It's amazing how you can ruin a movie's perfectly happy ending with a little bit of analysis (as we've previously shown here and here). For instance, in the following films, the ending turned out just fine for the main character, but totally screwed characters who were left conveniently off-screen.
For instance ...
#6. The Battle at the End of Top Gun Would Have Triggered World War III
How It Ended:
Despite popular belief, the movie did not end here:
Although for many of us, it did.
The official ending involves an actual battle with enemy fighter jets over hostile waters. Tom Cruise and friends scratch four bogies and rescue a stricken communications ship. High-fives and hugs are liberally exchanged, and all seems to end pretty well for the Top Gun graduating class of 1985.
"Well done. Now take off your shirt and grab a ball."
The Horrific Aftermath:
While the film never made it clear which nation the U.S. engages, the initial script and audio commentary indicate that it was supposed to be North Korea. This would account for the red stars on the pilots' helmets and the fact that they were piloting state of the art MiGs they could have only gotten from the Soviet Union at the time.
"I have you now."
So, it's the height of the Cold War in the mid-1980s, when the USA and Soviet Union were at the closest to nuclear war they'd ever get after the Cuban Missile Crisis (in the real world, things were so tense that just two years earlier the two sides came seconds away from launching their nuclear arsenals). A stricken U.S. communications ship drifts into hostile waters, prompting the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise to launch its Tom Cruise, which engages and destroys four MiGs, forcing the remaining two MiGs to flee.
It's portrayed as a consequence-free victory in the movie, but by engaging in aggressive military actions without a formal declaration of war, the pilots of Top Gun forced the U.S. into a de facto state of war with North Korea (or whatever nation commanded those MiGs). Thanks to them, it's only a matter of time before said unnamed country addresses the United Nations about how the U.S. violated Article V of U.N. General Assembly Resolution 3314 by destroying some of their finest aircraft and killing some of their top pilots.
"Hell yeah, we did."
So the U.S. is either at war with the Soviet Union after engaging MiGs from their Pacific squadron, or Tom Cruise just kicked off a second Korean War with a North Korea so formidable they are now operating outside of the Pacific. Either way, the rest of the world has just been subjected to World War III, and it's pretty tough to play volleyball in a fallout suit.
#5. The Sad Story of Whoever Married Rose from Titanic
How It Ended:
At the end of her three-plus hour rambling response to Bill Paxton's single question of "Do you know where this comically oversized diamond is?" excruciatingly old Titanic survivor Rose finally tells him that she doesn't know, asks him not to disturb the ship's wreckage so as to leave the dead at peace and then predictably succumbs to her sheer oldness and (apparently) dies herself.
Then, as the movie ends and Rose appears to die in her sleep, we are treated to a scene where Rose and Leo DiCaprio share a passionate kiss to the thunderous applause of everyone else who perished in the sinking. The most common interpretation of this scene is that Rose and Jack have been reunited in the afterlife. It makes sense, since that's really the only way to give a Hollywood happy ending to a film about the drowning deaths of hundreds of people.
Strangely, they all booed when they started having sex, moments later.
The Horrific Aftermath:
At the beginning of the film, old Rose is brought to the ship by her granddaughter, which means that after surviving the sinking of the Titanic and arriving in New York, she met someone else and got married. She even mentions in her babbling to Bill Paxton that she had a husband whom she had never told about Jack.
While we understand that she loved Jack for those few hours they spent together on a luxury liner, it's really hard to not to consider Rose as kind of a terrible person for basically using some poor guy as a marital and sexual surrogate for the majority of his life. Old lady Rose tries to explain this away with some bullshit line about "a woman's heart is a deep ocean of secrets," but essentially the sad man she wound up marrying is only filling a void for her -- he loved her and pledged to honor and cherish her, but she was thinking about Jack the whole time.
No mere man can compare to the memory of those suspenders.
To be fair, maybe her feelings for Jack only rekindled after all those years because she finally told her story to Bill Paxton. Maybe she really did love her husband, but talking about Jack reminded her how much she loved him, too.
Actually, it doesn't look like it -- right before the afterlife scene, the camera pans across the dozens of photos that Rose says she never goes anywhere without. Most of them depict her fulfilling many of the promises she had made to Jack while on the Titanic. Conspicuously absent are wedding photos, family photos or anything to indicate that Rose actually gave a single shit about her husband.
"And here's me with a guy I met at the deli. And a guy I once rode an elevator with."
And, if the "afterlife" interpretation of the film's ending is to be believed, her husband gets to stand around and watch as his wife of many years spends eons dancing with some 19-year-old guy that he's never even seen before. That's like a Twilight Zone episode.
#4. The Aliens Screw Over Hundreds of People in Close Encounters of the Third Kind
How It Ended:
Midwestern electrician Roy Neary gets buzzed by a UFO one night, and soon he gives up electrical work in favor of mashed potato sculpting and a slow descent into insanity.
"I need a dozen egg yolks -- don't ask why!"
Under the influence of the aliens, Roy abandons his family and takes off for Devil's Tower in Wyoming, where it turns out the UFO is landing. After a brief jam session with NASA, the aliens unload a bunch of people they've abducted over the decades, pick up Roy and shoot off into the cosmos for an intergalactic joyride.
The Horrific Aftermath:
What the upbeat ending tends to make everyone forget is that the aliens basically destroyed Roy's entire life for reasons that are never explained. After his initial encounter, Roy goes batshit crazy and ultimately loses his job, his home and his family because of it. With nothing left, he drives out to Wyoming with an equally unhinged woman (the aliens were nice enough to kidnap her son), escapes federal custody and risks being shot by the U.S. Army.
"Don't mind me. I am just a simple rock."
You can make the case that he did all of that for something bigger and better -- to become part of this human/ alien exchange program and travel the stars. That's an opportunity not a whole lot of people get. Sure, that leaves his wife on her own to raise their kids, who now have to grow up without a father, but maybe they'll be fine with it when they are told that their dad went to go live in a human zoo on Mars.
But then we also see that dozens, possibly hundreds, of people have been drawn to Devil's Tower in a similar fashion, each of them having abandoned their lives in the pursuit of their sudden obsession ... yet Roy is the only one the aliens take. The rest of those people are basically screwed -- they made all the sacrifice but got none of the reward. They're left with totally ruined lives they have to try to put back together, and that's assuming they're still not completely consumed with visions of Wyoming, which honestly would be more than enough to drive most people to suicide.
"OK, we're packed and ready to g -- hey, where are you going?"
Then there's the people the aliens brought back, some of whom had been abducted as far back as World War II. Suddenly they have to adjust to the fact that they've been on a spaceship for three and half decades and everyone they knew is either dead or has long since moved on with their lives. Both technology and lifestyle are radically different, leaving them with a period of acclimation that could last months or years before they fully adjust, which doesn't account for the time the government will undoubtedly keep them detained for quarantine and interrogation. They'd have been better off if the aliens just ejected them into the cold vacuum of space.