Why Are Series Endings So Hard to Get Right?

HappyilyEverAfterThis post is in regards to shows that know they’re coming to a close, not shows that are cancelled mid-season or not renewed thereby leaving us with a wonderful cliffhanger to ponder for the rest of eternity, or dozens of unanswered questions that will haunt us on our death beds.

After watching the series finale of Dexter, way back in 2014, I wrote a rant.  You can read it here in its entirety, but what it boiled down to was giving the audience a “satisfying” ending while staying true to the characters.

You may be wondering why I’m on another rant.  I’ve finished a few shows recently, all terrible endings, and it got me wondering:

“Why can’t I get a satisfying end?”

*Be forewarned, there will be spoilers ahead for shows Dexter, True Blood, and Lost Girl!  

Let’s take a look at Dexter.

This one still bothers me, years later.  After some time recollecting on Dexter as a character, I don’t think his character arc found justice in the end.  Dexter was an amazing character to watch grow into a fully realized human – something he didn’t think he was capable of.  After all that time invested, on both sides, to leave him on his own in some podunk town without his family, no less?  Nope.  Wrong.

What would have made a satisfying ending for a serial killer?  Well, clearly there’s a moral gray area here.  Dexter, generally, killed people according to his code, does that mean he should walk free?  Not exactly, but it’s a show.  We watch it for entertainment value, not reality.  I wanted to see him reunite with his son and the woman he loved.  Simple as that.

Then there was True Blood.

True Blood ended in 2014 and I was an avid viewer of the show.  About three episodes into the final season, they killed a character off in such a way, I was turned off completely from finishing the show.  Two years later, finally having access to HBO again, The Sis and I decided to finish it.

What a let down.

From episode one on, Sookie is generally at the center of whatever conflict is happening, but they wrapped the show up in a nice little bow as if nothing bad would ever happen again.  We’ve had 7 seasons of crazy, people.  So what, it was like, they’ve done there time and have earned their peaceful Thanksgiving dinner?  Please.

They killed off a main character, they let another character revert to his old ways, and then, to top it all off, they gave Sookie that normal life everyone thought she deserved – pregnant by a faceless human husband.  She never dated a human in the entirety of the show because (I want to shout) she can hear their thoughts.

So what would have been a more satisfying ending, you might wonder?  Well, first of all, they should have listened to their characters.  Don’t send them on these unique journeys, only to put them right back at the beginning.  We didn’t hit the refresh button.  What I wanted, was to see these characters 20 years down the road.  It’s a vampire show.  There’s longevity involved.

Finally, there’s Lost Girl.

This Canadian import had a unique premise, and although I felt there was so much more they could’ve done with the show, it was a fun watch.  The show’s premise was the all-encompassing world of fae, centering on the character of Bo, a succubus, who uses her power to help human and fae alike as a sort of detective/champion.  The show was episodic, but had an overall theme each season.

After multiple seasons with hints to her power, we were treated to about 5 mins in the series finale of her going nuclear, but not quite all the way, and then they wrap it up a short time in the future.

Another let down.

As the fae on the show live for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, I would’ve really liked to see these characters in the future, not just hinting at an old foe just recently beaten.  Bo was in love with two people on the show, Lauren, a human, and Dyson, a shifter.  Dyson’s character could love others, but could only truly give his heart to one person, and he chose Bo.  Bo chose Lauren in the end.  As human lives are relatively short in comparison, I would’ve liked to have seen a reunion of Bo and Dyson in the future.  He was a wonderful character, and I feel he should’ve received his happily ever after too.

I’m not looking for just “happily ever afters”, but I am looking for satisfying endings.  As TV shows go, I understand there are multiple writers and that stories progress in different ways as seasons continue, but in these examples, I’m not sure they did right by their characters.

What do you think?  Did you like any of these endings?  What other shows annoyed you with their finales?  Which shows ended well?

I’ve been thinking about this in regards to my own original series I’ve been working on, wondering what would be the most satisfying finale.  I may not be in control of that in the end, and that sort of makes me nervous, but it doesn’t mean I can’t hope for the best.  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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