Arguably the two most talked-about series finales in the last decade were Showtime’s Dexter and HBO’s Game of Thrones, though the chatter amongst many fans and critics is that these shows ended on a low note. With the Dexter set to return this fall and a Game of Thrones spin-off in the works, it’s time to take a look back and discover which show had the worst series finale.
The Dexter Series Finale
In the final episode, Deb dies in the most anticlimactic way possible (off-screen, mind you), Dexter finally kills Oliver Saxon, the weak villain in the series, Hannah and Harrison escape to Argentina after finally eluding Elway, who for some odd reason needed to take a ride with Hannah to Daytona to arrest the female Dexter. The show ends with Lumberjack Dexter (beard and all) hiding away from the world he once knew. Look, the issues with season eight had been long before the finale arrived. While the quality has always been in question since the original showrunner left after season four, Dexter ended on a high mark on the season seven finale with Deb choosing to kill LaGuerta instead of her brother.
Instead of feeding off of that storyline, the writers decided to do a time jump, speeding past Deb’s fragile mental state and her dynamic with Dexter. This would’ve been fine if the writers came up with something compelling still, but there was just no urgency to season eight and some of the moments throughout the show’s season were head-scratching. We were forced to watch a storyline of Dexter’s surrogate family (Dr. Evelyn Vogel and Zach Hamiton), a lackluster villain with mommy issues (Oliver Saxon), Masuka having a hot daughter, and even the Hannah McKay/Elway story didn’t have much juice.
With each passing episode, the story continued to get worse, so the expectation of a good finale was long gone. The only moment that elicited an emotional response was Deb’s death. Granted, it was a weak copout as it was never stated that she had any medical problems; however, this moment felt like the writers were too scared to give Saxon a big win, thus they had to throw in blood clot for good measure. Dexter killing Saxon was cool, but the build-up felt unearned. Nobody cared about any of the victims that Saxon killed and he didn’t get points for Deb’s death. Dexter’s world wasn’t really crumbling because of Saxon, thus the moment Dexter killed the villain of the season was more so a shoulder shrug, much like the rest of the storylines that wrapped up on the final episode.
The Game of Thrones Series Finale
It’s been noted how much of the writing quality of Game of Thrones went down once the showrunners passed George R. R. Martin’s book. Still, Game of Thrones was a solid source of entertainment leading up to season eight. Going into the final season, there was excitement in the air as the chapter on the popular HBO show was finally closing.
Would Daenerys Targaryen finally fulfill her promise and rule Westeros? How will Jon Snow come into play? Will Arya finally kill Cersei Lannister? What will happen with the white walkers? There were so many mysteries going into the final season and for the first half, the show was doing a solid job of building itself. Granted, the beginning of season eight was going slower than many anticipated, but there was nothing overly bad in the beginning. However, there was nothing memorable either. The battle against the white walkers was extremely fun and the chance for Arya to kill the big bad instead of Jon Snow was generally smart. Were there some issues in the early going, yes, but nothing as bad as The Bells episode, notably Daenerys’ random heel turn. Another nod is Jamie Lannister’s character development being tossed aside and going back to Cersei.
Here’s the thing, Daenerys Targaryen has always been cruel. However, the show has gone out of its way to showcase her as a potential ruler that would never harm an innocent civilian. They were never any teases that she could turn out like her evil father. Sure, it was discussed from time to time, but Daenerys’ action showcased her in a good light. So when she randomly killed innocent victims out of revenge against Cersei, it was completely out of left field for her character.
Her sudden dark rule in the finale never felt earned. Neither did her death. Daenerys didn’t rule long enough for people to truly hate her. King Joffery is one of the most despicable characters in the show, so when the little bastard finally died then it was definitely earned. It was way too easy for Jon to kill the mother of dragons, which took out any interesting conflict or tension that could’ve even taken up the whole episode. And the dragon melting the throne? The less said, the better.
Daenerys turned because the script demanded her to do so, not because the writers properly built up to the possible moment. Same thing with Arya. Throughout the past couple of seasons, we watched the young girl journey her way back to Westeros to kill Cersei and the other Lannisters. There was never a moment of doubt, hesitation, or struggle on Arya’s part about whether she’s following the right part. The girl wanted to kill Cersei and that’s it. Suddenly, she has a change of heart because of The Hound’s words and now she wants to be a…traveler? Where did this sudden life change come from? Add Bran, an emotionless kid who’s literally done nothing in the last few seasons, being rewarded the new ruler of the Six Kingdoms. Without question, Sansa should’ve been the new ruler, who’s had to deal with monsters for most of the series and then slowly started to grow into a smart woman who could play the political game and still have empathy for the innocent citizens.
I could go on and on about the missed opportunities and head-scratching moments from the series finale, but ultimately, the Game of Thrones finale was just boring. It was indeed a rushed mess, but once we get past the Jon/Daenerys saga (don’t even get me started over his punishment), there’s not much to chew on. So which show had the worst season finale? Dexter. As much of a disappointment that was GOT’s finale, Dexter’s was bad from beginning to end, no contest.