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We can all recognize a happy ending to a romance plot. The tale may end with True Love's Kiss
, an embrace, a mutual Love Confession
, or even a wedding. Babies Ever After
may ensue, particularly in the credits.
But what about those romance plots that end on an ambiguous note? What if both parties seem interested, and there's no definitive "no," but there's no kiss, no embrace, and no wedding? This can occur when a story ends with the tentative start of a new relationship, rather than with the culmination of the relationship. Alternatively, separated lovers are reunited, but they don't confess their love. In some cases, a quarrel between the two involved characters is resolved, but it isn't clear where the relationship is going to go. Instead of a "yes" or "no" answer to Will They or Won't They?
? we get "probably" or "kinda sorta maybe."
When Maybe Ever After
is in play, the ending of a romance plot hints at or leaves open the reasonable
possibility of a successful conclusion to a romance arc. However, the degree of resolution can vary widely. At one extreme, a Maybe Ever After
ending can strongly imply that the characters in question are entering into a long-term relationship, coming just short of explicitly indicating that. At the opposite extreme, there may be just the merest hint of something romantic developing between the characters. Especially at the latter end of the scale, there may be disagreement among fans as to how to interpret the ending. That said, when adding examples, don't forget that there must be a reasonable
possibility that the characters in question would end up together. Wishful thinking doesn't count: if there is no evidence of a potential romantic relationship, leave it out. Likewise, there must be at least some degree of ambiguity about the status of the relationship: if the ending leaves absolutely no doubt about the fact that the two characters are a long-term item now, the example doesn't belong here.
Compare Hooked Up Afterwards
, where there's little or no previous romance plot to speak of, and No Ending
, which offers even less resolution. See also Belated Happy Ending
, where a sequel clears up the ambiguity of a Maybe Ever After
, as well as Downtime Downgrade
, where the resolution gets unraveled in between the first work and the sequel. Contrast with Happily Ever After
, Last Minute Hookup
, Bittersweet Ending
, and Did Not Get the Girl
This is an ending trope, and not all spoilers will be marked.
- The anime of Kaze no Stigma ends with Ayano using her "bond" with Kazuma to bring him back to himself. However, despite the fact that she's been forced to acknowledge her feelings for him, there's no real resolution to the romance arc: just a hint that there's potential for their relationship.
- The anime for Trigun also ends with a Maybe Ever After: Meryl is left waiting for Vash to return to her. She loves him, but it isn't entirely clear how he feels about her.
- Ranma ˝ ends with this.
- GUN×SWORD: The finale ends with a reunion between Van and Wendy. They don't do anything but stare at each other, but the jingle from the ring on his hat suggests that he's happy to see her.
- Roy and Riza from Fullmetal Alchemist. Fans can debate forever on whether or not they love each other, but even in the epilogue where there's Babies Ever After for other characters there is no hint of what happens between them since the end of the series.
- Ergo Proxy fits this: Vincent/Ergo Proxy chooses Re-l over Monad, and they both escape from Romdeau unscathed, but they're separated and it's unclear what Re-l thinks of his new self-appointed duty to kill off the human founders of Romdeau.
- The anime of Kuragehime leaves Tsukimi's UST with Kuranosuke and Shuu unresolved, despite otherwise being a happy ending.
- My Fair Lady: Henry's last words to Eliza are "Where the devil are my slippers?" She brings them to him, suggesting a reconciliation. It isn't clear, though, on what terms they are being reconciled.
- Sleepless In Seattle, a chick flick that ends with the romantic leads meeting for the first time.
- In the romantic comedy One Fine Day, the protagonists don't even make it as far as dinner together. Instead, they fall asleep on the couch at the end of a tiring day.
- At the end of The Graduate, Ben saves Elaine from the wedding she doesn't want to have, and they jump on a bus. So what happens then? We don't know.
- In the revised ending of Great Expectations, Dickens implies (without explicitly stating) that Pip and Estelle will end up together. It's noteworthy that the original ending had Estelle marrying someone else instead.
- Unlike The Song of The Lioness and The Immortals, both of which ended with clear romantic couplings, Tamora Pierce's Protector of the Small ended on a Maybe Ever After note, just hinting that something might develop between Kel and Dom.
- Patricia C. Wrede's The Raven Ring ends with Eleret turning down one suitor and traveling homeward with the other. However, the relationship with Karvonen is just beginning, so this falls into "Let's see where this goes" category.
Live Action Television
- Spaced ends this way for Tim and Daisy. They had some very subtle UST built up, and the finale revolves around Tim getting Daisy back to live with him, but it's not a romance that pulls them back to each other. It was intended to be followed up in a third season, but the show was ended by the creators. A while later, a DVD extra was filmed showing they had hooked up and had a baby.
- Marsha and Mike are the same as they share a final scene together that implies but doesn't state at all that they will get together.
- While wasn't the end of the entire series, Goren and Eames leaving Law & Order: Criminal Intent after the later takes a promotion and keeps it just long enough to protect the former from going through a lengthy trial (which will lead to him being sacked in disgrace) by firing him is played like this (Word of God says it was left open so the Broken Base can just pick the one they prefer).
- In Justice League Unlimited, the Love Triangle between Shayera, John, and Vixen is closed out by John declaring his intention of staying with Vixen. However, given the existence of John and Shayera's Kid from the Future, as well flashbacks that reveal John and Shayera are a Reincarnation Romance, this is less than convincing. Word of God states that John and Shayera will eventually be together.
- Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman ends with Bruce and Kathy driving off into the sunset together. However, anyone familiar with Bruce's track record with relationships isn't going to hold their breath for the wedding. Even more so when it was a Foregone Conclusion that Bruce would end up all alone.
- Oddly, for a Disney movie, especially one that's marketed as a Disney Princess movie, Mulan ends with what is essentially Mulan and Shang's first date. No declaration of love, no kiss, just a "hey, let's get to know each other better." The sequel has them marry--if you count it.