Thursday, March 26, 2009

Beautiful Endings

So last week was a landmark in geekdom: the end of 'Battlestar Galactica'. Personally, I wasn't pissed off by the ending. Far from it, but I've heard a wide spectrum of emotion on the subject. I won't go on about my thoughts, but I think the ending, though personally satisfying for me, was imperfect.

That's not intended as a harsh criticism. A great ending is tough to come by. From 'Watchmen' to 'Harry Potter', great stories often have endings that leave a lot to be desired. Sometimes, it sours the whole experience (see also: 'Identity Crisis').

But every so often, along comes that beautiful ending. The one that gives you that complex feeling... you know, the one where all you want is one more minute, one more panel, one more page... but at the same time you know that the story has taken you as far as it can. I call it the beautiful ending... the one that makes you want more but makes you understand why you can't have it. It's a rare thing, the beautiful ending.

How do you craft a beautiful ending? It's partly about not hanging on too long. But also about hanging on long enough... letting characters unfold themselves enough for you to care. Hell, there's no formula. You just know it when you see it. One of my favorite beautiful endings is 'Y: The Last Man'. It's funny because I thought during the penultimate arc, when they reveal the truth about what killed the men, that it was jumping the shark a bit. And then the last few issues, and the last issue in particular, were a masterpiece of wonder and heartbreak. As much as it literally brought tears to my eyes, I couldn't imagine it any other way.

So, Second Printers... I want recommendations... what are YOUR favorite beautiful endings? Try not to spoil too much in case I want to enjoy them myself :)


Nick said...

Comic-wise: Honestly, since Y: The Last Man has already been said, I'll have to go with 30 Days of Night. Templesmith's art gave a lot of weight to Niles ending with the Sunrise and all.

TV Wise: Six Feet Under's ending was pretty good, even though the show maybe dragged on longer then it should have, the ending with Sia's Breath, great ending.

Quantum Leaps' comes maybe second, though a bit bittersweet. Not spoiling anything about that one

Movie Wise: Fight Club, The Game, and Usual Suspects; all had great endings. Fight Clubs' was different from the original story's but it almost was better for it, and it had this powerful final note at the end. The Game..well...yeah..after all that tension and action to slowly peter out like it did, it set a good tone. Usual Suspects....well do I even need to explain why there?

...hmmm wondering if its a coincidence that all these good endings are kinda a happy sad in their tonality.

ChrisM said...

I thought that the last issues of the Grant Morrison Doom Patrol (the Crazy Jane issue) and Animal Man were both wonderful capstones to those runs.

Also thought that the last issue of Starman-Robinson giving his hero a happy ending was one that I found very satisfying.

TV wise? hmm...Star Trek Voyager's return home was enjoyable, very triumphant and the recent end of the David Tennant run of Doctor Who made me tear up a bit...:-)

Anonymous said...

Starman goes without saying.

Also The Sandman, especially the three post-Wake stories that seemed written to comfort readers as much as to tie up loose ends. I'll never read the epilogue to The Tempest in quite the same way again...

And the last of the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League issues, with Max's internal monologue showing how much he's changed (The OMAC guy was an imposter! I swear!).

"Sleeping in Light" over on Babylon 5 was definitely a tearjerker ending.

Tennant's run on Doctor Who isn't quite finished yet, though the end is nigh. We still have a few specials to look forward to. Let's hope his exit is as fantastic as Eccleston's was.

And speaking of which, how can we forget the end of the original show? "There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea is asleep and the rivers dream. People made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice...and somewhere else the tea is getting cold."

Nate said...

TV wise? Best final episode evar was "mad about you" For a show I didn't care much about, I sure enjoyed how they had the cajones to do a 30 years into the future of a show being canceled. With Janeane Garafalo narrating as the now grown up daughter of the divorced characters.

And I loved BSG's ending. Gaius had me teared up with this final (150k BC) line. And the last collage of images actually sent a shiver down my spine.

Nate said...

And best finale Comic?

Alan Moore's "Whatever happened to the man of tomorrow" tying up the entire silver age Superman.

If you don't read it, love it, and even cry a little reading it you ain't a comic lover.

Jessica said...

A lot of the ones I wanted to say have already been mentioned, but even though Orson Scott Card is a homophobe, the ending for Enders Shadow made me cry. It was so heart melting.

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