5 K-Dramas with Bad Endings that Leave Us Wanting More
In general, when watching a romantic Korean drama, there are a few things you tend to expect. This includes a love triangle, a situation at the end that causes a bit more drama, and a happy ending. Most expect everything to work out for the two main leads by the end of the drama (this, of course, comes with an exception for K-dramas with more than one season). But there have been quite a few K-dramas over the years that didn’t end the way we expected them to.
While they have amazing actors and great plots, some K-dramas end in disappointment for watchers. Whether that’s from the lack of a happy ending for the two main leads, the lack of questions being answered in the last episode, or the push for a happy ending without really feeling like it deserves it, there’s always something more to be desired in the last episodes.
These five K-dramas with bad endings on our list have left fans more than disappointed in the show’s producers.
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K-Dramas with Bad Endings
While these five K-dramas with bad endings on our list do have a good set of cast members and eye-catching plot, they’ve left many fans wishing for better. Of course, take note that while these K-dramas are on the list for bad endings, some fans were not disappointed in these dramas’ endings and were satisfied.
Twenty Five, Twenty One (2022)
Starting off with the most recent disappointing ending for watchers, the 2022 K-drama Twenty Five, Twenty One caused quite the uproar when it ended at the beginning of April. This K-drama had such a great plot, amazing acting, and even more hopes for a happy ending.
Starring Kim Tae-ri, Nam Joo-hyuk, Bona, Choi Hyun-wook, Lee Joo-myeong, and more, this drama was one of the most anticipated of 2022. It follows the story unfolding between Na Hee-do and Baek Yi-jin, who first met when they were 22 and 18—Hee-do struggling to reach her dreams, and Yi-jin just trying to rebuild his life. Later, when they’re 25 and 21, they fall in love.
The story is told as a memory, as Hee-do’s daughter—Min-chae—reads through her mother’s diary that contains everything to do with their love story.
Why is Twenty Five, Twenty One’s ending bad?
Well, for one, there’s no happy ending for the main pairing.
The drama is spent mostly in the memories of Hee-do and Yi-jin’s relationship, building up fans’ love for the couple and their story. So in the last episode, when the pair break up, it’s understandable that fans are a bit upset. If the drama spent so much time showing their love story, it’s nearly devastating to see it all ripped away at the end. (Though, some understood and felt that it was bound to happen after everything.)
Further, fans felt that there were still some things left unanswered by the end of the show. Such as: who did Hee-do end up marrying then? Who was Min-chae’s father? Why do we not see present-day Yi-jin like we see present-day Hee-do? Why did Hee-do become the person she did?
Open endings aren’t always a bad thing, but they tend to leave a bitter taste in fans’ mouths after falling in love with such an enrapturing love story between two people. More times than not, open endings leave us wanting something more—something better that would answer all of our questions. And open endings in romance K-dramas… well, it’s a dangerous thing. People will always expect romance K-dramas to end in happiness—it’s what we all go to romance K-dramas to see, after all. It’s all that more jarring when the K-drama doesn’t deliver.
Cheese in the Trap (2016)
We have already talked briefly about Cheese in the Trap on our blog about K-dramas that give us major second lead syndrome, so maybe it’s not much of a surprise that we’re mentioning it on our K-dramas with bad endings list.
Cheese in the Trap is a K-drama based off on Webtoon of the same name. It features actors/actresses Kim Go-eun, Park Hae-jin, Seo Kang-joon, and Lee Sung-kyung. It focuses on a group of university students just going through life. Jung is rich and popular in the university, but he has a bad temper and a knack for manipulating people. Seol is far from rich or popular, getting into school on a scholarship and having to work hard through everything.
When the two start dating, it’s awkward and a bit complicated. Fans found it even more complicated when the second lead, Baek In-ho, was more lovable than Jung.
You can watch Cheese in the Trap on Viki.
Why is Cheese in the Trap’s ending bad?
