What is a bad ending?

Jon Hamm as Don Draper - Mad Men _ Season 7, Episode 14 - Photo Credit: Courtesy of AMC

Jon Hamm as Don Draper – Mad Men _ Season 7, Episode 14 – Photo Credit: Courtesy of AMC

I’ve been thinking a lot about endings, specifically the endings of stories that are told in any serialized form. Stories end all the time, of course, but I’ve had several stories that I love end (and one that will end early next year). And my main question here is: can there be a good ending to a series?

More than stand-alone stories, the endings of series are often held up to ridiculous standards. The implication here is that an ending can completely make or break a story – if it’s a bad ending, it makes the rest of the series moot. I obviously don’t believe that; as I talked about in my previous post, I wasn’t thrilled with the ending of Dengeki Daisy, but still love the series.

So maybe first it would make sense for me to first examine what a bad ending means to me. For a lot of people, a bad ending seems to be one that reveals a meaning to a story that the reader or viewer disagrees with. For example, people were up in arms when the ending to Lost didn’t reveal the mysteries they desperately wanted answers to, and fans of How I Met Your Mother thought that the ending was some kind of betrayal to the mother in question.

But hey, it is the writers’ right to end a story in the way that they seem fit. A serialized story simply gets a bad name when it comes to this, as the ending is separated from the rest of the story, and people have ample time to decide what the ending should be. I personally love endings that make me see the story in a new way, and that put the rest of the story in a different perspective.

For me, a bad ending is an incomplete one. The worst ending is when the story doesn’t conclude at all; my heart was broken when the webcomic Teahouse was dropped by its creators. And I know I am still harping on this, but the anticlimatic ending to Dengeki Daisy is an ending that the series simply does not deserve.

My wish for all endings is that they be at least well thought out, and true to at least the creators’ vision. No matter if I agree with the endings, I want them to put the story in perspective and give it meaning.

Next up! I’m going to take a look at some endings that I love, and an ending that I wish could have been.

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