Gainax Ending

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"Is this how you end a series???"


"I wanted controversy, arguments, fights, discussions, people in anger waving fists in my face saying, 'how dare you?'".
—Patrick McGoohan on the ending of The Prisoner

A Gainax Ending is an ending that doesn't make any sense. This is usually a deliberate form of Mind Screw or intended as a Sequel Hook to a sequel that was never made. For whatever reason, after watching a Gainax Ending, you won't have any idea what happened. After rewatching it, rewatching the entire series, discussing it with other fans, looking up the meaning of the symbolism, and subjecting the entire thing to a comprehensive literary analysis, you still might not have any idea what happened. If you're lucky, then there will be some kind of emotional or symbolic resolution even if it doesn't actually explain what happened to the characters, and you'll be left with the sense that the series as a whole was more deeply thought out than it seemed before. If you're unlucky, then you'll be left with more questions than when you started with, and the sense that the series as a whole has been voided of the meaning you once read in it.

A Gainax Ending frequently involves bizarre and nonsensical Genre Shifts, Fauxlosophic Narration, and/or Faux Symbolism, and may very well cause Ending Aversion. For an aborted Sequel Hook, you might encounter a Diabolus Ex Vacuus (where a new villain appears from nowhere, does something villainous, and then disappears again) or No Ending in the form of an ambiguous Cliff Hanger. Either way, it would have been addressed in the sequel... had there been one.

The Trope Namer is Studio Gainax, who became associated with this trope after the infamous ending of Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Compare No Ending, which shares the lack of resolution, and Trippy Finale Syndrome, which has similar imagery but actually makes sense (it's explicitly a Dream Sequence, a Battle in the Center of the Mind, takes place in Another Dimension, etc). For when the ending does make sense and ends up changing the entire scenario, see The Ending Changes Everything. Not to be confused with Gainaxing.

As this is an Ending Trope, expect unmarked major spoilers from here on.

Examples of Gainax Ending include:


Anime & Manga - Gainax Studios[edit | hide | hide all]

  • As mentioned above, Neon Genesis Evangelion, to the point where this trope could be named Evangelion Ending (if there wasn't a movie titled End of Evangelion). Due to the budget effectively being shot, the final two episodes consisted heavily of stock footage, musings on human nature, discussion of the characters' psychological problems, some mention of the Human Instrumentality Project, and a High School AU with a Rei Ayanami on Genki.
    • Even the movie ending, while straight-forward, is pretty bizarre by normal standards, and would probably be considered an example by the standards of most of the other things on this page if the TV ending hadn't out-Gainaxed Gainax.
      • Word of God says that the movie was the original planned ending and that the entirety of the TV ending takes place within the instrumentality sequences. Seeing as the episode previews made before they ran out of money are incredibly similar to moments in the first half of the film, there can be no doubt they added complexity due simply to the lack of budget.
  • Mahoromatic on three levels.
    • It seems to end every episode in this manner. In fact, the entire premise of the show is that as a non-rechargeable combat android, Mahoro can literally number the days till she deactivates, and the viewers are constantly reminded of this fact.
    • It should be noted as well that that the countdown is never finished, as Mahoro's ultimate attack drains the same energy that keeps her alive; she is forced to use it in the second season, leading to the TimeShift enigmatic ending.
    • In that ending, she comes back in some form right as Suguru dies. Possibly as a memory, possibly as some sort of afterlife, or possibly as them both being restored to life. What.
  • Petite Princess Yucie is a light-hearted Magical Girl anime that just happens to be made by Gainax. Naturally, they run headlong into this trope with Arc's poisoning, Yucie's decision to use her wish to save him rather than break her own curse, and the revelation that not only does the wish made by the Platinum Princess require the sacrifice of the other contestants, but if the wish isn't made, the world of the Platinum Princess will be destroyed. All of this appears to culminate with the decision by the other four candidates to wipe Yucie's memories of them so she can make the wish without guilt. The very last episode then inverts the whole trope by taking a sharp whipswing back around as Yucie recovers her memories and, through The Power of Friendship, restores the lives of all of her friends.
  • Gunbuster's final episode was animated in black and white, with gray tones, alongside intense still shots during the final battle. And then, after the black hole bomb goes off, it takes them 12,000 years to make it back to Earth. (Due to the relativistic affects of near-light-speed travel, probably only a day had passed from their POV) And then "WELCOME HOME!" (with one of the kana backwards, even), which was admittedly kind of cool, even if it left a billion unanswered questions. While it all does work to increase the dramatic tension, given who produced the show, there have been a lot of suspicions over the years that it was done more for budgetary reasons than for any reasons of high art.
    • The Black and White stuff was actually more expensive to do at the time, as it is much more requiring to paint in greyscale, also including the fact that you need to compensate for the color detail with drawn detail. Likewise, the episode is done in a downmatted widescreen, and all comedic tone is dead, simply finalizing the evolution the show takes from a fanservice filled parody into something much darker.
    • This one is a bit more contested, though, as quite a few people have pointed out that, given the awesome scope of the posited final battle, that the still pictures are still remarkably effective and that their effect is greater than what could have been with "actual" animation.
  • He Is My Master, another show animated by Gainax, is a light, funny, gag series about a guy with a maid fetish. How else to end the series than with a sudden Mood Whiplash into angst and philosophizing?
  • Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi, made by Gainax, has an ending that may make no sense whatsoever to you if you didn't follow the shows' philosophy and possibly solve the Moon Logic Puzzle.
    • It's not so much that the ending is weird or incomprehensible as that it flies directly in the face of what looked like it was the moral for the entire second half of the series and the ending it led you to expect.
    • Also, it's intended to be ambiguous: whether Sasshi has successfully managed to "fix" reality or has simply created yet another, even more elaborate fantasy dimension that is ultimately doomed to collapse just like all the others is left for the viewer to decide.
  • Creative differences caused a Gainax Ending in Kare Kano, abruptly ending the story just as a new arc was starting up.
  • Gainax has truly outdone themselves with Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt. Long story short, Big Bad dies, but then isn't dead, Stocking is actually a demon WHO KILLS PANTY, and now Brief must retrieve Panty's 666 pieces and bring her back to life. Wat.
    • In fact, it's so big of a Gainax Ending that the characters who didn't see it coming react to it in much the same way the viewers do.
    • And that only covers the last three minutes of it. In more or less chronological order... Panty spends an undefined amount of time as a farm girl (the setting of which is otherwise staged), Panty and Brief finally do it, Brief accidentally unlocks Hellsmonkey, which is a giant penis ghost, Corset turns Scanty and Kneesocks into weapons and kills Garterbelt before fusing with said giant penis ghost, Chuck and Fastener turn into awesome monster things, Panty and Stocking use Garterbelt's credit card to buy enough weapons to attempt to deliver an awesome finishing blow. They miss and hit Heaven, which summons a pair of lifelike legs to close the gate that Hellsmonkey is coming out of. This pair of legs turns out to be Panty and Stocking's mom. Oh, and Garterbelt dies again. And comes back again. Among all this, the heavens are actually pierced with a drill. Even the tropes Gainax are most closely identified with are up for parody.
    • And due to (un?)fortunate airing dates combined with said Gainax Ending, December 24, 2010 will forever go down as The Day Gainax Ruined Christmas.
    • Just take a look for yourself
    • Y'ALL GOT TROLLED BY GAINAX
  • Gurren Lagann actually manages to invert this. The opening scene makes absolutely no sense compared to the rest of the series (as well as contributing nothing and is never mentioned again), and Word of God is that they "lost that plot thread somewhere." Fans came up with the idea that it was some alternate timeline, and the creators said Sure, why not.
    • Basically, the first scene of the series appears to be a preview/flashforward scene from somewhere near the end of the series, but viewers watching it for the first time will have no idea what is going on, and when the events the scene should be in finally come, nothing matches with it.
    • The theory behind the 'alternate timeline' is presented as one of the possible futures in which Simon and crew failed. However it has also been up to debate as to whether or not it was merely an illusion provided by the Anti-Spirals. Thankfully Gurren Lagann manages to bullshit its way through the series in a way so that the beginning is likely forgotten by the time that scene rolls around. Most people weren't even aware there was anything wrong until they re-watched the series and noticed a certain something that first-time viewers would hardly notice.
    • It is rumoured that this is actually a previous battle with the Anti-Spirals and the person who appears to be a grown up Simon is in fact a young Lord Genome. This makes it foreshadowing in terms of the plot.
    • The actual theory that Gainax went with that the fans came up with is that It's an alternate future in which Simon and Dai-Gurren-dan actually cause the Spiral Nemesis and trigger what amounts to the Big Crunch from overuse of Spiral Power.


Anime & Manga - Other[edit | hide]

