Reader Friday: Disappointing Endings? Posted on May 5, 2017 by Kathryn Lilley It’s always a letdown to read a story that falls short at the end: failing to tie up loose ends; a deus ex machine bolt from the sky; or an ending that doesn’t satisfy. Can you think of a story that fell short at the end? And why?
I hated the ending of the movie “No Country For Old Men”. After a pretty good story, it just fizzled out, leaving me sitting in the theater thinking, “Really? This is how this ends?” I felt like the directors just ran out of steam and just stopped filming. I know the Cohen brothers are quirky, but they blew it in this one.
I don’t recall the ending in that one but the entire movie was too violent for me. I regretted watching it even though some of the the performances were excellent.
Stephen King’s THE STAND. One of my favorite books until the very end, where it felt like he ran out of paper.
Mr. King is a pantser, BTW.
Even a pantser should know to go back and add set-up when needed. And to have a climax.
That was going to be my pick. I’m still annoyed by the “Oh look, it’s the hand of god!” resolution.
That was the first novel I ever read, but I can’t recall the ending.
While we are picking on SK…the whole Dark Tower canon ended badly. I won’t spoil it for everyone/anyone who hasn’t read it but if I had been Roland I would have hung myself.
I never could get into the Dark Tower books. But Idris Elba is in the upcoming film–you know I’m there!
Confession time: In my first novel I disappointed a lot of readers by not having a VERY clear resolution at the end. Lesson learned. When I got the rights back and put out the ebook, I *might* have tweaked it a bit to satisfy myself and future readers. I figured that since it’s my book, why not? Since then, I haven’t messed around with ambiguous endings. Few people like them, and I’m no longer afraid to commit.
Gone With the Wind
I can think of several, but I don’t feel comfortable calling out the authors. Hence, the same reason I chose not to review.
Ah, thanks for being thoughtful, Sue! I’m sure most of us have erred on some endings! I was guilty of manhandling one when a book got too rushed and I had to stampede through the writing process (that was just one of the issues with that book). I’m embarrassed even to think about that one now! ?
I never saw the movie, but I read the novelization for The Black Hole. It was written by one of my favourite authors, but he had bad material to work from – the movie. I originally thought he must have written his own ending, because that ending would never play in movie theatres. I found out later that his ending was better than the movie’s.
Why did it fall short? How can I say this without spoiling the movie… (not that I could do a worse job than they did themselves)… Let’s just say that they completely ignored the reader’s/watcher’s expectations. Not necessarily the expectations for a ‘happy ending’, but the expectations the writers themselves set up. Sometimes a twist ending can be satisfying, but if it’s not done well, it leaves the reader with a bad taste in their mouth. Even a twist ending has to somehow fit the reader’s expectations.
For me, it’s any book that ends with a cliffhanger that should have been addressed in the plot resolution.
Character picks up the phone wondering which of his 2 women is calling. The end.
No book comes to mind when I think of bad endings. Movies on the other hand —
Rogue One. They did not set up the “hope” of the plan enough to keep me from being disappointed when EVERYBODY interesting not surviving. Come on guys.
The Lord of the Rings, Ralph Bakshi version. To me it is the definition of deus ex machina. They set up a beg battle at the end, then end it with Gandalf showing up in slow motion (killing ONE orc) while a voice over ends the story. I felt so cheated, I never watched another Bakshi movie. And I had enjoyed Wizards.
What were the problems? First, ending not properly set up. I can’t point out the choice the characters made to get the information out, even if it kills them. Second, not acted out but just told. Lester Dent emphasized that the hero had to win through his own efforts.