We like to imagine that our favorite television shows are following a meticulous, infallible blueprint that leads to an utterly satisfying ending. TV viewers have developed outrageous expectations in recent years; if a show fails to deliver the meticulous Rube Goldberg machine of Game of Thrones or the inevitable downhill velocity of Breaking Bad, then the showrunner has failed us. If a series finale doesn't deliver something totally unexpected that was hiding in plain sight the entire time, we develop personal vendettas carried out through snarky memes. Wrapped up in our obsession with precision, we forget that sometimes the best thing a show can do isn’t something inevitable, but something totally out of the blue.
Watching a series pull a sharp left turn and stick the landing is one of the most rewarding moments of television viewership. There's nothing quite like the realization that in doing something that seems batshit crazy, a show is actually being true to itself. Yes, more often than not, moves like this fail, but that’s what makes the successes all the more memorable. Here are 10 drastic changes that kept TV series alive.