TV

Best TV shows with the worst endings

Written by:
September 30, 2020
Home Box Office (HBO)

Best TV shows with the worst endings

All good things must come to an end, even successful television shows, and sometimes the best shows have the worst endings. Whether it’s a show that’s gone on well past its prime, or a show whose original cast left and were replaced by actors who paled in comparison, or a reboot or revival with a promising start that stalled after a season or two, even great shows aren’t perfect.

To determine the 50 best TV shows with the worst endings, Stacker compiled data on the best TV shows on IMDb with more than 50,000 votes and ranked them according to the average IMDb user rating across the final season. User ratings are ranked according to full value, but only two decimals places are shown. Those listed as ties are exact ties down to the last decimal. Data is up to date as of Sept. 16.

These shows represent every genre from sci-fi to drama and come from all over the world. They are about witches and horsemen and include a British sketch comedy. One is set in a fifth dimension not known to man, another is about a suburban mother who resorts to selling drugs, and there are three versions of a space show with a cult-like following that spans five decades.

While it may seem many of these shows have little in common, the thread that ties them together is that somewhere along the line things went bad. In the end, they left a trail of disappointed or confused fans who wondered what exactly happened to that show they loved. Keep reading to see how many shows on the list ranked among your favorites with the very worst endings.

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1 / 50
Spelling Television

#50. Charmed (1998-2006)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.68
- Total seasons: 8

“Charmed” featured the Halliwell sisters, three women who found out they were powerful witches meant to fight evil. The final season was plagued with budget cuts and the final episode, which found middle-sister Piper traveling back in time to prevent the events that led to her sisters’ deaths, was okay, but the time travel storyline woven throughout was confusing and fans were upset that Shannen Doherty didn’t return as eldest Halliwell sister, Prue, for a final goodbye. Doherty left the show in 2001 and was replaced by Rose McGowan, the long-lost half sister.

2 / 50
Sketch Films

#49. Sleepy Hollow (2013-2017)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.68
- Total seasons: 4

The supernatural show aired on Fox and was loosely based on the 1820 short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving. The main character, Ichabod Crane, is resurrected and sent to the future to solve a mystery from the past. While the first two seasons received favorable reviews, things went downhill in the final seasons. Not only did the storyline become convoluted, but the once diverse cast was pared down and fans felt betrayed.

3 / 50
KoMut Entertainment

#48. Will & Grace (1998-2020)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.67
- Total seasons: 11

The “Will & Grace” 2017 reboot pretended the original season finale never happened, and it set Will and Grace back to where they were when fans left them years earlier. While it was interesting to revisit these characters, by the third season, many fans wondered if the producers should have let the characters go gentle into that good night. It seemed “Will & Grace” had many things to say, but they weren’t anything fans hadn’t heard years earlier.

4 / 50
17th Street Productions

#47. Gossip Girl (2007-2012)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.66
- Total seasons: 6

While the first season of the show received excellent reviews and a score of 79% on Rotten Tomatoes, many fans thought finding out the identity of Gossip Girl ruined the show. Others were upset about how little sense it made to continue a high school show once the characters were out of high school.

5 / 50
The Curiosity Company

#46. Futurama (1999-2013)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.65
- Total seasons: 10

Matt Groening, who created the long-running animated marvel “The Simpsons,” also created “Futurama,” which first aired on New Year’s Eve, 1999, and was about a pizza delivery boy who froze himself in the present only to wake up in the future. The show, hailed as a funny and sharp comedy, remained on Fox for four seasons until 2003. For many, the 2008 Comedy Central reboot simply was not as funny as it was during the first go-round.

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6 / 50
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#45. Monty Python’s Flying Circus (1969-1974)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.65
- Total seasons: 4

Initially, critics were not fond of the British sketch-comedy “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” and found its comedy crude and inappropriate. As time went on, the tides changed, and so did the audience and critical response. Perhaps it was because there was nothing like it on television. John Cleese left after the third season, and the disarming charm of such innovative comedy wore thin with the fourth season of the show that featured more misses than hits.

7 / 50
Elizabeth Meriwether Pictures

#44. New Girl (2011-2018)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.64
- Total seasons: 7

A solid performer for Fox, “New Girl” debuted in 2011 and was a comedy about a teacher who moved into a Los Angeles loft with three men. Ratings dropped during the sixth season, and Fox prepared what could serve as a series finale, though it did wind up picking the show up for a shortened seventh season. Writing for Decider, Lea Palmieri voiced what many were thinking, “After last night’s “New Girl” series finale, well, it kind of feels like maybe we didn’t need that seventh and final season after all.”

