Is ‘Dexter’ The New ‘Worst. Series. Finale. Ever.’?

Senior Pop Culture Editor
09.24.13 90 Comments

Over at Grantland, Todd VanDerWerff wrote an interesting article contrasting the different paths Dexter, which mercifully bid farewell on Sunday, and Breaking Bad, which sadly will do the same this upcoming Sunday, took in telling their stories. With the benefit of hindsight (and treadmills), it feels weird comparing the two programs now, but not so long ago, Dexter was one of the best shows on TV — VanDerWerff says it could have been “the next great television drama, the show that would put Showtime on the map as real competition for the flailing HBO.” Instead, a few years later, post-Trinity Killer Dexter was struggling to come up with stories for Joey Quinn at the same time Breaking Bad elevated AMC to Second Best Channel Behind HBO status. (FX firmly holds that title now.)

What made Dexter‘s fall, stumble, cut chin up on a coffee table from greatness so brutal was exactly that: it was once all-time great, even (especially) during season four. That elevates the awful series finale into a higher, sh*ttier echelon of mediocrity than, say, Smallville, Entourage, or Nip/Tuck. Then there are the series that had largely meh final years, but somewhat redeemed themselves with winning finales, like The Office, Big Love, and Roseanne. (I’d throw E.R. in here, too.) Lumberback Dexter laughs at those shows; he’s so much worse than they were. But now we’re up to the big guys, the shows that are on every “worst. last. episode. ever.” list. I’m only including series that were at one point considered “classics,” which is why this is a Heroes-free zone. How does Dexter compare?

The X-Files

More boring than anything else. Plus, compared to the rest of season nine, the finale wasn’t that bad.

The Sopranos/Seinfeld

These shows ended exactly the way they needed to. Next.

St. Elsewhere

For all the laughs and references that damn snow globe has given us over the years, St. Elsewhere is off the hook.

Battlestar Galactica and Lost

And we come to the big two. Both were massively popular, like Dexter. Both appealed to a Comic-Con crowd, like Dexter. Both ended with a thud, like Urkel, I mean, Dexter. But are they worse than Dexter? In Lost‘s case: no. It’s infuriating and overly love-lorn at times but it doesn’t feel like a different show than the one viewers had devoted their lives to. Dexter can’t say the same. As for BSG: the case could be made, but I don’t think it should be. “Daybreak” was convoluted and cluttered, but that’s preferable to the LOLZ that Dexter came up with for 12 straight weeks.

In other words:

Michael C. Hall is now in the worst TV series finale of all-time, and one of the best. SUCH RANGE.

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