Happy endings aren’t all that

Screenshot from NBC's Chuck episode "Chuck Versus the Goodbye."
As with most TV show finales, some people loved the ending of Chuck, and some people hated it.

Personally, I love the traditional happy ending. It gives me warm fuzzies when the criminals are dealt with, the best friend is alive, the guy gets the girl (and vice versa) and the show ends on a positive note with them facing life together.

The ending of Chuck is not like this.

I think most viewers who had journeyed with Chuck and Sarah thus far expected them to end up together in the white-picket fenced home that Sarah imagines. They would live happily ever after and have little spy babies.

What happens instead is something that I think is even more beautiful, though it is devastatingly sad.

He is willing to sacrifice everything for the ones he loves

Sarah loses all her memories of her life after meeting Chuck. She doesn’t remember knowing him; she doesn’t remember the battles he fought to capture her heart; she doesn’t remember marrying him; she forgets that he is her best friend.

In the series finale, Chuck has the opportunity to get Sarah’s memories back by using the Intersect glasses. I think we all breathed a sigh of relief at that point. Here it was: the solution that would tie the ending of the show together in a nice, neat little bow. The answer to our favourite couple’s last conundrum.

But then the unthinkable happens. A bomb is about to destroy hundreds of people, and the only way for Chuck to save the day is to use the Intersect glasses on himself. He has to choose: does he bring back Sarah’s memories or save hundreds of lives?

It’s not much of a question for Chuck, though that doesn’t make it any less hard for him to do or diminish his sacrifice. He chooses to use the Intersect glasses on himself and diffuses the bomb.

The day is saved, but there are no downloads left on the glasses, the Intersect is no more, and Sarah is left without her memories.

Every time I see a story emulate this theme of sacrifice, it speaks to me about what is important in my life, about what I put first. Giving up your innermost desire—in effect, sacrificing yourself—for others is the most admirable and loving act I can think of. And Chuck does it without complaint.

Sacrificing yourself for others is the most admirable and loving act I can think of.

If Sarah can’t see what an amazing guy he is just by that single act, regardless of whatever else she remembers, then she needs to have her brain examined.

The show doesn’t end there, though. Morgan persuades Chuck to go find Sarah, and he tracks her down at the beach where they first became friends. There she asks him to tell her their story, and he does. Through her tears and laughter, we see Sarah begin to reconnect with Chuck. We’re also given hope that her memories might come back because of a few tidbits earlier on in the episode. But even if they don’t—and even if their magical ending kiss doesn’t jolt Sarah’s memories back into her brain—if Chuck has demonstrated anything in the past, it’s that he’s willing to fight for her to the very end, and that he is willing to sacrifice everything for the ones he loves.

That, in my books, is a truly meaningful ending.

Allison Barron

Allison Barron

Commander at Geekdom House
Allison is like Galadriel, offering wisdom where needed but turning treacherous as the sea when competitive games are involved. She is the executive editor of Area of Effect magazine, co-host of the Infinity +1 podcast, and staff writer for Christ and Pop Culture. When she’s not writing, designing, or editing, she is often preoccupied in Hyrule, Middle-earth, or a galaxy far, far away.
Allison Barron

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