Ending Aversion

"Hey, let me tell you something. I just finished this show/movie/book, and it's awesome! It has such a great plot! There are so many great mysteries and secrets in it, and the writing is just excellent... Well, at least for the first bit... I mean, it sort of starts to collapse under its own mythology after a while, and the ending doesn't really answer all the questions it raises, but man... you're in for a heck of a ride! ... hey, where are you going?"

When people get involved in a story, many have the basic expectation that it will have a satisfactory ending. This, in and of itself, is not unjustified: no matter how good Acts One and Two are, if Act Three is unsatisfying, that is all that the people outside the theater will be talking about.

The thing is, so much conspires against a satisfactory conclusion.

Maybe the show was Screwed by the Network and was canceled before any of the questions it raised could be answered. Maybe as time went on, the story collected so many elements that there was no possible way that they could do each justice. Maybe it was the first part of a series left unfinished by the now-deceased or bored author, leaving the long epic unfinished. Maybe the Series Goal was never achieved. Maybe the writers just plain ran themselves out of creativity by the end of it, and so much Fanon Discontinuity is claimed, you could swear the fandom was composed solely of historical revisionists. Maybe too many a spoiler was revealed, and it seems rather pointless to watch. Or maybe you've just heard that the whole thing devolves into such unspeakable surreality that it would taint the rest of the experience. Maybe you know that in-universe material taking place later in continuity makes any happy part of the ending a study in Fridge Horror.

Hearing about all these things makes many people very wary. No one wants to spend time dedicating themselves to something long and epic that will leave them slowly disappointed. Maybe the overall experience would have more than compensated for any supposed deficiencies of the ending, but the potential viewer has been scared off.

This is Ending Aversion.

Now, of course, someone could make an attempt to keep watching it for as long as they liked it, then turn it off when they didn't. When someone becomes too attached to the characters and the whole story, however, that's easier said than done. This, then, often results in the viewer going online to complain about what happened in the story... and the cycle begins anew.

Ironically, the biggest contributor to Ending Aversion might just be those who consider themselves the most hardcore fans of a work. Criticism is fun to read and to write and fan discussion will inevitably lead to someone choosing to Accentuate the Negative of the shows they love: "They Changed It, Now It Sucks." "It was better when all the mysteries were still up in the air." "It was great when it started, but the last couple of seasons never happened", and so on.

And well, it's hard to say that we're not somewhat to blame either.

If a work is avoided because of a Downer Ending, that is Angst Aversion.

Compare to Hype Aversion and The Firefly Effect (wariness of committing to a new show, as opposed to one that has concluded). See also Awesomeness Withdrawal. Contrast Ending Fatigue when the audience starts wanting the story to end.

Warning: Ending SPOILERS below.

Examples and Reasons:

Gainax Ending (It's completely out of left field)

  • Neon Genesis Evangelion is infamous for its Gainax Ending, and is, as of now, the show that lead to Studio Gainax being the Trope Namer. The last two episodes make so little sense that some fans might recommend you skip them and go straight to End of Evangelion... except that End is equally as divisive! This makes it the rare work that is a clear example of something hit by Ending Aversion, Hype Aversion, and Angst Aversion.
  • The Prisoner.
  • Lost, what with the fact that the ending chose to go for a more metaphysical angle, with several of the questions being unanswered.
  • The Big O, due to the Reset Button ending on top of being Cut Short.
  • While not an ongoing series, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty's ending has a sufficient reputation for being bizarre and incomprehensible to bring about this trope.
  • Mass Effect 3 has gained a reputation of being to Video Games what Lost was to Live-Action Television and what Neon Genesis Evangelion was to Anime. The highly controversial ending and resulting Internet Backdraft scared off numerous potential players, although the company later released DLC that seems to have made the endings more palatable and is reducing the effect considerably.
  • St. Elsewhere was one of the first series to do this, ending with an All Just a Dream revelation. The show was notable for lots of other things in its day, but now it's mostly notable for this — and therefore not very appealing to new viewers.
  • Roseanne also had a variation of the It Was All A Dream ending which pissed many fans off to no end and has been the biggest barrier of entry for new fans.

