What’s the absolute worst ending a book can have?

  1. Recently read one of my childhood favourites again. It's a generic YA fantasy with a good vs evil fight. It ends with the bad guys winning, but when they killed the hero everything turned back to normal, everyone who died came back to life etc because "evil can't exist without good" ...

  2. I threw the book at the end. I had a friend that read the series as well and they were going to borrow my copy of the last book when I was done with it. I reluctantly let them borrow it because I didn’t want to inflict that level of stupidity on them!

  3. can someone please remind me of the ending? i LOVED these books so much but for some reason I can’t recall how it ended ….

  4. I think the worst kind of ending is when it doesn't feel earned - the sacrifices weren't meaningful, it gets tied up too neatly in a bow, the things that were obstacles before just magically disappear in the final pages so the previous 95% of the book seems like a waste, or the ending depends on characters behaving completely out of character based on what we've learned about them through the rest of the book. I want an ending that feels inevitable, like there was no other way it could have ended, and even if the ending comes as a surprise there's still a sense of rightness about it.

  5. I think that's why the Game of Thrones series collapsed. Once they moved away from the books there were no more irreversible consequences for the main characters. Liked characters had plot armor. They didn't die unexpectedly or get seriously maimed. The bad guys stopped getting away with one evil act after another and were killed off rapidly in ways that weren't as cathartic as they should have been. People describe how they cheered when Joffrey died, but when Little Finger was killed it just felt like they were trying to wrap up a plot line. Sometimes you have to be a ruthless son of a bitch to be a good writer. Torture the protagonist in ways most people wouldn't. Reward the antagonist in ways they don't deserve, over and over again. That way, when the tables turn it feels more satisfying. HBO should have hired better writers.

  6. I'm fascinated by how our taste in entertainment has so completely flip flopped over the last couple thousand years.

  7. I just finished the first Wheel of Time book, and this is how the ending felt to me. I’m still going to keep reading the series, though.

  8. A common, extremely frustrating ending for anything Tolkien is a note from Christopher explaining that it was at this point that the text was abandoned.

  9. I want the complete Lay of Leithian, the story of Beren and Luthien completely in poetic verse. The conflict between Felagund and Thu (Finrod and Sauron) is so much better than the prose version.

  10. Unfinished Tales especially, but I guess the title gave it away. I kind of like it in a way because Tolkien was trying to create a type of lost mythology and Tolkien found all the manuscripts. Having a lot of stories or things end in "and that's all we know" or "the text stops there" all through another authors lens just adds more to that mythology feel to them. At least that's how I look at them.

  11. If I had the power I'd bring Tolkien back from the dead and require him to finish "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin" from Unfinished Tales.

  12. Anything that renders everything that happened before it moot, such as "it was all a dream" or "we went back in time and averted disaster."

  13. If you're clever, you can do a good "went back in time to avert disaster" story, Larry Niven has one, and there's another old one that I can't remember the title or author, but you have to have a great twist.

  14. the very first time you read “it was all a dream” can be the most mind blowing and cool concept in a way, and then you read it again in a different book and you’re like “yo wtf i actually don’t like that trope”

  15. There are cases when going back and averting disaster works for me...and that's if the main character(s) are irrevocably changed by the experience and remember the bad scenario.

  16. Came to say the "it was all a dream" ending. I can count on one hand the amount of times this ending has been done well.

  17. There was an indie author who published his digital books on Amazon when it was still fairly new. I read the first two quickly and was excited for the 3rd. He was giving a lot of updates on his progress, to eventually posting less and less about unrelated things, until completely going silent on the internet. Think it's been about 9 years and I'm still kinda bitter about it. He even raised the price of two of his books a few years ago

  18. Yeah this one fanfic where the main couple meet, fall in love, then have to separate because their nations are at war.

  19. Ha yes, the magical gate that teleport them " somewhere else" I was so confused. Also when they pot a shit lot of people back in the labyrinth? What was the purpose ? When everything obviously fall apart, I don't get it.

