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    Why do some television series finales succeed while others seem to fail?

    The furor over the series finale of Game of Thrones is only the latest iteration of the phenomenon of long-running television series that unsettle, disappoint, or even enrage a show’s devotees. What did such programming as M*A*S*H or Downton Abbey do right that other popular shows like The Sopranos or Game of Thrones fail to accomplish in order to satisfy their audiences?

    • I cannot say I watched Game of Thrones but I did follow Downtown Abbey and I can tell you that a lot of empathetic people watch great series and are invested in the characters and even more so than identifying with or relating to the characters, we choose to spend our time watching. This is our life; we expect a payoff, satisfaction, a well-written ending. It is obvious when writers have put a lot of time and energy into the finale. It is equally obvious when the writing is poor and they can not pull it together. An example I will use is Orphan Black. I am not a sci fi fan but I enjoyed the concept of the show because it was not that far fetched. I decided to watch it and noticed the writing waning with each successive season. Unfortunately it was due to the demands of the actress. Hollywood in the last fifteen to twenty years has copped to the demands of the actors rather than the actors collaborating with the writers or actually just shutting up and letting the writers do their jobs, hence sometimes it is no fault of the writers but the executives who limit the writers by giving in to demands of actors who are often narcissistic and want to make their characters more like themselves which ruins the character arc and the show. In the end, what fans expect is something momentous because of the time invested. People watched Game of Thrones for several seasons; that is a lot of time in one's life spent.:) – youngmollflanders 5 years ago
    • This is a really interesting question, I think there are several things to note here, first of all unlike the other series mentioned Game of Thrones was a book series before it was a TV series and with this becomes a harder situation, when you read a book you have already decided an ending before you have got to it, you have decided how the characters would look and act even noticed things that would never be captured on screen and so that when a TV series is created, it is tough to compete with the books and it will almost never satisfy everyone. There are other issues such as budgeting and also when the show was cancelled and also issues of cutting down series for the final series. I think many people did not enjoy the finally as it was a twist that people were not expecting and with so many people invested with both the main characters it was always going to be hard on them for a twisted finally. I also feel them cutting down the episodes meant they did not have enough episodes to cover it whilst in comparison Shadowhunters which was a success got an extra two hours to cover everything. I also think it will always be hard to please everyone particularly a show with such a huge following. Also, the fact that the books are not finished but the series is also making it hard. – ezara 5 years ago
    • Moll, like you, I loved Orphan Black but elected not to finish the series because the narrative arc seemed to have lost its forward momentum. Your response almost begs for an additional topic -- why do series fail before they even have a chance to reach a finale! – MarkTodd 5 years ago
    • Moll, like you, I loved Orphan Black but elected not to finish the series because the narrative arc seemed to have lost its forward momentum. Your response almost begs for an additional topic -- why do series fail before they even have a chance to reach a finale! Ezara, I also really like the nuances you add to this topic. The pressures of production, budget, and creative direction are very real factors in the success and failure of a hopefully long-running show. And, of course, the book-before-the-movie/series could really be a separate topic -- even though it's clearly a factor for this one. – MarkTodd 5 years ago
    • From my understanding of Game of Thrones' finale, it was cramming too much into too few episodes, rushing everything without development. You could explore other series finales that make this mistake. – OkaNaimo0819 5 years ago

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    Latest Comments

    As a personal devotee of the time-travel subgenre, I love the way this article was not only fun to read but also insightful about the interaction between literary/cinematic creators and their audiences. My favorite insight in this article was how these works of art allow us as readers and viewers to imaginatively travel beyond the arrow of time imposed by our acquiescence to Einsteinian relativity and live, for the duration of the artistic moment, in some alternate time. In that sense, which this article alludes to, we break those bindings of space-time laws to experience greater lessons to be learned by a wider spectrum of human experience. Time-travel *is* possible, if only through our imaginations, and the trappings of logistics are sometimes express while others times merely implied. If the story’s well told, our desire to participate in these fanciful excursions allows us to forgive and surrender to our willing suspension of disbelief in a way that doesn’t differ whether the story is set in the past, the future, or some alternating combination along the continuum.

    Thank you for an entertaining and thought-provoking article about the way humanity overcomes, for now, time-bound realities. Imaginative experience feels no less real (we need but notice the rate of our own heartbeat or the increased infusion of adrenaline brought about by a well-executed story) for these “made-up” stories to transport is to other times.

    Time Travel: The Literary Way To Wander

    Thanks for this provocative (in the best sense of the word) article. When I read the clever title, it made me laugh even if I what I really wanted to do was cry. And thank you for the thorough footnotes — easy to fact-check and assess the credibility of your sources.

    I somehow doubt The Donald and Pink will ultimately reach the same conclusions. Nor would the former’s base ever stop to consider the cogent parallels you so aptly weave into your excellent article.

    In the meantime, I’m not holding my breath that Trump’s folly will become anything other than a symbolic as well as a literal barrier to addressing the issues that cause “having a say” frustrations, even one brick at a time.

    The Wall by The Donald and The Wall by Pink Floyd

    An intriguing article, and I really like the perspective of considering the correlation of depth psychology to quantum physics, and I think Jung would have approved of recent scientific efforts to validate the still debated phenomenon of quantum entanglement. But it must be said that Jung seemed more interested in the “observer effect” (forgive the double-entendre to physics) of paranormal phenomena as opposed to to the reality of the paranormal, whatever that is. I recall his monogram on “Flying Saucers,” in which he focused less on the objectivity of reported sightings and more on how the widespread reports give rise to a discussion of perception relating to the mandala as a universal projection from the Collective Unconscious. I know he reported a variety of personal paranormal experiences in his letters, but I think he was less interested in promoting New Age interpretations as much as he hoped to encourage dialogue about how such encounters reflect the individuation of the human psyche. That said, your article was stimulating and got me thinking again about Jung’s contributions to larger questions of what it means to be human. I’m saddened that late twentieth-century pyschologists have tended to cold-shoulder this iconoclastic thinker. Fortunately, he survives in philosophical discussions such as those you present in your article.

    Carl Jung on Synchronicity and the Esoteric