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The End of the Beginning

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"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

When a writer tells a story, it usually involves some sort of significant change in the universe of the story, some kind of conflict which finds a resolution. After all, if there's no conflict, there's no story! We like reading about evil emperors getting overthrown and seeing their 100-year reign of oppression come to an end; reading about a peaceful nation with a peaceful king and citizens who are smart enough never to get into any trouble would be just as fun as watching paint dry.

But the story has to end somewhere, usually soon after the big climax and resolution. Thus, we are left to imagine how the world and its characters will live on after the story is over. The end of the story is the beginning of a new era.

For some reason, writers just love to point out this fact wherever possible. Expect a lot of them to mention "the beginning" with some sort of heavy significance.

Oh, and to make it even better—by the same token—sometimes the beginning of the story is referred to as "the end". It can get quite confusing.

See also: My Death Is Just the Beginning and It Has Only Just Begun. If the story undergoes this kind of shakeup and doesn't end there, it's Nothing Is the Same Anymore. Bears only a passing relation to the B-Movie Beginning of the End. When it really is the end, see The End.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Alien Nine's final anime episode was literally titled this trope, and it makes sense considering that, despite the series coming to a close, it reveals little pieces of what could be a possible intergalactic conspiracy.
  • In Arachnid, Alice spent most of the story stuck on a Carnival of Killers inside her school. Even after the Big Bad is killed, Japan is cast into a rape-powered Zombie Apocalypse of all things and Alice starts aimlessly fighting them while chasing The Syndicate. The last pages are her monologuing that "the "Arachnid Hunt" isn't over" and that to survive she has no choice but to keep killing.
  • Chapter 5 of Himenospia is named "End" and features a squad of policemen exterminating a school's student body to get at the misguided wasp-mutant protagonist, who is then driven to take over her town with brainwashing powers to survive. Chapter 35 in turn is named "Beginning" and starts to reveal that Himeno had been manipulated by her former bully and right-hand Nagisa, who was a fellow Queen the whole time.
  • The final episode of Noein, in which Haruka and Yuu defeat the titular Noein and reclaim their right to a future without his influence, is titled "The Beginning."
  • At the end of Princess Tutu, the series narrator states that Fakir is writing "a new story full of hope." (However, the title card shown right after this says "the end".)
  • This trope is invoked in Macross: Do You Remember Love?. At the end of the film, Britai and Exsedol are discussing the fact that they won out over two massive Zentradi and Meltrandi fleets, but that there are still 1,000 fleets of Boddol Zer and Lap Lamiz's type roaming the galaxy. Britai calmly states that with them and the humans in possession of culture, things will turn out all right.
  • The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer doesn't truly begin until Hangetsu Shinonome is killed by the third Golem. Since he was a major reason why the protagonists began to improve their fighting skills and became someone that they were glad to call an ally, his death was considered to be the equivalent of the curtains falling on the prologue of their story.

    Audio Play 
  • The Grand Finale of We're Alive uses a Distant Finale to show the world 14 years after a Zombie Apocalypse that is beginning to rebuild society while still dealing with the zombie threat. It also features Saul and Lizzy's now 14-year-old son, Nicolas, taking his first full steps into that world by choosing to become a guardian.

    Comic Books 
  • At the end of Chapter 8 of The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, Scrooge was busy shooing off intruders of White Agony Creek, when his arm suddenly gives way from the weight of a big rock he is lifting.
    Scrooge's thoughts: Great honk, this rock is heavy! how could it weigh so much unless...
    Scrooge: ...Unless it's gold! Gotta rinse off the mud! A nugget this big would make me the richest man in the Klondike!
    Scrooge's thoughts: But if it is gold, that will mean my quest is finished! I'll be rich! I'll never be the same again! Will clean air smell any sweeter? Will sunny days be ever brighter? Will starry nights hold any more wonder? Or will I lose all that? Do I really want to be... rich?
    (Beat Panel...)
    (he gains a glint in his eyes...)
    Scrooge: YES!!!
    (he rinses off the mud; the rock is indeed a huge nugget of gold.)
    Scrooge: It's gold! Solid gold! As big as a goose egg! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! I'm RICH!
    (zoom out on as the last word echoes throughout the creek as Scrooge skips about in excitement)
    Narration Box: The Beginning...
  • Marvel enjoys using "The Beginning!" whenever they can.
    • Examples include the Season One graphic novels, and the story in Marvel: NOW What?! detailing how Doctor Octopuppet decided to become the villainous... Doctor Octopus! *gasp*
    • The Killraven (2002) miniseries ends with the cast gathered around a campfire, their foes defeated.
      Volcana: Now that we are free, what do we do next?
      Carmilla: The same thing we always have done.
      M'Shulla: The only thing anyone can ever do.
      Killraven: Right, we live! We live for another day.
      Caption box: The Beginning.
  • Watchmen: "Nothing ends, Adrian. Nothing ever ends."

