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Ending Aversion

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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. An exceptionally bad Cruel Twist Ending can also be the cause.

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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.

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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.


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Examples and Reasons:

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

  • St. Elsewhere was one of the first television series to do this, ending with an All Just a Dream revelation. The show was notable for lots of other things in its day, including being one of the first medical dramas, laying the groundwork for all future shows in the genre. However, the twist ending of its final episode and the Tommy Westphall Multiverse Hypothesis theory that resulted from it have completely overshadowed everything else about the show since then — therefore making it not very appealing to new viewers.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion is infamous for its Gainax Ending, and is the main reason (but far from the only one) why the studio that produced it, Studio Gainax, became the Trope Namer. The last two episodes make so little sense that some fans might recommend you skip them and go straight to the movie 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 final episode of The Prisoner (1967), "Fall Out", was so confusing to audiences that creator Patrick McGoohan had to go into hiding from fans who hounded his home looking for answers and clarification.
  • 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 (something that was made especially infamous by an interview made with the developers pre-release, which mentioned the former example by name and explicitly promised that the ending wouldn't be anything like that). The overwhelmingly poorly received original ending 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.
  • 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. Naturally when the series was revived decades later, the ending was immediately retconned.
  • Fallout 3 got a bit of a negative reputation after word of the ending, which involves either the Lone Wanderer or Sarah Lyons sacrificing themselves to start up Project Purity, got out. The backlash was more or less mitigated by later DLC, though due to not altering dialog the game still mocks the player as a coward for sending in a radiation-immune character to complete the task.
  • Alone in the Dark (2008) appears to be building up to a climactic confrontation with Lucifer, when it suddenly shoves that aside and presents the player with a Sadistic Choice between which protagonist gets possessed by him.
  • Seto and Ren from Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon head out together in search of survivors in a post-apocalyptic world, but the ending narration features an aged Seto in a voiceover claiming Ren has died some time afterwards and he's all alone again. Within context, this is nonsensical because the point of the story was to state how alone Seto wasn't thanks to the number of Non Player Characters who accompanied him on his journey, insisting You Are Not Alone; Seto's monologue essentially puts him back into square one, which he was trying to avoid from the start of the game. What should have amounted into a Bittersweet Endingnote  instead winds up becoming an Esoteric Happy Ending.

Mind Screw (It's incomprehensible)

  • Twin Peaks, which also suffered from seasonal rot in the second series, both of which resulted from Executive Meddling. The writers had no intention of solving the main mystery of the show (Laura's murder), but were forced to come up with a solution by the network anyway. Then the network proceeded to order another season, even though the writers didn't have any plans beyond that. This caused massive amounts of Mind Screw, Kudzu Plot, and The Chris Carter Effect.
  • Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-: Tsubasa basically ends with the Japanese equivalent of The Clone Saga, which just makes the plot utterly confusing and is a large departure from the originally advertised multi-dimensional adventures through numerous other CLAMP settings. Word of God admits even they don't understand what's going on. The show is no longer remembered as fondly as it used to.

