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What makes a good ending?

I’ve recently been on a bit of show binge and have been flying through series left and right. The most recent of these was Orange Is the New Black, and it had what I would consider being one of the most well-made, cathartic ending to a series I’ve ever seen. It got me thinking about how a good series ending is written, and what even passes as a good ending, and who better to make this literary analysis than a 23-year old nerd.

One of the most important parts of storytelling is the utilization of characters. It can be seen with arcs of Walter White from Breaking Bad, (some spoilers) who slowly delves into this villainous role and the end of the series finds him to be the source of all these terrible events that come into his life, and he acknowledges it at his end.

That’s not to say that good characters can carry a series. Game of Thrones was a largely liked series (at least for the first four or so seasons) and had great characters such as Tyrion Lannister that pushed it forward, but good characters aren’t enough and the series seemed to fizzle out in the later seasons, as well as having a highly criticized series finale.

Tone also plays an important part in the creation of an ending. A happy series can’t have an absurdly sad ending. A realistic series can’t have an ending where’s everyone’s ending is happy. Storytelling has a rhythm to it and the sudden change to a tune is usually not welcome. Both satisfying and unsatisfying endings don’t have to be terrible, but it must correlate with what the storytelling has already established.

This isn’t to knock on any of the series I’ve praised or criticized. From a writing standpoint, ending’s are awful. The expectation to wrap each plotline and properly give an ending worthy to each character is something that requires a great amount of experience to properly navigate. As a writer, I’ve struggled with how to end this very article, and it’s just over 330 words!

I suppose that some stories might just not be meant to have good endings. Game of Thrones was torn apart in the final seasons, but I thought it had some endearing moments. How I Met Your Mother was by no means the best wrap-up of a series I’ve seen, but it had some brilliant appeals to emotion that showcased the growth of some major characters. Narratives aren’t meant to be black or white or even gray. They’re meant to unite these pieces of color into something definitive, and that’s all you can really ask for an ending.

In the Circle

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jordyscircle View All →

Hello! My name is Jordan but you can call me Jordy! I'm an aspiring young writer/creator who focuses primarily on video arts such as movies and video games, as well as anything else that catches my attention. I'm a pretty mellow, introverted guy but I welcome conversation so feel free to reach out! Thank you for taking the time to read this!

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