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What is the meaning of Season Finale ?

Poulami SenguptaPoulami-Updated Dec 20, 2020



 

“Brace yourselves for the season finale.”…(2012)

“This is the season finale…pulls out all stops”…(2007)

 

We are more or less familiar with these sorts of promotional terms and phrases. But did we ever looked deeply into the phrase "season finale"? Well, here, there will be a comprehensive discussion regarding this phrase.


From the literary perspective, the phrase "season finale" is used promotionally or in the context of an advertisement. It denotes the last and final episode of any season of a television series or program, generally belonging to the drama or comedy genre or even a musical piece, especially when it is impressive, interesting, and exciting.


To keep the audiences' interest intact and growing, this sort of episodes are shot and produced quite a few months before the telecast. It keeps attracting the viewers to keep the season watching in its entirety. 


Any season final might contain some cliffhanger ending that remains to be resolved in the season that follows. Or in other circumstances, a season finale might remain open-ended with storylines that might carry multiple types of plausible solutions, depending on the perspective and take of every individual viewer. Such open-ended storylines also maintain a similar kind of interest for the eventual return of the series in the next season that is supposed to follow.

 

Top Season Finale based on IMDb rating

 

Series Name

Season 

Episode Name

Episode Number

IMDb

Breaking Bad

5

Felina

16

9.9

chernobyl

1

Vichnaya Pamyat

5

9.9

Game of thrones

6

The Winds of Winter

10

9.9

the office

9

Finale

24-25

9.8

Avatar: The Last Airbender 

3

Sozin’s Comet, Part 4: Avatar Aang

18-21

9.8

Person of Interest 

3

Return 0

15

9.8

The Americans 

6

Start

10

9.8

Hannibal 

3

The Wrath of the Lamb

13

9.8

Lucifer

3

A Devil of My Word

24

9.8

Dexter

4

The Gateway

12

9.8


 

During the late 2000s, the terms like "fall finale," "mid-season finale," "winter finale" were gradually popularising because of some of the new broadcast networks and cable operators of the United States. With these terms, it became easier to denote the distinction between any series whose running season has been divided into segments for making room for a mid-season replacement series.

 

Under these circumstances, the following first-run episode of the currently running season conveniently picks up a few months later than the previously first-run episode was aired. 


The "season finale" denotes the conclusion with the promise of an epic storyline waiting ahead. It is about covering the ground for the following season and beyond. It is the climactic ending that necessarily binds up all the plausible loose ends as dramatically as possible. It can be the climactic end of any ongoing story arc, an entirely new storyline, but, nonetheless, most dramatically represented.

 

There may come the death of the principal protagonist, the return of one or more villains from the preceding season or seasons, and concretise the ground for the season to follow. Cliffhanger style endings are quite popular in these contexts. The season finale is targeted to draw a large number of audiences.

 

Although, not universal under any context, this is still a very common practice. The mid-season finale or the winter finales are a more recent phenomenon, where the broadcasting authorities hype the season finale before the mid-season hiatus, in a similar fashion. But, of course, when any season is ending for good, then, of course, all the strings are pulled together to put a stop in entirety.

 


Some of the specific varieties of the season finale include

  • "What Now?" Ending style 
  • Series Fauxnale
  • Cliffhanger 
  • Denouement Episode

 

 

Cliffhanger and "What Now?" Endings


Sometimes the series makers and producers want their audiences to wonder about "What Happens Next?", "How will the season end?". Cliffhanger style endings are one way to answer such questions and clear doubts. But, one season which is already cliffhanger-laden, standing up for another cliffhanger might be too big a stake to the popularity of the series.

 

The cliffhangers are a cyclic trope, and it might seem repetitive. So, this where the "What Now" style endings take over.


Instead of letting the protagonists die or removing the risk of their mortal danger, these sorts of endings leave them in great agonising pain, shattered.


One of the other major highlights of these types of endings is that it allows three months to a year to pass in a swish between two new episodes in a "series" time too, depending on the storyline and the plot designed by the creator. 


