The Sopranos, the crime family drama, is having its 20th anniversary. Some reports state that there may be a sequel in the form of a prequel that begins where the original show ended (in a diner with a jolting, quick fade to black).
It was that ending that inspired other creative types (writers and show runners) to mess with their audience. One of the prime directives of a writer is to tell a compelling and interesting story through characters and their actions. There is a beginning introduction, a middle part of conflict and options for resolution, and a climatic ending to resolve the main plot points of the show. Usually, the ending involves the main character learning a valuable lesson or makes a statement on social commentary. In essence, that is the unwritten entertainment contract between show and its viewers. But the Sopranos ending changed that covenant.
The show just . . . abruptly ended.
It left the world to scratch their heads in disbelief. What just happened? Something was about to happen. What was going to happen?
Then a simmering vent of anger; WTF?
Because viewers spent a lot of time on getting to know the characters, follow the story, "experience" the events shown to them, they felt entitled to a proper ending. That is not to say they are guaranteed a "good" ending.
Viewers fumed because they thought they were "played" by the writers. Or that the writers "copped" out on wrapping up the loose ends of the plot lines so they just decided to leave everyone, including the characters, hanging in limbo.
Hollywood creative types loved the idea of an ambiguous ending. Instead of offending one group of viewers with a creative choice, you can confuse all the viewers with no choice at all.
It gave other shows the license and cover to not wrap up story lines. In a complex, tangential world of LOST, that is how the writers got out of the corner they painted themselves in. Instead of answering the big questions, they punted with a side world reboot to give the main characters a happy ending (or so it seemed). But that made many viewers madder than a hornet. They felt let down, betrayed by a series that they embraced and discussed in minute detail with friends and other fans.
It was like reading a great novel, only to find out that the last chapter is missing.
In today's more fragmented entertainment consumption model (on demand, binge watching), shows probably cannot get away with this type of shocking ending.