Follow TV Tropes

Following

Deadly Distant Finale

Go To

"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."
Neil Gaiman, The Sandman #6, "24 Hours"

This is a final chapter or episode of a work set after a lengthy Time Skip where the writer decides to explain how either the main character, or in some cases up to every single significant character, 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 Shoot the Shaggy Dog type of Downer Ending, and is more commonly used as way to demonstrate the preciousness and even the beauty of life. After all, statistics regarding lifespans in reality at the least give people the indication that We All Die Someday.

Advertisement:

A form of Distant Finale. Compare "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue. 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.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • In the extra chapter 139.5 of Attack on Titan, it's shown that Mikasa went on to get Happily Married and had a fulfilling life, and that for the entirety of her life and that of her immediate descendants Armin's attempts at brokering peace were apparently succesful. At some point in the very distant future, however, History Repeats and a war fought with modern artillery and aircraft reduces Paradis to rubble. The story ends on an ambiguous tone, however, as what is implied to be decades after said war a boy suggested to be Mikasa's descendant is out exploring the wilderness and comes across the tree where Eren's head is buried, which is still standing after all this time and has grown to titanic heights. The implication being that the power of the titans may return.
  • The climax of Fire Punch has most of the cast dying, Agni suffering Death of Personality, and Judah voluntarily becoming a World Tree that will partially restore the frozen Earth. Then it flashes forward eight decades to Neneto dying of old age, "Sun" (the new Agni personality Neneto named after the story's final villain) learning some of his past life's exploits, and fears humanity will use newly discovered weapons to wipe itself out anyway fighting over the little arable land. Then time advances millennia over and over as Judah tries to give the Earth as much life as possible, even as she steadily loses all other memory and fails to notice the planet has been destroyed. Then Agni Sun floats through the void of space to meet with Judah, and they're next shown together in an Afterlife Antechamber. Given both were ageless, they may have lived until the Natural End of Time.
  • 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 Demon King Daimao Akuto, Keena, and Korone wake up centuries after the Earth was devastated by a meteor impact. The rest of the cast died as a result, along with humanity.
  • The manga ending to Gunslinger Girl is a Foregone Conclusion as the first generation of Child Soldier cyborgs are stated to be slowly dying. The finale, which takes place twenty years after the previous chapters, shows that all the first gen cyborgs have died. A few of them had died off-screen between the second-to-last chapter and the final chapter. Claes and Rico died peacefully out of battle, while Petruskha died of leukemia.
  • The ending to the first season of Higurashi: When They Cry has a Deadly Recent Finale. It seems to end on a happy ending but then it cut to the credits and it's shown that the "Groundhog Day" Loop has begun over again, meaning that everyone died shortly after the end. Just how they died isn't shown until the first episode of the second season, however.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Battle Tendency ends with a "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue for most of the cast, in which the audience learns that Erina died of natural causes at 81, Speedwagon died of a heart attack at 89, and Stroheim sacrificed himself to allow his forces to retreat during the Battle of Stalingrad.
    • At the end of Steel Ball Run, narration reveals that Marco, the boy Gyro was trying to save from being executed, was pardoned and set free, only to die of a cold several years later.
  • The epilogue of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba takes place in the Reiwa era, when nearly all of the main cast have passed on, and the few that did survive are either over a century old (Ubiyashiki) or functionally immortal (Yushiro). The epilogue shows the cast's descendants and reincarnations.
  • Violet Evergarden's 2020 movie takes place over five decades after the events of the anime series. The movie opens with Ann Magnolia's granddaughter Daisy going through her old belongings after her funeral and finding the 50 letters that Ann's mother Clara Magnolia commissioned Violet to write for her. This also includes a photo of Violet which inspires Daisy to go out and investigate who Violet was which serves as the Framing Device for the story. While not explicitly confirmed, it is heavily implied that the entirety of the original cast have long since passed away by the "present" of the movie.
  • The last chapter of Magu-chan: God of Destruction shows Ruru and Magu's Mayfly–December Friendship going until she dies of old age with him still by her side. Magu agrees to let himself be sealed away again, with Ruru's memory to keep him company until he once more washes ashore and is released by another young girl named Ruri, possibly Ruru's descendant.

    Comic Books 
  • 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).
  • Daredevil: End of Days starts off with the title character's death, and only kills more people as it goes.
  • Blaze of Glory serves as this for Marvel's western heroes. By the end of the miniseries, no less than 5 heroic Trope Kids are dead. The sequel, Apache Skies, further shows the deaths of Rawhide Kid and Apache Kid.
Advertisement:

    Fan Works 
  • The last chapter of the Harry Potter fan fic I Saw My Lady Weep is a poignant scene about the last minutes of Harry Potter's life, set far in the future of the Harry Potter franchise, when even Harry's son James Sirius is a grandfather.

