If you were to guess which issue was the most important and crucial crisis of our time based entirely on fandom message board postings, you would conclude that it’s “franchise endings.” Specifically, the endings to entertainment franchises must all be very bad. Apparently the final episode or installment of some series or franchises are so bad, they cause cancer and COVID-19 and global warming.
Get over ’em, friends! Get over the whole “endings” thing. The sun will never shine again on your world until you do!
Game of Thrones ending – What did you expect???
San Diego Comic Con 2019: Panels there whoop the crowd into a frenzy as they tie nooses, light torches, and get ready to storm the gates of HBO Entertainment and lynch every executive. A fan petition went up on Change.org, demanding that HBO reshoot the whole of season 8 Game of Thrones. It has 1.8 million signatures. Allegedly the petition was published and started collecting signatures before the final episode even aired! That wasn’t even the end of it; HBO president Casey Bloys made a statement to the effect of “Boo-hoo, you didn’t like the ending. I will dry my tears with my 32 Emmy nominations.”
I could have saved you the trouble two seasons before that point, at the end of season five when the show passed up the books. Thus far, George R. Martin (the author formerly known as George R.R. Martin before the Internet got too lazy to type double initials) has yet to add to the Song of Ice and Fire series beyond that, and I doubt he will. He’s too busy swimming in his money pool at home. That’s why there’s a George Martin plush doll that says “I’m working on it” when you pull the string.
Your first mistake was in adapting an unfinished novel series into a major TV show. But alright, go ahead and do that then, your second mistake was in not ending season five with an indefinite “to be continued” pending next book. But OK, if you had to make something up, your third mistake was in making up three more seasons of story. But if you get past all that, your fourth mistake, the stupidest of them all, is to watch all through that and say “Awwww, that wasn’t very good!” And then hate the entire series because you didn’t like the ending which the show’s writers were forced to pull, fully flambeed, from their ass.
Star Wars : The Last Jedi – How can you be surprised???
To make a much longer story far shorter: You all hated it. We hear tell that the ground ran beige from all your regurgitated gluten-free popcorn. Star Wars : The Last Jedi disappointed all of you, at least as far as the final telling of Luke Skywalkers’ story. That video has 9.3 million views, so I presume you all watch it on loop during your morning shower cry.
You want to know where Luke Skywalker’s story ends? Episode IV, as the original Star Wars is now called. But you all demanded more and George Lucas was scared to crumbs that he’d never make another dollar for the rest of his life, so he rushed two sequels out of his colon. That should have been a train wreck, but magic elves intervened, so Luke Skywalker’s story ends at Return of the Jedi. But you all demanded more, and yadda yadda yadda. You guys got not one, but two perfect endings and were not happy still.
You know why the ending to The Last Jedi had Luke fade out in a Photoshop filter? Because Mark Hamill is 69 gahdayum years old, that’s why! This man already loved you fans enough to come to the Star Wars Holiday Special fresh from an L.A. car accident where he ate a dashboard and windshield for breakfast at 60 MPH (you all complained about the makeup), and that still wasn’t enough! If I was Mark Hamill, I’d say “fine I’ll remake the ending” and then give you the exact same ending but with a loud whoopie cushion fart effect where I deflate like a balloon and swirl off the cliff. Let people retire! Especially when they end up working for Disney!
The Matrix Revolutions – You just now noticed that it was going nowhere???
You know, out of all the successful film franchises launched by the Wachowski people, The Matrix is the one that disappoints people for not living up to their standard. Oh, wait, sorry, The Matrix is the ONLY franchise launched by the Wachowskis. Yeah, look. I have no pity for anybody who is still raw and sore from the Matrix Revolutions, because that is how much I hurt when I was surrounded by you fans screaming “MATRIX IS THE MEANING OF LIFE WORSHIP IT NOW OR I’LL KILL YOU!” into both my ears throughout the turn of the century.
This is what you get for worshiping false idols. This is what you get for snatching an innocent popcorn-munching post-cyberpunk-gothic fantasy out of its crib and forcing it to pole-dance for you. If you’d just left The Matrix alone, there would be no sequel, and it would be yet another interesting curiosity of the ’90s like Johnny Mnemonic or the way-underappreciated Freejack. But instead, you had to found an actual religion around it, and then that wasn’t enough, you fans drove an actual Oxford philosopher to join your cult.
And here your idol is shewn its feet of clay, and you’re clamoring for the Matrix IV now. You know, when us normal fans got our Keanu Reeves sci-fi follow-up, we just enjoyed it and then went back to normal life.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – Why not aliens???
This is the one that really boggles my mind. First, you expect a (at the time) 66-year old Boomer to reprise the role he first played at age 39 with no CGI. You demanded sequel after sequel to what was originally an homage to Saturday afternoon serials only Boomers are old enough to remember. You all complain because there’s no good new supporting characters, but you also didn’t like what they did with the old supporting character they brought back.
