6 Horrible Aftermaths Implied by Movies With Happy Endings
We like our movies to have happy endings, because it makes the drive home that much easier if the rest of the date was full of forgotten wallets and cabbage farts. However, even movies with the most uplifting and/or completely resolved endings start to reveal horrific consequences for their respective characters once you sit and think about them for long enough, to the point where we want to see a sequel just to know that everybody made it out OK.
Man of Steel -- Metropolis Will Probably Never Be Able to Rebuild
During the climax of Man of Steel, Metropolis gets torn asunder by General Zod's planet-destroying gravity jackhammer. Superman manages to destroy the machine, and the two of them have a 20-minute skyscraper-toppling punch festival that ends with Zod defeated and the world celebrating their new blue-spandexed alien Jesus.
Alien Jesus never misses his traditional post-destruction Big Gulp.
The Horrific Aftermath:
Sure, Superman saved Metropolis (and the world) from Zod's space wrath, but at least in the former case we're using the word "saved" loosely. Hundreds of buildings were obliterated. Somebody ran the numbers on the damage, and they're freaking obscene.
Yeah, maybe it's time to buy a nice quiet property in Gotham.
According to Kinetic Analysis Corporation, the leading company in predicting and evaluating the impact of catastrophic events, at least 129,000 citizens of Metropolis were killed in the climactic conclusion of Man of Steel, along with another 1 million injured and 250,000 missing. Those numbers are on the same level as the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which is unsurprising when you consider that, according to the analysis, Zod's machine caused a circumference of destruction "similar to an air burst from a 20-kiloton nuclear explosion."
So, like the end of The Avengers, if Iron Man had dropped the nuke.
The cost of all that devastation would total somewhere in the neighborhood of $2 trillion. That's roughly 40 times the physical damage of 9/11, or 15 Hurricane Katrinas. It would cost more than half of the U.S. government's entirely yearly budget to repair.
Damn, Supes, at least make some kind of effort to steer the fight away from a densely populated city. We know it doesn't look as cool and CGI artists love to render flying debris, but that's part of the cost of heroism. As it stands, it will take Metropolis decades to fully recover, assuming people don't just abandon like Detroit. And that's not even counting the hundreds of thousands of families left with Superman-shaped holes in their lives where their loved ones used to be. Jor-El should've left a copy of Of Mice and Men in Superman's space crib.
Also, installing a human skull swimming pool in the Fortress of Solitude? Bad form man, bad form.
E.T. the Extra Terrestrial -- Elliott is in Serious Trouble with the Government
In case you weren't a kid in the 1980s or your parents were vengeful douchefiddlers who hated whimsy, E.T. is about a lovable alien named E.T. who accidentally gets left behind on Earth and befriends a young boy named Elliott. Government agents show up and try to capture E.T., but Elliott and his friends spring him from custody, because highly trained federal agents are apparently easily bested by middle school-aged Dungeons and Dragons fans. They take E.T. to the woods where his alien mothership is waiting, Elliott and E.T. have an emotional dudebro hug-out, and E.T. climbs aboard the ship to return to his planet.
And then E.T. died of space rickets on the way back to his home planet. Also, Santa Claus isn't real. Live with it.
The Horrific Aftermath:
After sheltering an alien for a long period of time, breaking him out of government custody and assisting in his escape back to the stars from whence he came, Elliott and his family will be lucky if they don't spend the rest of their lives in federal prison.
Think about how many laws Elliott broke in order to help E.T.: He and his brother stole a government van, lead government agents on a high-speed chase, and took to the sky with space magic before they could be apprehended, sailing right over the heads of a confused roadblock of CIA spooks.
Thankfully they were only wielding walkie-talkies. Or was it shotguns? Who even remembers anymore?
Even though Keys, the scientist in charge of tracking down and studying E.T., seems like a decent guy (he shows up for E.T.'s departure and doesn't try to keep the little guy from leaving), he's ultimately just a researcher with no real authority. There's nothing he can do to prevent Elliott from having to get his GED via correspondence courses at Guantanamo Bay.
This kid is not going to fare well in prison.
