Happy endings in stories

So is it just me or is there a lack of sad/unhappy endings? There arent many stories where the main character dies at the end etc. My high school english teacher once told me it was because Americans are soft. I dunno if he was joking or not…


These are Choice Of games, so taking the choice away from the finale in order to be more dramatic or surprising is kind of a no-no. It just takes away the player satisfaction if they just die or otherwise lose at the end regardless of choice.


I would actually say that most of the CoGs/HGs do have sad/unhappy endings among them, but it is normally easy to get what one would say is a ‘happy ending’, which makes good business sense.


If I’m not getting a happy ending I want the misery of the unhappy ending ramped up to a twelve. To the point where knowing I will literally die in real life. Is more of an escape from the game then the game is an escape from a cold depressing reality


I think it stems from the fact that unhappy endings are hard to make satisfying. A short statement saying you died or otherwise failed isn’t rewarding to get and feels forced or rushed, especially if you’re more than halfway through the game and the failure state happens without warning.


For novels, I think it is okay to have a sad ending. But in interactive fiction, it is quite a different. For me, if the IF has only one ending, no matter what choices I have made throughout the story is a deal breaker for me.


The entire point of a classical tragedy is that it has to come from the choices the protagonist makes. In IF, however, it’s the player who makes the choices, and they might not fit with what would cause the tragedy. Imagine a Choice of Hamlet, where Hamlet doesn’t obsess over revenge, but instead spends all his time making out with Horatio… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Now, quite a few IF games do have bad endings, but they’ll also have good endings, too, because being doomed no matter what you do isn’t a good story; it’s just depressing.


Can be done with, died with honor/ died for spite etc. a game, where you try to die better :grin: . But needs to be a short game IMO. Because if you make all the endings of a long game sad, it would just feel pointless to have choices, as others mentioned. Though i’m not against dying with a nice, satisfactory explanation but again, it’s so hard to achieve for a writer.

I know what you mean. I personally have a preference for bittersweet, or just downright depressing endings. They hit me right in the feels. I guess most people prefer happy endings because… You know, most people prefer being happy. Obviously, IRL, I prefer being happy to being sad, but when it comes to fiction, I prefer what ever stories can make me feel the strongest emotions, and I tend to feel a lot more emotional with sad endings than I do with happy endings. :yum:


I disagree. I mean… What if the character has a choice of how they die? :yum:

(I’m not even joking. Eternal, one of my favourite games over on CYS, has a total of 13 different epilogues, and the player dies in all but one… And the one where they don’t die is even more depressing.) :grin:


Technically, your character dies in the ending of every story. Eventually.


Woa woa woa, not with my story, bruh.

Well, depends on how big your scope is about this “character”…

whistles innocently and quickly covers my collection of WIP’s

Um anyways, yes there definitely are games with bad/unhappy endings (and not all unhappy endings end in death either) although most at least have a mix or are all pretty good. Take a look at paradox factor if you want one that doesn’t end with roses. As for the MC dying, there are definitely stories where this happens. As the “main” ending perhaps not as often though.

If you’re talking in general, after reading a whole lot of mythology, folktales and legends, yeah current media definitely doesn’t favour the bad endings or main character deaths like it used to, but there are some notable exceptions. (Game of thrones springs to mind.) You could go into a big philosophical debate about reflecting the harsh realities, or what constitutes entertainment depending on the time period, but I guess most people now days when they sit down to a movie, want to know that in the end the protagonist is (probably) going to get out of it alive. Still, I can name some where not everyone does and it has actually benefited the movie greatly in terms of impact.

I wouldn’t mind more stories where we die, especially without a choice in it, simply because our choices don’t affect everything in the world. Though normally I do like when we do have a choice in it best, I definitely think we need more sad endings preferably very hard or impossible to avoid ones.

“What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculty! in form, In moving, how express and admirable! In action how like an angel! In apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world!"

What, you mean he didn’t? :laughing:


I mean he didn’t nearly enough. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


“Breaking Bad” also, and we know how just about the only tv lawyer I actually like is doomed to end up with is spinoff “Better Call Saul”. :wink:


I think interactive fiction can be satisfying with a sad ending, but a lot of thought has to go into that ending. Dragonage Origins comes to mind.

The best, truest ending to that game was the one where my character died. She came from nothing, in a world that saw her as less than human, and found the humanity to give her life saving it. Unfortunately that game clearly pushed you toward one of the endings where you survive, and they were written to be much more complete.

Off the top of my head though, the first Life is Strange game and Telltale’s The Walking Dead, have the possibility of sad, but satisfying endings.


The problem with this is that many people playing various forms of interactive fiction do prefer that their actions also influence if you live or die. So for those people, they don’t mind dying but they still had a hand in it along the lines of “I’m not skilled enough” or “I chose to stay behind to buy my comrades time to flee.”

Actually, you would find many people who are dissatisfied with both the ending in Life is Strange, as well as how Tell Tale handles the Walking Dead (and yeah, I’m one of them). After the ending of Life is Strange, I had to take the view of “It is the journey, not the destination.”

With Walking Dead, even that didn’t help. I get it, people die a lot in the universe of the Walking Dead (comic, etc.) and a lot of them are nonsensical deaths. But when essentially every decision still ends in failure (you save one character, only to have them die in the next scene then), time after time, then it isn’t satisfying, it becomes an abuse simulator.

Or Tell-Tales Game of Thrones; once again, another universe you do expect a lot of people to die, have bad shit happen, etc. But how so many of them get their is utterly inept in handling. Then again, I would actually hold Game of Thrones is Tell-Tales weakest game in their current story format.

And yet, I can play a game like Long Live the Queen, and you will die, a lot. And I won’t deny having to turn off the game for a while at times, but when you finally beat it, it is so very satisfying. Of course, it helps that not all deaths are stupid deaths either.

Sabres of Infinity does that as well, though that is a game I actually recommend pairing it with Guns because I don’t feel it does quite as well standing alone.

That doesn’t mean silly deaths can’t work, because they can especially if you are expecting it. The RPG Paranoia comes to mind.


To me, I think the endings should be based on the actions of the player; imo there should always be bad, bitersweet and good endings depending on how well the player did at the game or at the very least at the game finale.

If you make the endings bad no matter what and that can’t be changed by the player, where is the interaction?

This is one of the bad things about the ME3 endings. No matter if you did all sidequests and giant EMS the endings are all kinda bad (the unlogical stuff is another matter). Life is strange is another game with the same problem that imo has awful endings.

In Life is Strange you have to pick the best from two bad choices, and whatever you did before in the game doesn’t help here, no matter how good you did. Another problem is that everyone you interacted this whole time will either die from the storm or you go back in time and the interactions never happened, so what you did the whole game becomes sort of meaningless.