  • The anime of Excel Saga actually inverts this trope; in the last few aired episodes it suddenly gets a real plot going and is much more serious. Then in the final (albeit unaired) episode, it becomes even more weird, as if to make up for the serious finale.
  • Chobits starts out as a typical Magical Girlfriend-cum-Moe show, then, about halfway through, gets... er, weird. And to top it off, after spending half the series contemplating the sentience of persocoms, the single most advanced persocom in existence states that she isn't really sentient, and neither are any of the other Chobits - they're highly advanced, naturally, but when you get down to the nitty-gritty, they're only following their programming. Most of the fans interpreted this turn of events as a gigantic middle finger from CLAMP. In the anime, they are sentient.
  • Code Geass briefly seems to go for one of these in the penultimate arc when it starts to look a lot like an EVA clone. However Lelouch then decides to not play along with it and remake the world on his own, resulting in a truly climactic finale with the Melodrama rocketing trough the roof.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena. Of course, compared to the rest of the series...
    • You think the series ending was Gainax? Try the movie, Revolutionary Girl Utena Adolescence Apocalypse. They ride off into the sunset after one of them turns into a car.
  • Dragon Ball GT. While GT has many things to scratch your head about, the ending is so sudden and bizarre it's nothing short of a Mind Screw. What happened to Goku in the last 2 episodes? He's clearly dead from that huge energy ball, then suddenly he's alive again somehow able to talk to everybody on earth, then when he's charging the spirit he cannot be killed by Omega at all, despite direct hits. We're not even sure if he's dead or Back From the Dead because there's not even a halo to give us any idea (How that is even possible under the circumstances is itself a mystery). Then after the bomb's thrown, he's dead again, apparently brought back to life, then suddenly he just leaves without even saying goodbye. Vegeta knows something's up, then suddenly we see his clothes left on the ground. But in DBZ when they die, they die with their clothes (In fact, that shot is out of sequence and is shown after the end of the next couple of events). But then he's off to visit Roshi and Piccolo, who both also know something's changed about him, but a mere "Are you...?" is not very helpful. When they take their eyes off him for a second, there's suddenly no one there. Then the Dragonballs merge into Goku, then he disappears. Where does he go? What happened to him?
    • He doesn't return for 100 years, and if you leave aside what you saw in A Hero's legacy, it's not clear if he's alive or dead. Theories include Ascended to A Higher Plane of Existence or that Goku became Shenron himself. And is he isn't even remotely bothered by the fact that almost everyone he knew is dead.
    • A Hero's legacy was made earlier just after the Baby Saga and they intended Goku to be clearly dead and be the Spirit Advisor to Goku Jr. At that time, no had any idea how GT was going to end or just how they were going to get there, they hoped to stop with Baby Saga. But Executive Meddling (which is why GT even existed) wanted to rush two more sagas in production because producers wanted the series to coincide with the release (and marketing) of Dragon Ball: Final Bout for the Playstation. Viewer ratings began to go into landslide around the Shadow Dragon Saga so they abruptly Cut Short the series and rushed out a hastily written ending out the door. Yes.
  • The makers of the AIR anime were likely shooting for a Bittersweet Ending, but the ambiguity of what happens after Misuzu's death leaves many viewers in the dark.
    • Same for Clannad: To understand the Gainax Ending requires a lot of analysis of the dialogue between Ushio and the Garbage Doll before the Illusionary World collapses. Also, one has to wonder why Nagisa has knowledge of Tomoya wishing that he'd never met her, as well as if the reality where Nagisa, Tomoya, and Ushio died really happened. It really did.
  • Divergence Eve: Misaki Chronicles does this. It breaks the original theme of the series by showing everyone dead is alive again, and also is totally confusing.
  • The bizarre way they treated Tetsuo's fate in the ending of the Akira anime counts, I figure.
    • Gainax is even one of the production companies involved in the film.
  • The Big O, partly because of the head writer's love of Mind Screw and partly because it was only intended to be a season finale. To summarize: The former Union agent Angel discovers that her memories of her childhood are false, and the enigmatic Gordon tells her that she's not a human being. He then leads her to an elevator going deep underground. She reappears either turned into or controlling a negative-colored mecha that erases everything it touches, finally leaving behind only a StarTrek-style holodeck grid, untilRoger calls out to her to stop, giving an impassioned speech ending with "You must stop denying your own existence as a human being!". She seems to ignore him, but after both her mecha and Roger's erase each other, there's a flash of light, and the entire world reappears as it was before episode 25 at the very beginning of the first episode, with exactly one thing changed. Full synopsis here. Message boards were flooded with "they pulled an Evangelion on us!".
    • They weren't sure if they'd be able to have a third series, but only the epilogue would have changed - Chiaki J. Konaka originally had a different epilogue which went into more detail than the one we got and literally ended with a curtain falling, but was asked by the U.S. network to write a less conclusive ending in case they picked it up for a third season. They didn't.
  • Blame has an incredibly confusing ending that had many readers scratching their heads, but the truth is that it was a good ending. Killy found (by pure chance, and after losing half his head) an uncontaminated place in which Cibo's "egg" could "hatch" and give birth to a child with Net Terminal Genes. So, Mission - more or less - Accomplished.
    • For that matter, nearly anything Tsutomu Nihei has finished has had a Gainax Ending.
  • Xamd Lost Memories. An Ancient Conspiracy of soul-eating albino children. A stillborn Death Seeker Kaiju. Only a mass-sacrifice Combined Energy Attack can stop the Big Bad, except not. The main character goes to a Journey to the Center of the Mind and defeats the Big Bad by giving him his name... Or was it the laser? Instrumentality! The main character dies, and gets better nine years later for no reason! ...Oh, and he has inexplicably aged in the meantime.
  • Bagi, the Monster of Mighty Nature does this. At the end, Bagi is left prowling the jungle with her human intelligence destroyed, and Ryo just decides it would be better to stop trying to catch her.
  • The manga version of Sound Horizon's Ark starts out straightforward enough, but a few pages into the second and final chapter, it takes a sudden detour through WTFville into Gainax Ending Land. I translated said manga and am quite familiar with the overall story line of the album it's based on, and I still don't get it.
  • While the ending of the manga version of Chrono Crusade is better explained than some of the other examples here, due in part to some poor planning from Daisuke Moriyama and a rush to get everything explained in the end, the last volume or two of the manga feels like there's a sudden Genre Shift mixed with several open-ended questions, unless you were clever enough to pick up on subtle foreshadowing throughout the series. Some of the weirder points of the ending include the revelation that the demons are really Sufficiently Advanced Aliens, Rosette's soul leaving her body, causing her "death" and a trippy afterlife scene that ends with her and Mary Magdalene entering her body together to revive her, Chrono finding out that the demon Hive Queen was a human woman that was kidnapped by the demons and transformed into Pandaemonium—who was pregnant with human twins that would grow up to be Chrono and Aion, Chrono and Aion charging at each other for their final battle, only for the manga to cut away and change focus, deliberately hiding the outcome of the battle and Satella freezing herself and Florette/Fiore into crystal, and the two of them found and revived in the year 1999 and forced to start over their lives after (almost) all of their old friends have passed on. While the Gecko Ending of the anime is depressing enough that many fans prefer the manga ending, it's still known for being quite weird.
  • Following the pattern of its own insanity, Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle has one of these, in which Fei Wong has somehow been defeated (or has he?), Watanuki and Syaoran did... something... which somehow resulted in bringing Syaoran back to Sakura from weird black void-thingy, the clones went * poof* , and Syaoran and Sakura appear to have gotten their memories back. I think. At this point, all anyone can hope for is that Xxx HO Li C explains what the hell just happened.
    • To elaborate a little further The two Sakuras gather their magic, i.e. Divide by Zero twice over and grant their own wish of coexisting even at the cost of the foundations of the universe. This distracts Fei Wong to allow everyone else to give the finishing blow to Fei Wong. Then the 3 Syaoran: The Clone Syaoran, the original Syaoran, and Watanuki get trapped in a void outside of time from the dimensional aftershock and/or Fei Wong's last wish. Clone Syaoran in a desperate attempt makes a wish by using his very existence to get the other two out, which the other two accept on the grounds that they understand the repercussions of making an un-Equivalent Exchange.
      • To finish the trail of thought Syaoran chooses the price of "being always in movement" and he takes the souls of Syaoran and Sakura clones and starts to travel in order to find a place where the four of them can live together. He also gets a present which allows him to go back to where Sakura is more often. Watanuki chooses the price of "staying in one place" and becomes the new master of Yuuko's shop, while he waits for her to reincarnate.
  • Bobobo-Bo Bo-bobo ends with the entire cast saying "This is how our show ends?!" although it was really more a subversion of the unresolved cliffhanger imposed by the show's cancellation.
  • In Lucu Lucu, you expect the main character, Rokumon, to end up in a Shipping with Lucu (at least in the first 30 chapters, and you keep hoping)...but, that's not quite what happens... You see Rokumon was used essentially as a sim game by Lucu to learn humility, and his whole entire life has been a lie throughout the 'entire manga. His dead-father-turned-living-talking-cat is also not his real father and his whole entire memory comes back in the last 5 pages of the manga.
  • Gantz. Like, WTF at the end? Did he save the girl? Why was he running from the train all over again? Cut to Gantz once again, almost as if started from the beginning...?
  • Darker than Black, both seasons. Both finales actually contain scenes apparently inspired by the TV ending of Evangelion, although the scene in the first season is actually in the middle of the episode and the parts following it make it a bit less mindscrewy. The second season, on the other hand, is a perfect example of a mindscrew ending.
  • The Berserk anime's ending could be considered a Gainax Ending. If you watch it without ever reading a bit of the manga, you'll have a lot of trouble understanding the fact that towards the end, monsters unknown to each and every character start showing up and eating them, which is hard to understand because the anime doesn't even mention the existence of other behelits apart from Griffith's. Oh, also the anime ends abruptly, with Caska being raped by Griffith (now as Femto), while Guts is forced to watch, being subdued by a group of demons and losing an eye after carving his own arm off to escape some other demon's grip, with no sign of closure whatsoever. No epilogue, not even different credits, it just ends. It didn't get cancelled or discontinued either, its supposed to end there. Talk about downer ending.
    • The strangest thing of that is that after the credits we see a healed Guts leaves Godo's house to have his revenge on Griffith. In the anime is never explained how that happened. Talk about No Ending or Left Hanging.
  • Wings of Honneamise Royal Space Force is another great example of this. Rather than addressing whether or not Shiro's mission is successful, the film ends with an abstract montage of everyday life and the rise of civilization on the fictional planet.
    • Expected. Another Gainax work, in fact one of their first.
  • Madlax. Totally leaves the viewer hanging on the fate of three of supporting cast. Not to mention the cause of some intense arguments over if Margaret resurrected Elenore, Vanessa and Carrossea or not.
  • Serial Experiments Lain: Lain creates a new reality where she doesn´t exist. However, she meets Alice in the last scene of the ending episode, and Lain says that she can see her every time that she wants... Huh ?
    • It's simple really. Lain made a world where she never existed... but that didn't mean she stopped existing herself. Presumably she's somehow manifesting a body from the internet. Or whatever.
    • Another explanation is much more complicated: It would say that Lain was never a real person, but was only an AI created by Masami Eri--who was in turn created by Lain's father in the real world as an "acting God" until his usefulness was outlived--after his own death, but after the Knights are all murdered, only Lain is left to believe in his existence as a God, and his existence is dependent on being considered a God, which he explicitly states to Lain as a necessary trait of being a God. When Lain pulls a rather brave Crowning Moment of Awesome in his monstrous face and renounces him, he completely disappears, and Lain maintains her capacity to "reset" the Universe as she pleases without Masami's control over her. The "Human Lain" we see most often is and always has been an AI programmed to interact with the real world convincingly, and was the only form of Lain given an ego by Eri, but becomes attached to it as a result of Eri's programming that made her *too* connected to the world and the people in it, while the others spend most of their time in the Wired, but still have the capacity to interact with the real world, such as Wired Lain's appearances at the Cyberia club. After Lain "resets" the entire Universe for Alice's sake and effectively becomes the daughter of God instead of just the creation of Eri who has been used the whole time for God's purposes (her father acting as a God-figure even after the Universe reset, as evidenced by their odd interaction in the clouds in which her father is literally watching over her from above), she completely deletes her "Wired" self, leaving only the "human AI" Lain left. Lain then chooses to recreate the entire Universe as she wants a second time, in which she still has a God's powers and is omnipotent and omniscient, but mostly just wants a normal life and to be as human as possible while protecting Alice forever, even in death, just so she can watch Alice marry and have a normal life herself, before Lain unwittingly destroyed her original life before the first reset. What the human form of Lain is, exactly, remains ambiguous, because Eri could have been wrong or even lying the whole time, along with the whole Secret Identity, In Mysterious Ways and God Was My Co-Pilot things all going on at once.
  • While the serious and mystery aspect of the plot of Boku no Futatsu no Tsubasa was hinted at through most of the series the ending was extremely rushed making it all extremely odd. The majority was a Romantic Comedy with loads of characters and their changing feelings. A good chunk was all about Mako's gender and keeping her hermaphrodite status a secret. Then the last chapter throws at us: Mako is half an alien, an evil group want to hold her ransom and get the advance alien technology from her royal alien family. To stop her friends from getting hurt Mako decides to return to her alien home. Then she comes back to be with her non-blood cousin Hiromi... which had never been hinted at before in any shape or form.
  • The climax and after credits bit of the Gundam 00 movie. I'm still not sure what the hell happened, but apparently the ELS were just a race who had lost their home and misunderstood humanity and Setsuna merged with the ELS becoming almost godlike. And his Gundam could grow flowers.
  • The ending of that one episode of Kirby of the Stars with the Dedede dolls in it. Seriously, King Dedede actually ends up flying into space and past a planet shaped like him as a result of Kirby swallowing one of said Dedede dolls.
  • The original Shaman King manga qualifies. The heroes go to sleep the day before the final battle. After that, it cuts to a series of scenes with Manta and Anna, including a short dream. After that, the series ends. The final battle is neither shown nor spoken of. The ending is unknown. All we get is a "The End" author's note. Luckily, Shaman King Kang Zeng Beng finally showed the ending, but that came out MUCH later.
  • Episode 12 of Madoka. Although once you get past Madoka becoming a god, it's not THAT hard to decipher.
  • Parodied Trope in the Gintama Anime: in one episode, Sunrise ends up cancelling the show earlier than expected, which results in the cast trying to find a fitting Gainax Ending to the series during the whole episode. And yes, this means the main characters were expecting to be cancelled. Just not yet.
  • Shin Mazinger Shougeki! Z-hen. Goddammit. Just... goddammit. It ends on a horrible cliffhanger, with Mazinger defeated and the Earth seemingly about to be taken over. It seems to be a hook for a Shin Great Mazinger sequel, but there's no plans for one.
  • The anime for Sorcerer Hunters definitely fits this description. After killing off every hero besides Carrot, the last episode splits its time between Carrot's solo battle against the Big Bad and modern day Tokyo with the other heroes. Then somehow Carrot calls to them, they hear him from across time and space, they somehow come back to the world and proceed to power up (usually involving clothing getting blasted off), and rather than this leading to them having a battle against the baddie, they all run over to Carrot with big smiles and laughter. But wait! There's more. The Big Bad is banished, somewhat without fanfare in silent-film style, with a closing scene of what is presumably Carrot hitting on a modern day girl, not that we see the hero.
  • In Saishuuheiki Kanojo, the female lead is a normal teenaged girl transformed into a cybernetic doomsday weapon. At the end of the series, it seems as though all life on earth is destroyed, except for her boyfriend... and there's no sign that there's any way he'll be able to survive for long in what's left. A tiny spark that seems to be all that is left of her decends into his hands, and suddenly we're back to the moment they met in the first episode, roll final credits.
  • Hanaukyo Maid Tai. A mild version in the second series La Verite. Ryuuka proposes marriage to Taro again and beats him up when he doesn't agree, the other maids all try to kiss him but he escapes. He meets Mariel and they walk off into a white background hand in hand.
  • Episode 26 of [[Phantom of Inferno|Phantom Requiem for the Phantom]] ended on a downer note and a Diabolus Ex Machina with a few more added bangs. Reiji is shot dead but it's unknown if Ein dies. She simply lies into the grass and smiles. Sharp eyed viewers say Ein picked apart a toxic flower which would have killed her, others feel she survived.
    • It's actually not clear weather Reiji was hit or not. Also note that both he and Ein have been "Killed" in the past, only to show up alive-and-well sometime later. Whatever the case, the pair's survival is a hotly debated topic.
  • Shitsurakuen. With no buildup, a character is suddenly revealed to be the Big Bad. In a dream sequence. There is no final battle either; the main character solves the conflict by making up an ending to a story. Which we never get to see. And the yuri harem? Almost all of them end up with guys. Just to make things more confusing, the collected edition adds an extra chapter, making it a Revised Ending.
  • RahXephon, as expected from being, um, 'inspired' by Evangelion, featured a final episode containing mostly symbolism and a Journey to the Center of the Mind that led to a final real-world mecha battle, the apparent Big Bad being unceremoniously shot anticlimactically for no apparent reason, followed by the entire universe being mysteriously reset. And yes, at some point the main character's psychosomatic journey involves his images of several of his friends and acquaintances saying "congratulations!" to him.
  • The anime version of Soul Eater suffered from this, mostly because it Overtook the Manga. A punch of "courage" was all it took to end Asura (who represented terror) in the anime. The manga hasn't even reached that point yet. This is after Asura was completely curbstomping everyone with their respective weapons.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • The ending to DC's Final Crisis is really beyond explanation or understanding, as if Grant Morrison had all these epic ideas but never figured out how to stick them together coherently.
    • This is what happens in the end: Darkseid had become a black hole that was sucking The Multiverse down. Superman and the rest of the surviving superheroes shrunk and froze the remaining population to save them in the JLA Satellite while they constructed the Miracle Machine from Superman's memories in the 30th century. Once the Miracle Machine was constructed, Superman killed Darkseid's soul with a note of music vibrating at the exact opposite frequency. Then Mandrakk the Dark Monitor appeared and Superman powered the Miracle Machine with the solar energy in his cells and Nix Uoton, who had become the Judge of All Evil when a Rubik's cube transformed into a Motherbox, brought forth Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew, the Angels of the Pax Dei, the Forever People of Earth-51, and the entire friggin' Green Lantern Corps who stake Mandrakk and then help pull Earth out of the black hole, while the Miracle Machine restores the rest of the Multiverse (since Superman had asked for a "happy ending"). Then Nix Uuton declares that the Monitors should interfere no more and the Overvoid swallows them all up (they presumably turn into normal humans like Nix did). And Batman is stuck in the Stone Age due to Darkseid's Omega Sanction, where he carefully lays to rest Anthro. See? Simple.
  • The Invisibles is a magic spell in the form of a work of fiction. Everything in the first two volumes of the Invisibles is a lie. There's no massive Manichean struggle of good vs. evil. The outer church is simply an outside intelligence trying to prepare humanity for something mind blowing by essentially inoculating humanity against the horror of the end of the world (which is actually human instrumentality). Think of getting a booster shot. It's not going to kill you, but it's going to prepare your immune system for something worse in the future.
    • Or, to quote Grant Morrison: "In Katmandu, much to my shock and surprise, I experienced [...] a full-on, Tibetan, Sci-Fi Vision of All SpaceTimeMind As A Single Complexifying Iteration Which Is The Larval Form Of A 5th Dimensional Adult Entity".
  • Speaking of Grant Morrison, the ending of The Filth made no sense at all. That Other Wiki has an explanation of how it works, but that seems to be an interpretation rather than a definitive answer.
  • The ending to Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?. Granted, the series was intended to close the character of Batman with a metaphysical look at the character, but the ending grabs metaphysics and goes straight into the surreal, passing by Elseworlds, multiple universes, and the Golden, Silver, and Dark Ages of comics along the way.
    • The general point of it was that there is no such thing as a definitive Batman story, and that the happy ending to Batman's story is that he gets to be Batman. Because who doesn't want to be Batman.
  • The last chapter of Watchmen is intended to come across as a Gainax Ending, until you re-read the comic and associated documents to pick up all the foreshadowing.
  • Ronin seems like a fairly straight-forward comic until the end where you find out that everything you knew was a lie. It all ends with most of the story wrapped up with a couple mild questions still lingering... and then the very last page throws everything out the window and raises several more.