Also, Elliott previously had a psychic connection with E.T., a fact that the government is unlikely to forget. Now that E.T. is gone, Elliott is the only person on the entire planet with any link to extraterrestrial physiology and technology. He may well end up in some dungeon in Northern Virginia having his brain dissected by a CIA think tank trying to harvest his mind for secrets. E.T. could have at least done Elliott a favor and used his psychic powers to erase everyone's memory before he left, especially after freeloading in the kid's house for a week and eating all his Reese's Pieces.
"I'll ... be ... right ... back with warships ... for the rest of the Reese's ... Pieces."
Forrest Gump -- Gump's Wealth Devastated a Community
After his unabashed shrimp fetishist best friend Bubba is killed in Vietnam, Forrest Gump keeps a promise he made to go into the shrimping business in Bubba's hometown of Bayou La Batre, Alabama, an area of the country not particularly conducive to aspiring young entrepreneurs with minimal personal assets in the late 1960s. Undaunted, Forrest buys his own shrimping boat, and basks in the rays of punishing failure for several months, enduring an endless torrent of grumpy hate from a legless Gary Sinise. He finally hits a stroke of good luck when Hurricane Carmen strikes the area and demolishes every single shrimping boat in the area, sparing only Forrest's busted old trawler.
Wipe off that innocent look, Forrest. We've noticed how badly things tend to go for your so-called "friends."
With no competition to speak of, Forrest catches all the shrimp himself and starts the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, turning him into a millionaire almost overnight. He invests some of that capital into up-and-coming Apple Computers and graduates to a "go-zillionaire" (his words), leaving him free to mow lawns and raise Haley Joel Osment without any financial worries for the rest of his life.
The Horrific Aftermath:
Remember all the other shrimping boats in Bayou La Batre that were annihilated by the hurricane?
Ohhhh, right ...
Here's a little real-world perspective -- Bayou La Batre is known as the "Seafood Capital of Alabama," and the fishing and shrimping industries are its lifeblood. In 2005, the area was completely devastated by Hurricane Katrina and required a lot of outside assistance just to survive. Because shrimp boat owners aren't rich -- they got everything they own tied up in their boats. Now imagine if, amidst all that hardship, some asshole decided to build up a monopoly and horde all the shrimp for himself and his dirty pet hippie, simply because his boat was lucky enough to escape crushification.
He's struck gold! Pink, smelly gold!
Forrest may get to polish a billion-dollar nest egg, but the movie completely glosses over the fact that literally every other captain in the area has had their livelihood utterly destroyed by the storm. Even when its fishing and shrimping industries are functioning normally, Bayou La Batre has a notoriously high poverty rate -- many of them would've had a hard enough time recovering from the hurricane without Forrest coming in and laying claim to the entire shrimp harvest with his own corporate fleet. Remember, even if those poor bastards were able to get the insurance to replace their wrecked boats months later, it doesn't matter -- that's Bubba Gump territory now. Maybe they can get jobs scraping barnacles off his bow.
Forrest obviously didn't do this maliciously and was merely capitalizing on his good fortune, but the fact remains that a staggering number of Bayou La Batre's residents no longer have any means to support themselves or their families. They're likely going to wind up broke and homeless, all so that Forrest can continue having his charmingly ass-backwards adventures.
It's a slow month for capitalism when "Slow-witted Man Catches Most Shrimp in Abandoned Harbor" merits a Fortune cover story.
Collateral -- The Hero is Now on a Drug Kingpin's Hit List
In Collateral, Jaime Foxx (Booty Call) plays a cab driver named Max who winds up being held hostage by his latest fare, a professional hitman named Vincent, played by Tom Cruise (Rock of Ages) in a Don Johnson suit and a powdered Schwarzenegger haircut. Vincent forces Max to drive him around town so that he can spend the night assassinating four material witnesses and one prosecuting attorney involved in an upcoming indictment against a drug kingpin named Felix, because the screenwriter was terrible at naming his characters.
"Quick! You need to take me to go kill Bob, Bill, Joe, and Rutherford!"
