I’m told this terms also applies to non-screenwriting professions. To some extent, genre dictates possible endings. In Derek Rydall’s “I Could’ve Written a Better Movie Than That!”, four endings are identified:
The protagonist achieves their “outer” and “inner” goals. In other words, the hero gets the gold and becomes a better person. This is almost a given in romantic comedies. In “The Back Up Plan”, Zoe has her baby (twins) and a man who’ll stand by her.
The protagonist achieves their “inner” goal, but fails to achieve their “outer” goal. In “Rain Man”, Charlie doesn’t acquire “ownership” of his brother, but he does grow from a self-centered narcissist to a more selfless brother (metamorphosis). In “Little Miss Sunshine”, Olive Hoover doesn’t win the beauty contest, but brings her family closer.
The protagonist achieves their “outer” goal, but fails to achieve their “inner” transformation. In “Citizen Kane”, Charles Foster gets the power and wealth (outer), but dies empty and unfulfilled. Fables are moralistic tales warning what happens if you don’t follow a certain moral code.
The protagonist achieves neither their “inner” nor their “outer” goal. “Leaving Las Vegas” was a tragedy because he drank himself to death. Hollywood avoids such endings like the plague. Audience desire some sense of achievement in their films. Perversely, “Romeo and Juliet” and “Thelma and Louise” technically don’t qualify as tragic endings because Romeo and Juliet ended up together (albeit in death) and Thelma and Louise were emancipated from their dreary lives.