the first episode of “Fuller House,” I felt like it finally gave the characters a proper ending. I watched the rest of the season, but it didn’t seem as worthwhile and important as that first episode. If Netflix had produced just that (and by extension, proper final episodes for other series), I think I’d be happy.

    Sorry for rambling so much. 🙂 Thanks for the great post!

    • I’ve never seen Full House, or it’s Netflix sequel, but even in that case, it sucks that fans had to wait like a decade for closure, and even then, it’s not the same as not all of the cast returned. Fans shouldn’t have to cross their fingers that they’ll get closure in a decade.
      I’m glad you liked the post and agree with me though!

    • You’re very lucky!
      I hated Seinfeld’s ending, wasn’t thrilled with How I Met Your Mother’s, and was also a bit disappointed with Prison Break’s ending, though it is coming back next month.

      • I saw How I Met Your Mother! Yeah that was not a great finale, but I thought in a way it’s worse b/c they had time to plan out how they wanted to end the show, as opposed to shows that are abruptly cancelled

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