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. There may be a slight aversion about "not being worth the trouble" because those who have heard about the issues with seasons 6-7 can simply stop at the conclusion of season 5, which wraps up most dangling threads and has a definite and satisfactory, although bittersweet, ending.
  • 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 were acknowledged to have been 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' Esoterically 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. Still, it ended with a Grand Finale that took out virtually all major galactic threats for good. 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. The actual final episode isn't really a finale at all, so they had to wrap things up with two DTV movies.
  • 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 'til 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.
  • Dexter, starting with the fifth season, was heavily criticized for its focus on more less well-received characters, lots of padding resulting in uneven pacing, and often underwhelming resolutions to its plotlines. When the eighth season concluded, a lot of people would recommend newbies to stop at season 4.
  • 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 Dark Horse).
  • 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.)
  • For Naruto many fans dismiss everything following the Pain Assault. The following two and final arcs (The Kage Summit and the Great Ninja War) all bleed into one another. Also, not helping matters is Sasuke's Base-Breaking Character status and the Power Creep of the main characters finally reaches it's zenith. Said fans consider the battles unsatisfying and the epilogue has its own bag of worms due to controversy surrounding the final pairings.
  • Aldnoah.Zero: Season 2 already suffered issues, such as everyone surviving the season 1 finale, Inaho becoming even more overpowered and Lemrina being introduced out of nowhere. The ending itself was controversial for several reasons, such as Asseylum marrying a completely different guy and Slaine sentenced to life in prison.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V's ending is generally disliked overall, with complaints about it being rushed, not tying up loose ends, and seeming happy even when it's not, to the point that many fanfiction writers have either altered the ending to the series or just mentally erased it in its entirety. The ending has also hurt people's opinions of the series overall.
  • Danny Phantom's third and final season suffered from a lot of problems that led to a significant decline in popularity at the time. note  Criticism was aimed at how many of the show's subplots from the previous seasons were rushed or downright ignored, a majority of the characters undergoing some slight Character Derailment, and Danny and Sam's romance being present in nearly every episode even when there was no particular reason for it. The show's finale, "Phantom Planet," did nothing to alleviate these issues, especially with how it handled the main plot between Danny, Sam, Vlad, and Valerie.
  • Game of Thrones has a particularly disappointing final season, even compared to the previous three seasons. Low points include the anticlimactic battle with the Night King and his forces in Episode 3, a confrontation that had been built up since the start of the story, and Daenerys Jumping Off the Slippery Slope and torching King's Landing, thereby doing what the Mad King would have done if Jaime hadn't killed him. Said developments sapped many people's interest in the show, and some only continued to see how badly it might turn out.
  • It is argued that Season 3 of Star vs. the Forces of Evil was a step down from the first two seasons in terms of storytelling and characterization, but most fans still found enough bright spots to balance it out. Then came Season 4, the show's final season, which was nigh-unanimously agreed to be the lowest point of the series. While there were fans who still enjoyed what comedy there was to be had, complaints were made towards everything else. From the main story arc mostly being sidelined in favor of excessive romantic drama, characters being either underutilized, flanderized, or performing Face Heel Turns, the introduction of subplots that were either rushed or straight-up forgotten, and an Arc Villain that not many found to be as intimidating as the show's previous villains. The finale only made things worse by creating an Inferred Holocaust committed by the main protagonist that none of the characters seem to acknowledge or care much about combined with a forcible merging of two vastly different worlds, and the show treats it all as a happy ending.

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

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

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 was an Un-Cancelled tenth season miniseries, it started off retconning most of the built-up series mythology and itself ended on a Gainax Ending cliffhanger.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events. In this case, The Chris Carter Effect was intentional, and the author all but tells you this is going to happen.
  • Chrono Cross pulls more plot threads out of nowhere in one dungeon than some games pull their entire length. Chronopolis is already considered That One Level due to its status as a Marathon Level, a large amount of Info Dumps from NPCs throughout the level, and generally difficult random encounters. However, what really seals the dungeon's (and therefore, the game's) fate is the fact that the plot begins to enter full-on Mind Screw territory here in trying to properly tie it to the events of Chrono Trigger. Few of these plot points get properly resolved, it kills one of the characters from Trigger apparently just for the sake of shock value, and very little of it gets explained outside of the aforementioned info dumps, if it gets explained at all.
  • Revolution added three more plot elements for every plot point it addressed directly, reminding viewers unfavorably of Lost.
  • Zero Escape's third and final game didn't follow up on that much from the previous game, and it ignored many promises made by Word of God.