    Fan Works 
  • In the Star Trek: Voyager Parody Fic "The Killer Dame", the EMH disguises himself as Winston Churchill while in a WW2 holodeck program, and this quote becomes an Overly Long Gag.
    "Now this is not the end. It is not even, the beginning of the end. It is not even the end of the beginning of the end of the end. But it is perhaps, the end of the middle of the bit that comes after the end. Or perhaps the start of the end of the beginning of the middle of the end..."

    Films — Animation 
  • At the end of Anastasia: "It's a perfect ending!" "No. It's a perfect beginning."

    Films — Live Action 
  • Oliver Stone's JFK, ends with "What is past is prologue." The phrase is taken from William Shakespeare's The Tempest, and is engraved on the National Archives building in Washington, DC.
  • The sci-fi B-Movie The Phantom Planet ends with the narrator stating that, as humanity continues to explore the cosmos, they'll discover even more amazing wonders. "This is only the beginning!" In the MST3K episode on this movie, Mike and Bots lament that this means they have to watch the movie over again.
  • Literally: At the end of the apocalyptic/time-travel sci-fi B-Movie Millennium (1989) (not related to the eponymous TV series), a solemn voice-over proclaims: "It is not the end! It is not the beginning of the end! It is the end of the beginning!" This is in reference to the Adam and Eve Plot ending.
  • The Affectionate Parody of sci-fi B-Movies The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra has The End, then the credits continue rambling on in this fashion.
  • Jerry Lewis' The Nutty Professor ends, after a fake ending, with the words "the beginning", when Professor Kelp and Stella finally get together.
  • Star Trek: First Contact closes with the first meeting between humanity and the Vulcans, starting a brand new era in human history and marking the beginning of the Trek Verse.
  • The ending of The Dark Knight Rises (and The Dark Knight Trilogy, for that matter) has Bruce Wayne retiring as Batman and passing the mantle on to Robin John Blake. With the Bat-signal restored, it is implied Bruce thinks Gotham will still need a Batman.
  • The final line of Attack of the Clones is, "Begun, the Clone War has", spoken by Master Yoda.
  • The British WW2 propaganda movie The Way Ahead (1944) concludes with the soldiers advancing into the attack with the words THE BEGINNING. One assumes the producers wanted the audience to believe our heroes were just getting started in defeating the Nazis, as opposed to marching off to their END.
  • Screamers: The Hunting ends with a shot of the Fetus Terrible sprouting a killing blade and a title card saying THE BEGINNING, implying that the events shown on Sirius 6B will now take place on Earth.
  • Quoted verbatim near the end of Kingsman: The Golden Circle along with the implication that Churchill was a founding Kingsman.

  • The final book in the Animorphs series was titled "The Beginning." The story concerns the end of the Yeerk war on Earth, and the beginning of a new war against an unknown enemy. Depending on how the reader interprets Jake's final order, the series could end on a cliffhanger, a Bolivian Army Ending, or the start of a new and exciting journey.
  • The first chapter of the first book of The First Law trilogy is titled The End. The final chapter of the last book is titled The Beginning.
  • The final chapter of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was titled "The Beginning".
  • This was how The Last Battle (last book of The Chronicles of Narnia) ended.
  • Shadow Thieves by Anne Ursu, is in four parts: "We begin in the middle", "Now the beginning", "The end of the beginning" and "The beginning of the end."
  • The Star Trek Expanded Universe novel Imzadi commences with a page reading "The End," then goes through "The End of the Beginning," "Epilogue," "The Beginning," "The Middle," and finally "The Beginning of the End." This comes of a story with a nonlinear narrative that also involves time travel.
  • The final chapter of the third book in the The Han Solo Trilogy features Han sitting in a cantina on some backwater planet and worrying about their financial debt to a crime lord. Chewie walks over to his table and tells him that he may have found the solution to their problems in an old man and a kid who need passage to Alderaan. Where most books say "The End," it says "The Beginning."
  • At the end of the first Dark Tower novel, the Man in Black tells Roland "You haven't reached the end of your quest, merely the end of the beginning."
  • The first chapter of The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict is titled "A Beginning at the End." The last chapter is "An End at the Beginning."

    Live Action TV 
  • The final episode of Bizaardvark is aptly titled "The End of the Beginning". Specifically Vuuugle has been sold, Frankie, Paige and all their friends have to go their separate ways, and it doesn't matter where they are as long as they keep making videos with each other.
  • In Doctor Who, starting with the Third Doctor's final serial "Planet of the Spiders" most outgoing Doctors get a Grand Finale storyline. They usually face a threat greater than any they've previously come up against, often end up making a Heroic Sacrifice, and always have a denouement that treats their "death" and regeneration into their next incarnation as this trope. The revival series gives them a Final Speech as well and takes the trouble to tie up some loose ends of their Myth Arc. (The exceptions are Six, Seven, Eight, and War: Six and Seven meet their demises at the start of stories that are really about the new guys, Eight's regeneration is depicted in a short prologue to "The Day of the Doctor" and reveals it to have been under far more bitter circumstances than usual, and the special case of the War Doctor means his regeneration is only briefly seen as just one part of "Day"'s much larger story.)
  • The first part of the Grand Finale of Henry Danger is called "The Beginning of the End", fitting as it's the beginning of the end of the show. It's also the episode which Henry realizes he can't be a sidekick forever after finding out he's not graduating because of all his missions as Kid Danger, and is called by another town to be their superhero.
  • The first episode of Lost's fourth season is entitled "The Beginning of the End". Fitting as it was the first season to premiere after the announcement of the show's 2010 end date.
  • The pilot of Red Dwarf said "The End" at the beginning of the episode and "The Beginning" at the end of the episode. This is because it's the end of everyone on Red Dwarf (except for Sole Survivor Lister) that causes the setup for the rest of the series.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise ends with a Distant Finale in which the Enterprise is decommissioned. But the point is made that Archer and his brave crews exploits laid the foundations for the Starfleet (and later ships called Enterprise) to "boldly go where no man has gone before..."

