Game of Thrones will be entering its latest season with fans holding their breath about the fate of Jon Snow and others, and rumors has already begun to swirl about if next season will be the one in which HBO and George R.R. Martin finally decide to put a wrap on the conflicts within Westeros. While Game of Thrones is a groundbreaking series in many ways, the hope among many fans is that it doesn’t drop the ball in the finale in the way so many other fantasy and sci-fi series have over the years. In honor of that, here are ten fantasy/science fiction finales which were absolutely awful and Game of Thrones needs to avoid emulating at all costs.
10. Battlestar Galactica (reboot)
When you decide to end a science fiction series with a climactic, winner-take-all battle, it really makes no sense that most of the bad guys are essentially gunned down with actual earth-style bullets on a flagship which is stuck in enemy space. This show suffered from horrid writing in its latter seasons and the budding romance between President Roslin and Captain Adama was getting more idiotic by the second. For a series which relied on edge-of-seat-action and what-now suspense as its primary marketing gimmick, the finale of BSG, “Daybreak,” was remarkably predictable, sans one serious twist – the Cylon robots in space were given a pardon and allow to go on their merry way. Finding Earth was bad enough – we all knew Starbuck was going to dial it up somehow – but Roslin’s death and Adama turning into a hermit, combined with their condescending “let’s help them” attitude towards the proto-humans they discovered, made the show look not cutting-edge, but rather cutting-room. As though that was not bad enough, the Cylon-humans going off on the “What is God” rant smacked of Star Trek V. When George R.R. Martin himself bitch-slaps your finale, let’s face it, you sucked.
9. Star Trek: Voyager
Deep Space Nine had an awesome finale, Next Generation’s was phenomenal, but Voyager suffered from what seemed to be “Stale Trek Syndrome.” The entire “let’s get home” storyline was nearing the end of the run, everyone was getting tired of the Kazon and Borg, and Kes was gone. So, what else was there to do except employ the time-honored tradition of Star Trek, time travel. In “Endgame,” Admiral Janeway, decades in the future, meets her past self in the ultimate example of breaking all temporal rules – even Spock would have Vulcan-slapped her. Janeway being Janeway, she decides to break just about every Trek canon rule there is – from paradox creating to blowing the transwarp barrier wide open to putting a flag officer in a certain-death situation. The only thing which would have made it ultimate Voyager would have been her forgetting to have a cup of coffee with her, then dropping a tricorder or phaser on a pre-warp planet in the midst of a nuclear Cold War. Epic Trek Fail.
8. Star Trek: Enterprise
This finale wouldn’t have even made the list had it not been for the fact that not only was a rather unkempt, husky William T. Riker in it along with a somewhat more cavalier Troi, but also that they killed off (allegedly) one of the fan favorites. The series itself could have easily gone for two more seasons, but UPN was merging with WB, and the suits at CBS did not like the ratings numbers. Enterprise was not attracting the target demographic, and the network was clearly orienting itself away from science fiction and urban comedy and more towards fantasy and teen based series. Today, Enterprise would likely find a credible home on CBS, but Rick Berman, et al, gave up the ghost with a ghastly ending which featured Captain Archer bringing the Federation to life. If only we could see Scott Bakula in a cameo in the next Trek movie giving the charter signing speech, at least THAT would make up for this.
7. Quantum Leap
Oh, poor Scott Bakula. This guy can’t seem to catch a break, can he? NBC’s science fiction offering had been doing modestly well in the ratings but a series of badly written episodes, along with NBC penny pinching, doomed Don Bellisario’s series to the cancellation scrap heap. The finale of Quantum Leap, “Mirror Image” was a hastily assembled cobbling of philosophical and metaphysical themes combined in such a way that the plot was stacked like a literary Jenga game – the question was who do we have to blame for the episode falling apart at the end. Sam Beckett meeting God was another version of the same tired old storyline, but “God” deciding to make Sam his “Maytag Repairman” of space time rang hollow with fans. The saddest part of the whole series was the final minute, when Sam leapt in as himself, and told Al’s girlfriend he was alive and well and coming home, allowing her to stay faithful and changing history forever, and not at all in Sam’s favor.