Vincent kills all four of the witnesses who were scheduled to testify against Felix, but before he can assassinate the prosecutor (played by Jada Pinkett-Smith, star of Woo), Max decides to fight back and kills Vincent, leaving his dead ass slumped motionlessly in an elevated train car like a drunk Beefeater trying to solve a word problem written on the top of his shoe.
Really, more movies should end with Tom Cruise being dead.
The Horrific Aftermath:
Vincent may be dead once the credits roll, but you know who totally isn't dead at all? Felix the Vincent-hiring drug kingpin, who presumably still doesn't want to be indicted.
Also, Felix is played by Javier Bardem, so Max is really fucked.
Even though Vincent was killed, he still managed to eliminate all four of the witnesses subpoenaed for Felix's indictment. Sure, the prosecutor survived, but she was technically the least important person on Felix's hit list -- if she doesn't have any witnesses, she can't put together much of a case against him. So Felix probably won't be going to prison anytime soon.
Unless Max the cab driver testifies about his adventure running murder-errands with Vincent. And since Max was forced to impersonate Vincent in a meeting with Felix, Felix knows exactly what Max looks like.
Somebody is eventually going to find Vincent's body on that train, and once that happens, it won't take Felix too long to learn that Max was an impostor and is the only person left alive who could possibly testify against him. After all, he managed to obtain detailed information about all of the other witnesses against him, so how long is it going to take for him to track down Max the sad, lonely cab driver? Even if Max somehow makes it to trial and his testimony puts Felix away for life, that doesn't mean he's in the clear. We've seen enough '80s movies to know that a guy like Felix can (and almost certainly will) have Max hunted down and thrown into a shark aquarium from inside his jail cell.
Lesson of the day: Don't give weird, gray-haired Tom Cruise a ride, no matter how many bills he flashes.
No matter how you look at it, Max is going to be living the rest of his life drenched in paranoid terror sweat unless he gets massive reconstructive face surgery and changes his name to Fletcher or something.
Jurassic Park III -- Flying Dinosaurs Are Unleashed on the Population
In Jurassic Park III, a 12-year old boy gets stranded on Dinosaur Island, and his parents hire Dr. Alan Grant to lead them on a rescue mission, because apparently even Jeff Goldblum thought this dumbass kid wasn't worth saving. They go to the island and find the kid living in a tube with a bottle full of tyrannosaurus pee, narrowly avoid getting killed by a bunch of dinosaurs that somehow look worse than the ones in the original film, and finally stumble out onto the beach in the middle of a full-scale U.S. military invasion force.
So uh, why didn't these army guys just save the kid in the first place?
Instead of waging war against the prehistoric beasts, which would have been the greatest moment in cinematic history, Dr. Grant and the others are just quickly ushered onto a helicopter and the movie abruptly ends, leaving us with at least 30 minutes to spend feeling betrayed in the lobby while we wait for our parents to come pick us up.
Look what you've done to the collective inner-child of every person who grew up in the '90s, Jurassic Park III.
The Horrific Aftermath:
As the movie concludes, some Pteranodons are shown flying around the departing helicopters:
And yet, for some reason, the army guys still aren't shooting at them.
That's because earlier in the movie, our heroes were trapped in the Jurassic Park aviary with the winged monsters. They managed to escape with their lives but left the damn gate open in their panic.
If you set your vicious pterodactyl free and it doesn't return, it was never yours to begin with.
That aviary cage was built for the specific purpose of keeping giant dinosaurs from flying across the Pacific and scooping some hapless bastard right off of a Nicaraguan boardwalk. Isla Sorna, the fictitious island where the movie takes place, is only 207 miles away from mainland Central America. Those time-displaced super predators probably won't have too much trouble flapping their giant leathery death wings over that kind of distance, which they are now clearly free to do.
It would be one thing if this ending was treated as an ominous cliffhanger to set up another sequel, but it isn't, at all. Dr. Grant spots the dinosaurs himself, and instead of telling the nearest military man to blast the pteranodons out of the sky with every ounce of modern technology currently at their disposal, he casually remarks that they're probably looking for new nesting grounds. Despite this being the most terrifying news ever delivered (that news being "prehistoric slaughter machines are on their way to a major population center"), one of the other characters makes a joke about it, and everyone laughs.