8 / 50
ABC Family

#42. Pretty Little Liars (2010-2017) (tie)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.64
- Total seasons: 7

“Pretty Little Liars” followed a group of teenage girls who were keeping a deadly secret. Many fans felt the payoff in the final season was not worth the seven-year wait. They learned the identities of A, Uber A, A.D., and found the truth to be entirely underwhelming.

9 / 50
Darren Star Productions

#42. Sex and the City (1998-2004) (tie)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.64
- Total seasons: 6

Based on the book by author Candace Bushnell, “Sex and the City” was about the adventures of writer Carrie Bradshaw as she navigated love and life in New York City. It gave us a solid group of female friends who supported each other, and it also brought fashion and women’s sexuality to the forefront. The end though, left many fans and the show’s creator, Darren Star, as well as writer Bushnell, disappointed.

10 / 50
ABC Television Studio

#41. Luke Cage (2016-2018)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.62
- Total seasons: 2

“Luke Cage,” a Netflix original based on a Marvel comic book hero who gains superhuman abilities after an experiment goes awry, received positive reviews for its first season, though it fell into the dreaded sophomore slump. The show fell apart behind the scenes too, and Netflix canceled it after the second season.

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11 / 50
Paramount Television

#40. Star Trek: Voyager (1995-2001)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.61
- Total seasons: 7

While many “Star Trek” fans were upset about the addition of Voyager to the franchise, the show definitely had a following and some solid reviews. The show was about another crew with Kathryn Janeway as its captain, cruising around space in the 24th century. Many felt the finale had an abrupt end, and declining ratings in the final season didn’t help.

12 / 50
Shondaland

#39. Scandal (2012-2018)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.61
- Total seasons: 7

When “Scandal” aired for the first time, it was a riveting political thriller about a Washington D.C. crisis management firm run by an intelligent woman, played by Kerry Washington, until the show descended into a nighttime soap opera. Its ambiguous ending also frustrated many fans and left them wondering what happened to Olivia Pope. The ending was intentional though, as series creator Shonda Rhimes wanted viewers to draw some of their own conclusions.

13 / 50
Ten Thirteen Productions

#38. The X-Files (1993-2018)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.61
- Total seasons: 11

When it premiered in 1993, the show was about two FBI agents—one who believed in the possibility of the impossible and one who did not. When it returned for its revival in 2016, dynamic duo Mulder and Scully’s banter remained much to fans’ delight, but a battle began, too—one between the fun, darkly humorous one-off shows and the overall alien-mythology arc the show carried from day one. In the end, series creator Chris Carter, much like the show’s main character Fox Mulder, could not let go of his obsession and this time around, fans didn’t seem all that interested.

14 / 50
Imagine Television

#37. Lie to Me (2009-2011)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.60
- Total seasons: 3

The show was about a detection expert who read people’s body language and could tell if they were lying. Tim Roth played Cal Lightman, a character loosely based on real-life Paul Ekman, who has a doctorate in clinical psychology. While the first season performed well for Fox, the following seasons saw a decline in ratings. A bit of an upswing during the third season wasn’t enough to save the show.

15 / 50
20th Century Fox Television

#36. How I Met Your Mother (2005-2014)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.59
- Total seasons: 9

With the buildup of one single question for nine seasons—how the main character Ted Mosby met his wife and the mother of his children—fans expected a lot because they had given a lot. When it was revealed that the mother was not who fans expected, they were disappointed. The final season felt disjointed from the rest of the seasons, which it turned out were not just about one single question, but rather years of growing friendships and helping each other to survive.

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16 / 50
DreamWorks Television

#35. Falling Skies (2011-2015)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.59
- Total seasons: 5

The Steven Spielberg-produced show was promising and offered an interesting premise. It followed several survivors as they struggled in the aftermath of an alien attack. Writing for Variety, Brian Lowry thought the show was already suffering, especially in the final season and wrote of the finale, “The final episode, after a protracted and sometimes meandering buildup, had a slightly anticlimactic quality, reinforcing, more than anything, that it was overdue for Chicken Little’s warning to finally come true.”

17 / 50
Marvel Television

#34. Iron Fist (2017-2018)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.58
- Total seasons: 2

“Iron Fist,” another installment in the Netflix Marvel universe, followed hero Danny Rand, who was presumed dead for a decade and a half after his return to New York City. Yet another casualty in the Marvel Netflix saga, the show tried, but only ran for two seasons. While many found the second season to be an improvement, the show still struggled and never gained the traction of the other Marvel series.

