It holds a place in TV history as frankly one of the most bizarre endings to a series that we’ve ever seen, but it is for that vey reason that The Sopranos has stuck around in our memories for so long.
The infamous mid-sentence cut to black has been a topic of much debate for anyone who was fortunate to have seen the series (and incidentally if you haven’t, get on it) about the fate of the people involved in the final scene and generally sent the world into hysterics at the time. There were even theories that the whole thing was a mistake and the real ending had been lost somewhere, but the creators stamped on that one.
It is now 10 years since that finale was first broadcast, and surely there’s no better way to honour it than to take a look back at some of the other ambiguous (read flippin’ incomprehensible) endings to vintage series’ of years gone by. For better or worse, let’s take a look at some series finales that have left us scratching our heads for one reason or another.
*****WARNING: To make my points here, I’m going to need to venture into Spoiler Town. Tread carefully.*****
How I Met Your Mother
I offer this one up first not because it was ambiguous in terms of where everybody stood at the end of it, because it was one of the ultimate examples of a resolution to a story that left me with no earthly clue what had just happened or why.
So the whole show, through nine seasons, has been set up as a build to the meeting of Ted Mosby and his future wife, mother of his kids, and general apparent greatest human being in the entire universe (seriously Ted, you may need to get a bit of a life). But when the series finale comes to be, the two meet in a wonderful moment the likes of which are dream quality…
…until it turns out she died.
Yep. You built nine seasons worth of anticipation for the greatest relationship there has ever been in the history of everything ever, then you kill one of them off the moment it happens and barely even stick around to deal with it.
Seriously, they don’t even go any further into it. She just dies and they move to the next plot point.
It’s fair enough that they had been building to a Ted/Robin finale, because in hindsight that was what the whole show was setting up, but there’s better ways of doing it. An actual explanation and processing of emotions might be a good start.
Parks and Recreation
This joins the list for doing more of an ambiguity thing. The whole setup of the final scene at Garry/Larry’s funeral (*sobs*) was a big ol’ Secret Service guy coming over and saying it was time to go in a manner highly implicit of being in service to the President. Sounds pretty clear cut, right?
Only problem is, it was never made clear who was being addressed. Both Leslie (Amy Poehler) and Ben (Adam Scott) were there, and it legit could have been either of them.
It’s one of those that’s fun to speculate about, but let’s face it – how good would a joint Presidency be? The husband and wife running the country together? Don’t tell me that’s not what we all want that to be.
Although, I’ll be honest, I’d rather have April and Andy taking the Oval Office.
This one is a little bit contentious because we are actually getting answers to the mysteries of the original finale in the form of a whole new season, but for the pure mystery of the way the original Twin Peaks ended it deserves a mention.
For the pure mind-bending power of the scenes in the Black Lodge and all that Cooper doppelgänger muppetry, this is probably the ultimate cliffhanger.
As I say, the new series has gotten to certain grips with the fate of Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLaughlan) while not answering everything, but it’s yet to touch on what happened to Audrey with the bank bombing and the Shelly/Bobby romance. However, we are led to believe that Sherilynn Fenn is due to return to the new series to reprise Audrey, which may give us a clue, but it may be in flashbacks or visions – Twin Peaks loves a premonition.
Here we are. The créme de la créme of complete TV finale nonsense.
It would be almost criminal to let this discussion of leaving dangling threads (whether deliberately or not) slip by without mentioning the show that probably did a better job building overall plot intrigue than possibly any other, and then magnificently failed to pay absolutely any of it off.
I’ll hold my hands up and say that I’m still not 100% sure exactly what the hell the decision was. They weren’t dead, but beyond that I’m absolutely lost (pun absolutely intended).
It’s something to do with the island being the idea of purgatory but then they weren’t dead but they were in limbo between the world of the living and OH GOD I JUST DON’T KNOW. IT’S. TOO. MUCH.
I’m going to go there and say it – I’m officially Lost.
So happy birthday to The Sopranos and its beautifully-executed ending. Maybe the showrunners could get a back-up career going teaching some other people how it’s done?