Why Fans Think The Ending Of Merlin Ruined The Show

Time is a funny thing. Take the BBC's fantasy series "Merlin," which told the legendary story of King Arthur (Bradley James) and his trusty, titular wizard (Colin Morgan) in their youthful years, for instance. For... uh, some of us, "Merlin" feels like it came out in the late 1990s. The early 2000s at best. But that's not the truth, no, "Merlin" first aired in 2008, sharing a startling amount of its talent with early seasons of the "Doctor Who" reboot, and wrapped up in 2012, the same year that Marvel released the first "Avengers" film. That means that the finale is only just now a decade old, which, granted, is still no small chronological gap. Yet, it feels inherently wrong. 

As any fan of the series will say, however, every moment of those intervening years has felt like a millennia because grief has a funny way of decompressing the flow of seconds into something far more torturous. That's right, dear reader, our subject of discussion is how Tumblr's medieval darling failed its viewership so intensely that the finale posthumously ruined the entire production. While some, as noted by Study Breaks, have taken to writing better, more fitting endings, others have simply put "Merlin" behind them, never to be enjoyed again.

The BBC's Merlin cut out the entire legend to shortchange a quick ending

In a subreddit dedicated to television, u/ShuckForJustice asked, "What TV show did you love but had an ending so bad that it retroactively ruined/changed your experience of the show?" In response, u/opelan said, "Merlin, the BBC version. The whole premise of the early seasons was to show how it came to be that King Arthur ruled with Merlin the warlock at his side... but we saw nothing of it. Arthur only got to know that Merlin is a warlock in the last episode and then he died. There should have been countless years of Arthur ruling Albion and Merlin helping him openly with magic..."

The concise version of this Redditor's criticism is that "Merlin" butchered the continuity of a well-known legend after promising that said well-known legend's original content was where the series was ultimately heading. The show's creator, Julian Murphy, talked with Hypable in 2013 to say that Arthur's death was always in the cards because that's how the actual legend ends. Murphy did not, however, acknowledge the critical response to his production's handling of that key moment, something that loyal fans, like author Brianna De Silva, are still actively lamenting. 

The severity of this artistic transgression cannot be overstated. Stealing an iconic story's final moment and placing it before the story ever began is both emotionally irresponsible and narratively ignorant. Viewers know Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) won't die in the upcoming "The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power" series because it's a prequel, and her story ends elsewhere. Viewers knew Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) would survive his recent Disney Plus series for the same reason. If showrunners accept that Murphy's decisions are acceptable, however, nothing will be sacred.