TV Show Finales: Too Little, Too Late

Preview: discussing television shows that had lackluster finales after too many seasons and predicting current shows that will suffer the same fate.


In light of The Good Wife’s series finale a couple days ago, I’ve been thinking about finales. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about how these finales are often too little and too late.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been a fan of a show, happy with the first couple seasons, and then desperately wishing it would just end already by the last season.

when the show does end, the finale can’t make up for the fact that you’ve suffered each week for countless weeks now. Maybe it features a cameo from a long gone character or montage of flashbacks of the good times (this tactic is them trying to make you forget all the bad times that have happened since then).

We’ve seen that too little, too late finales give a bad name to series finales. They take advantage of the fact that they even get a finale—the shows that are suddenly canceled don’t get this honor, for example.

These lucky shows go on and on and on, to the dismay of the unlucky viewers. They play to our loyalty and hopes that if we keep watching, just maybe the show will find a way to its former glory. I’m letting you know now to change the channel. Returning to the former glory never. happens.

It’s exactly us, the viewers, on which these shows rely. The shows cling to whatever amount of viewers and ratings they manage to keep. In reality, no amount of cling-wrap can save them from their point of no return.

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Really? By Jim Bauer CC BY-ND 2.0

There are plenty of examples of shows like this that I’ve experienced throughout my watching-too-much-tv years. Here are 3 highlights of the torture I’ve felt as I sat on my couch and winced at the TV screen.

  • The Good Wife – Of course I had to include the show that inspired this blog post. For a majority of the time, the show was very good, and I’m sad to think that it’s over and we likely won’t see another show like it. However, those feelings don’t change the facts. The Good Wife started to lose its way, especially after it lost actors like Archie Panjabi and Josh Charles. The finale couldn’t recover from the last two seasons, even if it tried by giving fans the return of Will.
  • Glee – I absolutely loved Glee when it began. I saw them on tour, bought a $40 t-shirt that later shrunk in the wash, and I still loved it. I can’t say the same of the show. Somewhere around Season Three, Glee started to become painful… and I couldn’t look away. I finally stopped watching somewhere around the last season. Everything became over the top and cringe worthy. I’ll never forget those early seasons, but I really wish I could forget the later ones… the finale failed to deliver in the face of these horrible later seasons.
  • How I Met Your Mother – Again, another show I loved. HIMYM was great most of the time. I’m still wondering why they made the last season in one weekend, but I’ve moved on from that confusion to the topic everyone knows so well: that finale. Unlike my other examples, this show’s finale was actually much, much worse than the rest of the show. That’s all I can say on the matter without entering a really long rant.

Those are shows with finales that could not make up for their mistakes, and how could they? Redemption doesn’t just happen in 40-some minutes plus commercials.

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“End” by Hitchster CC BY 2.0

Now, a popular theory is that we should learn from our history to prevent the same mistakes from happening in the future. However, another theory is that history repeats itself.

When it comes to television, I tend to think that the second theory is more accurate. Accordingly, I’ve picked 3 shows I think will face the same fate of having a finale that is too little, too late.

  • Grey’s Anatomy – Okay, I love Grey’s, so I do feel bad about putting it on this list. It’s nothing personal, I’m just looking at the facts. Sandra Oh and Patrick Dempsey fled in recent years, and they both played characters that were crucial to the show. I actually started to like the show more after Patrick Dempsey left.  Word on the street is that Grey’s is actually doing better since his departure.  Still, I’m amazed they haven’t run out of story lines yet, and I don’t mean that in a good way. After all this time, the finale will definitely be in the too late category.
  • The Big Bang Theory – I think this show has been airing for approximately as long as I’ve been watching TV (hint:  that’s a while). Every time I turn on the TV, there is a Big Bang Theory episode on. They must make crazy money with all of these reruns, so I guess that’s why they keep up with the new episodes. Enough already.
  • The Vampire Diaries – I know there are people out there who think things involving hot vampires should never end, (I’m looking at you, Twilight fans) but this show really needs to end. Nina Dobrev already got out. The show still attempts to chug on without its main character and trying to keep a spin off alive. You just know the finale is going to involve all these cameos from dead people and, of course, Nina Dobrev herself. It won’t make a difference. This finale will be way too late for the show’s own good.

Quit while you’re ahead, guys. Well… some of you are ahead.

Take a hint and realize all good things must come to an end. It’s a cliché, but it’s true.

Look at the bright side: once you give us a good series finale, you can start looking forward to that reunion special/series revival.


Dear reader: I know you watch TV. What are some shows you wish would end already? If I angered you with any of my selections, let me know.


Featured Image:  Ryan Merritt CC BY 2.0

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