I’ve been thinking about series endings and metaplots lately. Hubby and I have been marathon watching Bones, and we just hit the end of season 3 and started season 4 in which poor Zack became a victim of the writer’s strike by being framed for a serial murder nobody actually believes he committed and in which they broke up Angie and Hodgins–because they (the writers) suck. My friend Crystal assures me that the show does recover from the suck, so I will keep watching. But it made me think about various other shows that were victims of the writers’ strike or have just flat been sent to the TV land graveyard. Shows that were written with cliffhanger season endings designed to make you salivate for the next one–when there was no next one to be had. Kyle XY was one of these. Absolutely NOTHING was resolved at the end of the final season. It was painfully obvious that they had planned on getting the show renewed and when they weren’t, fans were just screwed. At least with Jericho and Dollhouse, they tied up ENOUGH loose ends that fans were–well if not satisfied, at least got some kind of resolution. Serenity did that for Firefly. It sucked. I’m not a fan of killing off half the cast for no good reason, but at least they tied up the storyline.
Given the threat of cancellation, it seems like writers should give some thought to the endings of each season or book such that if the contract isn’t renewed, fans aren’t left in the lurch. I’m not talking about books where there is a guaranteed trilogy or x number series. But for series that are longer, broader, with no definitive end in sight, there’s always the possiblity that the latest book won’t live up to the sales numbers the publisher wants and the author won’t get the chance to finish out the broader storyline.
So how does an author or screenplay writer deal with this possibility? How do you deliver a satisfying resolution, yet leave enough unanswered questions that readers/viewers will come back for more if there is more, but won’t be squawking foul play if there isn’t more?
Inquiring minds want to know.