Stephen King: A case for why the endings to his novels work

Stephen King (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images)
Stephen King (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images) /

Stephen King has some detractors who believe that the endings to his stories are less than ideal. In our opinion, they are very realistic.

We’ve all heard it, we have all joked about the topic. But are the endings to Stephen King’s novels really that horrible? Does it seem like they are abrupt or rushed?

Is it lazy writing? For that answer, why don’t we focus on how a common King tale is composed. Usually, his scary stories are based in the real world with horror originating from an outside source. More often than not, it is supernatural.

Take Salem’s Lot, for instanceThe sleepy town becomes the residence of a vampire who ends up terrorizing its citizens. Now, I won’t spill the beans on how the narrative ends but suffice it to say the characters don’t go riding off into the sunset. Life doesn’t always provide us with peaceful resolutions to every problem we experience.

Reality is muddy, and rarely anything ends well or idealistic. Case in point, a certain percentage of marriages do not end with “happily ever after,” just look at the divorce statistics.

So, why should a horror story? We float on uneven ground every single day, you could die surrounded by family in your home or you could get hit by a truck while you are crossing the street.

Perhaps, the reason why we read horror fiction is to escape the mundaneness of our daily lives. While that is understandable, if every book had a happy ending, that would be boring, in our opinion.

Sometimes, creative ventures are messy and unkempt. Stephen King keeps things grounded with his endings. Not everything is “pie in the sky” in this life.

And while we are at it, life isn’t about endings anyway. It’s about the journey.

The same could be said about a good book. It’s not about how it ends, it’s about the pages in between. When you think that way, it doesn’t matter what the outcome is.

We’ll take aliens dying of leukemia, Jack Torrance exploding in a boiler room accident and Pennywise being kicked to death. Because life doesn’t care if you enjoy the ending or not, and you shouldn’t care how a story ends.

Just be glad you experienced it. Books are very much about that, the ending doesn’t ruin or enhance a story.

King knows this philosophy well and his endings are a reflection of how we should look at life, as a story to be enjoyed between the beginning and the end. Because focusing too hard on what awaits when its over, can ruin the in between.

Next. 25 best Stephen King movies of all time. dark

What are some of your favorite Stephen King endings? Let us know in the comments.