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If there's one thing Hollywood loves more than a happy ending, it's a happy ending that accidentally screws over the hero. As we've told you before, lots of movies that end with the main characters smiling and hugging their loved ones secretly imply that most of those people will end up dead, destitute or just plain miserable 15 minutes later.

In fact, this happens so often that we should probably just strike the word "accidentally" -- this has to be on purpose. Otherwise, how do you explain ...

6
The Dark Knight Rises -- Bruce Wayne Will Get Recognized in 15 Minutes

The "Happy" Ending:

The plot of The Dark Knight Rises would take us five entire articles to summarize, so we're just gonna skip to the end (SPOILERS!): After having his back broken (for a while, anyway), defusing a months-long terror plot on Gotham City and putting up with some outrageous accents, Bruce Wayne decides to fake his own death, retire to Europe with Catwoman and leave all his Batman shit to his ex-cop buddy, John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), whose legal name, conveniently, is Robin.


Clearly a reference to Robin Williams, who nearly played the Riddler.

For a while it looks to the audience like Wayne really died, but in the last scene, his faithful butler, Alfred, is in a restaurant in Florence and sees him sitting there with Catwoman, in reference to a conversation they'd had earlier.


A second later, he starts mouthing, "I'm nailing her."

But After the Movie's Over ...

So, uh, Bruce Wayne is a world-famous playboy millionaire who supposedly died during a terrorist plot that will go down in the annals of history ... and he's just sitting there, in the middle of a crowded restaurant, completely undisguised? Seriously? Imagine some alternate universe where Donald Trump died in the 9/11 attacks, then showed up alive a year later. The question isn't whether someone will recognize him, it's how fast they'll do it. By the time he asks for the check, his photo will be prominently displayed on every major news outlet in the world.

But let's say Bruce simply dropped his fake mustache in that one shot. Let's say Alfred is just senile and imagined the whole thing.


This is Europe, there's probably LSD in that cup.

That doesn't change the fact that Gotham City is still screwed, because there's no Batman. Sure, Bruce left all his gadgets and stuff to Blake, but that was an incredibly naive thing to do, because it ignores the fact that Batman's true superpower was always money. If his tank broke down or exploded, he just got a new one. Actually, forget the tank: What's Blake gonna do when something tears up his Batsuit, like the dogs at the beginning of The Dark Knight? Patch it up with duct tape?

Costume Fail
Blake after two nights.

And that's the other thing: Bruce trained to be Batman by traveling the world for seven years, most of which was spent with a group of highly skilled assassins in the mountains. Contrast that with Blake/Robin, who was at one point overpowered by Gary Oldman in a hospital gown. What's going to happen when the Joker comes back (presumably he escaped from prison with the other criminals), or when a guy who looks like the Penguin as played by Philip Seymour Hoffman inevitably shows up?

Actually, the comics have already told us: They'll beat the shit out of Robin, only this time there won't be a Batman to come and rescue him.

DC Comics
The next Batman movie will be this, for three hours.

5
Sin City -- Bruce Willis Killed Himself for Nothing

The "Happy" Ending:

Sin City features a perfect combination of insane violence and man-tears-inducing moments. One of the stories follows Hartigan (Bruce Willis), a cop who saves an 11-year-old girl named Nancy from being raped and killed by the creepy pervert son of one Senator Roark. Hartigan saves the girl but gets framed for the crimes of Roark's son and is thrown in jail for his trouble. Eight years later, he comes out of jail and tracks down little Nancy, fearing for her safety, and finds out that she's grown up to become Jessica Alba.


"Pretty sure this is mathematically impossible, but I'm not complaining."

However, it turns out that Hartigan was being followed by Roark's men all along, and now that he's led them to Nancy, Roark's son will try to finish what he started. Hartigan saves her again and kills the pervert, but then he realizes that Roark will never stop chasing him as long as he's alive and will try to get to him through those he loves ... so he heroically kills himself to make sure that Nancy is finally safe.

But After the Movie's Over ...

Wait, nope, she's still in danger, and even more so now that the dude who keeps saving her life isn't around.


Those aren't real six shooters on her hips.

Hartigan seems to think that Roark won't be interested in Nancy once he's dead, but in one scene, Roark specifically tells him that he'll kill anyone who knows about his son's crimes. Nancy fits that description perfectly, since she was almost in those crimes twice. Roark makes it clear that he won't let anyone soil his family's name.


Because Junior still has a shot at being president one day, apparently.

But Roark doesn't know where Nancy lives, right? Yes, he does: Hartigan told him. Roark's men had been following Hartigan since he got out of prison, and before he found Nancy in the strip club where she works, he stopped by her place. So they know where she lives and where she works, and that she could ruin Roark's good name if she talked about what she saw -- honestly, not trying to kill her would be a huge oversight for any self-respecting criminal organization.

