Nashville

ABC

Not every TV show needs a happy ending. Not every TV show even needs a definitive ending.

But when you add a "twist" ending to a show that has been canceled by a network solely to spark fan conversation and outrage so that perhaps another network or service will give your show life after cancellation—yeah, that kind of sucks.

Nashville's series finale came after a run of the weakest episodes in the show's history and by far one of the most infuriating storylines the show has ever tackled (the "annoying teenage child ruins everything" plot x 1000). At the very end of the episode, the plane carrying country pop powerhouse Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere), a.k.a. one of the few characters on the show that remained a delight to watch throughout Nashville's four-season run, went missing, her ex-husband/baby daddy (with whom she was about to reconcile) awaiting her arrival.

Nashville

ABC

According to reports, the show also filmed an alternate happy ending, in which Juliette arrived safely and she and Avery (Jonathan Jackson) had an emotional reunion.

"There's a little short-term pain but ultimately long-term gain because we intend and are quite focused and are in substantive and serious conversations with multiple buyers about continuing the show on another platform," Lionsgate TV chairman Kevin Beggs told The Hollywood Reporter the day after the episode. "If we didn't feel that was going to happen, we might have gone a different way."

That's a completely understandable defense of a not-very-well-received ending. And so is Beggs' statement that the plane incident is how the team planned to end things on the first place.

But that doesn't really jive with the rest of his comments.

"In our estimation, to go with a quickly assembled too-easy wrap-up is more of a disservice to the fans who have invested four years in this great cast and these great stories. And there's more stories to tell," he told THR, later adding, "This is the ending that was intended. I think it's more of a disservice to try to hastily put something together that's not satisfying."

Excuse me, but what about a cliffhanger with absolutely no foreshadowing in the final minutes of a much-anticipated finale is satisfying?

Nashville

ABC

At least in the Sopranos finale, when the screen went black without revealing what happened to Tony, there was plenty to ponder about symbolism and mortality and, like, the meaning of life. What are we supposed to think about with this Nashville ending? The perils of flying private? (Yes, Nashville and The Sporanos were very different shows operating on very different levels. We know, and we love both.)

The problem here is not that we didn't get a happy ending—it's that the out-of-nowhere twist that aired is absolutely no more hastily slapped together than the alternate ending, which would've at least given fans a bit of closure.

This is not a satisfying ending at all, or a creative spark for another season—it's a play for attention. Calling it otherwise is disrespectful for fans who have stuck with the show through all of its creative ups and downs, through Maddie's teenage tantrums and Scarlett's homeless savior complex.

While it certainly worked—how many headlines has it garnered since airing Wednesday night?—to act as if that end had deeper creative meaning than simply being a conversation-starter is insulting to the intelligence of anyone who stuck around for all four seasons of this silly, ridiculous, beloved show.

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