Happy Endings


I think it’s more important that it’s a satisfying ending. By that I mean, can you read the happy endings and sad endings and say that they both feel like appropriate ways to end your story?

A happy ending can be really unsatisfying if it doesn’t feel appropriate and a sad ending can be really satisfying if it feels like it fits.


I remember back when I was in college my Literature prof. had us do an essay on the conclusion of a–I can’t remember if it was a Stanford or Harvard–literature study titled “The Death of the American Tragedy”, which was at the time (early-2000) tragedies in American literature were on the severe decline for the past couple decades (for the most part it still is). Increasingly American literature goes out of its way for a happy ending for “good feels” all around, or some attempt at an overly sappy sentimentality in attempts to uplift the reader. And while there is nothing wrong with this in of itself, the study concluded that it does have a somewhat destructive element for literature, because part of the point of a tragedy is to be a showing, testament, and/or reflective quality of the ever enduring human spirit through trying adversity; because while everyone has their high and low points–when striking that low point–there isn’t always an up-swing to it. Thus the purpose of a tragedy (or tragic/sad/bad ending) being to strike a level of relatability, mourning, empathy, and invoke the reader to gain a “stiff upper lip”, i.e. the very qualities of the endurance of the human spirit.

Personally, while I agreed with the study, my greatest problem with an abundance of happy endings and the decline of tragic endings, there are those authors who then in attempt or delusional belief that they’re being avant garde will then go for a “kill them all” narrative where damn near everyone dies (if not all) within the narrative in a sort Macbethian fashion. At which point it is not only lacking in any shock value, but becomes predictable and cliche, and the “tragic” ending then becomes if not hamstrung and nonsensical, it’s just silly and fails to impress.

Again, it’s just another one of those things where it depends upon execution. I don’t mind narratives where the hero dies, and in some cases I expect it (like the Mass Effect series, while there were those who disliked Shepard dying, I didn’t mind at all and I love my femsheps, personally I liked the endings for ME3). Though, I understand tragic endings aren’t for everyone, but I’d personally urge people not to dismiss them out of hand. While at the same time hope that authors who are going for them are not simply going for the mere shock value conclusion but the most convincing and even persuasive finality.


In Unnatural I intend to let players continue playing even if their character dies. Instead of the world and story just ending then and there (forcing a replay to get a survive save) they will take a different character so they can see the world reacting without the input of the Azure MC.

I hate the idea that just because Character A dies at the end of the game you only just get a brief epilogue of what happens to the world, why not let people use Character B to actual see it and play through it?


Is it ok if I ask what happens at one of the endings of unnatural?


@Epwarrior1 If you wish to know what happens in Unnatural please post on the relevant Unnatural threads, or send NocturnalStillness a private message. Don’t bump a discussion that’s been dead for a year and a half.

I’m not locking this post in case anyone does want to continue the discussion of happy endings in games.


I think it depends on the story that is being told. Yes, I believe there should be at least one or two endings that “lean happy”, but that doesn’t necessarily mean “fairytale happy ending”. It might be that a “perfect” ending doesn’t exist for a certain story.

I’m thinking of Paradox Factor here…the way it was originally written there was one ending, but after the dust settled on feedback we wound up with four. All of them were different, but which one was the “best” was rather a question of taste and preference (I personally preferred the “Batman” ending and was actually unwilling to complete one of the other endings).


I don’t like perfect endings, because they often disrupt the narrative (getting the girl, redeeming the villain, saving everyone, and living happily ever after without any consequences and having everyone love you). However, I do like scenarios where if you work hard, you can have a ‘win’ scenario where the consequences are based on character reactions and relationships.

I like games that allow you to have your happy ending, but having it come with a price, especially since this is a choose-your-own-adventure genre. :slight_smile:

EDIT: thinking about it a bit more, this may be somewhat off-topic, but I think more important than a happy ending is a satisfying one. Dandelion: Wishes Brought To You is a very atypical otome game (where you play as a girl who has to fall in love with one of several men) in that all of the endings are very heart-wrenching, but they end on a hopeful note. It’s unusual because most “good” endings in otome games end with marriage and such between the protagonist and her chosen bachelor, but Dandelion doesn’t do that at all. Without spoiling anything, it’s left open to interpretation that the two characters have the means to achieve their happy ending now, even if you as the player never get to see it.


I like happy endings. Or happy-ish endings.