    Film 
  • 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 Hong Kong drama Echoes of the Rainbow ends with a Time Skip where years later, Mr. Law, the family patriarch, is revealed to have died of natural causes, with his wife and surviving son visiting his grave where he's buried next to his older son.
  • The Godfather Part III ends 18 years after the movie's finale with Michael Corleone Dying Alone on his secluded Sicilian estate, after losing his daughter and becoming estranged from his friends.
  • The final scenes of the made-for-TV movie, Have Dreams, Will Travel, is a lengthy Distant Epilogue depicting the main characters, Ben and Cassie, eventually growing up together, getting married, having two kids and growing old as the movie shifts from the 60s to 2007. However, in the final scene, Ben is an old man walking all alone on a beach, the same beach he's shown strolling with an elderly Cassie a few seconds ago. The narration implies that Cassie had passed on in the interim because of old age.
  • Ip Man 4, being the very final film in the Ip Man series, ends with a Time Skip to Ip Man's funeral.
  • Titanic (1997). 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 Bueller's 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.
  • Romy and Michele's High School Reunion appears to end 70 years in the future, where a dying Romy flips Michele the finger before flatlining, but it turns out to be All Just a Dream.
  • In Watership Down's epilogue, the Black Rabbit of Inle delivers the elderly Hazel's soul to the afterlife, his comrades presumably having died of old age as well.
  • The 2018 film adaptation of Aniara ends in the year 5,981,407, almost six million years after the title ship began her voyage, and shows the ship finally reaching a planet orbiting the star GM-54 in the Lyra constellation. Of course, the once thriving Colony Ship is now derelict and frozen, and everyone on board is long dead.

    Jokes 
  • Referenced in this joke: A twelfth-grade teacher is telling her soon-to-graduate class to buy a copy of the class' photo as a memento.
    "Just think that you're meeting each other again twenty years from now." the teacher said to her students. "And you'll be sharing these photos and telling each other, look, here is Sarah who's now a lawyer, and Robert at the back is a doctor. And there's Michael, now an office worker..."
    A student at the back then said, "... and that's the class teacher. She's dead."

    Literature 
  • 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 rather heartwarming, 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. Hazel-rah, the elderly Chief Rabbit of his now-thriving warren, is visited by a rabbit who is implied to be the mythical rabbit folk hero El-ahrairah, inviting Hazel to join his Owsla. Accepting the offer, Hazel leaves his body behind as he no longer needs it.
  • 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.
  • Stephen King:
    • The end of the novella The Body(which was adapted into the film Stand by Me) 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 70 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 de Bragelonne, the last of Alexandre Dumas' sequels to The Three Musketeers, ends with a greatly aged D'Artagnan getting blown up by a cannonball. Note that the historical D'Artagnan was about 62-years-old when killed during the Siege of Maastricht (1673), though he was killed by a musket ball.
  • 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.
  • Several of Iain M. Banks' The Culture novels end with epilogues that briefly reveal the eventual fates of surviving characters.
  • Played with in Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita, in which you actually find out in the foreword how most of the characters end up, but you don't realise it until you've got to the end.
  • The Old Icelandic "Tale of Thorstein Shiver", in which Thorstein Shiver tricks a demon with the help of King Olaf Tryggvason, ends with a laconic note that Thorstein died in battle defending King Olaf on his longship a few years later.
  • The epilogue of The Comfortable Courtesan describes how the hero Clorinda dies in 1872, at an advanced age, on finishing the final chapter of Middlemarch.
  • The end of Sir Nigel mentions that while the heroic main characters are long dead, their spirit still lives on.
    Before the steps of that ancient altar, unrecorded and unbrassed, lies the dust of Nigel and of Mary. Near them is that of Maude their daughter, and of Alleyne Edricson, whose spouse she was; their children and children's children are lying by their side. Here too, near the old yew in the churchyard, is the little mound which marks where Samkin Aylward went back to that good soil from which he sprang.
    So lie the dead leaves; but they and such as they nourish forever that great old trunk of England, which still sheds forth another crop and another, each as strong and as fair as the last. The body may lie in moldering chancel, or in crumbling vault, but the rumor of noble lives, the record of valor and truth, can never die, but lives on in the soul of the people. Our own work lies ready to our hands; and yet our strength may be the greater and our faith the firmer if we spare an hour from present toils to look back upon the women who were gentle and strong, or the men who loved honor more than life, on this green stage of England where for a few short years we play our little part.
  • The Discworld novel Small Gods ends a century in the future, with Brutha abruptly dropping dead. It's foreshadowed during the climax, when Om agrees to abide by the "constitutional religion" Brutha proposes for one hundred years, and then "We Shall See," but by the epilogue, Brutha is so old that he's forgotten how long it's been.
  • A slight recurring theme in the picture books of Patricia Polacco:
    • Her first book, Meteor! ends by stating that the meteor of the title was ultimately used as Gramma Carle's headstone.
    • Chicken Sunday ends by revealing that the grandmother, Miss Eula, died some time ago, and that once a year her now-adult grandchildren follow her request and pour chicken soup on her grave in honor of her Sunday chicken dinners.
    • Mrs. Katz and Tush has an epilogue that shows a grown-up Larnel reciting the Mourner's Kaddish at Mrs. Katz's grave with his wife and children.
    • An Orange for Frankie reveals at the end that Frankie didn't live past childhood and that the Christmas the story recounts was his last.
    • Betty Doll depicts the life of Polacco's mother Mary Ellen from childhood to old age, and her love for the titular doll that she eventually passes on to her daughter. A final paragraph at the end reveals that she died in 1996.
    • When Lightning Comes in a Jar ends by showing that Polacco's family still has family reunions like they did in her childhood, and explains that even though her grandmother, father, aunts and uncles have all died, Polacco still keeps their memory and the traditions they shared alive.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The last episode of Six Feet Under did this, in a Flash Forward montage set to Sia's "Breathe Me".
  • Having resolved the arc of the final season ( defeating God) the final episode of Supernatural flashes forward, first five years and then approximately fifty more, to the last deaths of the brothers, who are afterwards reunited in heaven.
  • 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 20 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 find out what happened to them after that.
  • The final episode of Poirot, "Curtain", takes place in October 1949-February 1950, over a decade after the penultimate episode "The Labours of Hercules", set at the start of World War II. And since "Curtain" takes place in 1949, it is also in that episode that the main character, Hercule Poirot, dies of a heart attack after many years of solving his cases.
Advertisement:

