We feel sorry for telly showrunners. They work really hard on crafting a perfect conclusion for their multi-season opus, only to have fans complain about the finale decisions they ended up making.
It must be even more frustrating for the following creators, as they all left ideas in the first draft that would probably have turned out more popular.
So, settle down, break out the popcorn, and pretend we live in an alternate reality where the following scenes all happened...
1. Seinfeld – not guilty
Seinfeld's finale is one of the most controversial sitcom endings of all time, with fans so unhappy about the way it ended, co-creator Larry David based a whole season of his own show Curb Your Enthusiasm around the uproar (while sort of making up for it in the process).
Basically, our heroes were put on trial for several of the terrible things they'd done over the course of the show. They were found guilty, and put in prison.
But it could have been so different. Larry and Jerry considered an ending where the gang were found not guilty, much to the chagrin of their victims. This was much more in keeping with the show's set-up, and is more likely to have satisfied fans.
Surprisingly, it didn't make it into Jerry Seinfeld's list of favourite ever episodes. We wonder why?
2. Dexter – death row
Oh, Dexter. Dexter, Dexter, Dexter. Talk about missing an open goal in the closing minutes of the match. Dexter's final moments were so nonsensical and unsatisfying, some fans felt it ruined the whole show (say what you like about Seinfeld's ending, it didn't retrospectively spoil its main characters).
So, after eight seasons of following the serial murderer who killed criminals for a hobby, what did fans get? Oh, just their 'hero' dumping his sister's body in some water before boating off into the sunset to become a lumberjack. Sure, makes sense to us.
It's frustrating, especially when you consider what we could have had.
Former executive producer Clyde Phillips explained he wanted the show to end with Dexter on the execution table at Florida Penitentiary getting a lethal injection as his life flashes before his eyes.
"And in the gallery are all the people that Dexter killed," Phillips said. "Including the Trinity Killer and the Ice Truck Killer (his brother Rudy), LaGuerta who he was responsible killing [sic], 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."
3. How I Met Your Mother – true love
Like Seinfeld, How I Met Your Mother's sitcom ending was surprisingly bleak, with 'the mother' dying of cancer and Ted remarrying, ending up with Robin after she divorced Barney.
Weirdly, a happier version was shot, and discarded – one that was essentially the same, but without all the miserable stuff (you can see it above).
"16 days ago today we were in the HIMYM edit room, trying to decide between two very different endings," co-creator Carter Bays explained of his decision. "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."
So do we, and we have no idea why it was relegated to a DVD extra.
4. True Detective – supernatural ending
True Detective's season one finale was magnificent, if a little divisive of fans who wanted something more spectacular than a couple of blokes having an existential chat in a car park. As it turns out, they could have got what they wanted.
According to creator Nic Pizzolatto: "I even had an idea where something more mysterious happened to them, where they vanished into the unknown and Gilbough and Papania had to clean up the mess and nobody knows what happens to them. Or it could have gone full-blown supernatural."
5. Breaking Bad – Prison break
Breaking Bad is one of the greatest series of all time. It has a perfect ending. But sometimes, perfection can be improved upon.
Creator Vince Gilligan said: "We had an idea for the longest time that Walt was going to break into the downtown jail in Albuquerque and just shoot the shit out of the jail with this M60 machine gun and rescue Jesse. We kept asking ourselves, 'Well, how bad is Walt going to be at the end here? Is he going to kill a bunch of upstanding, law-abiding jail guards?'"
6. Parks & Recreation – Mayor Andy
While Gerry becoming Mayor was utterly appropriate after his being ignored and put upon for so long, at one stage, Chris Pratt's Andy Dwyer was going to be in charge – and a major part of us prefers that idea, mainly because it was in the showrunners' minds as early as season two.
According to executive producer Mike Schur: "That's what we thought. He was going to shine everyone's shoes and everyone who meets him loves him, and that's why we kept him doing that for a while. And one point in season two or season three, we were like, 'Andy's going to be the mayor someday!'"