In The Art of Fiction, John Gardner makes an interesting point about endings:

[Stories] can end in only one of two ways: in resolution, when no further event can take place (the murderer has been caught and hanged, the diamond has been found and restored to its owner, the elusive lady has been capture and married), or in logical exhaustion, our recognition that we’ve reached the stage of infinite repetition; more events might follow, perhaps from now till Kingdom Come, but they will all express the same thing–for example, the character’s entrapment in empty ritual or some consistently wrong response to the pressures of his environment.

Resolution is of course the classical and usually more satisfying conclusion; logical exhaustion satisfies us intellectually but often not emotionally, since it’s more pleasing to see things definitely achieved or thwarted than to be shown why they can never be either achieved or thwarted.

Observed: very few Hollywood movies take the logical exhaustion route, but you find it all the time in indies and foreign films.

/via Susan Wise Bauer