"All Bette's stories have happy endings. That's because she knows where to stop. She's realized the real problem with stories — if you keep them going long enough, they always end in death."
This is a final chapter or episode of a work where the writer decides to explain how every single significant character in the series dies. Maybe death is a major theme of the work, or maybe it's just amusing. This only occurs well after the climax of the work and its major plotlines have been resolved. Oddly, this is almost never used as a Downer Ending
and is more commonly used as way to demonstrate the beauty and preciousness of life. After all, We All Die Someday
A form of Distant Finale
. Compare and contrast Kill 'em All
in which most or all of the cast is killed at the climax of the work.
As both a Death Trope and an Ending Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.
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- In Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, we see the funeral of Leila, the mercenary working with D who feared that no one would mourn her death. She died as an old woman several decades after her adventures with D. She had many mourners (and at least one grandchild), much to the relief of D who promised her that he would place flowers on her grave and mourn her, if there were no one else around to do so.
- Le Chevalier D Eon does this for the few main characters who survive.
- In the Marvel Universe, The End and Earth/Universe/Paradise X are all basically just comicbook/graphic novel embodiments of this for the whole Marvel universe.
- Frank Miller's Martha Washington Dies does this for the entire Martha Washington franchise, skipping ahead 77 years after the previous Martha Washington installment to show Martha dropping dead at 100 after giving an inspirational speech to a crowd while her granddaughter is present.
- Jonah Hex from The DCU was given a Deadly Distant Finale (set in the year 1904) in the Jonah Hex Spectacular one-shot. His death was based off of that of Wild Bill Hickok, but Hickok was never stuffed and mounted in a ridiculous Roy Rogers style costume afterward. This is a bit of a strange case, in that the Jonah Hex Spectacular came out in 1978... and the regular Jonah Hex book lasted until 1985, running for about 75 more issues after the Spectacular.
- Y: The Last Man does this, covering five years in the first 59 issues and then jumping ahead sixty years for the final chapter, where a clone of Yorick Brown meets the titular hero, now a bitter old man who outlived every other major character in the series and is now committed following a suicide attempt on his 86th birthday. The meeting sparks several depressing flashbacks, crossing off Yorick's traveling companions one by one, as he shares some poignant wisdom with his carbon copy before unexpectedly departing (the room).
- The Bucket List ends with the ashes of Jack Nicholson's character Edward Cole, who beat cancer and lived another thirty years after that, being put on a mountaintop (illegally) next to those of his friend who failed to beat the cancer.
- Death Becomes Her ends with the funeral of Ernest Menville, who had refused to take the immortality potion and instead went on to lead a fulfilling life.
- The Godfather Part III ends 18 years after the movie's finale with Michael Corleone dying alone on an abandoned plantation, after losing his daughter and becoming estranged from his friends.
- Titanic. Maybe. It could just be a dream.
- Legends Of The Fall: Tristan gets killed by a bear in 1963, after witnessing all of his remaining family members die of old age.
- Alan Ruck (Cameron Frye in Ferris Buellers Day Off) has been quoted as saying that he'd like to do a Bueller sequel in this vein.
But just for fun, I used to think why don't they wait until Matthew [Broderick] and I are in our seventies and do Ferris Bueller Returns
and have Cameron be in a nursing home. He doesn't really need to be there, but he just decided his life is over, so he committed himself to a nursing home. And Ferris comes and breaks him out. And they go to, like, a titty bar and all this ridiculous stuff happens. And then, at the end of the movie, Cameron dies
- In the book The True Meaning of Smekday (yes), the book ends with a newspaper clipping reporting the main character's death. It's actually a Heartwarming Moment, seeing as she was over a hundred and outlived by a massive clan of children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and her alien companion.
- The final chapter of The World According To Garp by John Irving.
- Watership Down has a final chapter set years after the climax, when Hazel passes away peacefully.
- In The Accidental Time Machine, but with a twist that gives new meaning to the rest of the story.
- The Distant Finale to the Modesty Blaise novels in Cobra Trap.
- The Appendices to The Lord of the Rings tell you what happens to all of the main characters. They don't all die, though - several of them sail to Eldamar.
- The mortal characters who sail west are still going to die. Being in the vicinity of the Undying Lands doesn't make one immortal. In fact the Silmarillion implies that it may actually make them age and die faster. Elves, of course, can be expected to live on until the end of the world, as can Gandalf, who is one of the Maiar.
- True, but it is also implied that Bilbo, Frodo and Sam are granted a special pardon for having been Ringbearers, that Legolas and Galadriel petitioned for Gimli to live (and Shadowfax was Gandalf's horse), so they all had some powerful arguments going for them. Which is not to say that they became immortal, even if keeping mortals alive in Valinor could be done, apparently: Tuor (though he was allegedly counted among the Noldor upon arrival) is one case, Ar-Pharazôn and the Númenórean armada being imprisoned under fallen hills is another. On the other hand, that probably is a Fate Worse than Death.
