Okay, a quick addendum to the recent post on endings: I thought of one I like, and which might actually be my favorite ending of anything ever. It's the ending of a movie: Broken Flowers, the 2005 Jim Jarmusch flick starring Bill Murray. I'm going to describe it now, so if you haven't seen this movie but plan to, proceed with caution.
Bill Murray plays an aging lothario who gets an anonymous letter from a former lover, telling him they have a son together, and the son might be coming to see him. So, to prepare, Murray's character, Don Johnston, goes on a road trip, visiting all his old lovers, trying to figure out which one sent the letter. The road trip makes up the bulk of the movie.
Long story short, he doesn't figure it out, and when he gets back, he meets a kid at the bus station whom he thinks must be the son. He tries to befriend him, but ends up freaking him out: turns out it isn't the son, just a stranger. And in the final scene, as the freaked-out non-son runs off, a car goes by bearing two passengers who are around the same age as the son would be, and who are wearing the same clothes. And Don just watches the car go by in slow motion until it's gone.
The message: from now on, every kid he sees for the rest of his life will briefly seem like his son.
Why's this a perfect ending? For one thing, it's weird and somewhat cryptic, but not obscure. It also doesn't spell anything out: instead it leaves a metaphorical clue. Finally, it doesn't shut down the movie; rather, it opens it up. It gives the character a future. It shows you exactly how far Don's soul-searching has brought him, and shows you (and him) the consequences of what he has (and hasn't) found.
It's brief, simple, and artfully arresting. It makes demands on the imagination, but doesn't lord it over you. It allows the viewer to make the connection, lets you have the epiphany rather than simply showing you someone else having it.
Somehow I have to figure out how to do this in writing.