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A visual journey through the most loved and hated TV series finales

Is your favorite show here?


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Posted on Aug 23, 2015   Updated on May 28, 2021, 2:52 am CDT


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

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.

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 (U.S.), 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.

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.

Screengrab via amc/YouTube 

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*First Published: Aug 23, 2015, 11:00 am CDT