Film[edit | hide]

  • On the subject of the Mind Screw subtype of Gainax Ending, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Essays have been written. Many, many, essays. (The book was slightly better explained.)
  • The Shining ends with a photograph from 1921 which in the foreground showed... Jack Nicholson. Whatever this means is up to the viewer.
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail. However, this might have been too simple an ending for this to count. Everyone gets arrested. Interesting note: The original scripted ending was to have a large battle that the English begin to lose, but they are saved by swallows dropping coconuts. Considering how much of a horrible time everyone had working on the movie, it's not surprising they wanted to finish it quickly.
    • A book written by the Pythons explains the reason for the changed ending—all the actors were being used as the English side of the fight, so there was No Budget and no cast to be the French. One of the Pythons suggested, "Oh, let's just have everybody get arrested."
      • In addition to that the Pythons were fond of these kinds of endings anyway, they also just ran out of money. Their budget was famously small (That's why they had coconuts instead of horses), and they spent most of it on "locations and drink." Not to mention that the ending was a Hurricane of Puns.
    • It's also something of a Brick Joke. A "famous historian" is slaughtered by a knight early in the film, and we get little snippets of the police tracking Arthur and his knights between scenes.
    • And there's an Incredibly Lame Pun: The ending is a "cop-out".
  • The Wachowski Brothers refuse to explain exactly what's going on with Neo and Smith, the Source, flaming truth vision, etc. etc. in the sequels to The Matrix. The fan theories are a bit odd, but that's inescapable given what they've got to work with.
  • Lawn Dogs is a fairly realistic and depressing movie about the friendship between a 10 year old girl, Devon, and a 21 year old lower-class outsider, Trent. You know it's going to end bad, when after Devon shoots the man who is beating up Trent and helps him to his car, she gives Trent a comb and a mirror and asks him to throw them out the window as he drives away, to cover his tracks. When he later does so, a river rises up underneath him, and a forest sprouts up behind him. This actually makes some sense metaphorically and was slightly set up, but still seems to come completely out of nowhere.
    • It probably makes more sense if you read a lot of fairy tales as a kid. That sort of thing comes up over and over again.
    • Even if you know the fairy tale, it's still pretty bizarre. You start out with this totally non-magic story and when it's time for it to have an ending... the cast of the movie basically acts out this fairy tale you heard one time instead. "What just happened here?" is still the most likely response.
  • The ending of the movie adaptation of Silent Hill was quite opaque. One possible interpretation of the ending is that, once you stumble into Silent Hill, you can't escape.
  • The film of Being There ends when the main character is taking a stroll by himself after losing interest in Ben's funeral, and winds up walking onto the surface of a lake. And, just so there's no confusion, when he realizes where he is, he fully submerges his umbrella before accepting the situation and continuing his stroll. This ending was not the scripted one, but one the director conceived because he figured the movie was so believably acted - given its plot - that audiences would not find it unbelievable that the protagonist could do this. Note that there is a phrase uttered right before the credits; if you listen to it and compare it with the final shot, you will see it is a clear statement on the film's Aesop. "Life is a state of mind."
  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: the ending has the two main characters fly off in the car. Despite it already being revealed the car only had the ability to do that in the dream sequence.
  • The ending of The Black Hole. The crew go into the black hole and then... they're in Hell? And then they're in space? Wha?
  • The ending to the remake of Planet of the Apes. Marky Mark hops in his spacepod, flies back through the timewarp, and... suddenly he's on Earth (or what we assume is Earth), and apes have replaced humans. Did he just bump his head getting into the pod, and is hallucinating? Yeah, that's gotta be it. According to Tim Burton, that was supposed to be a cliffhanger if a sequel was made. It wasn't, now it's just weird.
  • Local Hero, for the most part a charming, low key dramedy about a Texas oil man being sent to buy up a small Scottish village, gets a little weird in its last half hour. It's hinted but never confirmed that the old man who's blocking the purchase is descended from the oil company's original owners, and that a major character's love interest is a mermaid. Then the oil man is sent back home, where he piles some shells he collected from the village beach on his counter, tacks up some pictures he took, and goes onto his balcony to watch the sunrise. Cut back to the village, and its one phone ringing with no one answering. It's also left a little vague who the title refers to, though most agree that it's Ben, the old man mentioned above.
  • The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961) ends on a deliberately ambiguous note. The Earth is hurtling towards the Sun, but a series of massive nuclear detonations in Siberia may avert the catastrophe. The last scene shows the journalists waiting in the print room with two editions ready for printing, one saying WORLD SAVED and the other WORLD DOOMED. (The American distribution however included the sound of church bells ringing, implying that the world had been saved).
    • At first the viewers only see the first headline, so they think it's a happy ending. It's only when the camera pans across and shows the other headline that they realise the disaster hasn't been averted yet.
  • Friday the 13 th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan ends with Jason being caught in a flood of toxic waste in the New York sewers (happens every night apparently) causing him to, for some reason, become a completely normal looking little boy in swimming trunks. The sequels never address this, probably because the sequels after that was produced by a new studio after Paramount dropped the series.
    • The unused ending was even weirder, involving a tiny, normal-looking child version of Jason trying to crawl out of Jason's mouth right before the tidal wave of sludge.
  • Knowing: The world will end in a super flare from our sun unless something is done at the location of the very first Creepy Child's new home. What happens there? Some alien/angel/demon/somethings that have been following the main kids around for the whole movie take said kids into some spaceship. The main protagonist goes back to be with his family. The sun asplodes. Cut to a shot of the two main kids being dropped off in some sort of meadow centered around the tree, presumably the kids are to Adam/Eve the human race again on some other planet, maybe it's Earth after destruction, and why are there other similar spaceship things in the background? After an entire movie trying to stay somewhat scientific and avoiding the mystical, they end it like this?
  • Casino Royale 1967, starring David Niven and Peter Sellers. While there had been some pretty weird parts earlier in the film, it ending takes the cake during the final showdown at the Big Bad's hideout, culminating with an all out brawl featuring stereotypical Cowboys and Indians, the French Legion, seals, a chimp and a bubble machine, which ends with the casino blowing up, cutting to six James Bonds going to Heaven and a seventh going to Hell, all capped off with one of the most ridiculous closing themes ever to grace a movie.
  • Titanic: Is Rose dreaming at the end? Did she die peacefully in her sleep and rejoin Jack and the crew? Apparently, we're supposed to decide for ourselves...
    • For anyone familiar with Spiritism, believer or not, the ending makes sense.
  • The Last Broadcast is a Mockumentary that either shows a documentary-style investigation or an amateur video made by a group of amateur filmmakers searching for the Jersey Devil in a forest using camcorders. After the twist introduced towards the end, the director decides to throw the mockumentary gimmick out the window and switches back to the usual style of any movie.
    • This is to give the audience a more objective view of the mockumentary's in-universe film-maker revealed to be a killer and an Unreliable Narrator.
  • After the heroine of Slumber Party Massacre II vanquishes the supernatural Driller Killer, she wakes up next to her boyfriend suggesting that all the preceding was All Just a Dream. Then the killer appears in the place of her boyfriend and she is suddenly in mental institute, screaming as the killer's drill pierces the floor.
  • The Element of Crime is entirely a hypnosis induced flashback, with voice-over dialogue between the protagonist and his therapist. The story is sometimes confusing but overall makes sense. But then it ends with a black screen, and the protagonist's voice repeating "doctor? I want to wake up now", and the voice of the therapist laughing slowly in the distance.
  • In Open Water 2 Adrift, the main character is finally able to get on the boat to safety! Only to find out that the other guy has decided to swim away to drown himself? And then she jumps back into the ocean to save him in slow motion. And then several flashbacks of her as a child go by. And then a blinding white light. And then it shows a boat passing by the ship and it's completely empty. And then it shows the main character standing on the ship with the other guy lying on the ground, only the boat passing by them is not there. Then it goes to the credits. wat.
  • The ending of Cemetery Man is completely comprehensible, if you catch on to the incredibly subtle hints throughout that Francesco might not be real. Otherwise, it sort of comes out of nowhere and hits you over the head with a club made of both confusion and the laughter someone is bellowing at you somewhere in the universe. It's existential, is what we're saying.
  • The Great Yokai War has a very bizarre one that combines this trope with Deus Ex Machina and Chekhov's Gun. Kato jumps into a glowing pit to go One-Winged Angel, when the guy from the movie's subplot falls onto a seesaw that throws the bean-counting yokai into the air. This causes him to drop his basket of beans, one of which falls into the pit. Then a song about beans being good for you plays for a few seconds, and after that, THE ENTIRE CITY EXPLODES. But that's okay, because none of the Yokai were hurt. The yokai then say some cryptic stuff, conclude that festivals make them hungry (don't ask) and go wander off. Yeah.
  • Horton Hears a Who! is one of the few movie adaptations of a children's storybook that doesn't involve love and romance. So why in the hell did they play REO Speedwagon's "Can't Fight This Feeling"?
  • The Laurel and Hardy short "Come Clean" is fairly standard comedy involving the titular duo hiding a strange woman from their wives while trying to get rid of her. The short ends when the police arrest the woman for an unnamed crime and ask who brought her to the apartment. Oliver claims that Stan is responsible, and the policeman says he'll receive a $1000 reward. Ollie then pulls the plug on the bath that Stan is sitting in, causing him to be sucked down the drain. When his wife asks where he's gone, Ollie answers "To the beach."
  • At the end of Grease the car takes off and flies away. Probably intended as more of a fantasy/dream sequence, but still rather jarring.
  • Most films by David Lynch, excluding the aptly-named The Straight Story.
  • The original A Nightmare on Elm Street. Was the whole movie a dream? Did Nancy ever escape into the real world? Was that part a dream? Is her mother dreaming?
  • A Syfy (before it was renamed to SyFy) movie about a mission to Mars is notable for being shown mostly from camera angles. The crew has to undergo several hardships, including sabotage efforts by a Corrupt Corporate Executive but manage to successfully land on The Red Planet. Since the captain is suffering from a nanite infection (that's killing his nerve cells), his Number One makes the historic first step on another planet. All the world is watching as the camera she set up is zoomed on her face. She starts giving a speech, only to suddenly look somewhere off to the side and say "oh my God" with an astonished face, before the feed suddenly cuts out. The news anchors reporting on the mission say that a satellite in orbit is being repositioned to take a look at the landing site. The movie ends with a fly-by of the Martian landscape and a Cliff Hanger.
  • In Psycho Beach Party, The ending kicks the dog, rather than let Chicklet be happy, they use an All Just a Dream ending revealing Chicklet to be in an insane asylum having imagined the whole thing. It then switches to a drive in movie theater, presenting it at as a movie, and two minor characters complain about the lameness of the ending. They are then stabbed by Chicklet's alternate personality. For added gainaxing, Chicklet's split personality was a red herring she wasn't the killer.
  • Played for Laughs in Murder By Death. The ending has the party of detectives escape various death traps and confront the butler, who they assumed was killed earlier in the movie. After presenting theory after theory, the butler pulls off a mask to reveal himself to be Lionel Twain, the guy who invited them over in the first place, and proceeds to mock the various Deus Ex Machinas in the story. After the puzzled detectives leave, Twain pulls off another mask to reveal himself to be the cook.
  • Takashi Miike's Dead or Alive ends this way. With Jojima pulling out an RPG from absolutely nowhere and Ryuuichi pulling out some sort of energy ball-thingy and them shooting at the same time, rocket and ball hitting eachother and blowing up Japan. Up until that point it had been a pretty realistic yakuza movie.
  • Big Man Japan is a Mockumentary about a guy who has a crappy personal life who happens to be able to grow giant from electricity and fight Kaiju. At the end the title character is getting the crap beat out of him by a monster, then it suddenly switches to a Stylistic Suck Toku style, some Ultraman-esque American characters show up and brutally kill the monster without much effort. Roll credits over the main character having dinner with the American Ultraman family. It's supposed to symbolize the decline of Japan's place in the world or something but...What.
  • The 2011 Terrence Malick film The Tree of Life. Is the beach a metaphor for heaven? Or a dream? Or some sort of confluence of memory? Who knows?
  • An early example can be seen in the '50's era movie The Incredible Shrinking Man. Did the titular man become so small that he died? Did he become one with the cosmos? And just who is he narrating his story to?
  • Lifeforce makes it patently unclear just what happens to Space Girl and Carlson after he stabs her at the end.
    • Stabs her and himself. The novel the movie was based off was named "The Space Vampires" and, as Carlson was designated to be her new lifeforce gatherer as the prettyboy vamps had been; essentially their replacement, he wasn't taking chances of ending up alone and drinking lives, possibly for eternity.
  • The somewhat obscure Monte Hellman western The Shooting, from 1966, has an ending that raises a lot more questions than it answers.
  • Monster a Go-Go!: at the end, the monster suddenly never existed, and the astronaut who everyone thought had turned into said monster turns up alive in the North Atlantic. It leaves a number of questions unanswered, starting with "then why did you have footage of the monster wandering around killing people?", moving through "why did we get to see, in graphic detail, every preparation the military made to hunt this monster that doesn't exist?", and finish up somewhere around "what the flying rat heck?!?"
  • The film adaptation of Casshern is... confusing to say the least, but the ending is entirely made of pure whatthefuck. The rundown: Casshern/Tetsuya's father kills Casshern's fiance to show him the pain of losing the one you love. Casshern murders his father in vengeance. Fiancee comes back to life because her blood came into contact with that of the film's dead antagonist (It Makes Sense in Context, sort of) Fiancee says to leave her because the villain's blood has infected her with his hatred. Casshern says they'll be together always as souls rise up from the corpses littering the battlefield below them and join together in the sky. Then Casshern and fiancee FUCKING EXPLODE, sending a beam of light into the sky. Then we see them riding a bike in a field.Said beam travels through space as grainy flashbacks are interspersed, until it reaches a green planet, touching down in a bolt of metal lightning like the ones from earlier in the film. We then see Tetsuya's mother's greenhouse, and the movie ends on a shot of a boy and a girl as the film degrades. Ya got all that?


