It is incredibly difficult to come up with a conclusion to a popular TV show that is satisfying to the majority of the fans. This is due to the fact that everyone has their own idea of how the show is supposed to end, which results in certain expectations over which characters hook up and which should be punished for their misdeeds.
There is a lot of second-guessing that goes on when the final episode of a TV show is being written. A lot of plans are made, which are then thrown out and replaced with ideas that may or may not have been better.
These creators have since gone on record with their original visions for TV show finales that weren’t allowed to come to pass. This was due to the fact that these ideas might have been considered too controversial, or were planned to tie into later seasons that were never green-lit by the network.
We are here today to look at the finales of classic TV shows that were planned to conclude in a different way– from the objections to the ending of Deep Space Nine, to an even less dignified conclusion for Enterprise.
Here are the 15 TV Show Finales That Were Meant End Completely Differently!
15. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
All of the Star Trek TV shows have had a fairly low mortality rate among the members of the cast throughout their run. A Star Trek character usually only dies when their actor wants to be written out of the show.
The captain of each Star Trek show has also survived until the final episode of their series. Benjamin Sisko was once planned to be the exception to this, as he was originally planned to leave the mortal realm forever.
“What You Leave Behind” was the final episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It ends with Benjamin Sisko joining the Prophets, but promising to return someday.
The script had originally called for Sisko to say that he was never coming back until Avery Brooks objected.
14. 13 Reasons Why
The show 13 Reasons Why is one of the most-acclaimed original series ever produced by Netflix. It follows the events leading up the suicide of Hannah Baker, who left thirteen cassette tapes with recordings that explained the reasons why she took her own life.
The show was based on a book of the same name by Jay Asher. The book and show versions of 13 Reasons Why both involved Hannah taking her own life, but Jay Asher had considered changing her fate for the television adaptation.
According to Jay Asher, he had considered having Hannah being saved at the last minute by her parents, in order to give her a second chance at life. He decided to keep the same ending as the book, as he felt that it would have far more of an impact on the audience.
13. The Vampire Diaries
The storyline of The Vampire Diaries involved two vampire brothers, named Damon and Stefan, who fall in love with a girl named Elena. The show ended with Damon and Elena ending up together, though we also see the two brothers making amends in the afterlife.
The creators of the show had originally planned for a darker ending to the series. According to Julie Plec and Kevin Williamson, they had always planned for both Damon and Stefan to die in the finale.
They had wanted the brothers to sacrifice their lives in order to save Elena and then continue to watch over her from the afterlife.
Elena would then go on to live a normal life.
The change to the planned ending came about when Nina Dobrev left the show in season six. The creators decided to shift their focus onto the relationship between the brothers and felt that at least one of them should survive the finale.
Dexter has one of the most universally despised endings of any TV show ever made. The final episode ends with Dexter living under an assumed identity in Oregon after he was presumed to have been killed in a shipwreck. This means that Dexter never paid for his crimes.
There is one person who does like the Dexter finale and that’s Clyde Phillips. He was the showrunner of Dexter during its early years, as well as being an executive producer on the show. Clyde Phillips has shown appreciation for the ending that was shown on TV but has also discussed what his original plan for the finale had been.
According to Clyde Phillips, he had originally envisioned the final scene of Dexter to show Dexter receiving a lethal injection after being caught for his crimes. The whole show had been his life flashing before his eyes, as he is slowly put to death.
11. Prison Break
The ending of Prison Break was going to conclude with a small scene that was removed for being too dark. This brief scene would have recontextualized the ending in a way that would have totally changed how we last see Michael.
Prison Break was created by Paul Scheuring, who has revealed that the fifth season was going to end with Sara telling Michael that he doesn’t have to look over his shoulder anymore.
Michael then proceeds to look over his shoulder, as he is still paranoid that something from his past is going to catch up with him someday.
This ending was going to show that Michael was scarred by the events of the series and may never be able to lead a normal life.
It seems that it might have been a smart idea to include this alternate ending, as fate isn’t done with Michael Scofield. Fox has announced that Prison Break is returning for a sixth season, so maybe Mike should be paranoid after all.
10. Ashes To Ashes
Ashes to Ashes ended with a revelation that explained the events of the series and its predecessor– Life on Mars. It turns out that the trips to the past are actually the police officer equivalent to Purgatory, which only affects officers who passed away in violent ways.
The co-creator of Ashes to Ashes has since revealed some of the planned endings that they had for the series, which included Alex waking up in the present day again or being able to move freely between the two time periods. These ideas were dismissed, as they had wanted a darker conclusion for the series.
There were also plans for John Simm to reprise the role of Sam Tyler and for him to appear in “The Railway Arms”, which acts as the gateway to the afterlife. This was changed, due to the fact that they didn’t want the protagonist of Life on Mars to overshadow the main character of Ashes to Ashes.
There have been a lot of times when a TV show has danced on the edge of cancelation, to the point where even the creators are unaware if they will be able to end the story or not.
