Neighbours finale was like a break-up for superfans.

We've always known fans struggle to process a soap's demise, now a new study has evidence.

Neighbours fans felt that losing the long-running soap was like saying goodbye to a long-term friend or breaking up a relationship, a new study has found.

A new peer-reviewed study published in the journal PLOS ONE found Neighbours fans felt a high level of grief emotions associated with the end of the series, and they had difficulty accepting that it had ended.

The survey of 1,300 fans, mostly from Australia and the UK, measured grief emotions and cognitions, acceptance after the series ended in 2022.

“They liked their favourite characters, they thought of them almost as if they were friends, if they were part of their extended social circle,” Dr Adam Gerace from the College of Psychology at CQ University, Adelaide, told ABC.

“And they engaged with the experiences and emotions that these characters felt on-screen.”

Despite this, fans did indicate that they were grateful that the series had been in their lives. This may reflect that, while the end of the series was shocking to fans they did have time between the announcement in March and the screening of the final episode in July 2022 to reflect on the series, celebrate and commemorate it, and take stock of what the series had given them.

The study, conducted right after the show ended in 2022, found the most popular characters were Susan Kennedy, Toadie Rebecchi, Paul Robinson, Chloe Brennan, Terese Willis and Karl Kennedy.

“I think we should see these parasocial relationships as important and be understanding when people feel that loss and or even just that upset when a series is cancelled or even when a favourite character dies.”

He said particularly in Australian TV there was a history of shows killing off fan favourites, and Neighbours was no exception.

“What happens is these relationships we form with fictional characters allow us to experience different feelings, to self-reflect, to consider our values if we are comparing and contrasting them with our favourite characters, and in some ways to grow,” he said.

The study also added a postscript: “The series relaunched in September 2023. While fans were very satisfied with this outcome and fan reactions to the end of the series (and finale ratings) likely played a part, there was no indication at the time of the screening of the finale and data collection that this would occur. Therefore, the reactions collected in this study of a once-in-a-generation end to a series were unique and not likely to be repeated in the literature for some time.”

You can read more here.

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