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Stephen King's From a Buick 8 and especially 'The Colorado Kid' are based on this theme: the mysterious death of the titular character from 'Kid' is no closer to resolution at the end than the beginning.
    • His Dark Tower series could be considered for this trope as well. Although the ending does tie into the overall theme of 'ka' (Karma/fate) as being a wheel, so it could be taken as a more symbolic ending.
  • In Nuklear Age by Brian Clevinger (who made Eight Bit Theater), most of the book is a comedic parody of the superhero genre, somewhat akin to The Tick (animation). The last section of the book turns quite rapidly to dark as nearly everyone dies in a villain-caused apocalypse that killed off half the planet's population and destroyed every major city but three, and injects a bunch of philosophy based somewhat off of Norse Mythology into the mix. It was quite the elaborate joke, at least according to The Apology.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events. Basically every single plot point in the series was left unresolved at the end. The last book can best be summarized as "Ha, ha! In life, there are lots of mysteries you'll never know the answer to. So long and thanks for all the book sales."
    • In the Beatrice Letters, it explains very briefly what was happened to the Baudelaires after the 13th book. Not a whole lot, just enough to keep the mystery alive.
    • Moreover, the reader not only finds out the fate of almost all the major characters (even if that fate is occasionally metaphorical), enough information is given for the readers to make a good guess about the immediate Lemony/Beatrice backstory, even if the characters can't. The author doesn't give explicit answers, but a lot is done by implication.
    • On the other hand, it doesn't even give a hint about the Sugarbowl Secret.
    • The very final sentence does reveal who Beatrice was, although most readers will probably have figured it out already.
    • And to be perfectly honest, the series was warning the readers that they wouldn't like the ending all along. Readers, however, were hoping Snicket was kidding.
  • Science-fiction author Philip K. Dick pretty much made a career out of this and Mind Screw. Ubik is the mother of all Gainax Endings.
    • "Faith Of Our Fathers" might be Philip K. Dick's most confounding story. Is it a satire of Communist society? An exploration of the true meaning of religon? Or a role reversal on LSD culture? Who can tell? The great communist leader is actually god in human form, and you can only see his true form(s) (a series of grotesque monstrosities ) when you take thorizen, the "antidote" to LSD.
    • The Man in the High Castle ends a book about an Alternate History America after the Axis won WWII with... the characters discovering they're fictional. Maybe. Yeah.
  • Pretty much everything Neal Stephenson ever wrote. Take for example, Cryptonomicon: although the novel's ending is implied to be suitably epic, by that point in the story, the POV character has lost interest, so all we get is a bare-bones version of events, with a month's worth of events crammed into just under six pages.
    • His latest book, Anathem, actually has a proper ending, so he may be growing out of this.
  • Robert Sheckley's Mindswap has this. The hero ends up trapped in the "Twisted World" but believes himself to have regained his own body and returned home successfully.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books all seem to end up here, apart from the eponymous first book which ended on an intentional Sequel Hook.
  • William Gibson is fond of Gainax endings, particularly in Neuromancer. It was all of a piece with the general Mind Screw of his work.
    • Similar for The Difference Engine.
  • Most of Robert A. Heinlein's endings tend to taper off into absolute nothingness. The Number of the Beast has often been said to be best left about 2/3rds of the way through, and Friday is much the same.
  • The ending of the Dungeon fantasy series, which was written by multiple authors, leaves much unexplained and even makes the main character into some kind of god without explanation.
  • British children's/teens' author Alan Garner has an affinity for the Gainax Ending unusual in non-adult fiction. The Owl Service ends with a young girl who had been possessed by an incredible supernatural force converting that force from anger - "owls" to peace - "flowers". However, everything else about the characters' relationships (which have been totally wrecked) is left unresolved.
  • Frank Stockton's "classic" 1882 short story The Lady or the Tiger. Feudal Overlord finds his daughter is in love with a commoner. So he sets up a punishment where the lover has to pick between two doors, one hiding a beautiful lady who is the princess' hated romantic rival , the other hiding a man-eating tiger. The princess knows which door contains which. And her lover turns to her during the execution for a hint, she nods to the right, and the lover opens the door on the right. And after a page of Author Filibuster on human nature, he ends the story hanging in mid-air, and leaves the question to the reader. Which makes this trope Older Than Radio.
    • There is an official extension to it, The Discourager of Hesitancy. Found here at the moment.
  • Fredrick Pohl seems to like this. In the penultimate chapter of Jem the POV protagonist gets knocked out at the start of a war involving everyone on the titular planet. The next chapter is set in a radically different society several generations into the future with no real mention of how we went from one to the other, and nothing by tantilising glimpse of how this new civilsation came about, or how it works.
    • In Gateway, the protagonist is undergoing psychiatric care to resolve the issues in his life. At the conclusion, we discover the reason he's come to the (robot) psychiatrist in the first place, and the story ends without a real attempt at closure.
      • Unless you take the psychiatrist program's final remarks as pointing out to the protagonist that, despite his angst about the events, he's perfectly capable of living with himself.
  • Hero in the Shadows, by David Gemmell. After a straightforward ending in which the invading demonic hordes are pushed back, the epilogue engages in some pretty strong Mind Screw: Waylander, who has only hours left to live, is sent into an alternate universe, where he manages to prevent the rape and murder of his wife - making it not only an alternate universe, but the past as well, or something like that - heck if I know. He then dies, after which the Waylander from that dimension comes home to his wife. The End.
    • Not really unforeshadowed. Early in the novel is a reference to a fortune teller prophesying Waylander will never know peace until he looks up into his own face. Which is exactly what happens: after saving his wife and child in an alternate past reality and preventing the moment that turns him into a assassin he dies looking up at the alternate version of himself knowing he is free from the nightmare his life would become.
  • Joe Haldeman has written several novels (Mindbridge, Forever Peace, Worlds trilogy) where the plot seems to have come to a halt, and the resolution apparently is to introduce an all-powerful, invisible, sadistic alien that randomly murders and tortures several of the characters. Then this alien wanders off, apparently satisfied it's made its point, whatever that was. Then the plot continues to some anti-climatic 'and life goes on' type of ending.
  • Older Than Feudalism: The Aeneid is an ancient example of this: the story literally ends with Aeneas killing Turnus and Turnus going to hell. (That's assuming that his Author Existence Failure wasn't at fault, and that the relevant pages aren't just missing, as happens with much ancient literature.)
  • The Science of Discworld volume 1 ends this way. Long story short, the wizards have accidentally created a pocket universe where magic does not exist, where worlds are round balls rather than discs on the back of turtles and elephants. At the end, the computer Hex mentions "Recursion Is Occurring" and then, after the wizards have abandoned the "Roundworld Project", we see a discworld atop elephants and a turtle condensing out of gas and dust in the far reaches of its universe...
  • Legacy of the Force is particularly bittersweet, but it raises two questions: Is Jacen redeemed or not, and how the hell did Daala become president? But between the fanservice, the Cain and Abel, the Shotacon, and the like, Gainax could've written it.
  • A.E. van Vogt's fixup novel Weapon Shops of Isher, which is mostly about the titular weapon shops, the Isher Empire that opposes them, and an immortal man trying to keep them in balance, ends with an alien concluding that humanity is "the race that shall rule the sevagram". This is the first time anyone in the story has mentioned a sevagram, and we never learn what it actually is.
  • Warm Bodies makes clear that its zombies aren't simply diseased humans, and implies early on that they're in some way supernatural, but most of the story plays out in a pseudo-realistic fashion. Then the ending all but states that zombies are a consequence of human sin, and explicitly calls upon The Power of Love to fight them. This doesn't outright contradict anything earlier in the story, but it leaves a lot of unanswered questions.
  • Almost all of the novels of Bret Easton Ellis have or border on having Gainax Endings. The most well known of these is the ending of American Psycho where the main character may or may not have imagined everything, with evidence supporting both theories.
  • In Fame, Elisabeth finds herself in one of Leo's stories together with him, talking to his characters. When she asks him why, he simply vanishes from the story and leaves her in a world where no one knows who he his, and where as the author, he has full power over what she says and does. The straightforward explanation would be that she left him and he just included her in a later story out of spite, but more surrealistic interpretations are also possible.
  • The ending of The Last Battle, the final book in The Chronicles of Narnia. You can read the summary here.
  • David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest provides a bunch of hints near the end that come close to explaining the strangeness of the first chapter, and sets up a dramatic climax, then ends very deliberately before that climax, in the middle of a secondary character's flashback.
  • Croatian novel The Devil's eye is a pretty standard teen-horror story; a teen-age hero must stop an evil demon that's killing his classmates... and the whole thing ends with a Gender Bender, with abso-friggin'-lutely nothing resolved. And the author's response? "The ending is whatever you think it might be." Yeah, thanks.
  • The Sweet Valley Twins "Frightening Four" miniseries. It's also a blatant ripoff of Nightmare On Elm Street (see the Film folder, above).