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

  • Alan Moore's run on Supreme.
  • Lois & Clark - the series was cancelled after the 4th season ended on a Cliffhanger, with the newly married Lois & Clark finding an infant at their doorstop, and a note claiming that the child belongs to them.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time: The game ended on a massive Cliffhanger that would have been a great Sequel Hook... except that the company stated shortly after release that they had no plans to make a sequel. The game itself is a Contested Sequel to the first three games, and that plus said cliffhanger being 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 its 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 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.
  • Bionic Commando 2009 has a cliffhanger ending with Spencer falling to an unknown fate after killing Super Joe, and a Morse code stinger telling of the activation of a new Project Albatros[s]. Poor sales of this and the Licensed Game of Terminator Salvation led to development studio GRIN going out of business, and the following (and currently last) game, BC Rearmed 2, was a midquel.
  • Mega Man Legends 2 ended with Mega Man Volnutt stranded on the moon, and Roll and Tron beginning construction on a rocketship to rescue him. Unfortunately, the third game got cancelled and Keiji Inafune left Capcom, so the story will likely never be concluded.
  • Bleach fell into this for a sizable segment of the fanbase. After a very long, drawn out final arc, the Big Bad abruptly kills all his remaining minions, is himself quickly dispatched with a method that had limited foreshadowing, and for the last two chapters the story fast forwards ten years to an epilogue that leaves multiple questions unanswered and included some controversial romantic pairings. Three months after the conclusion of the manga Kubo revealed on his Twitter that he decided to shorten the manga due to health concerns, though the Grand Finale was in fact what he had always intended from the beginning.
  • Silver Surfer was cancelled early because of Marvel's bankruptcy in the 1990s. So the show concludes on a major Cliffhanger where Thanos the Mad Titan ends all of existence.
  • X1999 (the manga) went into a hiatus since 2003 with the last scene showing Kamui, lying on the ground with Fuuma, preparing to stab him with his sword. A decade has passed and CLAMP became too focused with other projects, not even bothering to touch the series which made fans of the manga feel that the story will never continue at this point.
  • Dark Angel's Season 2 cliffhanger finale was planned to be resolved in the premier of Season 3, but Fox's cancellation of the show left it in limbo.
  • Profiler ended on a season cliffhanger—the Big Bad for most of the final season has been killed by another bad guy, of unknown motives, who is in the middle of carrying out his scheme.
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man ended after only two seasons with a real Downer Ending of a cliffhanger in which Harry emotionally blackmails Gwen into staying with him, preventing her and Peter from getting together, the Connors are fired and made to relocate to Florida, and Norman Osborn (aka the Green Goblin) is revealed to have survived his battle with Spider-Man, and is thus free to continue his schemes under a new alias. This cancellation resulted from the show being Screwed by the Lawyers (Marvel extending Sony's film rights to Spider-Man in exchange for the character's television rights), as the show was intended to last five seasons.
  • Not Cinderella's Type: Part of a series of Fairy Tales set in the modern era, with the natural consequence that this happens a lot. Turns out, treating a kid like Cinderella is considered emotional abuse in this day and age. Very illegal. No need for the Prince to go through the "ball and slipper" arc when he can just call the police.
  • King Arthur & the Knights of Justice ended abruptly after two seasons, with only four of the twelve MacGuffins recovered, and the original King Arthur and his knights still trapped in the Cave of Glass.
  • Dino Crisis 2 ended with a cliffhanger where Dylan Morton and his daughter Paula were trapped in the Bad Future by the Collapsing Lair, but then Dino Crisis 3 discarded the story arc of the first two games in favor of a Recycled In Space plot. Due to the third game's poor reception, a resolution is highly unlikely.
    • Actually, this was solved in the spinoff game Dino Stalker. Paula and Dylan did survive the events of 2.
  • ALF ended the fourth and final season with a cliffhanger with ALF getting abducted by the government. While there eventually was a followup, a TV-movie made six years later, for starters it's hard to find due to not being widely available like the TV series, and second, the people who have seen it ended up disliking it especially due to having no mention of what happened to the Tanners, leading the same people to disavow its existence.
  • SpacePOP ends season 1 on a cliffhanger with nothing resolved, and due to lack of viewer interest season 2 was never made.

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)

  • Babylon 5 by way of hasty resolution of the Myth Arc leading to Ending Fatigue until the actual finale. Fortunately, the grand finale episode is actually really good and satisfactorily wraps up all the remaining plot threads of the series, so many fans just skip straight from the end of the Shadow War (or the end of Season 4, which is after) to "Sleeping in Light." Some further downplay it by skipping the telepaths plot, which is the main source of Arc Fatigue in season 5.
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, due to being Christmas Rushed, had two of its planned dungeons scrapped and replaced with a lengthy Fetch Quest of finding Triforce Charts, and paying Tingle to decipher those to find the Triforce Shards themselves. Luckily, the Wii U Updated Re-release simplified this quest so that only three of the Shards require Charts, the rest can be acquired directly.
  • Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse is infamous for its Disappointing Last Dungeon, YHVH's Universe, being a massive network of teleporters in a dungeon that's not only obnoxiously big but also visually unappealing, with most enemies being simply souped-up versions of previously-encountered demons that can't be scanned and can't be talked to.