  20. Maze Runner was a fantastic concept with terrible plot. The ending pissed me off so much. I don't remember being that angry about a book ever.

  21. Ending love triangles with terrible circumstances is one of my least favorite things in fiction. I was reading a manga where a bunch of college kids were sent to the past and there was one of the college girls and one of the native humans who liked the mc. And the author decided that the beat way to resolve the conflict was to have one of them kidnapped by neanderthals, raped, and then carry the neanderthals child. This was a series that had no indication of rape before that point either, however there were scenes depicted of neanderthals and humans killing each other upon meeting. Personally I'd have preferred if she fell off of a cliff, or was crushed by a boulder.

  22. I forgot about the magic portal. When I originally read it it did not bother me. But tried listening to the audio books and was just like what.

  23. Boulder didn’t come out of nowhere. They were in a building that was collapsing and the building collapsed on top of her.

  24. The first book was so good. I liked the second too. But when he actually tried to explain why the government would do something like that, it all fell apart. I would have preferred something more mysterious, more villainous maybe.

  25. Huh. If you’ve ever played the game the Last of Us, it’s pretty much this same plot. But it’s told astonishingly well.

  26. For as bad as that was, the worst part was that the rock fell and killed her on the second last page of the last book (if I'm not mistaken). It's like the author started shipping the two other characters while writing the book, and gave the girl he fell out of love with an unceremonious end at the last second.

  27. What always bugs me about the ending of that series is it just doesn't really make sense logistically. How are the last hundred or so humans, who have no particular training in farming, self sufficiency, etc. going to survive more than a few years, much less rebuild humanity ?

  28. Lots of really good points in here, but I’ll say one that bugs me (although not the absolute worst, that of course is the “it was all a dream” or something else that moots the whole book) is the rushed ending. Where the whole story carefully sets things up, and then more happens in those last few pages than the entire preceding novel, and we don’t get any of it fully developed. Like, don’t spend your whole book carefully detailing a short sea voyage, and then at the end Zeus appears to plunk all the characters on a different planet, and that’s summarized in the last 4 pages! (Extra points to anyone who can identify the book that does this!)

  29. Ahhh yes! It's especially hard when you're reading an ebook and can't physically see the number of pages you have left... it feels like you're maybe 60-70% into the story then you suddenly look over and see it's at 99%! The worst.

  30. The main characters having a baby or surprise pregnancy for no reason. It doesn't add to the plot it just feels lazy and 'this is the natural next step' I will be living a book and then the last 30 pages is an oopsie baby. Fucking ruins it

  31. Similarly, I hate when every character ends up with a romantic pairing, including people who outright hated each other or who only said two words to each other the entire book. It drives me up the wall!

  32. I read a book I bought from a second-hand store once - a thriller of some sort - and got to the last page... to find it wan't there! It'd been torn out at some point. That was the worst non-ending ever!

  33. Somewhat similar story here: I bought a used copy of a book through Amazon once, got about halfway through when I realized there was some kind of printing error where the second half of the book was just a repeat of the first half of the book. You could tell just by the page numbers; they started over. It was so bizarre, and so frustrating. I've never seen anything like it since.

  34. Michael Chrichton’s Sphere. I bought a copy at Goodwill and was tearing through it in a single day. I had about 20 pages left, sat it down to go answer the door. My roommate’s dog chewed the final pages to shreds before I got back. Literally ate the pages I had left

  35. The Lovely Bones was a really good book and I enjoyed it up until the very end. The girls spirit had been observing her family’s torment for years after she was murdered and when the opportunity arises to make contact with the physical realm, she opts to have sex with her teen crush. It bothered me

  36. I hated the book when I had to read it for my 10th grade English class. The problem was I really couldn’t articulate why, so to everyone else I was just being negative for no reason.

  37. Not to mention how creepy and squicky it was. I know the book was written by a rape-survivor so it might have been a 'healing' ending but this girl died...as a kid. And she's using someone else's body...

  38. Is that really the ending though? It's been quite a few years since I read the book but I thought that was more toward the middle.