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • The Prisoner is one of the earliest examples. A synopsis exists at Wikipedia.
  • Kamen Rider Ryuki managed to pull off an Everybody Lives ending without ruining its There Can Be Only One premise, and while justifying the alternative continuities of the movie ("Episode Final") and the TV special ("13 Riders"). It's just damn confusing the first time you watch it, mainly because it's something of a Jigsaw Puzzle Plot.
  • Twin Peaks. Unlike most David Lynch examples, this one was actually unintentional; and was forced on him by the studio execs. Word of God was that the "who killed Laura Palmer" storyline was intended to last the entire run of the show; with no resolution. The studio decided they didn't like that, and demanded an ending; leaving them with no clear storyline for the second season, and necessitated a lot of improvising. The resulting mishmash led to low ratings, and the studio cancelling the show before Lynch and Frost could wrap up the second season storyline.
  • Depending on who you ask, Lost.
  • Most Monty Python's Flying Circus sketches and episodes end in bizarre fashion. When the troupe felt that a sketch had run its course, they'd drop a 16-ton weight; have the "Stop, this is silly!" officer enter; or segue into an animated sequence, news broadcast or documentary. This was a reaction against conventional sketch comedy where every sketch had to have a Punch Line. The Pythons thought it would be funnier to deliberately subvert convention, and were dismayed to find that their comic mentor Spike Milligan had done it first with his show Q5 (Many of Milligan's sketches ended with everyone stopping what they were doing and shuffling offstage chanting "What are we going to do now?" shuffle, shuffle, shuffle "What are we going to do now?").
    • The episode that ended with The Argument Sketch turned the Gainax Ending almost into an art form. All episode long, sketches had been ending with the police entering and making arrests, and the Argument Sketch was going to be no different. Then another police officer comes in to arrest the whole show for Gainax Ending abuse, only to suddenly realize that his doing so made him guilty of the same thing. As was true for the next cop who entered to arrest him, etcetera ad inifinitum.
      • Actually, the second or third officer gets what looks like a moldy Wookie "arresting" him, IIRC.
    • Much of Monty Python's humor made fun of how British comedy shows were written, produced and performed, something the members knew about all too well, as they were veteran British comedy writers themselves. They hated punchlines and how anticlimactic they were compared to the goings-on within the sketches, so they did away with them or lampshaded their arrivals .
  • In the American remake of Life On Mars, Sam Tyler is a New York detective from 2008 who somehow found himself in 1973. Was he mad? Lying in a coma in a 2006 hospital bed, dreaming of 1973? Back in time? None of the above. Sam and his fellow officers from 1973 were really all from 2035. They were astronauts on the first manned Mars mission, and were kept sedated, with artificially-induced dreams, for the voyage.
    • To be fair, the show was cancelled it's first season so this ending was placed in. Had they had a season or two more they could have foreshadowed it more and not made it such a Gainax (there had been some hints about it, but they only made sense in retrospect). The final shot of the episode, somebody in 1970s shoes stepping onto the Martian surface, also left enough ambiguity that had there been a super-last-second renewal they could have been able to explain it away.
      • I found it somewhat fitting its final episode aired on April Fool's day.
  • The Sopranos famously ended with a mid-scene cut to black. This may or may not have depicted the main character's death.
  • The series finale of Farscape ends with John and Aeryn getting engaged on a boat in some random body of water somewhere, having tied up virtually all the major loose ends, and providing a fairly solid conclusion to the show with just the right balance of closure, and riding into the sunset style implications of continuing adventures. Then a freaky looking alien whose species we have never seen before, flying a ship we've never seen before, talks to someone over his radio, zooms in, and blasts them with a beam that causes John and Aeryn to shatter into a million little pebbles. To be continued... They knew this was going to be the series finale, and not only do they end it with that random Mind Frell, but they have the balls to top it off with a to be continued. The mini-series actually fixes this, and manages to make this relevant and even answer significant questions the show never dealt with. But before that, seriously, what the hell?
    • They were under the belief that they were renewed and were suddenly cancelled right around the filming of the final ep. They debated options but in the end didn't have the time or money to change it so they reluctantly filmed it as it was and hope it would somehow work out. The cast and crew were notably upset about it though when informing the fans of cancellation.
    • According to the makers of Stargate SG-1, the Syfy never lets them know if they're renewed or canceled until it's too late to base the final episode around it. That's the reason every season finale of SG-1 blows the remaining special effects budget and generally wraps up the current plot - they don't know if it's the series finale or not.
  • On the note of Stargate SG-1, that show ended with Daniel, Vala, Carter, Teal'c, and General Landry spending several decades in a time bubble while Carter tries to figure out a way to get them out of their current predicament. Unlike previous seasons, none of the season's major plot threads are resolved, and the episode, while poignant, is a huge Mind Screw when placed as a Series Finale. The reason for this is that the creators were convinced they'd be picked up for an 11th Season (unlike every other season where they were sure they'd be cancelled), and saw no need to tie up loose ends this time around.
    • Though they did change the ending of the finale at the last minute so it wouldn't be a total cliffhanger, and later came out with two movies to clean up the major surviving baddies.
  • The end of Battlestar Galactica Reimagined... The angels seen by Baltar and Six reveal that human/Cylon hybrid child Hera is Mitochondrial Eve and speculate on whether it's all going to happen again. After Head Baltar reminds Head Six that God doesn't like the name "God", she looks at him sternly and he cryptically says, "Silly me". They walk away unseen through the streets of modern New York while All Along the Watchtower plays over a montage of robot advances on television.
  • Brazilian sitcom Toma Lá Dá Cá last episode: the cast was about to be killed by an invasion. And since one of the main actors is the main writer of the show, they hand him a laptop and order him to write an ending that saves them... involving the arrival of an alien ship, which had previously "rescued" a character Put on a Bus.
  • Joss Whedon's Dollhouse kindly gave us the Lost Episode first season finale "Epitaph One", which is really different from all the episodes that preceded it. The series finale "Epitaph Two" is a little bit less of a Mind Screw ending only in that it's setting was somewhat foreshadowed in the latter half of the second season and it is a direct sequel to "Epitaph One". It still counts as an extreme case of this trope though. Think of all those viewers who watched it without having even heard of "Epitaph One"...
    • They both made perfect sense in the context of each other (the one small problem is that there was a series in between). However, they both seemed like Gainax Endings for the seasons they served as finales to.
  • Arrested Development parodies the above Being There ending.
    • 'It's an ILLUSION!'
  • Dead Like Me, often considered Too Good to Last, suffers from a series finale that drops all its established character arcs and eventually peters out with a strange, sit-com-like Halloween story. None of the conflicts or arcs are resolved. It was as if the writers, knowing the show was over, simply spat out a non-sequitor.
    • The story was resolved somewhat in the movie. Rube moves on, and George becomes the new boss.
  • The Hills. Yes, a Reality Show managed to have a Gainax Ending. The finale ends with Brody saying his goodbyes to Kristin, who gets in the limo and heads off, with a Softer and Slower Cover version of "Unwritten" playing in the background... and then the camera pulls back to reveal that the entire scene was shot on a soundstage. Kristin's limo is sitting right nearby, and had not driven off like we had been led to believe. The question as to how much of the show was just as fake goes unanswered.
    • The best estimate would probably be Joel's: EVERYTHING!
  • V. The heretofore serious Black and Grey Morality Alien Invasion vs. La Résistance science fiction series Gainax Ends big time in the last five minutes of the second miniseries, V: The Final Battle. The alien/human hybrid child Elizabeth develops sparkly magical powers just in time to save the world by disabling the Self-Destruct Mechanism. Never mind the fact that magical or psychic powers have never even been mentioned on the entire show before, and that the heroes already had a perfectly good plan to save the world. Sparkly magical baby! Fandom wtfed.
    • This was handled much better in the novelization of the miniseries. In the novelized version, Elizabeth saves the world by cracking the supposedly "uncrackable" security code which has Our Heroes locked out of the ship's navigation-and-control system. The reason this works better is that Elizabeth's unusually-precocious facility with computers and solving mathematical puzzles was properly foreshadowed in a couple of scenes earlier in the book, so her ability to break the ship's command codes didn't just suddenly come out of left field. Since the novel was adapted from an earlier version of the script, it's highly probable that Executive Meddling was involved.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise threw one in the third season finale, the Xindi plot was resolved in a totally sane (and awesome) way, and the Enterprise goes back to Earth, without their Captain, who they believe is dead. They try to call Starfleet and no one responds, so figuring some sort of communications difficulties they send a shuttlepod down to San Francisco. They meet a flight of American P-51D Mustangs. Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, Captain Archer has been discovered unconscious by Nazi soldiers. One of them asks the others in the group if they recognize his uniform. The camera pans over each of the officers until finally one steps out of the shadows and reveals himself as an unknown alien wearing a Nazi uniform. Roll credits.
    • A lot of fans who had been enjoying the Xindi arc threw up their hands and stopped watching the series in frustration at that point. Amazingly, however, the next season managed to explain/resolve the Evil Alien Nazis story in a not-entirely-stupid fashion.
    • There is widespread fan speculation that this was thrown in by Berman & Braga as a Take That against Manny Coto, who was being promoted to showrunner by Paramount in an attempt to rescue the show once it became clear that Berman & Braga were simply running out of creative ideas and not really delivering on the kind of prequel stories the fans wanted. Presumably, they were annoyed about being kicked upstairs, and hoped that Coto wouldn't be able to write his way out of the Evil Alien Nazi hook. (Coto promptly used it as an excuse to abort the entire "temporal cold war" plot arc, which the fans had never really warmed up to and which was already showing signs of decaying into a tangled mess which would never actually be resolved.)
  • The final episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? ends with the leader of The Midnight Society of the previous generation finishing his story, which happened to be about the real supernatural events occurring to the members of the current generation of the Midnight Society.


Music[edit | hide]

  • The Beatles' "Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da," about Desmond and Molly Jones, a market vendor and a singer, respectively. They fall in love, get married, and have kids. The second-to-last stanza describes Desmond and his children working in the marketplace while Molly still enjoys her singing career. But the final stanza switches their roles, putting Molly in the marketplace and Desmond (who is now apparently a woman) in the band.

Happy ever after in the market place,
Molly lets the children lend a hand.
Desmond stays at home and does his pretty face,
And in the evening he's a singer with the band!

    • This was an accidental case; they weren't paying proper attention during the recording, but decided to keep it as-is because they thought it was neat.
    • That ain't got nothing on "I Am the Walrus."


Musicals[edit | hide]

  • Pink Floyd's The Wall
    • Justified, as the viewpoint character spends the entire movie gradually descending into total madness. He only thinks that ending happened.
  • Our House the Madness musical: was always going to have two endings due to the parallel universes plot. However, even after these are resolved via dual Karmic Twist Endings there's still time for a third 'ending' to turn it all into a Shaggy Dog Story (done by introducing a third option in the life-changing event at the beginning of the play which would mean none of the things we've just been watching happened at all.) Oh well. Song and dance number!
  • Einstein on the Fritz parodies this. The supposedly-lost original musical is summarized thusly:

Einstein feels a sneeze coming on, and takes his handkerchief from his pocket. In Act II, he realizes that he is not going to sneeze after all, and he puts his handkerchief back in his pocket in Act III. ** (The whole thing is a parody of Einstein on the Beach, an opera by Philip Glass and Robert Wilson, which is notorious for lasting four and a half hours without plot.)

Einstein goes down to Hades to bring back his cousin Sophie, avenge the murder of his brother at the hands of Tsar Ivan the Inside Trader, slays the dragon guarding the entrance to the Golden Cave, seduces the Count's daughter on the eve of her wedding, and unites Italy.


Radio[edit | hide]

  • Most The Goon Show episodes have no clear ending, unless everyone dies. The grand finale actually dissolves into random gibberish as the entire show comes to a crashing halt, and it doesn't seem atypical. As the announcer often observed, "It's all in the mind, you know."


