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Top 10 Shocking Series Finale Plot Twists

VO: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Savannah Sher
One last twist before the end! Welcome to and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 shocking series finale plot twists. For this list, we’ll be going over the most notable and/or unexpected plot twists from TV shows that occurred during their final episodes. This list is nothing but spoilers, so consider yourself warned!

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One last twist before the end! Welcome to and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 shocking series finale plot twists.

For this list, we’ll be going over the most notable and/or unexpected plot twists from TV shows that occurred during their final episodes. This list is nothing but spoilers, so consider yourself warned!

#10: The Series Is Set in the Ancient Past “Battlestar Galactica” (2003-09)

After much suffering and many hardships, the ragtag survivors of the Twelve Colonies genocide escape their Cylon pursuers and find Earth at last. Twice, no less. The first time sees them discover it, or at least another planet named Earth, to be a radioactive wasteland. However, the series finale sees them come upon the real Earth, ours, by accident. When they land and find primitive humans already living there, it’s revealed that the series has not been taking place in the future, but actually the distant past and that the survivors of the Colonies are actually our ancestors.

#9: Dan Humphrey Is Gossip Girl “Gossip Girl” (2007-12)

Given that the titular narrator of the show is female, one might expect that Gossip Girl would have turned out to be, you know, a girl. However, the series finale revealed that it was actually Dan Humphrey penning those acid-tongued blog entries. The revelation proves a shocking one for those in the show as well, but even more so for viewers, particularly since it paints Dan in a such a negative light that it doesn’t really match his character as we’ve come to know him. Even actor Penn Badgley has commented on how this reveal made little sense. But logical or not, it sure was shocking.

#8: The Circle / Zodiac “Gravity Falls” (2012-16)

Despite being a kids’ show, “Gravity Falls” features a ton of Easter Eggs and codes hidden in it, including a mysterious circle or zodiac hidden in the final frames of the title sequence. These symbols surround series villain Bill Cipher. Keen-eyed viewers noticed that each symbol matches up to a character in the town. However, it isn’t until the finale that anyone learned that the zodiac is actually part of a prophesied seal that can defeat Bill. The twist is: it doesn’t work! Because of Stan’s refusal to cooperate with his brother, the heroes have to find another, costlier way to defeat Bill. Way to use audience expectations against us!

#7: The Gang Goes to Prison “Seinfeld” (1989-98)

Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer got themselves into plenty of sticky situations over the years. When the foursome are charged with being “bad samaritans” in the finale, it was like a trip down memory lane, with the numerous people they’ve seemingly wronged over the years turning up. While the gang has always gotten out of any trouble relatively unpunished, this time they’re sent to jail. The twist is a divisive one, and while some applauded the reversal of fortunes for the characters, others felt the twist was untrue to the show’s previous tone.

#6: “How’s Annie?” “Twin Peaks” (1990-91; 2017)

This David Lynch series is often difficult to follow, so the twists may not always land for everyone, but when they do, they’re whoppers! The finale of the original series run saw FBI agent Dale Cooper venture into the Black Lodge, a bizarre dimension filled with cryptic and confusing imagery, in an attempt to bargain for Annie’s soul. Instead, Cooper ends up losing his own to the demonic BOB, who reveals his presence at the episode’s end, repeating Dale’s question as to Annie’s status while smashing his head against a mirror; originally ending the series on a big cliffhanger.

#5: The Final Season Was Fake “Roseanne” (1988-97; 2018)

While we’re on the subject of twisted ‘90s finales whose shows got a recent continuation, let’s talk “Roseanne.” The final season of the original run saw a departure in tone from those that preceded it, featuring the Conner family winning the lottery and exploring a blue collar family getting rich. The finale though, reveals that the events of the season were all made up by Roseanne herself after becoming a writer; who used the experience to help process the death of her husband, whose previous heart attack had actually killed him. Although many criticized the new direction, few were expecting it to all be a lie.

#4: The Mother Is Dead “How I Met Your Mother” (2005-14)

This sitcom was based around the premise of Ted Mosby telling the story of how he met his children’s mother, Tracy, through narration. However, in the final episode, after the audience has spent the season getting to know her, it’s revealed that Tracy died of an unspecified illness prior to Ted beginning the story, which is likely what inspired him to tell it in the first place. Like many good twists though, there were clues. Even so, that didn’t stop it from being an emotional and controversial development.

#3: It’s All in Tommy Westphall’s Head “St. Elsewhere” (1982-88)

This medical drama was known for its odd characters, but nothing could have prepared us for the show’s ending. After most of the story has wrapped up, autistic character Tommy Westphall is seen staring out at the snow. He’s then shown in an apartment, staring at a snow globe that contains a tiny replica of the show’s St. Eligius hospital, with his father (and a recast doctor playing his grandfather) wondering what Tommy sees in the snow globe; implying that the whole show has been in Tommy’s imagination. Not only that, but because “St. Elsewhere” crossed over with other shows, many of which also crossed over with other shows, and so on, a good chunk of TV may have been dreamt up by Tommy too!

#2: The Chicken Was a Baby “M*A*S*H” (1972-83)

The finale of this military medical show is among television’s most beloved, yet amidst the many fond farewells is one the most heartbreaking twists in any series finale. After suffering a nervous breakdown, Hawkeye Pierce undergoes treatment at a psychiatric hospital. Through flashbacks the audience is shown an incident which Hawkeye has repressed, wherein he and a bus of refugees were forced to remain quiet to prevent enemy patrols from finding them. Hawkeye remembers at first that he told a woman to silence her chicken by smothering it, but he eventually recalls that it was not an animal, but her own child, the guilt from which caused his breakdown.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

Mason Is LokSat
“Castle” (2009-16)

Number 6 Is Number 1
“The Prisoner” (1967-68)

It Was All Robert Hartley’s Dream
“Newhart” (1982-90)

#1: Purgatory (or Something Like It) “Lost” (2004-10)

A series as full of twists and turns as this had to go out with one too, and the “Lost” finale definitely delivered in that regard. The entirety of the final season featured a different take on the show’s trademark flashbacks, showing glimpses of the plane survivors lives in an apparently different timeline. However, the finale revealed that these were not another life, but an afterlife, similar to purgatory. The cast is then seen moving on to, presumably, Heaven, or whatever else comes next. Whether you feel it was a fitting way to wrap up the characters, or a cop-out, this twist definitely got people talking.

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