6. Earth: Final Conflict
Gene Roddenberry’s post-mortem series, based on a series of notes adapted to the TV screen by his wife the late Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, did well for about two seasons but began to suffer from what all interesting series suffer – creative license due to the creator’s absence. The series was never intended to be hopeful – malevolent aliens disguising themselves as beings of friendship – the “Companions,” aka Taelons, were mercilessly “shoved aside” in favor of a time honored science-fiction gimmick, energy vampires. The series was sucked dry (pun intended) by the end of the fifth season, and the series ended with an idiotic farewell episode featuring the Taelon mothership being used by humans to take home the “trustworthy” vampires.
5. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
For a show with serious 90s teen and college-aged street cred for its campiness, Buffy’s swan song, “Chosen” was anything but. Sarah Michelle Gellar could have really done this show better if she had actually not done the “dynamic duo,” approach and had either been killed off, or gave up her stake. Instead, we got an episode in which a fan favorite (again) dies, and the series itself shows why it’s been on life support. To top it all off, there was the bizarre two-for-one of Buffy and her new fellow slayer, and they all killed happily ever after. If Transformers had this problems, Rodimus and Optimus would’ve been fighting over the matrix.
4. X-Files (original series)
For such a groundbreaking program with network support to die such a needlessly stupid death, X-Files went from being a great TV series felled by on and off camera issues (David Duchovny’s addiction issues, Gillian Anderson’s desire to settle down into family life, Cris Carter and team openly fighting with each other), to becoming a somewhat forgotten series with a massive cult following and two less-than-impressive theatrical releases. Fight the Future was reasonably better than I Want to Believe, but the Fox reboot of the series in 2015 had a bizarre up/down feel to it, and never really got its legs underneath. Though Carter, Anderson, et al publicly hope for a continuation of the franchise, there is precious little hope beyond their circle this series will see much more than an occasion mid-season break mini-series. Of course, its original finale, featuring the death of Cigarette Smoking Man (who was looking very peace-pipey that day,) was one gaffe-laden death after another. Even Alex Jones likely laughed at how out-there this series was in its final day.
You know your finale sucked when it was actually incorporated into the series from which yours spun off. That’s exactly what Cris Carter was forced to do when Fox cancelled the EndTimes-themed sci-horror series. Agent Frank Black was brought across the television continuum to X-Files, and the “Millenium” story arc carried over to the parent franchise. What began as an ultra-dark, and pretty damned scary spinoff of X-Files literally became unbelievable towards the end, but the “finale” featuring Black, Scully and the rest taking down the killer, was reasonably well written. It makes the list because the finale was part of the X-Files arc, rather than standing alone.
2. Stargate SG-1
For a series which was so absolutely awesome at surviving such intense cast changes but managed to keep to Amanda Tapping, it deserved a far better ending that it got. Killing off the Asgard was bad enough, but not being able to go toe-to-toe with the Ori despite some really bad ass weapons? How do you solve it? How do you solve any science-fiction or fantasy plot which cannot be solved through normal means? Time-travel or magic. In this case, SG1 slowed time to less than a crawl, so much so that the crew lived out their entire lives on the ship as the Ori blast nudged closer and closer. At the end of “Unending,” the team dodges the Ori bullet, is restored to normal time and all was hunky dorey, except its number one ally was extinct. Sigh, thanks for nothing, SyFy!
And the worst science-fiction/fantasy series finale goes to….
Mork and Mindy
Sorry, but you just don’t do the late Robin Williams like that. You don’t. This sci-fantasy comedy was stupid-funny but sweet and entertaining. When it reached the end of the line, everyone who watched it were sadly disappointed to see the duo traveling through time and nobody knowing where they ended up. This finale was so bad, Moviehole poked fun at it with this zinger of a possible epilogue. “Rumour is Mork ends up getting a job, under the alias of Adrian Cronauer, at a Vietnamese radio station and Dawber married the dude from ‘The Presidio.”
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