Mind Screw (It's incomprehensible)

Seasonal Rot (It's not worth the trouble getting there)

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Season 4 made some decisions that weren't very popular, though the general attitude is that season 5 got better again. Showrunner Joss Whedon then took a year off during season 6 to focus on the musical episode (and Firefly), and while people do remember and celebrate the musical episode even years later, this meant that he handed off writing duties for season 6 to other writers, and it showed. Things got moving again in season 7 when Joss came back full time, and the story intentionally built up to the final battle, but many still found it to be little better due to problems with the characterization of much of the cast.
  • Battlestar Galactica - the first two seasons are great, to the point that it won a Peabody Award during the break between seasons two and three. When season 3 got underway, they started running out of ideas, and it was downhill from there. It didn't help that a large portion of the acclaimed writing staff (but not the head writer) left the show before season 3 got underway, particularly all of the female writers (who also were acknowledged to be the guiding hand in the writing of the female characters up to that point). Though YMMV on if season 3 was where the seasonal rot started - there is also a large contingent of fans that thinks the second half of season 4 was where things started getting bad. And that's not even getting into the controversy over the series' Esoteric Happy Gainax Ending.
  • Scrubs: Season 8 ended JD's story (our protagonist and narrator for the entire series) on a high note, and was intended to be a series finale. Season 9, however, revamped much of the cast (Turk and Cox were still regulars, others were relegated to guest stars), changed the setting, and had a different focus (med school). Series Creator Bill Lawrence initially wanted to rename the show to make it clear that this was a new beginning, but this was nixed by the network.
  • The West Wing: The first four seasons had Aaron Sorkin at the helm. After he left, it just wasn't the same anymore.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess: Season 5 is generally regarded by Xena fans as when the show went downhill.
  • Heroes - Some people think the rot even began with the season one finale. The problem isn't that the writers never planned out the show... it's that they intended the show to have an anthology-format with a rotating cast. Problem was that the season one characters instantly became popular national sensations, so they were forced to come up with new plots for them on the fly. It didn't help that there was a Writer's Guild of America strike which truncated season 2. Viewers started leaving in droves during season 3 when they started just recycling plots from season 1 (how many times can Sylar flip-flop from evil to good and back?).
  • Stargate SG-1 - They'd sort of resolved all of the main story arc by the end of season 7, and a later episode broke the Fourth Wall to say that fans felt they phoned it in for season 8. The real break was seasons 9 and 10, when they introduced an entirely new set of villains, which to be honest were something of a retread of the earlier ones. They were even going to rename the show "Stargate Command" when season 9 began to try to emphasize how different it was, but rather than make a sequel-spinoff the network felt more viewers would stay if they kept the name intact.
  • Star Trek: Voyager - Depending on who you ask, the mid-series switch from Kes to Seven of Nine may cause this trope to apply to the early seasons. The finale is also controversial, especially the sudden Chakotay/Seven relationship; old viewers are likely to warn new ones not to get invested in pairings like Janeway/Chakotay and Doctor/Seven for that reason.
  • Bunny Drop - While the second half of the story introduced a Genre Shift and a Time Skip that was disliked by some, what really turned off a larger portion of the audience was the inverted Wife Husbandry aspect of the ending, where the female protagonist Rin is revealed to be in love with the man who raised her for at least a decade, who is her nephew. It follows through till the end, and they end up as a couple. Worse, the author randomly reveals they aren't related after all, destroying the central aspect of the series.
  • Robin Hood ended its second season with the murder of Maid Marian at Guy of Gisborne's hands, described enthusiastically by the creators as "a shocking twist" and a chance to "rock the show." Audience reaction ran the gamut from bafflement to disgust, and it became increasingly clear throughout season three that the writers had put little thought into what would happen after removing the show's emotional centre. The show floundered through a range of unconnected plotlines and arbitrary new characters before being cancelled with all the fan-favourite characters dead, the hated Scrappies still standing, and several plot threads dangling. Still, it's quite fun telling non-viewers about Marian's death: they'll invariably pull a face and go: "Huh? Why would they do that?"
  • The Saw series. An excellent example of why myth arcs and mainstream-Hollywood-strength Executive Meddling do not mix.
  • The show Alias had two fascinating and complex seasons, but then a series of mistakes on the part of the writers, the producers, a dose of Executive Meddling, and a nasty feedback loop from shippers in the fan community derailed the series in Season 3. Throughout much of S3, the show circled in a holding pattern; then, in S4 and S5, the ongoing, overarching storylines collapsed and the writers even began to lampshade their own failures.
  • Sliders, thanks to some of the most notorious Executive Meddling, lost the intellectual "what-if" in favor of "movie ripoff of the week" and bridge dropped almost the entirety of the original cast, leaving most fans abandoning ship by the fourth season. A common disclaimer will now say to watch the first two seasons, and pretend the others didn't happen.
  • Dexter, starting with the fifth season, was heavily criticized for its focus on more lesser received characters, lots of padding resulting in uneven pacing, and often underwhelming resolutions to its plotlines.
  • The Pendragon Adventure: Book eight raised some serious Timey-Wimey Ball questions and was considered inferior to most material preceding it, and books nine and ten are widely considered to be rot because they fail to adequately explain several plot threads, flat out ignore others, throw in Villain Decay for the series' Big Bad, and hit the Reset Button to pair up the author's preferred couple (and drop a bridge on an Ensemble Darkhorse).
  • The 1980s hit the Classic series of Doctor Who very hard. There are lots of wonderful times to be had in the decade, of course, including a couple of mini-golden-ages, but it eventually just peters out in a little speech from the Doctor in a field after the malicious Executive Meddling and increasingly miniscule budget finally choked the show to death. If you're not the kind of person who gets off on watching a hugely popular show get slowly derailed and destroyed over a decade, bingewatching the entirety of 80s Who is not going to feel good. (Of course, if you're not that kind of person, this may not be the kind of wiki for you either.)

