Lists are all over the internet, this blog looks at those lists. Some list ideas appear over and over again – so let’s compare them.
Every time an anticipated series finale comes out (or is about to come out) so do the lists of the best and worst ever. This week we look at the lists of the worst… WARNING Obviously and by necessity, some of these lists may spoil the endings of shows. Visit the lists at your own risk.
Worst – For once I’m doing the opposite of best. I’ve avoided “Controversial” because that can be good or bad (or even believed to be both by different people. I will deal with controversial in an upcoming post.) I’ve also avoided “Frustrating” and “Unsatisfying” as they seem to refer to the feeling produced by an episode, rather than whether it is good or not. There are some great final episodes that are frustrating or unsatisfying, so I’m calling those terms a different thing. The same goes for “surprising”: some of the best episodes are the most surprising.
Series Finales: Different words are used “series ending”, etc, but that’s no important. While most of the writers of the best series finales list only included episodes planned as the series final, more of these lists included endings of shows cancelled after the season final was made. Some shows have later material that may change the ending.
Ever: A rare list would specify a time frame, or make a vague comment like “recent”. I’ve ignored those lists. Some say the usual “ever” or “of all time” headline enhancers, but other just imply it. That isn’t to say it’s true. The episodes chosen are usually more recent ones rather than older ones (possibly because more older shows just finished, possibly due to bias towards recent material) and popular shows are preferenced (which is, I guess, a natural bias but a poor one for proper list makers).
A worthwhile list that doesn’t meet the criteria.
Charlie Jane Anders. 21 September 2010. 3 Random Lists
- List 1: 19 “Criminally unresolved cliffhangers.”
- List 2: 8 “Shows that got some resolution after cancellation.”
- List 3: 5 “Shows whoses unresolved cliffhangers actually served as a great ending.”
20. NewsOxy’s The Worst Series Finales (Top 5)
“Bill Waters.” 23 August 2013. Top 5 Count up.
- The name only says “Worst” but the URL says “Best and Worst”. And the first sentence also says “best and worst”. Then to be even more sure, the third sentence says it includes the “worst and best.” So clearly it’s the the worst. Or the best and the worst. However, the list itself is exactly the same as the top 5 entries on just the best list from NY Post’s best and worst list along with most of the text. The blatant plagiarism is one thing, but at least plagiarist the right list or change the title.
THE TOP 10 LISTS LIST
10. All Women Stalk’s The 13 Worst Series Finales that Should Be Changed.
Heather Jenson. Top 13 countdown or count up it’s hard to tell.
- Annoying one entry per page, annoying ads and comment bar.
- Some different entries that don’t appear on (many) other lists.
- Brief descriptions, comes off a little whiny.
9. Nerdacy’s 10 Worst TV Series Finales Ever.
Jason. 13 August 2013. Top 10 Countdown.
- Annoying one entry per page.
- Brief descriptions, comes off a little ranty.
8. Eric’s Pop’s 9 of the worst TV series finales of all-time.
Eric M. 2 January 2012. Top 10 Countdown.
- Single page, with photos or broken links to episodes.
- Different entries to the usually, a lot more blaming the makers of cancelled shows for cliffhanger endings.
- Very brief descriptions, comes off as judgemental.
7. She Knows’ TV’s Bad Bye-Byes.
Joel D Amos. 30 June 2008. Top 10 Countdown,
- One entry per page, but some pages can be navigated to directly from the button (a later page needs to be hit to get to #9 and you need to be on #9 to get to #1o.
- Brief (some very brief) descriptions, comes off a little bitter.
6. Fox News’s TV’s 10 Worst Series Finales.
Top 10 Slideshow.
- Slideshow, so one entry per “slide”. Navigation bar at the bottom.
- Brief descriptions, comes off a little snarky.
Kat Giantis. Top 5 Countdown
- Single page (best finals on the second) but mostly text with tiny photos for most of the entries.
- Make the bold (but not unwarranted) move of picking MASH’s final as the worst.
- Big chunks of description, comes off as informative.
4. Guyism’s 9 of the worst TV series finales of all-time.
8 December 2011. Top 9 Countdown.
- Single page, nicely formatted.
- Chunks of description and ends with a well played joke.
Kevin Fitzpatrick. 16 May 2011. Top 25 Countdown.
- 5 entries per page/5 pages.
- Strangely has “Leaving on Bad Terms” as the title of each entry.
- Brief descriptions, comes off as all-knowing.
2. New York Post’s 10 best and worst series’ finales
Larry Getlen. 25 April 2010. Top 10 Count up.
- Single page (10 Best list at the top of same page).
- Brief descriptions, comes off as bored.
Albert Costill. 21 June 2012. Top 11 Countdown.
- Single page with pictures.
- Brief descriptions, comes off as abreviated.
COMPILED LIST This list is created from the positions on the top tens from the above lists. Most of the lists were made before the release of the 2014 Veronica Mars film, which may not appear on future lists. The 2008 sequel of The X-Files probably changed nothing. Wherever possible links to the final scene have been included.
9. (16) Life on Mars (2006-2007) “Life is a Rock”/Veronica Mars (2004 – 2007) “The Bitch is Back.”
8. (19) Little House on the Prairie (1974 – 1983) “The Last Farewell.”
7. (22) Dinosaurs (1991 – 1994) “Georgie Must Die.”
6. (36) St Elsewhere (1982 – 1988) “The Last One.”
5. (39) The X-Files (1993 – 2002) “The Truth.”
4. (40) Lost (2004 – 2010) “The End.”
3. (43) The Sopranos (1999 – 2007) “Made in America.”
2. (50) Seinfeld (1989 – 1998) “The Finale.”
1. (68) Roseanne (1988 – 1997) “Into That Goodnight.”
The Roseanne final, coming at the end of the unpopular final season, goes the rarely popular “none of it was real”. Fans, rightly or wrongly, feel cheated to find it was all a dream (at least 3 on the above list do some variation of that), or in this case a novel being written by Roseanne (the one series that seemed to pull it off was Newhart because of the hilarious twist they used and so made the list of best episodes). Storylines were undermined, beloved characters dead and audiences were confused over if the final season or the entire show was rewritten.