A story has an AmbiguousEnding. Did Bob win? Did Alice survive? Did the world find out what really happened? Either we just don't know, or WordOfGod says it's all [[ShrugOfGod open to interpretation]].

Years pass. Then the author decides to return to the story, and a sequel or semi-sequel is released. It turns out Bob did win, Alice did make it out alive, the world found out about the truth, and everyone got their happy ending. This isn't just WordOfGod -- the sequel itself shows us what happened after the end of the first story.

Compare IKnewIt, which is about fan theories being proved right, whereas a Belated Happy Ending is specifically about the characters (regardless of fan theories). See also MaybeEverAfter, an ending which this trope can resolve. The inversion is HappyEndingOverride where the heroes' victory and happy ending [[ShootTheShaggyDog is turned into dust and ruins.]]

'''Since this is an ending trope, needless to say there will be spoilers ahead.'''


* The ending of ''Anime/DigimonTamers'' was fairly ambiguous, but then the sixth movie came out, showing that everyone did, indeed, reunite with their Digimon.
* ''Anime/{{Patlabor}}'': In the OVA continuity, officers Noa Izumi and Asuma Shinohara [[StrictlyProfessionalRelationship were partners]], though the chemistry between them and several episodes implied [[ImpliedLoveInterest it might've gone deeper than that.]] But [[NoHuggingNoKissing the lack of any outward signs]] of affection and the series' ending left the official status of their relationship [[MaybeEverAfter in question.]] ''Film/TheNextGenerationPatlabor'' is set 15 years after the OVA and serves as its DistantFinale. During which, it's revealed that [[TheyDo Noa eventually married Asuma]] sometime after the OVA's conclusion.
* ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima'' ended with a ton of unanswered questions and offscreen happenings, namely who Negi liked and how the [[BigBad Lifemaker]] was defeated respectively. The StealthSequel ''Manga/UQHolder'' has answered most of the lingering plot threads and gave definitive answers to who Negi was attracted to and showed how the Lifemaker was ultimately taken care of.

* In ''ComicBook/AdventureTime'', the defeat of the EldritchAbomination LegionOfDoom in the "Dungeon Masters" arc releases Gata, Finn's and Jake's [[RememberTheNewGuy erased adopted sister]] from an earlier arc, from her status as a doomed ApocalypseMaiden and allows her to fully exist without causing horrible consequences, although it doesn't appear that the other characters recover their memories of her.
* In ''ComicBook/ElfQuest'', the original authors eventually got back to writing the comics, and saved several characters who were LeftHanging in old plotlines: Ahdri gets rescued from the caves in which she was trapped for centuries, Strongbow and Moonshade are granted another daughter, and The Broken One finally gets healed.

* ''ComicStrip/LittleOrphanAnnie'' ended with Annie in the hands of a notorious assassin, who while he wouldn't kill her [[WouldNotHurtAChild because she was a kid,]] still refused to let her go because she might report him to the authorities, so she was stuck with him. Daddy Warbucks, meanwhile, had assumed her to be dead, and gave up hope of ever seeing her again. A crossover with ''ComicStrip/DickTracy'' a few years later finally reunited the two in a FullyAbsorbedFinale.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* ''Fanfic/ACrownOfStars'':
** In 2009 a fan wrote a real depressing and dark story called "[[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/5158315/1/A-Throne-of-Bayonets A Throne Of Bayonets]]". Five years later another fan read the story, thought the main characters deserved a happier ending than being two broken wreckes, and wrote an authorized sequel where they get slowly over their worst traumas and fix their strained relationship.
** In a short scene the main characters of "[[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/2748982/1/The-Way-Out-is-Through The Way Out Is Through]]", a fic written in 2008, also appear and are given a chance to have a happy ending.
* Back in 2006 [[http://en.touhouwiki.net/wiki/Asatsuki_Dou Asatsuki Dou]] released a horribly depressing ''VideoGame/{{Touhou}}'' doujin called "Happiness". Not quite two years later they released "Happy End", which exists entirely to give "Happiness" a happy ending.

* At the end of ''Anime/FinalFantasyVIIAdventChildren'' (one of the sequels to ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII''), [[spoiler: Aerith and Zack]] are finally shown to be reunited in the afterlife. And it isn't until the end of the film that Cloud shed the emotional hangups that kept him from being with Tifa and embracing a more proactive role in healing the world.
* For the 2006 rerelease of ''WesternAnimation/TheNightmareBeforeChristmas'', the new soundtrack includes (among a few other new additions) [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npvD5dsCKtI a new spoken word epilogue]] with Sir Creator/PatrickStewart playing SantaClaus, which manages to conclude Jack and Santa's relationship on a ''far'' happier note than the movie did. In the epilogue, Jack and Sally are HappilyMarried with [[BabiesEverAfter children]], the Holidays have all become aware of each other, and Santa and Jack have put aside their differences and become dear friends. It concludes on a heartwarming note, making it clear that Santa has forgiven Jack, and that Jack doesn't regret a single moment of his one and only Christmas.
-->''"Would you do the whole thing all over again?''\\
''Knowing what you know now, knowing what you knew then?"''\\
''And he smiled like the old Pumpkin King that I knew,''\\
''Then turned and asked softly of me... [[spoiler: "Wouldn't you?"]]''

