Popular TV Series That Almost Had Completely Different Endings

The Wrap

When a fan favorite TV series comes to an end, writers and producers have to be very careful to make sure the series gets the ending it deserves and the one that fans want. Of course, this doesn’t always go to plan, and some beloved shows have had disappointing endings, while for others there was a possibility they were going to end completely differently. Second guesses and last minute decisions led to the ending of these series, and it turns out they could have been much different! Check it out:

13. How I Met Your Mother

How I Met Your Mother‘s final episode is one of the most hated in all of television history, and it all could have been saved if a different ending had been used. Series co-creator Carter Bays confirmed that there was an alternate ending for the series that they were considering using only 16 days before the finale aired.”16 days ago today we were in the HIMYM edit room, trying to decide between two very different endings,” Bays wrote. “We only shot one script, but through edit room magic we had two possible outcomes for the series. We chose the ending we chose and we stand by it. But we loved the other version too.” That other ending had Ted’s wife Tracy survive which would mean he and Robin would not have ended up together.

Ron P. Jaffe / ©CBS / courtesy Everett Collection

12. Dexter

Dexter shocked fans and audiences many times over eight seasons and while the finale was dramatic and surprising, there was another one in mind. Clyde Phillips, who served as an executive producer and showrunner on Dexter in the early years, had a very specific ending planned out but then everything changed when he left the series. “In the very last scene of the series, Dexter wakes up. And everybody is going to think, ‘Oh, it was a dream.’ And then the camera pulls back and back and back and then we realize, ‘No, it’s not a dream.’ Dexter’s opening his eyes and he’s on the execution table at the Florida Penitentiary. They’re just starting to administer the drugs and he looks out through the window to the observation gallery. And in the gallery are all the people that Dexter killed—including the Trinity Killer and the Ice Truck Killer (his brother Rudy), LaGuerta who he was responsible killing, Doakes who he’s arguably responsible for, Rita, who he’s arguably responsible for, Lila. All the big deaths, and also whoever the weekly episodic kills were. They are all there,” Phillips described his ending. “That’s what I envisioned for the ending of Dexter. That everything we’ve seen over the past eight seasons has happened in the several seconds from the time they start Dexter’s execution to the time they finish the execution and he dies. Literally, his life flashed before his eyes as he was about to die. I think it would have been a great, epic, very satisfying conclusion.”

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11. Pretty Little Liars

Over seven seasons, Pretty Little Liars took audiences on one wild ride of shocking twists and surprising turns, and while all they wanted from the finale was answers, they weren’t sure if that was going to be the case. As it turns out, there was a time when the showrunners were flirting with an ending in which A.D.’s identity was not going to be revealed to the group, and Toby was the only one who knew. “Originally the ending was supposed to be a little bit different where Alex had kind of gotten away with it a little bit more, and the only person that was onto her was Toby. But I think that ultimately would’ve left things too much up in the air and we would’ve been worried for Spencer,” Troian Bellisario revealed.

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10. Lost

Many fans might not actually remember a volcano being a major part of Lost, but in fact it was something that was always was in the back of the mind of co-showrunner Carlton Cuse and if Cuse had his way it would have changed the show’s already controversial ending. After coming up with the idea of the island unleashing its dark matter both Cuse and co-creator Damon Lindelof wanted the volcano to become extremely important. “The volcano had been dormant for the duration of the series,” Lindelof explained, “but based on moving into this endgame, the island had become unstable and the volcano was going to erupt. We were going to have lots of seismic activity, and ultimately, there was going to be this big fight between the forces of good and the forces of evil, which ended up in the series manifesting as Jack and The Man in Black, in the midst of magma. Magma spewing everywhere!” Unfortunately, this big dramatic season six ending was stopped very quickly because of money restraints.

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9. Castle

For seven seasons ABC’s police drama-comedy Castle ran smoothly, but drama took over in season eight when it was revealed that star Stana Katic would be leaving ahead of a potential season nine amid reports of serious issues between herself and her costar Nathan Fillion. While the show ended up not being renewed for a ninth season, there were two endings filmed in case there was. If a renewal had happened, Castle had shot a different cliffhanger ending that would have led into season 9. Despite the happy ending that was aired, many hoped that the alternate ending would be included on the show’s DVD sets but it wasn’t because it wasn’t too different according to the showrunner. “The cliffhanger version used some different shots at the very end to highlight the two of them on the floor together, rather than getting us into the tracking shot that took us to the time jump to the happy family,” showrunner Alexi Hawley shared.

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8. Seinfeld

Seinfeld is one of the most celebrated series in television history, but the two-part series finale is one of the most hated. Whether it would have made fans feel different or not, the series actually had an alternate ending that was revealed afterward. Instead of being found guilty, in an alternate ending included in the series’ DVD box set, the jury found the character not guilty of criminal indifference, much to the disappointment of those who testified against them.

