Apropos of nothing (But have you heard the season finale of Critical Hit?), I suck at endings.  I’ve never been able to write one that I’m happy with, and even the most perfect ones in fiction always leave me emotionally devastated afterwards, to the point where I’ll often go back and watch earlier episodes to remind me of less final moments in my imaginary characters lives.  When “Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow?” came out in 1986, I was a callow youth who mocked it’s emotional core.  Now, I can’t even think about the end of that story without misting up a little, not to mention what happened to poor Krypto.  Still, a good solid finale, no matter how much emotional wreckage it leaves behind, can really cement a story as great, which leaves us to today’s Grand Guignol query…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) probably loves comics because of their joyful refusal to ever proceed past Act 3 of a story without a happy-ending reversal or retcon, asking: What’s the most emotionally devastating Grand Finale of all for you?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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9 Comments

  1. October 18, 2014 at 2:11 pm — Reply

    My top 3 at the moment:

    All-Star Superman. Superman saves the world one last time. That final image of him in the hear of sun is perfect.

    Lone Wolf and Cub, final issue. Ogami Itto finally falls after long battle with Yagyu, and his little boy picks up his fathers broken spear defiantly facing Yagyu Retsudo. He picks up the boy and lets the boy stab him while embracing him in the last panel with the words “Grandson of my heart”. He’s grown to respect his enemy so much that he’s willing to raise Itto’s orphaned son as his own.

    Latest episode of Critical Hit. I’ve grown to love these characters more than even some real people in my life, it was hard to let them go.

  2. October 18, 2014 at 3:25 pm — Reply

    The series finale of “Forever Knight”. Even though the ending was slightly vague (and I choose to imagine it going a little differently), it is pretty much implied that Nick and Natalie end up staked by LaCroix. All of Nick’s struggles to regain his humanity and in the end he just gives up. It pretty much left me feeling that the overall message was “There is no point in trying, so you may as well give up”.

  3. Hannah Jones
    October 18, 2014 at 3:53 pm — Reply

    This, this is why I never finish anything. This is why I have a half-finished screenplay hanging around in my word proccessor, actually that’s probably the ending that I’ve gotta pick. I’ve grown to love and understand those characters, and soon I’m going to have to say goodbye to them. Kill your darlings is even harder than it sounds…

    • October 18, 2014 at 4:35 pm — Reply

      I have a story I’ve been working on for the better part of 8 years on and off. It is the “death” of one of my favorite characters I’ve ever created, and it is beyond heartbreaking. I am not kidding or exaggerating when I say I have had panic attacks over it because it feels so cruel, as if I’m some god meddling in this character’s life and I’m doing such horrible, horrible things to her. Sure, she sacrifices herself to save her daughter and her adoptive family, but that doesn’t make it any less heartbreaking to write or to read over. And yet, this story is important to me and I cannot just quit working on it.

  4. Kirby
    October 18, 2014 at 4:41 pm — Reply

    I’m absolutely terrified of how wrecked I’m going to be when Fables ends in a few months; been reading that for the better part of a decade, and then there won’t be new adventures waiting for me (similar for Dresden Files in a few years.)

    Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows may not be the best book in the series, but every turn of the page was filled with “please let them be okay.” The movies let me down in that a lot more could have been done to build up the deaths. Fred’s still get meets me right here.

    Though there are plenty of finales that I think were supposed to get to me that didn’t quite gel, like Futuramas various finales.

    • October 18, 2014 at 5:08 pm — Reply

      Considering they split the Deathly Hallows movie into two parts, I’m surprised how much they left out or cut down compared to the books. Some of the deaths that had a big impact on me in the books were kinda just… I dunno, like they half acknowledged it before moving on in the films.

      • Kirby
        October 18, 2014 at 5:58 pm — Reply

        Which is kind of why I’m always very pessimistic when I hear a “Part 1 & 2” for a movie being separated; with the exception of Kill Bill, there’s almost always stuff that can be cut out. The Hobbit could have been done in one four-hour movie.

  5. Plasmacaster
    October 19, 2014 at 4:21 am — Reply

    When it comes to emotionally devastating endings, you can’t beat certain japanese anime.

    As someone who hadn’t cried in over 2 decades (I was beginning to think I was like Dexter), Air managed to completely get me wrenched up inside. No spoilers but that ending fit in perfectly with the anime itself. It had me crying and wishing things hadn’t ended that way but looking at it, that’s the only way it could have ended.

    As far as Critical Hit goes, I honestly believe that the dark note that it ended on is the same as that from Empire Strikes Back (because that’s what life is, a series of dark notes). There is still plenty of room for a sequel.

    If that’s the end for Torq and the Torqletones or Trelle and the Nearlydeadmen then it fits as well as any anime, but I’m still hoping to see a Return of the Jedi.

  6. Rob
    October 19, 2014 at 4:41 pm — Reply

    Thr fameously brutal ending of Blake’s 7 it’s utterly devastating but somehow satisfying in the way you can’t imagine it ending any other way.

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