Good Dramas deserve Good Endings.

by | Apr 14, 2014 | All

It’s fair to say the standard in TV drama has been well and truly raised in the last few years. Dramas like Broadchurch, Line of Duty, The Fall and law drama Silk have helped to make British drama become the talking point it should be. When Broadchurch launched in 2013 the whole country appeared gripped by the engrossing whodunnit. Polls sprang up here, there and everywhere and everyone had their own theory

as to who had killed Danny Latimer. By the time the eighth episode rolled round, twitter was near exploding as we waited for the ‘closure’ that the cleverly produced ITV advertising had promised us. Sadly though,

the final episode of Broadchurch left a lot feeling deflated.. Sadly though, the final episode of Broadchurch left a lot feeling deflated. What had started so promisingly, and gathered such momentum over the course of the series appeared to very abruptly run out of steam. In a way the ending was ruined because of the amount of polls and theories doing the rounds. Someone was bound to be right. What really disappointed me though was the announcement of a second series during the end credits. You can’t blame ITV for wanting more of a series that has been their most successful in years, but in  a way it felt like we weren’t given the closure we were promised.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking Broadchurch at all. It is completely deserving of all the praise, awards and attention it has received but I think it raises an important issue: the importance of giving the audience a satisfying conclusion. When an audience has been loyal and really honed in on a series they long for a satisfying ending.  If you’ve spent six weeks engrossed in a whodunnit and don’t find out by the end who the killer was or why they committed the murder then it sort of makes the previous five weeks a waste of time.  A good recent example of this was BBC2’s surprising hit The Fall. This was another series that gained quick popularity but again the team played a cruel trick as Jamie Dornan’s serial killer was seen running away in the closing moments as the words ‘to be continued’ sprawled across the screen. This was less frustrating than Broadchurch because the BBC made the decision to announce the intention of a second series before the first had finished, but still loyal viewers well left feeling let down as they realised they were now going to wait another year to see Paul Spector caught. The ending to dramas like these are crucial. The more drama I watch the more I realise that the ending can truly make or break an entire series. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve said, “the series was great but the ending was terrible.” A bad ending has the ability to sour the strong emotions you feel about a series.

The most recent series of BBC2’s masterpiece Line of Duty was not only the best drama this year, but quite possibly the best in recent memory. It was full of twists and turns, powerful performances and a script that oozed believability and style.  But, yet again viewers were left frustrated by the final instalment. In fact in most cases they were left confused by the ending. I have a confession. Sitting here right now, I must be the only TV critic to not have seen the final episode. I’ve been ill and that final episode is buried in a mountain of programmes on my poor overworked Sky+ box. I can’t comment on the episode at all but leaving your audience confused is never a good thing. Line of Duty has never made life easy for fans and that’s why we love it, but again if you’re going to expect people to invest time with drama and spend time with your characters they deserve to be able to walk away from the series with a clear understanding of the point of it. I am beyond thrilled that it has recently been announced that we’re getting two more series of Line of Duty. It’s brilliant news as I think it’s one of the most exciting series on TV and I have faith that writer Jed Mercurio will deliver.

Whether you agree or disagree on the importance of a satisfying ending it does seem to be a worrying trend at the moment that viewers are left feeling let down. When writer Peter Moffat announced he was bringing his popular law drama Silk to an end I was disappointed. When I saw the final episode was well and truly disappointed. The characters we had grown so fond of over the course of the three series weren’t given any sort of send off. It felt as if Peter had written the final episode, shot it, sent to the BBC and then decided he didn’t want to write anymore. I’ve used the word frustrating more times than I should but that’s exactly what it was.

I don’t want anyone reading this to think I’m moaning about these brilliant programmes. I have contributed nothing to the world of British TV drama, and I’m not for a spilt second saying that I could’ve written  better endings or anything like that, I just believe it’s important for writers new and old not to underestimate the importance of the final act.

What have been your favourite TV drama endings? Get in touch and let me know.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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