Let's talk about bad TV endings
Updated: Aug 22, 2021
TV series are arguably just as big of a deal nowadays as a blockbuster film. The constant buzz week to week of the new episode coming out is what people talk about, and this longevity means that some of the best series out there have a much bigger impact than the best films Hollywood can produce.
So how come some of the greatest shows we've ever had, have had the worst endings? They keep us engaged for years, building up relationships with the characters and sometimes making our heads hurt with their complexity in plot line, but then the final episode comes and it just flops...
Two shows that come to mind are Line of Duty and Game of Thrones. Now this goes without saying that there are spoilers in the following piece, so if you're still working your way through them, then finish them off and come back to see if you agree with me.
Now, lets start with the most recent dissappointment, Line of Duty.
Line of Duty
You have to be on the ball with this show from the very beginning. They throw in police jargon, and there's so many names to keep track of that keeping a list with you as you watch isn't a bad idea (Jenny from Gogglebox even keeps a notebook to jot down information throughout each episode, and we laugh at her for doing this as viewers, but she's onto something there really.)
It all revolves around anti-corruption within the police. Generally speaking, each season follows a big figure (always played by an impressive actor) investigated by AC-12 (the anti-corruption unit). Season one-four followed this structure, and each time the ending came around they were building up to revealing a big set of four people high up in the police organising it all.
Season five moved away from this structure, and had an undercover cop get in over his head instead. I wasn't a fan of this season at all, despite the impressive performance from Stephen Graham. It tried to change things up, and although it was still working towards revealing the final man in the big four - H, I just didn't enjoy it as much.
This season went back to the original structure, which worked well. The first few episodes took a bit of time to get going, but it really picked up and had us on the edge of our seats ahead of the finale a couple of weeks ago (May 2). I thought the standout character was Ryan. He had been there as a kid in the first season, and then popped back up in season five too, before taking a more leading 'bad-guy' role this time around.
It was all leading to the reveal of H and with This Morning promoting an interview with the actor playing H the following day, we knew we were going to get answers we've been waiting six seasons for. Well... when it came it just didn't live up to the expectations.
Every part of the finale up until the revealing of H was great. Tension was building as they teased us with different camera shots right up until H was in the interview chair against the AC-12 team. Who was H? Ian Buckells - A very 'meh' character that undermined the whole complexity of the operation because he was an idiot that just said he passed on messages when he was told to. Rather than feeling like we'd all been fooled, I just thought there must be a fifth man involved after all.
He said he was just giving the criminals information and letting them be the ones to get their hands dirty. All he did was pass on messages and turn a blind eye in exchange for money. The reason he'd got away with it for so long was because he's presented as an incompetent fool. What got him in the end was spelling of all things. He spelt 'definitely' with an a through his previous cases, which means they could match these to the secret messaging service used for communication between the bent coppers and criminals.
It all just felt very anti-climactic to be honest. And I'm still not really convinced that that's the end either. Usually when a big show is into its last season, we know it's the last one because it gets even more hype. No one has confirmed this is the last one, but tweets from the creators and the actors would suggest it is. If it is the ending I'm very dissappointed, and if it's not, then I'll be watching to see if they can fix what they've done.
Watch Line of Duty on BBC iPlayer
Game of Thrones
Now this is much more of a commitment. Line of Duty had six seasons, with a total of 36 episodes. Game of Thrones has 73 episodes, which came to an end in May 2019. To keep it simple, they're ultimtely battling for the iron throne. There's LOTS that happens and I'm not going to go into that but the big focus was about everyone coming together to beat the whitewalkers (a bit like zombies), get rid of Cersei, and then finally it was about working out who would be in charge.
Daenerys Targaryen (played by Emilia Clarke, below) was the one to bring everyone together and take down the whitewalkers, but then she went power mad and used her dragons to basically wipe out King's Landing (like New York or London in the GOT world). I was dissappointed with this because we'd followed her the whole way to becoming the strong character she was, and a character that had always said she wasn't like her mad father. In the end, she ended up being just like him and Jon Snow killed her.
With Daenerys out of the way, it was decided that Bran Stark would be king and this REALLY didn't sit well with me. All the way through GOT I was bored with Bran. I found his storyline dull and I'd often go and get a drink through his scenes. It just got a bit too far-fetched for me with him when it came to the magical Three-Eyed Raven stuff (I'm not even going to explain this because it would take hours). He's like the sensible choice for king, but it would have been much more satisfying for Jon Snow or Tyrion to be left in charge.
In terms of tying up other loose ends, Sansa Stark was made Queen in the North, Arya Stark went off to discover the rest of Westeros, and Jon Snow was exiled beyond the wall to live among the Free Folk for the rest of his days. I also hated that Jon was exiled, he killed the woman that killed thousands - he did what was needed and got sent away as a result without as much as a thank you.
Stars of the show have even acknowledged the dissappointing ending. With social media now, everyone can give their own review and creators get reactions instantly so I think they're probably aware it went down like a lead balloon.
GOT was based off books by George R.R. Martin, but the TV series overtook him, so the finale season was completely coming from the creators rather than the books. The final books are yet to be released so it will be interesting to see how Martin wraps everything up compared to the on-screen adaptation.
Watch Game of Thrones on Sky
*I do not own the photos in this piece*