When Endings Are a Good Thing

As you’ve probably heard, Lost has an end date (see articles here, here, and here). There was some back-and-forth about whether Battlestar Galactica would be announcing something similar or continuing as “an open-ended adventure,” but it’s apparently been confirmed that it’s going to end next season.

I find it fascinating that fans would want shows to end, considering how vocal fans are about making sure their favorite shows stay on the air. In the last link above, a statement from the producers of Battlestar notes that “we know our fans will be saddened to know the end is coming,” but I actually doubt that this is the case, for the most part.

TV shows are often made to just continue on as long as they are profitable. While fans have often rallied to prevent their premature cancellation, a really story-driven serial like Battlestar or Lost can get pretty dull when it deviates from actually progressing the narrative. Lost is designed to be a narrative with secrets that get revealed. Having an end makes us feel more like we’re watching a story and less like we’re strung along like customers/dupes. It’s impressive to see shows ending when it’s time for them to end, without (too much) regard for that usual economic model.

I wonder if another reason people want to see these kinds of shows end is that the longer shows like Lost or Battlestar continue, the less people are able to speculate and fill in the blanks (or take it where they like with fan fic, for that matter). Keeping it contained gives people more freedom to work with it, perhaps, though I wonder how able fans will be to expand upon it once it’s all tied up in a bow. The creators of Lost say that you’ll eventually understand why spin-offs and sequels aren’t really an option, so does that preclude fan fic as well?