Gainax Ending

"I wanted controversy, arguments, fights, discussions, people in anger waving fists in my face saying, 'how dare you?'"
Patrick McGoohan on the intentionally confusing ending he created for The Prisoner (1967)

What do you mean, "The End"?!

A Gainax Ending is an ending that doesn't make any sense, or does make sense but is hidden under enough Mind Screw to not have an easy explanation. This is usually a deliberate form of Mind Screw or intended as a Sequel Hook to a sequel that was never made. If it's not done intentionally, it's often the result of the creators rushing to meet a Cosmic Deadline. For whatever reason, after watching a Gainax Ending, you won't have any idea what happened. After rewatching it, rewatching the entire series, discussing it with other fans, looking up the meaning of the symbolism, and subjecting the entire thing to a comprehensive literary analysis, you still might not have any idea what happened. If you're lucky, then there will be some kind of emotional or symbolic resolution even if it doesn't actually explain what happened to the characters, and you'll be left with the sense that the series as a whole was more deeply thought out than it seemed before. If you're unlucky, then you'll be left with more questions than when you started and the sense that the series as a whole has been voided of the meaning you once read in it.

A Gainax Ending frequently involves bizarre and nonsensical Genre Shifts, Fauxlosophic Narration, and/or Faux Symbolism, and may very well cause Ending Aversion. For an aborted Sequel Hook, you might encounter a Diabolus ex Nihilo (where a new villain appears from nowhere, does something villainous, and then disappears again) or No Ending in the form of an ambiguous Cliffhanger. Either way, it would have been addressed in the sequel... had there been one.

In many cases, a Gainax Ending is merely an attempt to Take a Third Option, rather than resolve a story with a Happy Ending or a Downer Ending; this ending steps out of the narrative entirely and implicates or invites the viewer to make sense of it. From a creator's standpoint, this makes the work, when done right, something that has far reaching consequences rather than merely something seen and consumed and discarded.

The Trope Namer is Studio Gainax, who became associated with this trope after the infamous ending of Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Compare No Ending and Ambiguous Ending, which also contain an at least partial lack of resolution, Trippy Finale Syndrome, which has similar imagery but actually makes sense (it's explicitly a Dream Sequence, a Battle in the Center of the Mind, takes place in Another Dimension, etc), Esoteric Happy Ending, an ending that is considered happy despite all the evidence to the contrary, and Mind Screw (and associated tropes), or a Widget Series, where it's not simply the ending but the work overall that evades explanation. For when the ending ends up changing the entire scenario, see The Ending Changes Everything. Not to be confused with Gainaxing.

And, as a last word for this entry, we'd just like to say that the parrot has been squawking for hours and it is annoying the neighbors, so please feed him his cracker and be done with.

As this is an Ending Trope, expect unmarked major spoilers from here on.


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    Anime and Manga - Studio Gainax and Studio Trigger 
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion. Due to the budget effectively being shot, the final two episodes consisted heavily of stock footage, musings on human nature, discussion of the characters' psychological problems, some mention of the Human Instrumentality Project, and a High School A.U. with a Rei Ayanami on Genki. Even the movie ending, while straight-forward, is pretty bizarre by normal standards, and is considered an example by the standards of most of the other things on this page if the TV ending hadn't out-Gainaxed Gainax. Word of God says that the movie was the original planned ending.
    • And despite being made to basically advertise and coincide with the anime, the manga's massive Schedule Slip resulted in the initial few differences snowballing into altered plotlines, to the point that Shinji actually is relatively badass during the Mass-Produced Eva battle and saves Asuka - only for the rest of the ending to happen anyway, and then suddenly everyone is living their days normally again with no memory of the series of events occurring, to the point of Shinji not recognizing Asuka when they see each other in public. And the crucified-pose Evas from End of Evangelion are just part of the landscape that's taken for granted.
  • Mahoromatic on three levels:
    • It seems to end every episode in this manner. In fact, the entire premise of the show is that as a non-rechargeable combat android, Mahoro can literally number the days till she deactivates, and the viewers are constantly reminded of this fact.
    • It should be noted as well that that the countdown is never finished, as Mahoro's ultimate attack drains the same energy that keeps her alive; she is forced to use it in the second season, leading to the Time Skip enigmatic ending.
    • In that ending, she comes back in some form right as Suguru dies. Possibly as a memory, possibly as some sort of afterlife, or possibly as them both being restored to life. What.
  • Gunbuster's final episode was animated in black and white, with gray tones, alongside intense still shots during the final battle. And then, after the black hole bomb goes off, it takes them 12,000 years to make it back to Earth. (Due to the relativistic affects of near-light-speed travel, probably only a day had passed from their POV) And then "WELCOME HOME!" (with one of the kana backwards, even), which was absolutely awesome and genuinely heart-wrecking, even if it left a billion unanswered questions. While it all does work to increase the dramatic tension, given who produced the show, there have been a lot of suspicions over the years that it was done more for budgetary reasons than for any reasons of high art. The Black and White stuff was actually more expensive to do at the time, as it is much more requiring to paint in greyscale, also including the fact that you need to compensate for the color detail with drawn detail. Likewise, the episode is done in a downmatted widescreen, and all comedic tone is dead, simply finalizing the evolution the show takes from a fanservice-filled parody into something much darker.
  • He Is My Master, another show animated by Gainax, is a light, funny, gag series about a guy with a maid fetish. How else to end the series than with a sudden Mood Whiplash into angst and philosophizing?
  • Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi has an ending that may make no sense whatsoever to you if you didn't follow the shows' philosophy and possibly solve the Moon Logic Puzzle.
  • Creative differences caused a Gainax Ending in Kare Kano, abruptly ending the story just as a new arc was starting up.
  • Gainax has truly outdone themselves with Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt. In more or less chronological order: Panty spends an undefined amount of time as a farm girl (the setting of which is otherwise staged), Panty and Brief finally do it, Brief accidentally unlocks Hellsmonkey, which is a giant penis ghost, Corset turns Scanty and Kneesocks into weapons and kills Garterbelt before fusing with said giant penis ghost, Chuck and Fastener turn into awesome monster things, Panty and Stocking use Garterbelt's credit card to buy enough weapons to attempt to deliver an awesome finishing blow. They miss and hit Heaven, which summons a pair of lifelike legs to close the gate that Hellsmonkey is coming out of. This pair of legs turns out to be Panty and Stocking's mom. And Garterbelt dies again, only to come back to life. Among all this, the heavens are actually pierced with a drill. Big Bad dies, but then isn't dead, Stocking is actually a demon WHO KILLS PANTY, and now Brief must retrieve Panty's 666 pieces and bring her back to life. It's still not even clear if all this is actually the ending, or even canon. In fact, it's so big of a Gainax Ending that the characters who didn't see it coming react to it in much the same way the viewers do. Just take a look for yourself.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann actually manages to invert this. The opening scene makes absolutely no sense compared to the rest of the series (as well as contributing nothing and is never mentioned again), and Word of God is that they "lost that plot thread somewhere." Fans came up with the idea that it was some alternate timeline, and the creators said Sure, why not. The first scene of the series appears to be a preview/flashforward scene from somewhere near the end of the series, but viewers watching it for the first time will have no idea what is going on, and when the events the scene should be in finally come, nothing matches with it.
  • Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise. Rather than addressing whether or not Shiro's mission is successful, the film ends with an abstract montage of everyday life and the rise of civilization on the fictional planet.
  • Houkago No Pleiades. Yep, even their otherwise straightforward 30-minute Magical Girl OVA manages to have a weird ambiguous ending. The Big Bad does a Heel–Face Turn, but then is dragged off to who-knows-where by... his earrings? He throws his coat to Subaru, who finds a single flower growing in the otherwise desolate weird holographic garden. This is taken as an indication that he's still alive, or something. In the full anime, Minato turns out to have been in a coma the whole time, and after the girls all return to their respective, separate universes, he is still in a coma. It is unclear if he will ever wake up, although the ending scene tries to imply a happy ending. How the powers, alien magic, different universes and memory manipulation even worked in the first place is still up in the air.
  • FLCL inverts this. After an rollercoaster of plain craziness, the series ends on a heartfelt and rather straightforward (but still open) note with Haruko giving Naota a farewell and reciprocating his feelings, probably the sanest thing she's done in the entire show. It's where the Coming-of-Age Story-aspect really shines, with Naota finally acting like a kid while he still can.
  • Joked about in Kill la Kill, where the final episode preview consists entirely of Senketsu hoping Studio Trigger (which was created by former Gainax employees, specifically those responsible for the aforementioned Panty and Stocking) doesn't screw up the finale. In the end, Kill la Kill averts the Gainax Ending.
  • Inferno Cop outright mocks its Gainax roots by suddenly shifting the plot to a Cosmic Horror Story of sorts by paying homage to the Third Impact, resetting the universe, making everyone Inferno Cop, revealing that the pregnant woman from the first episode is actually a Scarlet Witch Expy with power beyond the gods, giving Inferno Cop the ability to overpower her, making Inferno Cop do a Heroic Sacrifice, and letting the credits drag on for eight minutes. However, it's ultimately subverted, considering that the rest of the series is just as insane.

    Anime and Manga - Other 
  • In Future Diary:
    • The final anime episode consists of Yuki escaping the Lotus-Eater Machine and convincing 1st!Yuno to not kill 3rd!Yuno, and so she stabs herself, allowing Yuki to win the survival game. He then returns to the Second World, which is now a vast expanse of nothingness, and mourns her for 10,000 years. In the anime, it ends there. The manga adds about three more pages of story, where Yuno suddenly breaks through the wall of space-time with a hammer, telling him she is the 3rd!Yuno, with 1st!Yuno's memories implanted, and they go off to the Third World to rule as Deus's replacements. And Nine/Uryuu has flying babies.
    • The ending from the Manga was made into a Mirai Nikki OVA later on however.
  • The anime of Excel Saga actually inverts this trope; in the last few aired episodes it suddenly gets a real plot going and is much more serious. Then in the final (albeit unairable) episode, it becomes even more weird, as if to make up for the serious finale.
  • Chobits starts out as a typical Magical Girlfriend-cum-Moe show, then, about halfway through, gets... er, weird. And to top it off, after spending half the series contemplating the sentience of persocoms, the single most advanced persocom in existence states that she isn't really sentient, and neither are any of the other Chobits - they're highly advanced, naturally, but when you get down to the nitty-gritty, they're only following their programming. Most of the fans interpreted this turn of events as a gigantic middle finger from CLAMP. In the anime, they are sentient.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena has an Ambiguous Ending that's surreal, but then again, so is the rest of the show. Then the movie showed up, which is somewhat of a symbolic true ending to the show despite taking place in an Alternate Continuity. The entire thing could be considered a Gainax Ending to the show, what with the environment itself moving around at random, but then the climax to the movie involves the protagonist turning into a car, who her girlfriend proceeds to drive under a castle on wheels and into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The symbolism is still consistent, yes, but it really goes off the rails regardless.
  • Dragon Ball GT. What happened to Goku in the last episode? He just leaves without even saying goodbye. Vegeta knows something's up, then suddenly his clothes are seen left on the ground. But in Dragon Ball when they die, they die with their clothes (In fact, that shot is out of sequence and is shown after the end of the next couple of events). But then he's off to visit Kame Sen'nin and Piccolo, who both also know something's changed about him, but a mere "Are you...?" is not very helpful. When they take their eyes off him for a second, there's suddenly no one there. Then the dragon balls merge into Goku as he rides away on Shenlong's back, then he disappears. Then many years later he reappears as an adult to an elderly Pan and his descendent Goku Jr. but only in glimpses. Where does he go? What happened to him?
  • The makers of the Air anime were likely shooting for a Bittersweet Ending, but the ambiguity of what happens after Misuzu's death leaves many viewers in the dark.
  • CLANNAD: After Nagisa, Ushio, and Tomoya all die of various tragic causes, Tomoya's last wish to "save Ushio" somehow causes a time-reset to the day Nagisa died in childbirth. This time, she doesn't die, and they all live Happily Ever After. Understanding this apparent Deus ex Machina requires a lot of analysis of the dialogue between Ushio and the Garbage Doll before the Illusionary World collapses; but that side-plot itself is never really explained. It's probably meant to emulate the true/good/best ending unlocked in a Visual Novel by achieving 100% Completion. The very last scene is the most inscrutable of all, and may imply that Fuko orchestrated everything.
  • Robotics;Notes has a Gainax Ending for its Show Within a Show, Gunverral: clocking in at five minutes, tops, the leaked last episode showed several robots, including the eponymous Gunverral, walking into a furnace within a structure called the Grand Obelisk, which fires a beam into the sun, causing it to go supernova. The show's Big Bad, Anubis, is wiped out, along with the majority of humanity, in a twist that eerily mirrored a conspiracy by a shadowy organization in the real world.
  • The bizarre way they treated Tetsuo's fate in the ending of the AKIRA anime counts. Gainax is even one of the production companies involved in the film.
  • The Big O, partly because of the head writer's love of Mind Screw and partly because it was only intended to be a season finale. To summarize: The former Union agent Angel discovers that her memories of her childhood are false, and the enigmatic Gordon tells her that she's not a human being. He then leads her to an elevator going deep underground. She reappears either turned into or controlling a negative-colored mecha that erases everything it touches, finally leaving behind only a Star Trek-style holodeck grid, until Roger calls out to her to stop, giving an impassioned speech ending with "You must stop denying your own existence as a human being!". She seems to ignore him, but after both her mecha and Roger's erase each other, there's a flash of light, and the entire world reappears as it was before episode 25 at the very beginning of the first episode, with exactly one thing changed. Full synopsis here. Message boards were flooded with "they pulled an Evangelion on us!". They weren't sure if they'd be able to have a third series, but only the epilogue would have changed - Chiaki J. Konaka originally had a different epilogue which went into more detail than the one we got and literally ended with a curtain falling, but was asked by the U.S. network to write a less conclusive ending in case they picked it up for a third season. They didn't in spite of the series paying off its budget in time for renewal of a 3rd season.
  • Blame! has an incredibly confusing ending that had many readers scratching their heads, but the truth is that it was a good ending. Killy found (by pure chance, and after losing half his head) an uncontaminated place in which Cibo's "egg" could "hatch" and give birth to a child with Net Terminal Genes.
  • Xam'd: Lost Memories. An Ancient Conspiracy of soul-eating albino children. A stillborn Death Seeker kaiju. Only a mass-sacrifice Combined Energy Attack can stop the Big Bad, except not. The main character goes to a Journey to the Center of the Mind and defeats the Big Bad by giving him his name... Or was it the laser? Instrumentality! The main character dies, and gets better nine years later for no reason. And he has inexplicably aged in the meantime.
  • Bagi, the Monster of Mighty Nature does this. At the end, Bagi is left prowling the jungle with her human intelligence destroyed, and Ryo just decides it would be better to stop trying to catch her.
  • The manga version of Sound Horizon's Ark starts out straightforward enough, but a few pages into the second and final chapter, it takes a sudden detour through WTFville into Gainax Ending Land.
  • While the ending of Chrono Crusade is better explained than some of the other examples here, due in part to some poor planning from Daisuke Moriyama and a rush to get everything explained in the end, the last volume or two of the manga feels like there's a sudden Genre Shift mixed with several open-ended questions, unless you were clever enough to pick up on subtle foreshadowing throughout the series. Some of the weirder points of the ending include the revelation that the demons are really Sufficiently Advanced Aliens, Rosette's soul leaving her body, causing her "death" and a trippy afterlife scene that ends with her and Mary Magdalene entering her body together to revive her, Chrono finding out that the demon Hive Queen was a human woman that was kidnapped by the demons and transformed into Pandaemonium—who was pregnant with human twins that would grow up to be Chrono and Aion, Chrono and Aion charging at each other for their final battle, only for the manga to cut away and change focus, deliberately hiding the outcome of the battle and Satella freezing herself and Florette/Fiore into crystal, and the two of them found and revived in the year 1999 and forced to start over their lives after (almost) all of their old friends have passed on. While the Gecko Ending of the anime is depressing enough that many fans prefer the manga ending, it's still known for being quite weird.
  • Following the pattern of its own insanity, Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- has one of these, in which Fei Wong has somehow been defeated, Watanuki and Syaoran did something, which somehow resulted in bringing Syaoran back to Sakura from weird black void-thingy, the clones went *poof*, and Syaoran and Sakura appear to have gotten their memories back.
  • ×××HOLiC qualifies. After its sister series Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- ends, Watanuki takes over the magic shop and fulfills wishes. Then after a few story arcs, the entire series ends in two chapters mostly involving a dream sequence after a 100-year time skip. Clamp even teases the reader by dangling a loose plot thread in the final panels.
  • Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo ends with the entire cast saying "This is how our show ends?!" although it was really more a subversion of the unresolved cliffhanger imposed by the show's cancellation.
  • In Lucu Lucu, you expect the main character, Rokumon, to end up in a Shipping with Lucu (at least in the first 30 chapters, and you keep hoping)... but, that's not quite what happens... You see Rokumon was used essentially as a sim game by Lucu to learn humility, and his whole entire life has been a lie throughout the 'entire manga. His dead-father-turned-living-talking-cat is also not his real father and his whole entire memory comes back in the last 5 pages of the manga.
  • Gantz. Did he save the girl? Why was he running from the train all over again? Cut to Gantz once again, almost as if started from the beginning…? The last several episodes of the anime are an original idea of the director. They do not follow the manga at all.
  • Darker Than Black, both seasons. Both finales actually contain scenes apparently inspired by the TV ending of Evangelion, although the scene in the first season is actually in the middle of the episode and the parts following it make it a bit less mindscrewy. The second season, on the other hand, is a perfect example of a mindscrew ending.
  • The Berserk anime's ending could be considered a Gainax Ending. If you watch it without ever reading a bit of the manga, you'll have a lot of trouble understanding the fact that towards the end, monsters unknown to each and every character start showing up and eating them, which is hard to understand because the anime doesn't even mention the existence of other behelits apart from Griffith's. Oh, also the anime ends abruptly, with Caska being raped by Griffith (now as Femto), while Guts is forced to watch, being subdued by a group of demons and losing an eye after carving his own arm off to escape some other demon's grip, with no sign of closure whatsoever. No epilogue, not even different credits, it just ends. It didn't get cancelled or discontinued either, it's supposed to end there. Talk about downer ending. The strangest thing of that is that after the credits we see a healed Guts leaves Godo's house to have his revenge on Griffith. In the anime is never explained how that happened. Talk about No Ending or Left Hanging.
  • Madlax. Totally leaves the viewer hanging on the fate of three of supporting cast. Plus the cause of some intense arguments over if Margaret resurrected Elenore, Vanessa and Carrossea or not.
  • Serial Experiments Lain: The whole series was a Mind Screw, so of course it gets one. Lain creates a new reality where she doesn't exist. That part makes sense. But then she has a discussion with herself about resetting reality and the true nature of the Wired, which only creates more questions then answers. An emotional Lain then tells her alternate self to "stop"... and the other Lain quite literally stops, flickers and vanishes. Then Lain's father appears and she has tea with him while they're both floating in the sky. It's not terribly clear if Lain's father is actually real, a hallucination, or God himself. In the next scene Lain re-introduces herself to an older Arisu in the new reality. Finally Lain appears in a static-filled screen and says that she'll "be with you forever"; the context suggests she's speaking to Arisu, but it's also possible she's speaking to the viewer. The last scene is of the electrical wires that appear at the end of the Once per Episode opening montage. Yeah, your guess is as good as ours.
  • While the serious and mystery aspect of the plot of Boku no Futatsu no Tsubasa was hinted at through most of the series the ending was extremely rushed making it all extremely odd. The majority was a Romantic Comedy with loads of characters and their changing feelings. A good chunk was all about Mako's gender and keeping her hermaphrodite status a secret. Then the last chapter throws at us: Mako is half an alien, an evil group want to hold her ransom and get the advance alien technology from her royal alien family. To stop her friends from getting hurt Mako decides to return to her alien home. Then she comes back to be with her non-blood cousin Hiromi... which had never been hinted at before in any shape or form.
  • The climax and after credits bit of the Gundam 00 movie. Apparently the ELS were just a race who had lost their home and misunderstood humanity and Setsuna merged with the ELS becoming almost godlike. And his Gundam could grow flowers. Word of God says that Setsuna becomes the ambassador for the humanity, which led the aliens to live in its own place created nearby the Earth. In order for him to not getting sick while talking to them, he merges himself with ELS and ended up living for years with the same face. His Gundam also gets upgraded (but we can't see what it looks like due to the flowers covering it). But then it is still confusing.
  • The ending of that one episode of Kirby: Right Back at Ya! with the Dedede dolls in it. Seriously, King Dedede actually ends up flying into space and past a planet shaped like him as a result of Kirby swallowing one of said Dedede dolls.
  • The original Shaman King qualifies. The heroes go to sleep the day before the final battle. After that, it cuts to a series of scenes with Manta and Anna, including a short dream. After that, the series ends. The final battle is neither shown nor spoken of. The ending is unknown. All we get is a "The End" author's note. Luckily, Shaman King Kanzen-Ban finally showed the ending, but that came out MUCH later.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The fact that the ending is a Gainax Ending isn't due to Madoka becoming a god, it has more to do with the fact that the show takes great pains to make this series a Darker and Edgier Genre Deconstruction for Magical Girls. Then the climax turns it into a Decon-Recon Switch. Combined with the rather suspect/curious symbolism and timing of the Grand Finale (Due to some issues, it first aired on Good Friday), you have quite a few people still scratching their heads over the whole thing. The Bolivian Army Ending that suddenly appears after the credits throw more confusion as we have a sudden shift to an open desert with Homura facing off against a bunch of wraiths, and the writer didn't feel like going into details - it was an homage to Blade, of all things. What's meta about it is that Gen Urobuchi, the writer for the series, was taken aback by some of the fan interpretations like Homura being the only magical girl left alive; in a way, fans thinking like that is a Gainax Ending in itself to his writing the show.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Rebellion. The Puella Magi foiled Kyubey's plan, everything's fine, and Homura can finally see Madoka again. All good, right? Wait, did Homura just hijack Madoka's god powers?. Viewers can find clues that this would happen, but probably not until they watch it for the second time. The least subtle of those is the scene with Homura and Madoka in the field, which serves to set up the ending.
  • Guilty Crown. All of the final episode is incredibly symbolic and bizarre, but the actual ending, a Time Skip to the protagonists celebrating Hare's birthday, leaves no questions answered about what happened after the events of the story, save that Tsugumi became a teacher.
  • Parodied in the Gintama anime: in one episode, Sunrise ends up cancelling the show earlier than expected, which results in the cast trying to find a fitting Gainax Ending to the series during the whole episode. And yes, this means the main characters were expecting to be cancelled. Just not yet.
  • Mahou Sensou had a mostly incomprehensible Kudzu Plot to start with, with several plot twists and revelations being introduced only to never get mentioned again. But then the final episode takes it all Up to Eleven. The Ghost Trailers attack Subaru Magic Academy and a major battle ensues, during which Takeshi shouts his evil brother Gekkou's name more times than one cares to count. Then there's suddenly a massive explosion, and Takeshi wakes up at Subaru... in 1998, surrounded by teenage versions of various adult characters. The show then abruptly ends without any explanation of... well, anything at all.
  • Tsukuyomi: Moon Phase. The series is a comedy that is sometimes dark, what with fighting all the vampires and death usually lurking near. The last anime episode, though, ends with everyone somehow suddenly stuck in a floating house on the ocean and only one person in the group questioning why. The episode ends with the house sinking because the huge cork keeping the water out was removed. It's the last episode of the anime, with a bizarre title, leaving probably many a fan going "....What?"
  • Shin Mazinger. It ends on a horrible cliffhanger, with Mazinger defeated and the Earth seemingly about to be taken over. It seems to be a hook for a Shin Great Mazinger sequel, given that this reflects the ending of the original Mazinger Z and beginning of Great Mazinger, but there's no plans for one.
  • The anime for Sorcerer Hunters definitely fits this description. After killing off every hero besides Carrot, the last episode splits its time between Carrot's solo battle against the Big Bad and modern day Tokyo with the other heroes. Then somehow Carrot calls to them, they hear him from across time and space, they somehow come back to the world and proceed to power up (usually involving clothing getting blasted off), and rather than this leading to them having a battle against the baddie, they all run over to Carrot with big smiles and laughter. But wait! There's more. The Big Bad is banished, somewhat without fanfare in silent-film style, with a closing scene of what is presumably Carrot hitting on a modern day girl, not that we see the hero.
  • In Saishuuheiki Kanojo, the female lead is a normal teenaged girl transformed into a cybernetic doomsday weapon. At the end of the series, it seems as though all life on earth is destroyed, except for her boyfriend... and there's no sign that there's any way he'll be able to survive for long in what's left. A tiny spark that seems to be all that is left of her descends into his hands, and suddenly we're back to the moment they met in the first episode, roll final credits.
  • Hanaukyō Maid Tai. A mild version in the second series La Verite. Ryuuka proposes marriage to Taro again and beats him up when he doesn't agree, the other maids all try to kiss him but he escapes. He meets Mariel and they walk off into a white background hand in hand.
  • Episode 26 of Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~ ended on a downer note and a Diabolus ex Machina with a few more added bangs. Reiji is shot dead but it's unknown if Ein dies. She simply lies into the grass and smiles. Sharp eyed viewers say Ein picked apart a toxic flower which would have killed her, others feel she survived.
  • RahXephon, as expected from being, um, 'inspired' by Evangelion, featured a final episode containing mostly symbolism and a Journey to the Center of the Mind that led to a final real-world mecha battle, the apparent Big Bad being unceremoniously shot anticlimactically for no apparent reason, followed by the entire universe being mysteriously reset. And yes, at some point the main character's psychosomatic journey involves his images of several of his friends and acquaintances saying "congratulations!" to him.
  • Legend of the Blue Wolves has a Bittersweet Ending in that Jonathan is forced to kill Leonard, the man he loves, in order to free him from the control of the aliens that had absorbed him. As Jonathan salutes him in tears, on-screen text indicates that this battle was mankind's first victory against the aliens. Cue after the credits—two individuals who hadn't even been introduced up to this point are riding an elevator and discussing the war. When the elevator opens, they find to their shock an alien spaceship buried deep underground. What does this mean? Nobody knows, because the anime was never finished.
  • After seven years of Black Comedy, Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei went into the twilight zone. Superoptimistic Kafuka Fuura (the second-billed character of the series) was Dead All Along, but had previously signed up as an organ donor. Her organs, charged with her positive qualities, were implanted into a group of girls possessed by suicidal spirits. Their teacher was trying to exorcise them all along. Meanwhile every time Kafuka was seen by the viewer, she was actually a hallucination covering up another girl (some Foreshadowing was given throughout the manga in that Kafuka was never seen in shot of the entire class). And as if that weren't enough... the manga finally ends with sort of a Deconstruction of harem manga in that the teacher marries twelve of the girls. One at a time (whichever one is currently possessed by Kafuka). When Kafuka switches over to another body, he divorces the current and moves onto the next. Lather, rinse repeat.
  • Fourteen is strange enough, but the ending takes the weirdness to a whole new level. The escape rocket reaches the edge of the universe, and it turns out that the universe itself is ending. America suddenly sees a light outside of the rocket, and follows it until he's outside of the universe. He discovers that the universe the story took place in was a bug crawling on the road in another universe where everyone looks like Chicken George. America stops the bug from being hit by a car, and the driver of the car puts the bug back in the forest. Kiyora appears and reveals that the children are all bug spirits, the rest of the kids exit the bug and talk for a while, and everyone comes to the conclusion that this new universe is Chicken George's. The final shot is of Chicken George and Chicken Lucy, alive and in the new universe.
  • The horror manga Zashiki Onna follows a college student's attempts to get away from a creepy-looking Yandere, the penultimate chapter of which climaxes in her hunting him down through a hospital and catching him. The chapter after this does not mention what ended up happening to either of them, or who the woman was or what she wanted. It mostly consists of random old women gossiping about events from earlier in the series before cutting to the protagonist's best friend meeting with his neighbor, the yandere's original target, to talk about the events of the story, before abruptly ending with "The End?"
  • Daitarn 3, of all things, ends this way. See The Fellowship Has Ended for more details.
  • Eureka Seven AO pulls a convoluted one of these, causing quite a backlash. Truth erases himself with the Quartz Gun, but it inexplicably Cosmic Retcons him back into existence as the Nirvash's "archetype" (some sort of power-boosting soul thingy). It's revealed that Naru is not Ao's sister. His sister was Dead All Along, Taken for Granite as an infant because of high trapar density or something. He'd suffer the same fate if he returned home with his parents, so, instead, he Quartz Guns all the Secrets and Scub Corals out of reality, accidentally wrecking Nirvash in the process and sending them both bouncing through time. For some reason. Eventually he returns to roughly his own time, and is conveniently able to stop randomly time-hopping, but his friends probably don't remember him. "Probably" because we never find out… it just ends there. Truth straight-up admits that he has no idea what the implications of Ao's actions are. The fact that Truth turned into the Nirvash because of the second retcon means that the effects of the third are unpredictable. He also said that he didn't want to destroy all of the Scubs because there's no telling what that would do to Naru. So naturally, the implications of firing the Quartz Gun the third time are never revealed.
  • Several anime series have taken a similar style of ending that can be described as 'goo falls, everyone dies'. In Key the Metal Idol and Paranoia Agent, for example, the protagonist essentially transforms into a literal sea of blue slime, that washes down and drowns all villains and heroes alike. Then after this disaster, life begins anew for the survivors.
  • In Hamatora, Art, who was thought to be dead, returns to anticlimactically kill the sickly, injured bad guy, and then proceed to shoot the main character in the head(?).
  • Parodied in the first episode of Carnival Phantasm, a spoof of Fate/stay night and Tsukihime. After a very violent game show for the Holy Grail, Shirou decides the Grail is too terrible to be used and must be destroyed. He promptly uses its powers to shatter it, but inside is... an anthropomorphic cat. Which suddenly summons an army of itself to kidnap Shirou and take him aboard their spaceship. The other characters are dumbfounded.
    Rin: Why are you making this sound like it was a good story?!
    Kirei: That's because I don't know what to do!
  • Samurai Pizza Cats: Cat Ninden Teyandee's finale involves a comet on a collision course with Edoropolis. Thanks to a last ditch effort by Speedy Cerviche/Yattaro (with a pinch of Deus ex Machina), the comet is destroyed. It seems at first that Yattaro might have died in a Heroic Sacrifice, so the mood is bittersweet. But then he comes back safely. Everyone rejoices, including Omitsu/Lucille, known for her habit of launching missiles from her hair when excited. She is so overjoyed to see him alive that she launches a giant nuclear missile from her hair, which blows up the parts of the city that haven't already been damaged by the comet. The nuke scene was cut from the ''Samurai Pizza Cats'' dub.
  • Yakitate Ja Pan: The manga itself is pretty weird, but after the big bad is beaten, in a very Shonen-style battle, with declarations of friendship, etc., somehow, the heroes need to... fight global warning? This is a plot point that starts 6 chapters before the end, was never announced, and was resolved in as bizarre a way as the weirdest parts of the manga.
RANK10YGO: Are we really doing this? Is the final arc of the show really a dragged-out series of attempts to get a baby to smile?

