Best and worst Netflix series endings
Over the past few years, Netflix has earned the reputation of ending its original series before their time. Ironically, prior to that, Netflix had the reputation of saving shows that had been canceled. Either way, both options have teed viewers up for some of the best and worst Netflix series endings.
Even though there have unfortunately been a rise in Netflix shows canceled too soon, plenty of the streamer’s biggest hits have been allotted the time to plot a satisfying ending. Shows like Lucifer, Dead to Me, Never Have I Ever, and Firefly Lane ended on their own terms.
Again, Netflix is also home to handfuls of series that wind up canceled and leave fans with unanswered questions. We’ll always be left to wonder what happens next in Blockbuster and other shows that ended with cliffhangers. But sometimes series finales just don’t stick the landing and polarize fans, which recently happened with Sex/Life and Ozark.
Which Netflix shows impressed diehard fans with their series finale, and which ones didn’t quite live up to their high expectations? And which series have been relegated to bad endings because of cancellations? Here’s our picks for the best and worst Netflix series endings, beginning below with Manifest.
How did Manifest end?
SPOILERS AHEAD FROM THE MANIFEST SERIES FINALE!
Buckle up for a turbulent, mixed review of the Manifest ending. Going into the series finale of a show such as this one, you can never peg exactly how it will end. There’s no guessing what will happen to the passengers of a plane that went missing for five and a half years and are now trying to save the world from an impending apocalypse.
In the final episode of the series, Cal sacrifices himself to the volcanic fissure where Saanvi tossed the fragment of Noah’s Ark. Cal’s sapphire connects with that of the ark fragment, and he disappears in a blazing blue beam of light. Flight 828 later emerges from the fissure as the world starts to end, allowing the passengers to submit to their final judgment.
Although some passengers crumble to ash, the survivors land back on April 7, 2013. They return where they started, five years younger and all, though they still have memories and mementos from their time saving the world for five and a half years — everyone but Cal, who’s young again and has a second chance to grow up with Olive.
Because there wasn’t really an expectation for how the series would end, again referring to the fact that the story was super unpredictable, what resulted was somewhat unsatisfying. Bringing the characters back to where they started, with fresh slates in 2013, seemingly negates everything that happened in the series. Did all of that trauma and treasure hunting actually matter? Will the vicious cycle — with 11 passengers “missing” — simply just continue?
The answer will depend on the viewer because our reactions to art are subjective. It will probably take a while to unpack everything that happened across these four seasons, and even just in the series finale alone. In limited Twitter exchanges with fans after the finale released, creator Jeff Rake has explained as much as he could in the wake of the ongoing writers’ strike. In response to a question about what happened in the Glow, Rake said: “Think of them as being souls trapped in purgatory, eventually making their way out to get a second chance to redeem themselves.”
So, Flight 828 took the world’s worst layover into purgatory and they had to literally fight for their lives. For some (including yours truly), that might not be the narrative payoff we needed. The ending was personally disappointing, but that’s okay. You can’t please everyone! The lack of explanation for why this all happened, the passengers ultimately returning to 2013, and rendering pointless so much of what we spent time with for four seasons made the series finale sting a little more than it should have.