This was the fate of Jericho, a show set in a fictional town of the same name which exists in a post-nuclear war America. The show was canceled after a single season but was revived due to a fan campaign. Jericho was canceled again at the end of its second season.
The creators of Jericho filmed a separate ending on the off chance that the show was picked up for a third season.
In this ending, Hawkins was wounded and left behind by Jake during the journey to Cheyenne.
The creators of Castle had plenty of time to come up with a decent ending for the show, considering that it ran for eight seasons.
Castle ran into the problem of the network not being sure whether they wanted to keep it around for a ninth season or conclude with the eighth season finale. It seems that the creators were caught off-guard by the show’s cancelation, especially as some of the actors had already signed on for season nine.
Castle was originally planned to end with the scene where both Castle and Beckett have been shot and are laying on the ground, which would have acted as a cliffhanger for the next season.
A separate sequence showing a flash-forward of Castle and Beckett having dinner with their kids was tacked on in order offer a conclusion to the show, rather than leaving the fans without an answer concerning the fate of the protagonists.
7. The Night Manager
The Night Manager was a critically acclaimed BBC mini-series with a star-studded cast that went on to win numerous awards for its high-quality. The Night Manager was based on a book of the same name written by John le Carre, though his sons were responsible for the TV show adaptation.
There were several elements of The Night Manager that were changed for TV.
This is to be expected, as the book was set during the Cold War and the show was set in 2011. The biggest change was to the ending, as the book had a more ambiguous and darker ending, while the TV show ended on a positive note.
The reason behind the change was due to the creator’s wanting to recontextualize the novel’s ending for modern sensibilities. It’s also possible that the change was made to better accommodate a sequel, as one has already been commissioned by the BBC.
Everwood was another example of a show that had to produce two different endings due to the fact that the creators weren’t sure if it was going to be renewed for another season or not.
Everwood ran for four seasons from ’02 to ’06. The final scene of the show involved Amy and Ephram reuniting by the Ferris Wheel and falling in love with each other again, which provided a definitive conclusion to the series.
The second ending that was filmed involved Ephram receiving a call from his ex-girlfriend before leaving the house. He leaves Amy standing all alone by the Ferris Wheel.
5. Falling Skies
Falling Skies was a show about the survivors of humanity fighting against an alien invasion by beings known as the Espheni. The fifth season of the show concluded with Tom Mason saving humanity by infecting the Espheni with a bioweapon that managed to wipe out their species.
The original ending of Falling Skies involved a much darker conclusion, though it did leave the possibility for more seasons or a spinoff.
David Eick was the executive producer of Falling Skies. He has since revealed that the show was going to end with the revelation that at least one of the aliens had survived and was still on Earth, which meant that the war wasn’t over yet.
4. Hannah Montana
It takes a lot of balls to conclude a TV show (or any story) with the “It was all just a dream” ending. There have been some instances where this was done in a satisfying manner, but they are in a small minority compared to all of the other examples, where the audience was left annoyed and wondering why they wasted so much time on a story with a cop-out ending.
Hannah Montana was originally planned to end this way. The finale was going to conclude with the revelation that the whole series was created in the imagination of a young Miley Cyrus.
This ending was actually filmed and planned to be used until it was decided that it would be too confusing for kids and it was changed to a more conventional ending.
3. Harper’s Island
Harper’s Island was a CBS mini-series that involved a destination wedding to the titular island, where the guests discover that one among their number is secretly a killer.
The writers of Harper’s Island had planned for a different ending to the series, which would have been similar to the broadcast ending of Dexter that was shown years later. They wanted the killer to get the girl and avoid the consequences of his crimes.
According to the actor who played Henry (the killer), the final episode would show his plan being pulled off and him finally getting Abby to fall in love with him.
The two of them would end up together and Henry wouldn’t be caught for the crimes that he committed.
2. The Sopranos
The finale of The Sopranos might be the most polarizing ending in television history. Entire websites have been dedicated to analyzing every single moment of The Sopranos finale and comparing them with the rest of the show, in order to work out whether Tony Soprano is still alive or whether he got whacked in the final scene.
Matt Servitto (who played Agent Harris on the show) has shed some light on the issue. According to Servitto, the original version of the script made it clear that the mysterious man in the Members Only jacket was going to end Tony’s life.
1. Star Trek: Enterprise
The ending of Star Trek: Enterprise has been criticised by the cast, crew, and fans alike. This is due to the fact that the whole story was told within a framing device of Riker watching events play out on the holodeck.
The Enterprise finale as we saw it was actually taking place during the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode called “The Pegasus”.
The fans of Star Trek: Enterprise felt that the finale should have been contained within the universe of the show, rather than becoming part of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
It seems that they were always destined to be disappointed, as the original plan for the ending was going to involve Star Trek: Voyager.
Mike Sussman’s ending for Enterprise was going to involve the Doctor from Voyager treating a patient who believes that he is Captain Archer and needs help to return to his timeline.
The story was going to be a mystery plot, with the audience having to decide whether this man was the real deal, or if he was just delusional.
Can you think of any other TV finales that were almost different? Sound off in the comment section!