  • Invisible Games is a rather straightforward presentation of various fictional games that have supposedly been created over the course of the last century or so. The final entry, however, is an abrupt departure in style. Presented as a follow-up to a non-existent previous entry, the last entry is a surreal first-person tale filled with tantalizing hints about a mysterious sect of women who appear at the homes of the terminally ill. The artifacts they bear are in fact the components of a seemingly supernatural virtual reality machine in which the patients immerse themselves completely in the days prior to their death. The author eagerly anticipates death for the chance to experience the wonders of such a machine and considers dying without access to one to be a tragic fate akin to martyrdom. But the author laments that there is still work to be done and that a storm that has gone on for years is now raging outside. No other updates were ever made.

  • The Invisibles is a magic spell in the form of a work of fiction. Everything in the first two volumes of The Invisibles is a lie. There's no massive Manichean struggle of good vs. evil. The outer church is simply an outside intelligence trying to prepare humanity for something mindblowing by essentially inoculating humanity against the horror of the end of the world (which is actually human instrumentality). Think of getting a booster shot. It's not going to kill you, but it's going to prepare your immune system for something worse in the future. To quote Grant Morrison: "In Katmandu, much to my shock and surprise, I experienced [...] a full-on, Tibetan, Sci-Fi Vision of All SpaceTimeMind As A Single Complexifying Iteration Which Is The Larval Form Of A 5th Dimensional Adult Entity".
  • The ending of The Filth made no sense at all. That Other Wiki has an explanation of how it works, but that seems to be an interpretation rather than a definitive answer.
  • The ending to Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?. Granted, the series was intended to close the character of Batman with a metaphysical look at the character, but the ending grabs metaphysics and goes straight into the surreal, passing by Elseworlds, multiple universes, and the Golden, Silver, and Dark Ages of comics along the way. The general point of it was that there is no such thing as a definitive Batman story, and that the happy ending to Batman's story is that he gets to be Batman. Because who doesn't want to be Batman?
  • The last chapter of Watchmen is intended to come across as a Gainax Ending, until you re-read the comic and associated documents to pick up all the foreshadowing.
  • Ronin seems like a fairly straight-forward comic until the end where you find out that everything you knew was a lie. It all ends with most of the story wrapped up with a couple of mild questions still lingering... and then the very last page throws everything out the window and raises several more.
  • The "Tintin" adventure "Flight 714" starts with Tintin and friends meeting his nemesis Rastapopoulos, who wants the wealth of a billionaire, and for some reasons it ends with aliens who come and brainwash everybody.
  • The original Creature Commandos had a respectable run in the anthology comic Weird War Tales. It ended abruptly with a one-page story, in which they (and the writer!) are condemned to execution for being too human, the execution is stayed so they can be stuffed into a rocket headed to Berlin instead, and the rocket malfunctions and zooms into outer space.
  • X-Men: The End: After seventeen issues of wrapping up forty years worth of loose ends, and providing a conclusive ending to the story of the X-Men in a big battle royal, the series randomly ends with several X-Men Ascending to a Higher Plane of Existence without any forewarning. Oh, and Kitty Pryde becoming President of the US and giving a speech to the surviving X-Men, but that one was foreshadowed, with her narration having been present from the start.
  • In one series of Peanuts strips, Charlie Brown watches the sun rise, and it looks like a baseball. Then the moon does too, and he starts seeing baseballs everywhere. Then he gets a rash on the back of his head that makes it look like a baseball. His pediatrician suggests going to summer camp to take his mind off baseball; because he's embarrassed by the rash, he puts a paper sack over his head. At camp, someone half-jokingly suggests nominating "the kid in the sack" for camp president, and before he knows it, Charlie Brown is practically running the place, everyone following his advice and looking up to him. Eventually, though, he decides to take off the sack - becoming his old self again - and watch the sun rise to see if he's back to normal... And it looks like Alfred E. Newman's head with the words "What me worry?" under it. "Good grief!" cries Charlie Brown at the ending that made no sense.
  • The Italian Donald Duck stories of the series Double Duck have our protagonist as a secret agent, with the first story arc full of plot twists. Of course, the story arc ends by revealing the identity of the leader of The Agency that Donald works for: a hologram of Donald. Thankfully, it gets explained throughout the second story arc (the leader, for example, is actually an AI The Agency based on Donald's thought processes, as it turns out he has an uncanny talent for dealing with the unexpected, executing Outside-the-Box Tactics and playing Xanatos Speed Chess, and uses the hologram as an interface).
  • Zero ends with the titular character being comforted by his father while in a fungus-induced haze, while also being confronted (and possibly killed) by his son in the future. He is then allowed to "choose" a multiverse to live in by a cosmic being. Also, William Burroughs is featured.
  • Crimson is a straightforward story that ends on a bitter-sweet note with The Hero departing on a new quest. But then the final pages reveal that the hero's best friend Joe was telling the story to another friend in a bar. What makes it confusing is that said friend interrupts Joe because he doesn't buy his story is real or vampires, demons and monsters don't exist, despite the many catastrophic events that happened around the world beforehand that confirmed the existence of supernatural creatures, the fact that the Apocalypse nearly happened and that Joe himself is obviously a vampire! Or maybe not, since Joe and his friend walk out of the bar in the daytime with no serious effects. They even pass by a homeless man that looks like one of the main villains who seemingly died during the final battle, which Joe briefly pauses to comment on. These things make it unclear whether or not the series' events were made up or really happened.

    Fan Works 
  • Higher Learning: Inverted. The prologue makes no sense after reading the story. Shinji, Asuka, Rei and Misato are gathered around a dying Kaoru, who reflects about each one of them and wonders if he has been successful and Shinji will not have to do the same thing he did. That scene feels like foreshadowing, but it is not foreshadowing anything. That scene never happens. Those characters never are together in the same scene, Kaoru does not die, and his thoughts make no sense given what happened.
  • Darker and Edgier Disney fanfic Her Haunted Mansion: Emily's Journey (a prequel of sorts to a previous, completely mindscrew-less fanfic by the same author, Her Haunted Mansion) has four chapters be totally believable backstories for the character we met in Her Haunted Mansion. Our main character is Emily (the name commonly assigned to the Haunted Mansion Attic Bride ghost, although she doesn't become a bride until Chapter 5), who had all the characters in question as love ones before Master Mickey apparently took them away from her (although we know… or are supposed to know… from Her Haunted Mansion that he's actually saving them); she always tries to stop him, and always he enigmatically replies 'You're a little early, Emily' with a wide grin. When Chapter 5 came, everyone expected all these mysteries would be solved and Emily would understand her mistakes about Master Mickey. But no. Ooooh, no. Emily wakes up after having been murdered, and goes inside Mickey's mansion. In the attic, she meets a doppelgänger of herself, ready to be married, whom she brutally murders with an axe. She then climbs down into the ballroom where Minnie and Mickey's wedding is about to be celebrated. Everyone calls Narrator!Emily "Constance" (the name of another, axe-wielding ghost bride character in The Haunted Mansion). The whole chapter is told Through the Eyes of Madness (specifically, those of Constance), and she's getting battier and battier as the chapter progresses; from the mess of the last paragraphs, it appears Emily murdered everyone in the ballroom (even her best friends) because they wouldn't call her Emily. ''All that had been foreshadowed is never explained (Mickey flat-out denies having ever said 'You're a little early, Emily!' in the first place) and why Emily-going-mad/Constance-believing-herself-to-be-Emily/whatever-the-heck-happened happened is never explained.

     Film - Animated 
  • The Twelve Tasks of Asterix delivers a pretty jarring example of this trope, considering the movie is based on a comic book series that's usually at least roughly historically accurate (it is a parodistic/satirical series after all). The movie ends with a group of Gauls from a small village ending up being considered gods, thereby overthrowing Caesarnote  and gaining rulership over the entire Roman Empire. After his companion Obelix leans on the fourth wall by pointing out the historical inaccuracy of this turn of events, Asterix proceeds to break it, explaining to Obelix that everything is possible in animation. Upon hearing this, Obelix magically teleports to the island of pleasure, which the pair had visited earlier in the movie. Oh my...
  • In the South Korean animated film Dino Time, one of the rocks in the kids' town has a mysterious carving on it, dating back to Cretaceous period. Mysterious because no humans were around then. The kids end up going back in time and at one point the main kid decides to make a carving to tell their parents in the future how to get the time machine to work, but he gets distracted when his sister is kidnapped and ends up not making the carving. At the end of the film, his mom explains they got to them in the time machine by looking at the carving, leaving the main kid to wonder how the carving got there in the first place.
  • The last twenty minutes of The Three Caballeros consist of Donald Duck entering Panchito's final birthday gift, a photograph of Mexico City at night. There he encounters singer Dora Luz's floating head and becomes smitten with her, before being accosted by flashing lights and images of women in bathing suits, while Panchito occasionally pops up to sing the title song with Jose Carioca and another Donald. He then finds himself in a flower patch and meets Carmen Molina, before being transported to a desert where he sees Molina using a baton to bring cacti to life. This scene abruptly ends and the film moves into the final "bullfighting" scene, with Panchito as the matador, Jose as the audience members (all of them), and Donald in a bull costume studded with fireworks. The filmmakers later claimed that the section (referred to as "Donald's Surreal Reverie") was intended to represent the idea that "love is a drug".
  • In The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, after the plot has concluded, the talking seagulls begin to reprise their version of the SpongeBob theme, in a stylistic Flash animation. However, Bubbles reappears and expresses his disdain for the song, which inexplicably leads into a rap battle between them.
  • The Czech short film Club Of The Discarded ends with the all the movie's mannequins gathered around a television screen and watching it. They are watching television static.

    Film - Live Action 
  • Of the Mind Screw subtype of Gainax Ending, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Bowman approaches the monolith in orbit around Jupiter, there's a 10-minute light show, he appears in a strange hotel room and grows incredibly old in a few moments, only for the monolith to reappear while he's on his death bed and turn him into a baby-thing that looks down at the Earth with a cryptic expression. Essays have been written. The book's ending was clearer, though it should be noted that it is not in fact based on the movie but a separate work written by Arthur C. Clarke during development, so the two's connection is uncertain.
  • Not quite as big an offender, but still quite confusing, the ending of Terry Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. Out of nowhere, after the climatic battle, the Baron dies. Except… suddenly we cut back to the theater of the beginning, where the Baron has apparently been telling the whole story (from which point exactly it was the Baron's narration is unclear, since the theater crew was featured in the story, somehow). That would be pretty confusing on its own, but afterwards, when the crowd opens the gates of the city, they find the remains of the battle that was allegedly only a fiction of the Baron at this point. Except… since the theater crew was involved in the story and yet doesn't seem to remember it since they don't believe the Baron until he shows them what lies outside the gate, it can't just be that the story was entirely true all along. To boot, the baron then rides off into the distance, bows and… uh… disapppears……………… Don't ask.
  • The climactic battle in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues goes into this territory. While Adam McKay and Will Ferrell are known for their absurd movies, the film's final climax jumps from absurd to completely and utterly ludicrous involving a Minotaur, John C Riley as the ghost of Confederate Civil War General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson who has soul sucking powers, Brick somehow gets a gun from the future, Veronica's Boyfriend really does have psychic powers. And Harrison Ford turns into a were-hyena.
  • The Wachowskis refuse to explain exactly what's going on with Neo and Smith, the Source, flaming truth vision, etc. etc. in the sequels to The Matrix. The fan theories are a bit odd, but that's inescapable given what they've got to work with.
  • Lawn Dogs is a fairly realistic and depressing movie about the friendship between a 10 year old girl, Devon, and a 21 year old lower-class outsider, Trent. You know it's going to end badly, when after Devon shoots the man who is beating up Trent and helps him to his car, she gives Trent a comb and a mirror and asks him to throw them out the window as he drives away, to cover his tracks. When he later does so, a river rises up underneath him, and a forest sprouts up behind him. This actually makes some sense metaphorically and was slightly set up, but still seems to come completely out of nowhere.
  • The ending of Silent Hill was quite opaque. One possible interpretation of the ending is that, once you stumble into Silent Hill, you can't escape. The sequel's answers were... disappointing. At the end of the first film, Rose was still trapped in the Fog World dimension with a fully reincarnated young Alessa after Dark Alessa merged with Sharon, her good half and Rose's daughter. They had seemingly killed off all the remaining members of the town's cult and were destined to live together alone. In the sequel, Silent Hill: Revelation 3D, much of that is haphazardly thrown out the window as we're told Rose found half of the Seal of Metatron (how or where is never mentioned) which she used to send Sharon back into the real world, and no mention whatsoever is ever made of Sharon having been merged with Dark Alessa. Later dialogue from Dark Alessa also seems to contradict their merging at the end of the first movie. There's ALSO a whole new population of cult members from nowhere, somehow.
  • Being There ends when the main character is taking a stroll by himself after losing interest in Ben's funeral, and somehow walking onto the surface of a lake. And, just so there's no confusion, when he realizes where he is, he fully submerges his umbrella before accepting the situation and continuing his stroll. This ending was not the scripted one, but one the director conceived because he figured the movie was so believably acted - given its plot - that audiences would not find it unbelievable that the protagonist could do this. Note that there is a phrase uttered right before the credits; if you listen to it and compare it with the final shot, you will see it is a clear statement on the film's Aesop: "Life is a state of mind."
  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: the ending has the two main characters fly off in the car. Despite it already being revealed the car only had the ability to do that in the dream sequence.
  • The ending of The Black Hole. The crew go into the black hole and then... they're in Hell? And then they're in space? Wha? At least they did foreshadow the idea of the black hole being a gateway to Hell in dialogue. The villain and his (robotic soldier) Dragon end up merged and in Hell, the surviving heroes pass through Hell, somewhere else implied to be Heaven, and out into an entirely new universe. The comic adaptation helps.
  • While Luis Buñuel's last movie That Obscure Object of Desire still classifies as a surrealist work, the surreal elements are notably toned down in comparison to his earlier films (maybe apart from the female lead character being portrayed by two different actresses whose approaches to the role are also vastly different). The movie's plot develops in a pretty straightforward manner and surrealist elements are strewn throughout the movie almost unnoticeably – sometimes purely for comedic effect, as it seems... that is until the very last scene when the two main characters who seem to have (more or less) come to terms with each other are unexpectedly blown up by a bomb. And that's it.
  • The ending to Planet of the Apes (2001). Marky Mark hops in his spacepod, flies back through the timewarp, and... suddenly he's on Earth (or what we assume is Earth), and apes have replaced humans. Did he just bump his head getting into the pod, and is hallucinating? Yeah, that's gotta be it. According to Tim Burton, that was supposed to be a cliffhanger if a sequel was made. The sequel wasn't made, so now it's just weird. This is actually the same twist ending that was used in the original novel, although the film is lacking in setup. The basic premise is that the Apes taking over is the inevitable future for mankind. When the protagonist goes back through the time vortex to Earth he doesn't end up at the time he left, but instead a point after the Apes had taken over.
  • Local Hero, for the most part a charming, low-key dramedy about a Texas oil man being sent to buy up a small Scottish village, gets a little weird in its last half hour. It's hinted but never confirmed that the old man who's blocking the purchase is descended from the oil company's original owners, and that a major character's love interest is a mermaid. Then the oil man is sent back home, where he piles some shells he collected from the village beach on his counter, tacks up some pictures he took, and goes onto his balcony to watch the sunrise. Cut back to the village and its one phone ringing with no one answering.
  • Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan ends with Jason being caught in a flood of toxic waste in the New York sewers (happens every night apparently) causing him to, for some reason, become a completely normal-looking little boy in swimming trunks. The sequels never address this, probably because the sequels after that were produced by a new studio after Paramount dropped the series. The unused ending was even weirder, involving a tiny, normal-looking child version of Jason trying to crawl out of Jason's mouth right before the tidal wave of sludge. Presumably he was restored to the state he was in before he drowned in Crystal Lake (which, of course, would effectively end the series). How toxic waste would accomplish this, who the hell knows.
  • Knowing: The world will end in a super flare from our sun unless something is done at the location of the very first Creepy Child's new home. What happens there? Some alien/angel/demon/somethings that have been following the main kids around for the whole movie take said kids into some spaceship. The main protagonist goes back to be with his family. The sun asplodes. Cut to a shot of the two main kids being dropped off in some sort of meadow centered around the tree; presumably the kids are to Adam/Eve the human race again on some other planet, maybe it's Earth after destruction, and why are there other similar spaceship things in the background? After an entire movie trying to stay somewhat scientific and avoiding the mystical, they end it like this? The multiple spaceships imply that other pairs of children have been saved from the doomed Earth, foreshadowed by a line a little earlier when the aliens tell the children that "only the chosen" may come with them.
  • Casino Royale (1967), starring David Niven and Peter Sellers. While there had been some pretty weird parts earlier in the film, the ending takes the cake during the final showdown at the Big Bad's hideout, culminating with an all-out brawl featuring stereotypical Cowboys and Indians, the French Legion, seals, a chimp and a bubble machine, which ends with the casino blowing up, cutting to six James Bonds going to Heaven and a seventh going to Hell, all capped off with one of the most ridiculous closing themes ever to grace a movie. We now know that film had production troubles, which resulted in everyone throwing up their hands and saying, essentially, "Fuck it."
  • After the heroine of Slumber Party Massacre II vanquishes the supernatural Driller Killer, she wakes up next to her boyfriend, suggesting that all the preceding was All Just a Dream. Then the killer appears in the place of her boyfriend and she is suddenly in a mental institute, screaming as the killer's drill pierces the floor.
  • The Element of Crime is entirely a hypnosis induced flashback, with voice-over dialogue between the protagonist and his therapist. The story is sometimes confusing but overall makes sense. But then it ends with a black screen, and the protagonist's voice repeating "Doctor? I want to wake up now", and the voice of the therapist laughing slowly in the distance. Right before that, the protagonist randomly looks into a deep hole in the ground and sees a sloth. The hole was never given any attention before this, and there's been no mention of sloths.
  • In Adrift, the main character is finally able to get on the boat to safety! Only to find out that the other guy has decided to swim away to drown himself? And then she jumps back into the ocean to save him in slow motion. And then several flashbacks of her as a child go by. And then a blinding white light. And then it shows a boat passing by the ship and it's completely empty. And then it shows the main character standing on the ship with the other guy lying on the ground, only the boat passing by them is not there. Then it goes to the credits. wat.
  • The ending of Cemetery Man is completely comprehensible, if you catch on to the incredibly subtle hints throughout that Francesco might not be real. Otherwise, it sort of comes out of nowhere and hits you over the head with a club made of both confusion and the laughter someone is bellowing at you somewhere in the universe. It's existential, is what we're saying.
  • The Great Yokai War has a very bizarre one that combines this trope with Deus ex Machina and Chekhov's Gun. Kato jumps into a glowing pit to go One-Winged Angel, when the guy from the movie's subplot falls onto a seesaw that throws the bean-counting yokai into the air. This causes him to drop his basket of beans, one of which falls into the pit. Then a song about beans being good for you plays for a few seconds, and after that, THE ENTIRE CITY EXPLODES. But that's okay, because none of the Yokai were hurt. The yokai then say some cryptic stuff, conclude that festivals make them hungry (don't ask) and go wander off. Yeah.
  • The Laurel and Hardy short "Come Clean" is fairly standard comedy involving the eponymous duo hiding a strange woman from their wives while trying to get rid of her. The short ends when the police arrest the woman for an unnamed crime and ask who brought her to the apartment. Oliver claims that Stan is responsible, and the policeman says he'll receive a $1000 reward. Ollie then pulls the plug on the bath that Stan is sitting in, causing him to be sucked down the drain. When his wife asks where he's gone, Ollie answers "To the beach."
  • At the end of Grease, the car takes off and flies away. Probably intended as more of a fantasy/dream sequence, but still rather jarring. This scene is a direct nod to the original stage production, where the car exits center stage as the curtain falls with a big light behind it. And foreshadowed by Mrs. Murdock's line, "If this car were in any better shape, she'd fly."
  • Most films by David Lynch, excluding the aptly-named The Straight Story.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street:
    • The original A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). Was the whole movie a dream? Did Nancy ever escape into the real world? Was that part a dream? Is her mother dreaming?

