Getting to the end of a show that has been built up for years can be an emotional thing – how could a writer’s room ruin it?
Think back to the end of your favorite television series. Recall the feelings of satisfaction or maybe disappointment. There’s a reason series finals have the power to spark such a strong emotional response from us. No two final episodes are alike, but the common denominator is us – the audience.
The relationship between viewers and television shows was previously viewed as pointless media consumption.
It turns out that a connection between the audience and a television show can be identified as a parasocial relationship. This type of bond is classified through a one-way association with a celebrity or a specific type of media. If we are let down at the end of a series, we may feel like we are going through what is known as a parasocial breakup. Of course, nobody wants to go through a breakup. But there is one thing that can alleviate the pain of a breakup and that is closure.
Check out this interesting video from joke that examines the aspects of what makes a terrible (or successful) television finale.
Exploring endings that worked and flopped
With a television series, viewers get to know the characters as if they were friends. This creates the parasocial bond and this is why we feel so betrayed when the ending isn’t what we expected it to be. More specifically, when a show ends on an ambiguous note rather than a meaningful one. We want to see where our character friends end up. So when it feels like we’re guessing, there’s a certain emptiness in our hearts – much like when someone breaks up with us but doesn’t give an explanation that we think is viable. Ambiguity in the finale has sparked a lot of controversy on the internet.
Of breaking Bad to The SopranosFans of the show attended their computers to give their opinion, and it wasn’t exactly uplifting for the show’s writers. The main reason for such an uproar was the element of uncertainty surrounding their protagonists.
On the other hand was a show that is supposed to have got it right Six feet under. Fans had to see the fate of their beloved characters in the end. How satisfying.
Aside from having no graduation, an unexpected twist is another way to ruin a series finale. One of the most infamous twists and turns that ruined a show for many fans was in game of Throneswhere Daenerys’ character was completely different from the person everyone knew and loved.
The audience wants to see a finale that confirms that everything that led up to this point wasn’t in vain. When viewers feel like what they’ve invested in for years doesn’t matter, satisfaction goes out the window. Consistency in writing and in characters is really key.
How to make a solid ending
What Makes an Acceptable Ending? Try to look back on why we fell in love with a show in the first place.
When writers know that their viewers want their viewers to feel the same happiness they experienced at the beginning, good finals happen. One of the main evidence for this is The good place. It was cathartic to be brought back to the first model of the original good place and see characters reconnect with their season one interests.
And regardless of how you feel about Tony Soprano’s final on-screen moments, they align with the rest of his life. He is with his family and tries to balance the life of a gangster with that of a father and a husband. And this life is full of uncertainty and danger, just like those tense seconds that lead to this famous cut in black. What came next for Tony Soprano? Nobody can say for sure. This ending was memorable and sonically compatible with the rest of the show.
Step back and try to picture it that way – why focus on the bad parts of a breakup when you can remember the good times? Fans don’t want to leave with their favorite shows with unexpected twists in the plot or the feeling of an unfinished deal between characters. You want to enjoy the fact that the ending of something is bittersweet. Especially when they’ve had a special bond with a show for several years.
What are your favorite or least favorite series finals and why? Share with us in the comments below.