  • The final song on Forgive Durden's album Razia's Shadow is titled, "The End and the Beginning" in this fashion.
  • Nightwish: The first words of The Poet and the Pendulum are "The End" and the last words are "The Beginning".
  • The final verse of the final track of Revolver: "So play the game Existence to the end/ Of the beginning/ Of the beginning/ Of the beginning..."
  • It has been revealed that the 1993 live film, Raffi on Broadway, contains a bonus segment of a couple of songs after the credits. One song is from Japan called "Haru Ga Kita", and another song is from Russia called "May There Always Be Sunshine".
  • Mentioned in "Closing Time" by Semisonic: "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."

    Newspaper Comics 
  • The Newspaper Comic Flash Gordon kept going for decades after Ming the Merciless was overthrown, while the characters continued finding new and mostly non-Ming-related adventures to have.

    Video Games 
  • End of the Beginning is level 1-10 of the Impetus area of BIT.TRIP RUNNER, which signals the end of the tutorial levels. This is mirrored by Middle of the Middle and Beginning of the end in Tenacity and Triumph respectively.
  • This is word-for-word the title of the first BF in the C path of Blaze Union.
  • "This isn't the end. Another dream is waiting to begin."
    • Which interestingly, it's similar to the quote Firion says at the end of Final Fantasy II
  • All of the Mass Effect games do this:
    • Mass Effect: Sovereign is just the vanguard of the coming galactic invasion. Shepard, after being hailed as a hero by the powers that be, vows to find a way to stop the invasion and walks off, continuing his/her quest.
    • Mass Effect 2: The Collectors are defeated and the Reaper plot thwarted for now, but the Reapers are descending upon the galaxy—the battle is not over yet.
    • Mass Effect 3: The Reapers are defeated, but at great cost to the galaxy. However, Shepard's actions through the third game set the stage for the futures of all of the races and characters.
  • Subverted in The Reconstruction. By the end of the story, the world is almost completely annihilated and has to be rebuilt practically from scratch — it is definitely the beginning of a new era. However, it's never actually said anywhere that it's a new beginning — even the phrase "reconstruction" is never mentioned.
  • In Resident Evil 2's ending, the main characters exchange this dialog:
    Leon: "It's finally over."
    Claire: "It's not. I've got to my brother."
    Leon: "You're right... this is just the beginning."
  • The Gears of War Trilogy has invoked this, They defeated the Locust and the Equally as destructive Lambent Locust. However it's made clear that they are still far off from a happy ending. But for now they have earned their "Tomorrow".
  • Star Wars: Battlefront II has this occur with the final two missions on the Republic campaign, with the Utapau mission being the final mission where you fight the Separatists as the Clone Army while the following mission on Coruscant is the last Republic mission period with the Clones executing Order 66 and attacking the Jedi Temple.

    Visual Novels 
  • In the "Blooming" ending of Saya no Uta, where Fuminori narrates how Saya dies in his arms, as she releases spores that will mutate every human into beings of her species:
    "......Is this goodbye?" I ask her, careful to keep the sorrow out of my voice.
    "——No, it isn't. This is——the beginning——"
    Saya's pain must have already left her, for her expression is infinitely peaceful and content.
    "The beginning——of our world——"

    Web Original 
  • After the Deathly Hallows title was released, the following episode of Muggle Cast was called "The Beginning Of The End". When they got the release date, Andrew states that it was "the end of the beginning of the end".
  • The final panel of The Order of the Stick prequel book On the Origins of PCs simply says, "The Beginning."

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • What Churchill is referring to in the above quote is that the worst part of World War II appeared to be over at that point; the threat of invasion of the UK by Germany was over, the United States entered the war full bore and a powerful alliance of those nations with the Soviet Union was established to give the Axis what for.
  • Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernan frequently invoked this phrase motivationally during training for the final moon landing mission, believing that it should not be thought of as the end of the moon program, but just the "end of the beginning" of such exploration. Technicians would frequently tease him about this ("Hey, Geno, I keep forgetting — is this the end or the beginning?"), and the phrase was humorously inserted (along with variations and subversions) at strategic points into the checklists Cernan would use on the lunar surface.