Bolivian Army Ending (Heroes headed to what may well be their doom)

  • Angel.
  • Animorphs: While it's bad enough that the (still living) protagonists are just as, if not more, broken and traumatized despite defeating the Yeerks, the knife twist comes when they decide to initiate what is most likely a suicide attack against an extremely powerful enemy that had only been vaguely alluded to in the previous books and just sort of shows up out of nowhere.
  • Blake's 7.

The Resolution Will Not Be Televised (Instead, it takes place in a different medium)

  • JAG
  • Samurai Jack.
    • The creator, Genndy Tartakovsky, originally intended to create a movie to end the series. However, after the less than stellar performance of The Powerpuff Girls Movie, he shelved the idea and hasn't come back to it since. Interestingly, the series was never officially canceled, so he could theoretically end it at any time. Of course this could change now that it's been revived and about to air on [adult swim].

The Chris Carter Effect (Much of the Kudzu Plot goes unresolved)

  • The X-Files, of course. Even attempts at The Resolution Will Not Be Televised did not go so well (the series ends with the protagonists "waiting" for a future cataclysm; the second movie was an unrelated plot that preceded this disaster; the supposed third movie to finally give closure languished in Development Hell, and while there will be an Un-Canceled season, how it deals with everything is yet to be seen).
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events. In this case, The Chris Carter Effect was intentional.
  • Chrono Cross pulls more plot threads out of its ass in the second disc than some games pull their entire length, and none of them are properly resolved.
  • Revolution added three more plot elements for every plot point it addressed directly, reminding viewers unfavorably of Lost.

Left Hanging / Cut Short (The central premise goes unresolved, often because outside forces kept it from doing so)

  • Clone High.
  • Carnivāle.
  • Joan of Arcadia.
  • Tru Calling.
  • Harsh Realm.
  • Alan Moore's run on Supreme.
  • Lois and Clark.
  • A Modest Destiny.
  • Farscape - cut short due to abrupt cancellation at the end of season 4, after they'd already been told they'd get a fifth season, so they didn't plan it as the final season. The show did later get a finale-miniseries which was intended to be the truncated version of the plot developments in what would have been season 5. Surprisingly, this actually provided good explanations and resolution for many of the running plotlines, so ultimately Farscape averted this trope.
    • And now it has comics wrapping things up even tighter, including wrapping up the series-long plot point of Rygel wanting to take his throne back from his traitorous cousin (never done on the show because making and operating so many Hynerian puppets would have been impossible).
  • Stargate Universe: SGU was plagued with issues from the very start, and the steadily dropping ratings convinced SyFy to cancel the show after its second season. As a result, the second season ended on a major cliffhanger, since the writers had assumed they'd have a third season or at least a movie to resolve the remaining plot threads.
  • Soap which ended on three cliff-hangers
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles which attempted to save the show by coming up with the biggest twist they could think of, only for it not not to save the show and ultimately drive fans of the show insane. With a completely unrelated Terminator series on the cards it seems fans will forever be in limbo.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima! was given a rushed ending when Ken Akamatsu fought with the editors regarding property rights over the series and decided to End The Franchise Early And Run rather than surrender them.
    • The first anime also had a very rushed ending as the creators thought they would have multiple seasons to work with (as was necessary to adapt Negima faithfully) and were disabused of this notion with only 1/3 of the season left to wrap it up.
  • Flash Forward.
  • Caprica. Not as bad as some of the examples in that the writers were given time after the series' cancellation to write an epilogue to wrap the whole thing up, but the entire sequence is just one huge sequence of What Could Have Been.
  • The Event
  • Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time: The game ended on a massive Cliffhanger that would have been a great Sequel Hook... except that the company recently stated they have no plans to make a sequel. An interesting example in that the game itself is very well-liked and considered a worthy successor to the first three games, but since a cliffhanger like that is a major Downer Ending when taken on its own, fans just don't want the series to end that way.
  • Army of Two The Devils Cartel : The game had already pissed several fans off by dancing around the fate of a character from the previous two games (I.E. not revealing whether they were alive or just missing) and it's major plot twist halfway through the game (which many felt was completely nonsensical and utterly destroyed the characterization of previously good character for no good reason), and then to top it off the final scene throws out some vague hints towards a sequel, which given the games disappointing sales and it's studio going bankrupt will likely never happen.
  • Half-Life 2: Episode 2: Episode 2 ends on a major cliffhanger. However, Valve seems to have lost any interest in developing a continuation.
  • Martian Successor Nadesico suffers from this due to ''Prince Of Darkness'' (Which was supposed to be the first in a trilogy) bombing from the number of problems with it including breaking from the spirit of the series. Having a Japanese Saturn only game that explains what happens between the end of the series and the movie only made things worse.
    • This also happens In-Universe with Akito hesistant to watch the last episode of Gekiganger. In the final episode he did...and he said it sucked due to the massive amount of Ass Pull included in one episode.
  • Beelzebub was cut short during the Fuji Arc, resulting in a hurried Final Boss readers found unsatisfying (especially as the Takamiya Arc was a similar but longer version of it) and many plot threads about the Solomon Company left dangling. Thankfully the creator did managed to get an epilogue in, but that still left a lot unanswered.

