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From Game of Thrones to Lost: A Brief History of Disappointing TV Finales

game of thrones lost battlestar

After eight seasons, HBO's acclaimed fantasy series Game of Thrones has finally come to an end with millions of viewers around the world divided on the quality of the show's finale. While the series finale certainly has its supporters, the show has joined a long line of popular television series over the decades that have also left many of their longtime fans disappointed.

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These notable series finales left their audiences scratching their heads and let them down as a culmination of years of storytelling.

Seinfeld

After nine seasons, the popular sitcom Seinfeld came to an end in 1998, concluding the adventures of a fictionalized version of standup comedian Jerry Seinfeld and his three friends in a series that proclaimed it was largely about nothing.

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The double-sized finale had Jerry and best friend George Costanza's pitch for a series picked up by NBC, only for the gang to stand trial for all the misery they had caused over the course of the series, which subsequently resulted in their incarceration for a year. Fans were put off by the finale to the long-running comedy being little more than a glorified clip show as previous guest stars and recurring characters returned for one last jab at Jerry and his friends.

The Sopranos

The HBO original series that helped usher in the era of prestige television, The Sopranos ran for six seasons on the premium cable network. Following a multi-generational New Jersey family deeply active in organized crime, Tony Soprano fought to maintain his position as a mob boss while visiting a psychiatrist to handle the guilt and trauma from his unhappy childhood, specifically unresolved issues with his mother.

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The acclaimed series came to an end in 2007 with the Soprano family enjoying a quiet dinner together at a New Jersey diner. As the classic Journey song "Don't Stop Believin'" plays from the restaurant's jukebox after a shady figure darts into the bathroom, the episode comes to an abrupt end and cuts to black. Many fans thought there was an issue with a transmission behind the sudden stoppage to the footage. The debate of what exactly happened to Tony Soprano after the sharp cut still continues among fans to this day.

Battlestar Galactica

Battlestar Galactica cast

The Sci-Fi Channel's revival of the popular series Battlestar Galactica followed the last surviving humans after being nearly wiped out by the villainous Cylons. As the ragtag armada of ships makes its way through space, led by the eponymous flagship, they endure continued attacks from Cylons while searching for the lost human colony on Earth.

Eventually, the survivors do make their way to Earth, with the final plot twist being that the series actually took place millennia in humanity's past, transitioning to present-day New York City. The 2009 series finale left audiences feeling the advanced, sci-fi technology in the majority of the series and pop culture references directly contradicted a nonsensical twist.

Lost

Running for six seasons on ABC, Lost followed a group of survivors whose airliner crash-landed on a remote, tropical island and forced them to band together in an effort to adapt, survive and escape the island. However, as increasingly supernatural incidents and elements surface, it becomes clear that their new home may not be as it appears.

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The series creators had initially dismissed fan speculation that the island was some sort of afterlife and was in fact something else entirely. However, the series finale in 2010 revealed that the island was truly a form of purgatory, necessitating the survivors to return to it in order to move on and rest in peace.

Dexter

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Based on the novel series of the same name by Jeff Lindsay, Dexter ran for eight seasons on Showtime. The drama followed its titular character, Dexter Morgan, a Florida-based serial killer who targeted those he felt were evil to satisfy his own lethal urges without harming innocents.

The 2013 series finale had Dexter leave his child with another killer after taking his brain-dead sister off of life support. Dumping her body in the Atlantic Ocean, Dexter pilots his boat into a coming hurricane and is presumed dead after he disappears. A time jump, however, reveals that the killer is now living in Oregon under a different name while working as a lumberjack. Even for a series full of plot twists and unexpected character choices, the finale and the actions of its protagonist left audiences scratching their heads.

How I Met Your Mother

Running for nine seasons, How I Met Your Mother followed a quintet of friends led by architect Ted Mosby, who began searching for true love after his best friends became engaged. Recounting the story to his teenage children some time years after the events of the main series, Ted eventually found the love of his life in a young woman named Tracy after the wedding of his friends Robin and Barney.

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The 2014 series finale featured multiple time jumps that featured a dark turn of events for Ted and several characters. Robin and Barney would ultimately divorce after three years of marriage while Tracy would die from an undisclosed illness after starting a family with Ted, leaving the protagonist a widower. Having heard their father's story, Ted's children encourage him to pursue Robin romantically once again. Fans were shocked by the dark twist and the revelation that the series wasn't really about the mother after all.

Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones finale

An adaptation of George R.R. Martin's dark fantasy novel series A Song of Fire and Ice, Game of Thrones ran for eight seasons on HBO. The medieval fantasy series followed warring houses vying for control of the Iron Throne and rule of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros while an undead army gathered in the north.

The series came to an end this year with a shortened episode count and what many viewers felt to be an anticlimactic finale that was rushed and not given enough due time to wrap up character and plot development. Additionally, the selection of the series' final ruler left much of GoT's audience confused and unhappy.

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