- They were given permission to travel there. The Undying Lands were closed to mortals and were removed from the circles of the world when mortals tried to conquer death by conquering the Lands. The trauma of being a Ringbearer is such that the Valar grant them permission to land there as a recompense. Gimli is only allowed to go (and it's not entirely certain that he did; the Red Book admits it is only a rumor) because Galadriel herself acts as his sponsor. If he did go, he would be the one and only Dwarf to have set foot there. But Bilbo, Frodo, and Gimli would eventually die. Note that this is not necessarily a bad thing. In the Tolkien mythology, the Valar, Maiar, and the Elves will grow weary of this world long before they leave it. That's the true Deadly Distant Finale of the Lord of the Rings.
- Stephen King
- The end of the novella The Body has one where the narrator reveals the deaths of the other three main characters.
- King also uses this in The Green Mile, where the sole survivor relates the deaths of every other character in the book as John Coffey is sent to the chair. Due to being Cursed with Awesome by Coffey, he ends up outliving all of his family and friends.
- Forsyth's The Dogs of War has an epilogue which shows how Kurt Semmler, Langarotti, and Cat Shannon all die.
- The last chapter of Tuck Everlasting takes place about 100 years after the previous one. The main character chose not to drink the water of immortality; the immortal Tucks discover this when they see her grave.
- The Vicomte of Bragelonne, the last of Alexandre Dumas' sequels to The Three Musketeers, ends with a greatly aged D'Artagnan getting blown up by a cannonball.
- The epilogue of The Prince and the Pauper acknowledges a Foregone Conclusion. The real Edward VI died of an unspecified illness at the age of fifteen, five to six years after the events of the story. Mark Twain also traces Miles Hendon's line to its eventual demise.
Live Action TV
- The last episode of Six Feet Under did this, in a Flash Forward montage set to Sia's "Breathe Me".
- Band of Brothers ends with Winters describing the lives of a few of the men after WWII. Since the series was made over fifty years after the war had ended, this meant explaining how a lot of them had died.
- Some of the Easy Company veterans who were alive at the time of the series broadcast have since died, including Dick Winters and Carwood Lipton.
- The book on which the series is based provided one of these for every member of Easy Company, including members who ended up being secondary characters in the adaptation. Most of them got as close to Happily Ever After as anyone does in Real Life, with the most prominent exception being Captain Sobel, who went through a decades-long Humiliation Conga that culminated in a Lonely Funeral.
- Babylon 5 has two. The fourth season finale extends out to about a million years after the series and everyone has presumably died a couple segments in (100 years later). The series finale goes about twenty years and deals with how Sheridan passes on.
- His death is left ambiguous, though, as he sees Lorien once again before simply disappearing, implying he simply ascended and went beyond the rim.
- Micheal Garibaldi manages to have an on-screen death in the 4th season finale hundreds of years after his actual death, thanks to being recreated in a computer simulation. The totalitarian government in control of Earth by then intended to modify Garibaldi's facsimile to suit their own purposes before launching a surprise attack on their enemies. Instead, Garibaldi takes over the computer system and warns the other side, and is killed when the other side's pre-emptive strike destroys the base.
- Power Rangers RPM originally appeared to do this for the Power Rangers series as a whole, taking place Twenty Minutes into the Future, after 99% of humanity has been wiped out by killer robots. The species as a whole rebuilds by 3000 for Power Rangers Time Force, but that isn't very much consolation for those humans not lucky enough to have reached Corinth.
- This was reversed when the series was Un-Cancelled; with Power Rangers Samurai revealing that RPM takes place in an Alternate Universe. When RPM Ranger Red visits the Samurai team through a wormhole, he doesn't demorph for fear of being unable to breathe.note
- Slightly varied in the finale of LOST: we don't see how everyone dies, but we see what happens to them after that.
- The Distant Finale of BioShock in the good ending shows the main character on his death bed, with the Little Sisters (who are now adult women) clasping their hands over his in a show of love for the man who saved them from a Fate Worse than Death and gave them normal lives.
- The PlayStation and DS ports of Chrono Trigger feature an anime cutscene showing the fall of the kingdom and corruption of the Masamune, leading up for Chrono Cross.
- The epilogue of Marathon Infinity is set at the last quantum moment before the heat death of the universe. In this final moment, the still alive Durandal ponders his existence and in his last moment of life he finds himself thinking about the Security Officer and how he affected the universe...
- The endings of each of the Black Isle/Obsidian Fallout games (Namely 1, 2, and New Vegas) is a slide show of this for the major factions and a few main characters. While not every major character is covered, endings like that of Broken Hills (in where even the good ending has the town's uranium mine running out, causing the town to be abandoned) fit this trope to a T. Oddly enough, the player character is excluded from the montage.
- One strip of Achewood had a row of panels for each of the main characters, showing them growing older and ending with their final resting place. Interestingly, Roast Beef's final panel is just a black square, and Philippe...well, Philippe is five.
- Teased repeatedly throughout the run of Bob and George, and finally shown in a somber death-by-death monologue that ends with the characters having faked all the previous events and retiring to Acapulco.