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • The Marathon series is probably the best example of this. Although the second game is pretty straightforward, the first one still has people arguing about it on forums. Also, not a single damned person has a bit of an idea about what the ending of the third game means at all.
    • Or the entire game, for that matter.
  • Treasure games are probably the most notorious of this trope, with their unexpected mood swing, symbolic references and/or Downer Endings (Gunstar Heroes, Silhouette Mirage, Radiant Silvergun to name a few) to complement their Unexpected Gameplay Change leave many to think that they are the Gainax equivalent to videogames.
    • Astro Boy Omega Factor's ending: A giant machine called Death Mask appears right the fuck out of nowhere and kills all robots on Earth, including Astro. Roll credits. Fortunately, this turns out to be just the halfway point of the game, and the rest involves Astro getting unstuck in time thanks to the Phoenix and jumping around the game's timeline to find out how to prevent this from happening.
  • Probably the most famous example in gaming culture is Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. It owes a great deal to The New York Trilogy, Paul Auster's mindscrew on the distinctions between author, character, reality, and fiction. Much it takes place in cheap talking heads CODEC sequences to boot, although it's not clear whether the game's production had any budgetary problems (it was certainly pressed for time and had the backlash of 9/11 to deal with). There is no way to summarise the key events in a reasonable amount of space, so you can look here if you want to know what happens. There was a point to all the meandering, but the end result was not popular.
    • Depends on who you asked, and it's very much explained in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. And originally, it was supposed to be a simple story of Snake taking on another set of terrorists (basically the Tanker chapter stretched to the full length of the game). And, yes, the ending was supposed to be a lot more explained, but Kojima cut it out after 9/11.
  • Xenogears, starting somewhere along the second disk, replaced virtually all overland map movement and scenes with the characters sitting in chairs narrating everything that happened. This actually is an openly admitted case of a low budget and forced rush to market causing a Gainax Ending.
    • Monetary constraints aside, the ending was pretty straightforward: the party fights Deus in its sanctuary, Elly takes Deus away before it self-destructs on the planet, Fei enters Deus and he and Elly have a Battle in the Center of the Mind with it, chat with Krelian, and leave before Deus explodes. Then they come back home to a very unambiguous, triumphant welcome from the rest of the heroes. It got metaphysical once or twice, but everything else was spelled out crystal-clear, leaving virtually no room for alternate interpretations.
  • Fable, a 1996 adventure game of no relation to the one from Lionhead Studios. The entire game is full of Scenery Porn and an admittedly interesting story. However, once you try to give yourself the knowledge of the Mecubarz, all you see is a cutscene where The protagonist is in jail, with the narrator describing how it was his birthday and how he couldn't believe that he killed all of his own family with a spoon. Another version o the game existed where he simply returned to have lunch with his girlfriend. A Gainax Ending gone horribly wrong, so bad it's even listed on the No Ending trope as one of its worst offenders.
  • The ending of Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge: LeChuck is actually Chuckie, Guybrush's creepy brother, haunting him through the game for breaking one of his toys. The whole thing was essentially an amusement park fantasy played out in the minds of two bored kids. Or LeChuck just put a spell on Guybrush to make him think so. Even for a game series that thrived on absurdist humour and Star Wars references, the mixing of the two with presumed Lotus Eater Machine involvement created a true masterpiece in confusing endings.
    • And then Ron Gilbert bailed on the series, so we never found out how it was meant to go from there. The Curse of Monkey Island opens with adult Guybrush floating in the ocean in a bumper car with a pair of balloons in his inventory. It's never exactly explained what happened in the meantime, but the second-to-last chapter of the game suggests that LeChuck had put a spell on him, and he escaped after breaking the spell. By having all that stuff happen again. It's almost as if they had wanted to pick up right where things left off, but Executive Meddling forced them to open with Guybrush stranded in the ocean instead.
  • Super Mario Galaxy, surprising for a series that's usually known for shallow plots, and a game that seems to follow that pattern throughout. It usually takes at least two viewings of the ending for players to figure out just what happened, which is convenient because you need to see the ending four times for 100% Completion. It involves the complete destruction of the everything, a Fade to White moment between Mario and an enormous Rosaline, the rebirth of the universe which apparently Mario and co. pass through unaffected, and Mario yelling "WELCOME NEW GALAXY!!"
    • Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels ended with a cutscene involving random Toads circling Mario/Luigi and Peach, both on the ground and in the air, constantly disappearing and reappearing as if either Mario/Luigi was actually making something up.
  • Chrono Cross: The main character is supposed to be dead. A computer that controls destiny. The computer kept humanity safe from a race of dragon people, Nice Job Breaking It, Hero. Everybody from the last game is inexplicably dead and your actions may or may not have actually done anything about it. Schala Lives! Then finally, a credits sequence of a girl running around in Tokyo with a necklace that has nothing to do with anything. And good luck figuring out if you actually accomplished anything from playing the game.
    • This is actually a case of All There in the Manual. There's a lot of supplementary material, including Chrono Trigger and Radical Dreamers, that you need to understand to put it together. The main character erased his own time line from existence. There's a... lot of reasons he did it, but that's he chose to do. The time line that happened instead is (Similar to) our time line. And that necklace that 'has nothing to do with anything' is actually referenced repeatedly throughout the game, especially on the key item list.
  • Any video game ending with a strange glitch can be perceived as one of these in the right light. For example, this is the way you knew you'd beaten the original arcade version of Donkey Kong. By the 22nd level, the time limit wraps around to become physically impossible for Jumpman/Mario to complete the first stage in time. This has become known as the Kill Screen.
  • The first two Earthworm Jim games were near-legendary for their bizarre endings: In the first one, the Damsel in Distress, a mere five feet away from the protagonist's rescue, is crushed by a falling cow launched by the player way back in the very first level. The second game's ending is even more insane: Turns out the Damsel in Distress was a cow in disguise. As was the Big Bad. And the player. Wait, WHAT?!
  • Beyond Good and Evil springs a last-minute surprise on the player that's set up in such a way that it's incredibly easy to miss - the DomZ are feeding on the citizens of Hillys because their own weird alien lifeforce, which they call "shauni", was stolen from them -- by Jade's parents. Jade's somehow the DomZ's shauni, and they would very much like her back. In hindsight, it's a decent explanation for a lot of odd behaviour that the player's already put down to "it's a game". It's not terribly well set up even if you notice the extremely incidental evidence the game presents in the final level, specifically a conversation the player overhears that's optional, and how the sacred chant the DomZ keep repeating has the same lyrics as the battle music -- including the word "shauni".
  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II had this for Light Side. You beat Kreia, she talks to you for a bit, explaining why she liked you, and explaining the fates of some of your comrades. Then, she dies, your ship picks you up, falls into a chasm to its apparent destruction, then flies away from the exploding planet unscathed. AND NOTHING ELSE HAPPENS. No denouement, no "what's next?", just hop on the ship GOOD NIGHT, EVERYBODY, leaving everyone wondering "Okay, is there ANY backstory for Sion or Nihilus? How did the remote beat G0-T0? And why was HK apparently completely extraneous?"
    • Dark side wasn't any better, in fact it was worse. Your ship falls into a chasm before you even reach the academy for no apparent reason. Then, you beat Traya and become leader of the Sith Academy. That's it, no mention of what happened to the rest of your party, except for the remote, which G0-T0 presumably destroyed. Just you and the academy. A Winner Is You indeed.
      • You can thank Lucas Arts for the rushed ending. Executive Meddling, indeed.
      • The planned ending involved a variety of things, such as your friends actually trying to help (rather than mostly just disappearing once you hit Malachor), possible tragic deaths, and even maybe facing Atris instead of Kreia. Which would have been much better. But no. Thanks a lot, Lucas Arts.
    • Also, the entire story of Revan and the Exile has been Gainax'd by the coming MMO....
    • Word of God states that Revan and the Exile never returned from the Unknown Regions. Fans are waiting for the announcement that the Sith Empire would have invaded a hundred years earlier, if those two hadn't single-handedly crippled their invasion force.
  • The World Ends With You is almost a Double Subversion: the plot is a Gambit Pileup we don't get too many details about, and the ending is just utterly confusing. However, you're then given the ability to unlock reports explaining what happened. But then you eventually get all of them, and unlock a final scene that makes even less sense.
    • When the events of the ending reduce the protagonist to screaming "WHAT THE HELL?!," it's a sure sign of this trope.
  • Dragon Squadron Danzarb ends with the revelation that the soldiers in the squad are mind-wiped convicts who were sent to a remote island chain to fight staged battles (while being secretly filmed "reality TV" style). The money earned from their exploitation is being used to fund "real" military ventures in the rest of the world (which they've been sealed away from). After discovering the truth, the main character looks into a camera and chews out whoever is watching, scolding them for getting a kick out of watching other people die for the sake of their own amusement (implying that the player, who has been watching the whole thing, is one of those sickos).
  • The Good ending for Star Soldier: Vanishing Earth consist of a nonsensical poem that doesn't have anything to do with the plot. The Bad ending, while making more sense, is still very strange.
  • The first Silent Hill game invokes this trope no matter which of the Multiple Endings one achieves. Both Good endings have Alessa and Cheryl merging and forming a giant glowing woman thingy. Kaufman splashes some red liquid on it, and it suddenly becomes a giant red demon thingy, which Harry then has to kill. After its death, the glowing woman returns and gives Harry a baby, who then runs off into the fog. The end. The Bad ending has Harry kill the glowing woman thingy, which says "thank you" in Cheryl's voice before dying. Harry collapses in grief as the room crumbles, before Cybil snaps at him to leave. The Worst ending is also the worst Gainax Ending, as it only has Harry still in the car from the accident at the beginning of the game, unconscious/dead and bleeding from the head.
    • Gainax ending? It makes perfect sense! The glowing woman thingy is both Alessa and Cheryl, as they are the same person. The red liquid is supposed to exorcise the demon so you don't have to kill Alessa/Cheryl, that's why she gives you a baby in the good ending, it's HERSELF.
    • By those standards, the alien ending, in which Harry is abducted by aliens after asking them if they've seen his daughter, almost makes sense.
    • The following games mostly contain far less ambiguous endings (although they're still heavy on the Mind Screw), but they aren't immune from them. Without contest the most bizarre is one of the endings of the second game, in which James discovers that the controlling force behind the town and the cause of all his torment is a dog. No, not a talking dog, just an ordinary dog. A Shiba Inu, to be specific. Her name is Mira.
  • The "comedy ending" of The white chamber seems to be this intentionally. The crew that Sarah had murdered turn up alive, and reveal that everything was just as planned for a surprise birthday party. It's rather entertaining, as the other crew members in this ending are a rather odd lot... Oh, and the meteor coming out of nowhere along with the karaoke bunny-ears guy riding it. "You were confused by the 'comedy' ending" indeed.
  • Braid has one. We're not even sure how much of the entire game previous was metaphorical. Somewhere between 50 and a 100% probably.
    • The final level has the Princess running away from a knight, while you follow underneath her and help each other overcome obstacles. At the end, you find yourself outside the princess's bedroom, and are only able to rewind time. Rewinding shows that in fact it was you who was chasing the princess, while she tried to stop you with a variety of traps that you managed to overcome, with the knight rescuing her at the end.
    • Not considering the fact that if you get the seven secret stars some of the switches in that level become timeproof, so you can rewind and go fast enough to stand on the chandelier as it's going back up, catch the princess and... KABLAM!!!!! As with 2001 mentioned above, essays have been written. Long ones.
    • It makes perfect sense really. The protagonist kept searching and searching for the atomic bomb, hurting the relationship with his wife/girlfriend in the process. All the while he thought he was the hero, instead of the obsessed madman he was. If you spend the time to get every star (An obsessive act in itself) the protagonist ignores the needs of his girlfriend and discovers the bomb. And then... BAM!
    • "Now we are all sons of bitches".
    • Which doesn't really explain a vast majority of the story, doesn't really fit with most of it and doesn't have any hard support anywhere outside of the epilogue and secret ending. It's a variation on a theme, and it just happens to be the one used as the final one.
  • Drakengard. Legions of creepy floating babies, a giant naked woman who uses sound as a weapon, a main character turning into a clone army of demonic angels that destroy the world, and that's just scratching the surface. It's like they were trying to out-Evangelion Evangelion.
    • Fortunately the first ending, which is apparently the canonical ending, is pretty straightforward.
  • F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin's final battle is a figurative Mind Screw and a literal Mind Rape. And physical rape, too, while we're at it.
  • Eternal Sonata.
  • Practically anything and everything created by Suda 51.
    • Killer7. Oh boy Killer7. While the individual stages have thier own moments, like First Life being a front for Ulmeyda's thrill seeking cult, The Handsome Men being erased from existance by Trevor's sister killing them in a video game, and whatever the hell was the purpose of the room you fight Curtis in, the ending blows them all away. Alpha Bitch Samantha dies somehow, Christopher gets killed, Garcian interrupts Kun and Harman's chess game, Garcian is actually insane, there is another Harman Smith and he's in his 30's and works for the government, all of Garcian/Emir's actions were controlled by the United States government, the memos were sent years ago and are adressed to Garcian/Emir and the guy writing them was killed by Samantha on the orders of old Harman, Emir/Garcian killed the entire Smith Syndicate at the age of 13, Iwazaru is Kun is the last Hevean Smile, Garcian/Emir's eyes turn green and he gets a nice suit, and Japan either gets bombed by the USA or leads the UN in a full scale attack on America. Also, Kun and old Harman are alive 100 years later in Shanghai to do it all again.
    • No More Heroes has one. Like the rest of the game, it get's played purely for laughs. So much so that Travis and Henry decide to have a(nother) fight to the death, as Henry tells that it's Travis' job as the protagonist to explain everything and tie up all the loose ends, after he (Henry) does several big and relevant ass pulls in the last few minutes of the game. Needless to say, Travis isn't exactly thrilled at the prospect of such an ordeal and is reminded that there is no escaping the video game world.

Sylvia: You like this painting, don't you? Let's go, Jeane. I know, too bad there won't be a sequel.

