Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Sad vs happy endings

I have to admit that I don't mind watching a movie or reading a book where the hero doesn't have a happy ending. Okay, it has to be done well because I have seen some movies where I just feel like the director just wanted to trash the main character, but then I have also seen some movies where the happy endings felt to have come around through too much of a coincidence and everything is "too" happy. 

So, how can a sad ending be worthwhile to the reader or viewer? That all depends on how the story and characters develop. I have to believe the main character has tried their hardest to overcome their problem or defeat their antagonist and still nothing has worked. These storylines are often present in apocalypse stories where the viewer knows that no matter what the character does, they're still not going to be able to stop the big tragedy that's coming, but the character still tries to change the outcome. If the character doesn't try and just gives up (yes, I've seen movies like that) then the ending sorts of fizzes out.

Okay, here is my personal choice: I would rather have a character try and fail than to have a character not try and just be given their happy ending. A sad ending with a hero that has put everything into trying to achieve his goals is better than a coincidental happy ending where everyone gets what they want even though they have not earned those things.

What do you think? Would you prefer the happy ending or the sad ending? 


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I admit a happy ending is my first choice, but at the very least it has to have a satisfactory ending, even if it's bittersweet. (My first book ended in that manner.)

Unknown said...

I can't remember where I read this recently, but when someone asked an author what happened to their characters after the happy ending, he/she replied something along the lines of "things got harder." I am a sucker for a happy ending. We don't often get them in life (gosh, I'm such an optimist!) so I like them in books or movies. I agree with Alex, though: it has to have at least a satisfactory ending. But if it's downright sad just for the sake of being sad, no. Just. No.

Mina Lobo said...

I tend to seek fiction/films where a happy ending's practically guaranteed; reality's far too difficult as it is, I don't need disappointments in my entertainment. Having said that, I don't care for a treacle sweet ending, either. And yeah, I do prefer the good stuff comes to a character after that character worked for it, but I see that as wish-fulfillment also.

Unknown said...

Like most people I enjoy happy endings, although they're not always realistic. Life has a way of dishing out strings of bad endings without any happiness in sight.

Yolanda Renée said...

It depends on the book, but like Mina, I like happiness in my entertainment. What I find more distressing is a story that doesn't end -- just goes on to the next book. The beginning, middle, and end has gone away and while I love a series, or a trilogy -- each book must stand on its own. Well, that's my opinion... :)

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