No Ending (Too much is just left completely unanswered or unaddressed)

  • 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.
  • In a literal example, No Man's Sky: while the game is very open-ended, one of its goals is to get to the center of the galaxy. Upon doing so, players are immediately teleported to a different galaxy, with absolutely no reward for their efforts.
  • To Love-Ru Darkness: the male protagonist chooses none of the girls in his Unwanted Harem. The problem is many of them continue to vie for his affections, while he's oblivious about some of their feelings. To top it off, he rejects the idea of a harem by claiming the Girl Next Door is his favorite since the beginning of the original Manga; unfortunately, the latter character is a Base-Breaking Character and seen by many readers outside of Japan as the worst choice he could make.

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.)

Cruel Twist Ending (also includes Happy Ending Override and Diabolus ex Machina)

  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Rebellion is infamous for its extremely controversial Cruel Twist Ending. Especially troublesome because the original series already had a conclusive ending that was much more positive and hopeful; a sequel movie was never considered until the series became a runaway success, and with their starkly opposed conclusions, fans are forced to choose whether or not to consider Rebellion canon.
  • Far Cry 5 plays mostly like its two predecessors, until you've witnessed all three endings and realize there's absolutely no way to bring the Big Bad to justice. You either capitulate right in the intro cinematic, let him get off scot-free during your final encounter and assumingly get yourself brainwashed into killing all your friends afterwards, or you arrest him and thus trigger nuclear armageddon out of absolutely freaking nowhere, which means this raving lunatic was right all along. Doesn't get much more unsatisfying than that, something that quickly began making its way to prospective buyers from the day after the game's release.
  • In The Stinger of Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow, Gabe and Lian, discussing possible retirement, return to their gym hideout to find Lawrence dead and Teresa critically wounded at the hands of Trinidad, who proceeds to gun down Gabe as well, although he takes her out with a Last Breath Bullet. Cue Fade to Black with Lian performing CPR on Gabe. Sony have officially stated that they are done with the series.
  • River City Girls got hit by this fast and hard because of how drastic and out of nowhere the ending initially feels. Kunio and Riki were not only not kidnapped, but it turns out that Misako and Kyoko aren't their girlfriends, Hasabe and Mami are. The entire game was basically two ditzy Stalker with a Crush Ex-Girlfriends tearing up a city for the sake of a relationship that doesn't exist, for two guys who weren't in any danger and don't even know they exist.
  • An early fansub for the Saikano has a disclaimer at the end of the third to last episode in which Chise abandons her duties and runs away with Shuuji saying that if the viewer wants a happy ending they should just stop right there.
    A friendly warning from the team: This is the end of happiness in Saikano. If you would prefer the anime to have a happy end, consider stopping here and pretending there are no more episodes. Continuing will only bring misery and pain. You have been warned...
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender's final episode is disliked by a majority of the fanbase with some complains being about the fates of certain characters such as the deaths of Allura and Lotor, the former being a major woobie and the latter being a very deep and compelling villain who many though would have more to do, Honerva being a Karma Houdini who gets away with almost destroying the multiverse and for Lance's and Shiro's epilogue with the former becoming an Altean for some reason and Shiro marrying his helmsman who he barely interacted with as a hamfisted attempt at a Author's Saving Throw regarding the way they handled the character of Adam.