    • No More Heroes 2 has an interesting example. The ending itself is pretty straightforward: Travis kills the 1st assassin and avenges Bishop's death, and then hooks up with Sylvia, probably while quitting the UAA for good. It's the final boss that brings it into this territory. All you get of him until the end of the game is a brief silhouette and a name. And after fighting and killing your way to the 2nd rank and through a slew of strange and unique boss fights, you start getting pumped up for the final fight and get to wondering what he's gonna look like (even Travis himself admits the suspense is killing him.) Then step through that door and it's a tiny, buck-toothed goofy-looking man in a colorful suit and a flying car, who then turns into an even goofier-looking superhero with extremely cartoonish proportions, who then turns into an even MORE goofy-looking giant Macy's Day parade balloon. Even Henry, who jumps in to help you out at the beginning of the fight, eventually bails out because the fight is just getting too ridiculous.
      • There are all kinds of interpretations of the final boss. Including that it's part of the game's growing You Bastard mentality ("Congratulations! You senselessly murdered hundreds of people! Here's your final boss, asshole!" Another interpretation is that Jasper is a mirror of what Travis could've become in his quest for revenge, and if he kept fighting as a heartless bastard who doesn't care who he kills: a gross caricature of a human being that only gets more and more ridiculous as the fight goes on. Fortunately for him, he starts to grow a conscience partway through the game and realizes how absurd all of this is. Of course, there's also the interpretation that he's a parody of Batman.
    • Even LPs of Suda 51's games aren't safe. Most notable in Chip and Ironicus' LPs of Killer7 and No More Heroes, where the former ends in the revelation that The LP was all in Chip's head and the latter ends with Chip and Ironicus suddenly proclaiming "It's coming." repeatedly in monotone during the final video of the LP, until semi-trucks start to rain from the sky.
  • World of Goo - Every chapter has its own Gainax Ending. The Ivy Goos float away with balloons! The world is powered by the beauty of a giant ugly woman! The World of Goo corporation's new product is the third dimension! MOM is a spam bot! The fish have wings and levitate the telescope! The title refers to the moon! Made even better by the insanely epic music that plays during each scene, despite the game's premise being, essentially, poking goo until it goes somewhere.
  • Leisure Suit Larry 3: Passionate Patti in Pursuit of the Pulsating Pectorals has an extremely bizarre ending: After the player spends the last third of the game scouring the jungles of Nontoonyt as Patti looking for Larry, both characters get captured by lesbian cannibals and bound in a cage. Patti then uses a magic marker to draw a magical portal into the air, which transports them out of the game and into Sierra Studios, where they run around the Police Quest, Space Quest and King's Quest sets until Roberta Williams offers Larry a lucrative deal to design and write adventure games based on his own adventures. Al Lowe had to skip the fourth installment in the series altogether just to write himself out of that one.
  • Mondo Medicals, Mondo Agency, and Psychosomnium. Cactus loves this kind of thing.
  • Who would end their game with a French music video?! The same guys who brought us Earthworm Jim apparently did this with their MDK.
    • Plants vs. Zombies does this as well, bonus that it also doubled as the game's advertisement.
  • Michigan: Report From Hell ends with the player character finally being revealed and being shot in the head before he can reveal who unleashed the monsters.
  • A single playthrough of Eternal Darkness leaves the plot unresolved and the player unfulfilled (not to mention confused). This is remedied after playing through with all three Dark Gods to get the true ending.
  • Cryostasis arguably has one of these. The Crew being Ice Monsters aside, most of the storyline was fairly realistic, until you reach the end where Heat Cracks start appearing all over the ship and the Nuclear Reactor goes Chernobyl, whereupon Chronos, the God of Time, pops out and you have to defeat him using magical energy balls from your hands. Oh, and you go to some kind of ruins out in space where you get to go back in time to one of three different places and change history to prevent the tragedy from occurring in the first place. Presumably, it explains all the weird bits of the game, but I've yet to see how.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2 did this, by simply making the temple in which your party defeated the Big Bad collapse on them, killing all your beloved characters in the most ridiculous and unnecessary way imaginable, rendering the whole journey practically pointless. In my opinion, one of the most infuriating endings in history.
    • Well, the sequel evidently saves a few characters (You, Khelgar, Ammon Jerro, Sand, and possibly Neeshka, depending on whether or not she was saved from the binding ritual.)
    • The evil ending doesn't end with the ceiling falling on you as you join the Big Bad, though he orders you to kill your remaining party.
    • The only ones who are confirmed dead in the good ending are Casavir, Bishop, Elanee, and Grobnar. The fate of the rest is left up to your imagination. And the third expansion pack suggests that Casavir survived, but was captured by Luskans. Elanee can also survive if she leaves the player prior to the final battle.
    • This is definitely not the Gainax Ending, just read the first sentence in the trope description. It is simply dark twist on typical fight with Final Boss in The Very Definitely Final Dungeon. King of Shadows is a Load-Bearing Boss and when he dies, he takes all characters with him. So, this time it is Noble Sacrifice for the whole party. Although some get better in sequel.
  • Persona 3's ending was confusing enough to warrant the developers putting in a super-hard epilogue explaining everything in the game's Updated Rerelease.
    • The ending itself is straight foward, it's the fate of the protagonist that was ambiguous: Protagonist died by giving his life to save the universe. Originally, it was up to the player to decide whether or not he died or just went to sleep when he was reunited with his friends.
  • Little Kings Story has you find out that your entire world is a cardboard stage in the bedroom of a kid that looks like the king. The final boss battle is with some ordinary rats who are eating the stage, while a news reel keeps you apprised of what parts of your world are being destroyed by the fight. Then the real boy who looks like the king throws the rat out the window after the fight, and he and the tiny king see each other with gratuitous zoomshots of them being reflected in the other's eyes. Roll credits
  • Tales of the Abyss. The regular ending you see before the credits is simple enough: the Big Bad is dead, most of the party escaped, but The Hero stays behind to make a Heroic Sacrifice; he gets congratulated for his work by Lorelei. It's the post-credits scene that screws everything up; it's been a couple of years? And The Hero is back? Or is it his twin/clone? What promise was he talking about? Why is his hair so long?
    • Well, the promise is pretty straightforward. It was either Asch's promise to Natalia or Luke's to Tear. The rest more or less stands, though. We're supposed to decide for ourselves whether Luke is back, Asch is back, or there's some sort of third option
  • At the end of the I Wanna Be the Guy fangame I Wanna Be The Fangame, the final boss's father comes by in a cutscene in full Papa Wolf mode. Sic transit The Kid.
  • The ending of Metal Black.
  • Though the original ending to space shooter Tyrian is somewhat Gainax-y, involving the main character finally having enough of single-handedly saving the galaxy from the evil Microsol corporation over and over, and fleeing the galaxy, the re-release, Tyrian 2000, offers a final episode that's even more Gainax-y. Your ship is intercepted and you're forced to fight the Zinglon cult mentioned numerous times throughout the game, who turn out to be behind all of Microsol's evildoings and plan to deprive the universe of it's food supplies and construct a fleet of warships made entirely out of fruit. Though the game's lore shows that the game designers weren't taking the story too seriously, the final episode is when the game stops any pretense of seriousness entirely.
  • Divinity 2: Ego Draconis. What could have been a semi-decent game was rendered null by the way it ended. Basically, you spent all that time running around listening to a dead lady's voice in your head only to find out she's been tricking you. She sends you on a wild goose chase to resurrect the Big Bad's dead wife, Ygerna, saying it'll help defeat him. Turns out that she is Ygerna and resurrecting her actually makes Damian invincible. But you don't find that out until after an unavoidable and tedious boss fight. There are no Multiple Endings. So the story ends with your hero being stuck in limbo and Lucien, the guy who you killed in the aforementioned boss fight, is happy to inform you just the entirety of Rivellon is down the crapper because of you, and the game ends with a cutscene of Damian and Ygerna raging across the land. It also reeks of gimmickry. Want to bet the sequel/expansion pack (and there will be one) ends the exact same way?
  • Ecco 2: Tides of Time leans mixes this with Downer Ending. In the Playable Epilogue, you chase the Vortex Queen through Atlantis to destroy the time machine before she can Butterfly of Doom you out of spite. She beats you there and jumps into prehistory. You use the machine as well instead of destroying it. A scrolling title card set to chilling music comes up, calmly laying out for you that Ecco vanished into time and was never heard from again. The Vortex Queen was unable to screw up the ecosystem, and wound up integrating into it. Earth's present-day insects are descended from surviving Vortex.
  • Fahrenheit (2005 video game) has a legendary one. The game plays out like a cool murder mystery with supernatural twists. Then Lucas dies and a physical manifestation of the Internet brings him Back From the Dead as Zombie Jesus Neo. He knocks up Carla somehow despite being dead, fights the Internet and an ancient Mayan oracle with magical Ki Attacks, then learns the meaning of life. No, really.
    • This could have had much more sense had virtually all elements mentioned abone not been introduced in roughly last hour of gameplay.
  • The endings to several of the R-Type series, most notably Delta and Final.
  • Ray Crisis's finale, especially the True Final Boss, may fit this.
  • The True Final Boss of Contra: Shattered Soldier.
  • The original .hack games ended this way. After 4 games, forced grinds, and the damn virus cores that slowed the last two (Still an excellent series, DGMW) You fight through the last parts of the last game after learning that the Big Bad is the game itself. Then you fight through a Multi-tiered boss fight against a monster with a crack at the top that splurts out explosive white drops before turning into a plant and then an eye. Then you'd fight Morganna? Wrong. That's when you find out the psychedelic eye was the True Final Boss. After you beat it, The World goes crazy, your party get's "Drain Heart"ed with no explanation as to what that is before Kite has his Crowning Moment of Awesome running up to the eye that refuses to die. Then Aura, the girl you've been journeying to restore this entire series gets in the way as you're about to stab it and takes the hit, dying. Then there's some crazy lights, the eye get's destroyed, and everyone shows up in the Net Slums where they mention something about Aura having to die to be born again Bullcrap. Then the game ends with Kite looking at the sunset and everyone who'd just been owned is back with no explanation.
    • All There in the Manual.
      • Long story short; The 8 phases are "partitions" of Morganna, and after defeating the last there isn't really any threat left to fight. In a manner of speaking, you were fighting her in all 8.
  • Alan Wake. "It's not a lake. It's an ocean."
  • Spore. After battling your way through the Grox (or befriending them, which is arguably harder), finding your way through the maze of stars, and more likely than not sacrificing any allies you had with you, you finally make it to the center of the galaxy. You scroll in to avoid the Grox firing upon you, since you're probably almost dead at this point, and watch as the colors of swirl around you. A deep booming voice congratulates you on how far you've come, and that few, if any other species will make it as far as you. Then this happens.
  • The Path, once for each Little Red Riding Hood character, and another for the secret unlockable character whose appearance bookends the Stable Time Loop.
  • Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors. It's a visual novel with Multiple Endings, and each story path puts Junpei in different groups, giving him the opportunity to find out more about their backstories, and some paths unlock the opportunity to find new paths, ultimately culminating in the True Ending. It's actually a subversion, as each of the different paths are actually being observed by the protagonist from outside normal time, and the True Ending explains all the weird inexplicable stuff that has been going on since the start of the game... except for one particular character who is referenced repeatedly; the cast finds the place where she's supposed to be hidden and finds nothing, and conclude that it's all just a myth... and then she's hitchhiking on the side of the road in the True Ending, and the game ends on that image.
  • Final Fantasy does this occasionally:
    • In Final Fantasy V, the entire universe is destroyed and rebuilt.
    • In Final Fantasy VII, the ending is kind of cut short of showing whether humanity survives at all, and there's some magical stuff happening that's shown but that the player is left guessing at as to the actual meaning of. Red XIII, supposedly The Last of His Kind, has two children, though it's later explained that there is a female of his species available. That the ending ended up like this may well have been unintentional; what we see in the sequel movie, that destruction was narrowly averted because the Lifestream flowed in to stop Meteor but Midgar was heavily damaged, is pretty much implied in the game ending cinematic (especially in hindsight), just left ambiguous by the way it's presented.
    • Final Fantasy Tactics leaves us in the lurch about whether the main characters are really alive or dead. Due to bad visuals, there's also some confusion about whether Delita and/or Ovelia live or die after Ovelia stabs him.
    • Final Fantasy VIII is a big offender here, with Epileptic Trees popping up everywhere to try and explain just what exactly were the creators trying to say?
    • In Final Fantasy IX, the entire final dungeon is a huge Gainax ending. You basically go backward through your memories, then the planet's, and then the universe's. After you defeat Kuja, you take on the eternal darkness. The ending itself isn't so much, though.
    • Final Fantasy X leaves you with the question of if Tidus is alive, dead, or even still exists.
  • Dark Reign ends with a cutscene showing the player character receiving some unspecified energy-thing treatment by Togra, who has apparently become a god. Weird for a game with so much science in it.
  • Cargo the Quest For Gravity is weird from the outset, but in a silly, lighthearted way. Once the game ends and the world is saved, though, things get... confusing. Apparently the Robot Devil is going to remake the world but reward the main characters by transforming them into Fun so that they'll be around to see it? Or... something like that. Granted, anyone familiar with developer Ice-Pick Lodge's previous offerings ought to have seen it coming.
  • At first, it looks like the ending of Portal 2 will be a Bolivian Army Ending when the lift you're on suddenly stops at a group of four turrets... but then the lasers shut off and the turrets start singing. A few floors later and you're at an entire choir of turrets singing a farewell opera. Then you get to the top, go out into a field of wheat, hear a loud noise behind you... and out comes the original Companion Cube, charred and beat up. Roll credits.
    • In fact, the entire ending sequence, starting from shooting a portal onto the moon feels like it comes out of nowhere, even though it was foreshadowed throughout the game. The achievement for it even has the description "That just happened".
  • Radiata Stories: Two endings; one makes sense (if leaving plot threads unresolved) and another where any number of things could have happened.
    • For those who didn't play the game: There's two dragons responsible for the remaking of the world, and they take turns. However, the silver dragon has grown fond of humanity, so he doesn't want them to die, he decides to kill the gold dragon(Ridley) in order to prevent this. In the non-human ending(good) Jack and Ridley join up, defeat him, and the game ends with them together in an empty city, where presumably Ridley remade the world but left Jack alive(they seem happy, so there's that). In the Human ending(bad) the silver dragon manages to kill Ridley, and Jack, heartbroken, defeats him. What happens next is not shown, but the implication is that the world eventually depleted itself and Jack died alone. All in all, the endings implied more than they shown.
  • The endings to Street Fighter EX Plus Alpha. The game has next to no plot, so a lot of the endings are just the character posing or doing something badass. Though some, like Dhalsim, Zangief, Skullomania, and Allen's ending, still manage to make no sense whatsoever.
  • Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Ring of Fates manages to subvert this, the ending makes very little sense with the protagonist twins remaking the world to one where Galdes is stuck repeating himself for all eternity and then Chelinka dies and then little Chelinka uses two of the same crystal to make herself and Yuri kids again and their parents alive. However, once you replay the game you see how the ending twist was somewhat foreshadowed, so early you wouldn't remember it. And after playing through the epilogue in Multiplay, you get some more closure and get a clearer picture of what the outcome of the ending actually was.
  • Usually, the Streets of Rage series had pretty straightforward endings: Mr. X is defeated, the town is safe, everyone's happy; but the last official installment in the series, 3, introduced Easy Mode Mockery to the already ending trilogy. The ending you get on the lowest difficulty does reveal that Mr. X on the 5th stage is actually a robot. If you try a harder difficulty, but fail to save General Petrov/chief of the police, you will fight Shiva as the final boss. Right after both of these, the true Mr. X shows up, watching what happens in his hideout (like a movie in the theatre) and breaking a glass of wine... which makes perfect sense at first, but that's until you get to his real hideout which reveals that Mr. X is in fact a Brain In a Jar. Now that makes absolutely no sense, especially when you realize he couldn't turn into that in just a couple of hours of the storyline time!
    • It makes sense when you consider the boss of Stage 5 is a robotic body Mr. X controlled via his Brain In a Jar. If he was able to get his brain into a jar then there's no reason he couldn't have multiple bodies to control, or backups, seeing as how he's supposed to be dead, if not critically injured by the end of the second game.
    • ...and after the bad ending route's stage 7, you see him safe and sound like nothing happened. May be a sign that he really loves cloning himself that way.
  • In Hellsinker the final boss can be seen as a playable ending and then simply ending with "The End".
  • In Limbo of the Lost, Briggs is captured and his earthly guide (also known as you, the player) must save him by completing some in and of themselves confusing tasks. After you finish, Briggs is freed and proceeds to the game's ending... where he is greeted by almost the entire supporting cast of the game who decide to crown him The King of Limbo while singing a song about him. No explanation is given as to how the denizens of Limbo know eachother, how they reached this location, or why Limbo has a king - or why no one seems to care about the player's contributions to any of this. To say that They Just Didn't Care is an understatement.
  • Oracle of Tao.
    • Even if you win, the ending depends on your ending party. That is, you can "win" with the wrong party and have most/all of the party die (since the final boss has a final attack scripted by the story).
    • If you die, but have the right party, your characters just say some really strange words about the hero, and how she wasn't really a good person, not really a bad person, "she was a person." And then they walk off. If you don't have the right party, the universe explodes. It is explained why, and yet still doesn't totally make sense.
    • Even the best ending makes no sense, as it turns out the main hero was God all along (she's told this by God), and now has the choice while sitting in a White Void Room on whether to create the universe or not (and she can definitely choose to just become God and sit by herself for all eternity). What?!? It Gets Better, though.
    • The Playable Epilogue has three endings, based on a choice made after the game's final boss. One involves healing the final boss, which makes the hero God again, and her family thinks it's cool, while she plans a date for tomorrow. The second has her kill the final boss, and then snap, and start deciding to destroy everyone, eventually forgetting the party and killing them too. The final ending just has her walk off, and has some Grow Old with Me style ending, combined with Babies Ever After, combined with the female and male lead's death, and afterlife. All in fairly rapid succession.
  • Digital Devil Saga's both parts manage to land one of these. The first ending is explained in the second game, and it makes sense.
  • 8:Capsule. Do not pass 8. You did? Now solve some weird puzzles! And eat that pill to screw up the scenery. Then solve more puzzles! Goddamned Boss time! And once you beat it... BEAUTIFUL WHOA WAHHHH WAT
  • At the end of Mother 3, Lucas pulls the final Needle and awakens the Dragon, which destroys the world. A giant THE END screen pops up... but if you use the D-Pad, you can walk around and talk to the various characters. Whether Lucas created a new world for his friends and family, or destroyed the world and put everyone in the afterlife is up to you to interpret.
  • Tir Na Nog and Dun Darach, by Gargoyle Games for the old ZX Spectrum had (for the time) incredibly huge animated sprites (56 pixels high!!) and deep, deliberately obscure gameplay, and partly thanks to the slow pace took hours and hours to finish. When you finished the first, the screen changed colour slightly a few times. When you finished the second, you entered an entirely black room with the words "ta from gg" on the wall. And. That's. It.
  • Mass Effect 3: There are three endings: You control the Reapers, possibly by uploading yourself into the Citadel. You destroy the Reapers and all other synthetic life, and all organic life if you did particularly poorly. Or, you make all organic and synthetic life a techno-organic synthesis. The entire Mass Relay network is then destroyed spreading your control / destruction / synthesis energy wave across the galaxy, and in most endings the Citadel is destroyed and/or Shepard is killed in the process. The Normandy, which was last seen taking part of the battle above Earth, is then seen travelling faster than light through space[1] and, after being caught in the wave, ends up crashing on an unknown planet. An after-credit epilogue then shows an old man telling the legend of "The Shepard" to a child and then being asked by the child for another tale of Shepard's exploits, implying Shepard may have actually survived. Finally, in the "best" destruction ending a scene will play showing an N7 soldier who appears to be Shepard waking up in a pile of rubble, though how or even where the scene takes place is left unclear.
  • After killing the Enderdragon in Minecraft, you're treated to a wall of scrolling text depicting a discussion between two Sentient Cosmic Forces discussing you, the player of the game. The discussion in question implies that the entire game was All Just a Dream, life as we know it is merely an even bigger dream, the many mobs we fought in the game were the darkness in our hearts, and humanity's entire existence is a quest to understand itself.