But no, on top of all that, you didn’t like it because this one had aliens from outer space in it. Which was, apparently, too much for all of you to swallow. UFOs in an Indiana Jones universe apparently stretch your suspension of disbelief, as opposed to the down-to-earth realism of haunted ghost crates, Jesus’ magic cup, ancient lava gods powered by glowing rocks, and three people jumping out of a plane and inflating a raft under them as they fall so they can land snow-surfing without a bruise.
Yeah, look, the previous movie involved the Biblical Messiah, plus an artifact granting eternal life. It also gave you the late Sean Connery (and to think this is how I sent him off!) as a co-star. Where else was the franchise supposed to go after that? If you went to the theater expecting anything more than what you got, you must have survived a nuclear mushroom cloud by hiding in the fridge.
LOST – It’s right there in the title???
This series comes the closest to giving the fandom a justified beef. That’s because it’s the kind of series intended to have a hacked-up ending. The ABC series Lost, starting with a bunch of people stranded on a desert island after a plane crash, is one of those kinda stories. The point is not, never was, and never wither be about the ending. The point is to pull as many outrageous plot twists out of your hat as you can, leading up to a point where any kind of logical conclusion is impossible.
David Lynch knows shaggy dog story telling very well. At the end of Mulholland Drive, he could have had Rita pull a slip of paper out of that blue box that said “Your name’s Zelda, your address is 6969 Notareel street, you’re a gangster’s mistress, pick up the milk” and that would be a logical ending, but he did not, and look how much you love him for it. In fact, this fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants style of fiction has several subgenres, such as the Aristocrats joke and The X-Files.
It is literally impossible to keep a coherent ending under the circumstances of a fantasy / sci-fi mystery which doesn’t know whether it will get another season. Again, fans, you should have seen it coming! In fact, Lost makes an excellent note to finish upon here, because what shows like this are supposed to teach you spoiled brats is that endings don’t matter! That’s not the point! The point is the experience. The point is all the exciting stuff going on that kept you watching wanting to know how it’s going to turn out.
Endings Don’t Matter; Let Them Go
This is the lesson that the immortal Patrick McGoohan taught us all generations ago with The Prisoner. Now there was a series that knew how to put those ornery fans in their place. The Prisoner was doing mind-melting endings before David Lynch got out of film school. Yet it still has a cult following to this day. Truly, McGoohan a tame kitten in this interview. Here’s what he had to say about why he ended The Prisoner the way he did:
> “I wanted to have controversy, argument, fights, discussions, people in anger waving fists in my face saying, ‘How dare you? Why don’t you do more [shows] that we can understand?’ I was delighted with that reaction. I think it’s a very good one; that was the intention of the exercise.”
Yes, he did it on purpose. We need more Patrick McGoohans these days, that would put some hair on your chests!
Life is like that. When fiction authors tack on a happy faerie-tale ending, that’s what I personally can’t stand. An artist should be striving to say the most profound thing he can possibly think of, as loudly and defiantly as he can. True art’s motto: Comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. When, in real life, do you ever see “and they lived happily ever after?” If you believe in that, too many years of Disney schlock has given you brain diabetes.
Will this blog post even end?
So yeah, I’ve let loose in full-on rant mode, which not only got your mind off the election for a while, but served a purpose, hopefully, of introducing this beautiful bit of zen into the fandom: Don’t look at the ending. Don’t worry about endings. In the end, everyone dies, OK? The eventual extinction of the universe guarantees that we all return to ashes and dust. What you call an “ending” is merely the point where you stopped watching, or the author stopped writing. Dare to take an original attitude toward your fandom. Stand up and walk out of the theater five minutes before the ending. You’re done now. Imagine it yourself how it ends. It’s more satisfying that way.
Getting back to Game of Thrones, you never asked how it started. Well, it started with another dark fantasy series created by Daniel Knauf, which played for two seasons and incredible popularity. HBO drew more attention to it every week, before finally pulling the plug on it right after season two, claiming that the series was “too expensive.” That series was running $2 million per episode, as opposed to the $6 million per episode Game of Thrones started out, and the $15 million per episode by the final season.
But the point is, this other series got drop-kicked so Game of Thrones could launch. HBO figured why spend that money on a gamble when George R.R. Martin is a surer bet? And that’s the story of how Carnivàle got canceled after its season 2 finale, a planned first book of three. If you watch the series, you will never forget the most messed-up cliffhanger in TV history. Nobody even knows this show existed now. Daniel Knauf, a man with a rich and deep story in his soul still aching to be told, will never get another chance.
I quit endings a long time ago, and I’m so much happier for it. I don’t care. I’m still free. You can’t take the sky from me.