Fri
Jan 20 2012 1:27pm

Ending With a Whimper: Series Finales That Stunk

Edvard Munch’s The Scream

You’ve waited for it for what has seemed like forever. You’ve speculated as to how it might end, what might happen, and pre-ordered/set the DVR/bought the tickets way in advance.

And then, when it comes, you’re flat-out disappointed.

The series finale. The final book in a series, the last episode (or season!) of a beloved show, the third book in a film saga. Maybe even the book following a huge cliffhanger, not necessarily the finale to the series, but one that will Answer Many Questions.

When asked, people will cite the last season of Battlestar Galactica, the latest of Chloe Neill’s Chicagoland Vampires books, Richelle Mead’s Dark Swan series, Lost, and most recently, the final book in E.L. James’s Fifty trilogy.

So now we’re asking you to share your pain—do you agree with any of the examples above? What’s the worst ending to a beloved series you’ve ever endured?

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32 comments
Alie V
1. ophelial
Being a huge Twilight fan, I did feel that Meyer jumped the shark a bit with Nessie in Breaking Dawn. She just had to give Edward/Bella everything...
AmyW
2. AmyW
The series finale of Angel just killed me with how the final scene ended...
AmyW
3. Lege Artis
I already did the bitching of Dark Swan final book. I was also disappointed in Disilusionist trilogy ending (Head Rush)- it wasn't that bad, it was just not that good as I expected after reading the first two books in series.
AmyW
4. Miss D.
Roseanne had one of the worst TV finales EVER. Just awful.

And I really hope that the Sookie Stackhouse books don't end on a whimper. The most recent one had me rather underwhelmed. SIGH.
Regina Thorne
5. reginathorn
@ AmyW, I loved the series finale of "Angel" but the series finale of "Buffy" was a whole 'nother story :D

@ Megan - "Battlestar Galactica" ranks really high in my list of stinker endings (I think partly because it sounded like Ron Moore actually re-wrote the whole thing and kept talking about how it was all about the characters and I just didn't see that AT ALL!) In the book world, the last book of Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy, The Amber Spyglass, was a TREMENDOUS letdown for me. I really felt he'd let his religious agenda (of being the anti-C.S. Lewis) run away with his story and the characters I'd loved in the preceding books.

And I know you're going to get some people telling you the same thing about Suzanne Collins's Mockingjay, but I disagree with that assessment!
Christopher Morgan
6. cmorgan
I'm with reginathorn on the Angel and Buffy. I couldn't think of a better closing line than "I'm going to kill a dragon". But I do agree with Megan on the Mockingjay let down, I felt she was trying to hard to stick with a cetain set up, but I admire Collins's courage with some of the plot points.
AmyW
7. Lucy D
I have to agree with those who say Suzanne Collins's Mockingjay was a bomb. After two great stories and all that went on, my feeling was that there was not a lot of personal growth with Katniss and everyone fighting in the revolution would have been better served if she stayed in her anxiety closet for the whole book.

This past fall I read the Royal House of Shadows. The four separate stories were good, but the idea was supposed to be a drawing of all the characters together at the right moment to defeat the evil, and after four books worth of build up, there was no big storming the castle scene defeating the evil. It ended with a whimper. So disappointed with that.
Carmen Pinzon
8. bungluna
I'm afraid I usually lose interest before the big finale. I don't think I've watched the final episode or read the final book on a long-running series on purpose in my life. As for trilogies, yes I've been disappointed with the concluding book, especialy when the author feels the need to wrap everything up in the final outing. Must not have been scarred for life because I can't think of any specific titles right now.
Heather Waters (redline_)
9. redline_
...everyone fighting in the revolution would have been better served if she stayed in her anxiety closet for the whole book.

Lucy D, I could not have said it better myself. I was beyond disappointed in Katniss by the end (though I can see now that a huge part of the problem was that I thought Katniss was someone she wasn't, which is my fault and not hers) and completely agreed with Johanna when she said she should have been the mockingjay.
AmyW
10. taragel
...everyone fighting in the revolution would have been better served if she stayed in her anxiety closet for the whole book.

