Saturday, December 18, 2010

Here Comes the Endings

My mind is very full today. Full of the series I'm working on the last chapters of (you may know it as LOLSI or you may not know it at all), series endings in general, and many, many questions.

I'm not a fan of series, as a rule. And I say this knowing full well that there are many exceptions to that rule. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Uglies, Peaches, The Hunger Games, and Luxe are just some of the series I absolutely adore. Plus, as we all know, I'm television-holic, and tv shows are a type of series.

But the endings almost never seem right to me. In books series and in television shows there often seems to be something missing, something not quite right. With the rare exception of Mockingjay I can't think of many endings that I really loved (and I know that for many people Mockingjay was a huge disappointment). Either the ending kills the series (ahem, Twilight), doesn't really give a sense of completion (here I cite the incredible BSC books), or there's just something I didn't like about it. My favorite couple didn't get together, a major element was out of place, or a couple I specifically didn't want together ended up riding off into the sunset.


This is when the end of the series kills the series. Storylines spiral out of control, the rules of the established universe are tossed out the window, and there are pages and pages of readers going wth is happening here? In this case it's not just one element that's out of place, but many elements. These types of endings are the ones that most often prompt readers to go let's just pretend that didn't happen, shall we? They're the endings that ardent lovers of the series sometimes have no problem "divorcing" from the rest of the story.

This, unlike the above ending, is where there's one specific element that ends in a way you don't agree with. The hero of the story ends up with the wrong love interest, your most beloved character dies a tragic death, or a choice is made that you just can't wrap your head around. In a way, this type of ending can be even worse than the first because if the whole thing were a mess you could easily write it off -- but there's that one thing! That one horrible, awful element that you just can't wrap your head around. This is also one of the more common (and subjective) types of endings out there, especially when it comes to love triangles and there are just as many members of TEAM NICE BOY as there are TEAM BAD BOY.

This is when the ending isn't really an ending. When, despite being a planned end to a series, it just feels like another book/chapter/episode. I'm going to take a stab in the dark here and say that this most commonly happens with series that are very episodic, where even the big things that happen are wiped away or forgotten by the next installment. And though that explains the lackluster ending to a certain extent, it still doesn't make it any better for the audience that wants a satisfying ending to their beloved series.

Let me make it clear that this type of ending is on a whole different level from the first three. Because unlike those series where the ending is controlled by the writers and editors/producers, the missing ending is one that just doesn't happen. The series is cancelled and it has nothing to do with the planning on the part of the people directly involved in the series. It's easier to think of examples for this type of ending in television (hello, Firefly and the oh-so-tragic Pushing Daisies), but it also happens in book series and it's often a much more quiet death. RIP to lost endings everywhere.

And now I have to get back to writing my own series ending, which hopefully won't fall under any of these categories. But while I'm gone: what's your opinion on series endings? Which is the worst type and did I forget about a type?


  1. I think the That Didn't Happen Ending is the worst. At least with The Missing Ending you can go back and kind of imagine your own ending in and end the story however you'd like.

  2. Liz
    I completely agree. The endings that are the most impossible for me to get over (in a bad way) always fall under the THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN category.