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The Art of Having a Sufficiently Bad Ending

I love the scene in The Matrix when Agent Smith is interrogating Morpheus, and he explains why the world they created was so unpleasant. He said initially that they created a good world but that people rejected it. In fact, they lost whole crops of humans who couldn’t accept the utopia. People rejected what wasn’t believable to them.

This is true of good stories also, particularly in how they end. If the ending is too happy, the story loses its impact. On the flip side, many modern stories end without a real conclusion or with the protagonist still struggling. I’m curious about how to find that perfect balance of satisfying resolution and believable pain that reflects the real difficulties of this world and a hope of redemption.

  • In essence you have quite an interesting topic suggestion here with the potential for deeper study. Why do we find a Utopian dream to be unrealistic, when that is supposedly the end goal that we all desire? Is this perhaps something that has become so ingrained into our collective psyche that only a wicked world is believable? A few more examples (other than a stereotypical Hollywood movie) would be useful, perhaps expanding into the realm of literature. Off the top of my head, I'd suggest Butler's 'Erewhon'. I'd also be careful not to be too religiously orientated in your suggestion. After all, not all of us are Christians and there are other equally valid, non-religious views to consider. One size doesn't fit all. – Amyus 3 years ago
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  • Thanks! I did reword my topic to reflect an overall hope of redemption (or meaning). : ) – tclaytor 3 years ago
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  • Noted. Nicely done :) If this hadn't already been approved then you would have got my vote. – Amyus 3 years ago
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  • This is quite the heavy subject, wow. You could really approach this from different angles. Exploring what constitutes a 'bad ending' would be a good start. Is it when the protagonist doesn't achieve their goal? A phyrric victory? Martyr's victory? No victory at all? Interested to see how this topic plays out. – Starfire 3 years ago
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  • Very cool topic! – Stephanie M. 3 years ago
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