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An epilogue or epilog (from Greek ἐπίλογος epílogos, "conclusion" from ἐπί- "in addition" and λέγειν légein, "to say") is a piece of writing at the end of a work of literature, usually used to bring closure to the work. It is presented from the perspective of within the story. When the author steps in and speaks indirectly to the reader, that is more properly considered an afterword. The opposite is a prologue—a piece of writing at the beginning of a work of literature or drama, usually used to open the story and capture interest. Some genres, for example television programs and video games, call the epilog an "outro" patterned on the use of "intro" for "introduction".
An epilogue is the final chapter at the end of a story that often serves to reveal the fates of the characters. Some epilogues may feature scenes only tangentially related to the subject of the story. They can be used to hint at a sequel or wrap up all the loose ends. They can occur at a significant period of time after the main plot has ended. In some cases, the epilogue is used to allow the main character a chance to "speak freely".
An epilogue can continue in the same narrative style and perspective as the preceding story, although the form of an epilogue can occasionally be drastically different from the overall story. It can also be used as a sequel.
In films, the final scenes may feature a montage of images or clips with a short explanation of what happens to the characters. A few examples of such films are 9 to 5, American Graffiti, National Lampoon's Animal House, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Remember the Titans, and Changeling.
The whole of the film The Godfather Part III is an epilogue.
There are many films which do not only include a few glimpses of the character's future, but also are based on an epilogue. Most epilogues in films are shown in a dramatic fashion, usually in silence, to commemorate an important happening, for example, the fate of a character in the film.
In video gaming
In video gaming, epilogues can occur at the end of the story, usually after the credits have rolled. An epilogue in a game functions similarly to an epilogue in film and literature, providing closure to the end of a story.
However, the way in which an epilogue is interacted with in a video game can then determine how a story ends, in works of fiction that contain multiple endings. For example, there are four possible endings to Spec Ops: The Line, and three of the endings are chosen by what the player does in the epilogue.
In games that feature the permanent death of playable characters, an epilogue can chronicle what has happened to the various characters that have survived the events of the game, depicting how their situation has changed after the story has come to a conclusion. For example, the 2015 video game Until Dawn features those who survived recounting their experiences to the Police after being rescued. This system can also be expanded on. In most games of the Fire Emblem series, relationships can be built between characters, allowing for unique outcomes to happen for characters depending on the actions of the player throughout the campaign.
A visual novel can also feature a type of epilogue, which will wrap up all of the scenarios encountered by a player, most often after the game has been fully completed by reaching all of the multiple endings; as is the case with Tsukihime, featuring an epilogue that expands on the endings of all completable routes, as well as providing context for the rest of the game by explaining events in the prologue.
- "Literary Devices: Definition and Examples of Literary Terms: Epilogue". Literary Devices Website. Literary Devices. 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
- "Literary Devices: Definition and Examples of Literary Terms: Prologue". Literary Devices Website. Literary Devices. 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
- The dictionary definition of epilogue at Wiktionary