      Since Nancy shows up in Nightmare 3, and specifically says something about her friends being killed, this should technically resolve the situation. Should. Watch the ending of the original Nightmare while knowing that Nancy survives, and it's still a WTF-y Gainax Ending.
    • The remake ends on one as well.
  • A Syfy Original Movie about a mission to Mars is notable for being shown mostly from camera angles. The crew has to undergo several hardships, including sabotage efforts by a Corrupt Corporate Executive but manage to successfully land on the red planet. Since the captain is suffering from a nanite infection (which is killing his nerve cells), his Number One makes the historic first step on another planet. All the world is watching as the camera she set up is zoomed on her face. She starts giving a speech, only to suddenly look somewhere off to the side and say "oh my God!" with an astonished face, before the feed suddenly cuts out. The news anchors reporting on the mission say that a satellite in orbit is being repositioned to take a look at the landing site. The movie ends with a fly-by of the Martian landscape and a Cliffhanger.
  • In Psycho Beach Party, the ending kicks the dog: rather than let Chicklet be happy, they use an All Just a Dream ending revealing Chicklet to be in an insane asylum having imagined the whole thing. It then switches to a drive-in movie theater, presenting it as a movie, and two minor characters complain about the lameness of the ending. They are then stabbed by Chicklet's alternate personality. For added gainaxing, Chicklet's split personality was a red herring—she wasn't the killer. Considering it is a satirical parody of slasher movies, the Gainax Ending is itself a bit of brilliance as a mashup of several different slasher movie Gainax Endings.
  • Played for Laughs in Murder by Death. The ending has the party of detectives escape various death traps and confront the butler, who they assumed was killed earlier in the movie. After presenting theory after theory, the butler pulls off a mask to reveal himself to be Lionel Twain, the guy who invited them over in the first place, and proceeds to mock the various Deus Ex Machinas in the story. After the puzzled detectives leave, Twain pulls off another mask to reveal himself to be the cook. Who was apparently faking being a deaf mute.
  • Takashi Miike's Dead or Alive ends this way. With Jojima pulling out an RPG from absolutely nowhere and Ryuuichi pulling out some sort of energy ball-thingy and them shooting at the same time, rocket and ball hitting eachother and blowing up Japan. Up until that point it had been a pretty realistic yakuza movie.
  • Another, admittedly less extreme Takashi Miike example is Chakushin Ari. The Ringu-esque horror flick ends with the female lead (or is it the ghost impersonating the female lead?) stabbing the male lead, sending him to a hospital where he wakes up alone with her. She has a big 'ol knife behind her back and gives him the same candy the ghost gave all her victims... but then she just smiles happily like she's laughing at something while he eats it, we cut away to a blue sky, and the credits begin to roll over a J-Pop love ballad.
  • Big Man Japan is a mockumentary about a guy who has a crappy personal life who happens to be able to grow giant from electricity and fight kaiju. At the end the title character is getting the crap beat out of him by a monster, then it suddenly switches to a Stylistic Suck toku style, some Ultraman-esque American characters show up and brutally kill the monster without much effort. Roll credits over the main character having dinner with the American Ultraman family. It's supposed to symbolize the decline of Japan's place in the world or something but... What?.
  • The 2011 Terrence Malick film The Tree of Life. Is the beach a metaphor for heaven? Or a dream? Or some sort of confluence of memory? Who knows?
  • Lifeforce makes it patently unclear just what happens to Space Girl and Carlson after he stabs her and himself at the end. The novel the movie was based off was named "The Space Vampires" and, as Carlson was designated to be her new lifeforce gatherer as the prettyboy vamps had been; essentially their replacement, he wasn't taking the chance of ending up alone and drinking lives, possibly for eternity.
  • The somewhat obscure Monte Hellman western The Shooting, from 1966, has an ending that raises a lot more questions than it answers.
  • Monster a-Go Go: at the end, the monster suddenly never existed, and the astronaut who everyone thought had turned into said monster turns up alive in the North Atlantic. It leaves a number of questions unanswered, starting with "then why did you have footage of the monster wandering around killing people?", moving through "why did we get to see, in graphic detail, every preparation the military made to hunt this monster that doesn't exist?", and finish up somewhere around "what the flying rat heck?!?"
  • Casshern is confusing to say the least, but the ending is entirely made of pure whatthefuck. The rundown: Casshern/Tetsuya's father kills Casshern's fiance to show him the pain of losing the one you love. Casshern murders his father in vengeance. Fiancee comes back to life because her blood came into contact with that of the film's dead antagonist (It Makes Sense in Context, sort of) Fiancee says to leave her because the villain's blood has infected her with his hatred. Casshern says they'll be together always as souls rise up from the corpses littering the battlefield below them and join together in the sky. Then Casshern and fiancee FUCKING EXPLODE, sending a beam of light into the sky. Then we see them riding a bike in a field. Said beam travels through space as grainy flashbacks are interspersed, until it reaches a green planet, touching down in a bolt of metal lightning like the ones from earlier in the film. We then see Tetsuya's mother's greenhouse, and the movie ends on a shot of a boy and a girl as the film degrades. Ya got all that?
  • Near the end of Kazaam, the main character is presumably killed after being pushed down an elevator shaft by the Big Bad, which allows him to control Kazaam. However, after Kazaam beats up all the villain's Mooks, he refuses to grant the villain's wish, instead squishes him into a ball, and makes a slam dunk. Then the craziness really begins: the building lights on fire, and Kazaam rushes down to the body of the shaft and picks up the body of Max. After much angst, he somehow glows and brings Max back to life, but then he becomes an ephemeral giant, and tells Max some platitudes before fading away into a sun. Cut to Max being rescued by a fireman, and Kazaam walking away with a minor character, apparently back to normal. Even for a movie about genies, this comes out of left field.
  • Magnolia: The rain of frogs. Foreshadowed by the opening narration, which suggests God is real, and is a fan of irony.
  • Film Minnâ-yatteruka! (Getting Any?): The movie starts with a young man trying to get money and laid, ends up being transformed in a giant-man-fly-mothra parody.
  • The ending of Mulholland Dr. leaves you flabbergasted.
  • Blow-up, Michaelangelo Antonioni’s most successful film, widely regarded as his best. It centres on a fashion photographer in swinging London, who blows up a photo and finds that he has apparently captured the scene of a murder. The perpetrators might be after him, too. He does find the body back at the murder scene, but fails to do anything sensible about it and largely carries on with his life, visits a few happening places around London, and later finds that the photo has been stolen and the body has gone. Shortly after this last discovery, he stops to watch two mimes pretending to play tennis, and throws their "ball" back to them when "it" goes out. Watching play resume, he slowly fades from view and disappears, leaving an empty lawn. The end. Does this "mean" that the killers "rubbed him out"? You guess – there’s no other clues.
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail builds up to what seems to be an epic battle on the horizon, with King Arthur raising an army out of seemingly nowhere to besiege the Castle Arrgh and wrest the Holy Grail from the clutches of the French. He sounds the charge, the English army lets out a war cry, and then....the cops show up and arrest everyone. One of the cops chides the cameraman and puts his hand over the camera lens, and the movie cuts to black. The end. Nope, no credits. Probably because the staff in charge of the credits were sacked at the beginning of the film.
  • The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans ends with McDonagh and the guy he saved in the film's beginning hanging out in an aquarium, with McDonagh high as a kite and wondering if fish have dreams. The scene before it establishes that the guy is going to help McDonaugh with his addiction so it's not completely oblique, but the aquarium thing still comes out of nowhere.
  • Performance has a notorious example, in which one protagonist kills the other for ambiguous reasons before consciously embracing his own death, and in the last split second of the film apparently turns into the other guy.
  • It's hard to tell what's real and what's not in Oldboy after Woo-jin completes his revenge on Dae-su and kills himself. Dae-su is left so utterly broken afterwards that any of the disconnected events in the last few minutes could be all in his head.
  • Places in the Heart has a fairly mild example. The film was one of several entries into the 1980's "farm movie" genre about families working to save their farms. Set in the 1930's in a small Texas town, it follows a fairly standard narrative for much of its runtime, dealing with the social and racial tensions in the town. After a climactic showdown with local Klan members, which sees the main black character run out of town, the final scene takes place in a church service. At first it seems like a normal service, grounded in realism like the rest of the film, but as communion is passed around, nearly every character previously seen in the film—friend and foe, good and bad, living and dead—is seen taking part in the communion. The final shot is completely startling and unexpected, but it forces the viewer to rethink everything we've seen before, and the way that it suggests grace and reconciliation qualifies as a genuine tear jerker.
  • The DVD for Men in Black II has a deleted alternate ending that is like this. J is given a vacation on a distant planet. His ship flies off into space, but when he gets out of his ship he is surrounded human-sized versions of the aliens from inside the locker earlier in the movie. He turns around and sees that he really is inside the locker when K slams the door of the locker, and J screams. The ending of the first Men in Black film is also a milder form of this. The camera zooms out from our galaxy and shows that it too is contained inside a small sphere, which a giant alien is playing marbles with.
  • The Hume Lake film We Like Sheep is an adaptation of the Parable of the Lost Sheep from The Bible (with a bit of The Prodigal Son mixed in), and ends with the rebellious sheep Davey accepting his place, receiving his Shepherd's forgiveness, and returning to the flock for their Show Within a Show. However, the DVD contains three parody endings, including: 1. Davey accidentally killing the Shepherd a quarter of the way through the plot, 2. A parody of Left Behind where the sheep are raptured and the Shepherd isn't but starts a rebellion group against the Antichrist, and 3. the Shepherd turning out to be Evil All Along, murdering all his sheep with a horde of killer robots, then climbing atop their bodies and exclaiming "I'm the king of the world! Someone bring me a pecan pie!"
  • Enemy, a paranoid thriller revolving around two men who are exact doubles, slowly builds up to end with... Adam staring resignedly at a giant spider?!
  • Feast III ends with two of the three surviving characters being crushed to death by a giant robot that comes out of nowhere, followed by a mariachi player showing up to sing a recap of the trilogy.
  • The South African comedy Alles Sal Regkom, starring Al Debbo and Frederik Burgers (SA's most popular comedy duo during the 1950's) ends with a spectacular example, albeit one Played for Laughs. The movie is about a town, Spoggenpoelville, run by a Mister Spog (Frederik Burgers) and Mister Poel (Al Debbo). Spog en Poel also double as fire brigade, bankers, insurance salesmen, realtors and maintenance crew for the town with the usual results. Their forefathers founded Spoggenpoelville and left it all as a trust with them in charge, but two greedy mining magnates challenge them to an election in order to get the rights to build a mine. The mining magnates call in their Femme Fatale secretary to help charm the hapless Poel into bankrupting himself while also hiring an escaped criminal to rob the bank. Few of these plot threads are resolved in any meaningful way as the narrative jettisons everything it set up. During the movie, at random intervals, a man with crazy hair would pop out of nowhere and ask Poel if he wants to buy a mine. After winning the election Poel and Spog take him up on his offer. He shows them the mine, then grabs the money and starts tearing it up while they give chase. After a chase through the mine and into the tunnels, the crazy man lights a candle, only to discover it is a stick of dynamite, which explodes. Poel then gets blown to Hawaii (seriously!) where he finds that Spog has been there for some time. The movie ends with them opening a shop while Poel does a hula dance.
  • Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker has one of these. In the last scene, we see the title character's daughter, who is apparently mute and is said to have suffered from birth defects related to her father's work, all by herself in the family kitchen, seemingly using psychokinetic powers to idly push three glasses off a table as a train roars past outside with enough force to shake the structure. While this seems to have very little connection to any of the events of the film, its possible interpretation has been subject to as much discussion as 2001's ending.
  • Given that the movie is a love letter to 2001 and 70's Sci-Fi in general, it makes sense that Christopher Nolan's Interstellar would end this way, though the film gives a lot more context for what happens than Kubrick's film. Basically, after Cooper falls into a black hole known as Gargantua, he finds himself in a plane of existence where time is literally presented as a physical thing called the Tesseract (No, not that one). It's later shown that the realm he's in also acts as a conduit so that he can contact his daughter Murphy behind a bookshelf but only barely. He tries and tries to communicate with her but it simply doesn't work and just before he gives up hope, Cooper's Robot Buddy TARS comes in and helps Cooper not only to talk to her again but also to transmit the correct mathematical formula that will help humanity find a way to get off Earth and reach the stars. It ultimately works and just before the Tesseract closes, he and TARS theorize that the construct they were just in wasn't made by aliens but by a hyper-advanced form of humanity that has evolved beyond our comprehension. After he does what he has to do, Cooper is sent through a time portal that allows him to briefly contact one of his allies, Dr. Brand, before being fully spat out of the black hole. After that, he is seen floating around Saturn and is eventually picked up by a patrol that brings him to Cooper Station, one of humanity's space outposts in the distant future, where he says goodbye to his daughter Murph one last time (he is still the same age as he was at the beginning of the film but now she is old enough to be a grandmother and on her deathbed) before setting out on journey with TARS to save Brand, who is last seen colonizing another planet.
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show: It's an understatement to say the film is weird from the start, but around the Floor Show things go straight to Eleven, as a completely out-of-nowhere (even for Rocky Horror) burlesque cross-dressing number descends into random swimming, and then it's revealed Frank-n-Furter, Riff-Raff, and Magenta are all aliens from Planet Transsexual in the galaxy of Transylvania. Riff-Raff and Magenta then kill Frank-n-Furter and leave Brad, Janet, and Dr. Scott in the dust as the mansion takes off into space. The Criminologist reaffirms that we're just insects adrift in a meaningless void of time and space, and the movie ends.
    • The sequel, Shock Treatment is slightly better. Brad, Janet, Betty and Oliver happily sing and dance away, stealing the convertible. All of the citizens of Denton are committed to a mental institution, but they seem happy about it.
  • The Sword of Doom ends with the remorseless samurai Ryunosuke Tsukue, who has spent the whole film killing nearly everyone he meets and making new enemies, going into a haunted geisha house, meeting the granddaughter of a man he killed in the opening scene, and then going completely insane without any explanation. He starts slashing at the ghosts of everyone he's killed and tearing through a trembling, geometrically impossible maze of paper walls, then engages in a sword fight with what appears to be hundreds of assassins from his gang, even though there should be about a dozen of them at most. The assassins start throwing pillows at him instead of using their swords, then the movie abruptly ends with a shot of Ryunosuke lunging at the camera, leaving all of the subplots unresolved.
  • Labyrinth is already a pretty odd film, but the oddness culminates when Sarah enters the castle of Jareth the Goblin King and pursues her baby brother Toby through an M. C. Escher maze while Jareth sings a final Villain Song. The world then crumbles and Jareth gives a We Can Rule Together speech as Sarah recites lines from the play she's trapped inside. After she recites the final line — "You have no power over me!" — Jareth is forced to return Sarah and Toby home. Sarah heads upstairs to her room, where all the goblins inexplicably appear for a final celebration — except Jareth, who flies away from Sarah's window in the form of an owl.
  • Hellraiser ends with Kristy, after having banished the Cenobites, throwing the puzzle box in a fire to destroy it for good. Suddenly a creepy hobo walks into the fire and turns himself into a skeletal dragon that flies away with the box, which is later seen in the same shop it was at the beginning of the story.
  • Here is how Charlie Chaplin film Sunnyside ends: Charlie, grief-stricken after his girl rejects him, commits suicide by stepping in front of a speeding car. This is revealed to be a dream when Charlie wakes up in the hotel, and instead we get a Happy Ending in which Charlie embraces his girl and sends the city chap packing. However, there is nothing intrinsic to the narrative saying which part of the film is the dream. It is equally possible to assume that Charlie did get hit by the car and the last part, with Charlie winning his girl and the city chap leaving, is his Dying Dream. Critics have been arguing about how to interpret the end to this movie ever since.