Just like Twenty Five, Twenty One, the bad ending for Cheese in the Trap comes from the issue of open endings. Not only do we not see the main pairing together—not that many wanted that—but we are also given a lot of scenes that simply don’t give us anything except disappointment.
Many have expressed their distaste for how Jung and Seol broke things off in the last episode—Jung just left and Seol was left broken-hearted. Then, the episode jumps three years into the future… where they still aren’t together. Instead, we see Seol still sending Jung emails that go unread.
What could make the ending worse?
At the very end of the last episode, we see that one of Seol’s emails to Jung finally gets read. And then we hear Jung calling out to Seol. Then it ends. Seriously, that’s how the K-drama ends.
Not only do fans get an unsatisfactory break-up, but they also get a strange flashforward to years down the road where things are no better than they were to begin with. It leaves you wondering why you would have the flashforward to begin with if it was just going to end that way.
Without a second season, a happy ending, or answers to their questions, fans are still left quite disappointed in this K-drama’s bad ending.
Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo (2016)
Since its release in 2016, Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo was one of the most talked-about historical K-dramas out there. Not only were the love stories great, but the acting was even better.
Starring Lee Joon-gi, Kang Ha-neul, and IU, this K-drama was destined to make an impression on fans. The K-drama follows the 21st-century woman, Go Ha-jin, as she’s teleported back to the Goryeo Dynasty. She wakes up in the body of Hae Soo. As the story develops, Hae Soo is tangled in the political issues and rivalry between the many princes for the throne. Hae Soo also ends up falling in love with 4th Prince Wang So, who’s the most feared among all the princes.
The entire story, quite a tangle of emotions and political issues, unfolds more as each episode goes on.
Why is Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo’s ending bad?
Like any other story or drama, if it ends in the character “waking up” from a “dream” and realizing that nothing they dreamt of actually happened… then it makes the entire story feel like it happened for no reason.
It’s hard to say that this ending felt like an actual ending at all. Sure, it was expected that Ha-jin would eventually make her way back to the present. But the presentation to the ending felt so sudden that it was more disappointing than anything.
After Hae Soo’s death, the show seems to start skipping time—years flew by, princes came and went, until astrologer Ji-mong tells the King that he thinks Hae Soo was from a different world. The 4th Prince swears that he’ll find her if they’re from different worlds. Meanwhile, Ha-jin is waking up in the 21st century from what was the most vivid dream she’s ever experienced. When Ha-jin visits a museum and sees paintings of what she dreamt, she realizes it was all real. She ends up crying over a portrait of the 4th Prince. And it ends like that. (Except, there is also an unreleased ending that many haven’t seen…)
Overall, while fans loved the drama itself, they also thought the ending attempted to cover so many different things that they hardly had enough time to understand what was happening. To add the sadness of no happy ending with the main pairing… it made quite the recipe for a bad ending.
Crash Landing On You (2019)
This one might be a bit unexpected to see on our list of K-dramas with bad endings. While it doesn’t necessarily have a bad ending like the ones already on our list, it still leaves fans wanting way more from the show.
Crash Landing On You features actors/actresses Hyun Bin, Son Ye-jin, and Seo Ji-hye. The K-drama follows Yoon Se-ri, a successful South Korean heiress, as she accidentally crash lands in North Korea from a paragliding accident. She meets North Korean army captain Ri Jeong-hyeok. The two are truly star-crossed lovers.
Between having Se-ri take shelter in North Korea, having Jeong-hyeok’s fight to protect Se-ri even when she’s back in South Korea, and the political differences, this K-drama has a lot to unpack.
Why is Crash Landing On You’s ending bad?
As mentioned, the ending for Crash Landing On You isn’t necessarily bad in the way you’d expect. The main couple doesn’t technically separate forever, there are no major unanswered questions, nor is it rushed.
Instead, the ending seems to be a bit bittersweet. Realistically, fans know that the ending they got is the best case scenario they could’ve gotten. While the pairing isn’t fully together—as they realize they can’t be together in either of their countries—they do get to see each other for a couple of weeks each year on neutral ground.