What I mean by happy- ish ending is that you can go through the game gather some friends and an RO then you’d have to fight the villain or group or whatever it is. In that fight you kill the bad guy, and your friend/ro/you or the world suffers or dies.

In my opinion whenever I play a CoG I play what I would do. I try to keep my friends,me and my RO alive, everything else doesn’t really matter at that point. If I can’t save my friends then they die and I can deal with it. If my RO dies, I’m less okay with it but it makes for a good ending. However I detest it when I die and there’s no way around it . That almost always leaves me with that, “you chose poorly” feeling.


I’m one of those people that can only really enjoy a happy ending(with the MC surviving being very important, with very few exceptions). Even bitter-sweet isn’t really good enough for me. They tend to just make me feel sad and unsatisfied. If an overall positive ending has been brought up at some point in the game, I need it to happen, or I’ll be disappointed. To use Mass Effect as an example, my prefered ending would have been Shepard and his\her LI surviving, along with every race(including Geth), the Reapers being destroyed and all Prothean tech still working fine. I would have been happy. I think the God of War series is the only time I’ve ever been OK with the MC dying at the end.


Actually, I think what people like would be a thematically appropriate ending, not just a happy ending. If, say the story is about the importance of sacrifice and the characters have been sacrificing everything they have and cherish so that others may continue living, is it appropriate to the theme that the story teller suddenly hits the reset button and give the characters back what they’ve sacrificed just so that the characters can have a happy ending?

So it’s best to see which ending will suit decisions and choices made by the characters along the way and give them their appropriate ending, whether it’s sad, happy or bitter-sweet. That’s most likely what most people want in a story, I think.


Not everything is perfect, I kinda feel turned off by happy endings. If it’s a bit happy not really but when everything is just perfect in it it ruins the ending for me


Happy endings are pretty important to me. I don’t mind the occasional sad ending if it fits the game (like The Walking Dead), but it always depends on who exactly dies (or suffers some other irreversible fate) and what happened before that.

For example, I cried for, like, half an hour when Lee died, but it didn’t ruin the game for me, because my top priority was always Clementine. She survived, so I could look forward. Now in Season 2, I was DEVASTATED when I couldn’t save Sarah. THAT ruined the game for me and I still haven’t been able to touch it again, much less play the last episode. In this case, my priority character got capped in one of the most tragic way possible, and that is not okay.

I’m fine with working for my happy ending, but there has to be at least the possibility of achieving it. (And I do mean a happy ending. Not a bitter-sweet one. There has to be at least ONE path that leads to sugar-coated sweetness.)


Ancient thread is ancient but to heck with it, I’ll throw my two cents in anyway.

Overly cheery endings make me projectile vomit and overly depressing endings make me feel apathetic and are often rather anti-climatic.

There needs to be some balance, as anything too extreme is always bad. Bittersweet endings are usually my favourite kind. Happy endings with a great cost. Though I don’t mind downer endings so long as they aren’t trying too hard and I don’t mind happy endings as long as they aren’t cliche as all heck and TOO perfect .There needs to be at least a little grit to keep me interested.

Maybe it’s because I’m a depressingly cynical, pessimistic and overall negative bastard. So anything too “cheery” makes me more than a little nauseous. It’s interesting to note I’ve never ever liked any kind of utopian setting. I always despise them. They’re like an entire society of Mary Sues to me.

Not to mention, works featuring utopias tend to preach to the reader of the author’s political, religious, philosophical or ideological viewpoints. And I do so very loathe preachiness. Even if the work is preaching in favour of something I agree with. I came to be entertained, not proselytized.

Above all: What type of ending it is doesn’t really matter, it’s the execution of it that’s important. I say bittersweet endings are my favourite kind, but what I really mean by that is in my opinion they’re usually the best written. I’ll happily embrace a grimdark downer ending or sugar coated sugar with sugar filling ending so long as it’s written well.

Also, when I say “bittersweet ending”, I mean the “World Half Full” kind. Not “World Half Empty”. Because I also tend to dislike the latter. Despite what I said earlier, you could say I’m more of an optimistic cynic.

Good examples are the likes of the Fallout series, which is a horrible, depraved setting to live in and it’s implied that it was somehow even WORSE pre-war. Like a nuclear apocalypse was humanity’s redemption instead of it’s doom. Unless of course the post-war generation never learns from the mistakes of their ancestors.

But, as the series goes on, the world seems to be getting better and although by the end of it the Fallout setting will always be a very depressing place, you can at the very least make a small part of the world somewhat better in each game. (Incidentally, you can also make it alot worse.)