There are two ways to wrap up a canceled or ending TV show. There's the oft employed looking back at an empty room and closing the door option. Then there's the "WTF! Let's stab their eyeballs with crazy!" approach.
Guess which ones these guys chose?
In 1986, a friendly, wise-cracking alien crashed into the Tanner's garage, claiming to be the only survivor of his destroyed planet of Melmac. Despite being able to fluently speak English and explaining that his name is Gordon Shumway, the Tanners dubbed him ALF (for Alien Life Form) and only refer to him as such from then on. Kind of a dick move now that we think about it.
Initially, the Tanners weren't very happy to house a short smartass who wanted to eat their cat, but they soon realized the gravity of the situation after a man from the Alien Task Force showed up at their door. Curious, Kate Tanner asked the man just what would happen to ALF if they did catch him.
Actual quote from the first episode:
"We'll see how it responds to intense heat, freezing cold, high voltage, toxic substances, pain, sleep deprivation, inoculation [that's needles], and, of course, dissection."
"Why don't you just pull its toenails out?"
"You didn't let me finish."
Forget trying to learn about advanced science from this obviously technically superior species, our government would rather see what he looks like on fire.
Naturally, the Tanners decide that annoying or not, they absolutely have to keep ALF safe from the Alien Task Force so he won't be tortured to death. Over the next four years, the Tanners learned to love ALF and accept him as part of the family, until the Alien Task Force finally caught him!
The final shot of the entire series.
It starts when ALF receives a message from two surviving Melmacians, letting him know that they are going to colonize a new planet and want him to join them. ALF is torn between the continued survival of his species and his new family. Finally, he decides to join his own kind. The Tanners throw him a farewell party, have a very emotional goodbye and drive him to the outskirts of town to meet his friends' ship.
Then, just as the spaceship is preparing to pick him up, the Alien Task Force shows up, surrounding ALF. Frightened and low on fuel, his Melmacian buddies fly off, the agents close in on ALF and the credits roll, leaving viewers to assume the adorable, wise-cracking ALF is hauled off to be burned, frozen, poisoned, stabbed and finally gutted off-camera.
"That's odd. There's just a hand in here."
What were the producers thinking? Well, it would be awesome if this ending had been their plan all along and the previous 100 episodes were purely setup, an elaborate prank played by some people who really, really hated children. But the reality is the episode wasn't supposed to be the finale, it was to be a cliffhanger and the show just got cancelled before they could resolve it. Not that all of the eight-year-olds who subsequently cried themselves to sleep knew that.
Eventually, six years later, ABC aired Project ALF, a TV movie that explained ALF hadn't been executed yet, but was scheduled to be. Though he does escape the lab, he never meets back up with his Melmacian friends or reunites with the Tanners. Actually, he doesn't even seem to remember them (for some unexplained reason, they've moved to Iceland). In fact, one Amazon.com reviewer claims Project ALF made his children cry! So instead of a graphic, Muppet death, ALF is sent off into an existential collapse. Enjoy your adolescence, kids!
Who could forget Dinosaurs, the lovable product of the Jim Henson Creature workshop? Earl "Not the Momma" Sinclair and his family dealt with typical sitcom family issues, occasionally taking on more controversial issues under a thinly veiled prehistoric euphemism (i.e.: masturbating = doing the mating dance by yourself).
But the real star of the show was the adorable and mischievous Baby Sinclair. With such a cute and cuddly tone, naturally, the show had to end with everyone dying. And we mean everyone. This is the only sitcom in history that actually ended with the on-camera extinction of the entire species that starred in it.
Unless mullets count as a species.
In the finale, the family is disappointed when the beautiful and colorful bunch-beetle migration display fails to appear. Turns out the beetles never showed because a plastic fruit factory has destroyed their breeding grounds and effectively wiped out their entire population. The beetles were keeping a breed of creeper vine in check, which quickly spreads out of control. Earl is put in charge of the problem, and in trying to wipe out the vines, sprays massive amounts of defoliant that ends up wiping out all plant life on the planet.
