SPOILER ALERT: Don’t read if you haven’t seen the series finales of:
- How I Met Your Mother
- Ally McBeal
- Mad About You
- Homicide: Life on the Streets
- Quantum Leap
I consider myself somewhat of an expert when it comes to TV series finales. If a long-standing television show is coming to a close, I’ll be watching.
Usually, I’m a fan or have been a fan at some point over the show’s run, but other times I just want to be educated enough to participate in the water cooler talk the next morning.
And by “water cooler” I mean “Twitter”; and by “the next morning”, I mean “in real time.”
But I digress…
How I Met Your Mother
Last night followed my usual pattern. I’ve watched How I Met Your Mother regularly since the beginning and wanted to see where it all would end.
As you’ve probably heard through other sources, the finale was very controversial as some viewers absolutely loved it while others hated it.
My opinion is no less polarized.
As a viewer, I was left incredibly dissatisfied. As a storyteller, though, I tip my hat to the writers on the incredibly complicated and clever story they have woven together over the last nine years.
While we thought we were hearing the story of how Ted met the mother of his children, we were actually listening to the story of Ted and Robin’s epic love. When the story began, Ted’s wife was already dead and his story was just a roundabout way of asking his children’s permission to start courting “Aunt” Robin.
By all accounts, very clever. Why, then, was I disappointed as a viewer? Two simple words: Season Nine
If the writers knew that Ted and Robin was the end game, they did a huge disservice to the fans by having us invest so much time and emotion in Robin and Barney. The entire final season of How I Met Your Mother was devoted Robin’s wedding to Barney and to letting us think that these two wildly incompatible characters had changed and grown enough to have a happy life together. Apparently, they did their job a little too well, because I don’t want Ted to end up with Robin. I want Robin to get back together with Barney.
So, while I was impressed on one level at the writers’ creativity and ability to keep a complicated mythology moving forward, as a viewer I wanted an uncomplicated happy ending.
To all the Shows I’ve Loathed Before
At least How I Met Your Mother gets points for creativity. Here (in no particular order) are some of the other series finales that have bugged me over the years.
Note: I stayed away from the obvious offenders like Lost, Roseanne and The Sopranos, because, well… duh.
- M*A*S*H. The most watched TV show of its time. Blah, blah, blah. I don’t care. The writers took a 30 minute weekly comedy with dramatic undertones and said goodbye (farewell, and amen) with a 150 minute bloated drama with no comedy whatsoever.
- Ally McBeal. She left the law firm to give her 10 year old daughter – who was born without her knowledge as the result of a frozen egg donation – a better life. Ally’s dead married former boyfriend appeared to her and let her know it would all work out. Now go back and read those sentences again if you still wonder why I included Ally on this list.
- Mad About You. Paul and Jamie’s weird daughter (played by the normally awesome Janeane Garofalo) tells the story about how the couple broke up before finally reconciling. Although, thinking about it now, this one could have been worse. If the writers of How I Met Your Mother had gotten their hands on it, Jamie probably would have ended up with Ira.
- Homicide: Life on the Streets. They turned Timmy Bayliss into a killer. And his partner had to turn him in. No. Just no.
- Supernatural. Yes. I know the show is still running and therefore hasn’t had a series finale. It doesn’t matter. I’ve loved the show for so long and invested so much emotion and energy, that there is no way its finale can possibly live up to my expectations. When the time comes, I think I’ll choose to believe that the Season 5 ending was the series conclusion.
The Granddaddy of Bad Finales
Of all the finales I’ve watched and disliked, only one retroactively ruined the entire series for me.
I was a huge Quantum Leap fan back in the day, and now I can’t even watch the reruns on Netflix because of the last words to appear on the screen at the end of the series finale:
“Dr. Sam Beckett never returned home.”
Are. You. Kidding. Me?
I invested five seasons of my life watching the self-sacrificing, kind, morally-upright Sam Beckett save everyone around him while all he wanted was to go home. And he never did. I secretly wonder if the writers of the show were pissed off at getting cancelled and decided to write the worst series finale ever in a fit of spite.
So that’s my take on the recent discussion of series finales through the ages. What is yours?