18 / 50
Showtime Networks

#32. Dexter (2006-2013) (tie)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.53
- Total seasons: 8

The television show about a serial killer who only killed bad people, “Dexter” was an innovative show with a unique concept. Yet with each passing season, fans seemed to tire of the lead character’s neat and efficient way of getting out of every situation. The show also had one of the worst endings in television history.

19 / 50
Chuck Lorre Productions

#32. The Big Bang Theory (2007-2019) (tie)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.53
- Total seasons: 12

While “The Big Bang Theory” started strong, it continued to go on and on, for 12 seasons, with many critics and fans wondering whether it had outlived its expiration date. The show featured a group of nerds and one pretty, but clueless girl, played by Kaley Cuoco.

20 / 50
The Mark Gordon Company

#31. Designated Survivor (2016-2019)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.53
- Total seasons: 3

After the president is killed, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Thomas Kirkman, played by Kiefer Sutherland, is the designated survivor and takes over the presidency. The show ran for three seasons, two on ABC and one on Netflix, which saved the show after ABC canceled it. The pilot episode had 10 million viewers, but the fanfare didn’t last for many reasons, and Netflix didn’t renew it for a fourth season.

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21 / 50
NBC Productions

#30. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990-1996)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.52
- Total seasons: 6

Will Smith plays a teen from Philly who gets in a fight and is sent by his mother to live with his wealthy aunt and uncle in Bel-Air, California. While certainly not a rating’s darling initially, the show gained a loyal following and was a hit. By the final season, many critics and fans tired of the formulaic nature of the show, and the strange disappearance of one Aunt Viv, who was replaced with another after the third season, frustrated and confused some.

22 / 50
The Scott Peters Company

#29. V (2009-2011)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.52
- Total seasons: 2

A reimagining of the 1980’s series about an alien race that comes to Earth, this version didn’t last either. The first season of the show brought in decent ratings and the network ordered a second season, but the show sputtered. Unfortunately, the series finale was one of the best episodes of the struggling series, but it was too late to save the show.

23 / 50
Hands Down Entertainment

#28. Nip/Tuck (2003-2010)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.52
- Total seasons: 6

“Nip/Tuck’s” opening line, “Tell us what you don’t like about yourself,” brought some of the most outrageous storylines. The show, a story about two plastic surgeons and their controversial medical practice, was groundbreaking for its boundary-pushing, though it may have been exactly this that caused it to get off track. It seemed with each successive season, it became harder to top the last crazy plotline and in the end, many fans felt “Nip/Tuck” had fallen into foolish and frightening frivolity.

24 / 50
Cayuga Productions

#27. The Twilight Zone (1959-1964)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.49
- Total seasons: 5

The original show ran on CBS for five seasons and featured unique stories written by Rod Serling. By the time the final season ran, changes in producers, a lesser level of involvement by Serling, and repetitive storylines plagued the show. In 2019, writer/director Jordan Peele created the latest “Twilight Zone” revival.

25 / 50
Aggressive Mediocrity

#26. Californication (2007-2014)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.48
- Total seasons: 7

“Californication” is a story about a troubled New York writer played by David Duchovny who moves to Los Angeles and suffers from a severe case of writer’s block. While many critics initially enjoyed the show, after time it suffered from repetitive and tired storylines that led many to believe seven seasons were far too many.

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26 / 50
Bonanza Productions

#25. The Following (2013-2015)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.45
- Total seasons: 3

The first season of the Fox drama featuring Kevin Bacon as an FBI agent chasing a serial killer did well. By the third season, the once-promising plot had derailed, and the series finale was a disappointment. Writing for Variety, Bryan Lowry noted, “And the two-hour finale only drove home how the program squandered its assets, with the end coming two years and many dozens, if not hundreds, of killings too late.”

27 / 50
Blinding Edge Pictures

#24. Wayward Pines (2015-2016)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.44
- Total seasons: 2

Based on a trilogy of novels by author Blake Crouch about the end of mankind and its renewal, the first season of the science-fiction show found an audience. Initially intended as a limited series, season one did well, so the show was renewed by Fox. When the show returned in season two, Jason Patric replaced Matt Dillon as the protagonist, and though the season finale set it up for a season three, the network canceled the M. Night Shyamalan-helmed show.

