It never used to be like this. In the days before the internet, when dinosaurs walked the earth, event television was referred to as ‘watercooler moments’ - those episodes that people talked about on their break at work the next day.
When a well-loved - or, at least, well-known - TV series finally came to an exciting conclusion, that would become a definitive watercooler moment for a generation. The tearful finale of M*A*S*H, the Last Newhart, the baffling final episode of St. Elsewhere… but no one really talked about the endings they hated.
That’s something that’s arisen with the ubiquity of the internet and, to a certain extent, smartphones and social media. These days, if you want to complain about something you hate, truly rip it a new one, there’s a dozen conversations to be had on Twitter, a ranting status on Facebook, a sub on Reddit, or any one of a hundred other outlets for your rage… and those rants, those rages form consensus, create a nearly unanimous agreement about that thing you all hated so very, very much.
From the television shows that died an anticlimactic death, to the programmes that violently zigged when they should have zagged, these are the series finales everyone loves to hate.
10. The X-Files - ‘The Truth’
The initial premise of ‘The Truth’ - Mulder placed on trial for supposedly murdering someone that he knows can’t be killed - had promise for about five minutes. However, that trial took the form of a military tribunal; something not remotely legal or even practical in real life, and yet another example of how the writing of the show had slipped over the final few years.
With guest star witnesses that just recapped the show’s mythology at length and plenty of shouting about The Truth but no actual answers, the trial was a farce in more ways than one, culminating in a sentence of death. The rest of the feature-length episode saw Mulder break out and go on the run with Scully… and that was it. After nine years, that was the payoff to this groundbreaking show.
The fans who’d kept the faith for nine years were horrified; those whose expectations had already been lowered by years of falling quality were just disappointed.
While Gillian Anderson gave the lazy script her best shot, David Duchovny looked as though he would have preferred to be anywhere or anyone else. Sadly, last year’s X-Files reunion season didn’t redress the balance, leading many to openly wonder what on earth the point had been.