  39. It does feel lazy! The first half is always good, she just can't seem to figure out what to do wirh all the plot threads! Into the woods was so frustrating.

  40. I once read a book about totally mundane, slice of life happenings in a very small town where you get to know three different characters. They each have their own minor personal dramas/storylines about small town life.

  41. I've often thought about writing a story like that. We often hear about some person who gets hit by a bus or struck by lightning or some other random occurrence. They were just going about their day. They went out to buy batteries for the remote and...died.

  42. For a slice of life, this is almost acceptable. Slice of life is all about the day to day drama without any great plan or direction. It's still a downer of an ending, and may not have been well done, but there are certainly lazier ways to end it. Character just waking up and walking out the door to end their story, for example.

  43. I've read this twice now and something about it has sent me into a laughing/coughing fit both times. I'm laughing again just thinking about the snow storm 🤣. What a bizarre ending

  44. I was really frustrated with a book that was at its climax and there was danger and a big reveal. . . and then just fade to black and the story picks back up again two days later and the narrator's like "oh yeah it worked out."

  45. Deus Ex Machina. I won't name the series, but a trilogy that ended with an omnipotent conscious cosmic entity that was happy to set everything to rights is the only time I have ever thrown a book at a wall.

  46. A novel that doesn't say it's a part of a series, you read the first one entirely, and then it ends on a cliffhanger where you have no idea when the next one is coming out because it is in fact a series. I hate that!

  47. One of my biggest pet peeves is when the first book in a series reads like a really long prologue, and not a completed book in its own right. I'm not saying the author should wrap up every loose end introduced in book one, but it should feel like it has some sort of conclusion.

  48. For me it's when the authors tries to prevent people guessing the plot by diverting into total bullshit like "it was the kid killing people all along!".

  49. The Ur Example! Almost anything can suit a story, but it’s hard to imagine a book where I wouldn’t feel cheated to get to the end and have the author go “ha ha! None of it happened after all!” Then why did I read it….

  50. I recently read a thriller where the mystery was solved by a woman stepping up and going, "Oh, [one of the other main characters] raped me when I was younger, so I've been doing all of this to compensate." There was ZERO warning or explanation. I am not a person who thinks you can't ever have rape or sexual assault in books, but this just seemed so incredibly gratuitous and not thought-out.

  51. there is a classic scifi book where the protagonist rapes a woman, and later in the plot she helps him because "you raped me because you were angry, and i want you to get your revenge".

  52. Any ending where the explanation of events is completely lazy. Like, “it was all a dream!” Or “a magician cast a spell and made it happen.”

  53. Books that are open ended and are supposed to be finished in a sequel very soon because the author already wrote the entire series but the sequel still isn’t released 12 years later. Looking at you Patrick Rothfuss.

  54. I once read a book about an autistic woman growing up in the same city I live in. It was a great read, I'm also autistic so lots of recognising there, but also she literally lived a street away from where I lived while reading it so it was a lot of 'I know that shop. I know your route to school. I know that statue you're describing.' Really a great read.

  55. when stories end on a shoe-horned love story is my biggest pet peeve. i see it more in movies (especially action movies). despite following this sub, i don't read as much as i should so i don't have any book examples of this. just really hate when movies do that.

  56. Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City by KJ Parker. Fun, entertaining fantasy read about a man defending his city against invaders. He’s an engineer and comes up with clever solution after clever solution to keep his people alive. Then, at the end,

  57. I feel like sometimes authors feel like they have to put a twist at the end of their book to be original, but it just gives a bad taste to the readers. They just refuse to write happy endings. I have read several times an unecessary death of the main character like you, and it always fustrates me so much !

  58. That’s kinda funny lmao, and isn’t unrealistic to happen in war. But I get it if it doesn’t match the tone of the rest of the book, like in

  59. I hate when I'm at the end of a good read and before the food goes in the oven it says "Chill in fridge for 24h before cooking"

  60. Lmao I've been burned by so many recipes like this. I try to skim before committing to starting the recipe, but somehow always miss the line where it instructs you to let it rest/chill/proof/etc.

