15 Incredibly Dark Endings To TV Series
Wow, we’ve sure had a lot of television over the years. So many TV shows. Just an incredible amount of living room talkies. If you’re anything like us, you can probably remember the endings of, like, a handful of shows. Truly, do not ask us how the last season of The Witcher ended. We’re choosing to simply stick to a mental image of some plot point somehow involving Henry Cavill in a bathtub.
Sometimes, however, a show comes along with a wrap up that is either so incredibly powerful it rips our guts out a little, or so insanely “Wait, what?” that it keeps haunting us long after the internet has stopped losing its mind over it. Here are 15 such series endings.
(Also spoilers for Ozark and 14 other shows ahead.)
The finale of the HBO series about vampires and sex, we guess, ended with Sookie who up until that point had done so much in the DIY Choices department, only to be forced by Bill to end his eternal vampiric life. Not to mention how the once transgressive show suddenly turned all “family values” conservative in the final episode. Bill and Sookie ending up craving a normal life that apparently entails the one dying so the other one can become a housewife making babies is one of the darkest TV endings we’ve seen in the 21st century.
The end of the series about how expensive it is to raise some kids showed Nancy Botwin finally being free from the terrible financial burden now that her kids are all grown up. Only, her choices on how she made that sweet dough ended in her children wanting nothing much to do with her anymore. She’s rich, but alone. So it’s like normal people with kids, only without the cash.
Sure, it was a great ending and very on par with the show’s bleak look at how capitalism will absolutely ruin a person and also every other person by taking out whoever threatens a person's wealth, and getting away with it. Poor Ruth was never going to make it — the Langmores were being taken out one by one since the very beginning of the show. She had to be the last to go, to really drive the point home of how this money-hungry, morally corrupt family moved into the Ozarks and wiped the locals out.
Also, with Ruth dead, it pretty much eliminates the chance of a spin-off show.
13 Reasons Why
Apparently we’re supposed to believe that, in a series so bleak every second character dies of some terribly traumatic experience, our main guy Clay Jensen is going to … be just fine? This is the guy who started losing it completely during the final season, what with hallucinating dead people and such. Never a good sigh, people. This is the guy who’s not been able to cope with loss, guilt, and grief at all — only to end up losing his new best friend and sort-of brother, too. And now he’s off to college, and he’s going to be totally fine, you guys. Yeah, okay. Sure.
Also, don’t get us started on the show’s apparent attempt at finding some sort of redemption for a certain character who was also a serial rapist, and the way they shoehorned in a quick HIV/AIDS death at the end without ever really addressing or even taking the illness seriously.
Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina
Sabrina uses her agency and sacrifices herself to save her family and everyone else from this thing called The Void. She dies, and ends up in the afterlife. More specifically, she goes to the Sweet Hereafter (so like, not Hell), oh and look! Her boyfriend Nick suddenly joins her, telling her that he drowned in the Sea of Sorrows. So he … totally killed himself to stalk her all the way into the ever after where they’ll be together forever even though they struggled to hack it as a couple in real life? Yeah, that is some creepy behavior and cringing romanticism of suicide, you guys.
The Good Wife
It all ended with a thundering slap. Alicia (the show’s proverbial “good wife”) ends up being as morally corrupt as the people and the (ex)husband she’s been fighting along the way.
Russian agents Philip and Elizabeth Jennings get out of the U.S. alive, but it costs them their children. Having their daughter Paige go rogue and seeing her deliberately abandon her parents was pretty dark, but arguably not as dark as seeing two people who killed countless others and destroyed the lives of many essentially getting away with it.
How I Met Your Mother
The show decided in the end to kill off the titular Mother — who fans had just come to know and like — all so that Ted could further pursue Robin. Even the actress who played Mother was upset about it. The finale will forever go down as one of TV’s most cold-hearted moments, ever.
The three season series was dark throughout, but having Ethan shoot and kill Vanessa when he was supposed to be her protector throughout just felt like a push too far. Then again, this show is as (wonderfully) gothic, melodramatic, and poetic as they get. Still, things are pretty damn bleak if the only character left at the end is Frankenstein’s monster, the Creature, standing by a grave all alone, reciting Wordsworth’s mourning words.
Bold to have our protagonist straight-up murder Ethan Hawke at the end there. Sure, it was a thing anyone who knows the comic character kind of expected to happen in some way. Just, maybe not that way.
It’s the show that taught all other shows it’s safer to just not have a season end on a cliffhanger. After four seasons, the TV series about an insufferable alien leeching on a family got canned out of the blue, and therefore will always have an ending where Alf was trying to get home by contacting his family’s spaceship, only to get caught by the freaking U.S. military. The last image anyone ever saw of the cat-eating, somehow hairy space abomination was this one above, with words that said “To be continued.”
Another expected depressing ending, but man, so grim nonetheless as the crime and violence simply persevere by shifting from one generation to the next. The idea that these social problems are so ingrained that it’ll take a miracle for things to really change is what we're labeling Peak Bleak.
We’re just going to leave this last bit here where Walter tells Skyler — and finally admits — why he did all the things he did and why he wrecked so many lives:
Walt: Skylar. All the things that I did … you need to understand —
Skylar: If I have to hear one more time that you did this for the family …
Walt: I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really … I was alive.
By now everyone knows Tony got shot, right? Right? It’s probably the most famous, most ambiguous ending in TV history. And whether or not it was Tony's last moment or him just being paranoid, it doesn't really matter because it's brilliantly dark, either way.
Hey, remember how everyone died at the end of this beloved ‘90s TV series? No? Here you go!
Thumbnail: Buena Vista Television