Type: Deus Ex Machina, Ending cliché
What made it popular: Easy cop-out for writers who can’t write proper endings or for those who are too afraid to kill of their characters for real.
Cliché Level: Low
Where can you find it: Madoka Magica, Clannad, Naruto (Pain Arc), Mai Hime, Mirai Nikki (with the extended ending), C the Money of Soul and Possibility Control Etc. Not really limited to any genre, but fortunately very few anime actually use it in comparison to other mediums.
The Magic Reset Ending, also called the Reset Button, refers to any ending in which the prior events and actions done in the series are negated and we return to zero, this can cause several if not dozen characters to be resurrected, the world to be saved and other unpleasant events to be undone. This usually happens via the aid or actions of something/someone omnipotent or godlike enough to pull of a Deus Ex Machina tier feat.
In some cases the usage of this cliché results in the creation of a new parallel world/universe rather than just resetting things, however the result is still the same as this is just a bullshit excuse that is used to make it seem like they didn’t just commit a total world reset.
Why it’s bad: Although very few anime actually do make the mistake of using this cliché (which is why its in the low cliché category), the few anime that do use it, commit a grave sin by doing so. That sin is the fact that they resorted to the usage of a Deus Ex Machina to solve their entire story, which is one of the most shameful things you can do as a writer as it only signals your own incompetence to everyone reading/watching your work.
The usage of the Magic Reset Ending renders all the suffering and work of the characters to be pointless. Like really, what was the reason or point of their struggle and suffering, if in the end an omnipotent god was going to solve all their problems anyway? What was the point of telling a story like this in the first place? Nothing is more boring and uninteresting than when the characters are powerless to change and solve the story by their own power and everything has to be solved by God instead.
It also makes death to be meaningless, as everyone who perished throughout the course of the series is usually brought back and continues to live their lives as if nothing had happened. Death loses its severity and seriousness when the characters don’t stay dead. This is especially a grave sin in long running shows, because they make it seem like the characters were only killed for the sake of creating cheap melodrama only to be brought back a few episodes later. So it is also a tool of convenience for the writers who want to create drama but are too afraid to actually lose characters for real.
The consequence of actions done by the character likewise becomes meaningless since if everything is just reset back to 0, then they obviously don’t have to deal with the natural consequences that would have happened in the erased timeline/world. This is also why many time travel stories are bullshit in my opinion, because the character can simply erase his mistake instead of living with it or redeeming it through his actions.
But there is something even worse than just a Magic Reset Ending, and that is Magic Reset Ending combined with Amnesia, meaning that none of the characters will remember the events of the show that happened prior to the reset (except maybe the protagonist) and won’t have the slightest idea that the reset occurred. This means that pretty much the entire character development and the relationship that were made throughout the series were thrown out the window as our characters returned to their original state.
Overall this is a cliché that writers should really feel ashamed for using, as it can almost never be justified.