To be fair, William H. Macy's mustache is fairly hilarious.
After what happened at the end of The Lost World, you'd think everyone involved would be a little more concerned about a flock of dinosaurs making their way to the coastal Americas.
Minority Report -- A Horde of Murderers Flood the Streets
In Minority Report, police detectives in the future use a trio of semi-comatose psychics to alert them when people are about to commit murders and then arrest them before any crime has actually taken place, which is admittedly way easier than waiting for a crime to occur and then waste a lot of time trying to solve it. However, embittered anti-hero Detective John Anderton is pegged by the psychics for an upcoming murder, and rather than sit back and appreciate the irony of the situation, he goes on the run to try and clear his name, kidnapping one of the psychics in the process.
That psychic girl seems a bit too freaked out. Tom? Where are your hands, Tom?
Anderton uncovers a murderous conspiracy in the process, revealing the flaws behind the "pre-crime" system of law enforcement. Anderton is cleared, pre-crime is disbanded, and he reunites with his estranged wife to make another child to replace their dead son.
Oh, and the psychics spend the rest of their days living peacefully in a cabin, reading books and shit.
Don't they already know all the endings, though?
The Horrific Aftermath:
As Anderton himself explains in the epilogue, the dissolution of the pre-crime department means that all prisoners arrested for pre-crimes will be pardoned and released. Now, every prisoner is kept in stasis, like Sylvester Stallone in Demolition Man, only without any rehabilitation programming getting zapped into their brains. This means that every single one of those prisoners is in the exact same emotional state as the day they were arrested for nearly committing murder.
Keep in mind, they never actually got around to killing anybody, so they're presumably still coursing with murderous fury. It's also a safe bet that they're all going to be fairly bitter over having been sealed in a prison tube for several years without ever having committed a crime. And the government just put them all back out on the streets at the same time.
"Sorry for the mix-up! You'll each be given a complementary handgun, to prove we trust you."
Anderton says the police will keep close watch on most of them, but check out that picture. That's a ton of wrongfully imprisoned people to keep track of, at least 70 percent of whom would've probably really murdered their intended victims had they not been busted by the psychic police force. The question at this point isn't whether or not they'll try to kill the same person (they almost certainly will). The question is, How many other people will they kill in their persecuted fury?
And the only thing stopping them will be a woefully inexperienced police force -- remember, at this point, the cops haven't dealt with a homicide in nearly 10 years, and now they suddenly have to monitor an overwhelming number of technically innocent but probably still dangerous inmates in addition to their regular duties. There's also the problem of all the other potential criminals who had been held in check by the pre-crime system. Now that there are no psychics and a limited police force spread entirely too thin, gangland killings and random crimes of passion are going to go through the roof. It's like clocking in for work at a pet store and realizing all the snake and spider tanks are empty.
Without the psychics we'll be at the mercy of gun-toting maniacs like this guy!
The point is, thanks to the end of pre-crime, Washington, D.C. is about to see the biggest spike in murders in recorded history. They're going to have to immediately hire about 300 more police officers just to keep the city from imploding in a cloud of stab dust.
Robin Warder is the co-owner of a pop culture website called The Back Row and was recently involved in the making of a sci-fi short film called Jet Ranger of Another Tomorrow. Aaron Short is actually tall. He also has a blog. Follow Jacopo on Twitter!
Related Reading: Have you ever thought about how sad the life of the loser who married Rose from Titanic must have been? If so, you should see the Cracked forums' take on the horrible aftermaths implied by happy movies. For real books that had a horrible impact on the real world, read this article. You'll learn about the shark genocide caused by Jaws, and you'll have much less sympathy for that handsome devil Quint.
Check out Jacopo della Quercia'sThe Great Abraham Lincoln Pocket Watch Conspiracy, an equal-parts cocktail of action, adventure, science-fiction and comedy following a globe-trotting President Taft and Robert Todd Lincoln in a race to solve a mystery stretching back to the Civil War and the Lincoln assassination!