Harry Potter and the Art of the Epilogue
I still haven’t seen Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Deux yet, but I hear the epilogue is poorly handled. I was sort of agnostic about it in the book. Epilogues are hard. Probably Lord of the Rings has my favorite epilogue of all time, and the film totally botched it, too.
Another good epilogue from more recent times: The Hunger Games trilogy. I thought the epilogue in the third book was pretty much pitch-perfect. The Magicians is another book with a prologue some loved and others hated, but I liked it.
Still, I prefer books without epilogues. I like some uncertainty. I like the protagonist in The Giver stumbling through the snowy dark toward lights that may or may not be real. I don’t want to know what actually happened.
Then again, some stories can leave us wondering. Others can’t. Harry Potter probably could have ended in the present rather than the future. There was no need for an epilogue. It would have been stronger, I suspect, if the threads were not all tied up quite so nicely, or if the characters had deeper scars.