The 6 Most Depressing Happy Endings in Movie History

The 6 Most Depressing Happy Endings in Movie History

Let's face it: very few hit films end with the credits scrolling over dead puppies and weeping children. Movie audiences pretty much demand happy endings.

But sometimes Hollywood slips one past us, giving us a supposed happy ending that is actually depressing as hell once you give it a little thought. For instance:

Return of the Jedi

The "Happy" Ending:

The evil Emperor Palpatine hatches a plan to defeat the Rebellion once and for all by telling them the location of his unfinished superweapon and then telling them how to defeat it. This plan goes about exactly as well as you would expect, and our heroes destroy the evil scourge with the help of some genocidal teddy bears.

Wait a Minute...

That epic battle at the end there? That only destroyed one base and a fraction of the troops the Empire had at its disposal. Sure, Vader and the Emperor were both blown up, but that wouldn't destroy the Empire any more than blowing up the Pentagon would dissolve the USA.

What it does do is create a horrific power vacuum, in an empire with fleets of Star Destroyers and millions of pissed-off troops roving around the galaxy (even more pissed off if the payroll office and all of their checks were in the Death Star).

"So... should we just keep being Stormtroopers, or what?"

Soon these power-hungry military officers would no doubt form factions and destroy entire planets in their brutal attempts to seize power. Eventually Palpatine would simply be replaced by a new Emperor, possibly even one competent enough to devise a plan that can't be foiled by developmentally stunted bears throwing rocks.

Sure, the Death Star was taken out, but that didn't exactly stop them last time. Not to mention that by the time they reach phase twenty-six of their patented "Let's just throw Death Stars at the problem until it goes away" strategy, someone's probably going to decide that maybe the ship doesn't really need an unguarded, torpedo-shaped hole on the outside, thus allowing the Empire to swiftly conquer the entire universe.

Superman Returns

The "Happy" Ending:

Lex Luthor fails in his attempt to kill Superman by stabbing him with kryptonite and leaving him in a shallow pool of water. Superman then stops Luthor's evil plan in a thrilling action scene that consists entirely of Superman holding stuff over his head.

Having saved the world again, Superman says goodbye to his son and flies off into space.


Wait a Minute...

And by "says goodbye to his son" we mean, "For the second time he abandons his crippled, illegitimate son."

The whole setup of Superman Returns centers on earth's greatest hero knocking up his girlfriend and then skipping town for five years. The combination of human and alien DNA resulted in the child becoming weak and sickly, with Lois mentioning that the child was failing gym class (wait, what kind of PE teacher fails a five year old for having asthma?). Also, he has occasional superpowers.

So how does our hero respond when he returns and learns about his son? By breaking into Lois's house, telling him "good luck with the whole outcast thing kiddo", and leaving him alone. Again. So we're left with a kid who has:

1. Superpowers;

2. Gross genetic defects;

3. Good reason to hate Superman.

We're betting that he's going to end up a supervillain, and you know what? If he takes on Superman we think we're rooting for the kid.

Toy Story 2

The "Happy" Ending:

Cowboy dolls Woody and Jessie manage to narrowly escape the clutches of a greedy toy collector who tried to sell them to a Japanese toy museum. Our heroes all return home to their owner, where they can look forward to a care-free future of being violently jerked around by an increasingly strong boy. Everyone lives happily ever after!

Wait a Minute...

Or, at least until Andy throws them away.

In the Toy Story universe, the sentient toys appear to be immortal. The film makes a special point that the toys don't age along with their human owners, so the best-case scenario here is that Andy keeps them around long enough for them to watch him die of old age.

Of course, most people don't keep their toys around that long, and those who do seldom take them out of their original packaging. It's far more likely that they'll all eventually wind up at the bottom of a rotting compost heap, sandwiched between an empty pizza box and a copy of ASS! magazine. Forever.

Let's see Randy Newman compose a feel good ditty about that one. With a fate like that in store, it's no wonder ninety percent of all fiction involving sentient dolls ends with them trying to kill their owners.


The "Happy" Ending:

Robin Williams plays the titular character, an elementary school child trapped in the body of a middle aged man (so he's essentially playing himself). By the film's end, Jack's formerly intolerant classmates learn to love and accept him for the horrifying genetic aberration he is.

Wait a Minute...

All of this just makes it even sadder that Jack won't live to see college.

There's a reason why in other "kid becomes an adult" films, the transformation is brought on by some fantasy element such as a magic ring, or a wishing machine, or a goat sacrifice to Ba'al. In Jack, the main character is instead said to have a rare genetic condition that causes him to age four times faster than normal.

Now, the problem with this is that it strongly resembles an actual medical condition known as Progeria. And, sadly, most people afflicted by this disease don't live past age thirteen, as you'd suspect for a disease that makes you age really, really fast.

So Jack won't get the ending Tom Hanks got in Big, where he magically shrinks back to child-size with the knowledge he'll get to live a normal, full life as the only kid in 8th grade who's boned a grown woman. Of course, knowing that Jack will be walking with a cane by high school is still less depressing than what this movie did to Francis Ford Coppola's career.

The Matrix Trilogy

The "Happy" Ending:

Thanks to the triumph of the human will and several baffling plot contrivances, Neo sacrifices himself and convinces the machines who are enslaving humanity to stop enslaving humanity quite so much.

Over a beautiful sunset, the machines send their Colonel Sanders avatar to announce that any humans who want to be freed from the matrix will be allowed to do so. Thanks, Neo!

Wait a Minute...

Hey, remember in the first movie where they said they don't pull adults out of the matrix? You know, because finding out that every experience they ever had was false and that the real world is a frozen wasteland destroys their mind?

Well, in this new world, the whole, "All of society, history and culture is a computer generated hoax" thing isn't going to stay a secret for long. How do you think society would react to finding that out? How do you think the major religions would react?

Why would anyone get up to go to work after that ("Build a house? Why can't the matrix just freaking generate one")? How do you think starving third-world nations would regard their machine masters, knowing that their misery is purely the invention of the machines, and that the matrix could in fact have rained food down from the sky any time it wanted, but just chose not to?

The world would descend into utter chaos. Luckily, the people can escape the madness any time they want by exiting the matrix!

Oh, wait, they can't. The one city where people can live has been devastated by the robot attack, and there is nothing close to enough housing, food, clothing, fresh water, etc to accommodate even a small country.

Fuck you, Neo!

Back to the Future

The "Happy" Ending:

While on a time-travel adventure, young Marty McFly helps his father become less of a pussy and meet his future wife. After returning to his own time, Marty finds that his formerly dysfunctional family is now happy and affluent, the school bully Biff has been made into an indentured servant, and he has a cool new truck.

Wait a Minute...

Marty's family doesn't exist anymore.

Sure the people in his house look the same, but they have completely different personalities from the people he knew and loved before he hopped in the Delorean. The utterly different direction their lives took basically gives his parents personalities as alien to him as pod people from Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Not to mention the fact that every single conversation and interaction with his parents will be based on a history he has utterly no memory of. How long until they push to have Marty institutionalized, since every memory from his childhood is from some bizarre alternate reality that no one else shares?

On top of all that, while the movie wants us to cheer Biff becoming a menial laborer for the McFlys as a nice bit of karmic comeuppance, we can't help but think that it's a bad idea to give a house key to the guy who once tried to rape your wife.

But hey, at least he got a cool ass truck out of the deal.

For movies that are depressing for a whole other reason check out Rick's look at 5 Awesome Movies Ruined By Last-Minute Changes. Or find out about some action stars whose careers had a less than happy ending in 5 Movie Martial Artists That Lost a Deathmatch to Dignity.

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