28 / 50
The Bird Studio

#23. Dragon Ball (1986-1989)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.43
- Total seasons: 9

Two friends go on a mission to find seven mythical balls that, with the help of a dragon, can grant wishes in this Japanese animated series. The series lasted nine seasons, but many fans found some of the decisions in the installment following the original disappointing.

29 / 50
Imagine Entertainment

#21. Arrested Development (2003-2019) (tie)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.40
- Total seasons: 5

Fans loved the quirky show about a large and dysfunctional family, though some thought it lost its magic when it moved from Fox to Netflix after three seasons. The final two seasons didn’t live up to the first three.

30 / 50
CBS Paramount Network Television

#21. CSI: Miami (2002-2012) (tie)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.40
- Total seasons: 10

For viewers of the canceled series, the most disappointing ending was no ending at all. The show about a crime scene investigation team in Miami, a spinoff of the original CSI, never had a finale. This upset loyal fans who invested 10 seasons worth of their time.

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31 / 50
20th Century Fox Television

#20. The Last Man on Earth (2015-2018)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.38
- Total seasons: 4

In this Fox show, the last man on Earth tries to find signs of life. It received an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes and had a fan following. When it ended with the season four finale and without a final season, fans were upset.

32 / 50
Lions Gate Television

#19. Weeds (2005-2012)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.38
- Total seasons: 8

A story about a suburban mom who becomes a widow and begins growing weed to help pay the bills, the show was darkly funny and boasted a stellar cast. Of course, after the first few seasons and with each successive move from California to Seattle to Michigan to New York City, and finally to Connecticut, the series lost whatever spark had made it so magical in the first place.

33 / 50
Alliance Atlantis Communications

#17. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2000-2015) (tie)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.37
- Total seasons: 15

“CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” the original show about a group of crime scene investigators in Las Vegas, lasted 15 seasons and saw three spinoffs. When the end came, it seemed time. In later seasons, the show saw declining ratings and multiple cast changes.

34 / 50
20th Century Fox Television

#17. Modern Family (2009-2020) (tie)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.37
- Total seasons: 11

Nominated for seven Emmys for best comedy series, with five wins, “Modern Family,” the sitcom about three interrelated, but very different families living in Southern California, was a network darling. In the end, the show may have lasted a few seasons too long for some fans, proving that sometimes too much of a good thing is actually bad.

35 / 50
Tailwind Productions

#16. Heroes (2006-2010)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.33
- Total seasons: 4

“Save the cheerleader, save the world,” was the tagline heard round the world when “Heroes” premiered in September 2006, giving NBC a smash hit with an interesting plot that kept viewers returning to their televisions each week. The show was about a group of ordinary people from around the globe with superhero abilities. Unfortunately, after a while, the same plotline that interested viewers became the show’s downfall since it seemed that the writers couldn’t figure out how to maintain a series with such an outrageous original storyline.

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36 / 50
Clerkenwell Films

#15. Misfits (2009-2013)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.30
- Total seasons: 5

A group of misfits doing community service gain supernatural powers in this British television show. The series’ regulars started leaving after the first two seasons and by the fifth season, not one of the original cast members remained.

37 / 50
Paramount Televisio

#14. Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.29
- Total seasons: 7

“Star Trek: The Next Generation,” ran for seven successful seasons. Fans adored the show and no one could understand why it was canceled. Joel Berman, Paramount's executive vice president of domestic television, said at the time, “The bottom line is that a successful feature-film franchise can be more profitable than a TV series.” Still, it was a horrible ending for a great show.

38 / 50
Warner Bros. Television

#13. 2 Broke Girls (2011-2017)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.25
- Total seasons: 6

“2 Broke Girls” aired in September 2011 after a network bidding war. While viewers loved the show about two very different women waitressing together, critics never seemed to connect with it. With declining ratings and complaints about racism, the show ended after its sixth season.

39 / 50
Home Box Office (HBO)

#12. True Blood (2008-2014)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 7.02
- Total seasons: 7

“True Blood” explored the relationship between humans and vampires in a fictional Louisiana town. While the show had a cult-like following, because of its refreshing and fun take on the tired tragic vampire trope, many found the final season lost its initial appeal. Nowhere was this more evident than in the series finale, of which Melissa Maerz, writing for Entertainment Weekly, said, “The blandness of ‘True Blood’s’ finale felt almost offensive.”