Ha. Nice. Like Redline_, I went from loving Katniss to feeling pretty apathetic about her myself by the end of Mockingjay. And then after that came the anger.

BSG finale is still the worst thing ever though. Such unbelievable retcon and deus ex machina fail.
Heather Waters (redline_)
11. redline_
BSG finale is still the worst thing ever though.

So say we all.
AmyW
12. Cye
The Tide Lords quartet by Jennifer Fallon. loved the first 3 books and most of the last one...until the end. Biggest WTF ever! I was so bummed.
Elizabeth Halliday
13. Ibbitts
I read paranormal romance/historical romance/urban fantasy/science fiction because I want the hero/heroine to be larger than life, to accomplish the impossible, to surmount the insurmountable and to find the happy ending against all odds because he/she has the moral character and intestinal fortitude to make it happen. When it doesn't happen, especially due to angst and/or insecurity, I'm very disappointed. I don't deal well with a book or show if the hero/heroine turns out to do the same kinds of things the villan does, even if it is because of dire circumstances, and certainly not because of losing one's way. Things like that are what happen in real life, and I've got plenty of real life in my real life already. Which is why I read paranormal romance/historical romance/urban fantasy/science fiction. The Hunger Games started off well, but each following book declined and by the time Mockingjay came around, there were no more good guys; just various factions of bad guys trying to survive. Put me right off YAF as a genre.
AmyW
14. Grace S
The way Lost ended KILLED me. I was all "Really? They were dead this whole time? SERIOUSLY?!?!?"

As far as books, I find myself losing Lara Adrian steam. I loved, loved the Midnight Breed series so much and I just have been completely underwhelmed by the last few.
AmyW
15. J_L
I loved Mockingjay! I know everyone has a right to their opinions, but it's almost physically painful to hear how much disappointment there was about it. Alas, I'll have to learn to grow up and deal with it. Regardless, I thought it was incredible to watch Katniss fight for some control in her life when she'd been used as a pawn by everybody for so long.

To me, the latest Chloe Neill wasn't a disappointment because I found the whole series underwhelming. I actually liked it better than the others because of the big twist in the earlier book.
*******SPOILER ALERT*******
I just wish Ethan had stayed dead.

The recent few Sookie books have been a disappointment to me. I feel like the story should have ended a while ago, and now Charlaine Harris is stringing us along, milking readers for their hard earned money, and has no idea where the story is going.

I really do love when a series comes back to life. The Hollows book by Kim Harrison did that for me. I can't wait for the next one in February.
Pamela Webb-Elliott
16. Spaz
Losssttttt. The Lost finale was like wtf kind of gd ending is THAT?! And you already mention my most recent ones... Fifty Freed and Shadow Heir being the most recent epically bad endings to what started out as good series. I also did NOT love Shadowfever, it was wacked and lame and disappointing (omgstfu dani!) but I didn't loathe it as much as the other mentioned above. :P
Pamela Webb-Elliott
17. Spaz
OOOOH thank you J_L for reminding me of SOOKIE! Holy CRAP has that series gone down the drain! Around book 6 I just couldn't do it anymore, and I'm still bitter over it!
AmyW
18. CindyS
First - LOST finale was fine and no they were NOT dead the whole time. The number of people who freaked at that point must not have listened to the next 5 minutes of dialogue. Are they all dead in Sideways world - yes but they did not die in the original plane crash - in fact, the people who got off the island went on to live for years. They were all in Sideways world together because their souls were linked and they needed each other to move onto the next. I was more disappointed about the island side of the plot and the so called light - ugh.

So say we all. Indeed.

The series finale of Quantum Leap was brutal but I seem to be the only person who watched it - my first brush with stories ending in ways I didn't wish.

Mad About You was a comedy that also ended horribly.

For books, I usually lose interest before the series finale - I'm usually disappointed before that.

CindyS
AmyW
19. BeretBrenckman
While not specifically a romance the worst ending to a series EVER was Jean Auel's Land of Painted Caves. I cried that book was so horrible. (It wasn't because I had stayed up since midnight on the date of release and read the whole 2000 pages in one sitting and I was tired either!)

