As fans of the medium know, getting all riled up over our favorite TV shows can be quite a joyous affair… most of the time.
However, fandoms sometimes feel the urge to bite back, and occasionally, their uproar is justified. Today, we’re highlighting 15 scenarios where utter disappointment led to full-on fury. Boisterous, pitchfork-worthy fury.
Whether revolting over the death of their favorite characters, stewing in their wasted time thanks to terrible series closers or mourning an unjust cancellation, fans throughout the years have been known to get vocal about their many beefs with our beloved television.
This list includes highly controversial moments from shows like Game of Thrones, Veronica Mars, Jericho and Dexter, among others. This is not merely storylines/cast exits that a few fans disagreed with, shocking deaths, or so-so series finales. No, we are revisiting the biggest of TV’s big controversies and the most extreme viewer reactions. So, you know what to do: Hit that comments section and tell us which TV happenings have gotten you all hot and bothered!
Game of Thrones
THE SEASON: Season 8
THE BEEF: Pick an aspect of the HBO fantasy saga’s final season, and a subset of fans were angry about it. A lower episode count! Too-fast pacing! Bran — Bran?! — as ruler of Westeros! The ire inspired an online petition, “Remake Game of Thrones Season 8 With Competent Writers,” that has nearly 1.9 million signatures to date.
OFFICIAL REACTION: In 2019, HBO boss Casey Bloys acknowledged that “There are very, very few downsides to having a hugely popular show… but one I can think of is when you try to end it, many people have big opinions on how these characters’ stories should come to an end.” Still, he added, reshooting the drama’s swan song “was not something we seriously considered.”
THE SEASON/EPISODE: Season 4, Episode 8 (“Years, Continents, Bloodshed”)
THE BEEF: Marshmallows blew a fuse when the revival’s finale killed off Veronica’s longtime flame-turned-husband Logan Echolls in a car bomb. Many fans (who helped revive the franchise by Kickstarting the 2014 movie) were in denial, while others were straight up angry, swearing off the series for good.
OFFICIAL REACTION: Creator Rob Thomas insisted that the fan reaction didn’t make him reconsider the ending. “No, not even a little bit,” he said at the time. “I know what the show needs to be moving forward. There are not many shows about kickass detectives and their boyfriend at home.” Hulu’s Senior VP of Originals Craig Erwich defended Thomas’ decision saying, ” I support the decision that he made… I think the intensity of that reaction was a testament to how much people like the show.” While Erwich’s statement may be true, there have been no discussions at the streamer thus far about bringing Veronica back for Round 5.
THE SEASON/EPISODE: Season 7, Episode 7 (“French Twist”)
THE BEEF: The backlash to Lorelai impulsively marrying ex Christopher — instead of true love Luke — in the series’ final season was immediate and deafening. Fans took their anger out on new showrunner David S. Rosenthal, who replaced series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and EP Daniel Palladino in the wake of the duo’s contract dispute-fueled exit.
OFFICIAL REACTION: “This is not an anti-Luke and Lorelai development,” Rosenthal maintained to our own Michael Ausiello (then at TVGuide.com) at the time. “Luke and Lorelai are right now on separate journeys, but they are by no means forever separated. They’re still very much a part of each other’s lives and will be in the future in significant and profound ways.” And he wasn’t fibbing. Lorelai eventually divorced Christopher and, in the series finale, reunited with Luke.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
THE SEASON/EPISODE: Season 6, Episode 19 (“Seeing Red”)
THE BEEF: With Willow finally happy and in love, producers went and killed off girlfriend Tara at the hands of the villainous Warren, feeding right into TV’s “bury your gays” trope. Fans both inside and outside the LGBTQIA+ community were understandably upset and enraged, adding to what was already a very polarizing season.
OFFICIAL REACTION: The show tried to backpedal on two occasions, including an attempt to get actress Amber Benson back for Season 7’s “Conversations With Dead People.” But bringing Tara back to the fold just didn’t work out. Executive producer and showrunner at the time Marti Noxon later expressed regrets with how Tara’s storyline was handled. “There were parts of Season 6 where I feel we went too far,” she told Vulture. “And I think that killing Tara was — in retrospect, of all the people, did she have to die?”
THE SEASON: Season 5
THE BEEF: After Freema Agyeman’s exit at the conclusion of Season 4, some viewers took offense at how her character, Dr. Helen Sharpe, was written out without much explanation for why the doc ditched her fiancé Max. Fan tensions were further exacerbated by the ways in which Helen was referenced (and shown, using old footage) during Season 5’s storylines. Plus, it didn’t help that Max was moving on, romantically.