Fans surely wanted the two to be together permanently, making the actual ending unsatisfying and leaning on the edge of a bad ending.
Love Alarm (2019; 2021)
With two seasons, Love Alarm simultaneously filled fans’ hearts and crushed them all at once. Similar to Cheese in the Trap, we’ve also written about Love Alarm in our second lead syndrome blog post because of the tug-of-war between the three main leads.
The first season of Love Alarm focuses on the love story blooming between Jo-jo and Sun-oh. Their love story was intense, full of swirling emotions, and near desperation of wanting it to work out. By the end of the first season, the two are torn apart from one another and dealing with their own emotions.
The second season, on the other hand, focuses on the relationship between Jo-jo and Hye-young. And tying up the loose ends left over from season one. It’s also a whirlwind of emotions as Sun-oh is still not over his relationship with Jo-jo, but Jo-jo just wants to move on. And then there’s Hye-young, who’s seemingly caught in the middle at some point.
Both seasons are available to watch on Netflix.
Why is Love Alarm’s ending bad?
There are a couple of reasons, actually, for Love Alarm’s slightly unsatisfactory ending. Firstly, the first season’s ending is probably one of the biggest cliffhangers you’ll ever watch. The season ends with Jo-jo standing in a room with Sun-oh (after their break up) and Sun-oh’s girlfriend. Except it’s not his girlfriend’s love alarm that rings, it’s Jo-jo’s.
With an ending like that, season two was expected to either be a rekindling of their relationship or something similar. Instead, season two picks up in a completely different place and sets off on a course we’re not quite expecting.
On one hand, fans are totally on board with Jo-jo ending up with Hye-young. Because Hye-young is a lot nicer, less selfish, and truly respects Jo-jo’s choice on things. But on the other hand, some fans can’t let go of the love story that had unfolded in season one between Sun-oh and Jo-jo. The intensity of their story in the first season brought quite a bit of expectation to the second season. Usually the couple, even after breaking up, will find a way back together. That just doesn’t happen in season two… making this a quite upsetting and bad ending.
A Few Honorable Mentions
While these five K-dramas with bad endings already encompass what a bad ending truly is in K-dramas, there are a few other K-dramas with bad endings worth mentioning. Again, though, many of these endings are bad for some but good for others.
Hotel Del Luna (2019)
Many consider the ending of Hotel Del Luna to be quite a sad ending. Many wanted the two leads to end up together, but it simply wasn’t possible with the plot. Del Luna was simply a place for ghosts to rest before the afterlife. So it only makes sense that the ending would have Jang Man-wol departing from Del Luna.
While being one of the most popular K-dramas from 2021, Nevertheless left quite a few fans wanting more. The ending, while the main pairing seemingly ends up together, answers absolutely nothing. Na-bi and Jae-eon, after a swirling relationship throughout the ten episodes, finish the show off by kissing and holding hands as they walk down the street. We don’t get answers for why Jae-eon suddenly disappeared and came back, we don’t get any real conversation about their relationship, and there are quite a few loose ends left untied. Some were satisfied with the main pair ending up together, but many wanted something more to explain all of the questions remaining.
Boys Over Flowers (2009)
As one of the most-watched K-dramas, you would expect Boys Over Flowers to have a happy ending, right? Well, for many, it doesn’t. Instead, the ending seems like a mess—caught between the love triangle’s dramas, the sudden choices of the characters, and the confusing actions of everyone. Many found the main male lead to be quite toxic and were left quite upset when the female lead still ended up with him after everything he put her through.
Which K-dramas with bad endings have you watched?
Do you agree that some of the dramas listed have bad endings? Have you ever finished a K-drama and felt unsettled by the ending?
If you’re looking for more K-dramas to watch—not just ones with bad endings—then check out our post about upcoming K-dramas in 2022! Feel free to also check out our K-Drama Category, where we’ve written tons of blogs about various K-dramas to fall in love with.