Tearjerker or just Jerky?

Saturday May 14, 2011 | By Hieronymus Hawkes | Blogging

I hate crappy endings. It’s a real drag when you’ve invested time and emotional energy into a story and then get slapped in the face at the end when one of the main characters dies. I read books and watch movies for entertainment and to escape the worries that plague us in the real world. I don’t mind a little emotional turmoil, as long as it’s accompanied with some heroic action, or overcoming the odds. That’s the stuff that really gets me. Most of us want to feel something while we are experiencing the story and it’s the authors job to bring that to the table, but sometimes they go for the big hit by killing someone that wasn’t really necessary to kill, but creates a big emotional impact.

I was in 5th grade when Col. Henry Blake was killed at the end of season 3. We used to watch M.A.S.H. together as a family and absolutely loved the show. It was hard to figure out why they did it. It was the talk of class the next day and we had a substitute teacher that day, who was also a big fan of the show. We all wrote letters to the producers of the show complaining about how unnecessary Col. Blake’s death was and how much we loved the character and the show. One of the show’s producers, Larry Gelbart, was gracious enough to write each of us back with a hand-written letter on cool M.A.S. H. letterhead in green felt-tip pen to explain that bad things happen in war. It was debated across the country and upset many fans and even many of the actors, who didn’t know what the producers had in mind until just before the last scene was shot. The letter was beyond cool, but it didn’t mollify my feelings. To this day I think it was a poor use of a beloved characters death just for the grandstanding moment. But many people think it was what brought the show to a new level.

I was reading through some stuff the other day and came across a reference to Romeo and Juliet — quite possibly the worst ending of any story of all time. I mean seriously lame! So why is it so ubiquitous, even today? Is it because of the twisted ending? Would we have cared at all if they ran off and lived happily ever after? It would probably have faded into oblivion. I’m puzzled why it would remain such a popular. Well, I’m not even sure I would call it popular, but it is certainly famous. WHY!? Was it the unexpectedness of the ending? The emotional impact? Or maybe the ‘WTF’ factor?

I won’t be doing any of those kinds of endings…or maybe I just might.

What do you all think about how a book ends? Am I alone in hating crappy endings?


Clear Ether!


9 Responses

  1. I hate cliff hanger endings. I don't mind a sad ending to a book if it ties everything up and leaves room for new possibilities for the MC. But if it's a sad, crappy, cliff hanger ending? I won't be reading anything else by that author.

  2. I hate plot lines, killing off a character or basically anything that's done for ratings or shock value. I agree, you spend all this time becoming invested in these character's lives and *boom* they're gone. It's true that in life things happen and sudden deaths occur, but really? A main character? I don't need them riding off into the sunset, happy and carefree, but there still needs to be the hope that one day it will all work out.

  3. Karen I agree completely! We all know that life's not fair a lot of the time. Perhaps there is a place for the \”tragedy\” story, but for the life of me I don't understand the appeal. Thanks for your comment! =)

  4. I'm like you. I need that happy ending. I read to be entertained, not to be depressed! I read a romance by a chapter mate of mine. Well, I thought it was a romance. I was mad when I got to the ending. So much so that I almost didn't give the sequel a chance. At least she redeemed herself with that one. But if the sequel had gone as bad, I probably would have never picked up another one of her books.I pay attention to genre labeling. It tells me what kind of book to expect.

  5. I personally love a good tear jerker. I remember when Col. Blake died…I cried and cried. And looking back on it, it gave the series a great way to introduce extra conflict for Col. Potter's arrival. I also have an appreciation for Nicholas Sparks' stuff–he's always killing someone off…although I just finished \”The Lucky One\” and I was sweating it at the end, worrying about who was going to die. I'm still not really happy about the spider dying at the end of Charlotte's Web. That one wrecks me every time.

  6. Thanks for offering a dissenting opinion Teri Anne, I knew there had to be some. =) Is it because you get a good cry out of it? I really don't understand the appeal.I cried when \”Old Yellar\” died, I didn't like Bambi. The list goes on and on. I am Legend looks cool, but I won't watch it, because I know the main character dies at the end. Thank God that we are all different. =)

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