Hartigan killed himself with the best of intentions, but how the hell is Nancy going to survive now that the most powerful man in the city wants her dead and her only possible protector blew his brain out? Not that it was working too well before the bullet hit.


"No time to think this through ..."

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4
Total Recall (1990) -- Arnold Is Going to Get a Lobotomy

The "Happy" Ending:

The plot of the original Total Recall with Arnold Schwarzenegger is pretty much the same as the recent Colin Farrell remake, but we're going to go with the original here because we don't hate you that much. Arnold is a construction worker in the future who decides to take a mental vacation by implanting fake memories of a trip to Mars. However, the procedure reveals that Arnold is actually a secret agent who was brainwashed and sentenced to bone young Sharon Stone every morning.


Those bastards.

With the help of a hot rebel chick called Melina, Arnold uncovers the conspiracy and defeats the bad guy in an epic showdown on Mars. The last shot is of Arnold and Melina triumphantly kissing in the Martian landscape, and then the image fades to white.


Apparently, having your face expand to the size of a beach ball carries no lasting physical harm.

But After the Movie's Over ...

That fade to white? That's Arnold being lobotomized. Seriously. This isn't even some theory of ours -- it's what the movie tells us is happening.

There's some debate about whether most of Total Recall actually happens in Arnold's dreams or not, but as far as we're concerned, it's pretty clear -- everything (and we mean EVERYTHING) that happened after he sat down to take his dream vacation went exactly as the dream salesman described it. Arnold became a secret agent, people were trying to kill him, he met an exotic woman and he killed the bad guy, Vilos Cohaagen. They even showed him the exact face of the woman who would show up in his dream.


"Make her look like that chick from The Running Man ... eh, close enough."

And the name of this prepackaged fantasy? "Blue Skies on Mars," which turned out to be a spoiler for the very last image he sees in his dream ... and possibly his life.

You see, there's a little scene where a sweaty guy comes up to Arnold and claims to be a scientist speaking to him from the waking world. This guy warns him that he's suffered a "schizoid embolism," and if he doesn't come out of the dream soon, he'll be lobotomized. Arnold basically goes "Ah believe you ... just kiddin'," and shoots the guy in the head, then goes on with the rest of the movie.


"Analyze that."

However, everything the sweaty man warned Arnold about comes true -- he even gave away the big plot twist, which is that Arnold's original personality was working for Cohaagen against the rebels. As the man put it, "One minute you'll be the savior of the rebel cause, and the next thing you know, you'll be Cohaagen's bosom buddy. You'll even have fantasies about alien civilizations ..."

In other words, all the crazy plot twists and stomach aliens that come in the last part of the movie are the result of Arnold's brain misfiring as doctors remove chunks of it from his skull.

3
Timecop -- Van Damme Can't Remember the Last Ten Years of His Life

The "Happy" Ending:

In Timecop, Max Walker is a cop who protects time, and he's played by Jean-Claude Van Damme, so that tells you that his main method of preventing universe-shattering paradoxes consists of kicking people in the face. Ten years ago, Walker's wife was killed under mysterious circumstances, but he can't go back and save her because that's against the law. A seemingly unrelated case, however, leads Walker to the year of his wife's death, and he teams up with his own past self in order to stop the bad guy from changing the future.


This was during Van Damme's "I'm the only co-star I can work with" period.

At the end of the movie, Walker goes back to his present in the year 2004 ... and when he comes home, he's shocked to find that not only is his wife alive, but they have a kid. Hooray! Now that he has his life back, Walker and his family live happily ever after.

But After the Movie's Over ...

Except that Walker didn't get "his" life back -- he still has the memories from the old timeline where his wife was dead and they never had children. He doesn't even know the kid's name.


"Hey, uh ... Bicep? Roundkick? Mullet?"

The movie establishes that when the future is changed, anyone who was traveling in time when it happened still keeps the memories from the old version. The first time Walker travels to 1994, he fails to stop the bad guy, and when he gets back to 2004, the whole world is different and he's the only one who realizes it. The same thing happens at the end of the movie: Walker's wife and son remember him, but they are practically strangers to him. He has ten years of useless memories from a different life where he was a bachelor living alone in his apartment.


This means he can't do butt crunches in the kitchen anymore.

That's the best-case scenario. The worst-case scenario is that this timeline's Walker is still out there, and once he gets home, it's gonna get extremely awkward (they're probably going to have to kung fu fight each other to decide who gets the family). Think about it: Walker left his double in the past, stepped into the time machine and then stepped out in the present -- at no point did the two merge with each other or something. Walker is now a man out of time, an exile from a shittier world that no longer exists.

