Choose Your Own Finale

retail final

Retail closes its doors tomorrow. I suppose it’s possible that tomorrow’s strip will give us a Calvin/Far Side-level perfect finale, but…

This weekend’s question: How would you end an existing strip? Somebody (Doug Bratton?) drew a “final B.C. strip” in which Jesus is born. Fifty years ago, Mad published a “final Beetle Bailey strip” in which he finally took off his cap and we saw “Get out of Viet Nam” written on his forehead.

I imagine Funky Winkerbean will end with a truck carrying toxic waste exploding, and the entire population of Westview suffering long, painful deaths.

Arlo and Janis retire from whatever the hell they do and move to the shore to be with the kids just in time for Mary Lou to give birth to a baby boy.  Or… Arlo runs off with Lois. It can go either way.

Well, you’re in charge: give our comic strip friends the endings they deserve.



  1. Not a comic strip or a TV show, but BBC Radio 4’s long-running farming-based soap The Archers (since January 1951, 19,000+ episodes), originally “an everyday story of country folk” and now, “a contemporary drama in a rural setting”, was spoofily ended by the fellow Radio 4 I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue crew with the line ” ‘Ere, since when have they been crop-dusting with B-52s?”

  2. “The Phantom”: A logical endpoint would be the current Phantom, by death or retirement, giving way to the next Phantom. Given that Kit Walker and Diana have been around since the 1930s, not sure that’s going to happen. At present Kit Junior is off training in the far East, and daughter Heloise is showing action hero tendencies. Some years ago Heloise daydreamed of becoming the next Phantom, but realized a buxom woman in the costume would mess up the whole immortal gag (a little fan service art appeared here). Still, it’s fun to imagine a continuity where the Ghost Who Walks A Little Differently Lately has to persuade the Bandars it’s the same Phantom.

    “Pearls Before Swine”: Rat and Pig fall into a trap the crocs dug for Zebra. Pastis helps them out, but ends up in the trap himself. At the wake, the crocs eulogize his deliciousness, Pig says something nice, and Rat breaks down when obliged to read a convoluted final pun.

    “Prince Valiant”: The legendary fall of Camelot was hinted at in the early years of the strip, but at some point Foster abandoned that and we now have Arthur and Guinevere as an old couple with Lancelot rarely if ever mentioned. A running thread has been a witch’s curse that Val would know happiness and grief, but never contentment. A graceful end would be an elderly Valiant, looking back over a lifetime and dying peacefully, content at last.

    “Little Orphan Annie”: Finally 18, Annie is packed off to college. When we last see her, she’s frozen between the sign-up tables for the Ayn Rand sorority and the Social Justice Warrior house.

    “Mallard Fillmore”: Mallard comes out of the closet on a Monday.He loses every one of his fans by the time it ends on Saturday.

    “Dennis the Menace”: Flash forward to adult Dennis in therapy. His psychologist tells him he feels guilty about his parents’ divorce because he IS guilty. As for his wife Gina having an affair with Margaret, Dennis shouldn’t have relied on those paperbacks he found in Mr. Wilson’s garage. Dennis comes home to find Dennis Junior saying something cute while hacking a government website.

    “Dilbert”: Another takeover/merger, but this time everybody gets fired for keeps. Dogbert establishes a rural sanctuary for the unemployable old engineers and hires Catbert to run it.

    “Judge Parker”: At the height of ugly revelations brought out by his mayoral campaign, Parker declares his loyalty to Trump and is invited to Washington to replace Barr.

  3. In Dick Tracy, it is revealed that there is a single criminal mastermind responsible for recruiting every criminal Tracy has ever dealt with. And that criminal mastermind is…Dick Tracy.

  4. Charlie Brown comes running up to kick the football. Lucy … pulls it away. Charlie flies into the air, turning into a whirl of swooshing lines, flying shoes and helmet. In the final panels, he lands with a “whump” and, as the dust clears, we see that he is now a wrinkled old man, near death, and he has landed next to Snoopy’s gravestone. Suck on that, Watterson.

  5. beckoningchasm, I like your Prisoner homage, but I’d rathrt it be Tess: Dick only THOUGHT they’d reconciled.

  6. In Pearls Before Swine, the crocs eat all the other characters, but they’ve eaten too much, burst, and die. There’s some terrible pun involved in all that.

  7. I noticed that about Baldo. I’m not sure if there’s a blood relationship between Sergio and Carmen, of if she’s related to his deceased wife.

  8. For the best comic strip finale, I would like to reiterate my nomination for “Bloom County“, especially the “mashup” incidents in which the characters look for work in other strips. Don’t expect every strip to be a perfect winner, but the overall effect was very, very good.

