The Heart Wrenching Finale of the Endearing 90s Show, ‘Dinosaurs’

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With a show that encompassed a huge target audience of children as well as adults, Dinosaurs is best remembered for its extremely tragic and hard-hitting ending. The Jim Henson Productions sitcom ran from 1991-1994, ending in the extinction of the much beloved Sinclair family. An endearing family of animatronic dinosaurs captures the hearts of adults and kids alike, as it delivers powerful moral and ethical messages, while being light-hearted at the same time.

Dinosaurs, produced by Jim Henson Productions, was a show that aired from 1991–1994, as part of ABC's "TGIF" lineup. The show, set in 60,000,003 B.C. in Pangaea, was a family-friendly blend of The Flintstones and The Simpsons. It revolved around the misadventures of the Sinclair family: Earl Sinclair, the father; Fran Sinclair, the mother; Robbie Sinclair, the son; Charlene Sinclair, the daughter; and Baby "Not the Mama" Sinclair, the baby.Although the show was lighthearted and geared toward younger viewers, it sometimes visited heavy themes, like sexual harassment, objectification of women, civil rights, steroid use, masturbation, drug abuse, racism, peer pressure, religion, and women's rights.In the memorable but very dark series finale, it touched on the themes of environmentalism and mortality — with an ending that left all of the characters facing their imminent death.
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The Sinclair family was headed by the the Dad, Earl Sinclair. Set in modern times, this Dinosaur daddy worked as a tree pusher for a big company called Wesayso. His wife, Fran Sinclair was the typically docile wife of the late 90s sitcoms. The couple had two teenagers, Robbie and Charlene, and a baby who had some amazing catchphrases.

The series finale, “Changing Nature," aired on July 20, 1994, and the episode began with the Sinclair family gathered at a picnic awaiting the annual return of the bunch beetles. The beetles, much to the disappointment of the family, never show. We learn, in a bit of foreshadowing, that the reason the beetles never returned was because they had been eradicated after the dinosaurs had, irresponsibly, built a plastic fruit factory over their swamp breeding ground.The beetles played an important role in the ecosystem of Pangaea, by feeding on a type of climbing vine. Without the beetles, the vines began growing out of control.

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Set in 60,000,003 B.C. in Pangaea (but with a modern touch), the show interestingly alludes to subjects like sexual harassment, religion, civil rights, women’s rights and more. Before the ratings fell and the show was cancelled in 1994, it aired one last episode culminating in the misfortune that embroils the Sinclair family as a result of environmental neglect.

Of course, Earl was put in charge of an environmental task force responsible for solving the vine problem. The environmental task force's solution to deal with the vines is to spray the planet with defoliant. The mass poisoning, however, not only kills the vines, but all plant life on Pangaea.
ABC/Disney
The Sinclair family is happily picnicking away and awaiting the annual return of the bunch beetles. However, as a major omen in the finale, the bunch beetles fail to show up because they were all gone as the dinosaurs took over their breeding ground for commercial purposes – a message that all of us need to pay attention to right now!
The plan backfires — and instead of rain, the clouds bring snow, causing global cooling and the beginning of the Ice Age. In the final scene, the family is gathered together inside their home trying to keep warm.Realizing that the world is coming to an end, Earl apologizes to his family and admits that he shouldn’t have "taken nature for granted."
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With beetles gone, the ecosystem goes topsy-turvy. They kept the climbing vine under control by feeding on it, and now with no beetles, the vines keep multiplying. In order to combat that, the Wesayso boss makes Earl responsible for coming up with a solution. And a solution, he comes up with! The environmental Task Force that he heads creates a defoliant that kills all the climbing vines. But there’s a slight glitch. It kills the vines plus all the other plant life in Pangaea!

In a touching moment, the Sinclair family accept their fate and promise to stick together (until the end). The final line of the episode is delivered by Howard Handupme (the Walter Cronkite of Dinosaurs), eerily saying, “Good night. Good-bye.”

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It is only a matter of time as the planet is deprived of any vegetation. But before they give up, the Environmental Task Force comes up with a plan to bring about rain to grow plants. They shell the volcanoes to make volcanic clouds. And of course, as one might expect, these clouds made no rain. Instead, they blocked the sun entirely and led to the onset of ice age.

To really drive home that this is the end of the Sinclair family, the episode closes with an image of snow piling onto their home while a depressing score plays.

ABC/Disney 

The Sinclair family huddles together one final time. Earl realizes that he had taken nature for granted and regrets it as the family silently accepts its fate. In this last image of the show, snow piles up on top of the Sinclair house, as they sit inside, resigning life to the numbing cold. Watch the emotional moment here –

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