  • Older Than Feudalism: The Aeneid is an ancient example of this: the story literally ends with Aeneas killing Turnus and Turnus going to hell. Virgil himself was unsatisfied with the ending and always saw it as incomplete, but was prevented from changing the story by the freakin' Emperor of Rome himself. It's also assuming that his Author Existence Failure wasn't at fault, and that the relevant pages aren't just missing, as happens with much ancient literature.
  • The Bible:
    • The Revelation of St John the Divine. Read it in all its insane glory here.
    • The Book of Daniel, which is chronologically the last in the Hebrew version, starts off normally enough, with famous stories like the fiery furnace, the writing on the wall, and the lion's den in the first half. The last half consists of four very confusing prophetic visions that seem to be about world events over the next few centuries.
  • Stephen King:
    • From a Buick 8 and especially 'The Colorado Kid' are based on this theme: the mysterious death of the eponymous character from 'Kid' is no closer to resolution at the end than the beginning.
    • The Dark Tower series could be considered as this trope as well. Although the ending does tie into the overall theme of 'ka' (Karma/fate) as being a wheel, so it could be more of a symbolic ending.
    • The Long Walk. The ending is a bit confusing. Why does Stebbins suddenly drop dead? Who is the shadowy figure beckoning to Garraty? Fan theories abound.
  • In Nuklear Age by Brian Clevinger (who made 8-Bit Theater), most of the book is a comedic parody of the superhero genre, somewhat akin to The Tick. The last section of the book turns dark quite rapidly as nearly everyone dies in a villain-caused apocalypse that kills off half the planet's population and destroys every major city but three, and injects a bunch of philosophy based somewhat off of Norse Mythology into the mix. It was quite the elaborate joke, at least according to The Apology.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events. Basically every single plot point in the series was left unresolved at the end. The last book can best be summarized as "Ha, ha! In life, there are lots of mysteries you'll never know the answer to."
    • In The Beatrice Letters, it explains very briefly what was happened to the Baudelaires after the 13th book. Not a whole lot, just enough to keep the mystery alive.
    • Moreover, the reader not only finds out the fate of almost all the major characters (even if that fate is occasionally metaphorical), but enough information is given for the readers to make a good guess about the immediate Lemony/Beatrice backstory, even if the characters can't. The author doesn't give explicit answers, but a lot is done by implication.
    • On the other hand, it doesn't even give a hint about the Sugarbowl Secret.
    • The very final sentence does reveal who Beatrice was, although most readers will probably have figured it out already.
    • And to be perfectly honest, the series was warning the readers that they wouldn't like the ending all along. Readers, however, were hoping Snicket was kidding.
  • Science-fiction author Philip K. Dick pretty much made a career out of this and Mind Screw.
    • Ubik.
    • "Faith Of Our Fathers" might be Philip K. Dick's most confounding story. Is it a satire of Communist society? An exploration of the true meaning of religion? Or a role reversal of LSD culture? Who can tell? The great Communist leader is actually God in human form, and you can only see his true form(s) (a series of grotesque monstrosities) when you take thorizen, the "antidote" to LSD.
    • The Man in the High Castle ends a book about an Alternate History America after the Axis won WWII with... the characters discovering they're fictional.
      • The ending also implies that we, the readers, are from a fictional timeline as well, since the war in the novel-within-a-novel, which the I Ching implies is true, plays itself out differently than our historical reality.
  • Neal Stephenson books:
    • Cryptonomicon: although the novel's ending is implied to be suitably epic, by that point in the story, the POV character has lost interest, so all we get is a bare-bones version of events, with a month's worth of events crammed into just under six pages.
    • Anathem actually has a proper ending, so he may be growing out of this.
  • Robert Sheckley's Mindswap has this. The hero ends up trapped in the "Twisted World" but believes himself to have regained his own body and returned home successfully.
  • Not only does Mostly Harmless see every possible version of Earth and therefore every version of Arthur and Trillian destroyed forever by the Vogons, concluding their plot arc, but it completely fails to tie up any number of outstanding plotlines. It does include a possible Ultimate Question in "Where does it all end?" (42.)
  • The Difference Engine just abruptly stops and then there's a long stretch of seemingly random snippets of nothing.
  • Most of Robert A. Heinlein's endings tend to taper off into absolute nothingness. The Number of the Beast has often been said to be best left about 2/3rds of the way through, and Friday is much the same.
  • The ending of the Dungeon fantasy series, which was written by multiple authors, leaves much unexplained and even makes the main character into some kind of god without explanation.
  • British children's/teens' author Alan Garner has an affinity for the Gainax Ending that is unusual in non-adult fiction. The Owl Service ends with a young girl who had been possessed by an incredible supernatural force converting that force from anger - "owls" to peace - "flowers". However, everything else about the characters' relationships (which have been totally wrecked) is left unresolved.
  • Fredrick Pohl seems to like this. In the penultimate chapter of Jem the POV protagonist gets knocked out at the start of a war involving everyone on the eponymous planet. The next chapter is set in a radically different society several generations into the future with no real mention of how we went from one to the other, and nothing by tantalising glimpse of how this new civilization came about, or how it works. In Gateway, the protagonist is undergoing psychiatric care to resolve the issues in his life. At the conclusion, we discover the reason he's come to the (robot) psychiatrist in the first place, and the story ends without a real attempt at closure.
  • Hero in the Shadows, by David Gemmell. After a straightforward ending in which the invading demonic hordes are pushed back, the epilogue engages in some pretty strong Mind Screw: Waylander, who has only hours left to live, is sent into an alternate universe, where he manages to prevent the rape and murder of his wife - making it not only an alternate universe, but the past as well, or something like that. He then dies, after which the Waylander from that dimension comes home to his wife. The End. Early in the novel there is a reference to a fortune teller prophesying that Waylander will never know peace until he looks up into his own face. Which is exactly what happens: after saving his wife and child in an alternate past reality and preventing the moment that turns him into a assassin he dies looking up at the alternate version of himself, knowing he is free from the nightmare his life would become.
  • Joe Haldeman:
    • Haldeman has written several novels (Mindbridge, Forever Peace, Worlds trilogy) where the plot seems to have come to a halt, and the resolution apparently is to introduce an all-powerful, invisible, sadistic alien that randomly murders and tortures several of the characters. Then this alien wanders off, apparently satisfied it's made its point, whatever that was. Then the plot continues to some anti-climactic 'and life goes on' type of ending.
    • Haldeman's short story "Monster" is presented as a document being dictated by a Vietnam vet confined to a mental hospital. In it, the vet insists that, when he was a member of a LRRP patrol in 'Nam, he watched a black-skinned, black-furred creature come out of nowhere and tear apart two other platoon members engaged in a homosexual encounter. However, a Viet Cong deserter who happened to approach at the same time testified that it was him, our narrator, who committed the crime, and of course our narrator can't say he saw a monster for fear it will make him sound even more crazy. Our narrator spends years in an asylum, after being adjudged insane. While inside, he studies legend upon legend about monsters, but can't find anything in the literature that resembles what he knows he saw. When he comes out, he hunts down the former Viet Cong soldier, now an American citizen, and tortures him to make him admit the truth — that either the former VC is the monster, or that he saw what our narrator saw and wouldn't admit it. To no avail; the former VC says nothing, and our narrator kills him, turns himself in and is put back into an insane asylum. The story ends with a doctor's report detailing the incident of the night before: Our narrator was found dead in his cell from having his heart torn out. But there was no break-in, no signs of a struggle, and no noise. The story's last line is: "He did it to himself, and in total silence." The questions the story raises remain unanswered — was there really a monster or wasn't there?
  • The Science of Discworld volume 1 ends this way. Long story short, the wizards have accidentally created a pocket universe where magic does not exist, where worlds are round balls rather than discs on the back of turtles and elephants. At the end, the computer Hex mentions "Recursion Is Occurring" and then, after the wizards have abandoned the "Roundworld Project", we see a discworld atop elephants and a turtle condensing out of gas and dust in the far reaches of its universe...
  • Legacy of the Force is particularly bittersweet, but it raises two questions: Is Jacen redeemed or not, and how the hell did Daala become president? But between the fanservice, the Cain and Abel, the paedophilia, and the like, Gainax could've written it.
  • A. E. van Vogt's fixup novel The Weapon Shops of Isher, which is mostly about the eponymous weapon shops, the Isher Empire that opposes them, and an immortal man trying to keep them in balance, ends with an alien concluding that humanity is "the race that shall rule the sevagram". This is the first time anyone in the story has mentioned a sevagram, and we never learn what it actually is.
  • Warm Bodies makes clear that its zombies aren't simply diseased humans, and implies early on that they're in some way supernatural, but most of the story plays out in a pseudo-realistic fashion. Then the ending all but states that zombies are a consequence of human sin, and explicitly calls upon The Power of Love to fight them. This doesn't outright contradict anything earlier in the story, but it leaves a lot of unanswered questions.
  • Almost all of the novels of Bret Easton Ellis have or border on having Gainax Endings. The best known of these is the ending of American Psycho where the main character may or may not have imagined everything, with evidence supporting both theories.
  • In Fame, Elisabeth finds herself in one of Leo's stories together with him, talking to his characters. When she asks him why, he simply vanishes from the story and leaves her in a world where no one knows who he his, and where as the author, he has full power over what she says and does. The straightforward explanation would be that she left him and he just included her in a later story out of spite, but more surrealistic interpretations are also possible.
  • The Narnia books end this way, although the ending makes sense if you treat it as the very heavy-handed Christian allegory that it is (in fact, it makes a great deal more sense than the story it's a reworking of). Read the summary here.
  • David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest provides a bunch of hints near the end that come close to explaining the strangeness of the first chapter, and sets up a dramatic climax, then ends very deliberately before that climax, in the middle of a secondary character's flashback.
  • Croatian novel The Devil's Eye is a pretty standard teen-horror story; a teenage hero must stop an evil demon that's killing his classmates... and the whole thing ends with a Gender Bender, with abso-friggin'-lutely nothing resolved. And the author's response? "The ending is whatever you think it might be." Yeah, thanks.
  • The Sweet Valley Twins "Frightening Four" miniseries. It's also a blatant ripoff of A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) (see the Film folder, above).
  • Greg Egan's novel Permutation City ends with the simulated universe called "the Autoverse" somehow becoming more real than the hardware it was running on, much to the confusion of all the characters involved, as well as the reader.
  • The series Maximum Ride by James Patterson. Ends with much cataclysm, as promised (leading to a Downer Ending), but no one knows what caused it.
  • The Giver ends with Jonas getting a vision of a family celebrating Christmas. The ending is written ambiguously enough that the reader can interpret it as Jonas and Gabe escape, or they end up back at the Community, or the ending is a Dying Dream, or what-have-you. Lois Lowry responded with a Shrug of God when asked about it, although Messenger heavily implies their survival and Son confirms it. Still doesn't explain the Christmas thing, though...
  • One of Dave Barry's books, in the midst of his trademark wonky comedic observations, suddenly shifts into a serious romance plot about a woman moving towards having an affair—portrayed sympathetically, at that. This has next to nothing to do with the chapter it's supposed to be the conclusion for, and is also a bit of a BLAM.
  • Doom would make Studio Gainax proud by having two such endings:
    • Fly and Arlene finally return to Earth after nearly five hundred years, hot in pursuit of the Newbie/Resuscitator ship planning on "fixing" humanity. The enemy never arrives and they never find out why. They land at the rebuilt Salt Lake City Tabernacle where an AI construct of Jill is waiting. She confirms their identities and welcomes them inside to receive a gift: a teenage clone of Jill and a black box on a card table with a card reading "Albert". The end.
    Albert! Albert?! I didn't know what to say, so, Goddamn it, I decided to just shut up and be a Marine. Semper fi, Mac... I know when I'm beat!
    • A duplicate Fly and Arlene slog through the Deimos facility looking for a backdoor out of the Newbie computer system. They find the door and open it, finding the soul of a Newbie, and kidnap it back into the simulation as the Newbies pull the plug. The hyperactive evolution overclocks within the system and they will the Newbie to evolve out of the physical dimension. They have no idea if they banished one or somehow all of the enemy species, it turns out they did and that is why the enemy ship never arrives. The pair realizes that, barring a miracle, they're trapped inside the simulation forever. Fly and Arlene resolve that they can will their new reality to be better than the original by ending the invasion before it lands. Arlene hopes she can un-remember Albert's death so she can be with him again. The end?
    I awoke to a brave new world that had such damned peculiar creatures in it!
  • Thomas Pynchon is well-known for this, with endings that frequently leave the central mysteries of the plot unresolved or just bury the narrative under tons of symbolism. The most famous example is probably Gravity's Rainbow, which ends with Rocket 00000 apparently destroying the text itself. Suitably, the narrative itself begins to disintegrate at the end. The ending of The Crying of Lot 49 may also be fairly well known, as it does not resolve whether the conspiracies Oedipa has been researching are real, whether they're an elaborate hoax planned out by her ex-boyfriend, whether they're being hallucinated by her, or something else entirely. All are acknowledged by Oedipa herself as possibilities.
  • Doctor Who Expanded Universe
    • The short story anthology Short Trips and Sidesteps contains one long-running story ("Special Occasions"), broken up into four parts with each part written by a different author, about the Fourth Doctor and Romana. The first three stories show them celebrating K-9's birthday, Valentine's Day and Christmas, all in a cute Original Flavour W.A.F.F. style. The final story starts with the Fourth Doctor ruminating about Romana and Christmas, going through a pile of dolls, before, in the last few paragraphs, suddenly being transformed into a nightmarish living puppet being forced to watch a flickering film and succumbing to the void.
    • The final Doctor Who Missing Adventures novel The Well-Mannered War by Gareth Roberts, is (as was typical for Roberts) a fairly standard Fourth Doctor and Romana story. (In fact it's relentlessly traditional, doing its best to look like a Target novelisation of a TV story that doesn't exist - the online version takes this further.) And then it ends with the Black Guardian suddenly appearing to tell the Doctor he manipulated everything to present the Doctor with a Sadistic Choice, and the Doctor deciding to Take a Third Option by leaving the universe forever, possibly ending up in the Land of Fiction, where Romana comments they'd be "fictional characters, not real people". It reads very much like an attempt to inflict Semi-Canon Discontinuity on the JNT era (except Roberts says it wasn't), or possibly pre-emptive Semi-Canon Discontinuity on the upcoming BBC Books.
  • Remnants suffered from major Chris Carter Effect, but the finale was especially weird. So, in our second-to-last book, Tate winds up Sharing a Body with our antagonists, who are good now, and somehow time-travels to the past (but still after the apocalypse?) to crash Mother into the Earth. Back with our main characters, Sancho had a vision from... Tate's spirit, maybe?, to go to the crash site. It turns out that Billy (who is Sharing a Body with the missing five humans or something?) can use Tate's corpse to fix the Earth, somehow, as long as he's also holding Echo's blind baby. This has to happen on Echo's birthday, because reasons. So we get people debating whether or not they want the world to be fixed (since the Marauders don't know if it'll be better), and also 2Face hears her dead mother talking to her and then dies. Finally Billy does the thing and also dies, the baby isn't blind anymore and the world has plants and cows again. We end with a Distant Finale where the characters are married and have kids, though the narration notes that nobody knows what happened to the Alphas. Then again, we still don't know what happened to D-Caf, either.
  • The ending of The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton really throws readers for a loop, even taking its subtitle, "A Nightmare" into account. The confusion is even addressed in the book's dedication to his friend E. Clerihew Bently, in the form of a poem:
    GKC: Oh, who shall understand but you; yea, who shall understand?
  • The Polish book Osobliwe przypadki Cymeona Maksymalnego is a few hundred pages of teen drama. Then, at the very end, the protagonist is approached out of the blue by some creepy guy who invites him to follow him into a dark forest. The protagonist follows him obediently, even though he's got no reason to do so, and in fact suspects that the man is a Serial Killer. Then the novel just ends, almost mid-sentence.
  • The Goosebumps series subscribed to the theory that a book wasn't complete without a Mandatory Twist Ending, leading to a few endings that came out of nowhere and made no sense even in a setting where anything can be mistaken for anything else so long as it takes place over a chapter break. There was one where the main characters turned out to be dogs transformed into humans. There was one where it turned out that a seemingly supernatural incident was being faked by some characters who were secretly aliens all along. There was even one where the story you'd been reading was a work-in-progress written by the monster for his monster friends.
  • The Fall ends with the narrator breaking the fourth wall and implying that the reader was, like himself, an accomplice to the suicide described earlier in the story.
  • The Polish novel series Mr Hopkins for young readers—about a time-travelling gentleman—has the occasional weird mystery that never quite gets explained. The endings of the second and third books, in particular, get quite trippy:
    • The second installment has a bizarre ending where Mr Hopkins decides to time-travel to London to visit his grandfather Sherlock Holmes, but instead inexplicably ends up in a featureless void where he meets a man implied to be Albert Einstein, then he finds himself back at his home only to realize that he's actually his own young sidekick, Karol. Then Karol looks into a mirror and sees Mr Hopkins inside, who promises that he will return soon and vanishes. The book ends at this point. In the third book, it's explained that that entire ending was Karol's fever dream, which is probably the only explanation possible.
    • At the end of the third and final installment, some time after meeting the Time Police who forbid him from time-travelling ever again, Mr Hopkins somehow meets the three mythical Moirai (the series having never involved any mythical or supernatural elements up to that point) who tie his thread of life into a loop. Mr Hopkins then ends up back at the beginning of the series, with no memories, and the narration implies that he's now trapped in a Stable Time Loop forever. The end.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Prisoner is one of the earliest examples. A synopsis exists at Wikipedia.
  • Quantum Leap. Sam ends up in a bar run by a guy who has the same name as his closest friend, populated by guys that either have the same name as his other closest friends, look like people from earlier episodes or both, at least one of whom has a different reflection in the mirror. And a guy who may or may not be Al's uncle leaps out and is promptly forgotten by everyone. And the guy running the bar is probably responsible for Sam leaping around and may be God. It ends with Sam leaping back into the season two finale and telling Al's first wife that he's still alive before she can get their marriage annulled (hence changing every single episode of the series), at which point a photo of Al leaps out (Because It Looks Cool presumably) and a series of captions inform the audience that Al got a happy ending and Sam never came back. Throw in the fact that Sam and Al only meet for one brief scene and some viewers found it... unsatisfactory.
  • Kamen Rider Ryuki managed to pull off an Everybody Lives ending without ruining its There Can Be Only One premise, and while justifying the alternative continuities of the movie ("Episode Final") and the TV special ("13 Riders"). It's just damn confusing the first time you watch it, mainly because it's something of a Jigsaw Puzzle Plot.
  • Twin Peaks. Agent Cooper manages to reaches his kidnapped girlfriend Annie in the otherworld Black Lodge, but displays less-than-"perfect courage" when he confronts her kidnapper and the evil spirit entity BOB and gets overwhelmed by BOB, who is able to once again manifest himself in the real world, this time as a doppleganger of Cooper. Ironically this was foreshadowed by accident in the pilot episode, which showed an aged (and helpless) Cooper sitting in a chair in the Black Lodge - the world's longest waiting room. Cooper would have been rescued in season three had the show not been cancelled; through time travel antics (and the movie "Fire Walk With Me") Annie would have contacted Laura Palmer in the past and Laura would have written a message in her diary alerting Cooper's friends of his plight/impersonation, which they would suddenly notice when said new message shows up in the diary when a character reads it.
    • In The Return, Coop does escape the Black Lodge as an Empty Shell, 25 years later. His friends also manage to locate the missing pages of Laura's diary with the message from Annie.
    • The Finale of The Return: The Doppelganger find Jack Rabbit's Palace and gets warped to the Giant's lodge. The Doppelganger gets sucked into a machine and gets teleported outside the Twin Peak's Sheriff's Office. Agent Cooper manages to warn Sheriff Truman about the Doppelganger and Lucy manages to kill him. The Woodsman appear and try to revive him. The soul of BOB rises from his torso and attacks Freddie. He uses the glove the Giant told him to get to destroy him. The woman who came out of Jack Rabbit's Palace meets with Cooper and becomes the real Diane. Coop uses the key from his room at the Great Northern to unlock a door in the basement. He goes through and meets MIKE. They warp to the Gas Station and meet up with Phillip Jeffries. They have a talk and MIKE mentions something about Electricty. Coop then warps back to the past. He prevents Laura from meeting up with Ronette, Jacques and Leo the night of her murder. He leads her to the entrance of the Black Lodge. She disappears and she was never murdered. Footage from the pilot is shown with Pete never finding her body. Coop warps back to the Black Lodge and wanders around exactly like in Episode 1. He finds Diane before the Tupla of her is created. They warp to the real world and drive to a location in the desert near some power lines. They drive through a warp and end up in a hotel. Coop and Diane have sex. Coop wakes up the next day and Diane is gone. He has warped to Odessa, TX during the night. Finds a cafe name Judy's. He asks the waitress about the other waitress working there. It turns out she looks like Laura Palmer named Carrie Page. He drives to her house and convinces her to go to Twin Peaks with him. They go to Laura's house. Cooper finds out the Palmers don't live there anymore, or have ever. It turns out Cooper messed with reality when he saved Laura and no one from the main series exists anymore. He has taken over the life of someone name Richard and Diane as Linda. Cooper asks "What Year is It?". Carrie hear's Sarah Palmer's voice calling out for Laura. Carrie screams. Cut to black and end credits.
  • Lost seems like this trope if you have no knowledge of 2,000 year old religions like Neoplatonism or Gnosticism that it draws from (or can't type "dharma" into Wikipedia). Since the ending does make sense but is hidden under enough Mind Screw to not have an easy explanation, it is the second form of Gainax Ending. If an ending requires a couple of college courses (such as "Religious Studies") or other extensive off-screen research to understand it, it's a Gainax Ending.
  • Most Monty Python's Flying Circus sketches and episodes end in bizarre fashion. When the troupe felt that a sketch had run its course, they'd drop a 16-ton weight; have the "Stop, this is silly!" officer enter; or segue into an animated sequence, news broadcast or documentary. This was a reaction against conventional sketch comedy where every sketch had to have a punchline. The Pythons thought it would be funnier to deliberately subvert convention, and were dismayed to find that their comic mentor Spike Milligan had done it first with his show Q5 (Many of Milligan's sketches ended with everyone stopping what they were doing and shuffling offstage chanting "What are we going to do now?" shuffle, shuffle, shuffle "What are we going to do now?").
    • The episode that ended with The Argument Sketch turned the Gainax Ending almost into an art form. All episode long, sketches had been ending with the police entering and making arrests, and the Argument Sketch was going to be no different. Then another police officer comes in to arrest the whole show for Gainax Ending abuse, only to suddenly realize that his doing so made him guilty of the same thing. As was true for the next cop who entered to arrest him, etcetera ad infinitum.
      • Actually, the second or third officer gets what looks like a moldy Wookiee "arresting" him, IIRC.
    • Much of Monty Python's humor made fun of how British comedy shows were written, produced and performed, something the members knew about all too well, as they were veteran British comedy writers themselves. They hated punchlines and how anticlimactic they were compared to the goings-on within the sketches, so they did away with them or lampshaded their arrivals.
  • In the American remake of Life On Mars, Sam Tyler is a New York detective from 2008 who somehow found himself in 1973. Was he mad? Lying in a coma in a 2006 hospital bed, dreaming of 1973? Back in time? None of the above. Sam and his fellow officers from 1973 were really all from 2035. They were astronauts on the first manned Mars mission, and were kept sedated, with artificially-induced dreams, for the voyage. The show was cancelled after its first season so this ending was placed in. Had they had a season or two more they could have foreshadowed it more and not made it such a Gainax (there had been some hints about it, but they only made sense in retrospect). The final shot of the episode—somebody in 1970s shoes stepping onto the Martian surface—also left enough ambiguity that, had there been a super-last-second renewal, they could have explained it away.
    • Also worth noting that in the original Life On Mars, we see at the end of the second season that Sam had been in a coma the whole time. The Gainax comes as the point at which he wakes up interrupts the "other" plot just as it reaches the climax (in which Gene leads his team in to foil a train robbery). Of course, after he's woken up and reintegrated himself into "real" life, he throws himself off a roof to "rejoin the action". However, the followup show Ashes to Ashes says explicitly that he committed suicide.
  • The Sopranos famously ended with a mid-scene cut to black. This may or may not have signified the main character's death.
  • The 1990 failed Crime Drama Cop Rock ends with Breaking the Fourth Wall and the cast singing one last song (this was also a musical show).
  • The series finale of Farscape ends with John and Aeryn getting engaged on a boat in some random body of water somewhere, having tied up virtually all the major loose ends, and providing a fairly solid conclusion to the show with just the right balance of closure, and riding-into-the-sunset implications of continuing adventures. Then a freaky looking alien whose species we have never seen before, flying a ship we've never seen before, talks to someone over his radio, zooms in, and blasts them with a beam that causes John and Aeryn to shatter into a million little pebbles. To be continued... They knew this was going to be the series finale, and not only do they end it with that random Mind Frell, but they have the balls to top it off with a to be continued. The mini-series actually fixes this, and manages to make this relevant and even answer significant questions the show never dealt with. But before that, seriously, what the hell?
    • They were under the belief that they were renewed but then were suddenly cancelled right around the filming of the final ep. They debated options but in the end didn't have the time or money to change it so they reluctantly filmed it as it was and hoped it would somehow work out. The cast and crew were notably upset about it, however, when informing the fans of cancellation.
    • According to the makers of Stargate SG-1, the Sci Fi Channel never lets showrunners know if they're renewed or canceled until it's too late to base the final episode around it. That's the reason every season finale of SG-1 blows the remaining special effects budget and generally wraps up the current plot - they don't know if it's the series finale or not.
  • The end of Battlestar Galactica... The angels seen by Baltar and Six reveal that human/Cylon hybrid child Hera is Mitochondrial Eve and speculate on whether it's all going to happen again. After Head Baltar reminds Head Six that God doesn't like the name "God", she looks at him sternly and he cryptically says, "Silly me". They walk away unseen through the streets of modern New York while "All Along the Watchtower" plays over a montage of robot advances on television.
  • Brazilian sitcom Toma Lá Dá Cá last episode: the cast are about to be killed by an invasion. But since one of the main actors is the main writer of the show, they hand him a laptop and order him to write an ending that saves them... involving the arrival of an alien ship, which had previously "rescued" a character Put on a Bus.
  • Joss Whedon's Dollhouse had this in season two, with Epitaph Two. Though this was more a case of Missing Episode and All There in the Manual. Epitaph One, the season one finale which jumped to the future to show that the Dollhouse tech would be weaponized to cause the apocalypse, was not aired on television but was put out on DVD. So for those who did not buy the DVD, the episode made little to no sense.
  • Arrested Development parodies the above Being There ending.
    • 'It's an ILLUSION!'
    • Also:
      NARRATOR: Maeby was struggling with a screenplay in her secret life as a film executive.
      RITA: Is that a story?
      MAEBY: Not yet. It doesn't have an ending. He's in LA, she's in Japan, how do I get these two characters together?
      RITA: Maybe they could walk.
  • Dead Like Me suffers from a series finale that drops all its established character arcs and eventually peters out with a strange, sit-com-like Halloween story. None of the conflicts or arcs are resolved. It was as if the writers, knowing the show was over, simply spat out a non-sequitor. The story was resolved somewhat in the movie. Rube moves on, and George becomes the new boss.
  • The Hills. Yes, a Reality Show managed to have a Gainax Ending. The finale ends with Brody saying his goodbyes to Kristin, who gets in the limo and heads off, with a Softer And Slower Cover version of "Unwritten" playing in the background... and then the camera pulls back to reveal that the entire scene was shot on a soundstage. Kristin's limo is sitting right nearby, and had not driven off like we had been led to believe. The question as to how much of the show was just as fake goes unanswered. The best estimate would probably be Joel's: EVERYTHING!
  • V (1983). The heretofore serious Black and Gray Morality Alien Invasion vs. La Résistance science fiction series Gainax Ends big time in the last five minutes of the second miniseries, V: The Final Battle. The alien/human hybrid child Elizabeth develops sparkly magical powers just in time to save the world by disabling the Self-Destruct Mechanism. Never mind the fact that magical or psychic powers have never even been mentioned on the entire show before, and that the heroes already had a perfectly good plan to save the world. Sparkly magical baby! Fandom wtfed.
    • This was handled much better in the novelization of the miniseries. In the novelized version, Elizabeth saves the world by cracking the supposedly "uncrackable" security code which has Our Heroes locked out of the ship's navigation-and-control system. The reason this works better is that Elizabeth's unusually precocious facility with computers and solving mathematical puzzles was properly foreshadowed in a couple of scenes earlier in the book, so her ability to break the ship's command codes didn't just suddenly come out of left field. Since the novel was adapted from an earlier version of the script, it's highly probable that Executive Meddling was involved.
    • Creator Kenneth Johnson quit after writing the original script due to conflicts over budget and the network's plans for the series - he wanted to keep it as yearly mini's, they wanted an ongoing. Years later the head of NBC at the time apologized, saying if they'd stuck with Johnson's plan they'd have been on the sixth chapter by then.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise threw one in the third season finale, the Xindi plot was resolved in a totally sane (and awesome) way, and the Enterprise goes back to Earth, without their Captain, who they believe is dead. They try to call Starfleet and no one responds, so figuring some sort of communications difficulties they send a shuttlepod down to San Francisco. They meet a flight of American P-51D Mustangs. Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, Captain Archer has been discovered unconscious by Nazi soldiers. One of them asks the others in the group if they recognize his uniform. The camera pans over each of the officers until finally one steps out of the shadows and reveals himself as an unknown alien wearing a Nazi uniform. Roll credits.
    • A lot of fans who had been enjoying the Xindi arc threw up their hands and stopped watching the series in frustration at that point. Amazingly, however, the next season managed to explain/resolve the Evil Alien Nazis story in a not-entirely-stupid fashion.
  • The final episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? ends with the leader of The Midnight Society of the previous generation finishing his story, which happened to be about the real supernatural events occurring to the members of the current generation of the Midnight Society.
  • Up until the last five minutes, St. Elsewhere was a relatively normal hospital drama. Last five minutes? It was all the imagination of an autistic child with a snowglobe. Try not to think about all the shows that had crossovers with St. Elsewhere, and all the shows that those shows had crossovers with, were spun off from, or were honored with Shout Outs by. Somebody actually did that, and deduced that, by way of Six Degrees of St. Elsewhere, this show's Gainax Ending extends to literally hundreds of TV shows.
  • In-Universe example in a sequence of Season 3 Friends with a subplot about a play Joey is appearing in. In rehearsals, it appears to be a True Art Is Angsty play about a married couple's problems. When we see the play all the way through, the last scene is Joey's character going off in an alien spacecraft to find an alternative fuel source.
  • "Restless", the season four finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. After the second-to-last episode wrapped the season up in a more traditional way, the last was a series of bizarre dream sequences. While the episode did end up having a straightforward basic structure, it was also filled with bizarre and abstract ideas. Some were character-building, some hinted at events in season five, and some made no sense whatsoever ("I wear the cheese. It does not wear me").
  • Tim & Eric's Bedtime Stories has just about every episode end this way, often ending just as something horrific is about to happen or hinted at. It makes a little more sense when promotional material refers to episodes as "nightmares".
  • Norwegian TV theater was straightforward most of the time, but sometimes the Mind Screw factor escalated immensely. In 1982, a young and promising scriptwriter launched a story about a photographer with relationship issues. That is an easy way to describe the plot. The ending contains three actors dancing together with chalked faces, the main character posing as a bride with a ridiculously long veil, a ruin with all actors posed in bizarre ways (one of them inexplicably hanging on the wall), and at the very end, a bicycle hovering in the sea - actually standing on its wheels on top of a wave... WTF?
  • The final scene of the series finale for Newhart reveals that the entire series was the dream of Dr. Robert Hartley. It's considered to be one of the greatest moments in television.
  • Could well have happened in Breaking Bad as this Alternate Ending shows.

