This is a transcript for the video “THE END: In Praise of Credits.” Click above to watch the video.
Endings are special. Endings are those final, fleeting moments before a chapter of our lives closes forever. They’re a small window where we acknowledge that a time has passed and will never return.
In stories, it’s often endings that are the most unforgettable. Endings can be heartbreaking. They can be horrifying. They can be hilarious. They can be chilling. They can be triumphant. They can be melancholy. They can be cathartic. They can create a flash of insight. Or offer a moment of solace.
Endings are a goodbye. They’re a goodbye to the short emotional experience of a story. And occasionally, they’re much more. They can be a goodbye to who we were.
This happens most often when a series you’ve watched for years ends. We say goodbye to not just a show and its characters and its creators, but to an era of our lives as well.
And after these stories end, the screen goes black, the music rises, and the credits roll. And we are left alone. Even when we’re with others, the closing credits are a private moment where we can contemplate and absorb an experience.
Closing credits can be a brief meditation, where you can ponder a mystery, where you can mourn, where you can stare into the existential void, where you can just appreciate how a story has enriched your understanding of life. Closing credits allow us to reflect. You can grow a little bit in these moments while the credits scroll past and the music plays.
These moments don't happen often. Plenty of the time, once the credits roll, you just wanna watch something else. But Netflix in particular seems over-eager for you to queue up the next thing. The closing credits are often reduced to a tiny picture-in-picture while a full screen promo runs. Other times, the next episode of a show will autoplay in five seconds.
Again, very often, this is fine. You do just want the next episode of Making a Murderer.
But in those rare and special moments when it’s not fine, it feels crass and invasive when somebody's software won't just leave you alone. In our increasingly fast and noisy culture, closing credits offer a brief respite.
There's one ending in our lives for which there is no autoplay next. This is the final fade to black. And we all go back to where we came from.
This happens to us all once. But only once.
The rest of the time endings are something more. Ending are also beginnings. They’re beginnings that are imbued with new wisdom and new empathy. We start new chapters of our lives where we might be kinder, be braver, be better. Where we take time to appreciate being here, on the very best world of all for one more day.