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Off-into-the-Distance Ending

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The story ends with The Protagonist(s) traveling away into the distance, while the camera remains in a fixed position. Often symbolizes that the protagonist is leaving behind their old life and about to start a new one. May have a happy mood or a somber one, depending on how much they liked their old life and how willingly they're leaving it.

In any case, it says that this is where they and the audience part company; whatever happens next, the audience will not get to see.

This is often coupled with But Now I Must Go.

A type of Hat-and-Coat Shot, and a Super-Trope to Riding into the Sunset.

Compare Door Closes Ending, Chased Off into the Sunset. Contrast Fly-at-the-Camera Ending.


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Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Several stories in Black Jack ended with the titular character wandering away. Sometimes it was in triumph after a job well done, but more often than not it was in grief after failing to save a patient from some unpredictable fate.
  • The ending of Fist of the North Star. After helping Lin and Bat one last time, Kenshiro wanders back into the wastelands with newfound determination. A fitting bookends to his introduction in the very first chapter.
    —"I don't need a name on my grave. If I die, it will be on this desert of endless battles!"

    Film - Animated 
  • Disney Animated Canon:
    • Aladdin ends with Aladdin and Jasmine kissing while the Magic Carpet flies them into the full moon in the distance.
    • Dumbo ends with a shot of the crows waving goodbye to Dumbo while the train he and his mother are on rides into the distance.
    • The Rescuers ends with a shot of Orville flying into the distance carrying Bernard and Bianca off to another rescue mission.
      • The Rescuers Down Under has a subversion of this, with the heroes riding into the night on the back of a giant eagle before cutting to show Wilbur the Albatross still sitting on the eagle's eggs, as he was instructed to do by Bernard while he went off to rescue the others.
    • Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has the newly awakened Snow White riding sidesaddle on Prince Charming's white horse, while he leads them on foot toward his golden palace in the distance.
  • The ending of Ice Age has Manfred, Sid and Diego amble away from the camera, content at having returned the human infant to his father.
  • Max Fleischer's Gulliver's Travels ends with Gulliver sailing away from Lilliput on his new ship and disappearing into the mist.
  • Four of the five heroic monsters from Monsters vs. Aliens ride on the back of Insectasaurus into the distance to save Paris, France from the menace of Escargot. The scene teases at a Sequel Hook.
  • The Red Turtle ends with the red turtle leaving the beach and swimming off into the distance.