* ''Literature/TheHitchhikersGuideToTheGalaxy.'' To start, Creator/DouglasAdams had expressed the desire to continue after ''Literature/MostlyHarmless''' DownerEnding, but AuthorExistenceFailure caught up with him. One of his acquaintances, Creator/EoinColfer, was then given the rights to finish it by Adams' widow, and the book, ''Literature/AndAnotherThing'', ends on a fairly happy ending compared to the previous one.
* A [[TrilogyCreep sequel]] to ''Literature/TheDarkswordTrilogy'' was written a few years after the series was completed, in which [[spoiler: Simkin]] turns out to be alive, the war is finally settled, and Joram gets to finish all of his unfinished business.
* In Creator/WilliamGoldman's ''Brothers'', [[spoiler:Scylla]] (a character who was thought to have died in ''Literature/MarathonMan'') is brought back, and finally gets a chance to reunite with ''Marathon Man'''s main character, Babe. [[spoiler: Then the world ends.]]
* In Creator/WilliamGoldman's ''Buttercup's Baby'', the short story sequel to ''Literature/ThePrincessBride'', we find out that the characters did escape from being chased by Humperdinck in the original novel's open ending. Buttercup and Westley have a baby (as the title says). Interestingly, the story also wraps up some plot elements from Goldman's unrelated novel ''Control'', although it's a bit of a GainaxEnding.
* ''Literature/TheClubDumas'' by Arturo Perez-Reverte has a group of bibliophiles competing over the collection of rare manuscripts. One of them is a treatise on sword fighting. Its author is Don Astarloa, the main character from his previous book ''The Fencing Master'', who'd spent most of the story trying to write a treatise on fencing. Apparently he finally finished it.
* The ending of LoisLowry's ''Literature/TheGiver'' is extremely ambiguous and heavily implies that [[spoiler:Jonas and Gabriel die]]. In the last two books of the quartet, ''Literature/{{Messenger}}'' and ''Literature/{{Son}}'', we learn that [[spoiler:they both survive, and that Jonas manages to become leader of his community before setting it aside to start a family with Kira, and Gabe reunites with his birthmother]].
* ''Literature/{{Blindness}}'': One person regained her sight in the end of the novel, but the sequel takes place years after forgetting the whole incident.
* ''Literature/TheTaleOfPeterRabbit'' ends with the title character sick and in trouble with his mother for losing his clothes. Its sequel, ''Literature/TheTaleOfBenjaminBunny'', shows that Peter was traumatised by the events of the first book, but his mother forgives him when he recovers his clothes. He grows up to be OlderAndWiser in later books, and has a happy life as a successful cabbage farmer and CoolUncle to Benjamin's children.
* In Goethe's ''Faust'', Mephisto takes Faust with him at the end, while Gretchen dies. In the sequel, Faust gets saved by... supernatural means.

