I was thinking of how rare it is to have a great ending in fiction. This is important to me as I’m trying to write fiction myself and know it’s hard to wrap things up, so I was trying to think of other good examples of great endings. But there are so few in either movies, books, or TV series. Like I just read Ender’s Game, and while the second to last chapter of it blew me away, the actual last chapter and concluding of the book was kind of “eh.” It’s like maybe it should have just ended sooner, but there were threads to wrap up. And I can’t even think of one TV series that had a finale that met expectations. As for movies, most of the great movies I can think of just had okay endings. The examples I hear for great endings are usually twist endings — which only have the impact on the first viewing if it wasn’t spoiled — and movies where it wasn’t really an ending. Like Empire Strikes Back had a great ending — but it wasn’t an ending as we knew that was all getting picked up in the next movie. Offhand, if I was to think of a great ending that just perfectly summed up the story while also wrapping things up well enough, the best example I can come up with is The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
Maybe great endings are rare, but I pretty much never see anyone not recommend a great film or book because the ending was only okay (though some endings are so bad they almost ruin the whole thing, like for the TV series Lost). It’s all the stuff leading up to the ending that’s important, and the ending is more obligatory because fiction has to end. But in real life, there are no endings.
So what are the best endings in fiction you can think of?