Endings--the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

by Christine Wells

Because this is my final post for Popculturedivas (at least for now), I thought I'd talk about endings--the memorable, the satisfying, the forgettable and the disappointing.

Usually, I consider myself a happily ever after kind of gal. I'm not terribly keen on weepies or tragedies or and ending to a movie that comments on the pointlessness of our existence. I suppose I read and write romance because I like a satisfying ending, one that makes me exhale a sigh of contentment when I close the book.

But it's true that some of the most memorable movies and novels don't end happily. Gone With the Wind is an example where our heroine still hasn't learned her lesson by the book's close and she doesn't get what she really needs. Frankly, my dear... After all she has put him through, Rhett finally up and leaves. Would the story have the same resonance if they kissed and made up? I don't think so.

Then there's Roman Holiday, one of my favourite movies of all time. The ending is poignant and true, and makes me cry every time. The lovers don't end up together but that doesn't stop me revelling in the romance of a princess who gets to be a normal girl for the day and a cynical journalist who gives up the scoop of a lifetime for the woman he can never have.

And even when the ending is happy, sometimes a hint of bittersweet realism makes it even more satisfying. In An Affair to Remember, the final scene is all the more poignant and real because of the undercurrent of sadness.

What about you?

Do you like happy endings? Tragedies? Bittersweet?


  1. Ooh, lovely, Christine! And you mentioned two of my all-time favorite movies, Roman Holiday and An Affair to Remember. As you say, they both get the tone absolutely right. Actually I think it's tone that matters in an ending, not what actually happens - although, like you, I love a happily ever after.

    Actually another wonderful ending is the end of Wuthering Heights. It's bittersweet rather than happy - Heathcliff and Cathy are together in the hereafter and the world can start returning to balance after the protean force that is Heathcliff has moved on to his heavenly (well, maybe not!) reward.

    Wishing all the Pop Culture Divas a very happy Holiday Season!

  2. I've been lurking...


    Love Actually had a lot of interesting endings to the various plots. Poignant: The Emma Thompson/Alan Rickman relationship. Hysterical: The English dude who went to Wisconsin to find love. Sweet: Colin Firth's character and his Portuguese Maid.

    Just saw 'It's Complicated' by Nancy Meyers with Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin. Wonderful, LOL movie with depth. Terrific writing, plotting, acting, etc. I'm not giving away the ending! Go see it.

    Happy Holidays.



  3. Hi Anna, fancy meeting you here! Oh, yes, I so agree about Heathcliff and Cathy. They were simply too passionate for the world they lived in. You hope they found peace together in the afterlife, don't you?

  4. Hi Pamela! Yes, I really liked the balance in Love, Actually. The bittersweet endings seemed to make the happy ones more real. Thanks for the recommendation of It's Complicated. I'll certainly watch out for that!

  5. Oh, Christine - so sad to see you leave us as a regular. And then you mention two of my favourite films - Roman Holiday and An Affair to Remember. Now I'm going to get all weepy. But I hope you'll be back regaling with us exciting updates about your new releases.

  6. Hi, Christine!
    Sorry to see you go, at least for now.

    I think that sometimes the bittersweet ending is the only one that makes sense, and in that case, I am happy. I don't like the sad or tragic ending that doesn't seem realistic, or seems contrived only to make people emotional.

    Pamela, I agree about LOVE ACTUALLY. I guess I will have to re-watch it given the season! And I look forward to IT'S COMPLICATED.

    I hate to admit this, but I've never seen ROMAN HOLIDAY. However, that is about to change. I am going to try and rent it TODAY.

    Happy Holidays, everyone! And we'll miss you, Christine!

  7. Wow you mentioned 3 great films and hit the poignant endings spot on. I'm more of a happy ending gal myself but I love Roman Holiday and An Affair to Remember.
    Of course, every time I see Deborah Kerr, I always think of From Here to Eternity with Burt Lancaster. I also like the twist on the movie, Indiscreet with Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman.

    Great post!

  8. Jojo, thank you so much for all the work you've put in to this blog. No one could have done more! I'll be very sorry to leave as a regular but I'm looking forward to popping in now and again.

    And obviously, you have great taste in movies!LOL Roman Holiday and An Affair to Remember are two of the few movies I own on DVD.

  9. Kayla, thank you, I'll miss you, too! And you must watch Roman Holiday. I don't think there's ever been an actress with quite the magical quality that Audrey Hepburn brings to the screen. I warn you that you'll be desperate to visit Italy after you've seen it, so prepare to be bitten by the travel bug!

  10. Hi Maria! I loved Indiscreet, too. Anything with Cary Grant, really, but I've never seen From Here to Eternity. I watched part of it on a plane once but didn't get to see it all for some reason or another. I had to laugh that the scene on the beach is so short! It's such a classic, I expected there to be more to it when I actually watched the movie:)

  11. Love those happy endings!!

    Merry Christmas everyone!!

  12. Christine - *sniffs* I will miss your posts here, but have been so happy to meet you through the Divas!

    As for me and tragedies - well, I'm always the odd-woman-out in my romance group, because they all require HEA's, and I actually prefer tragic rip-my-heart-into-tiny-shreds stories like Wuthering Heights, Moulin Rouge, Gone With the Wind (could go on, but I've been getting an average of 3 hours sleep a night this Christmas week - which is all a part of my favorite time of year and the reason for my existance, Christmas Eve!) And all the best ballets are heartbreakers, and I'm a ballet freak - Onegin, Romeo and Juliet, Swan Lake, Giselle. Will never, ever get enough of watching them and wiping away the tears every time.

  13. Hi Christine!

    We'll miss you here in the Diva Universe! Wah!

    Hmmmm... In my movie-watching world, Happy Endings make it all worthwhile. For me it seems that life itself has enough poignant lessons, drama and crisis, and waaaay too much realism. ;-D

    Happy Holidays to Everyone!

    --Chiron O'Keefe
    Motivation for Writers weekly at The Write Soul: www.chironokeefe.blogspot.com


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