Author Existence Failure (Creator didn't live to finish the work)

Author Filibuster / Author Tract (Creator's politics come to supersede the story)

Ending Fatigue (Takes too long to get to that ending)

No Ending

  • Inception. Don't bother to watch if never learning whether or not it was All Just a Dream would interfere with your enjoyment. Although there are people willing to swear it's clear and obvious for both sides.
  • The Sopranos is a particularly controversial example. The ending may depict Tony's death but it's left very ambiguous and up to the viewer's interpretation.
  • Stuart Little. It should be noted that this only applies to the original book and not the movies.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events. The most basic conflict is resolved, but a great many plot threads are simply left hanging.

Orphaned Series (Creator just didn't finish what they started)

Doomed by Canon (Prequel-specific — knowing what happens to the characters in the original makes it hard to care about their pasts)

Keep Circulating the Tapes (There's an ending, but good luck finding it)

  • Zot!, for quite a while. (The final set of print issues, representing Zot's adventures on our Earth, and often described as some of the best work of the series, had not been collected in trade form until later.)


  • Mai Hime, for undoing almost all the character deaths and associated traumas, although those critical of the darker tone in later episodes, among others, disagree.
  • BIONICLE was hit by a Kudzu Plot Ending Fatigue which relied too much on Shocking Swerves and was Left Hanging due to a massive Schedule Slip, with only one of the plots wrapped up. Throw The Chris Carter Effect in there somewhere, along with the post-script revelation that almost all the character deaths have been undone or redone off-screen.
  • Fallout 3 got a bit of a negative reputation after word of the ending got out. The backlash was more or less mitigated by later DLC, though.
  • How I Met Your Mother's finale is one of the most controversial, love-it-or-hate-it endings on record. Barney and Robin get divorced after only three years; Barney goes right back to his womanizing ways; Tracy (a.k.a. the Mother) is revealed to have died in 2024; the kids encourage Ted to go after Robin yet again. The meltdown among fans and critics was big enough to make the news and is likely to haunt the series for years to come, although some fans have been mollified by the alternate ending released with Season 9's DVDs (which basically just leaves out the unpopular bits at the very end).
  • David Eddings' series The Dreamers. It's generally described as a pretty average series, not as good as the Belgariad/Malloreon or the Elenium/Tamuli, but a decent read overall... except the ending. There are some fans who loved the whole series, but they are vastly outnumbered. Why? Well, the ending had the most powerful gods decide to finally take down the enemy by going back in time and rendering said enemy infertile. Not only was there no reason why they couldn't have done this before, but this had the effect of writing the whole series out of existence, setting everyone back to where they were in the beginning of the series (with some changes- for example, a minor character got brought back to life, though one of the main characters had to stay dead) and making it so that nothing in the previous books had happened. Upon finishing the books and realising that the first three books were entirely meaningless, most of the fans flipped their shit.
  • The finale of the Dwarves' quest line in RuneScape was controversial for its big twist. Turns out you'd already won in the penultimate quest and didn't know it, with your victory in that quest convincing the bad guys to give up. The only reason they're fighting you is because you attacked them first in anticipation of an attack that was never going to come. In the end the two main villains sort-of commit suicide because you won't leave them alone. Yay?
  • Towards the end of The Dirty Dozen, our protagonists trap some German soldiers and civilians in a cellar, and then burn them to death. This has made some people reluctant to watch the rest of the film, which is generally good fun.
  • Dying Light: Both of the endings in The Following result in either Crane being turned into a volatile and spreading the infection outside of quarantine, or willingly activating a nuclear warhead to contain the infection by destroy all of Harran and its inhabitants. Suffice to say, the endings hurt many potential players' desire to play the DLC, or even the original game, for that matter.
  • Magical Starsign's ending is heavily disliked, as not only does the person you were trying to save the whole game die, the epilogue has every character acting against the development they received or getting all-new hopes and dreams, and one character even sacrifices himself. The romance is also left unresolved.