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Chris: Why do we do this to ourselves? Everyone’s in a good mood, Wreck-It Ralph is amazing and Halo 4 is amazing and the Wii U is right around the corner, and yet here comes the No Right Answer team to bring everyone down with some super depressing series finales. I sat out this debate because I didn’t feel strongly either way with the two choices Dan and Kyle picked, and my choice didn’t feel right to get matched with what they’d bring up. Why? Because the most depressing end to a series is Dragon Ball Z.

While I would have loved to see a debate somehow argue Roseanne against DBZ, I figured I’ve said enough about the adventures of Goku and the Z Fighters, so I let the others slug it out with morose points and melancholy rebuttals. Except now, I have no choice but discuss depressing endings, so what better time than now to yet again go on and on about why DBZ has disappointed me so much over the years.

In the briefest summary, Dragon Ball Z ends with the saddest of whimpers. A lot of fans will just say it ended right after Kid Buu was defeated and all of existence has been saved, but it doesn’t. Not really. There are 5 episodes past that, and three of those take place 10 years in the future where we learn the saddest truth of all: Goku is an asshole.

Yes, the guy we’ve been following for two whole series and nearly 500 episodes is revealed to be a bad friend to those who hold him most dear since he never bothers to make time to see them, a bad father since he hardly takes a notice in anything his kids do unless it revolves around his one hobby of training, and a bad husband as he picks up and just leaves his wife to go spend an indefinite amount of time training some stranger he just met, which Dragon Ball GT later shows us was entirely a waste of time. It was like our childhood pets came back to life and then instantly ran away from home.

What makes matters worse is that the series had just wrapped up the final ante-up it could possibly muster. The power-creep had gotten ridiculous and there was literally nowhere left to take the series, but instead of a nice little sendoff, we got a slow, stupid, filler plot to end things on, almost as bad as Dragon Ball‘s end with Goku and Chi Chi trying to put out a fire so that they can get married. Whether this was Akira Toriyama just giving up or he really doesn’t know how to end things, the greatest action cartoon of all time couldn’t have ended in a more pathetic way.

But enough about that. Let’s talk Swat Kats. Why haven’t we seen a badass reboot of the series yet? It was freaking cats in a fighter jet that they built out of parts from a junkyard. It had a motorcycle inside it that had missiles and crap that’d make Batman’s head spin. One of the two cats, Razor, was voiced by the same guy who voiced Donatello on the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series. And those theme songs! How the hell aren’t you pumped after hearing those?!

So there, we start depressed, get sadder, and then finally talk about Swat Kats, thus doing what our article last week failed to do. As with everything, I blame global warming and Dan. Come to think of it, have you ever seen global warming and Dan in the same room? Ooh, think about that for a while.

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Kyle: Okay, clearly everyone seems to have a soft spot for mewling dino-infants and the Code of the Wilderness. That’s cool. I guess I was one of seven people who watched Roseanne.

The ending is still more depressing. When you look at the abstract of the series in total, Dinosaurs had that ending coming from a long ways away. Their episodes bit hard with social commentary, so the whole society-kills-itself-with-stupidity-and-nukes thing fit the situation. Plus the very first episode alluded to their inevitable ending.

In that first episode, Earl is telling the Baby about how he was born. But the ending lines were about why Dinosaurs rule the earth. Cut to some cavemen screwing around, looking like dunces, and Earl says, “And we’re going to rule it forever.”

Well, we all know how that turns out. Even children understand the joke there. The ending is the logically dark joke’s punch-line. Essentially, I say to Dinosaurs what I usually say to dinosaurs when I see them: Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal.

As far as depressing goes, I would much rather see the Sinclairs come to their chronological time than see the Conners wallow in lower-lower-lower middle class struggle. The Sinclairs got to live the good life, then it was over. Said and done. Meanwhile the Conners never got a break, and boy did they try harder. The motorcycle shop, the loose-meat restaurant, the kids going to college … and all for a lousy “Nope, keep trying. The end…?”