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7. Gossip Girl

Gossip Girl‘s entire final season felt rushed and a little disconnected from the rest of the season, but of course the series finale offered one of the biggest television reveals of all time: Dan Humphrey is Gossip Girl. Regardless of how long the series went on, the co-creators, producers and showrunners knew that the main drama would always be the identity of Gossip Girl, and before it was revealed to be Dan, they were actually leading it to be either Nate or Eric. “I always thought it was Eric until the end of season two, and I even guided it that way, but when the New York Post revealed it was Eric — and I still don’t know how that happened, I think they were just guessing — and we realized we couldn’t go down that road anymore, so we abandoned him,” executive producer Joshua Safran said about the original Gossip Girl identity.

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6. Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad is one of the most critically acclaimed series in television history, and creator Vince Gilligan knew the importance of producing an ending worthy of such a celebrated series. While fans were happy with the season five series finale, Gilligan revealed that he had several other endings that could have played out instead. “We had so many versions of the ending, and we really had boxed ourselves into a certain number of corners well in advance of the ending. Out of cockiness or stupidity, 16 episodes from the end, we had Walter White show up in a beard, long hair, and a new set of glasses, buying an M60 machine gun in a Denny’s parking lot. We didn’t really know how we were going to get to that story point — we didn’t even know what that meant or what Walt was going to use that machine gun for. So that was kind of ill-advised,” Gilligan admitted. They soon sifted through possible endings that included Walt shooting up a prison bus to save Jesse, Walt breaking into jail to save Jesse, and another where every single character dies.

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5. The Sopranos

The Sopranos came to a final conclusion after six seasons in 2006, and like many great shows, creators wrestled with how to bring such a good show to an end, and in doing so there were many different endings considered. Aside from a fake ending that was meant to throw fans off and avoid spoilers, there was an actual alternate ending. Matt Servitto said that the last he knew, the scene in Holsten’s diner went on a little longer and featured one of the menacing figures in the diner dominating the camera. “The scene cut as the guy was advancing towards him, as if he was about to shoot Tony. It was, I think, less ambiguous that Tony was going to get shot.” Now of course, there is still the argument about whether or not Tony died because of the ambiguous ending they went with instead.


4. The Vampire Diaries

While every series creator hopes for their show to be a success, it is no secret that eight seasons of The Vampire Diaries was much more than co-creators Julie Plec and Kevin Williamson even imagined. Expecting the show to end sooner than later, the pair sat down and fleshed out their perfect ending in season two, but that isn’t the ending that aired six seasons later. “The big finale episode that we had always planned did not happen because the show was successful and lasted eight years,” Williamson shared. Their ending consisted of Damon and Stefan dying to save Elena, “When all is said and done, when this show is over, both brothers should die in the name of saving their girl and then be watching her like ghosts — because we had introduced the Other Side — as she went off into the sunset to live her life and maybe marry Matt Donovan or maybe become a doctor, but that those brothers would be side-by-side watching her live. That was the thing that made us cry all the tears in season 2.” Of course over the course of six more seasons things changed considerably, and most importantly star Nina Dobrev left the series, meaning the ending was completely different than the one that was initially planned.

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3. Dawson’s Creek

There is no denying that despite being called Dawson’s Creek, many viewers actually fell for Joshua Jackson’s Pacey instead. Of course, fans weren’t the only ones who ended up perhaps loving Pacey more, as the show ended with Joey being with Pacey, yet still many felt that was strange because in the beginning it seemed the show would work its way to bringing Joey and Dawson together. After the series ended, executive producer Paul Stupin revealed that they actually had the finale half finished with Dawson and Joey ending up together before they changed things up. “Originally, when Kevin [Williamson] and I started talking, it was pretty clear to both of us it would probably be she and Dawson,” executive producer Paul Stupin said. “So, the first half of that two-hour [finale], Kevin wrote with the understanding and the awareness that it was going to be, ultimately, those two people who ended up together on our show. But halfway through, Kevin calls me and says, ‘You know what? I changed my mind.'” While Williamson has never regretted having Joey end up with Pacey, he did add, “My mother hated me. She took it to her grave, hating me for that choice.”


2. Sex and the City

Although Sex and the City went on to continue its story with two films, creator Darren Starr is still not happy with how the series came to an end after six seasons. After many breakups and makeups, the series ended with Big and Carrie finally being together, but according to Starr he originally had a different ending for the show in which Carrie chooses friendship over love. “I think the show ultimately betrayed what it was about, which was that women don’t ultimately find happiness from marriage. Not that they can’t. But the show initially was going off script from the romantic comedies that had come before it. That’s what had made women so attached,” he said.

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1. Friends

After 10 seasons, Friends wrapped up by finally tying up loose ends for the show’s central couple Ross and Rachel, but things could have been drastically different. While creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman knew they wanted to end with Ross and Rachel getting together, there was a time they thought about things not ending so conveniently.” We did talk about, with Ross and Rachel, a gray area of where they aren’t together, but we hint there’s a sense that they might be down the road,” Crane said. Of course, had they gone with that ending the cries for a revival would be even more than they are already because fans would have wanted to know what happened.


Telisa Carter

Telisa Carter

Telisa enjoys learning and writing about all things entertainment in the world of Hollywood. When she isn't catching up on her favorite TV shows, she likes to read, and obsess over all things football.