The most loved and hated TV series finales

Intrepid Reddit user ChallengeResponse has put together a visualization of how fans regard the series finales of over 100 TV series. The data is based on IMDB.com ratings of episodes, examining how the series finale by itself is rated in comparison to the series’ average episode rating.

It’s a fascinating look some of TV’s most popular shows, yielding some surprising and not-so-surprising results, depending on the show.

TV series finales rated by differential

The first chart is sorted by differential, i.e. the greatest difference between average episode rating and finale rating, from positive numbers to negative numbers. “Glee” in first place and “Dexter” in last place is a perfect picture of two wildly different finales.

“Glee’s” average episode rating is under 7, while “Dexter’s” is almost a 9. But “Glee” is a show that while it dipped in popularity over time, the series finale brought the whole gang back together for a heartfelt, emotional send-off. Conversely, “Dexter” was an extremely popular show that really let its fans down with the finale.

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Other noteworthy features of the differential chart include:

  • “Scrubs” Season 8 finale is 79 spots higher than its Season 9 finale, both of which are included because “Scrubs” fate was still up in the air when Season 8 ended.
  • The “Angel” series finale is 16 spots higher than the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” series finale.
  • The U.S. “Office” finale trumps the U.K. “Office” finale.
  • “The Sopranos” finale was almost as disappointing as “Dexter” to its fans. The HBO drama has both one of the highest averages out of the negative differential shows and one of the biggest drops in rating for the series finale.

ChallengeResponse also put up graphs ordering the shows by average episode rating and the series finale rating. The most popular series finales include “Breaking Bad,” “Six Feet Under,” “The Office” (US), “Spartacus,” “Parks and Recreation,” “Scrubs” (Season 8) and “Friends.” The least popular series finales include “Two and a Half Men,” “Dexter,” “Dragon Ball Z,” “Star Trek: Enterprise” and “How I Met Your Mother.”

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Finally, the shows with the highest consistent quality are “Band of Brothers,” “Breaking Bad” and “The Wire.” They all have average episode ratings of over 9 with a very small differential between the average rating and the series finale rating — though notably, only “Breaking Bad” is ranked that high on average and  has a positive differential.

Posted by:Andrea Reiher

TV critic by way of law school, Andrea Reiher enjoys everything from highbrow drama to clever comedy to the best reality TV has to offer. Her TV heroes include CJ Cregg, Spencer Hastings, Diane Lockhart, Juliet O'Hara and Buffy Summers. TV words to live by: "I'm a slayer, ask me how."