Meanwhile, a dude who looks like him is banging his wife. Happy ending our rock hard, kitchen-crunching asses.


At least he has the splits to keep him company.

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2
The Goonies -- The Families Are Still Losing Their Homes

The "Happy" Ending:

In The Goonies, a bunch of rich dicks are about to foreclose on an entire neighborhood to build a country club, because that's all that rich people did in the '80s -- turn everything into country clubs and snort coke. After discovering a pirate treasure map in their attic, a bunch of kids led by Mikey (Sean Astin) head out to claim the riches to save the neighborhood, but they end up losing all of it due to the interference of a gang of inept criminals.


Led by Tony Soprano's mom.

All seems lost, but at the last minute they find a marble bag full of gems that Mikey had taken from the treasure stash before the criminals arrived. Mikey's dad takes one look at the jewels and tells the rich dicks to shove their motherfucking country club up their fucking asses. The neighborhood is saved!


We haven't seen the movie in a while, so some of the details may be a little off.

But After the Movie's Over ...

Unless Mikey's dad happens to be a jewelry appraiser or something, the families are most likely still screwed. Here, take a look at the "gems" Mikey got from the ship:


The costume jewelry industry was huge back in the '80s.

Sorry to ruin yet another part of your childhood, but there's nothing in the movie that suggests that this shit is anything other than glass. In pirate days, ships used to carry lots of colored glass beads, just meaningless baubles that were only valuable back then because they were used in the slave trade. As we've told you before, pirates rarely went for the fancy stuff when looting a ship: They were more interested in practical things that they could use to survive. In fact, some of these crappy glass beads were recently found in the treasure of Blackbeard himself.


And One-Eyed Willie ain't no Blackbeard.

In other words, Mikey grabbed the worst possible thing he could have grabbed from that room full of treasure. In all likelihood, the "gems" aren't going to be enough to save the neighborhood. Unfortunately for the Goonies, we don't really trade colored beads for slaves anymore, so the only thing those things are good for is getting flashed at Mardi Gras. So maybe that's what Mikey's dad was so excited about.

1
Taken -- Half of Europe Wants to Kill Liam Neeson

The "Happy" Ending:

Taken, if you haven't seen it, is basically Liam Neeson killing people for 90 minutes, with three minutes of him and his daughter tacked to the beginning and the end to give the movie the semblance of a plot. The bulk of the film seems made up of scenes they had to cut out of 24 because they made Jack Bauer look too crazy.

When his daughter is kidnapped by a huge sex slavery operation, former CIA Agent Bryan Mills (Neeson) goes on a bloody rampage across Europe until he finds her and brings her back to America to be with her mother and her pony. The end.


There's a pony in this movie, and Liam Neeson didn't shoot it? What kind of world are we living in?

But After the Movie's Over ...

Obviously, the mere existence of a sequel proves that the ending isn't as happy as it seems, but Taken 2 only deals with the least dangerous of the loose ends left by the first movie.

It turns out that going on bloody rampages across continents isn't a good way to make friends. The second movie deals with the revenge of the low-level European kidnappers Mills shot his way through in the first one -- but these are only the henchmen of the real bad guys, and the ones who had the least resources to track him down in America. The only reason they're able to kidnap him in Taken 2 is that he takes his family on a vacation to their home turf.


Actually, this sounds exactly like this man's idea of a vacation.

The ones that Mills should really worry about are the wealthy international criminals who actually pay for (and enjoy the fruits of) the sex slave ring. Mills shot some of their men, took his daughter and left their operation relatively undisturbed. These men invest a considerable amount of money kidnapping and enslaving teenagers just for shits and giggles -- they could easily pull together a few million or so for a "make Bryan Mills' life a living hell" project.

But let's say that, despite all their money, they don't know Mills' name and can't track him down. Luckily for them, there's someone who does: Mills' ex-CIA buddy, Jean-Claude. At one point, Mills finds out that Jean-Claude has ties to the sex slave operation ... so he shoots Jean-Claude's wife in the arm in front of him to get information, then leaves him alive.


"I gotta go now, but we should all get dinner sometime."

This guy knows who Mills is and where he lives, is well-connected and just watched Mills shoot his innocent wife. Why wouldn't he go after Mills, or at the very least send a few hit men to do the same to his wife? Anyway, sorry if we just spoiled the plot of Taken parts 3 through 5.



Alex Race can be added on Facebook, or emailed at arrace@buffalo.edu.

For more movies with regrettable endings, check out The 6 Most Depressing Happy Endings in Movie History and 6 Movies That Didn't Realize They Let The Villain Win.

If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 6 Important Things That We Built On Top of Supervolcanoes.

And stop by LinkSTORM to see how Superman actually ruined everyone's lives.

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