Besides, look at the families:

The Sinclairs are comprised of a selfish oaf father who abandons his family in episode one, a sociopathic materialistic daughter, a holier-than-thou mother who loves to take the moral high ground when it’s convenient, a diabolical grandmother who poisons the minds of children, a naive nincompoop son with zero aspirations, and that irritating, vicious little antichrist of a baby who was one skateboard away from Poochie status.

The Conners were made up of an admittedly nerve-grating mother (who is so self-aware that her uncouth demeanor is the rallying point of the show) who tries her best despite adversity, an older daughter who manages to find love and stability with lots of responsibility heaped on her shoulders, a younger daughter with a twisted view of the world who can find the funny of any bad situation, a mischievous scamp son, and the man.

I’ll be honest, I’ve got a platonic crush on Dan Conner. John Goodman was my fantasy father.

So, the swift death of a clan of dicks or the Willie Loman-esque plight of a family of good folks? In the case of the Sinclairs, I quote Stephen King: No great loss.

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Dan: A few people hopped onto Netflix and corrected, or rather elaborated on my account of the final lines in Dinosaurs. I think the reason I only remembered the line prior to the TV anchor signing off was because, as a child, I was literally stunned by the line that came first. Generally I historically shy away from depressing entertainment, the only “sad” movie I own is Bubba Ho-Tep. Don’t get me started on how sad yet cathartic that movie is. Point is, I want to thank the fans for twisting the knife even further on the ending to a series that I loved. Thanks. Really. No I’m not crying, just got something in my eye.

On to points, and why Dinosaurs won. First point went to Kyle for laying out the ending of Roseanne in such a way that made me seriously consider spending my life savings trying to arrange a hug with John Goodman. The ending of Roseanne wasn’t just a low blow, it was a full-on boxing round where the ref looked away while the viewer got their groin worked over. It was one terrible twist after another, after a season of good news. If you’re going to have a season of wrapping things up in a nice bow, it sure is rough to wait till the last few moments to kill John Goodman. There’s no analogy for that, it’s just that rough.

Second point was nabbed by yours truly. Regardless of the TV anchor actually getting the final word in the episode, the fact remains that the final episode of a family sitcom shows all the characters dying. Any character that ever popped up on the show was turned into fuel for your car and birds depending on what science you believe in. Roseanne may have said that her life was not as rosy as we thought, but at least her entire species wasn’t killed. Maybe Roseanne would have won this point if it turned out that John Goodman survived his heart attack and then released the T virus on all mankind.

Kyle had to get the next point due to the timing of the groin kick that is Roseanne‘s ending. This was a series that was dependable and well worn, like an old Ford truck that’s been in the family for years. Sure it’s missing some of the cushier features that newer models have, but there was an honest blue-collar vibe to the show that couldn’t be denied. When things started to get good for the family in the final season, no one thought it would be ret-conned, especially when you were 99% through the final episode and the coast looked clear. To make people think the family would be ok past the point of no return, and then shove a horrible ending down their throat with no time to swallow let alone chew it? Horrible.

I got the next point due to environmental depression. Yes, that’s right, the ending of Dinosaurs was not only sad because everyone you knew died. It was not only sad because they died due to their own short-sightedness. It was sad because, as with all sitcoms, the messages are meant to be applied to the viewer’s life. The dinosaurs tried to put progress and ignorance towards consequences in front of common sense, and they all died. Message from that is … us too. Any good “What if” in fiction is meant to act as a warning if the resolution is bad, and a goal if the ending is good. Roseanne may have reminded us that life isn’t as nice as we would have liked, but Dinosaurs warned us that life is going to end if we’re not careful. All of it.

That only tied the points, so how did I win? Frozen baby death. I’ll type it again, just to let it sink in. Frozen baby death.

Oh, guess what? Frozen baby death is depressing, that’s what.

Daniel Epstein
Father, filmmaker, and writer. Once he won an Emmy, but it wasn't for being a father or writing.

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