    Video Games 
  • 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.
  • Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven ends with protagonist Tommy Angelo, now older getting a visit from two hitmen (later revealed to be Vito Scaletta and Joe Barbaro) and getting shot while watering his front lawn.
  • 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.
  • In Dishonored's epilogue, if Emily was saved in the final mission, Corvo is buried next to Jessamine after dying of old age; the final scene is of an adult Empress Emily placing one of her childhood dolls at his grave. If Emily is killed, the Empire collapses into total anarchy and Corvo leaves by boat for an unknown destination; his mask and sword left on Emily's grave.
  • Certain epilogues in Fire Emblem: Three Houses mention the deaths of Dimitri and Lysithea after the events of the story. Lysithea's life expectancy is shortened as a result of the experiments that gave her two Crests, although some endings involve the procedure being reversed. Dimitri dies of an illness in his endings with Dedue and Marianne and of unspecified causes in his endings with Flayn and Felix, resulting in the person he is paired with outliving him.
  • Ori and the Will of the Wisps ends with Ori's adopted parents implied to die of old age in Ori's growth montage.

    Web Comics 
  • 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.

    Western Animation 
  • The end of the Beavis and Butt-Head episode "Crying" shows the titular characters as old people living in a rest home, with Butt-Head still making fun of Beavis crying. Butt-Head dies, but Beavis was not upset about it.
    Beavis: I'm serious. I was not crying, Butt-Head. I'm not crying now, either. (rams Butt-Head's dead body with his chair) Butthole.
  • In the finale of The World of David the Gnome, the titular gnome and his wife die of old age at 400 years and turn into trees.
  • "Flanders' Ladder" from The Simpsons ends with Bart waking up from his nightmare and telling Lisa he saw a vision of everyone's deaths. This is followed by a montage of many characters (and Skinner's wheelchair) dying in the future, in tribute to Six Feet Under.
  • The last episode of Adventure Time takes place 1000 years in the future. Most of the cast is dead and/or reincarnated (the biggest examples being Shermy and Beth, as both are reincarnations of Finn and Jake respectively. This also applies to both the new Slime and Fire Elementals, being reincarnations of both Slime Princess and Flame Princess), with only a few being around, like BMO, Sweet P, Patience and possibly Marceline and Bubblegum.
    • The Adventure Time: Distant Lands special "Together Again" takes place decades after the main series and "Obsidian", showing Finn, who recently died of unknown causes as an old man, arriving at the 37th Dead World. And just like the finale, most of the characters are dead, with Jake being dead sometime between the finale and "Obsidian".

 
Feedback

Video Example(s):

Top

Leila's funeral

About 60 years after the climax of the movie, D returns to keep an old promise.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / DeadlyDistantFinale

Media sources:

Report