I didn't really care for the Mockinjay or Breaking Dawn.

Nora Roberts does really good with the final book in a series. Almost every series or trilogy she has has great endings where you truly care as much about what happens in book three or four as you did in book one!
AmyW
20. EC Spurlock
@CindyS, I thought the finale of Quantum Leap was very well done; very sad in that he couldn't get home but also very hopeful in that he knew he would always be doing good for others, acting as an agent of God. And I was glad he had the opportunity to put things right for Al. (I hear they've been batting around the possibility of a kind of sequel for that show, but nothing concrete as yet.)

And am I the only person who was horribly disappointed with Book 7 of Harry Potter? It just seemed so obvious that she had written the ending first, and when the rest of the series developed differently and didn't line up at that point she just pitched out all the previous character development etc. just to make it happen the way she wanted it to.
AmyW
21. CindyS
@EC - yay! Someone else saw it - I was a royal mess (I think I was 18) and sobbed myself stupid. I felt so bad for him because I thought Al never knew he existed - in fact, no one knew and all he wanted was to go home.

Can't help you with HP - I've never read them or seen the movies - that phenom passed me by ;)

cindyS
AmyW
22. MeganF
@CindyS & EC - I LOVED Quantum Leap and was seriously disappointed in the series finale. I'd watched the show from the start, adored thepremise and main character and thought that he got royally shafted in the end. I was also pissed that there was no mention of whether or not he'd managed to save his older brother and little sister from their original fates. I could havelived with the ending ifI'd known that for sure. I man Al got a happy ending....
romance reader
23. bookstorecat
In my experience, tv shows tend to go off the rails way before the final episode, at which point I wish I could just stop watching, but I usually end up sticking around just to see what happens.
AmyW
24. winteriris
The biggest disapointment for me was ShadowFever. The charachters kept develolping and growing but in the last book they were silly....or just completly off key. Danny..strong dislike for her..skipped over her part of the story. Her next set of Fever books has Danni so doubt I will read it. Unless she has had a personality make over and does not talk like a child.
AmyW
25. LauraR
No one has mentioned Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. Yes, I know it hasn't ended, but it sure should have a while ago.
AmyW
26. LoveRomanceBooks
Las Vegas the TV show. It ended with no real finish
AmyW
27. Tammera
I had a horrible time with Shadow Fever as well winteriris. I thought all of the character development for Mac from the 4 previous books were dumped out of the box and she turned into a whinny little brat at the end. I have never been more dissapointed with a series. I had talked people into reading the books all through the series and when I finished SF, I wanted to reach out to all of those people and say "Stop! Don't read another word!" Total bummer.
AmyW
28. CK
@CindyS, EC & MeganF: I looved QL, but definitely thought Sam got the shaft. I would have been fine with, "he is still looking to find his way home." Why was that so hard? Le sigh, though I still adore Scott Bakula ;)

@EC: YES! Thank you. I'm glad I'm not the only one who was bitterly disappointed with HP7.
AmyW
30. LMurphy
I've been a bit unimpressed with the last few JD Robb's. My main problem is that she's seems determined to go for a Hallmark ending(Belle's birth scene was fairly sickening). There was an opportunity about 8 books back to have Feeney killed off quite poignantly, and I always felt like Nora shirked it to keep things nice. I love Feeney, but it would have given a lot more meaning and depth to the ongoing story line. He's barely been mentioned since - has an obligatory cameo appearance, so really, what was the point of keeping him alive?
Too harsh?
AmyW
31. Manda540412
No one has mentioned Anita Blake... But maybe it goes without saying? I suffered through the first seven books but couldn't bring myself to continue. It's another series that should be done with. Hasn't she run out of people to have sex with yet!?!?!
Claire Louise Thompson
32. Nefersitra
@Manda540412, Anita has not run out of people - if one leaves she gets more! That said the last few stories have been better - as in there is a plot and it makes up more than a few pages. I'm still disappointed in how the Anita Blake books panned out; especially when characters get panned for no real reason (Richard, Ronnie for voicing what a lot of readers were saying that Anita was becoming a bit too sexually free).
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