Moreover, a "What Now?" even acts as a form of insurance against real-life based accounts; the actors who become unavailable are generally handled by letting something happen to that particular character like leaving the country or returning with a new actor playing the same character informing the audiences regarding any sort of cosmetic surgery that the character might have undergone and the likes. It opens a new avenue for another parallel storyline too. All these incidents happen during the time skip of the storyline.

 

Series Fauxnale


A "Series Fauxnale" is considered to be an instalment of any work that was originally planned to serve as the conclusion to a particular series but ultimately becomes another continuing factor to the running storyline. 


It may so happen that the creators remain unsure regarding the evolution of the character's future. For the sake of the continuity of the series, they might just simply produce something that will temporarily tie up loose ends in a hurry.

 

But, if they get the signal that they can further continue with the storyline because of the public demand and immense popularity, they had to change the planned finale land somewhere in between the run. Irrespective of the reasons, a series finale was originally planned and created. Still, the series had to continue even after that. Therefore, this planned finale lands up becoming a fake ending.

 

List of series Fauxnale

  • Attack on Titan

  • Cyborg 009

  • Dragon Ball

  • Durarara!!

  • Fist of the North Star

 

Cliffhanger


One of the most popular kinds of series finale designs, the Cliffhanger endings put an end to an act break, any particular episode or even an entire series with either some or all the principal characters trapped in some kind of crisis, the audiences are made to wait for the outcome.

 

The famous "to be continued" caption is often used in this context. Although the danger of the crisis may not be as serious as it may seem, but never the less, it is a widely popular tactic used to keep the audiences hooked and increase the TRP of the program. 


A Cliffhanger ending might also bring out some kind of surprising and extraordinary revelations. Some of the characters might be literally left hanging from the edge of the cliff, revealing in the following episode, how he/she escaped the situation. Most of the film serials are popular for these kinds of endings.


But this sort of ending bears the flaw. If the series gets cancelled due to some unforeseen reasons, then the issue remains unresolved. This is, by far, considered to be the worst thing that a producer can do to his/her/their viewers and audiences. It leaves their own work incomplete, and an unfinished creation cannot gain audiences appeal and favour. 


The stories need not end with simply one cliffhanger in the series. There can be one for every storyline that runs in the plot, to make it more appealing for the audiences. But as the saying goes "too many cooks spoil the broth". Too much of nothing will enhance the flavour and essence of anything. 


But, a lot of interest depends upon the execution of such scenes. Suppose any cliffhanger plot is too deliberately vague. In that case, it becomes too light for the audiences to hold their suspense and interest until the following episode or season. This is termed as a Cliffhanger Copout. This happens when the creator creates a mess out of his/her own creation, disrupting the continuity of the events for the sake of resolving any cliffhanger or simply refuses to reveal any fact, that might have been previously promised. 

 

List of 5 cliffhangers finale

  • The Sopranos (HBO)
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (FOX)
  • Twin Peaks (ABC)
  • Moesha (UPN)
  • Angel (WB)

 

Denouement Endings


This happens when all the principal characters have resolved the crises and have saved and have been saved, letting the plot reach the end of the story arc. Despite everything, there still remain some loose ends that may not need immediate attention. Still, nonetheless, they remain present to be taken care of in the following episode. 


A Denouement episode takes place when the final episode is not the actual conclusion of the story arc, that was handled just in the previous episode. But, rather a denouement is a calmer version of the ending of the top storyline with exceptional emotionality and excitement, covering all the lingering doubts and answering all the previously unanswered questions. 


Viewing from the perspective of the season fluidity, this trope obviously does not qualify for the episodic works which do not possess any individual storyline to discuss. A successful myth arc needs this trope to tie up all the loose in finality after the revelation of the events of the major plot structure. 

 

List of 5 denouement Ending

  • One flew over the Cuckoo's Ending

  • Darth Vader's Return- Return of the Jedi

  • A Streetcar Named Desire

  • La La Land

  • The Departed

 


 An ending or a season finale needs to be well-planned and well-executed for the desired effect upon the audiences. As the saying goes "Alls weel that ends well" must be kept in mind while planning the execution of the climax of any series, marking the ending