Movies Based on TV Shows That Bombed at the Box Office

Right now, the American economy is relatively healthy. More accurately, it’s consistently growing. Of course, these statements are a little general; economic stability varies from industry-to-industry. For example, it’s a great time to be in the appliances/electronics business.

On the other hand, Hollywood is experiencing a downturn.

That’s not to say the film/TV business is on the verge of collapse or anything. It *is* to say, however, that box office returns are down. Not just a little either; enough that studio executives are reportedly alarmed.

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The Most Watched Series Finales (And How Fans Reacted)

Spring is here. That means flowers. That means picnics in the park. That means the baseball season is throwing out its initial pitches. That also unfortunately means a lot of shows are going on hiatus. For some shows, it’s not a hiatus at all. It’s a final goodbye.

In terms of television, April/May is when most shows wrap-up their seasons. May is a particularly important month for networks, as finale season coincides with sweeps, the time when networks set their advertising rates based on the ratings for the month.

So if May means it’s starting to warm up outside, the shows are heating up as well.

Many of the highest rated broadcasts in television history happen in April and May. Here are the ten highest rated series finales of all-time.

Note: Obviously there will be spoilers here, but all of these shows have been off the air for at least ten years, which in my opinion is enough of a reasonable length of time for the “spoiler” tag to be irrelevant.

#10, Frasier

Frasier series finale

On May 13, 2004, 33.7 million people tuned into see Dr. Frasier Crane deliver his last radio address at KACL. The episode ran an hour, as opposed to the usual 30 minutes. I was supposed you need a little bit more time when you are trying to incorporate a marriage, a childbirth, and a major relocation for the main character in one episode. This is one of the most lauded and beloved finales on the list. It was sentimental, yet it didn’t sacrifice the wit that made the show so popular for so long.

#9, Home Improvement

Home Improvement series finale

On May 25, 1999, 35.5 million people tuned into one last episode of “Tool Time.” The finale had some key moments in Improvement history. Al and Trudy got married. Tim ends his show, and moves with wife Jill to accommodate her new job. And most importantly, it is *finally* revealed that Wilson, the neighbor who could barely see over the backyard fence, has an entire face!

#8, Family Ties

Family Ties series finale

On May 14, 1989, 36.3 million people tuned into to see Alex P. Keaton say goodbye to his family before heading to New York City to work on Wall Street. The episode was heavy on the emotion, but was also a good summation of the show’s themes from its seven season run. Specifically, the goodbye scene between Alex and his more progressive mom Elyse effectively highlighted the show’s idea that despite differences in ideology and values, family ties us all together.

#7, All in the Family

All in the Family series finale

On April 8, 1979, 40.2 million people tuned into check in with the Bunker family. By the last season, the show was starting to run on fumes, and ratings were down from previous seasons. But that didn’t matter for the show’s sendoff, because former fans wanted to say goodbye to a show that was a cultural shape-shifter for the first few seasons. It is impossible to write a history of American television without devoting an entire section to Family which was the first show to regularly introduce controversial and uncomfortable topics to primetime television, and in the form of a sitcom, no less.

#6, The Cosby Show

The Cosby Show series finale

On April 30, 1992, 44.4 million people tuned into hang out with the Huxtable family one last time. The episode saw Theo graduate from NYU, and Theo trying to make sure his father Cliff doesn’t invite every person he’s ever even looked at to the commencement ceremony. The content of the episode itself is fairly unremarkable in hindsight, but fans were treated to an emotional tribute to the cast immediately afterwards.

#5, Magnum, P.I.

Magnum, P.I. series finale

On May 1, 1988, 50.7 million people tuned into see the final exploits of Hawaii’s best–and most mustached–private investigator. The finale was used as an effort to tie up loose ends. The identity of Robin Masters was finally revealed, and Magnum reunited with his long-estranged daughter… and then joins the Navy again. Magnum was one of the biggest hits of 1980s television, and although the fandom is much more muted, there’s no denying Magnum’s influence on modern television. There would be no CSI or NCIS without it.

#4, Friends

Friends series finale

On May 6, 2004, 65.9 million people tuned into see the six friends go their separate ways after a decade. The show was predictable in some ways (of course Rachel was going to get off the plane for Ross), unpredictable in others (twins for Chandler and Monica!). Ultimately, it’s hard to say this was one of the show’s better episodes, but it was a sweet, endearing wrap to a show that was always there for us.

#3, Seinfeld

Seinfeld series finale

On May 14, 1998, 76.3 million people tuned into see their favorite eccentric characters… go to jail? This is certainly the most divisive episode in the top ten. But should it be? The show’s core value proposition for its entire duration was the fact that it was “about nothing.” Did the characters need an emotionally satisfying conclusion? Didn’t people love this show *because* the characters were transparently awful? I mean, what’s the deal with the reaction this episode?!

#2, Cheers

Cheers series finale

On May 20, 1993, 84.4 million people tuned into the place where everybody knows your name and all your troubles are the same. Cheers is easily one of the most influential and heralded sitcoms of its or any era, so it should be of no surprise that the series finale got such a high rating. The fact that this 98 minutes instead of the ordinary 30 minutes pointed even more to the fact that this was a television *event*. Was it any good? Depends on what era we’re talking about. Initial reaction was mixed, and usually cited the extended the running time. But more than to 20 years later, the episode is frequently included in “best moments of television” lists. That might be more of a nod to the show in general though.

