One thing I’ve liked about anime and manga is the fact that most creators have a simple story to tell, and when the story is over, so are they. There’s no padding, extra fluff, or random arcs that don’t affect anything overall. The story has a beginning, a middle, and an end that is established in the very beginning.
There’s something nice about that kind of finality, like finishing a book not part of a series. You enjoy it for how it is, feel satisfaction upon completion, and move on. Few things are worse than a book series that was supposed to be a trilogy but keeps getting books added on because that money train (yes GRRM, we’re all looking at you) or they story “gets away from the writer”—see One Piece.
I love it even more when video games adhere to this rule. It’s often harder for them, because companies often want to design a game that will produce sequels. But those games that tell their stories and move on to the next thing are special. Undertale. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. Odinsphere Leifthrasir. A Plague Tale: Innocence. What Remains of Edith Finch.
Now I love Gears of War. I’ve bought all of them, even the extra story DLC, and I’ve read the books. I totally understand not wanting to let these characters (and gameplay) go.
However, the series ended perfectly with Gears of War 3. The story of the Locust came to an end at last, Marcus got to reunite with his father (albeit briefly), General Hoffman can finally retire in peace with Bernie, and most importantly to me, Anya and Marcus could finally really be together. The planet was whole again and it could heal. The people could heal. It was such a great way for Marcus’ career to come to a close.
Even though all of the original game creators moved on, including the original developer, the publisher couldn’t let it go. Gears of War 4 released for Xbox One, followed by Gears of War 5, and you know it’s not going to end there. Even if the second trilogy wraps up just as solidly as the first, I doubt the world of Sera will be allowed to rest. The story will continue with JD, Del, and Kait and maybe their kids. I don’t think even Marcus’ death would finish the series.
Then there’s Halo. Halo 4 wrapped up everything for Master Chief’s story. He’s back with the Unified Earth Government and UNSC. The story could have ended there just fine. But no, not only could they not end the story, they couldn’t leave a character dead either.
It’s not just Microsoft products that suffer this either. Final Fantasy XIII was one of my personal worst offenders. The first game ended just fine. There was no need to rewrite the ending just to shoehorn in two sequels no one asked for. It’s as though Square Enix learned nothing from Final Fantasy X-2.
It’s okay for stories to end. It’s okay for characters to die. It’s okay to discover new stories to tell. It’s okay to move on.