OFFICIAL REACTION: Following the series finale, showrunner David Schulner told TVLine, “We’re here to make strong, bold choices that stir up crazy emotions in our fans. That’s what we’re here for. We’re not here to tiptoe around things. We’re here to get people jumping off their couches… Our job is to make people feel things. And God bless them for being passionate about the show. I mean, God, that’s so much better than apathy or a collective shrug. I want people yelling at the television set. That’s the dream.”
THE SEASON/EPISODE: Season 1, Episode 13 (“Orpheus Descending”)
THE BEEF: After waiting patiently through 13 red herring-filled episodes to find out who killed Rosie Larsen, fans were furious when the Season 1 closer failed to solve the AMC drama’s central mystery.
OFFICIAL REACTION: Adding insult to injury, series creator Veena Sud seemed to bask in the backlash, telling THR, “I’m flattered… It’s a good feeling to know people are watching and talking about the show.” In defending her decision to withhold a resolution of the whodunit until Season 2, Sud maintained to TVLine at the time that she needed more than 13 hours to wrap up the storyline. “It was risky, it was brave, it was bold,” she declared of the move. “That’s what AMC is known for.”
THE SEASON/EPISODES: Season 6, Episodes 17 and 18 (“The End”)
THE BEEF: With its compounding mysteries, time-traveling characters and twisty turns of events, fans of ABC’s sci-fi drama were expecting some serious answers come finale night. Boy, were they in for a surprise! Fans who spent six years playing whispers backwards and scouring the backgrounds of frames for clues were livid when in the end, answers to the island’s chaos were few and far between.
OFFICIAL REACTION: Well, the series was over, so viewers were left either extremely miffed or somewhat satisfied. But during a 2014 PaleyFest panel, co-creators Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse defended the ending, with the latter saying that answering every single mystery would have been “didactic and boring.” Cuse continued: “We [preferred] to tell an emotional story about what happened to the characters. I cared more about the characters’ journey and what happened to them.”
Lindelof elaborated to the Independent in a 2020 oral history piece: “Lost was all about mystery and questions and answers, and we wanted to try to answer a mystery the show hadn’t even asked up until that point. I was like, ‘Everybody’s talking about polar bears, hatches, the Dharma Initiative, Jacob and the Man in Black, but let’s answer the mystery of what happens when you die and the process that you go through in order to achieve some fundamental level of grace.’ A portion of the audience was like, ‘Oh, that wasn’t on my list, I’m not interested in that.’ But we were.”
THE SEASON: Season 15
THE BEEF: #AdamSucks, cried Twitter after coach Adam Levine played favorites, brushing off team member DeAndre Nico’s performance to plead with viewers to instead vote for Reagan Strange, who’d been too ill to sing for the Instant Save.
OFFICIAL REACTION: None. During the subsequent Semifinals, Levine told the 14-year old that he’d spoken with her former teammate — who’d been eliminated — so “it’s all good.” The OG Voice coach returned for Season 16 and was set to come back for Season 17… but, in the wake of an altogether different controversy, did not.
THE SEASON: Season 1
THE BEEF: After the Skeet Ulrich-led series was cut from CBS’ roster, disgruntled fans bombarded the network with 50,000 pounds of peanuts in hopes of saving the post-apocalyptic drama from cancellation.
OFFICIAL REACTION: The robust fan response impressed network heads, and the show was picked up for a seven-episode second season. Unfortunately, ratings remained low and the series was not picked up for Season 3. But Jericho still goes down in TV history as having one of the biggest and most talked about Save Our Show campaigns of all time.
THE SEASON/EPISODE: Season 6, Episode 10 (“New York, I Love You XOXO”)
THE BEEF: After six years and more than 120 episodes, the identity of Gossip Girl is finally revealed to be… Dan Humphrey?!
OFFICIAL REACTION: More than a decade after the (original) Gossip Girl was unmasked, fans new and old continue to debate whether Penn Badgley’s character being behind the show’s titular blog made any sense — especially when you consider the personal information he shared about his family and friends over the years. The show’s charming romantic lead became a dangerous sociopath in the blink of an eye, and rather than giving the guy a chance to redeem himself in the viewers’ eyes, the show just… ended. Hey, at least it gave Badgley plenty to draw from while starring on Netflix’s YOU.