  9. “the Ghost Who Walks A Little Differently Lately.” I like it.

    I always thought the strip would/should end with Heloise taking over, and the “immortal Phantom” myth being abandoned.

  10. If a dollar store has taken over Grumbels’s space (per today’s finale), that’s one bigass dollar store. And it also negates any point the story might have had because in the end, it’s just one brick-and-mortar store replacing another.

    With online merchandising taking over, Grumbles would probably remain empty and probably take down the rest of the mall with it.

  11. The Dollar Store might not be taking over the entire space. Malls always try to look like they are as full as possible.

    Some brick and mortar stores are trying to shrink their footprints in space. The Kohl’s nearest me carved off a bunch of their ground floor, and an Aldi (grocery store) is in there now.

  12. The Retail end works for me, even though it’s not precisely real life: Yes, it’s big for a dollar store and there’s usually a gap with “Space Available” signs or a festive temporary wall put up by the mall, but it gets across that it’s not just the chain but a whole kind of store going away. Anyway, since the clearance sale hadn’t begun on Saturday, it’s implied some time has past.

    Also, points for rejecting sentiment entirely. Marla tries to do by right by her employees, the one guy tells his wife she can write her novel while he works, and Lunker is a mensch. But the last daily — and the last appearance of any of the characters — is Marla’s simple and angry FU to her jerk of a boss — no Mary Tyler Moore group hugs, or even a touch of comic comeuppance. Just … FU. Pretty nervy for what was usually a light workplace comedy.

  13. Brian, I’d say that’s as definitive an answer as we could ever hope to see.

    I think so. It’s possible that if Carmen was his wife’s aunt, then she might have considered him to be a nephew as well, but I think the preponderance of the evidence is that it was his actual aunt that he called on for help.

  14. Even if Carmen was his wife’s aunt, and considered him to be a nephew as well — I had this relationship with one of my wife’s aunts — she wouldn’t have referred to Rosa as the woman her nephew married.

  15. And the announcement sign is for “Dollar Admiral” which must be meant as a variant on real-life “Dollar General” based on mistaking it as a military rank.

  16. A couple of years ago I spotted Dollar Loans. I thought “that must be for people SERIOUSLY strapped for cash.”

  17. @ Mitch4 – Thanks for explaining “Dollar Admiral” – that was a puzzler for me.
    P.S. Would you have liked it better if he had named the new store “Dollar Specific” ?

  18. Further confusing things is that Dollar General (and their major competitor Family Dollar) is not really a true “dollar store” where everything or even most things cost $1. It is a small-format discount store, basically a miniature Walmart, a remarkably successful successor to the Woolworths and the Ben Franklins and the Western Autos that Walmart was once decried for running out of business decades ago.

    These types of stores thrive in areas with limited access to larger retailers, largely rural areas with small populations and urban areas with low incomes and little wealth. They do not typically locate in expensive mall spaces, as even struggling and dying malls are rarely in areas with low populations or limited access to other retailers.

  19. @ billytheskink – He could have used the more venerable term “Five & Dime“, but that’s so dated that nobody but the geezers would have understood it.

  20. I like ending to shows/strips that resolve any long standing matters – couple finally gets together or couple has baby they have wanted, finally got a job or an award that was wanted or such – but otherwise the end is just another day in their lives. They will going on living their lives as they have – just beyond our view so we can no longer see them.

    Probably goes along with my living at home until we married, my not wanting to move out of state or out of our house now that we are retired, etc.

  21. comicskingdom and seattlepi have both 86’d their Retail pages already, so I can’t find any place to see the final strip! Anyone got a link?

  22. @ Powers – The problem with the Seattle PI page is that they merely point to the image via the King Features site, which has (as you said) unceremoniously dumped the comic, just three days after the final strip. This seems incredibly insensitive, and it makes me wonder whether it really was Feuti who decided to terminate the strip. (It also gave me one more reason to really dislike King Features.)
    However, if you do a Google Image search for “Retail comic February 23, 2020”, you should be able to see the final strip as stored in Google’s image cache (none of the links in the search result work, which is why I cannot post the URL here).

  23. mitch4: BTW, I assume that treating “General” as meaning a military rank, and then transforming “General” to “Adminral” was a joke by the cartoonist, rather than a mistake.

  24. Winter, yes I agree. And I realized belatedly that my attempt to convey that compactly left it open where “mistakenly” was meant to apply.

  25. Kilby: “It also gave me one more reason to really dislike King Features”

    Who has time to count that high?

  26. I had figured that it would be pulled immediately after the last day of posting ended – and said my goodbyes to the others on the Saturday, next to last day, strip page.

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