  61. The complete obliteration of the character. For instance, you make a character one specific way and then turn them into something completely different in the last five pages. Like, it turns out the best friend that everyone loves that happens to be kind and empathetic and cares for everyone around them turns out to be a pedophile with no further explanation. Just, “You like that guy? Well he’s an asshole. How do you like him now? The end.”

  62. Not a book (but I think it was based on one?) But I watched a show recently (Echoes on Netflix) guilty of the first thing. The major conflict was that one twin wanted to escape the other and be her own person.

  63. Imagine a book where the author lies to you repeatedly. Everytime the story catches a groove and gets good, it's plowed through and the author just goes, "nope, that also didn't happen." You forcibly read through that for about 600 pages and then BAM! The last 30 or so pages are filled with secret society's, timeline assassin's that keep history on track, time librarians with magic powers, and an alternate dimension at war. Just for the main character to go "I shouldn't know all of this", travel back to when he realized it, goes left instead of right and lives in oblivion forever.

  64. i remember reading a manga where the MC spends most of the series trying to find the man that destroyed his life and when he does, he's genuinely changed and felt remorseful for his misdeeds. The MC lets the man go because the man is seeking redemption but the MC has a mental breakdown, blacks out and brutally murders the man because he can't bring himself to let it go.

  65. A break in the promises made by the book. I don't mean a twist like "the protagonist was a villain the whole time" kind of thing, because properly done that is a promise the story did make that you now can pick up on. I mean where it is unsatisfying because you were promised answers to questions or a destination at the end of the journey, and it either sucks or betrays what came before.

  66. I think this is the actual answer. Individual readers can have ending tropes that they hate, and some authors are better at executing their endings than others, but for an ending to be actually, objectively bad it has to break one or more promises that the author made, implicitly or explicitly.

  67. Worst ending is probably writing a great story for nearly 2 decades and then letting some hack writers from a TV show finish it for you.

  68. I think that cliffhanger endings are RUDE, but not a bad thing :) As for the world blowing up, I only like those when the point is hopelessness. But if the world ends and the point isn't to scare people into, "Sometimes, no matter how hard you try..."

  69. The ending where they find a magic artifact that fixes everything. After a huge buildup many crisscrossing plots and complex problems everything is just fixed for no particular reason.

  70. Stephen King is infamous for his many poor endings. Some just left me unsatisfied. Some left me angry, but none of them were quite as unforgivable as the ending of "Under The Dome".

  71. I love the ending of Under The Dome. King has always played with Lovecraftian monsters in his stories and I enjoyed that this book basically had Lovecraftian child monsters.

  72. to the point where the movie adaptation of The Mist changed the ending and Stephen King himself was like 'huh that's a lot better'

  73. I think it was a “his story continues, just not here” kind of endings. I didn’t hate that book, it reminded me a lot of catcher in the rye, but I liked Goldfinch more.

  74. 100% I hated that end. Amazing book. Same with the Secret History. So anticlimactic :( I had all these sick (seemingly obvious) endings in my head and Tartt decided "nah"

  75. I once read a trilogy as a child, and as an adult my sister and I spent literally years trying to remember what it was called. After about seven years, we finally remembered. We bought it. We were so excited.

  76. That time i labored through about nine hundred pages of an Ayn Rand book… and the last page was missing.

  77. When you get to the last 10% of the book and suddenly Egyptian gods are real and you realize that maybe you were reading some sort of religious propaganda the whole time.

  78. the only time i was truly angry about and ending of a book was one i had to read in high school for English. the entire book was about the main character being in an abusive marriage, having kids she didn’t want, just really hating her life and struggling to fit in anywhere. she eventually leaves this life and moves to another state, only for the last couple pages of the book to be that she married another man, had like 7 more kids, and died in basically the same place she was in when the book started. none of the things she learned about herself mattered, it all just felt so pointless to me. i remember actually being mad when we discussed the book in class.

  79. A major pet peeve of mine is when a book takes a long time to set everything up, and things are just starting to get really good, and I’m fully locked in, but there’s like ten pages left and it basically amounts to “then this happened, and then that happened and the end. Bye.”