  • The Beatles' "Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da," from The White Album, is about a market vendor named Desmond and a singer named Molly. They fall in love, get married, and have kids. The second-to-last stanza describes Desmond and his children working in the marketplace while Molly still enjoys her singing career. But the final stanza switches their roles, putting Molly in the marketplace and Desmond (who is now apparently a woman) in the band. This was an accidental case. The band members weren't paying proper attention during the recording, and as a result Paul got distracted by John and George yelling "Arm!" and "Foot!" in the break after the first "lets the children lend a hand" and got their roles backwards on the last chorus. They decided to keep it as-is because they thought it was neat (and they were sick of working on the song).
    Happy ever after in the market place,
    Molly lets the children lend a hand.
    Desmond stays at home and does his pretty face,
    And in the evening she's a singer with the band!
  • The Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra by Francis Poulenc.
  • Polymorphia, by Krzysztof Penderecki has a rather jarring ending. Why is it so jarring? The entire orchestra suddenly plays C Major, the most "normal" chord there is, after several minutes of intricate experimentation.
  • Robert Wyatt's album Rock Bottom ends with minimalist concertina, backwards violas, and a nonsense poem by Ivor Cutler. The effect is astonishing.
  • Every single song in the Vocaloid Bad End Night song series has this:
    • In Bad End Night, Miku suddenly goes insane and murders everyone. Then, the screen goes black, a mysterious hooded figure walks in, and crying, picks up the letter she brought in with her. Without explaining what's in said letter.
    • In Crazy Night, the same thing happens, but it seems like she's forcing herself to do it. Then, suddenly they all are alive and float off into the distance as Miku says it shouldn't be that way. They all say that they'll wait for another night, and suddenly the hooded figure appears on screen.
    • In Twilight Night, Rin and Len pick up the missing page to the book in Crazy Night, which was apparently her letter. But it was blank, and suddenly things get even more Gainax: Everyone's ecstatic, but then Miku appears, saying it was the wrong page. They all turn into illustrations on a page of the book, because the page was blank, and so apparently there was no ending.
  • The video for "I'm That Type of Guy" by LL Cool J features the rapper as a Gentleman Thief sneaking through some high-security compound, avoiding or dispatching security guards, crawling under a laser grid, and all that stuff, until he reaches a safe containing - a harem full of scantily-dressed models who are eager to greet him. Intentional, of course, but it's a pretty odd shift.
  • Jethro Tull's album-length 1973 Concept Album A Passion Play ends with jarring, stabbing chords and distant crowd screaming of "Steve! Caroline!!", then jazzy saxophone notes as it fades out. One of the most mysterious sections in what is already a barely scrutable album.
  • Frank Zappa's Joe's Garage ends with Joe, a rock musician, being jailed. When he is finally freed he discovers music has been banned. Then he becomes a factory worker. Which prompts Zappa, out of nowhere, to start a silly song called "A Little Green Rosetta", which breaks the fourth wall and the entire concept of the album completely and has nothing to do with the rest of the plot. Thus closes the album.
  • Cracked has repeatedly mocked Styx's "Come Sail Away" for the random insertion of aliens at the end of the song.
  • Lisa Germano's "...A Psychopath", a haunting song about stalking (and implied rape) with a real 911 recording playing throughout, ends with a sample of an upbeat Italian folk song.
  • Another well-known example from the classic-rock radio playlist: The Moody Blues' "Nights in White Satin". After the "Red is grey and yellow white ..." spoken poem that seems to bring lyrical closure to the song, there is a short pause, then an orchestral move that seems to be the end. But it isn't—another pause brings in an even more final-sounding symphonic passage. But then ... after another pause, the actual end of the song is a loud gong. Huh?
  • Karnivool's 2005 album, 'Themata', could be considered an example. After ten hard rock songs ranging from alt-metal to progressive metal, the album concludes with the competely silent 20 seconds of "Omitted For Clarity", and the final track, "Change (Part 1). The latter consists of two minutes of ambient space music, one minute of quietly emotional but inscrutable lyrics, and a grand crescendo into...silence. The conclusion, "Change (Part 2)" wouldn't show up for FOUR YEARS, until the last track of their next album, "Sound Awake".

  • Pink Floyd's The Wall
    • Justified, as the viewpoint character spends the entire movie gradually descending into total madness. He only thinks that ending happened.
  • Our House the Madness musical: was always going to have two endings due to the parallel universes plot. However, even after these are resolved via dual Karmic Twist Endings there's still time for a third 'ending' to turn it all into a "Shaggy Dog" Story (done by introducing a third option in the life-changing event at the beginning of the play which would mean none of the things we've just been watching happened at all.) Oh well. Song and dance number!
  • Einstein on the Fritz parodies this. The supposedly-lost original musical is summarized thusly:
    Einstein feels a sneeze coming on, and takes his handkerchief from his pocket. In Act II, he realizes that he is not going to sneeze after all, and he puts his handkerchief back in his pocket in Act III.
    Einstein goes down to Hades to bring back his cousin Sophie, avenge the murder of his brother at the hands of Tsar Ivan the Inside Trader, slays the dragon guarding the entrance to the Golden Cave, seduces the Count's daughter on the eve of her wedding, and unites Italy.

    Puppet Show 
  • The Muppet Show loved doing this when appropriate.
    • The best example is the Stars of Star Wars note  were running amok in the theatre and have their climactic confrontation against Dearth Nadir note . Unfortunately, their weapons are useless and Chewbacca is no match against Angus McGonagle's Gershwin Gargling. How do the Muppets resolve this crisis? With a song and dance number, of course! Suddenly, the droids are dancing and everyone is then singing "When You Wish Upon a Star."
    • A similar ending made a little more sense in their Marty Feldman episode, which spoofed Arabian Nights with Feldman as Scheherazade. When they get to "Ali Baba and the Four Thieves" (which has to make do with three thieves because one of the actors was sick), Fozzie is cast as the lead thief - but dresses up as a Prohibition-era gangster named "Big Fozz" rather than in Arabic garb. Then he realizes that everyone is gone, breaks character, and heads backstage to ask Scooter what is happening. Scooter says that everyone is in the alley behind the theater boiling a huge vat of oil - and when Fozzie asks him what this is for, Scooter's response is that the thieves are going to be cooked in it! Trying to hide his terror, Fozzie asks when the thieves' execution will take place, and is told it will occur "right before the closing number." In response, Fozzie rushes back on stage and launches right into the closing number, "There'll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight." Everyone in the cast except for Feldman joins him, and then Fozzie says "Open sesame!" to the thieves' cave, causing the boulder to roll back and the cast of Sesame Street to emerge. They fall in with the more "grown-up" Muppets and then everyone joins Marty for the song's big finish. There's a fade-out, the show ends as usual after a brief denouement (during which Marty tells a disappointed Kermit that his favorite Muppet is Cookie Monster), and no mention is ever made of the vat of oil again.
  • Every episode of The Sifl and Olly Show ends with a song, including episodes with overlying plots. This leads to a lot of bizarre and ambiguous endings:
    • In one episode, Sifl made a bunch of clones of himself (and one messed-up clone of Olly) that gradually start to interrupt the show itself. At the end, Olly is telling Sifl to stop making clones, Sifl is staring dejectedly into space, somber piano music is playing, and the background is an image of a broken test tube with Sifl's eye in it. Olly asks if Sifl is even listening to him, and Sifl responds by singing a nonsensical gospel song about missing the 80s, and all the other clones join in (while creating even more clones). By the time the song ends, the room is filled with Sifl clones, Olly has left, and the Olly clone from earlier has taken his place. Roll credits.
    • Another episode has them interviewing The Grim Reaper (who turns out to be a pretty nice guy). Afterwards, they perform a cover of "Don't Fear The Reaper" and about halfway through the Grim Reaper comes back to join them...which causes their souls to leave their body and descend into hell.

  • Most The Goon Show episodes have no clear ending, unless everyone dies. The grand finale actually dissolves into random gibberish as the entire show comes to a crashing halt, and it doesn't seem atypical. As the announcer often observed, "It's all in the mind, you know."
    • This is mainly seen in later episodes, probably because Spike Milligan himself had no idea how to end them. Earlier surviving episodes tend to have fairly logical plot resolutions, for a certain definition of logic.

  • The grand finale of the musical Celebration involves the old villain (and the audience) being bombarded with portentous symbolism until he collapses, though not before revealing that he and his youthful rival are one and the same.
  • The Threepenny Opera ends with Macheath ("Mack the Knife") about to be hanged for his many crimes. As he mounts the gallows, Peachum, who has orchestrated his execution because Macheath has married his daughter against her parents' will, suddenly shouts "Stop!" and addresses the audience. In order that the audience not have to face a sad ending, a happy one has been arranged. The chorus breaks into the song "The Mounted Messenger", as police commissioner Tiger Brown (Macheath's old army buddy and his OTHER father-in-law), in full uniform, comes in riding a stick horse, and reads a proclamation from Queen Victoria, in honor of her coronation, ordering Macheath freed, awarded membership in the Order of the Garter, a castle (at "Mucking on the Creek, Sussex") and an annual income for life... and extending "her royal felicitations" to all "the lovely wedding couples here assembled" (the thieves, beggars and whores)
  • The Pirates of Penzance:
  • Very similar with Rossini's Il viaggio a Reims. For two hours we watch Loads and Loads of Characters, and we seem to finally figure out that, right, the French lady is in love with the Frenchman who flirts with the Italian lady who's secretly loved by the Englishman, while the Polish widow is torn between her two admirers… when the plot cuts off for the whole lot to arrange a concert in King Charles X's honor.

