The best and worst TV show endings ever: from Line of Duty to Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, and Buffy

The internet erupted last night over Line of Duty’s series six finale.

Millions tuned in to watch the epic final instalment of the hit BBC show, which promised high stakes action, dramatic revelations, and finally some answers to fans’ burning questions.

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Clockwise from left: Line of Duty (BBC), Game of Thrones (HBO), Breaking Bad (AMC)Clockwise from left: Line of Duty (BBC), Game of Thrones (HBO), Breaking Bad (AMC)
Clockwise from left: Line of Duty (BBC), Game of Thrones (HBO), Breaking Bad (AMC)

With no confirmation of a seventh series yet, many considered this an underwhelming end to such a beloved show.

It has sparked a conversation about how finales can truly make or break a good series.

So let’s take a look at some of the best and worst TV show endings ever.

We’ve tried to keep this article as spoiler free as possible, but there could be some mild spoilers ahead…

Game of Thrones

For years this fantasy colossus, based on George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, captivated viewers and dominated conversations.

It wasn’t just the nudity and the dragons that made the show popular – it was the multi-faceted characters, the power struggles, the sharp dialogue, incredible visuals, and the fact no character appeared to be safe.

But the ending of the show is considered by many to be so bad it has wiped out its entire legacy.

Fans have criticised the last season’s handling of the main character’s arcs, the rushing of plot points, and the person who ultimately ‘wins’ the Game of Thrones.

We’ve been in and out of lockdown for a year and barely anyone seems to have rewatched it. How can a show which had such an enormous cultural impact have faded to nothing almost overnight?

Breaking Bad

The final episode of Breaking Bad is widely considered as the one that knocked every other TV series finale out of the water (see what I did there?).

Originally released to little fanfare in 2008, Vince Gilligan’s tale of a cancer stricken chemistry teacher turned drug lord gripped viewers across the globe and had audiences salivating with anticipation come the end of the fifth and final season.

The finale of the series saw main protagonist Walter White seemingly in a no-win situation, hidden away in New Hampshire, unable to return to his home and criminal ways following a gobsmacking death.

However, as White always did, he managed to force his way out of the unenviable hole he had dug himself into with a blood soaked ending that had viewers proclaiming Breaking Bad as the best show ever made.

Lost was binge-worthy television before that was even a thing. It follows the survivors of an aeroplane crash on a South Pacific island where all is not what it seems.

The noughties show’s first series had an average of 16 million viewers per episode, and it went on to win numerous awards, enthralling viewers for six seasons.

But the grand finale seriously divided fans, and still does.

Like Line of Duty and Game of Thrones, Lost inspired its viewers to come up with elaborate theories about what was going on and how things would unfold.

Inevitably, perhaps, the grand reveal could not live up to expectations. But Lost’s ending has been criticised for not making sense, and not providing satisfying answers to the show’s mysteries.

The Sopranos

This hugely popular crime drama centred around Tony Soprano, an Italian-American mob boss trying to balance family life with being a gangster.

It has been hailed as a masterpiece and is widely considered to be one of the greatest television series’ of all time, if not the greatest. But some people simply cannot stand how the show ended.

Without giving everything away, it’s fair to say The Sopranos has an open and ambiguous ending which left fans frustrated when it originally aired in 2007.

At the time it sparked controversy and anger, but now – more than a decade later – viewers are reflecting on it as actually a stroke of genius.

The Good Place

The Good Place is probably best known for its delicious twist at the end of the first series.

But the show has been widely praised for having a fitting ending.

It’s a philosophical (and funny) look at the afterlife, which focuses on Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) navigating The Good Place after her own death.

After just four series, the show wrapped up with a bittersweet season finale which left most fans satisfied, as well as critics.

The Good Place’s final series has 100% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes, summarised as: “A wild philosophical ride to the very end, The Good Place brings it home with a forking good final season.”

How I Met Your Mother

Running for a phenomenal nine seasons, How I Met Your Mother? followed the adventures of Ted Mosby who, through each episode, narrates the story of how he met the mother of his children.

With lovable characters, witty lines, and a significant love triangle prevalent throughout the nine seasons, the show’s finale was highly anticipated, as viewers waited with baited breath to see how Ted came to finally find love.

However, despite a fantastic run and dedicated fan-base, the final episode, titled ‘Last Forever’, was widely criticised by fans and critics alike, with many bemoaning the resolution of Ted’s story, his relationship to Robin, and the fate of the eventual mother.

In fact, it was received that negatively, many fans wondered if the season ender was actually an April fools joke, as the episode aired on March 31st.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Sarah Michelle Gellar’s iconic portrayal of the teenage vampire slayer is still almost universally loved almost 25 years since it first aired, however, the finale to the seventh – and final – season of the show received a lukewarm reception amongst fans, while it was lauded by critics as one of the best ever season endings.

Voted by Entertainment Weekly as the 9th best TV series finale ever, ‘Chosen’, the final episode of the cult TV show, saw the Scoobies and the Slayer’s closest allies take on their final battle against an army of Ubervamps who threatened to take over Sunnydale by rising from the Hellmouth that lurked underneath the city for the entirety of the seven seasons of the show.

While the season wasn’t heavily criticised by fans of the show, many viewers commented that while they enjoyed the season ending, it felt like it had ‘something missing’.

What’s your favourite TV show ending of all time?

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