  80. gotta say the worst ending I ever experienced was learning the third book of the trilogy wasn't out yet :(

  81. I hate sacrifice endings. Oh how noble of your protagonist, so sad. You'll fit quite nicely with my collection of sacrifice glorifying protagonists, I'll sell them 6 for a penny. I feel like authors know a death is tragic and a sacrifice is noble, and so they just want their characters end to be special. A sacrifice can be great but I feel like it has to have thematic weight. So many stories just out of the blue just arbitrarily decide there has to be a sacrifice at the end and it's just so frustrating to read. Hate them.

  82. Also just sucks to see a protagonist develop and grow as a person just to know that they never really get to live as their post-character development self. It often just feels… wasteful somehow

  83. Hot take, but every Sherlock Holmes story I've read hasn't ended with a satisfying wrap up to the whodunnit where all the clues come together in a clever way, that maybe the reader could even figure out if they're savvy enough. No, instead they end with Holmes coming in, announcing he's figured it out, and it's via some clue the reader wasn't told about because it's all from Watson's perspective.

  84. the frustrating thing about Holmes stories is his "investigations" are based on a series of guesses that always turn out to be correct.

  85. And this is why I always liked Christie's Poirot a lot more than Doyle's Holmes. There almost always is a satisfying "come together" of the clues but also of the characters as described in the story, if you are a keen observer you will at least suspect the actual one who did it.

  86. Deus ex machina is one. I get character progression and developing into a powerhouse/chosen hero of prophecy/etc but like, don't make the character so OP. Make the hero actually have to struggle.

  87. The worst ending a book can have is one that is inappropriate or misguided or unearned in contrast with what preceded it. Every book is different. Every books has different goals, so every book has different needs.

  88. An actual ending I read: Penultimate chapter has a cliffhanger where a villain is crawling under the main/last refuge city on a far away planet with a nuclear bomb. If they're in the right spot, it'll destroy humanity's last hope, cripple society, and lead to the collapse of all life.

  89. The really quick happy ending at the end. Juste no. I love Ken Follet so much but he always did this. That women have been tortured, r*ped, stolen from, and mistreated for 500 page you CANNOT cancel all of it and make here an happy ending in 10 page. That not realistic. She deserve way better or nothing.

  90. The ending of “The Queen of the Tearling” trilogy made me so angry I actually threw the book. The series was so good with so much potential and they ruined all of it at the very end in the most maddening way possible 🤬 it’s been like 5 years and I’m still mad!

  91. I feel like this series should have been so much longer. There was so much there to mine for content, the world building was really good.

  92. Tyrion looked up at Jon, "I guess the real song of ice and fire was the friends we made along the way."

  93. There's a really famous series that I won't spoil, but it spent something like 3000 pages setting up a huge confrontation that a new big bad canceled like 80 pages from the end, then the author prefaced the conclusion with "stop reading here, I couldn't come up with a good ending." And the ending looped the story back to the beginning. I wanted to punch the author, but now I'll just settle for complaining about it forever.

  94. I loved the cyclical part (and the series overall) but I threw the book at the wall over how he dealt with

  95. Convoluted plot reveals. The one that ruined it for me was The DaVinci Code. I enjoyed the whole artifact discovery bits. What ruined it was the monologue at the end by the villain who admitted to setting the albino after Langdon in order to kill him and get the Grail and reveal the truth to the world, except Langdon was already on the path to do just that anyway, so Teabing didn't need to go to all the trouble.

  96. A really sharp left turn into another genre. I read a book like 15 years ago or something and it was about a mysterious disease changing adult humans from male to female or female to male seemingly randomly in like the 1800s. Really unique concept, well written, good characters, mysterious cause that they were trying to uncover, some romance and a murder and all that good stuff. Then like 10 pages before the end? Aliens. Aliens were the cause. With spaceships and intergalactic portals and everything. So disappointing. I would have taken infected water supplies or a mad scientist or ANYTHING but freaking aliens.

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