Based on Charles Forsman’s comic about a pair of teenage misfits, the End of the F***ing World debuted on Channel 4 in late 2017, and became one of the most talked about TV shows on Netflix when it moved to the streaming platform in 2018.
The series became a cult hit thanks to its dark humour, distinctive aesthetic and retro soundtrack, while its cliffhanger ending prompted countless fan theories about the fate of lead characters Alyssa and James.
Some of these ideas have been brought to life in a new campaign created by Channel 4’s in-house agency 4Creative. Asked to promote the launch of season two on Channel 4 this week, 4Creative worked with London studio Picnic to create eight animated films based on plot theories shared by fans online.
The animations don’t give away too many details from the end of season one, but will make most sense to those who’ve seen the show. They range from dark to downright bizarre, and include an alien abduction, an elaborate prank and even a sandworm attack.
The films were shared on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube. 4Creative also worked with illustrators Ricardo Bessa and Thanh Tran to bring stories together in a limited-edition comic, which was given out to fans at MCM Comic Con in London last month. The last few pages were left blank, allowing visitors to come up with their own plot twists and have them hand-drawn by Bessa and Tran at the event.
Alongside this, 4Creative worked with Den of Geek to create a branded area at Comic Con, where fans could dress up in costumes from the series and pose in a set based on a 1950s style diner from the show’s opening episode. Several sets were also recreated for the London premiere of the show, allowing journalists to explore a suburban living room, a convenience store and the vintage diner before watching the new season.
As well as paying homage to the show’s comic roots and its devoted fanbase, the campaign taps into a growing part of TV culture. For better or worse, social media has seen an explosion of fan theories offering an alternative take on everything from James Bond to Friends.
While these theories don’t always make much sense, they can prompt a whole new way of looking at popular releases and generate excitement and discussion among fans in between seasons – as demonstrated by the countless YouTube videos, blog posts and Twitter threads pondering the endings of Westworld, Game of Thrones and Stranger Things.
The End of the F***ing World is on Channel 4 from November 4 to 7, with a double bill airing each night at 10pm. US viewers can watch the series on Netflix now, and it will be available for Netflix subscribers in other countries at a later date. Read our interview with director Jonathan Entwistle about the making of the show here