All’s Well That Ends Well
We all like certainty
“All’s well that ends well, still the fine’s the crown;
Whate’er the course, the end is the renown.” — William Shakespeare, 1603 (All’s Well That Ends Well)
Who doesn’t like a definitive conclusion?
Whether it’s a whodunnit, a children’s tale, or your favorite series to binge on a streaming platform, we like our stories to wrap up neatly, everything tied up with a beautiful bow.
But life doesn’t work like that.
If anything, we use fiction (particularly in a televised format) to escape reality.
In the first double episode of the groundbreaking series Seinfeld—a show that typically wrapped up its business in 22 minute episodes—Jerry remarked:
“Don’t you hate to-be-continueds on TV? It’s horrible when you sense the “to be continued” coming, you know? You’re watching the show. You're into the story. Then there’s, like, 5 minutes left, and suddenly you realize, “Hey, they can’t make it! Timmy’s still stuck in the cave. There’s no way they wrap this up in 5 minutes.” I mean, the whole reason you watch a TV show is because it ends. If I wanted a long, boring story with no point to it, I have my life.”
Of course, there are ways to overcome frustration by creating anticipation in whatever format of storytelling you choose.