#1, M*A*S*H

M*A*S*H series finale

On February 28, 1983, 105.9 million people tuned into see the medical unit go home. That’s 21.5 million more people than watched the Cheers finale. In fact, if you look at the 20 most watched individual television programs of all time, only one of them isn’t a Super Bowl. That one exception is the M*A*S*H series finale. Yes, the show was *that* popular. You can say that this was at a time when competition on television was much lower, and you would be right. It’s hard to imagine any individual episode of a show right now even coming close to 105.9 million viewers. What’s even more astonishing is that few people in that high number were disappointed; the M*A*S*H finale is widely regarded as one of the best episodes in television history.

The Best Anti-Heroes of Television

For a long time, American television was obsessed with heroism. If the show was broadcast before the late 90s, you can usually count on the fact that the main character was going to be a heroic, inspirational figure. There were tons of medical shows that featured doctors who managed to save yet another life every episode, and cop shows that told stories of police officers always doing the right thing in the face of danger.

That era of television isn’t necessarily over. There are still plenty of shows with do-gooder protagonists, and there will always likely be a place for those kind of shows. However, over the last 20 years, audiences have been slowly introduced to a new kind of main character: the anti-hero.

The concept of the anti-hero is simple: it’s a central character who displays characteristics that aren’t always pleasant and heroic. This archetype has long existed in theater, film, and literature, but it’s still relatively new in television. Here are examples of some of the most interesting anti-heroes found on modern television, and why they fit the mold.

Gregory House, “House”

Dr. Gregory House fulfills the archetype of the hero *and* the anti-hero. Throughout the series, he makes it a mission to save the life of every patient that comes in front of him at all costs. That may sound appealing, but the operative term here is “at all costs.” Those costs often come at the expense of the patient and the patient’s family. House will open metaphorical wounds in the family. He will lie to his patients and ethics boards. He might even break into a patient’s house. Oh yeah, and he’s hardly above spewing harmful racial and gender stereotypes to his employees.

Gregory House

That said, he saves lives, and even though he may turn his patients against him during the process, they are typically grateful by the end, as it’s clear that no one else would have gone to the lengths that House would.

Tony Soprano, “The Sopranos”

Tony Soprano may not have been the *first* anti-hero on television, but there’s no question that he was the first one to become a cultural reference point. Soprano, a godfather of a prominent mob family in New York and New Jersey, is a complicated man. He loves his wife; he also cheats on her regularly. He adheres to a strict moral code that mandates he protect those in his community; he also kills and assaults people.

Tony Soprano

The show does its best to portray Soprano as sympathetically as possible, and does it well. It’s clear that he’s something of a reluctant boss who inherited the family business because he literally knew nothing else during his childhood. It’s also clear he is in a maelstrom of emotional turmoil, as evidenced by the fact that he is in therapy for the duration of the series. But if you’re going to say none of that excuses decapitating someone over a horse, it’s hard to disagree with that.

Carrie Mathison, “Homeland”

The anti-hero trend on television has been largely placed upon male characters, and this has been a source of criticism for television critics. The trend is slowly starting to change though, and that’s in large part thanks to Homeland. Carrie Mathison is an intensely dedicated CIA agent who is the only person who suspects a recently returned prisoner of war of a heinous crime. She makes it her life’s purpose to reveal the truth.

Carrie Mathison

Of course, when you dedicate yourself so fully to a single purpose, you may be willing to bend some pretty important rules to fulfill your goals. Carrie engages in illegal wiretapping and she regularly undermines her superiors. She also hides a debilitating medical condition. It’s clear that Carrie means well, but it’s also clear that she does plenty of damage in the process.

Frank Underwood, “House of Cards”

If you’re cynical about modern American politics, then it is a safe bet that House of Cards is one of your favorite shows, and there is *no one* more cynical than the show’s protagonist, Frank Underwood. At the beginning of the series, Underwood is betrayed on a promise that he will be given a cabinet position in the administration of the newly-elected president. Rather than take his losses, he, um, makes other plans. He doesn’t set his vengeful eyes on only the person who took his job; he sets them even higher.

Frank Underwood

Throughout the series, we see Underwood’s intellect and unquenchable thirst for power on full display, and there is little that he won’t do on his march to American history. If you don’t already watch the show, you might be wondering what his sympathetic and redeemable qualities are. Here’s the thing: people who *do* watch the show are wondering what those may be as well.

Walter White, “Breaking Bad”

At the beginning of the hit AMC show, Walter White is a mild-mannered teacher with a loving family. However, he is diagnosed with cancer in the first episode. If this show had premiered in 1988, the show’s storyline most likely would have probably had Walter make amends with other family members while he valiantly fights his ailment. But in 2008, the show’s creators thought a, um, different approach was called for. Mainly, Walter starts distributing methamphetamine and developing a criminal empire.

Walter White

Walter keeps some of his lovable dad characteristics for the first couple of seasons. After all, the reason he starts engaging in criminal activity is to raise enough money to leave for his family when he dies. But greed and hunger for power start to blind Walter as the series goes on, and the formerly polite chemistry teacher becomes “the one who knocks.”