I’ve been thinking about depressing stories. The Man and I have finished season 4 of Doctor Who, and for me, it was heart-breaking all over again. After already having to watch The Doctor say goodbye to all of his companions in “Journey’s End,” Russell T. Davies and David Tennant combine their talents in “The End of Time” to produce a Tenth Doctor finale that just rips me up. I actually carried it around with me for a few days like a little chest-weight. It felt like loss.
Sometimes stories are like that, and I don’t feel like I’m alone in that sentiment. Sometimes they just affect you that deeply – they haunt you. I certainly can think of a handful beyond Tennant’s end on Who:’
- Book six of Harry Potter
- The movie version of Return of the King
- Ptolemy’s Gate
- Avatar: The Last Airbender
- Battlestar: Galactica
Some of these don’t even necessarily have sad endings. Avatar‘s ending is quite happy. But part of me finds them depressing because they’re an end (or they at least contain a big ending). In some fashion, when those stories above are over, they’re just over, and I have to let go. Every time I reread or rewatch, I have to let go all over again, and I desperately don’t want to because I loved those characters or that world or all of it and I don’t want to leave them. It’s bittersweet to start those stories over again because I dread the end. There will always be that grief when I turn the last page or the screen goes black.
The Man says that he felt this way about Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. I can’t attest to that just yet as I haven’t read it (I know, I know – don’t throw things. It’s rude.), but I wonder if I will react the same why. It actually makes me hesitant to jump in and find out.
I feel like this is why it’s hard for a book to hit 5 stars for me when I review them. Because this is my measure: Does the ending, even a happy ending, depress me? Does closing the cover feel like loss?
I’m not sure that even my own stories hit that mark, but it’s what I aim for and what I hope to someday accomplish. I aim to depress someone. Sounds rather terrible, I suppose, but I don’t think I’m the only writer out there who strives for this. Because there’s something lovely in the haunting, something to be praised.
You created a world and/or characters that someone connected with so much that they grieve to leave it.
Damn. That would be amazing.
What stories haunt you even after they end?