    Film - Live-Action 
  • Charlie Chaplin loved this trope. The Tramp, The Circus and Modern Times finish with the protagonist(s) walking off into the distance.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the movie) ends with Buffy and Pike roaring off toward the horizon on Pike's motorcycle in a romantic scene as Susanna Hoffs's cover of "We Close Our Eyes" plays.
  • Canyon Passage ends with Logan and Lucy riding out of Jacksonville together, as he leaves town to rebuild his fortune.
  • The Cave of the Yellow Dog: Ends with Nansal and her family packing up the yurt and heading off to new nomadic grazing land, her father having finally agreed to let her keep the dog.
  • A favorite trope of Charlie Chaplin.
    • His early short The Tramp ends with the Tramp walking down a road, away from the camera, after he Did Not Get the Girl. He starts off dejectedly trudging away, but snaps out of it and walks off with his typical cheerful step just in time for the Iris Out.
    • The Circus ends in a similar fashion, with the Tramp, who Did Not Get the Girl and is then left behind by the circus, walking away from a static camera after the last circus truck pulls away. The shot is accompanied by an Iris Out.
    • Modern Times uses this for a surprisingly upbeat ending. The Tramp and the gamin are at the side of the road at dawn, after they were forced to flee from the truant police. The gamin breaks down and cries in despair. Charlie tells her "Buck up! Never say die! We'll get along." After she flashes him a smile, the film ends with the two of them walking arm-in-arm down the road, the Tramp swinging his rattan cane.
  • The Children's Hour ends with Karen walking off alone after Martha's funeral, while everyone else watches from a distance.
  • The Crucified Lovers: Ends with the camera watching the parade as Mohei and Osan are being taken away to be crucified.
  • The Empire Strikes Back ends with the group broken up, with Han taken prisoner, Lando and Chewie flying off to rescue him, and Leia, C-3PO, and R2-D2 keeping Luke company while he recovers from his injuries. Despite this being the heroes' Darkest Hour, the audience is reminded that all is not lost when the last shot of the movie is the regrouped Rebel Fleet, one of the bigger collections of starships and fighters seen in the franchise up to this point, cruising off into the distance while The Force's Leitmotif plays.
  • Equinox Flower by Yasujiro Ozu ends with a shot of Hirayama's train puffing off into the distance, as Hirayama leaves for a conciliatory meeting with his daughter and new son-in-law.
  • Floating Weeds by Yasujiro Ozu ends with a shot of Komajuro and Sumiko's train puffing off into the distance, as they leave the village for a different town in hopes of getting acting work, having reconciled.
  • In A Face in the Crowd, Lonesome Rhodes' trademark "Lonesome Road" ending of his Show Within The Show has him walking out of the country store and strolling down a road towards the background of the studio set, with guitar in hand, singing "Just a Closer Walk with Thee."
  • Forty Guns ends with Griff and Jessica in a wagon riding out of town on their way to start their new life in California.
  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Blondie leaves Tuco safe and sound with his share of the gold and rides off into the hills.
  • In both versions of The Getaway, the film concludes with Outlaw Couple Doc and Carol McCoy driving of into Mexico, having successfully eluded both the chasing cops and fellow bad guys.
  • A Gunfight ends with Abe riding out of town into the bleak desert. Bud stands staring at him as he goes, and Abe never looks back.
  • The Half-Breed ends with a Maybe Ever After version of this. Eponymous half-white, half-Native American protagonist Lo resolves to go away and find a new home somewhere else, his forest home having burned down. Teresa, the friend that Lo saved from arrest, says she's realized that she's in love with him, and will follow him everywhere and stay with him forever. He walks away, and she follows, and the film ends.
  • High Noon ends with the carriage containing the hero and his wife rolling away into the distance. (It's not long after noon, so there's no sunset.)
  • High Plains Drifter ends with The-Man-With-No-Name riding away into The Wild West desert until he disappears; it's a complete reversal of the opening, which showed him appearing seemingly out of nowhere and riding into the corrupt little town.
  • The Legend of Frenchie King ends with the titular outlaw and her gang, now numbering a dozen, riding off into the distant prairie.
  • Mädchen in Uniform ends with the Sadist Teacher walking away from the camera down a corridor of the boarding school. She is clearly in shock, just having learning that one of her students almost killed herself over the treatment she received.
  • Steve in Mommy running away from the guards.
  • My Night at Maud's: The narrator, his wife Francoise, and their son go skipping off into the surf at the beach, symbolizing his acceptance of domesticity (he just had a last meeting with his old flame Maud).
  • The Nun's Story ends with the protagonist deciding to leave the convent and rejoin the secular world. The camera watches from inside the convent as she walks away.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl ends with Captain Jack Sparrow sailing off into the distance in search of a new adventure: "Now, bring me that horizon."
  • Robert Frost: A Lover's Quarrel with the World: Ends with Robert Frost getting into a car and being driven away from the camera, down a narrow country road.
  • Rooster Cogburn: Marshal Cogburn sits still upon his horse during the rolling credits as Eula Goodnight rides ever further into the distance.
  • The last shot in The Searchers is from inside the house, showing the hero walk away into the distance, then the door closes.
  • The Seventh Seal ends with almost the entire cast being led off by The Grim Reaper in a Dance Of Death across the overcast horizon, seen only by the prophetic Jor.
  • Shane: The But Now I Must Go ending has Shane riding away after defeating the villains, as the little boy who admires him cries "Shane! Come back!"
  • Hannibal Lecter walks away into the crowd at the end of The Silence of the Lambs.
  • Sound of the Mountain: Ends with Shingo and his daughter-in-law Kikuko walking away together through the park, after Kikuko has announced that she's getting a divorce and Shingo says he and his wife will be moving away.
  • The final scene of Sweet Smell of Success shows Susan leaving her and J.J.'s apartment and walking off into the streets of New York.
  • The original ending of Thelma & Louise would have concluded not with the Thunderbird flying through the air in mid-arc, but continuing to fall end-over-end into the Canyon. As Slocumb walks away from the canyon's edge in disbelief, the final sequence would have been a static shot of the Thunderbird driving away from the camera towards a distant mountain, as B.B. King's "Better Not Look Down" continues playing. The original ending was intended by the producers to suggest that the duo would keep travelling, even after death.
  • Umberto D: After the Interrupted Suicide, Umberto coaxes Flike back to him. They go walking away from the camera together, as Umberto plays games with his dog.
  • Yesterday (2004): The last shot has the camera pulling away as Yesterday, who has been showing more obvious signs of AIDS, walks back home after seeing Beauty off for her first day of school.
  • Safe in Hell ends with Gilda walking towards the gallows with her head held high.
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    Literature 
  • The Dragon Waiting by John M. Ford ends with two of the protagonists departing on horseback: "Without any noise, they rode away, and soon were lost to sight." Notably, although the book is in tight-third, and the viewpoint character in the final scene is one of the characters who rides away, on the final sentence the viewpoint changes; there are no other characters there, so there is no sight for the characters to be lost from except that of the audience.
  • Subverted in Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay. At the end, the protagonists ride away around a bend in the road — and then there is one more sentence about what happened to them around the next bend to make the point that just because the story ends here doesn't mean the characters have nothing left to do.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003)'s Distant Finale ends with HeadGaius and HeadSix hinting that the mythical elements of the series (including the existence of a God) are true before they walk off through the busy streets of modern-day New York.
  • The final episode of CSI ends with Grissom and Sara heading out to sea on Grissom's boat.
  • The series finale of Guiding Light ends with its signature Super Couple Josh and Reva driving off.
  • Many episodes of The Incredible Hulk end with David Banner wandering off into the distance whilst the lonely man theme played on the piano.
  • The pilot of Person of Interest ends with the hero walking off into a crowded street of New York.
  • In the final scene of Veronica Mars, Veronica walks away into the rain, signifying the consequences of the series finale being rather crappy (her Dad's facing charges that could land him serious jail time for protecting her, and their primary opponent for her Dad's old job as Sheriff is a corrupt puppet of the Mafia). As the camera pans out, we get the impression that Veronica is upset not only because she inadvertently got her Dad in trouble, but because she knows she'll never change her ways.

