You Call That An Ending? In honor of the final episode of Mad Men, we consider some TV series that ended in very bizarre ways.

You Call That An Ending?

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/406466800/406522547" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

This game is called You Call That An Ending? Let's welcome James Gallen and Adar Eisenbruch.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: What TV series would you personally like to be on, James?

JAMES GALLEN: I'd love to be on "Top Chef."

EISENBERG: Oh, yeah. Are you a chef?

GALLEN: No, I like to eat.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: You want to be a judge.

GALLEN: Yeah, sure, I'd be a judge or sometimes they just have people on. They're like, what'd you think about it? It's really good.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: OK. I like it.

GALLEN: I could that.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Adar.

ADAR EISENBRUCH: When I was in high school, I would've given anything to be a character on "The West Wing," either the TV show or an actual presidential person in "The West Wing."

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Reality or fantasy, either way.

EISENBRUCH: Right, I would've taken either one, yeah.

EISENBERG: Do you work in politics of any kind?

EISENBRUCH: Nope.

EISENBERG: No, so...

EISENBRUCH: Yeah.

EISENBERG: ...That was just, like, something you...

EISENBRUCH: Just a thing I was really, really into.

EISENBERG: In high school.

EISENBRUCH: And a little after, yeah.

EISENBERG: And then?

EISENBRUCH: And then grad school.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBRUCH: Yeah.

EISENBERG: All right, and what do you do now?

EISENBRUCH: I'm in grad school.

EISENBERG: Oh, yeah, all right, perfect.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: So we're going to be talking to Matthew Weiner in a little bit about the final season of "Mad Men." And it made us think about how a lot of television series end in really bizarre ways.

JONATHAN COULTON: And we are going to summarize some TV show final episodes that caused more than their share of head scratching and all you have to do is tell us which TV series we're talking about. And, of course, the winner will move on to our final round at the end of the show. You ready?

EISENBERG: The family matriarch sits with her typewriter in the basement. A voiceover tells us that she never won the lottery. It was just a fantasy. Worse, we find out that Dan has been dead for the entire last season. Mrs. Connor curls up on a ratty couch, turns on the TV as a quote from "Lawrence Of Arabia" flashes on the screen.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: James.

GALLEN: "Roseanne."

EISENBERG: That is correct, "Roseanne."

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: It was a weird one.

GALLEN: Oh, I love "Roseanne." That was, like, the best show growing up. I wasn't allowed to watch it 'cause I was too little, but I used to sneak in.

EISENBERG: And they thought you would be influenced by that show in a bad way.

GALLEN: You know, working-class - I don't think it was, like, a bad thing.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: You don't want to show kids a lot of working-class stuff.

GALLEN: We just watched "Dynasty" and went, yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: Aspirational television.

EISENBERG: People who work nine-to-five jobs are beneath you, James.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Did you grow up really rich, James?

GALLEN: No, and I'm unemployed now, so...

EISENBERG: OK, so...

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: Our leading man takes his sister off life support and dumps her body in the ocean. Days later, we find out that he is dead, too - fade to black. But wait, suddenly we're in the Pacific Northwest where our hero is hiding out, working as a truck driver. His beard is longer and he's wearing flannel.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: James.

GALLEN: "Dexter."

COULTON: "Dexter" is correct.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: I love a disguise where your beard is just longer.

COULTON: Right, I'm wearing that right now.

EISENBERG: Yeah, you're wearing - yeah. Our protagonist walks down a busy New York street in the same fur coat she wore in the series premiere. Her pink cellphone rings, she checks the caller ID and finally we learn that Mr. Big's real first name is - wait for it - John.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: James.

GALLEN: "Sex And The City."

EISENBERG: "Sex And The City," yep.

(APPLAUSE)

GALLEN: My wife watched that movie every day for, like, a year - the one, not two.

EISENBERG: Yeah, thank you, thank you.

(LAUGHTER)

WILL HINES, BYLINE: She has standards.

EISENBERG: Yeah, that is - thank goodness.

HINES: No working-class people in it either, so both...

(LAUGHTER)

HINES: ...Both spouses are happy.

EISENBERG: Still OK, still OK.

GALLEN: Safe - safe to watch.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: The citizens of Walnut Grove, Minn., discover that their small town has been purchased by a rich robber baron. In a bizarre attempt to preserve their dignity, Laura and the townsfolk elect to blow up their own homes. We watch everything explode. I remember watching this. It was weird.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

GALLEN: "Twin Peaks."

COULTON: That's a fine guess, but it's incorrect. Adar, do you know the answer?

ADAR EISENBRUCH: There's a chance that I misrepresented my skill set during the application process.

(LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE)

EISENBRUCH: I don't know the answer.

COULTON: I have never watched television. I do not know what television is.

HINES: Yeah, not a day goes by that I don't think the same thing.

EISENBERG: I know. Do you watch a lot of television?

EISENBRUCH: Well, I thought I did, but apparently not nearly enough.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: You're wasting all your time in grad school.

EISENBERG: I know.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: You got to be unemployed like James.

EISENBERG: See.

COULTON: You'll have plenty time for television.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: The answer we were looking for was "Little House On The Prairie."

EISENBERG: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE)

COULTON: It's a bizarre way to end that series.

EISENBERG: We're in present-day New York City. Everyone's married to or about to get married to their high school sweetheart. After six years of guessing, we finally find out which character Kristen Bell was performing her voiceover for, and it was a guy.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: James.

GALLEN: "Gossip Girl."

EISENBERG: Yes, indeed.

COULTON: Wow.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBRUCH: I don't feel bad that he got it all.

(LAUGHTER)

GALLEN: I feel bad that I got it.

COULTON: This children's series ends with Earl Sinclair gathering his family in the living room. He tells his children that his attempts to tamper with nature have set about the end of the world. What's going to happen to us, his adorable baby asks. The snow outside the window answers the question. Global cooling has doomed their entire species.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: James.

GALLEN: "Dinosaurs."

COULTON: "Dinosaurs," are you kidding me?

GALLEN: I have nothing to do.

(LAUGHTER)

HINES: Who knew that "Gossip Girl" and "Dinosaurs" was reaching the same demographic?

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: You're breaking all the models, James. It's fantastic.

GALLEN: I'm a Renaissance man.

COULTON: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: I would like to give you a job right now, James. Will you watch television for me?

GALLEN: I will.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Yeah, you could do coverage or something at the very least.

COULTON: Something, yeah.

EISENBERG: Scheduling - maybe scheduling would be good for you 'cause you're, like, 8 a.m. I watch "Dinosaurs."

(LAUGHTER)

GALLEN: I don't get up until noon.

(LAUGHTER)

HINES: You're not not selling us.

EISENBERG: Yeah, you're just bragging now really.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: All right, we're in church. Nearly all of the show's main characters, including deceased ones, hug and exchange meaningful looks, but no one says a word. Cut to the bamboo forest where our bleeding protagonist is taking his final breath. Now we're back in church as blinding light swallows the scene. The last shot - Jack's eye closes.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

GALLEN: Sorry.

EISENBERG: James.

GALLEN: "Lost."

EISENBERG: "Lost" is correct, yes.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Puzzle guru Will Hines.

(LAUGHTER)

HINES: I mean, in the realms of honesty, they were both winners.

(LAUGHTER)

HINES: But...

EISENBRUCH: Thank you.

HINES: ...In terms of knowing, maybe an unflattering amount about the end of a lot of television series...

(LAUGHTER)

HINES: ...James was the clear winner, so, James, well done. You're moving on to the final round.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Coming up, we'll put our VIP Matthew Weiner on the other side of the pitch table, so stay tuned. This is ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.