40 / 50
Desilu Productions

#11. Star Trek: The Original Series (1966-1969)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 6.97
- Total seasons: 3

While “Star Trek” had a cult following that remains to this day and the original produced many versions, it was a campy space odyssey that wasn’t always perfect. The final season was a result of a letter campaign that saved the show. Unfortunately, many factors led to the disappointing final season, and the series finale had issues too, including a sexist plotline that was abhorrent even by 1969 standards.

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41 / 50
Jeff Franklin Productions

#10. Full House (1987-1995)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 6.86
- Total seasons: 8

While “Full House,” was a quintessential feel-good formulaic sitcom of the ’90s, it often felt forced in its sugary sweet plotlines. After a few seasons, it had said all it needed to. In 2016, it got a reboot and lasted five seasons.

42 / 50
20th Century Fox Television

#9. That ’70s Show (1998-2006)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 6.75
- Total seasons: 8

A show about a group of teens growing up in the suburbs in the 1970s, “That ’70s Show” succeeded where similar shows failed, due to its likeable cast and humorous storyline. Unfortunately, many fans felt it jumped the shark when series’ regulars Michael Kelso, played by Ashton Kutcher, and Eric Forman, played by Topher Grace, left.

43 / 50
Mythology Entertainment

#8. Altered Carbon (2018-2020)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 6.66
- Total seasons: 2

The Netflix sci-fi series set in the 24th century saw the end of human death. Based on Richard K. Morgan’s 2002 novel, the show was a fan favorite, but the two-year wait time between the second and third seasons was long. The second season also veered away from the book, featured illogical plot lines, a massive time jump, and lacked character development.

44 / 50
CBS Television Studios

#7. Under the Dome (2013-2015)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 6.62
- Total seasons: 3

The show based on the Stephen King book of the same name was a summer hit when it aired for the first time in 2013 and featured an interesting plot that revolved around a whole town getting stuck under an impenetrable dome. By the time the third and final season rolled around, the series had drifted into absurdity. Writing for Variety, Brian Lowry called CBS’ decision to end the show “a mercy killing, on a show that had already crammed a whole lot of violence into its small town.”

45 / 50
Home Box Office (HBO)

#6. Game of Thrones (2011-2019)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 6.40
- Total seasons: 8

HBO’s epic series had an epic start, but many felt the show about a medieval civil war may have lasted a few seasons too long. Several fans, especially those of the GOT books, thought things went downhill after the series blew past George R.R. Martin’s books.

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46 / 50
ABC Studios

#5. Scrubs (2001-2010)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 6.27
- Total seasons: 9

While “Scrubs” was goofy, funny, and endearing, it wasn't the most accurate medical show on television. Canceled by NBC after seven seasons, ABC picked it up for an eighth season and much to fan’s chagrin, a ninth season, which featured only three of the original characters and moved the show from a hospital to a medical school.

47 / 50
July Moon Productions

#4. 13 Reasons Why (2017-2020)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 6.26
- Total seasons: 4

The Netflix series “13 Reasons Why,” based on Jay Asher’s book of the same name, finds a teenage boy receiving a series of tapes from a classmate after her self-inflicted death. While the controversial show was called out for its depictions of self harm, it continued on for three more seasons. Echoing what many fans thought, Robyn Bahr, writing for The Hollywood Reporter wrote, “Its popularity led to three additional and regrettable chapters, which slowly evolved from disappointing (Season 2) to laughable (Season 3) to miserable (Season 4) as it seemingly tried to compete with CW’s pulpy ‘Riverdale.’”

48 / 50
ABC Studios

#3. Quantico (2015-2018)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 5.88
- Total seasons: 3

A show about young FBI recruits training at Quantico, the show’s first season was well-received. The final season disappointed many fans though, who felt the show had diverted from its original trajectory and lost its momentum.

49 / 50
Chuck Lorre Productions

#2. Two and a Half Men (2003-2015)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 5.30
- Total seasons: 12

After insulting the show and its creator, Charlie Sheen was asked to leave the popular show about two very different brothers living together in Malibu, California, while one raises his son. The show was already flailing before Sheen left, and replacing him with Ashton Kutcher only added four more seasons to what had become a mediocre show.

50 / 50
Netflix

#1. House of Cards (2013-2018)

- Final season IMDb user rating: 3.99
- Total seasons: 6

The series helped Netflix gain its footing when it came to original programming and was nominated for several Emmys. News of Kevin Spacey’s sexual assault claims left viewers wondering whether the show, about a corrupt and murderous politician, would continue. It did, much to the dismay of many fans who felt it had become too much of a soap opera, especially after Claire killed her lover during sex.

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