I have a fascination with the ending of things. From ancient civilizations to TV shows things that have ended can be interesting in that they ended. I know that’s confusing and everything eventually ends but some things that end before their time and other things that end mysteriously can be interesting.

Stories without endings always make me wonder what was the ending supposed to be. Even if I find out what the ending was supposed to be it’s not the same as what it would actually have been. The map is not the territory. And the territory is gone so we’ll never really know.

TV shows are easy examples. “Austin Stories” and “Firefly” are two of my favorite shows that only had about a dozen episodes each and then they were cancelled. How and why they were cancelled is a bit of a mystery to me. Sure it has mostly to do with money but it’s the “Mostly” part that is tricky. Lots of bad TV shows have lasted for years and years and they couldn’t have made much more money than these two. So there has to be more to the story and I’ll never know it.

“Firefly” has lived on in a movie, some comic books, a role playing game, and has a pretty strong fan base. I’m sure the story of its cancellation has been or will be told but I usually hear it was because of shortsightedness on the part of TV network executives. That’s really not much of an explanation though. What does it really mean? Some guys in charge didn’t like what the show was doing for them so they cancelled it. That doesn’t really answer the question “Why?” for me. Of course that’s what is interesting about the ending of things. Sometimes the why of things is impossible to know.

“Austin Stories” is a lesser known TV show. It was the first scripted TV show that MTV made back in 1997. No movies, comic books, or RPGs for this show. It just faded into obscurity. It’s one of the funniest and most interesting shows I’ve seen but only a few people agree with me. Of course not many people ever saw it. Why? I don’t know. Another mystery.

Each episode of these shows is special to me since their are so few of them. I’ve always wondered why they couldn’t go on. There is no answer to that question but it inspires thought. All things end but some things have a seemingly natural life spans and others don’t.

Ancient Rome, for example, seemed to live a natural life span. It was around for a while and then it lost it’s empire-ness. That seems normal to me. I am somehow more interested in civilizations that ended before their time. Like the Aztecs did when the Spanish conquered them or even the Eastern Roman Empire (the Byzantine Empire) that lasted a thousand years after Rome fell before it was conquered by the Ottoman Turks. Those civilizations are tinged with loss and “What could have been’s” to me. And I find that interesting.

Ancient civilizations that we know hardly anything about interest me too. The idea that generations of people lived in ways unknown to us is amazing. They were the same as us in that they laughed, cried, loved, fought, ate, drank, and did everything humans have in common but we know virtually nothing about them. Who were they and what did they think about?

People always say, after a loved one dies, that the person will always be alive as long as they remember them. But we all get forgotten in pretty short order. Put a few “Greats” before grandmother or grandfather and we’ve already lost the thread of memory. Let alone after five thousand years pass.

All the TV shows, books, magazine articles, and web sites on ancient civilizations and other things that have ended where the ending is almost always emphasized leads me to believe I am not alone in my fascination. I think it’s all really a human fascination with our own deaths. We have a hard time believing we are going to die and in a hundred years not even be a memory. Each of us it the center of the world so how can the world go on without us? It doesn’t compute. We’re all going to end someday but right now the ending is missing.

Missing endings always make us wonder.