    Theatre 
  • Finale ends this way, with the cast walking off into the distance, to what is implied to be their deaths.

    Video Games 

    Western Animation 
  • Classic Disney Shorts:
    • The 1929 short The Haunted House ends with Mickey fleeing from the titular house while a living skeleton watches him from an outhouse.
    • The 1931 short The Castaway ends with Mickey riding on there back of a sea turtle while waving goodbye to the audience.
    • The 1934 short Two-Gun Mickey ends with Mickey and Minnie riding off into the sunset on horseback, with a defeated Pete being towed behind them.
    • The 1941 short Timber end with Donald walking down the train racks, towards the sunset, while holding a Bindle Stick.
    • The 1947 short Straight Shooters ends with Huey, Dewey and Louie exiting the carnival after outwitting their uncle Donald and taking the candy from his shooting gallery.
    • The 1947 short Crazy with the Heat ends with Donald and Goofy riding into the distance on a galloping camel.
    • The 1948 short Soup's On ends with an enraged Donald, having grown wise to his nephews' prank on him, chasing them into the moonlight.
    • The 1950 short Trailer Horn ends with Donald driving his car (or, rather, what's left of it) into the distance after being outwitted by Chip and Dale.
    • The 1954 short The Lone Chipmunks ends with Chip and Dale riding a horse into the distance.
  • Near the end of The Cleveland Show episode "Ain't Nothin' But Mutton Bustin'", Rallo and Junior head homeward by having Junior, who is dressed as a sheep, carry Rallo on his back while he walks all fours and hums "Happy Trails".
  • In the Series Finale of Gravity Falls, Dipper and Mabel get on the bus and head back home to California.
    Dipper: Ready to head into the unknown?
    Mabel: Nope. Let's do it.
  • Tom and Jerry:
    • The short Professor Tom ends with Jerry and the kitten walking down the sidewalk, arm in arm, to the melody of "We're Off to See the Wizard".
    • The short Texas Tom has Jerry riding Tom like a horse into the distance. It's a complete inversion of how the two began the cartoon.

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