The Seven Types of K-drama Endings

Monday, April 14, 2014

While the beginning of a K-drama is a pivotal thing to get the viewers interested, they can be considered easy when compared to the endings. It is the ending that matters most in every story. 

So today, we are going to list the seven different types of K-drama endings - from the bad to the good to the wacko, and everything in between. These are all endings which every fan has probably come across more than once during their long drama-watching career. Some more than others, though. 

But let's get to it!

The Annoyingly Ambiguous Open Ending

So the drama you're watching finally starts to wrap things up and you are excited, ecstatic to know how it all ends. Only...the drama doesn't really wrap anything up. The story ends but it also kinda doesn't, and that annoys the hell out of you. Sure it's nice to have some things left open for interpretation, but not all of it. Because what is the point of watching a drama when you have to come up with its ending yourself?

The worst thing, however, is that you are left with all kinds of questions that won't ever be answered, even if the question is the most basic one: did the couple end up together?

The chances are that you won't find out for sure whether the lovers reunited, simply because the writer didn't feel like explaining that ambiguous camera shot in the end with the main couple staring at each other meaningfully. Of course, you can imagine in your mind that they do get back together in the future if you'd like...but did they? 

The Tragic "Everybody dies!" Ending

This is the worst fear of a K-drama fan - the melodrama you were watching ends with a cruel massacre of its main characters. It's usually either...

...terminal illness...

...the truck of doom...

...or simply murder.

And okay, maybe not everybody dies (though sometimes they do, trust me), but they might as well because if the heart of the show is killed off then you could care less about the other characters living on.  
Perhaps you knew it was a possibility from the start as the lead character was suffering from an incurable disease, or perhaps you had a hunch with all that ominous foreshadowing that was sprinkled throughout the series. But in the worst case scenario, nobody fucking warned you that it was coming! And so you sit there, bawling your eyes out and cursing the writer, vowing never to pick up another melodrama again. 

From now on, you'll only watch romantic comedies.  

The "WTF did I just watch?!!" Ending

Say goodbye to logic because in this kind of ending there is absolutely no explanation for the things that happened. Lord knows what went through the writers head when they wrote that finale.  

Usually WTF endings happen to WTF dramas, so you probably know it's coming. But there are times when a completely normal drama (more or less) suddenly goes mental and delivers a nonsensical ending that no one saw coming. Usually it includes something like a crazy twist with no build up, or a sudden time skip (during which all important plot points happen off-screen), or even something as simple as the leads doing things that are completely uncharacteristic of them. In any case, the ending is so messed up that you're waiting for someone to jump out and yell "Smile! You're on Candid Camera!" But that's just wishful thinking. In reality, you sit there in complete shock and try to come to terms with the fact that what you see... actually happening. 


The Fix-It-All Happy Ending

Yay! You get your happy ending for the drama. In fact, everybody gets a happy ending. The hero does. And the heroine does. And the secondary couple does, too. Oh and that minor character, whose name you never learned, does as well. Heck, even the evil villain redeems itself and lives happily ever after. Add a time skip or two - because time heals everything, duh - and all conflicts are solved, grudges forgotten and relationships mended. To top it off, everybody gets married! Perfect, right?

It is, but that's exactly the problem. Every loose end is tied up real neatly, sure, but you feel disappointed. Sugarcoating isn't what you wanted - this isn't a Disney cartoon, it's a drama. Although you like happy endings, you have to admit, a bit of realism wouldn't be such a bad thing. 

The Rushed "Oh crap! How do I wrap things up within 5 minutes?" Ending

You're watching the final episode of a drama and half-way through you get a strange feeling - how on earth are all these loose ends going to be tied up with so little time left? The answer is, they aren't. But to distract you from that, the writer uses quick fixes like time skips or sudden twists to resolve conflicts, without paying much attention the the internal logic of the story. Things move on speedily with odd and abrupt scene transitions, while minor story-lines are ignored and supporting characters are forgotten because there's simply no time left for them in the finale. 
The ending result is usually reminiscent of a choppily edited montage, where you get the gist of the things happening but you don't really know why those things happened. Or even worse, an actual musical montage just to cover up the fact that the writer had no idea how to wrap up the main plot points.

But at least they tried, right?

The Draggy but Fanservice-y Ending

So the drama gets an extension because of its overwhelming popularity. At first you might be excited because you get to spend more time with the characters you've grown to love. If you really love the drama, you might even have a small celebration because you don't want your show to end, like ever. 
But as you soon find out, the extension causes the drama's ending to drag along at a frustrating speed and, instead of a tightly edited finale, what you get is probably a filler episode where nothing really happens. Was the extension really worth it? Not sure...but sometimes that means lots of fanservice... this...

 ...and this...

...and this.

So maybe it's not that bad after all?

The Perfectly Balanced Ending (that almost never happens)

This is the rarest of them all. The perfect ending that puts you at ease but also adds a sense of realism. You have enough time to say goodbye and send off your favourite characters, making it easier to cope with your drama withdrawal afterwards. But at the same time, the finale doesn't go overboard with fanservice or filler scenes. 

It isn't necessarily all around happy ending, but it's a fitting one that makes sense - and that was actually all that you ever needed. 

Unfortunately though, these endings are as rare as unicorns.  

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  1. Love this post! Totally agree with everything you said. I think the perfectly balanced ending is rare not only because wrapping up is hard, but a good wrap up comes from good dramas. And that itself is hard to find too.

    It does suck though that a great drama makes a final blow with a less than stellar ending. Don't they know that last impression is as important as the first?

    1. True, it is difficult to find a drama that's good from start to finish. And a bad ending can ruin the whole drama, that's just how important that last impression is to us.

  2. Loved this! I especially enjoyed picking out the various dramas based on the screencap. Some I knew, some I didn't, and some I wish I did. (The bride and groom lying in pools of their own blood intrigued me... what special drama served up that as their ending?)

    Totally agree with your final two, successful ending, screen caps. And sadly agree, it is a rare, rare thing. (Makes it extra special awesome when it happens though!)

    1. The bride and groom lying in pools of blood is the from the finale for Tree of Heaven, but the drama doesn't end actually with that scene and there's a bit of stuff going on after that. Though, the drama still ends tragically and can be put under that type of endings.

      Glad to know you agree with my choice of screen caps for the successful ending. I guess we all have our idea of a good ending, but I thought that these two are perhaps the ones that most of us would agree to be well-balanced K-drama endings.

  3. I love your thoughts! I just love your blog! Feel like we've been sharing our impression about them. Btw, what was the last one? Is that Shut Up? I didnt watch it for some reason but i can see it favors you in all my reads here so im thinking of watching it. Thanks :) -sami

    1. Thank you :)

      The very last picture is from School 2013 actually. And yes, the one before that is from Shut Up. I recommend both dramas, if you're in the mood for some good teenage angst.

  4. A very well-written post! I enormously enjoyed it :))) Keep it up!


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