Miscellaneous

  • While it was received well by critics, the ending of Adventure Time was received with mixed reception by fans. Some fans praised the ending for being a satisfying conclusion for the series and officialy confirming Princess Bubblegum and Marceline's relationship as canon, but others hated it and considers it an incomplete ending for not having a battle between PB's army and the Candy Kingdom Haters (which were teased at the end of the previous episode before the finale), GOLB not having any character and just being a Generic Doomsday Villain who does nothing, the absence of the Lich, Finn being reduced to a secondary character and a Distressed Dude alongside Simon and Betty during the final battle, the Downer Ending between Simon and Betty's relationship, many plot points being left unsolved, the lack of closure of Finn's relationship with Huntress Wizard (doesn't help that most of the characters have some sort of romantic moment during the episode) and the lack of any scenes with Finn in the ending montage other than the last scene, with other characters such as PB and Marcy getting more focus. Even if the production crew considers them non-canon, fans are hoping that the comics post-finale addresses most of these issues and give the series a well deserved ending.
    • The post-finale comics somewhat reduces some of these issues. While Season 11 ends with a somewhat decent closure to Finn and the implication that he and Huntress Wizard are still dating, the ending of Marcy and Simon got a very mixed reception. While some are happy that Simon and Betty are finally together, others feel like it negates part of the finale since her sacrifice to save everyone from GOLB was rendered pointless.
  • After School Nightmare alienated multiple fan factions with its ending to a degree that they no longer recommend it, for completely different reasons:
    • The people who were reading for the mystery arc, who thought that the final explanation was simply too silly and bizarre.
    • The shippers, who were unhappy that Mashiro and Sou end up in the real world but with no knowledge of each other or memory of their love.
    • The people who were reading for the exploration of ambiguous gender, who thought that the revelation that Mashiro's gender ambiguity is because they are actually fraternal twin foetuses sharing a mind meant that the situation was either reactionary in implication, or too fantastic to have any possible real-world relevance.
  • 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.
  • Citrus ends with Mei leaving Yuzu for another Arranged Marriage, long after her first one ended up falling through, thus forcing Yuzu to pull out all the stops to get through to Mei in time. Not only do many people dislike that Mei doesn't seem to have changed at all, the situation is largely resolved off-panel with a montage of dialogue-less panels, before cutting to a standard happy ending in which the two stepsisters/lovers get married. Many people are dissatisfied with the events in the last six chapters of the manga, the rushed conclusion, or both.
  • Corpse Party tends to have some aversion due to its Player Punch endings in Book of Shadows and Corpse Party Bloodcovered, Blood Drive (the game that is in theory the Grand Finale of the Heavenly Host saga, as all manga adaptations and mainline games lead to this installement due to time loops) takes the cake for not only causing this trope (in the western fandom AT LEAST) but also causing a huge division in the fans due to its almost downer ending and being a HOPE CRUSHER. Because despite all trailers and promotional material might suggest... Nobody was revived in Blood Drive, which is one of the main plots of the game. To add insult to injury, not only Ayumi was left in a vegetative state and had all the people's memories of her erased (except Yoshiki, that stayed with her) and the survivors didn't even say goodbye to their dead friends is another common complaint. The kicker to top it all off even more? Dead Patient has expies of characters like Seiko, Mayu...
  • The Arrowverse's 2017 crossover, Crisis on Earth-X was mostly well-received, and was on track to being better than last year's own well-received crossover, Invasion!. Of, course then the ending happened: the infamous double wedding, where Felicity Smoak interrupted Barry Allen and Iris West just as they were about to seal their wedding vows, so she could selfishly and haphazardly tack on her own wedding to Oliver Queen. And this was after spending almost the entire crossover wangsting about how she didn't want to marry Oliver. This ending pleased absolutely no one except the writers and the hardest of hardcore Olicity shippers; everyone else hated it to the point that it killed whatever was left of Olicity's dwindling popularity and cemented Felicity as the biggest Scrappy in the entire Arrowverse. For many, it was the moment they gave up on Arrow for good.
  • Danganronpa:
    • While Danganronpa 3 received mixed reception before the ending, the last two episodes have been accused of this to the point that many who were defending the anime changed tune after they aired. The penultimate episode saw a Fan-Disliked Explanation for the Final Killing Game that was widely criticized for raising lot of Fridge Logic and rendering a good portion of the anime pointless, along with making the mastermind heavily disliked by the fandom. The Grand Finale saw Class 77-B coming Back from the Dead (which triggered a massive Broken Base) and basically hijacking the plot from the rest of the cast. Plot threads the show had built up were left abruptly dropped for rampant Pandering to the Base, creating a good number of Broken Aesops, an Anticlimax and capped it off with the widely divisive resurrection of Kyoko Kirigiri in the final two minutes.
      • The English dub even has Kyoko lampshading this before they changed it to a more accurate translation by stating her resurrection doesn't make sense.
    • New Danganronpa V3 somehow managed to top DR3 in controversy with Chapter 6 and the final trial. Aside from the mastermind being fairly controversial compared to Junko Enoshima, it's revealed that the entire situation is all the 53rd season of a reality TV show, and the sixteen students were all normal people with fake personalities implanted in them. That in itself is bad enough, but then it criticizes and lampoons the fanbase for enjoying the series and its fictional characters and wanting more killing games. It doesn't help that in Japanese, the meaning behind "V3" (the number 53) is read as "gomi" or "trash". It had become so controversial, it was one of the many arguments used during debates where fans accused Kodaka of trying to Torch the Franchise and Run after it was revealed that he would leave the Danganronpa team after this game.
  • David Eddings':
    • The Dreamers series. 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 realizing that the first three books were entirely meaningless, most of the fans flipped their shit.
    • To make matters worse, he did the same thing in the standalone novel The Redemption of Alathas: the titular character and his goddess girlfriend go back in time and defeat the Big Bad in the past by waiting until he attacked their cabin and kicking him out of reality. Fans were especially upset when he used such a weak ending a second time.
  • While the ending is a foregone conclusion what with it being a part of history, the ending to Dinosaurs made a lot of people unhappy due to its Sudden Downer Ending where Earl accidentally ends up causing the Ice Age, leading to the inevitable deaths of the entire cast.
  • 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.
  • Dragon Ball Super's Future Trunks Saga started off strong; fans were glad to see Ensemble Dark Horse Trunks return, the plot was interesting, and the fights were some of the best-animated in the entire Dragon Ball franchise. But that all came crashing down around the Final Battle; firstly by playing up Goku's Idiot Hero tendencies despite the fact that they put the fate of the world at risknote . Plenty of fans were also unhappy with the Retcon giving the Potara Earrings a time limit seemingly just to bring back Vegito without having to worry about the fusion being permanent. Then came the Diabolus ex Machina at the end, where after being killed by Trunks, Zamasu returns as a bodiless energy being and manages to kill everyone aside from the main characters, followed by the Future Zen-Oh completely destroying the universe, meaning Trunks' efforts were All for Nothing. And the final straw is the denouncement, where Future Trunks and Mai leave for a different timeline (where they'll still have to live alongside the versions of themselves from that timeline) presumably never to be seen again. The general consensus is that the story should have ended one episode earlier, with Trunks' killing Zamasu.
  • 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.
  • Gilmore Girls's original ending in season 7, while left things fairly resolved on a positive note, the fact that it (along with season 7) wasn't written by creator Amy Sherman-Palladino left many of the fandom wondering what her true ending was and begrudgingly accepted it for what it was. Come 2016 and Sherman-Palladino revived the series to give it the true story ending that she wanted. Most fans were happy with how Lorelai and Emily's story arcs concluded, but the fact that Rory ends up pregnant and likely to repeat her mother's mistakes and that Jess may or may not still be pining after her like his uncle did with her mother sent most of the fans into a rage and declaring the revival's ending non-canon.
  • 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).
  • Homestuck had the one-two punch of Seasonal Rot in the form of the Base-Breaking Act 6 and a borderline Gainax Ending where only the bare-bones conflicts were properly resolved with a number of side characters seemingly vanishing. A number of things, including the fate of the Big Bad, are left to speculation. That the heroes' victory was mainly brought on by introducing a new form of time travel that "retcons" away the old timeline does not help. Also not helping is that the comic is regarded to invert this trope as well, with the Slow-Paced Beginning being seen as the biggest entry barrier for new readers.

