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"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
—Winston Churchill, 1942
Yeah, what he said.
When a writer tells a story, it usually involves some sort of significant change in the universe of the story, some kind of conflict which finds a resolution. After all, if there's no conflict, there's no story! We like reading about evil emperors getting overthrown and seeing their 100-year reign of oppression come to an end; reading about a peaceful nation with a peaceful king and citizens who are smart enough never to get into any trouble would be just as fun as watching paint dry.
But the story has to end somewhere, usually soon after the big climax and resolution. Thus, we are left to imagine how the world and its characters will live on after the story is over. The end of the story is the beginning of a new era.
For some reason, writers just love to point out this fact wherever possible. Expect a lot of them to mention "the beginning" with some sort of heavy significance.
Oh, and to make it even better--by the same token--sometimes the beginning of the story is referred to as "the end". It can get quite confusing.
- The pilot of Red Dwarf said "The End" at the beginning of the episode and "The Beginning" at the end of the episode.
- At the end of Anastasia: "It's a perfect ending!" "No. It's a perfect beginning."
- The final book in the Animorphs series was titled "The Beginning".
- The final chapter of Harry Potter was titled "The Beginning"
- After the Deathly Hallows title was released, the following episode of Muggle Cast was called "The Beginning Of The End". When they got the release date, Andrew states that it was "the end of the beginning of the end".
- The Star Trek Expanded Universe novel Imzadi commences with a page reading "The End," then goes through "The End of the Beginning," "Epilogue," "The Beginning," "The Middle," and finally "The Beginning of the End." This comes of a story with a nonlinear narrative that also involves time travel.
- Star Trek First Contact closes with the first meeting between humanity and the Vulcans, starting a brand new era in human history and marking the beginning of the Trek Verse.
- Alien Nine's final anime episode was literally titled this trope, and it makes sense considering that, despite the series coming to a close, it reveals little pieces of what could be a possible intergalactic conspiracy.
- The first chapter of the first book of The First Law trilogy is titled The End. The final chapter of the last book is titled The Beginning.
- Watchmen: "Nothing ends, Adrian. Nothing ever ends."
- Real Life example: What Churchill is referring to in the above quote is that the worst part of World War II appeared to be over at that point; the threat of invasion of the UK by Germany was over, the United States entered the war full bore and a powerful alliance of those nations with the Soviet Union was established to give the Axis what for.
- Also Real Life: Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernan frequently invoked this phrase motivationally during training for the final moon landing mission, believing that it should not be thought of as the end of the moon program, but just the "end of the beginning" of such exploration. Technicians would frequently tease him about this ("Hey, Geno, I keep forgetting -- is this the end or the beginning?"), and the phrase was humorously inserted (along with variations and subversions) at strategic points into the checklists Cernan would use on the lunar surface.
- The Newspaper Comic Flash Gordon kept going for decades after Ming the Merciless was overthrown, while the characters continued finding new and mostly non-Ming-related adventures to have.
- Jerry Lewis' The Nutty Professor ends, after a fake ending, with the words "the beginning", when Professor Kelp and Stella finally got together.
- "This isn't the end. Another dream is waiting to begin."
- This was how The Last Battle ended.
- Mass Effect: Big Bad Sovereign is just the vanguard of the coming galactic invasion. Shepard, after being hailed as a hero by the powers that be, vows to find a way to stop the invasion and walks off, continuing his/her quest.
- At the end of Princess Tutu, the series narrator states that Fakir is writing "a new story full of hope." (However, the title card shown right after this says "the end".)
- In Resident Evil 2's ending, the main characters exchange this dialog:
Leon: "It's finally over."
- Oliver Stone's JFK, ends with "What is past is prologue."
- The phrase is taken from William Shakespeare's The Tempest, and is engraved on the National Archives building in Washington, DC.
- The final chapter of the third book in the Han Solo Trilogy features Han sitting in a cantina on some backwater planet and worrying about their financial debt to a crime lord. Chewie walks over to his table and tells him that he may have found the solution to their problems in an old man and a kid who need passage to Alderaan. Where most books say "The End," it says "The Beginning."
- The final line of Attack of the Clones is, "Begun, the Clone War has."
- "Shadow thieves" by Anne Ursu, is in four parts" we begin in the middle." " now the beginning" " the end of the beginning" and " the beginning of the end"
- The final panel of Order of the Stick Prequel book On the Origins of PCs simply says, "The Beginning."
- The final song on Forgive Durden's album Razias Shadow is titled, "The End and the Beginning" in this fashion.
- The Gears of War Trilogy has invoked this, They defeated the Locust and the Equally as destructive Lambent Locust. However it's made clear that they are still far off from a happy ending. But for now they have earned their "Tomorrow".
- At the end of Chapter 8 of The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, Scrooge was busy shooing off intruders of White Agony Creek, when his arm suddenly gives way of the weight of a big rock he lifts up.
Scrooge's thoughts: Great honk, this rock is heavy! how could it weigh so much unless...
- The sci-fi B-Movie The Phantom Planet ends with the narrator stating that, as humanity continues to explore the cosmos, they'll discover even more amazing wonders. "This is only the beginning!"
- Subverted in The Reconstruction. By the end of the story, the world is almost completely annihilated and has to be rebuilt practically from scratch -- it is definitely the beginning of a new era. However, it's never actually said anywhere that it's a new beginning -- even the phrase "reconstruction" is never mentioned.
- End of the Beginning is level 1-10 of the Impetus area of Bit.Trip RUNNER, which signals the end of the tutorial levels. This is mirrored by Middle of the Middle and Beginning of the end in Tenacity and Triumph respectively.
- Literally: At the end of the apocalyptic/time-travel sci-fi B-Movie Millennium (not related to the eponymous TV series), a solemn voice-over proclaims: "It is not the end! It is not the beginning of the end! It is the end of the beginning!"
- This is word-for-word the title of the first BF in the C path of Blaze Union.