Now desperate to make rain to revive the plants, they cause all the major volcanoes to erupt, confusing rain clouds with smoke clouds. In the end, the clouds end up causing global cooling which the TV says will last tens of thousands of years.
Earl apologizes to family for killing everyone as they rally together to wait for death as the snow piles up. The End.
On one hand, we get that they were trying to do some kind of hamfisted message about the environment. On the other, the message was, "No matter how hard you try to fix the environment, it will fucking kill you in the end." Thanks for watching, kids!
Harry, Tommy, Sally and Dick Solomon were your typical American sitcom family... except for the fact that their "family" was just the cover for their extraterrestrial research expedition.
The show revolved around their attempts to understand and emulate human behavior with wacky results, and they often found themselves confused by the emotions that came along with their human bodies. Also, a macho male security officer alien was forced into a female body which was so hilari-gay.
Dick immediately falls in love with his coworker, Mary Albright (played by the sexy, sexy Jane Curtin).
I bet you thought we were kidding.
She is initially repulsed by Dick and his childish behavior. Throughout the series, she comes to find his naivety endearing. Eventually, the two get engaged, and their relationship becomes the heart of the show.
So, when the Solomons are called back to their home planet, Dick has little choice but to knock Mary out and leave her forever.
During the sixth year of their mission, Dick encounters another alien named Liam, who is bent on turning all of humanity into monkeys. Dick saves the day by using his weapon against Liam, turning him into a monkey. Unfortunately, this causes their boss, The Big Giant Head, to end their mission and have them return to home.
After revealing himself as an alien to Mary, she initially wants to join them, but realizes she can't leave Earth. So, Dick decides to erase all of her memories of the two of them, via a blow to the neck that renders her unconscious, and leaves her on the ground.
Let's just hope none of her friends, coworkers or family members ever bring up the man she was with for the last half-decade, or Dick's misguided attempt at sparing her feelings will make her life a confusing, nightmare of hole-filled memories with no explanation, her lonely future full of psychiatric medications and straightjackets.
Back before soap operas were solely for people on disability and the elderly, there was Dallas, an hour-long soap that aired in primetime on CBS for over a decade.
Dallas followed the trials, tribulations and general dickery of oil tycoon J.R. Ewing and his family. The Ewings were your typical soap opera characters, in that they constantly squabbled, undermined each other and sired illegitimate children. Through it all, one managed to trump everyone else in the Giant Douche Bag Sweepstakes: J.R. You've probably heard of the "Who Shot J.R?" mystery. Do you know why it was so hard to figure out who shot him? Because he was such an asshole, everyone wanted to shoot him! Also, everyone in Texas has at minimum three guns.
In the end, eleven years later, J.R. got shot again, but this time at his own hand, after being convinced to do so by one of Satan's minions.
In the last episode, J.R. encounters an angel who takes him on a very It's a Wonderful Life-esque trip to show him what life would be like without him. Though, in a twist that would have made It's a Wonderful Life the most badass movie ever, afterwards, the "angel" not only encourages J.R. to kill himself, but reveals himself to be a demon working for Satan.
After a brief inner struggle, J.R. puts the gun to his head and a gunshot is heard. His brother, Bobby, runs in and gasps, "Oh my God!" and the series ends. A nation of housewives who tuned in every week for sexy backstabbing and plot twists, watched the show end with a demon-induced brain splattering.
Now, as with ALF, they did slap together a TV movie five years later. In classic Dallas style, they negated the most interesting thing that happened in the name of churning out more Dallas. Apparently, J.R. quickly turned the gun away and shot a mirror (you know, the kind that doesn't make a shattering sound when you shoot it). And the horrified, my-brother-just-shot-himself look on Bobby's face was simply because that was his favorite mirror.
"That was a Pier One exclusive!"