Laden with disappointing revelations, bizarre twists and wholly depressing turns, the worst final episodes in television history bring to an unsatisfying end some of television’s most beloved shows. From the abrupt cut at the end of “The Sopranos” to the utter devastation posed by the finale of “Dinosaurs,” these episodes offer unsettling endings to otherwise creative shows.
“St. Elsewhere” A medical drama lasting six seasons, “St. Elsewhere” followed the trials and tribulations of a group of doctors working in Boston’s fictional St. Eligius hospital. In what is without a doubt one of the worst final episodes in television history, the final moments reveal that the entire series and all of its characters were nothing more than a figment of an autistic boy’s imagination and that the hospital itself existed only in a snow globe held in the boy’s hand. Adding insult to injury, the show’s creators killed off the kitten shown in the title card for the show’s production company, MTM Enterprises. Normally shown looking up and giving a soft meow, the final episode of “St. Elsewhere” showed the cat hooked up to a heart monitor, asleep. As the final credits end, the cat flatlines and dies on screen.
“Dallas” This hour-long primetime soap opera revolved around the rich, selfish Ewing clan led by oil baron J.R. Ewing. “Dallas” followed the Ewings in melodramatic soap opera fashion for fourteen seasons until it ended with the most bizarre final episodes in all of television. In the finale, J.R. encounters an angel who shows the self-centered tycoon what the world would be like without him. Afterwards, the angel reveals himself to be a demon and urges J.R. to commit suicide. Gun in hand, J.R. struggles with the demon’s influence until, in the final moments of the show, he turns the gun to his own head. A moment later a gunshot is heard and the show morbidly ends with J.R.’s brother gasping as he enters the room.
“Dinosaurs” A sitcom produced by Jim Henson Television, “Dinosaurs” followed a family of anthropomorphic dinosaurs (the Sinclairs) and featured the animatronics and puppetry for which the company is known. In one of the most depressing finales ever filmed, the family’s absentminded patriarch, Earl, is literally responsible for the end of the world. Put in charge of killing a species of encroaching vine, Earl sprays massive amounts of defoliant that end up killing all plant life on earth. Earl’s company then causes all the volcanoes on earth to erupt, mistaking smoke clouds for the rain clouds needed to bring back the plants. Global cooling ensues and in the show’s final moments, the Sinclair family stares sadly out the window of their home, awaiting their deaths as the snow piles up outside.
“The Sopranos” For six seasons, America became embroiled in the turbulent world of the titular crime family led by ruthless crime boss Tony Soprano. The show won a multitude of prestigious awards including a number of Golden Globes before its ultimate end in 2007. In one of the most controversial finales in television history, Tony and the family sit down to dinner at a diner where they are watched by a shady man in the background. In the final moments of the show, the man slowly approaches Tony from behind as Tony observes at unknown person entering the diner. At the last second, the scene cuts to black, forever leaving the fate of the Soprano family a mystery.
“Alf” For four seasons, the kindhearted Tanner family sheltered a stranded alien named Alf and treated him as one of their own while evading the Alien Task Force—a government agency that chases Alf throughout the entire show. In what has to be one of the worst final episodes in television history, Alf is caught by the very agency he has eluded for four years. While awaiting the arrival of a rescue ship in the desert, the agency suddenly surrounds Alf and the Tanners, scaring off the ship just before it lands. The credits roll as the agency closes in (presumably to subject Alf to unimaginable torture), a fate the head of the agency describes to the Tanner family, in detail, in the show’s pilot.