The Complexity of Ending a Series
June 1, 2019 by Jack Anderson
Game of Thrones has ended. And the least we can say is that the last two episodes of the series were highly controversial. While Game of Thrones was and still is the most popular TV series ever, even with a global focus, ending a series is one of the most difficult exercise in storytelling. Let us analyze the reasons why.
Warning, this article contains major spoilers on multiple series, such as Game of Thrones, Lost, Breaking Bad, House of Cards, The X-Files and Prison Break. You've been warned.
First, series finales are so highly anticipated that you could argue that living up to the expectations of the fans is close to impossible. This is not only the case with series finale, but in the movie genre, many sequels are looked for like the Messiah. Remember Avengers: Endgame, last month?
While this is all logical, this is also unfair, as many series have close to a hundred episodes, if not more. And all the series should be judged on just one episode? If that's not an impossible task, then what is?
And while this may sound unfair, this tells a major truth. The end has, obviously, an utmost place in the story, if not the most important place. That's why many authors recommend to start a story with a great beginning and close it with an equally great ending. What happens in the middle will never be as important. This is true in everything, and perhaps in life as well.
Coming back to Game of Thrones, we all remember the excruciatingly boring scenes of Arya, "a girl has no name", in her infamous Many-Faced God cult, during season 5. While this may have been uninteresting to some audience, this will never be as important as the final scenes from the series.
KILLING OF CHARACTERS
Killing major characters is an obvious choice for series finales. REVEAL THE SPOILER!
During a series life, many admirers of the show become very close to some characters. As an example, some fans of Game of Thrones would love Jon Snow while others would become fans of Daenerys Targaryen, as an example.
Killing major characters will always upset some fans, that have a direct relationship with those.
What this says is that characters are not just on paper or on screen. One can grow attached to fictional characters, the same way you'd grow fond of someone in real life. But what's real life anyway? Can we live in the world of books and movies? Can we immerse ourselves entirely and get emotionally invested in a TV series?
How many people find solace by watching their favorite series, over and over again? This is the power of storytelling. The magic power of storytelling...
Many endings contain a twist. And twist is always a major risk. Imagine this. You tell a story for a hundred hours, only to completely change it at the very last minute. This is what happened with Game of Thrones, with Daenerys Targaryen suddenly REVEAL THE SPOILER! for so long.
Looking back, while this made perfect sense, imagine being a complete fan of Daenerys and suddenly facing this final twist at the last hour? How would you feel?
In many series finales, the showrunners try to close off the show with a theme or morale that would wrap up the entire series. The problem is that this usually becomes a gimmick, fabricated at the last minute. Back in 2002, The X-Files ended with the main character being able to see dead people, in a morale saying that the dead still talk to us. This clearly did not fit within the almost decade-long series and felt out of place.
This month, in Game of Thrones, there were two themes. The first was about democracy and how societies are doomed to evolve, as long as we decide to fight for them. The second was that stories are extremely powerful, hence putting on the (not Iron) Throne Bran Stark, also known as the Three-Eyed Raven, the omniscient and emotionless character.
on 2019-06-01 06:38:52 ET
That was a very interesting article -- I didn't think the GOT ending was so bad.