    Video Games 
  • The Marathon series is probably the best example of this. Although the second game is pretty straightforward, the first one still has people arguing about it on forums. Also, not a single damned person has a bit of an idea about what anything in the third game means at all.
  • Treasure games are probably the most notorious of this trope, with their unexpected mood swing, symbolic references and/or Downer Endings (Gunstar Heroes, Silhouette Mirage, Radiant Silvergun to name a few) to complement their Unexpected Gameplay Change leave many to think that they are the Gainax equivalent to videogames.
  • Astro Boy: Omega Factor's ending: A giant machine called Death Mask appears right the fuck out of nowhere and kills all robots on Earth, including Astro. Roll credits. Fortunately, this turns out to be just the halfway point of the game, and the rest involves Astro getting unstuck in time thanks to the Phoenix and jumping around the game's timeline to find out how to prevent this from happening.
  • Xenogears, starting somewhere along the second disk, replaced virtually all overland map movement and scenes with the characters sitting in chairs narrating everything that happened. This actually is an openly admitted case of a low budget and forced rush to market causing a Gainax Ending.
  • Xenoblade, a game normally pretty good about foreshadowing plot twists in advance, has an ending that comes completely out of nowhere. It turns out that Zanza the Jerkass God was actually a human Mad Scientist named Klaus who messed around with a universe-creating machine and accidently destroyed the universe and remade it with him as a God. Mayneth was also a human who just... happened to be there at the time. Zanza and Mayneth got lonely, so they created all the living things in the world. Then Zanza turned evil for... some reason, leading to the events of the game. Then Alvis, the party's Mysterious Protector throughout the game, is revealed to be a computer program (Namely, the embodiment of said universe-creating machine) and the whole game he was guiding Shulk to kill Zanza for abusing the system. Also, killing Zanza made Shulk the new god of the universe, but he turns down the power and asks to create a world with no gods. The universe explodes and is remade... but both the party and all the NPCs in the game still seem the same as they used to be. And Fiora gets turned back into a Homs again with no explanation. (There actually was going to be an explanation for this, but it got cut for time and eventually regulated to All There in the Manual.)
  • Fable, a 1996 adventure game of no relation to the one from Lionhead Studios. The entire game is full of Scenery Porn and an admittedly interesting story. However, once you try to give yourself the knowledge of the Mecubarz, all you see is a cutscene where the protagonist is in jail, with the narrator describing how it was his 21st birthday and how he couldn't believe that he killed all of his own family with a frozen mackerel at the age of three. Another version of the game existed where he simply returned to have lunch with his girlfriend. A Gainax Ending gone horribly wrong, so bad it's even listed on the No Ending trope as one of its worst offenders.
  • The ending of Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge: LeChuck is actually Chuckie, Guybrush's creepy brother, haunting him through the game for breaking one of his toys. The whole thing was essentially an amusement park fantasy played out in the minds of two bored kids. Or LeChuck just put a spell on Guybrush to make him think so. Even for a game series that thrived on absurdist humour and Star Wars references, the mixing of the two with presumed Lotus-Eater Machine involvement created a true masterpiece in confusing endings. And then Ron Gilbert and Tim Schafer bailed on the series, so it's never shown how it was meant to go from there. The Curse of Monkey Island opens with adult Guybrush floating in the ocean in a bumper car with a pair of balloons in his inventory. It's never exactly explained what happened in the meantime, but the second-to-last chapter of the game suggests that LeChuck had put a spell on him, and he escaped after breaking the spell. By having all that stuff happen again. It's almost as if they had wanted to pick up right where things left off, but Executive Meddling forced them to open with Guybrush stranded in the ocean instead.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Super Mario Galaxy, surprising for a series that's usually known for shallow plots, and a game that seems to follow that pattern throughout. It usually takes at least two viewings of the ending for players to figure out just what happened, which is convenient because you need to see the ending four times for 100% Completion. It involves the complete destruction of the universe, a Fade to White moment between Mario and an enormous Rosalina, the rebirth of the universe which apparently Mario and co. pass through unaffected, and Mario yelling "WELCOME NEW GALAXY!!"
    • The original Famicom Disk System version of Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels ended with a cutscene with the normally black background of the castle interior turning sky blue and then involving random Toads circling Mario/Luigi and Peach, both on the ground and in the air, constantly disappearing and reappearing as if either Mario/Luigi was actually making something up. This ending was changed in the Super Mario All-Stars SNES remake in which Mario/Luigi simply frees Peach from a cage hanging over a pit of lava, just like in the Super Mario Bros. remake on the same cartridge.
  • Invoked with Last Case: The Disappearance of Amanda Kane. The game ends with Jack Forester being abducted by what appear to be aliens. Up until then, the game was nothing more than a cliché Film Noir cop story about a private investigator trying to find Amanda Kane. Word of God admitted on Game Jolt that this was done intentionally to subvert how cliché the game already was.
  • Chrono Cross: The main character is supposed to be dead. A computer that controls destiny. The computer kept humanity safe from a race of dragon people, Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!. Everybody from the last game is inexplicably dead and your actions may or may not have actually done anything about it. Schala Lives! Then finally, a credits sequence of a girl — heavily implied to be Kid/Schala — running around in... Tokyo? And good luck figuring out if you actually accomplished anything from playing the game.
  • The first two Earthworm Jim games were near-legendary for their bizarre endings: In the first one, the Damsel in Distress, a mere five feet away from the protagonist's rescue, is crushed by a falling cow launched by the player way back in the very first level. The second game's ending is even more insane: Turns out the Damsel in Distress was a cow in disguise. As was the Big Bad. And the player. Wait, WHAT?!
  • Beyond Good & Evil springs a last-minute surprise on the player that's set up in such a way that it's incredibly easy to miss - the DomZ are feeding on the citizens of Hillys because their own weird alien lifeforce, which they call "shauni", was stolen from them — by Jade's parents. Jade's somehow the DomZ's shauni, and they would very much like her back. In hindsight, it's a decent explanation for a lot of odd behaviour that the player's already put down to "it's a game". It's not terribly well set up even if you notice the extremely incidental evidence the game presents in the final level, specifically a conversation the player overhears that's optional, and how the sacred chant the DomZ keep repeating has the same lyrics as the battle music — including the word "shauni".
  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II had this for Light Side. You beat Kreia, she talks to you for a bit, explaining why she liked you, and explaining the fates of some of your comrades. Then, she dies, your ship picks you up, after it fell into a chasm to its apparent destruction earlier, then flies away from the exploding planet unscathed. AND NOTHING ELSE HAPPENS. No denouement, no "what's next?", just hop on the ship GOOD NIGHT, EVERYBODY, leaving everyone wondering "Okay, is there ANY backstory for Sion or Nihilus? How did the remote beat G0-T0? And why was HK apparently completely extraneous?"
    • Cut content that has been partially restored by modders actually makes more sense of this. There was a cut mission that would have been played solely as HK during the battle over Telos where he would have gone to the factory making HK knockoffs. HK uploads his personality into new upgrades and destroys the entire line of droids that's been hunting you. In the light side ending, he and his new friends show up to take care of G0-T0 and let the remote do its work.
    • Dark Side wasn't any better, in fact it was worse. Your ship falls into a chasm before you even reach the academy for no apparent reason. Then, you beat Traya and become leader of the Sith Academy. That's it, no mention of what happened to the rest of your party, except for the remote, which G0-T0 presumably destroyed. Just you and the academy. A Winner Is You indeed.
      • You can thank LucasArts for the rushed ending. Executive Meddling, indeed.
      • The planned ending involved a variety of things, such as your friends actually trying to help (rather than mostly just disappearing once you hit Malachor), possible tragic deaths, and even maybe facing Atris instead of Kreia. Which would have been much better. But no. Thanks a lot, Lucas Arts. And for some reason, Lucas Arts adamantly refused to allow the release of any patches to restore the cut content.
    • Also, the entire story of Revan and the Exile has been Gainax'd by the coming MMO....
    • Word of God states that Revan and the Exile never returned from the Unknown Regions. The Sith Emperor used Revan as a living power source, but in doing so left Revan in a position to subtly influence the Emperor's mind, playing on his fear that the Sith Empire might not win against the Republic. And the Exile's Force ghost helped Revan stay sane enough to keep at it. Their original plan was to confront the Emperor with a doubting Sith Lord at their side. During the battle, during which the Emperor was totally dominating all three (even after Revan regained his full memories and power), the Sith Lord has a vision of a different Jedi Knight standing over the Emperor's body, realizes they're not going to win this fight, and salvages his own situation by stabbing the Exile In the Back, which distracts Revan long enough for the Emperor to blast him with lightning.
  • The Nintendo 64 adaptation of Neon Genesis Evangelion, much like the anime series and movie it was based on, has a Gainax Ending, but with some important distinctions from End of Evangelion: After Asuka's death, instead of a Heroic Blue Screen of Death, Shinji goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, using the Lance of Longinus to destroy the mass-produced EVAs. Third Impact still occurs, but the game ends on a slightly happier note with Shinji reaching down to Asuka instead of trying to choke her on the beach.
  • The World Ends with You is almost a Double Subversion: the plot is a Gambit Pileup we don't get too many details about, and the ending is just utterly confusing. However, you're then given the ability to unlock reports explaining what happened. But then you eventually get all of them, and unlock a final scene that makes even less sense. When the events of the ending reduce the protagonist to screaming "WHAT THE HELL?!," it's a sure sign of this trope.
  • Dragon Squadron Danzarb (Which actually happens to be partly made by Gainax, funnily enough) ends with the revelation that the soldiers in the squad are mind-wiped convicts who were sent to a remote island chain to fight staged battles (while being secretly filmed "reality TV" style). The money earned from their exploitation is being used to fund "real" military ventures in the rest of the world (which they've been sealed away from). After discovering the truth, the main character looks into a camera and chews out whoever is watching, scolding them for getting a kick out of watching other people die for the sake of their own amusement (implying that the player, who has been watching the whole thing, is one of those sickos).
  • The Good ending for Star Soldier: Vanishing Earth consist of a nonsensical poem that doesn't have anything to do with the plot. The Bad ending, while making more sense, is still very strange.
  • Silent Hill:
    • Silent Hill invokes this trope no matter which of the Multiple Endings one achieves. Both Good endings have Alessa and Cheryl merging and forming a giant glowing woman thingy. Kaufman splashes some red liquid on it, and it suddenly becomes a giant red demon thingy, which Harry then has to kill. After its death, the glowing woman returns and gives Harry a baby, who then runs off into the fog. The end. The Bad ending has Harry kill the glowing woman thingy, which says "thank you" in Cheryl's voice before dying. Harry collapses in grief as the room crumbles, before Cybil snaps at him to leave. The Worst ending is also the worst Gainax Ending, as it only has Harry still in the car from the accident at the beginning of the game, unconscious/dead and bleeding from the head.
    • The following games mostly contain far less ambiguous endings (although they're still heavy on the Mind Screw), but they aren't immune from them. Without contest the most bizarre is one of the endings of the second game, in which James discovers that the controlling force behind the town and the cause of all his torment is a dog. No, not a talking dog, just an ordinary dog. A Shiba Inu, to be specific. Her name is Mira. James is utterly confused, and the credits devolve into Shiba Inu happily barking... and growling at Eddie's belly. This is all played for laughs.
    • All Silent Hills (with the exception of Silent Hill 4 and Silent Hill: Downpour) contain a "UFO ending". The third game's one ends in a cheerful children's tune about the silly main characters. While we're on the subject, the aforementioned dog named Mira has been seen in two of the joke endings with the aliens.
  • Silent Hill: Homecoming has the notorious "Judgment" ending, where Alex is captured by monsters and then transformed into a creature akin to the legendary Pyramid Head of Silent Hill 2. Fans have actually figured out a logical explanation for this ending that makes it a subversion: "Judgment" is only unlocked if Alex does not Mercy Kill his mother and does not forgive his father. Furthermore, through the course of the game, Alex is directly or indirectly responsible for all of the deaths of the various parents that Pyramid Head is there to kill. In other words, Alex does Pyramid Head's job for him, and he does so to such an extent that Silent Hill decides it's only fitting to recruit him as a new Pyramid Head-type "agent".
  • The "comedy ending" of the white chamber seems to be this intentionally. The crew that Sarah had murdered turn up alive, and reveal that everything was just as planned for a surprise birthday party. It's rather entertaining, as the other crew members in this ending are a rather odd lot... Oh, and the meteor coming out of nowhere along with the karaoke bunny-ears guy riding it. "You were confused by the 'comedy' ending" indeed.
  • Braid's final level has the Princess running away from a knight, while you follow underneath her and help each other overcome obstacles. At the end, you find yourself outside the princess's bedroom, and are only able to rewind time. Rewinding shows that in fact it was you who was chasing the princess, while she tried to stop you with a variety of traps that you managed to overcome, with the knight rescuing her at the end.
    • If you get the seven secret stars, some of the switches in that level become timeproof, so you can rewind and go fast enough to stand on the chandelier as it's going back up, catch the princess and... KABLAM!!!!! Essays have been written. Long ones. The general consensus is that the princess is a nuclear bomb, and the hero was probably one of the Manhattan Project scientists. This has absolutely nothing to do with the time-warping platformer gameplay, but is hinted at by various Info Dumps and the aforementioned exploding princess.
  • Drakengard. Legions of creepy floating babies, a giant naked woman who uses sound as a weapon, a main character turning into a clone army of demonic angels that destroy the world, and that's just scratching the surface. The first ending, which is canon, is straightforward. The most bizarre ending - the last one - is also canonical.
  • F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin's final battle is a figurative Mind Screw and a literal Mind Rape. And physical rape, too, while we're at it.
  • Eternal Sonata. The story takes place in the fever dream of a dying man, so of course it's not going to make sense. It consists of 45 minutes about the main characters philosophing about Life, Death, Reality, and Dreams.
  • Several games by Suda51.
    • Killer7. While the individual stages have their own moments, like First Life being a front for Ulmeyda's thrill seeking cult, The Handsome Men being erased from existence by Trevor's sister killing them in a video game, and whatever the hell was the purpose of the room you fight Curtis in, the ending blows them all away. Samantha dies somehow, Christopher gets killed, Garcian interrupts Kun and Harman's chess game, Garcian is actually insane, there is another Harman Smith and he's in his 30's and works for the government, all of Garcian/Emir's actions were controlled by the United States government, the memos were sent years ago and are addressed to Garcian/Emir, and the guy writing them was killed by Samantha on the orders of old Harman, Emir/Garcian killed the entire Smith Syndicate at the age of 13, Iwazaru is Kun is the last Heaven Smile, Garcian/Emir's eyes turn green and he gets a nice suit, and Japan either gets bombed by the USA or leads the UN in a full scale attack on America. Also, Kun and old Harman are alive 100 years later in Shanghai to do it all again.
    • No More Heroes has one. Like the rest of the game, it gets played purely for laughs. So much so that Travis and Henry decide to have a(nother) fight to the death, as Henry tells that it's Travis' job as the protagonist to explain everything and tie up all the loose ends, after he (Henry) does several big and relevant ass pulls in the last few minutes of the game. Needless to say, Travis isn't exactly thrilled at the prospect of such an ordeal and is reminded that there is no escaping the video game world.
    Sylvia: You like this painting, don't you? Let's go, Jeane. I know, too bad there won't be a sequel. *Cue To Be Continued Stinger*
    • Surprisingly, the sequel, No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle is, a couple bizarre moments aside, one of Suda's more coherent games with a perfectly understandable ending.
    • Shadows of the Damned: You beat Fleming and saved Paula! CREDITS! Wait, doesn't Suda usually have two sets of credits... DID PAULA JUST EAT GARCIA? AND DO WE HAVE TO ACTUALLY FIGHT HER? OK, we beat her, she's calmed down, new credits. OK, Garcia's in an eternal war to stay with his demonic girlfriend...OK, normal for Suda... wait, Johnson's... RAPPING? AND SAYING THINGS COMPLETELY OUT OF CHARACTER?
    • Michigan: Report From Hell ends with the player character finally being revealed and being shot in the head before he can reveal who unleashed the monsters. Unless you pushed the Karma Meter so far you got the 'Evil' ending, where he claims to be the one behind everything that happened before turning into a monster.
    • Even LPs of Suda51's games aren't safe. Most notable in Chip and Ironicus' LPs of Killer 7 and No More Heroes, where the former ends in the revelation that The LP was all in Chip's head and the latter ends with Chip and Ironicus suddenly proclaiming "It's coming." repeatedly in monotone during the final video of the LP, until semi-trucks start to rain from the sky.
    • Killer is Dead: Mondo Zappa kills the Big Bad and his Evil Twin, David. However, David was the only person that had kept the Dark Matter amassed on the moon under control: with him dead, the Dark Matter escapes to earth, threatening to destroy it. With no alternative, Mondo is forced to slice off his mechanical arm, which kept the Dark Matter from infecting him. The game then cuts away to Moon River, an enigmatic character who had ordered the hit on David, taking out another contract, to the surprise of Mondo's associates. Cut back to the moon, where Mondo is seen using Dark Matter to rebuild the mansion on the lunar surface that had been destroyed in his and David's fight, a new arm in place of his mechanical arm. Roll credits.
  • World of Goo - Every chapter has its own Gainax Ending. The Ivy Goos float away with balloons! The world is powered by the beauty of a giant ugly woman! The World of Goo corporation's new product is the third dimension! MOM is a spam bot! The fish have wings and levitate the telescope! The title refers to the moon! Made even better by the insanely epic music that plays during each scene, despite the game's premise being, essentially, poking goo until it goes somewhere.
  • Leisure Suit Larry 3: Passionate Patti in Pursuit of the Pulsating Pectorals has an extremely bizarre ending: After the player spends the last third of the game scouring the jungles of Nontoonyt as Patti looking for Larry, both characters get captured by lesbian cannibals and bound in a cage. Patti then uses a magic marker to draw a magical portal into the air, which transports them out of the game and into Sierra Studios, where they run around the Police Quest, Space Quest, and King's Quest sets until Roberta Williams offers Larry a lucrative deal to design and write adventure games based on his own adventures. Al Lowe had to skip the fourth installment in the series altogether just to write himself out of that one.
  • Mondo Medicals, Mondo Agency, and Psychosomnium. Cactus loves this kind of thing.
  • Who would end their game with a French music video?! The same guys who made Earthworm Jim apparently did this with their MDK, which ended with a bizarre music video by French group Billy Ze Kick featuring a mix of footage of the lead singer, footage from the game, and the occasional shot of a backup band populated by aliens. Said song is a cover of a song written to protest the Vietnam war. Take that as you will.
  • Cryostasis. The Crew being Ice Monsters aside, most of the storyline was fairly realistic, until you reach the end where Heat Cracks start appearing all over the ship and the Nuclear Reactor goes Chernobyl, whereupon Chronos, the God of Time, pops out and you have to defeat him using magical energy balls from your hands. Oh, and you go to some kind of ruins out in space where you get to go back in time to one of three different places and change history to prevent the tragedy from occurring in the first place. Presumably, it explains all the weird bits of the game.
  • Persona 3's ending was confusing enough to warrant the developers putting in a super-hard epilogue explaining everything in the game's Updated Re-release. Protagonist died by giving his life to save the universe. Originally, it was up to the player to decide whether or not he died or just went to sleep when he was reunited with his friends.
  • Little King's Story has you find out that your entire world is a cardboard stage in the bedroom of a kid that looks like the king. The final boss battle is with some ordinary rats who are eating the stage, while a news reel keeps you apprised of what parts of your world are being destroyed by the fight. Then the real boy who looks like the king throws the rat out the window after the fight, and he and the tiny king see each other with gratuitous zoomshots of them being reflected in the other's eyes. Roll credits.
  • Tales of the Abyss. The regular ending you see before the credits is simple enough: the Big Bad is dead, most of the party escaped, but The Hero stays behind to make a Heroic Sacrifice; he gets congratulated for his work by Lorelei. It's the post-credits scene that screws everything up; it's been a couple of years? And The Hero is back? Or is it his twin/clone? What promise was he talking about? Why is his hair so long?
  • At the end of the I Wanna Be the Guy fangame I Wanna Be The Fangame, the final boss's father comes by in a cutscene in full Papa Wolf mode. Sic transit The Kid.
  • Though the original ending to space shooter Tyrian is somewhat Gainax-y, involving the main character finally having enough of single-handedly saving the galaxy from the evil Microsol corporation over and over, and fleeing the galaxy, the re-release, Tyrian 2000, offers a final episode that's even more Gainax-y. Your ship is intercepted and you're forced to fight the Zinglon cult mentioned numerous times throughout the game, who turn out to be behind all of Microsol's evildoings and plan to deprive the universe of its food supplies and construct a fleet of warships made entirely out of fruit. Though the game's lore shows that the game designers weren't taking the story too seriously, the final episode is when the game stops any pretense of seriousness entirely.
  • Divinity II: Ego Draconis. What could have been a semi-decent game was rendered null by the way it ended. Basically, you spent all that time running around listening to a dead lady's voice in your head only to find out she's been tricking you. She sends you on a wild goose chase to resurrect the Big Bad's dead wife, Ygerna, saying it'll help defeat him. Turns out that she is Ygerna and resurrecting her actually makes Damian invincible. But you don't find that out until after an unavoidable and tedious boss fight. There are no Multiple Endings. So the story ends with your hero being stuck in limbo and Lucien, the guy who you killed in the aforementioned boss fight, is happy to inform you just the entirety of Rivellon is down the crapper because of you, and the game ends with a cutscene of Damian and Ygerna raging across the land. It also reeks of gimmickry. However, the expansion corrects most of these mistakes.
  • Ecco 2: Tides of Time mixes this with Downer Ending. In the Playable Epilogue, you chase the Vortex Queen through Atlantis to destroy the time machine before she can Butterfly of Doom you out of spite. She beats you there and jumps into prehistory. You use the machine as well instead of destroying it. A scrolling title card set to chilling music comes up, calmly laying out for you that Ecco vanished into time and was never heard from again. The Vortex Queen was unable to screw up the ecosystem, and wound up integrating into it. Earth's present-day insects are descended from surviving Vortex. Word of God says that's not the end of it. Ecco knew this would happen, and didn't bother chasing the Vortex Queen at all — he went back to before the Atlanteans were wiped out by the Vortex Kill Sat. The implication is that he had a specific plan in mind, but the development company caved and you'll never see it.
  • The original .hack games ended this way. After 4 games, forced grinds, and the damn virus cores that slowed the last two, you fight through the last parts of the last game after learning that the Big Bad is the game itself. Then you fight through a Multi-tiered boss fight against a monster with a crack at the top that splurts out explosive white drops before turning into a plant and then an eye. Then you'd fight Morganna? Wrong. That's when you find out the psychedelic eye was the True Final Boss. After you beat it, The World goes crazy, your party get's "Drain Heart"ed with no explanation as to what that is before Kite has his Moment of Awesome running up to the eye that refuses to die. Then Aura, the girl you've been journeying to restore this entire series, gets in the way as you're about to stab it and takes the hit, dying. Then there's some crazy lights, the eye get's destroyed, and everyone shows up in the Net Slums where they mention something about Aura having to die to be born again. Then the game ends with Kite looking at the sunset and everyone who'd just been owned is back.
  • Spore. After battling your way through the Grox, finding your way through the maze of stars, and more likely than not sacrificing any allies you had with you, you finally make it to the center of the galaxy. You scroll in to avoid the Grox firing upon you, since you're probably almost dead at this point, and watch as the colors of swirl around you. A deep booming voice congratulates you on how far you've come, and that few, if any other species will make it as far as you. Then this happens.
  • The Path, once for each Little Red Riding Hood character, and another for the secret unlockable character whose appearance bookends the Stable Time Loop.
  • Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors.
    • It's a visual novel with Multiple Endings, and each story path puts Junpei in different groups, giving him the opportunity to find out more about their backstories, and some paths unlock the opportunity to find new paths, ultimately culminating in the True Ending. It's actually a subversion, as each of the different paths are actually being observed by the protagonist from outside normal time, and the True Ending explains all the weird inexplicable stuff that has been going on since the start of the game... except for one particular character who is referenced repeatedly; the cast finds the place where she's supposed to be hidden and finds nothing, and conclude that it's all just a myth... and then she's hitchhiking on the side of the road in the True Ending, and the game ends on that image. It is explained in the sequel. As in, it's shrugged off as a coincidence that they both look alike.
    • Happens in the sequel, especially regarding why, in the epilogue after the Golden Ending, the protagonist is Suddenly Voiced. However the whole game makes it pretty clear that a sequel will answer all the loose ends, mainly because it'll be an interquel whose Bad Ending led to this future, where everyone is, unknowingly, working to undo whatever gone bad in there via Mental Time Travel.
  • Final Fantasy does this occasionally:
    • Final Fantasy Tactics is unclear about whether the main characters are really alive or dead. Due to bad visuals, there's also some confusion about whether Delita and/or Ovelia live or die after Ovelia stabs him.
    • Final Fantasy VIII is a big offender here. The end of the ending is a pretty cogent credits medley of a Happy Ending, but the entire proceeding FMG has sprouted a lot of Epileptic Trees about just what the hell was happening with Squall's time-space headtrip and what the creators were trying to say.
    • In Final Fantasy IX, the entire final dungeon is a huge Gainax ending. You basically go backward through your memories, then the planet's, and then the universe's. After you defeat Kuja, you take on the eternal darkness. The ending itself isn't so much, though.
    • Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates manages to subvert this, the ending makes very little sense with the protagonist twins remaking the world to one where Galdes is stuck repeating himself for all eternity and then Chelinka dies and then little Chelinka uses two of the same crystal to make herself and Yuri kids again and their parents alive. However, once you replay the game, you see how the ending twist was somewhat foreshadowed, so early you wouldn't remember it. And after playing through the epilogue in Multiplay, you get some more closure and get a clearer picture of what the outcome of the ending actually was.
  • Dark Reign ends with a cutscene showing the player character receiving some unspecified energy-thing treatment by Togra, who has apparently become a god. Weird for a game with so much science in it.
  • Cargo! The Quest for Gravity is weird from the outset, but in a silly, lighthearted way. Once the game ends and the world is saved, though, things get... confusing. Apparently the Robot Devil is going to remake the world but reward the main characters by transforming them into Fun so that they'll be around to see it? Or... something like that. Granted, anyone familiar with developer Ice-Pick Lodge's previous offerings ought to have seen it coming.
  • Radiata Stories: Two endings; one makes sense (if leaving plot threads unresolved) and another where any number of things could have happened. There's two dragons responsible for the remaking of the world, and they take turns. However, the silver dragon has grown fond of humanity, so he doesn't want them to die; he decides to kill the gold dragon (Ridley) in order to prevent this. In the non-human ending (good), Jack and Ridley join up, defeat him, and the game ends with them together in an empty city, where presumably Ridley remade the world but left Jack alive (they seem happy, so there's that). In the Human ending (bad), the silver dragon manages to kill Ridley, and Jack, heartbroken, defeats him. What happens next is not shown, but the implication is that the world eventually depleted itself and Jack leaves Radiata, presumably forever. All in all, the endings implied more than they showed.
  • The endings to Street Fighter EX Plus Alpha. The game has next to no plot, so a lot of the endings are just the character posing or doing something badass. Though some, like Dhalsim, Zangief, Skullomania, and Allen's ending, still manage to make no sense whatsoever.
  • Usually, the Streets of Rage series had pretty straightforward endings: Mr. X is defeated, the town is safe, everyone's happy; but the last official installment in the series, 3, introduced Easy-Mode Mockery to the already ending trilogy. The ending you get on the lowest difficulty does reveal that Mr. X on the 5th stage is actually a robot. If you try a harder difficulty, but fail to save General Petrov/chief of the police, you will fight Shiva as the final boss. Right after both of these, the true Mr. X shows up, watching what happens in his hideout (like a movie in the theatre) and breaking a glass of wine... which makes perfect sense at first, but that's until you get to his real hideout, which reveals that Mr. X is in fact a Brain in a Jar. Now that makes absolutely no sense, especially when you realize he couldn't turn into that in just a couple of hours of the storyline time! And after the bad ending route's stage 7, you see him safe and sound like nothing happened. May be a sign that he really loves cloning himself that way.
  • In Hellsinker, the final boss can be seen as a playable ending and then simply ending with "The End".
    • And the boss itself? Let's not even get started on that.
    • The bonus ending from completing the extra stages is only slightly more comprehensible.
    • There's actually three final bosses and three endings. One of the endings is sorta comprehensible, the others... not so much. And then there's the bad ending... "YOU GOT INSANITY" indeed.
  • In Limbo of the Lost, Briggs is captured and his earthly guide (also known as you, the player) must save him by completing some in and of themselves confusing tasks. After you finish, Briggs is freed and proceeds to the game's ending... where he is greeted by almost the entire supporting cast of the game who decide to crown him The King of Limbo while singing a song about him. No explanation is given as to how the denizens of Limbo know each other, how they reached this location, or why Limbo has a king - or why no one seems to care about the player's contributions to any of this.
  • Oracle of Tao.
    • Even if you win, the ending depends on your ending party. That is, you can "win" with the wrong party and have most/all of the party die (since the final boss has a final attack scripted by the story).
    • If you die, but have the right party, your characters just say some really strange words about the hero, and how she wasn't really a good person, not really a bad person, "she was a person." And then they walk off. If you don't have the right party, the universe explodes. It is explained why, and yet still doesn't totally make sense.
    • Even the best ending makes no sense, as it turns out the main hero was God all along (she's told this by God), and now has the choice while sitting in a White Void Room on whether to create the universe or not (and she can definitely choose to just become God and sit by herself for all eternity).
    • The Playable Epilogue has three endings, based on a choice made after the game's final boss. One involves healing the final boss, which makes the hero God again, and her family thinks it's cool, while she plans a date for tomorrow. The second has her kill the final boss, and then snap, and start deciding to destroy everyone, eventually forgetting the party and killing them too. The final ending just has her walk off, and has some Grow Old with Me style ending, combined with Babies Ever After, combined with the female and male lead's death, and afterlife. All in fairly rapid succession.
  • Digital Devil Saga's both parts manage to land one of these. The first ending is explained in the second game, and it makes sense.
  • At the end of MOTHER 3, Lucas pulls the final Needle and awakens the Dragon, which destroys the world. A giant THE END screen pops up... but if you use the D-Pad, you can walk around and talk to the various characters. Whether Lucas created a new world for his friends and family, or destroyed the world and put everyone in the afterlife is up to you to interpret.
  • Tir Na Nog and Dun Darach, by Gargoyle Games for the old ZX Spectrum had (for the time) incredibly huge animated sprites (56 pixels high!!) and deep, deliberately obscure gameplay, and partly thanks to the slow pace took hours and hours to finish. When you finished the first, the screen changed colour slightly a few times. When you finished the second, you entered an entirely black room with the words "ta from gg" on the wall. And. That's. It.
  • After killing the Enderdragon in Minecraft, you're treated to a wall of scrolling text depicting a discussion between two Sentient Cosmic Forces discussing you, the player of the game. The discussion in question implies that the entire game was All Just a Dream, life as we know it is merely an even bigger dream, the many mobs we fought in the game were the darkness in our hearts, and humanity's entire existence is a quest to understand itself.
  • The pessimist ending of I Miss the Sunrise is a minor example — we definitely know what happened, but not any of the ramifications or if the final plan even worked as intended. Ros enters the Core and absorbs the universe into a single point of energy, thereby completing the Progenitor's plan...then the game just ends.
    • It's complicated by the factor of the Black One claiming that it will lead to the end of all things. We have no idea which character was right, even though that's a really important distinction.
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day slips into this. Suddenly Don Weaso whips out a gun and shoots your girlfriend to bits. Then Ze Professor put a xenomorph egg into an unsuspecting Panther King as his chest bursts open to reveal the hatchling, while the room they are in rockets into space. Conker is almost killed by the xenomorph until the game actually freezes, and the developer gives Conker multiple options to kill the xenomorph. Unfortunately, the developer disappears before he can have the chance to revive Berri, and is crowned the new king of the land.
  • The Town With No Name, if you opt to just get on the train and leave, the main character is begged not to by a random child, who he then shoots, declaring that his name is not Shane, as the child called him. The train is then seen floating up and taking off into outer space.
  • Famously Limbo, after traversing the bleak eponymous underworld searching for his sister, the boy breaks into a glass and slowly floats in the darkness, until he wakes up in the same place he started his journey. He stands up and walks to the right, where he finds his sister picking flowers at the base of a tree-house; as he approaches her, she suddenly stands up startled, and then it cuts to credits.
  • Sa Ga Frontier has several of these, mostly thanks to Executive Meddling:
  • The Batman: The Brave and the Bold DS Licensed Game has one of these. After going through a trippy nightmare world and fighting the Scarecrow (and watching Robin fall to his death), Batman finds out that the whole thing was a hologram ala Mega Man 2. A Post-Final Boss fight ensues, with the hologram-maker boasting a pretty sizable health bar... but he gets knocked back several miles with one hit. Right after, Batman runs after the boss, carrying a Cartoon Bomb in a Homage to Batman: The Movie and dodging obstacles, then reaches it and throws the bomb at him, destroying him (and, it's implied, Batman as well). Roll credits. Do note that the game beforehand had no real plot besides "bad guy is doing bad things somewhere, go stop him with a random superhero", so this really comes out of nowhere.
  • Star Fox ordinarily has a fairly straightforward ending, unless you manage to gain access to the secret level "Out Of This Dimension", where you lose contact with General Pepper as you find yourself in a utter Mind Screw area battling paper airplanes and a giant slot machine. Then you just fly around in space (presumably forever) with the words "The End" floating just ahead of your ship (the only way out for the player is to restart the game).
  • Done with the various Crush Pinball titles:
    • In Alien Crush, reaching 999,999,990 points causes the entire table to explode. The game then displays the message "Congratulations !! You are the greatest player", then prompts the player to enter their initials.
    • In Devil's Crush, reaching 999,999,990 points will treat you to a very brief ending with a woman and a pinball... that makes no sense whatsoever.
  • A literal case of this happens in Xardion, a lesser-known Super NES game in which Gainax themselves had a hand. Toward the end of the game, you fight the core of the living planet, NGC-1611; a large boss with multiple forms which absolutely refuses to die. When you finally manage to beat it, you find out the true cause of its aggressive behavior toward the rest of the galaxy: The whole time, its entire reason for waging war on the other planets of the galaxy, was just to keep its creator's daughter safe from harm.
    • To make things all the worse, the "daughter" was never even alive to begin with. The planet had mistakenly chosen to protect a holographic image of its creator's daughter. So everything it had done up to that point had been completely and totally pointless. What a downer...
  • The ending of Thirty Flights of Loving involves a demonstration of the Bernoulli principle.
  • Quest Fantasy ends with a complete Mood Whiplash from So Bad, It's Good to Surprise Creepy, and then the newly-revealed antagonist proceeds to guilt trip the player and character in a long boss fight (that doesn't actually have any gameplay) involving MS Paint bleeding eyes, and then the characters die. That's just the first game. While most of the other ones aren't too crazy, the ending for the final game and thus a series as a whole involves a new villain impersonating the author of the game in order to find the credits sequence and vaporize the world. The protagonist is instructed to assist the character who was the Big Bad up until now, because this new villain's plans for the world are much, much worse. Credits roll.
  • Antichamber: You finally catch up to the darkness-emitting black block, as you suck it into your block gun, the entire world gets sucked into the black block first. You are left with a black block gun and an open monochrome space outside. You leave your white dome to find winding paths and towers everywhere, and falling merely loops you back where you were before you jumped. Finally you find a black dome. It opens up to reveal a floating cube and white wreckage. Shooting the black block into the cube, the wreckage floats up, forms into the Antichamber logo and sucks everything in, including itself, before everything goes white.
  • The Amstrad CPC version of Contra (going by its Japanese name Gryzor) had this with its ending: you charge into the lair of Red Falcon, blow the crap out of everything... then you're told that the boss's heart had a Dead Man Switch that caused the planet to be destroyed. Note that this didn't happen in any of the other Contra/Gryzor games.
  • Transistor leaves a lot of things open-ended and vague, but the ending definitely takes the cake, ending with the Process stopped, but not before they've processed the entire city, erasing everyone and reverting everything to a blank slate. With control over the Transistor, Red has the ability to remake the entire city In Her Own Image, but instead opts to impale herself on the Transistor while Red's friend (who's been trapped inside it the whole game) begs her not to. Then... something happens, and the last shot is of Red's friend (with his body back) standing in a wheat field with Red (who's gotten her voice back.) The most common interpretation is that Red processed herself and now lives inside the Transistor as well, though other interpretations include that Cloudbank was digital, and Red and her friend escaped to the real world.
  • A Witch's Tale has this for both endings.
    • The first playthrough ends with the Eld Witch killing Alice. After her defeat, Loue and the Wonderland inhabitants try to force Liddell to become their new Queen. The screen goes red, and then Liddell wakes up—the entire playthrough was a dream when Baba Yaga hit her on the head, but it's later revealed it was a test from Queen Alice.
    • The second playthrough ends with Liddell killing the Eld Witch, who is revealed to have been Anne and transforms into her as she dies. Liddell begs her to live, but it's too late, and she dissolves into ashes. Liddell works her way through the maze and is told that death isn't always the end. Then she meets the six princesses, who tell her that this was all a dream Queen Alice created on Liddell's side of reality, and it's time for her to wake up. They hope to meet Liddell in real life and bid her farewell. Liddell wakes up in her room and can't remember her dream, but she has Anne's bracelet with her. Loue is seen on the rooftop above her.
  • A very silly one caps off Telltale's Back to the Future series. Having just changed time multiple times, Doc and Marty decide to just hang out in the lab before things get even weirder, at which point another Marty in a DeLorean from the future shows up asking for their help. Followed by another Marty in his own DeLorean. And a THIRD one, each claiming to be the true one who needs help. Marty and Doc ponder which one is the real one to help, as well as wonder why space-time is tearing apart like wet tissue paper from the paradoxes, before hopping in their own DeLorean and flying off like in the movies to deal with it later.
  • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Read its full glory here.
  • BattleBlock Theater ends with the rescue of Hatty Hattington. Unfortunately, the entire experience leaves him in a vegetative state and ends with the credits rolling on an actually sad song about the poor guy. Then a party seems to break out on board while a really upbeat tune begins to play and Hatty is either thrown overboard or accidentally falls off as the song gets lyrics about buckling your pants as he drifts to the bottom of the ocean. Then it starts to get weird. Once he reaches the bottom, the cursed hat lands on his head, starts to glow green, and fires a giant laser that pushes the boat out of the way, destroys an airplane, an alien spaceship, and some weird bear thing that appeared at some point during the song. Lampshaded almost immediately afterwards.
    The Narrator: Oh, I get it, um yes. It all makes sense now.
  • LOST Via Domus ends with the main character witnessing the plane crash again, this from the beach at the wreckage of the plane crash, and his girlfriend - whom he'd been responsible for the death of - suddenly running to him from the wreckage, saying they both survived the crash.
  • In Pinball Quest, the game ends with Princess Ball joining the player's pinball, whereupon they perform a dance. They are then drawn into a hole by an evil giant magnet, which explodes and sends them back to the pinball realm.
  • Weird Dreams is a Battle in the Center of the Mind against a daemonic flu. The version for weaker Commodore 64 ends with A Winner Is You after you defeat the boss, but in other versions you wake up in the operation room, one of the medics transforms into a creepy little girl, who earlier attacked you with a huge knife but got eaten by her pet monster, and stabs you with the same knife. You decide whether it was meant as a Sudden Downer Ending or a Sequel Hook without a sequel.
  • The Vario ending from Savant Ascent. The Alchemist, wearing Vario's mask, picks up Vario's mask(the one dropped by the recently defeated boss, not his own) and looks up to the sky like in the original only for there to be two suns. One of which suddenly has Vario's mask appear on it while the sky glitches like mad with Vario's laughter being heard.
  • FreeSpace 2, and the series as a whole, ends with the unstoppable Shivan fleet entering Terran Space and the Terran leadership deciding to permanently destroy the two jump point connecting the Capella system to the rest of the Terran systems. And in the middle of evacuating the last remaining Terran ships to the remaining jump point, the Shivans turn the star into a supernova, destroying everything in the entire system and only their largest destroyers making a subspace jump to an unknown destination before the rest of their fleet is annihilated by the shockwave as well. The epilogue indicates that they've never been heard of again, without any indication why they spend 30 years whiping out any Terrans they could find.
  • Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes's climax needs some explanation to begin with. The game centers around a little girl named Lilli, and her only friend is the titular Edna (the protagonist of the previous title, The Breakout, who was implied to have died at the end). At the very end, after finding her and Garret (another friend of Lilli's) trapped in a cell, Lilli refuses to free them and instead storms in on Doctor Marcel, clutching a knife. He then claims that Edna is dead, and that Lilli was hallucinating both her and Garret all along. (Mind that, given the rest of the game's events, this really doesn't hold up at all.) At this point, both of them show up in his office (whether or not this is just Sanity Slippage on Lilli's part is up for debate), pleading with her to put the knife down. The game has three endings that go from here — stab Doctor Marcel, put down the knife, or just leave. No matter what you choose, none of these newfound revelations are resolved.
  • The Witness: The standard ending includes a flyover of the island wherein the entire thing resets and the player is returned to the starting point, as an excerpt of the Diamond Sutra is read.note 
  • In The Bottom of the Well, the "true" ending — the one where Alice doesn't say she thought the Framing Story dream was "wrong" somehow — is also the strangest. It directly addresses the dream of the future by introducing a character who talks about Mayan prophecy artefacts, government cover-ups, and the like — but we still don't really know what's going on, or why Alice is involved in it. The conclusion of Alice's recounting of the dream to her friend — which has already changed as players finish and restart the game — is completely different, and ends with her realising that "the Rabbit" is free and logging off without further explanation.
  • At the end of Call of Duty: Black Ops III, the player eats their gun to stop the AI Corvus from infecting their Direct Neural Implant. They then appear in a frozen forest, introduced by others as a sort of afterlife made possible by their DNIs, where they fight alongside Taylor against Corvus. Part of the fight involves burning giant human hearts to unlock paths through the forest. Then, the player returns to the real world and manually purges their DNI of Corvus. When asked their name by another soldier, they reply, "Taylor." Then the screen goes black. Unreadably Fast Text throughout the beginning of every mission in the game explains events in the prequel comic that ominously parallel the game events with Taylor and his squad in place of the protagonist and Dylan Stone in the place of the rogue Taylor and his squad, and in the first mission itself the game told a story about how a new recruit died of injuries or complications.
  • Shadow Warrior 2 ends with Kamiko decides to sacrifice her soul to the otherworld to reforge the demonic gate into a gateway after failing to restore her mutated body that was previously used by the Big Bad Ameonna, and then a dragon (with Xing proclaims "That's my girl!") appears and reaching on to the camera, apparently devouring Lo Wang.
  • In Mystic Messenger, failing to get on any character's path causes Yoosung to become convinced that Zen's fourth wall-leaning dream about them all being preprogrammed robots is completely true and a mysterious tattooed man to show up at his house and promise to take him away to a "paradise". The ending makes a bit more sense if you've played through all the game's routes, but it will feel completely out of the blue if you haven't.
  • Punch Club The game opens with the protagonist's father being shot and killed by the mysterious man in black and he takes your fathers medallion, which acts as the game's mc guffin. After hard training and fighting your way to to the top, you head to a secret island which has Sub Zero on it for some reason and fight your brother who is considerably weaker than the last 2 guys you fought to get here. The result of this fight has no effect on anything but 2 lines of dialogue, then you confront the Man in Black and he reveals that he is your father. Yep your father's killer is your father ( ) and that he took the medallion so he could destroy because the medallion turned your father and he destroyed a city except not really or something. Maybe time travel was involved? Not that anyone says, and time travel had not been mentioned up to the that point. Nothing else is explained, no one reacts, asks questions or says anything else, then you get to walk around for a few more seconds before the credits role and that's it. No after scene credits and loading your save takes you back to the last of fight of the championship. Also played for laughs in the the Dark Fist quest line (unlike the main story where the ending is quite serious). It ends with the revelation that evil Mastermind is your cat who faked his own death and you stop him by telling him off, telling him not to try taking over the world then taking him home
  • Scanner Sombre ends with the protagonist realizing himself Dead All Along, the cave exit leads to a small portion of (rendered, not scanned) image of lake and the wife and the children of the protagonist spreading flowers to honor the protagonist. After this realization, the game pans through the whole explored area, back to the first camp where bags and portrait of the wife and children is shown. The game apparently Book Ends as the scanned area gradually fall apart and you're inexplicably back to the underground tent camp where you start the game. However as you try to pick up the scanner once again, the protagonists hands suddenly shown as scanner particles, with muffled scream heard. Credits.
  • Haunting Starring Polterguy: After poltergeist Polterguy defeats the dog, he shortly seems to transforms into his regular human form, then suddenly a huge anvil lands on his head and transforms him into a ghost again. After this the game abruptly ends.
  • Although it's hinted at throughout the game, the ending of BioShock Infinite is quite bizarre compared to what precedes it: Booker kills Comstock, gains control of Songbird, fights off the Vox Populi and then things start to go south and get really weird. First Booker and Elizabeth are teleported to Rapture, thus tying together this game and its two predecessors. Also drowning Songbird in the process as it's unstoppable. After that, Elizabeth and the Luteces begin to explain the nature of the alternate dimensions and timelines, including further tying the two games (There's always a man, there's always a lighthouse, there's always a city) through the Playable Epilogue. Elizabeth helps Booker relive some of the most pivotal moments in his life (the baptism at Wounded Knee/lack thereof, Comstock stealing baby Anna, etc), in the process revealing that Booker is alternate universe Comstock, and finally, all the alternate universe Elizabeths come together to drown Booker/Comstock at Wounded Knee, thus ensuring that Comstock never existed. Considering that up to that point, the game had been a Steampunk pulp action adventure that dabbled with alternate universes as a game mechanic/storytelling device, it's quite the departure.
  • Ending Cardinal Sins: Judgement Silversword -Recycle edition- "normally" results in a straightforward "Thank you for playing" ending. Ending it by killing the True Final Boss, however, results in an ending where a rather dark monologue about the Seven Deadly Sins that has virtually nothing to do with the game is shown (in fluent English in a game made by a Japanese developer that doesn't seem like it was intended to be marketed to foreign audiences, no less), ending in To Be Continued, implying a hook for a sequel that doesn't exist.