    Three years after the conclusion, The Homestuck Epilogues were released, which helped mend a few issues people had with the later parts of the comic. The concepts of the retcon and "canon" were elaborated upon and deconstructed, a few loose ends were tied up, characters were given more conclusive arcs, and the final battle from canon got a proper conclusion. However, the Epilogues broke the fanbase as well. Common criticisms/points of contention include the way everyone acted and whether or not it was Out of Character, the Mind Screw nature even by Homestuck standards, characters such as the Sprites being inexplicably absentnote , and ending on a cliffhanger despite the title implying otherwise.
  • Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance - courtesy of the Very Definitely Final Dungeon's barrage of Diabolus ex Machina, Happy Ending Override, and Retcon note  over all the prior installments - caused quite a few fans to lose hype for Kingdom Hearts III, which 3D was supposed to build up to.
    • III itself has also gotten flak with the revelation that Xehanort turns out not to be a Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist after all, and many saw him as too Easily Forgiven by the heroes despite being the man who unleashed darkness across many worlds, the man responsible for ruining countless lives as well as the man who flat out murdered Kairi in the same game just to provide motivation, leaving his defeat to be utterly unsatisfying. There is also the issue that everyone in the cast got their happy ending...except Sora and Kairi as the former has just sacrificed himself to save the latter, leaving him separated once again in a ploy that many fans found it to be a cheap Sequel Hook that could possibly take decades to release.
  • Macross Delta: The finale has the… unenviable position of having to tie up so many loose ends at once, making it clear the production crew was on a deadline. Delta, especially in its second half, suffered from weak pacing, underdeveloped characters and excessive subplots and the finale has to ignore for the sake of the main plot. Executive Meddling is to blame for this one, as it forced Shoji Kawamori to change the plans he had for the show.
  • 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. The romance is also left unresolved.
  • 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.
  • Mortal Kombat 9 had this thanks to a desire by franchise co-creator; Ed Boon, to make a completely new cast of characters for the next game. For this to happen, they killed off nearly the entire cast at the end of Story Mode in a very sloppy fight scene where the Earthrealm warriors are killed off one by one by Sindel and turned into evil undead revenants. The purpose of this scene was to allow for a roster full of new characters in the next game. However, the ensuing fan backlash over the deaths of iconic characters like Kung Lao, Sub-Zero II, Jax, Kitana and Jade and promising reimagined characters like Smoke, haunted Netherrealm Studios as the newer characters weren't as well-received or popular with the fanbase as those they wanted to phase out, forcing them to include non-canonical older versions in the roster of Mortal Kombat X (with the exception of Sub-Zero and Jax, who are fully revived). This was most notable with Mortal Kombat 11 as its story brings the younger versions of Liu Kang, Kung Lao, Kitana and Jade (alongside a pre-Character Development Johnny Cage, Sonya Blade and a younger and optimistic Jax) into the present to fight their evil undead versions.
  • 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?
  • 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 didn't return to it until it was revived on [adult swim]. Season 5 was well received, but became divisive because of its Cruel Twist Ending where Ashi disappears due to Aku (her father) being destroyed before she was conceived, denying Jack a true Happy Ending. While it makes sense that Ashi wouldn't exist if Aku was killed before he could commit the actions that lead to her birth, it raises further questions. Primarily, if Future Jack came back to the past and killed Aku shortly AFTER Past Jack had been flung into the future, how would Future Jack have come back to the past at all? Ashi wouldn't have existed in the future, because Aku was killed, but she was the one who brought Jack back to the past. You end up in a logic loop of "If Ashi exists, Jack erases Ashi's existence, but if Ashi doesn't exist, Jack can't erase Ashi's existence, allowing Ashi to exist.
  • Sonic Mania. The game, in a first for the Classic series, ends on a Sequel Hook for Sonic Forces. Considering how divisive Forces is and the ending having Super Sonic getting defeated and sent away, some fans were not happy. This is somewhat reduced however with the Updated Re-release's new Encore Mode who happens after the events of Forces with an ending which doesn't tease anything new.
  • While an unsatisfying winner can taint a season of Survivor (examples being The Australian Outback, Gabon, Samoa, Kaoh Romg and Game Changers), none hit as hard as the finale of Season 35, Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers, which throws a last minute twist at the very last Tribal Council to save a contestant who was already a major Elimination Houdini, and went on to win the game instead of several EnsembleDarkhorses, turning a previously acclaimed season into Seasonal Rot. An even more controversial example is Season 38, Edge of Extinction , in which a castaway who was eliminated third rejoined the game at the final five with an idol (meaning he only had to survive two regular Tribal Councils, and was protected for one of them), and also won the game, angering fans of even more EnsembleDarkhorses who believed he shouldn't have won and that the game was rigged for the Edge of Extinction returnee.
  • The ending of Toy Story 4 has earned plenty of controversy from fans of the series, as Woody leaves Bonnie, as well as Buzz Lightyear and all his other longtime toy friends, for a new life as a "lost toy" with Bo Peep and her Ragtag Bunch of Misfits.
  • The 2019 revival of Veronica Mars had mostly positive reception. However, it received massive backlash from fans for the last ten minutes of the final episode in which Veronica's love interest Logan is killed in a bombed car shortly after their wedding.
  • Zero Time Dilemma is considered a subpar ending by fans for multiple reasons, such as a lack of answers, a Big Bad whose identity, schemes, and very presence felt like an Ass Pull, among other problems.

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