Web Originals[edit | hide]

  • Every Youtube Poop ever! It makes sense, considering the videos themselves in turn aren't even supposed to make sense to begin with.
  • An episode of Salad Fingers ends with the title character having his head eaten by a clone. Or was that the clone?
  • There Will Be Brawl. Hoo boy. The reveal of Kirby as the ultimate mastermind and Ness and Lucas jointly acting as "the Butcher" isn't too hard to understand. The really weird stuff happens after the final battle when we see Kirby is still alive, has murdered Masahiro Sakurai, and presumably is about to off Shigeru Miyamoto in the same way before it fades to black. Buh?
  • The ending of episode 12 of Dragon Ball Abridged -- "I'll say."
  • The ending of James Rolfe's Dorothy Goes To Hell.
  • One episode of Regular Ordinary Swedish Meal Time ends with some crazy twisting head laughing maniacally before a caption says "He died".
  • The original Ryan Vs. Dorkman ends with Dorkman successfully offing Ryan and walking away to leave - only for Ryan to reappear and ignite a lightsaber through Dorkman's chest. It didn't make any sense until the ending of Ryan Vs. Brandon 2, which reveals that there is a bunch of Ryan clones - this also explains why Ryan has lost every single one of his fights and manages to come back alive.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Decades before Studio Gainax became known for this stuff, Fleischer Studios loved having totally bizarre, unpredictable endings. One prominent example would be the ending of Bimbo's Initiation, which ends with the leader of the cult "Do-It-Or-Die" be revealed to be Betty Boop, who seduces Bimbo into being a member. Once Bimbo accepts, the other cult members show themselves—and then rip off their disguises, revealing themselves to all look like Betty, and then they dance to the end.
  • The Simpsons episode "Rosebud".

Homer: Marge, I'm confused. Is this a happy ending or a sad ending?
Marge: (tersely) It's an ending, that's enough.

  • The first season ending of Sheep in The Big City shifts to the Narrator escaping after all the characters are trying to capture him, then the Sheep rescues him, going down the drain, and ends up having Sheep being Evil Overlord who can talk. Private Public start to speak French, and so is everyone else. Then the Narrator got put in the Narrator-powered raygun, with him begging that the whole thing's a dream then a flying pig appears and says This Is Reality or else he won't have wings. What?
  • Twelve Ounce Mouse: The army of robots destroy the city, Fitz plays pinball, then he wakes up in a mind control center inside a mushroom.
  • In the last episode of The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, the characters turn into live-action...In a very weird way.
  • The "Tree Trunks" episode of Adventure Time ends with the titular guest character taking a bite from the fruit they've been pursuing all episode. She explodes. Then we see her running, laughing, through crystal.
    • That one got a Mind Screwdriver.
    • Also "Evicted". After a whole episode of dealing with Marceline taking over Finn and Jake's house, she gives it back... and they return to find a giant worm that blasts them with a ray of some sort and asks them to hug it.
    • This mixes with Crowning Moment Of Funny at the end of "Power Animal" when Jake suddenly says "Let's go eat Cinnamon Bun!"
    • Adventure Time evidently loves this trope. There was another one in "Chamber of Frozen Blades" when Gunter, one of the Ice King's penguins that he took to the hospital, lays an egg that hatches... into a floating, red cat. Then the Ice King says, "Gunter, why didn't you tell me? Oh-ho-ho, Gunter-" as he is interrupted by Finn and Jake both kicking him.
    • Another example is at the end of "Her Parents" when Finn and Jake taste "Soy People," which is said to taste exactly like humans... of which Finn is the last because Rainicorns eat them. Not at all helped by Jake actually saying, "Finn, you taste delicious!"
    • Aaaand yet another at the end of "Mystery Train" when the train falls off an open cliff and lands on a gelatin person. Jake says that this wasn't planned, and he was the one who arranged the train ride for Finn. The ending seems to suggest that Jake knew this the whole time and either he or the designer of the train tracks was planning to commit a mass murder-suicide.
  • "The Boy Who Cried Comet" episode of Arthur certainly qualifies. The episode suddenly ends with the revelations that Arthur and Co. are actually aliens wearing rubber masks acting out the show on a distant planet. Had most of the audiences throwing their hands up in the air and declaring that they can never look at the show the same way ever again. [
  • Total Drama World Tour's finale may also be considered. The challenge involves the final two racing to throw driftwood-and-pineapple sculptures of each other into a volcano in Hawaii. Okay. But once Heather does so, Ezekiel suddenly shows up, steals the money and falls into the volcano, completing his nonsensical Gollum subplot. Then we suddenly find out that pineapples make volcanoes erupt. Everybody races down the mountain and into the water, Alejandro gets horrifically burned, Ezekiel flies out of the volcano and sinks Chris' ship, and the show cuts off just as everyone's swimming for their lives and Heather looks like she's about to be crushed by a rock. Given that the new season will have all-new characters, this implies things didn't end well.
    • Everybody Lives. Except for (possibly) Blaineley. Even Ezekiel, who goes on to survive other severely life-threatening incidents.
  • The finale of Aeon Flux. The show was already extremely strange, so when Time Travel gets involved, the results are inevitable.
  • Several episodes of The Ren and Stimpy Show end in this way:
    • "Aloha Hoek" has Ren and Stimpy getting stranded on an island. Long story short, it ends with them taking off their disguises, revealing they're really human "Russian" spies (who talk like Fred and Barney for some reason) and riding off in a submarine.
    • "Ren Needs Help!" is even stranger. Ren has a Freak-Out at the end, and is restrained by the mental hospital doctors. He's apparently given electroshock, and in the next scene, he's fitted with a suit and tie, placed at a desk on the moon, and addresses the nation as the president of the United States (a nod to a fellow patient's paranoid ramblings), where he launches into a parody of Ronald Reagan's infamous "We begin bombing in five minutes" speech.
    • Neither of those have anything on "Haunted House", though. When the ghost's inability to scare Ren and Stimpy drives him to suicide, he comes back to life... as a big, fat naked black man who drives into the distance in a convertible as a confused Ren and Stimpy wave goodbye.
    • "Ren's Brain" ends with Stimpy fighting to sedate Ren's disembodied brain. The audience watching the episode is so freaked out that their brains explode, and it sets off a chain reaction of head explosions that destroys the Earth. Afterwards, a narrator ominously intones that the event marked "the end of the Republican party as we know it", while Ren's brain drifts through space with a shout of "You eediot!"
    • "Mad Dog Hoek"... Just... Ren and Stimpy spend the entire episode in a wrestling match, which their competitors, for no apparent reason, throw in Ren and Stimpy's favor. After the match, the competitors promise revenge. When asked for a response, Ren begins to answer and is promptly thrown aside by Stimpy, who proceeds to scream a long ramble about his friend Darren. The episode promptly ends. (It is important to note that no one named Darren was ever seen or heard from in the episode.)
      • "I LIKE HIS AUTOGRAPH! IT IS A NIIIIIIICE PICTURE!!"
  • The ending of Disney's The Three Caballeros.
  • Some episodes of Space Ghost Coast to Coast ends this way, like "Chambraigne".
  • The SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Safety Freak" ends with Spongebob, Patrick, and Sandy being attacked by a gorilla (played by a live-action human in a cheap costume). When Spongebob wonders out loud "What's a gorilla doing underwater?", the gorilla stops his rampage, tries to explain himself, then shouts "George, they're onto us!" and rides off into the sunset on a pantomime zebra, to the bafflement of a live-action family watching the episode, and probably that of the real-life audience as well. The family then proceeds to silently turn the TV AND the screen off with the remote, which ends the episode.
    • A lot of Spongebob episodes are like this. "Graveyard Shift" ended with all the strange occurrences being explained by the actions of a nervous new potential employee of the Krusty Krab... except for the flickering lights. It turned out that it was the live action version of Nosferatu turning the light switch on and off all along, and nobody seems to be bothered by this. And let's not forget the ending of "Bubble Buddy".
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy had the ending of "My Fair Mandy". Up until the last two minutes, the episode plays like a straight Very Special Episode where Mandy tries her very best to finally outdo longtime rival Mindy in a pageant (something just about unthinkable due to Mindy's popularity and Mandy's surly attitude). All throughout, Grim, Billy, and Irwin tell Mandy that she can't win unless she can smile (a very rare occurrence for her). At first it looks like Mindy will run away with it, but eventually the judges, which include Mindy's mother, start to turn on her. Mandy closes the gap and is neck-and-neck with her rival going into the very last routine. Her helpers remind her one last time via cards that YOU-HAVE-TO-SMILE(-YO). She strains, she struggles, she summons every ounce of will in her small frame...and...AND... ...creates a catastrophic maelstrom which rips apart the fabric of reality, and everything goes white. When Grim, Billy, and Mandy come to, they find that they've turned into The Powerpuff Girls. The episode concludes with the familiar flashing-hearts screen and a jaunty "So once again, the day is saved, thanks to...The Powerpuff Girls!"
  • The non-canonical Avatar: The Last Airbender short "School Time Shipping" ends with Katara dating the Blue Spirit. No, NOT Zuko. Zuko stands right there, watching.
    • One could also call parts of the series ending, a Gainax Ending. Especially the part where Zuko visits his dad in jail and demands he tell him where his mother is. We never get the answer to that question.
      • It's even brought up in the sequel series where one of Katara's grandchildren tries to learn the story of Zuko finding his mom. Katara makes it out to be really epic and then another grandchild butts in before the story is even told.
      • Chances are that the Zuko's mom Plot Point will be brought up in Avatar The Promise.
  • The Phineas and Ferb episode "Mommy Can You Hear Me?" plays out as a normal episode, with Candace trying to bust the boys while they try to send their astronaut friend Sergei, who is searching for wormholes, a birthday message. Long story short, Candace, in her attempt to bust the two, accidentally sends a message to Sergei that leads him to a wormhole. Everything is wrapped up, but Phineas is still bummed that he never wished Sergei a happy birthday. Cut to Sergei, who is now lying in bed as an old man akin to the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Ferb appears as a starchild, floats up to him and whispers, "Happy birthday". Sergei responds, "They did remember. Such nice boys."
    • Same thing with "The Curse of Candace". Starts out normal, with Candace thinking she's a vampire, thanks to a teen vampire movie, among other things. She confronts her brothers about this at the end, and they explain the reason behind some of her vampire powers. So thus, they take off the cloak she was wearing, exposing the sun to her and... she turns to dust. A bemused remark from Phineas, and then? Roll credits. Of course, since he said "Ferb, I think we're gonna need a dustpan and some glue," it could be that they actually managed to put her back together. Given that it's Phineas and Ferb, it's not impossible. But it's still really weird.
  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic has an in-universe example with Pinkie Pie and the story of how she got her cutie mark, which caps off with an apparent non sequitur remark:

Pinkie Pie: And that's how Equestria was made!!

    • She then goes on to add "Maybe one day I'll tell you how I got my cutie mark!" Cue head explosions.
  • South Park has the episode "Royal Pudding". The Royal Canadian Wedding is interrupted when the princess gets kidnapped and Kyle's little brother Ike (who is Canadian) has to rescue her. At the end, Ike rescues the princess they have the royal wedding, but after the "I do's", the prince tears off the princess' arm and shoves it up his ass.[2] It Makes Just as Much Sense in Context.
  • In the Looney Tunes cartoon "Riff Raffy Daffy", Daffy ends up tricking Porky into letting him sleep in the department store by taking out a couple of wind-up ducks and presenting them as his "children". In the end, as Porky walks away, it's revealed that he understands what Daffy's going through because his kids are also wind-up toys.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Death. It comes suddenly and often with no warnings, leaving many loose ends to our individual stories, and extends to the people affected by the death.

Notes

  1. apparently from picking up your party members from the final mission, but it is extremely unclear.
  2. As is tradition