    Web Animation 

  • The ending of the Tempura Panda arc in Parasite Galaxy had three characters figuring out they were all actually the same person who then became a duck made out of duct tape. While the comic is still ongoing, the ending to that arc can count as a Gainax Ending.

    Web Original 
  • There Will Be Brawl. The reveal of Kirby as the ultimate mastermind and Ness and Lucas jointly acting as "the Butcher" isn't too hard to understand. The really weird stuff happens after the final battle when we see Kirby is still alive, has murdered Masahiro Sakurai, and just before it fades to black Shigeru Miyamoto walks into the room.
  • The ending of episode 12 of Dragon Ball Abridged — "I'll say."
  • The ending of James Rolfe's Dorothy Goes To Hell.
  • It's not like TVMaxwell's videos are not already completely batshit insane, but the endings usually take it Up to Eleven. For instance, in this brief example, two people go out "clubbing", as in beating random strangers to death with baseball bats. Then the video ends with their car exploding with a pop sound effect, them appearing in space and then flying into the sun, which is all accompanied with opera music. And that's one of the more normal ones.
  • One episode of Regular Ordinary Swedish Meal Time ends with some crazy twisting head laughing maniacally before a caption says "He died".
  • The original Ryan Vs Dorkman ends with Dorkman successfully offing Ryan and walking away to leave - only for Ryan to reappear and ignite a lightsaber through Dorkman's chest. It didn't make any sense until the ending of Ryan Vs. Brandon 2, which reveals that there is a bunch of Ryan clones - this also explains why Ryan has lost every single one of his fights and manages to come back alive.
  • The music video for the song 'Fantasy' by Dye. It starts off innocently enough, with four teens (two girls and two boys) breaking into a swimming pool to fool around a bit. One pair of teens starts to get rather frisky in the pool, while the girl in the second pair shies away from her mate and jumps into the deeper end of the pool instead. Then things start to get... weird. The girl who jumped into the pool notices a strange bulge start to move around in her underpants, and quickly gets out, then she and the boy she left by the poolside turn around, and notice the other pair of teens who had been making out have turned into something ''different''. The mutated girl somehow assimilates the other boy into her body, while the final girl tries to escape, but fails. As her former peers close in around her, she jumps into the pool again, and, upon reaching the bottom, somehow finds herself in a different world. She then looks over the horizon, and her eyes explode. The camera then pans over to a massive Eldritch Abomination, and the video ends.
  • The final video of Alternate Reality Game Pronunciation Book revealed it was connected to infamous Word-Salad Humor twitter account Horse_ebooks. Horse_ebooks itself ended with a link to the Pronunciation Book video, a phone number that was part of a performance piece, and the name of the creators' next project.
  • "Obedience" is a short film. It starts out as a thriller where the subject is put through a twisted take on Milgram's "Obedience to Authority" experiment... and then it gets weird. With tonal shifts and then a twist ending that seems like it was taken from this site's WMG pages...
  • The Nostalgia Critic:
    • The review of The Garbage Pail Kids Movie ends with the movie tearing apart the fabric of reality, causing the Critic to split into two people, one of whom is in a coma and the other is an animated piece of poop floating through space. The turd then remarks "I have become what the movie always was", and sings his Signing Off Catchphrase.
    • His review of the Scooby-Doo ends with him destroying the movie in the past, present, and future, along with his older and younger selves, and ending up in the place where angels go after they die. After brief but rather ominous chat with his dead guardian angel, he wakes up, and all ends with him playing poker with The Cinema Snob, Rob (who is dinosaur for no explained reason) and Death.
    • In the end of his Devil review, Devil turns out to be M. Night Shyamalan and threatens him, then Santa Christ reveals himself to be the Devil in disguise, and sends Shyamalan back to Hell, explaining, that it was all a trap to catch him and return him to hell. After they leave the elevator, Rita Repulsa's corpse comes back to life and turns into Cthulhu, who then says that everything going according to plan.
  • Friday the 13th. ft. Eugene by Matt Santoro ends with Eugene, Matt's clone, doing the weird face that Matt does at the end of every vlog, implying that Eugene and Matt are the same person. What makes this even weirder is that, earlier in the vlog, Matt briefly talks to Eugene.
  • Chrontendo episode 39 ended with him saying that he could not take anymore games in the Family Trainer series, so he said that he would immediately skip to episode 183 to play Super Metroid. Considering that the main goal is to play the games in chronological order, you could imagine how shocked viewers were.
  • The Necro Critic's Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde Double-Feature Halloween Craptacular ends with Necro killing his brother, Devil Critic, only to be killed by the real Necro and Devil Critic, who reveal that the previous Necro and Devil were robot clones of them from the future, only for the living Necro to reveal himself as a robot. Afterwards, a guy watching the video decides to leave a nasty comment on it, only for Necro and Devil to appear behind him and torture him by forcing him to watch The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (2006).
  • While not having a Gainax Ending in the review for Eight Crazy Nights itself, near the end of Duckyworth's review, he calls out the film for this. When Jennifer sees one lone tear from Davey after the police arrest him, and demanding he talks because 'it's the holidays', despite the physical/psychological torture he has induced on others throughout the film, he even uses the first sentence of the first paragraph of this article to describe what a Gainax Ending was, then saying it fell into the former category for not making sense.
    • Played straight in the review of The Nuttiest Nutcracker. After Ducky breaks down from both the film and Monokuma's harassment, Monomi/Usami comes out of nowhere to tell him that "You Are Better Than You Think You Are" for handling even the worse films, like the aforementioned Eight Crazy Nights review, and encourages him to keep going. When the Sugar Plum Fairy arrives as a part of the Credits Gag, Monokuma takes a truck to run her over, then aims for Duckyworth and Unami. Unami tries to stop Monokuma, only to get crushed by Monokuma, which she survives. Duckyworth drives off with her, and it ends, Looney Tunes style:
      Monokuma: Upupupupupu - that's ALL folks!
  • JonTron:
    • The ending of his Nightshade review is borderline nonsensical: after witnessing the constant weirdness of the game (including hilariously bad puns, undecipherable jokes and several Unexpected Gameplay Change moments), he comes across a man beating up an old lady on the street. Deciding he has had enough, he reaches out for the game, throws it against the wall, bashes it successively with a replica of Thor's hammer, a chair, and a kick scooter, all while singing "She's A Lady" (in slow motion, mind you). He finally flies off to the Sun in a spaceship. Watch it in all of its insane glory here.
    • The ending of his Conan Games episode has him pray to God to see if he can find a good Conan game. After he finds the said good Conan game, he stops momentarily and says:
      Jon Tron: There's a jar of horse radish up there. I don't know why, but it's scary. *dramatic zoom on a jar of horse radish with suspenseful music playing*
    • The review of Yoda Stories during Jon's Starcade event ends with him getting "Perfect Yoda", upon which his face flies off and bounces around the room like the cards in classic versions of Windows Solitaire. Which was only the weirdest of a set of already weird endings; Starcade had a lot of them, including things like being apparently attacked by a Dubstep-playing Jar-Jar Binks and turned into a figurine, a sudden tangent with Jon admitting he "let those dogs out" because he wanted to sleep, and his Evil Laugh getting suddenly interrupted by distortion.
  • Many Internet copypastas end this way. One common ending is the revelation that one of the characters was the Loch Ness Monster asking for $3.50 ("tree fiddy"). Other stories randomly segue into a song, often "Lose Yourself" by Eminem (specifically the "Mom's spaghetti" portion), "Walk the Dinosaur" by Was (Not Was), or the theme song to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
  • Don't Hug Me I'm Scared:
    • Episode 4: Ends with the Red Guy discovering a doorway to some kind of recording studio, where he discovers body-suited actors staging a crude recreation of the earlier videos... then his head explodes. Unlike the others, there's no indication that this is some kind of dream or hallucination. He shows up in the next episode, fortunately, although his place or presence in the plot is now unclear.
    • The sixth episode and the series as a whole: Red Guy messes around with a terminal that controls the world of the puppets, only to be grabbed on the shoulder by Roy. Red Guy walks away and pulls a giant plug connecting to the terminal, resulting in the world resetting only on June 20th instead of 19th and with the puppets' colors switched. The notepad shows up and begins to sing its song once more, cue credits.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time has gained its own page. Which says a lot.
  • Decades before Studio Gainax became known for this stuff, Fleischer Studios loved having totally bizarre, unpredictable endings. One prominent example would be the ending of Bimbo's Initiation, which ends with the leader of the cult "Do-It-Or-Die" be revealed to be Betty Boop, who seduces Bimbo into being a member. Once Bimbo accepts, the other cult members show themselves—and then rip off their disguises, revealing themselves to all look like Betty, and then they dance to the end.
  • The Simpsons
    • In "The Great Money Caper", just before Lisa could explain why the town, media and police officials had "nothing better to do" than show Homer and Bart the consequences of their actions Otto appears in the courtroom, shouting, 'Surf's Up!', and the episode ends with everyone surfing.
    • In "Missionary: Impossible", Homer jokingly pledges $10,000 to PBS in order to continue watching the "Do Shut Up" Britcom. When the telethon hosts realize Homer doesn't have the money, he becomes a volunteer missionary, and Reverend Lovejoy sends him to Microasia in the South Pacific. Homer, who is not that familiar with religion, builds a Las Vegas-style casino that disrupts their harmonious lives. Soon afterwards, Homer builds a chapel, and when he rings the bell too loudly, an earthquake occurs, starting a flow of lava. Just as Homer is about to be consumed by lava, the cliffhanger cuts to a Fox pledge drive hosted by Rupert Murdoch and Betty White, who urge viewers to keep crude, low-brow comedy programs such as Family Guy on the air.
    • "Rosebud"
    Homer: Marge, I'm confused. Is this a happy ending or a sad ending?
    Marge: (tersely) It's an ending, that's enough.
  • Most of what seem to be this in Family Guy is often the result of a deliberate joke or subtle parody in the episode, but "Don't Make Me Over" did it for real. The episode ends with Meg reverting to her original appearance and attitude while guest hosting Saturday Night Live. She and the cast gather on stage for the "goodbyes" and the end creditsnote . Then Showtime at the Apollo begins. Suddenly the screen goes dark as if being turned off and we pull back to see Brian all by himself, apparently getting ready to call it a night. Then, he suddenly turns to the camera and defends himself against an unspoken assumption that he only turned off the latter show because he's racist, a Brick Joke from earlier in the episode. It seems to suggest that perhaps Brian is only imagining he's the Griffins' dog.
  • The first season ending of Sheep in the Big City shifts to the Narrator escaping after all the characters are trying to capture him, then the Sheep rescues him, going down the drain, and ends up having Sheep being an Evil Overlord who can talk. Private Public start to speak French, and so is everyone else. Then the Narrator gets put into the Narrator-powered raygun with him begging that the whole thing's a dream, then a flying pig appears and says This Is Reality or else he won't have wings. What?
  • 12 oz. Mouse: The army of robots destroy the city, Fitz plays pinball, then he wakes up in a mind control center inside a mushroom.
  • In the last episode of The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, the characters turn into live-action... In a very weird way.
  • Arthur
    • "The Boy Who Cried Comet" certainly qualifies. The episode suddenly ends with the revelation that Arthur and Co. are actually aliens wearing rubber masks acting out the show on a distant planet. Had most of the audiences throwing their hands up in the air and declaring that they can never look at the show the same way ever again.
    • "The Best of the Nest" had a particularly weird ending that only relates to The Teaser of the episode. At the end (before the ending, Brain was convincing the gang to break their addiction of a new game and do something natural, like go on Mr. Ratburn's camping trip. They eventually do that.), Brain asks Muffy and Francine who were the "Best of the Nest" (the game). They say none of them were and Francine also says "Who knew the best way to scare off a bear was to do the Hokey Pokey?" (referring to a Running Gag in which one of the three-answer questions' answers was to do the Hokey Pokey). All of a sudden they actually hear a bear and close the episode nervously doing the Hokey Pokey.
    • "DW's Name Game" features a somewhat odd ending after DW's Dream Sequence. In the dream, DW is on the run from Arthur who repeatedly calls her by her full name (relating to his and DW's name-calling feud in the real world, which ended with Arthur stumping DW by calling her "Dora Winifred"), and meets a dinosaur called the Thesaurus who gives her the word she needs to win in their feud. However, saying the word to Arthur results in him melting into a puddle of sludge, to DW's horror. She wakes up to find Arthur alive and well. After they apologize to each other for their behavior during the day, DW tells he and her parents about her dream and how "You were there, and you, and you, and you were there, too!". The last "you" is directed towards the Thesaurus, who appears outside her window and says "Aw, sheesh..." in response. Cue a bewildered expression from DW as the episode fades to black with no explanation as to how the dinosaur got there.
  • The finale of Æon Flux. The show was already extremely strange, so when Time Travel gets involved, the results are inevitable.
  • The season finales of The Venture Bros. always end on cliffhangers, but the ending of the first season is by far the most inexplicable, where shortly after being bailed out of prison, the Venture twins are suddenly and accidentally killed during a chance encounter with Henchmen 21 and 24. Of course, being the only Adult Swim show with continuity, this leads into a massive reveal in the Season 2 premiere and begins a major theme on the Venture family's treatment of death.
  • Several episodes of The Ren & Stimpy Show end in this way:
    • "Aloha Hoek" has Ren and Stimpy getting stranded on an island. Long story short, it ends with them taking off their disguises, revealing they're really human "Russian" spies (who talk like Fred and Barney for some reason) and riding off in a submarine.
    • "Ren Needs Help!" is even stranger. Ren has a Freak-Out at the end, and is restrained by the mental hospital doctors. He's apparently given electroshock therapy, and in the next scene, he's fitted with a suit and tie, placed at a desk on the moon, and addresses the nation as the president of the United States (a nod to a fellow patient's paranoid ramblings), where he launches into a parody of Ronald Reagan's infamous "We begin bombing in five minutes" speech.
    • Neither of those have anything on "Haunted House", though. When the ghost's inability to scare Ren and Stimpy drives him to suicide, he comes back to life... as a big, fat naked black man who drives off in a convertible as a confused Ren and Stimpy wave goodbye.
    Black Guy: I'll see you guys in the next scene.
    • The ending of the Girl Scout episode. The Girl Scouts unzip their skin, to reveal that they are old men in disguise. Ren takes off his skin to reveal his skeleton and organs. And everyone laughs.
    • "The Cat That Laid the Golden Hairball" ends with Ren crying over the fact that his overworking of Stimpy cost Stimpy his hairball gland and his nephew crying that without Stimpy's hairball gland, it's which point Ren and Stimpy happily proclaim that it's over and the three of them do a happy celebratory dance.
  • Some episodes of Space Ghost Coast to Coast ends this way, like "Chambraigne".
  • Heavy Metal ends on a rather abstract and metaphysical note.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants
    • "I Had An Accident" ends with SpongeBob, Patrick, and Sandy being attacked by a gorilla (played by a live-action human in a cheap costume). When SpongeBob wonders out loud "What's a gorilla doing underwater in the first place?", the gorilla stops his rampage and tries to explain himself, then suddenly shouts "George, they're onto us!" and rides off into the sunset on a pantomime zebra. The weirdness of the ending is then lampshaded, as it zooms out to reveal a live-action family watching the episode on TV; they're completely puzzled by the whole thing and switch the TV off, ending the episode. Said lampshade-hanging only makes it even weirder.
    • "Graveyard Shift" ended with all the strange occurrences being explained away as the actions of a nervous new potential employee of the Krusty Krab... except for the flickering lights. It turned out that it was the live action version of Nosferatu turning the light switch on and off all along, and nobody seems to be bothered by this.
    • "Bubble Buddy" ends with an angry mob attacking SpongeBob and Bubble Buddy (a humanoid soap bubble) for all the trouble SpongeBob has caused by acting as though Bubble Buddy was a real person. Just as Squidward throws a needle at Bubble Buddy, Bubble Buddy comes to life, grabs the needle out of the air, and announces that "things are getting a little weird around here." He then puts on a bubble hat, produces a bubble briefcase, hails a bubble cab, wishes SpongeBob a happy Leif Erikson day, and drives away into the sky. Everyone goes back to their ordinary lives, and SpongeBob happily cries that people grow up so fast before leaving in a flurry of bubbles. All those bubbles pop except one, and Squidward awkwardly greets it, worried that that bubble is alive too.
    • "Spongehenge" ends with SpongeBob returning from Jellyfish Fields after ten years, only to find Bikini Bottom destroyed by a windstorm. Cut three thousand years into the future, and alien tourists are visiting the Stonehenge-esque structure that SpongeBob built earlier in the episode out of stone statues of himself.
    Alien: To this day, no one knows why these mysterious statues were created or by whom. All we know is that the genius of their design has caused the annual migration of jellyfish to their wondrous tune.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy
    • Up until the last two minutes of "My Fair Mandy", the episode plays like a straight Very Special Episode where Mandy tries her very best to finally outdo longtime rival Mindy in a pageant (something just about unthinkable due to Mindy's popularity and Mandy's surly attitude). All throughout, Grim, Billy, and Irwin tell Mandy that she can't win unless she can smile (a very rare occurrence for her). At first it looks like Mindy will run away with it, but eventually the judges, which include Mindy's mother, start to turn on her. Mandy closes the gap and is neck-and-neck with her rival going into the very last routine. Her helpers remind her one last time via cards that YOU-HAVE-TO-SMILE(-YO). She strains, she struggles, she summons every ounce of will in her small frame... and... AND...... creates a catastrophic maelstrom which rips apart the fabric of reality, and everything goes white. When Grim, Billy, and Mandy come to, they find that they've turned into The Powerpuff Girls. The episode concludes with the familiar flashing-hearts screen and a jaunty "So once again, the day is saved, thanks to... Billy, Mandy, and Grim!"
    • The ending of "Billy Gets an A": Grim and Mandy go back in time to stop Grim from changing Billy's test grade to an A but while past!Grim is distracted Billy changes it himself. They go back further to tell him to study but being an idiot he still fails. Then they go back to stop him from being born and fail again, then keep going back until they're at the dawn of time and fail to stop a dinosaur with Harold's hair from burping. Grim asks how it will all end; Smash Cut to a "The End!" card.
  • The non-canonical Avatar: The Last Airbender short "School Time Shipping" ends with Katara dating the Blue Spirit. No, NOT Zuko. Zuko stands right there, watching.
  • Phineas and Ferb
    • "Mommy Can You Hear Me?" plays out as a normal episode, with Candace trying to bust the boys while they try to send their astronaut friend Sergei, who is searching for wormholes, a birthday message. Long story short, Candace, in her attempt to bust the two, accidentally sends a message to Sergei that leads him to a wormhole. Everything is wrapped up, but Phineas is still bummed that he never wished Sergei a happy birthday. Cut to Sergei, who is now lying in bed as an old man akin to the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Ferb appears as a starchild, floats up to him and whispers, "Happy birthday". Sergei responds, "They did remember. Such nice boys."
    • Same thing with "The Curse of Candace". Starts out normal, with Candace thinking she's a vampire, thanks to a teen vampire movie, among other things. She confronts her brothers about this at the end, and they explain the reason behind some of her vampire powers. So thus, they take off the cloak she was wearing, exposing the sun to her and... she turns to dust. A bemused remark from Phineas, and then? Roll credits. Of course, since he said "Ferb, we're gonna need a dustpan and some glue," it could be that they actually managed to put her back together. Given that it's Phineas and Ferb, it's not impossible. But it's still really weird.
    • The credits gag for "This is Your Backstory" reveals that Phineas and Ferb's extra long ping-pong match was so they could build up the kinetic energy needed to open a quantum singularity. It promptly sucks everything in, leaving behind Candace in a white void.
    • The ending of "Night of the Living Pharmacists" reveals that somehow even though Isabella succeeded in curing all of the Doof zombies in Danville, the rest of the world has already fallen and Danville is walled off to keep the rest of the zombies out. It's then revealed that it was all a movie Stacy was watching.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The series has an in-universe example with Pinkie Pie and the story she tells of how she got her cutie mark, which caps off with an apparent non sequitur remark:
    Pinkie Pie: And that's how Equestria was made!
  • South Park
    • "Royal Pudding": The Royal Canadian Wedding is interrupted when the princess gets kidnapped and Kyle's little brother Ike (who is Canadian) has to rescue her. At the end, Ike rescues the princess and they have the royal wedding, but after the "I do's", the prince tears off the princess' arm and shoves it up his ass.note  It Makes Just as Much Sense in Context, aside from the implied Stealth Pun (the people engaging in these "traditional" activities are aristocrats).
    • "Butterballs": Kyle continually foreshadows Stan "jacking it in San Diego" should he achieve popular success for his anti-bullying video. After his token Woobie—Butters—loses it on national television and causes the entire project to be shut down, Stan ends up... doing what Kyle said he would. The entire ending sequence is a song-and-dance montage that lasts over two minutes, and even in context seems out of left field, with the episode still feeling unresolved despite the logic behind it. To top it off, all this is lampshaded by the Penguin from Neon Genesis Evangelion appearing briefly in one of the shots.
    • The Plot Twist near the end of the "Coon and Friends" arc, when Bradley turns out to be an alien from a planet full of berries that can fuel anything, which he then uses to beat Cthulhu, drag him back to R'lyeh, and close a portal to another dimension, then returns to his home planet.
    • "Goth Kids 3" ends with the reveal that the entire plot of the episode was all part of a prank on a minor character by a game show. Lampshaded by the Goth Kids' reactions.
    • "The Ring": After being embarrassed by an Engineered Public Confession, Mickey Mouse turns into a giant fire-breathing monster and flies to Valhalla.
    • In "The Tooth Fairy's Tats 2000," Kyle gets into some metaphysical reading that leads him to question reality and his own existence. This causes a Mind Screw at the end, which saves the day.
  • Looney Tunes
    • In the cartoon "Riff Raffy Daffy", Daffy ends up tricking Porky into letting him sleep in the department store by taking out a couple of wind-up ducks and presenting them as his "children". In the end, as Porky walks away, it's revealed that he understands what Daffy's going through because his kids are also wind-up toys.
    • It's rarely shown today, but the ending of the short "Fresh Hare" has Bugs Bunny in front of a firing squad. When Elmer Fudd asks him for a Last Request, Bugs randomly starts singing "I Wish I Were In Dixie". Then, everyone turns into blackface minstrels and start singing "Camptown Races."
      Bugs: Fantastic, isn't it?
  • People that disliked Codename: Kids Next Door's finale Operation: INTERVIEWS have accused it of being this kind of ending, starting off as a scavenger hunt competition over the DCFDTL's birthday cake. Nigel manages to win only to suddenly be taken somewhere where he is offered to join a galactic branch of the KND, but requires him to leave Earth for several years and leave behind his treasured team if he accepts. Nigel showed very slight reluctance when he accepted but doesn't really question the whole thing. The fans of the show that dislike the finale strongly consider Nigel's decision (or at least the way he gave it) a serious Out-of-Character Moment.
  • Rugrats:
    • A scary one comes from the episode "What the Big People Do": After Chuckie and Tommy return back to normal, Angelica, for no reason other than scaring the crap out of viewers, says "Oh BOOOOYS! Time to play HOUSE!" Cue Angelica's face morphing back into her adult version, her making an Evil Laugh, Tommy and Chuckie screaming and a hard cut to black. Their screams even echo into the credits.
    • Equally scary is the ending to "Visitors From Outer Space". The episode, which involves Tommy and the other babies being transported into space and Angelica being stranded on a deserted planet, ends with the events of the episode being All Just a Dream being had by Tommy. Everything is back to normal...only to show Angelica still on the deserted planet digging around for something to eat. The episode ends there with no explanation why Angelica is still there. (Or how she even got back, if she ever did.)
  • The ending to the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "The Eds are Coming," where the cul-de-sac is lifted into space by a spaceship after the previous "aliens" in the episode just turned out to be Rolf and some people from his country.
  • The Chowder episode "Won-Ton Bombs" has a Gainax Ending in which the whole world of Mazipan City just disappears and tears apart to reveal C.H. Greenblatt wearing a wig and nervously writing storyboards.
  • Almost every damn episode of Superjail! ever has an ending like this. The most notable example here is the 2-part season 1 finale "Time Police" which ends with the camera zooming out to reveal... a frying machine. What. Of course, the shot is the same one at the beginning of "Time Police" part 1, implying a Stable Time Loop and that the events would continuously loop back. In that case, the creators intended the ending to be ambiguous as they were unsure of a season 2, and stated that had they not been renewed, the ending would be interpreted as the universe having ended or being trapped in the loop. As they were renewed, the ending was forgotten (easy with the general Negative Continuity in the show) and the events in the "Time-Police" episodes were treated as having been retconned out.
  • The Powerpuff Girls episode "Him Diddle Riddle" has Him forcing the girls into solving all sorts of odd riddles and challenges with the threat that "the professor will pay". By the end of the episode, it's revealed that the challenges were all part of a bet that he made with Professor Utonium so as to see if he did not need to pay full price for a breakfast at a restaurant that Him works at. Keep in mind, this is HIM we're talking about.
    Narrator: So, once again... um... yeah.
  • Several episodes of Aqua Teen Hunger Force end this way, but one that stands out in particular is the season 10 opener "Muscles", where after Shake drinks an illegal performance-enhancing beverage he develops extremely ill-tempered self-aware muscles with the voice of John DiMaggio. To get rid of them, Frylock puts him in a cow pen to wait for the muscles to eventually melt away, and when he, Meatwad, and Carl come back to him 6 months later he's now overweight and thinks he's a cow, and as they decide that he's better off this way and leave him there, he gets mauled by coyotes offscreen.
  • Teen Titans Go!, being much Denser and Wackier that the original show, has lots of episodes that end in bizarre and nonsensical ways. For example, in "Hose Water", the episode concludes with Starfire and Cyborg embracing their inner child so much, they age backwards, turn into eggs and are taken back to the land where babies come from, and "Serious Business" ends with the revelation that every bathroom in the world is an alien, and they all take off into the sky, to the confusion of the Titans and the audience.
  • In the final scene of the Littlest Pet Shop (2012) episode "A Day at the Museum," the ball Minka and Penny had chased at the beginning of the episode morphs into a dinosaur egg that hatches and reveals their imaginary friend MinLing. (Bear in mind that this has one of the most mundane settings on The Hub, with rarely anything more fantastic than intelligent animals.)
  • Speaking of The Hub shows, Pound Puppies (2010) has been subject to Gainax endings on occasions. In "No More S'mores", Strudel builds a controllable swamp monster in order to scare some junior campers. At the end of the episode the gang agrees on there being no such thing as swamp monsters in reality. Just then the camera pans to an annoyed swamp monster with an extremely camp voice, who says he doesn't eat people, but will eat their s'mores when they're away from the campsite. He then giddily skips away as the episode does an Iris Out.
  • In the Al Brodax cartoon "Coach Popeye", Popeye and Brutus were arguing over who's the best to teach Swee'Pea and Diesel how to play sports. As usual, Popeye and Brutus ended up fighting. Near the end, they generated a fight cloud and, when it disappeared, it revealed them playing amicably as if they weren't just fighting.
  • An episode of The Cleveland Show ended with Cleveland Jr.'s stuffed animal, Larry the Leopard, coming alive and saying he was going to kill Junior.
  • The ending of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius episode "Sleepless in Retroville" where half of the episode turned out to be a dream of Jimmy's. But then he sees the pillow monsters from earlier chasing his parents and it turns out that Hugh was dreaming. And then he and Judy see Carl being chased by slices of the Pizza Monster and it turns out to be Carl's dream. And then he sees the the Pizza Monster right in front of Sheen. It turns out that Sheen was dreaming. And then he finds himself holding the Pizza Monster who is terrified and it turns out to be the Pizza Monster's dream. The Pizza Monster's wife reassures him that there are no such thing as children and they go back to sleep, ending the episode.
  • Camp Lazlo has two big ones.
    • The episode "Meatman" ends with the main trio about to be eaten alive by a sentient blob of mystery meat, which turns out to just be a scary story that Lazlo is telling the other campers. Lazlo is then implied to be the Meatman himself in disguise and the episode ends with the worried laughter of the other scouts as they realize what's going on.
    • The Grand Finale. Scoutmaster Lumpus is revealed to be an escaped lunatic who stole the real scoutmaster's identity and lived his life for years. The real scoutmaster? Heffer from Rocko's Modern Life.
  • Being one of Nickelodeon's more surreal programs, The Angry Beavers had a number of episodes ending like this:
    • The episode "Act Your Age": The beavers are turned into children until they finally decide to share a golden acorn that they had been trying to acquire the whole episode. However, sharing it causes them to transform into their various evolutions throughout history until they devolve into single-celled organisms.
    • "In Search of Big Byoo-tox" ends with the reveal that who Daggett thought to be the elusive Big Byoo-tox was actually just a big hairy naked Canadian, and that the whole planet rests on the bum of the real Big Byoo-tox who floats in space.
    • "Brothers...Til The End?" was already a rather strange episode by even the show's standards, but to top the whole thing off, it ends with it being left up in the air whether or not the (frankly rather insane) events of the episode were actually experienced by Norb, Dag, and their friends or if they were all hallucinating the whole thing after drinking some punch Daggett had made.
  • Dexter's Laboratory has had its fair share of Gainax Endings, but the ending of the legendary "Dexter and Computress Get Mandark" (already a Bizarro Episode if there ever was one, being written and narrated by a six-and-a-half year old boy and all) is really out there. Basically, Dexter and Computress's plan to "get" Mandark and shrink his head goes awry and results in Mandark's head continuously getting bigger until it outsizes the planet. The episode ends with Mandark's head getting so big it explodes, which results in Earth being showered in millions of disembodied Mandark heads as Dexter yells at Computress.
  • The premise of the Pink Panther cartoon "Come On In! The Water's Pink", involves the eponymous character wowing the masses at a muscle beach with his various inflatable gadgets (such as an inflatable beach-house, inflatable trampolines, and even an inflatable swimming pool) and making a muscleman on the premises jealous. In the end, said muscleman mistakes a large dog for one of Pink's inflatable animals, resulting in the angry dog biting the muscleman and.... it's suddenly revealed that the muscleman was an inflatable object all along and he lands deflated in front of a confused Pink. Pink, at this point, leaves the beach and pulls up the beach sign as he passes by it, and the entire scene deflates; revealing that the entire beach (and quite possibly the entire short) was just one of Pink's inflatable objects all along.
  • Happened on The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat in the episode "Noah's Nightclub", where the ending reveals that the events of the whole episode were acted out by a little girl with bath toys.
  • Hey Arnold!: The premise of "Sid the Vampire Slayer" is that Sid thinks Stinky is a vampire, citing various (and often nonsensical) reasons for why he thinks so. With help from Arnold, though, Sid finds out that everything he thought Stinky was doing had a reasonable explanation behind it and realizes he was stupid for thinking that Stinky was a vampire. Come the last few seconds of episode, though, and we see that Sid was right all along despite all of the previous proof against him, and Stinky apparently really is a vampire. This is never brought up in the series again. (It was likely Played for Laughs.)
  • The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh had quite a few, believe it or not.
    • The biggest one is the surprisingly dark episode "Sorry, Wrong Slusher". The plot of the episode is that Christopher Robin, Pooh, and several of the others stay up late (against the wishes of Christopher's mother) to watch a "slusher" (read: Slasher) film, only for Tigger (thinking he was ordering a pizza) to accidentally give their house address to an angry sounding man on the telephone. Everyone panics thinking a "slusher" is coming for them and set up traps around the house. To make a long story short, the mess ends with everyone (including the stuffed animals) all getting arrested, at which point the events of the episode turn out to be All Just a Dream Christopher Robin was having; having fallen asleep while watching the slusher movie. Everyone expresses relief until a pizza delivery man suddenly appears at the door with a bunch of pizza, even though the characters ordering pizza had been part of the dream. The scene then fades to a bewildered Christopher back in jail (and in prison clothes) as Pooh gives this brief monologue, suggesting that everything in the episode up to Christopher leaving bed was All Just a Dream:
    Pooh: On March 16th, Christopher Robin was found guilty of leaving his bed when he shouldn't have and was placed in the custody of his friends. Everything you've seen was a dream, and only the names of the animals have been changed to protect the innocent.
  • The Van Beuren Studios shorts starring characters named Tom and Jerry (no relation to the cat and mouse) almost always ended in bizarre and inexplicable ways. For instance, "Redskin Blues". Tom and Jerry get kidnapped by hostile stereotypical Native Americans, but after a brief music number, what seems to be the entire US army, navy, cavalry, and air force comes to their rescue when Jerry sends a signal. The boys are rescued and the tribe's chief is apprehended. As one general lays into the chief for the kidnapping, he accidentally pulls the chief's robe off....revealing the chief to actually be a stereotypical Jewish man (this was made in the 1930s) wearing overalls. The man laughs at everybody and lets a mouse loose out of a box in his pocket, resulting in everybody present (even the big brave army men) running away from this single mouse in a panic as the short ends.
  • For being one of Cartoon Network's more down-to-earth shows, this happens in Clarence a lot. For just one example, we have "Average Jeff". After Jeff's Deranged Animation freak out, the status quo has been restored with the "divided-by-potential" class idea being scrapped. Jeff returns to his desk happy, only to find another kid sitting there. Jeff tells her that she's in his seat...and it turns out that the girl is the tapir he dreamed that he married during his freak-out. The episode ends right there and then with Jeff screaming (which is interrupted by a strange buzzing sound), with no explanation for what just happened.
  • Nobody's quite sure as to what happened at the end of the Archer episode "Vision Quest". After the casts spends the entire episode trapped in an elevator, Ray finally is able to call Malory. It instead goes towards the elevator's phone, playing a voicemail message from Archer, at which point everyone assaults him. A theory supported (but not confirmed) by someone who works on the show is that Archer deliberately set the elevator to get stuck and for calls to Malory to re-route to the elevator phone, but didn't account for Kreiger to install signal-jammers above the elevator, leaving them stuck. It doesn't explain why Lana then accused Malory of deliberately getting them stuck, though.
  • Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero definitely has a Gainax Ending: Phyllis and Phil are revealed to be the same person. They inform the remaining characters that there is no need for part-time heroes or villains anymore before merging into one being that suddenly becomes encased in a blocky metallic gorilla suit that promises to watch over the trio. It proceeds to fly off into the sky and raptures both Fish Stick on a Stick and the old movie theater with it. At the very end, it is shown in a room full of light on a pedestal a being speaks gibberish and informs the gorilla that phase one is complete before asking whether it was ready to begin phase two. We cut to a close up of the gorilla's face with a genuine smile and widening eyes as if something amazing is being witnessed. Light eclipses the shot and we fade. That's our Grand Finale, ladies and gentleman.


Alternative Title(s): Mind Screw Finale, What The Hell Ending, WTF Ending