THE SEASON/EPISODE: Season 3, Episode 18 (“Ragnarok”)
THE BEEF: Fans of the supernatural drama went apoplectic when Nicole Beharie’s character, the Biblically foretold Witness Abbie Mills, was killed in the Season 3 finale. Many called out Fox for the unflattering optics — a Black female character sacrificed so that her white male counterpart could go on — and rallied around Beharie and the character online via hashtags like #AbbieMillsDeservedBetter.
OFFICIAL REACTION: Fox, 20th Century Fox and the series’ producers issued a statement calling “the tragic death of Abbie Mills” a “bold move” for the series. “We feel we provided a wonderfully poignant conclusion for Abbie and showed some of the best moments between the Witnesses that we’ve seen on-screen. We thank Nicole Beharie for bringing Abbie and Sleepy Hollow to life.” When the show was renewed for Season 4, Janina Gavankar was brought on as a partner of sorts for remaining series lead Tom Mison.
How I Met Your Mother
THE SEASON/EPISODE: Season 9, Episode 24 (“Last Forever, Part 2”)
THE BEEF: After nine seasons, the CBS comedy’s farewell told viewers, in essence, “Joke’s on you for ever caring how Ted met his kids’ mother, because in the end, she was gonna die, and he was gonna wind up with Robin even though by then she’d married Barney!”
OFFICIAL REACTION: The internet just about exploded after Ted once again appeared outside Robin’s apartment building with a blue French horn; TVLine readers gave the series ender an average grade of “C-” (which seems generous given the outcry). Within hours, series co-creator Craig Thomas took to Twitter to sorta-defend the controversial climax. “The fact that we have been a TV sitcom that has received this much passion from fans, for nine years (not just tonight) — thank you,” he wrote. “We wrote a comedy with dramatic elements till the very end… We did a finale about life’s twists and turns and that [what you expect] is not always what happens.” Among the outcomes Thomas probably wasn’t expecting: that the divisiveness would tarnish the series’ legacy, and the anger would, well… last forever.
THE SEASON/EPISODE: Season 3, Episode 7 (“Thirteen”)
THE BEEF: Lexa, the popular love interest of the series’ main protagonist Clarke Griffin, is killed by a stray bullet immediately following the couple’s romantic reunion.
OFFICIAL REACTION: Lexa’s portrayer, Alycia Debnam-Carey, had accepted a series-regular role on Fear the Walking Dead, so killing off her character was certainly an option for the writing staff of this sci-fi series. But was it the right option? Not according to the legions of furious fans who immediately criticized The 100 of falling into the “bury your gays” trope, especially because Lexa — the girlfriend of The CW’s first major bisexual character — was killed immediately following a sexual encounter.
Not only did showrunner Jason Rothenberg post an apology for killing off Lexa, but more than 15 writers and producers signed “The Lexa Pledge,” vowing to never kill off a queer character in favor of furthering a straight character’s story — among other important promises aimed at improving the treatment of LGBTQ characters and fans.
Last Man Standing
THE SEASON/EPISODE: Season 7, Episode 1 (“Welcome Baxter”)
THE BEEF: Upon relocating from ABC to Fox, more than a year after its initial cancellation, fan-favorite Baxter daughter Mandy, originally played by Molly Ephraim, was recast with Molly McCook, an actress that looks and sounds nothing like her predecessor.
OFFICIAL REACTION: The much-ballyhooed switcheroo went over like a lead balloon. But the show’s higher-ups anticipated — and were prepared for — the blowback. “We fully expected [the backlash],” exec producer Kevin Abbott told EW.com at the time. “You don’t take a character played by an actress that’s beloved and suddenly switch them out. I’m glad they missed Molly Ephraim; that’s a good thing. And they’re going to go through the same process we did in casting… It’s a little jarring, then you grow to love her. We hope the audience starts to feel the way we do.” But judging by the barrage of negative comments left on TVLine, they never did.
THE SEASON/EPISODE: Season 8, Episode 12 (“Remember the Monsters?”)
THE BEEF: Viewers were caught completely off-guard by the entirely lackluster series finale. The episode slayed us in the absolute worst way imaginable, by having Michael C. Hall’s homicidal character fake his death and assume a new identity as… a lumberjack?
OFFICIAL REACTION: We weren’t the only ones that claimed the ending to be one of TV’s worst ever (see where it placed in our Worst Series Finales Ever list). But eight years later, Dexter was back to his old tricks in the follow-up series Dexter: New Blood. With Hall back on board, fans finally got the ending they — and he — truly deserved. (And more is officially on the way!)