* In the ChristmasSpecial of ''Series/TheOfficeUK'' (which was filmed after the main series was completed), Tim and Dawn finally get together.
* Anthony in ''Series/TheRoyleFamily'' spends his teen years being ignored, lightly bullied by his father and unemployed. When he does married and get a good job, his wife cheats on him and leaves him. Then he meets Saskia, a beautiful nurse, falls in love and has another kid.
* After the MaybeEverAfter that closes ''Series/{{Spaced}}'', the "Skip to the End" documentary demonstrates that Tim and Daisy eventually had a little girl together and are still living in the same flat.
* In ''Series/HowIMetYourMother'', Marshall's boss Arthur Hobbs lost his beloved dog Tugboat to his wife when they got a divorce, which he didn't take very well in season 6. We find out that by the time that [[spoiler: Robin and Barney were engaged]], he had gotten back custody of Tugboat.
* The episode of ''Series/TheYoungIndianaJonesChronicles'' documenting the [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarI Battle of the Somme]] (after which the surviving Allied soldiers are all taken prisoner by the Germans), it is heavily implied that Indy's Belgian friend Remy is shot dead amidst the chaos; Indy doesn't meet up with him in the prison camp in the next episode. Soon afterward the series was cancelled...only to be (sort of) revived a few years later as a series of made-for-TV movies. In one of them, the war ends and Indy and Remy are happily reunited.
* The Doctor and River Song's relationship in ''Series/DoctorWho'' ultimately has a BittersweetEnding -- the first time he meets her as Ten is the last time she meets him; their relationship hasn't happened yet on his end. He manages to upload her into the Library after her death, and from there his Eleventh self learns how she came to exist, fall in love with him, and so forth. But by the time his televised tenure is over, there is one key event not revealed -- the circumstances of his ''second-to-last'' meeting with her, a dinner date at the Singing Towers of Darillium. It was suggested that this happened offscreen, but two-plus years after the last story to feature her ("The Name of the Doctor", the Series 7 finale) came the ChristmasEpisode "The Husbands of River Song" (which aired post-Series 9). This episode reveals that Eleven kept putting off the date; rather, the '''Twelfth''' Doctor fulfills that meeting...in fact, engineers it (and the circumstances of her being uploaded) based on the knowledge he's had since "Silence in the Library" when a starliner they happen to be on crashes on Darillium. And a night on Darillium lasts '''twenty-four years''', so River Song finally has a full measure of happiness with her "sweetie" at last, fulfilling this trope -- in fact, the episode ends on the text "And they lived HappilyEverAfter...", though by way of acknowledging the fundamental bittersweetness of it all, the words dissolve first to "And they lived happily", and then to just "happily".
* The cancellation of ''Series/VeronicaMars'' after its third season didn't leave much room for any resolution, let alone a happy one. Six years later, nearly [[TimeSkip nine years have passed]] in-universe when Veronica returns home in ''[[BittersweetEnding an]]'' ending. She gives up her normal life of soon becoming a New York corporate lawyer (quitting with job offers from prestigious firms and an impending Bar exam in the near future) to start her [[CallToAdventure life of a private investigator]] anew. Even though her father is [[OverprotectiveDad less than thrilled]] and she has left behind a life of privilege and a semi-stable relationship, and is now addled with student loans, the tie-in book sequels make it clear that this homecoming is the closest she has come to peace. And even though his military life separates Logan from her twice in the span of a year, this is the closest any of them have ever come to a happy ending in [[CrapsackWorld Neptune, CA]].

* In Jimmy Dean's famous country song "Big Bad John", a heroic miner [[LoadBearingHero holds up the roof of a collapsing mine]] for long enough to everyone else to get out alive, but [[HeroicSacrifice is killed himself]]. In the less well-known SequelSong, "The Cajun Queen", his wife arrives, digs down to the bottom of the mine, and rescues him, bringing him back to life with TrueLovesKiss.

* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX2'': The first game ended on a bittersweet note [[spoiler:with Tidus disappearing]]. The sequel sets to rectify this and, while the conflict the protagonists face is pretty big, it doesn't reach the heights of the previous game -- the BigBad is a dangerously powerful machine as opposed to an EldritchAbomination that can't be killed. There are multiple endings for the player to get and most of them (bar one bad ending you get if you lose the FinalBattle) are happy. The player can choose [[spoiler: whether or not Yuna can reunite with Tidus]] and if she doesn't, the ending is still uplifting because she has moved on.
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyV'', Gilgamesh was lost to the Void. Three games later, in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVIII'', he returned - and has appeared in pretty much every Franchise/FinalFantasy since. Even, retroactively, the ones before V. Then ''[[VideoGame/DissidiaFinalFantasy Dissidia 012 Duodecim]]'' came out, and revealed, once and for all, that Gilgamesh ''is'' alive. Wandering dimensions at the mercy of the Rift, but alive, and determined to get back home.
* The ending of ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'' was vague as to the outcome of the cast and human beings in general. A post-credits scene which showed exactly ONE of the party members still alive 500 years later (A slow aging lion-type creature) did little to answer questions as to the fate of the cast either. Cue the eventual Compilation EIGHT years later, which finally set the record straight.
* In ''VideoGame/VagrantStory'' (which takes place centuries after ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyTactics''), various item descriptions mention the Zodiac Brave Story from the first game, naming Agrias, Orlandu and several others as well-known heroes. That means the Durai report from ''Tactics'', containing a true account of what happened during the war, was eventually accepted as historical canon.
* Related to the above, we only found out Ramza and Alma survived the events of ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyTactics'' '''15 years''' after the game's initial release, courtesy of a [[WordOfGod Twitter post Yasumi Matsuno made on Valentine's Day 2012.]]
* In ''VideoGame/BaldursGateIIThroneOfBhaal'' (the expansion pack to the second game), Sarevok, the villain from the first game, can finally find redemption.
* Akiha's True Ending in VisualNovel/{{Tsukihime}} is rather bittersweet at best and very ambiguous on whether or not [[spoiler:Shiki is even alive.]] The sequel/sidestory Kagetsu Tohya then had the short story "A Story for the Evening" which follows said ending. It reveals that [[spoiler:he is alive.]]
* The True Ending of the first route in ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'' ends with [[StarCrossedLovers Saber and Shirou separated]]. Saber dies in the past and Shirou resolves to follow his dream, which is heavily deconstructed in the other routes with the implication that he'll ultimately end up [[spoiler:following a similar path to Archer]]. The ''[[UpdatedReRelease Realta Nua]]'' version has a GoldenEnding where the two are reunited in Avalon, which also reveals [[spoiler:Shirou didn't go down the same path as Archer because he had the goal to finally reunite with her]].
* ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'' is an unusual case, as virulently hostile fan reaction to the original ambiguous-to-depressing potential range of endings led to the release of postscript DLC that improved it. A short turnaround time later and most of the endings are clarified to being some form of [[spoiler:everything is eventually rebuilt and life goes on in peace]], with the exception of one which is a flat-out DownerEnding (but can only be achieved with the [[EarnYourBadEnding very specific outcomes]] of [[spoiler: you have the bare-minimum War Assets and choose the Destroy ending]]).
* ''VideoGame/{{Persona 4}}'': While the original game concluded rather bittersweetly, with the protagonist [[spoiler: [[ButNowIMustGo leaving Inaba, possibly forever, with the reassurance that neither he nor the friends he made would ever forget their happy times together]]]], subsequent releases, from ''Arena'' to ''The Golden'' have all-but reversed that initial conclusion by [[spoiler: allowing the Protagonist to repeatedly visit Inaba and generally keep in touch with everyone even years later, confirming his lifelong friendships with all involved]].
* ''VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehog2006'' ends with Sonic erasing the events of the game from history... Except for Silver, who remains living in the CrapSackWorld [[BadFuture of his time]], and with his best friend Blaze now living in another dimension. Come ''VideoGame/SonicGenerations'' in 2011, Silver is reunited with Sonic & Blaze, and instead of returning to his own time at the end of the game, winds up living in the present with the BadFuture he comes from no longer a possibility. And he was also RescuedFromTheScrappyHeap, too.
* Happens a lot in ''Franchise/SilentHill'' games. They all have MultipleEndings, but occasionally a sequel to an older game will confirm one of those endings directly or indirectly - usually for the better. Examples include:
** ''VideoGame/SilentHill3'' confirmed the Good (or Good+) ending of ''VideoGame/SilentHill1'' by showing [[spoiler: Harry and Alessa/Cheryl/Heather had survived]] four years after the original game was released. Similarly, ''VideoGame/SilentHillHomecoming'' confirmed the Normal endings for both ''Silent Hill 3'' ([[spoiler:mentioning Douglas' work had brought The Order's downfall, indicating his - and therefore Heather's - survival]]) and ''VideoGame/SilentHillOrigins'' ([[spoiler:protagonist Travis Grady shows up visibly aged, though alive and well, for a cameo]]).
** [[SubvertedTrope Subverted]] with ''VideoGame/SilentHill4'', though, which further confirms the worst possible ending available for ''VideoGame/SilentHill2'' - that [[spoiler:James is missing, having probably committed suicide]]. ''[[AmbiguousSituation Maybe.]]'' The only thing that ''Silent Hill 4'' makes clear is that James never returned to his old life; [=SH2=]'s creative director has gone on record that there is [[ShrugOfGod no official canon ending to James' story]], and players were meant to choose whichever ending that offers the best closure for themselves, so whether [[spoiler:James drowned himself in Toluca Lake, remained in the town to try and revive Mary, or left with Maria or Laura to start over again]] depends on what one personally feels he ''should'' have done.
* ''VideoGame/DragonAgeInquisition'''s DLC ''Trespasser'' gives one to counter the DownerEnding that ''VideoGame/DragonAgeII'' ends with: [[spoiler:Varric inadvertently ends up becoming Viscount of Kirkwall when his complaints about one of his schemes being stymied by there being no official Viscount in the town and the complaint being misinterpreted as a volunteering for the post, and, depending on the state of things with the other [=DA2=] companions, his auspices give them a chance of a good life.]]
* ''VideoGame/PokemonSuperMysteryDungeon'' has Armaldo, who last seen in ''VideoGame/PokemonMysteryDungeonExplorers'' being arrested as an outlaw and forced to give up teaching Igglybuff exploring, now living a free and honest life as an explorer and befriended another Igglybuff as shown in his rescue mission.
* The final Advertising/SegataSanshiro commercial had him sacrifice his life to prevent a missile from destroying the Sega headquarters. Fourteen years later, however, ''[[VideoGame/SegaSuperstars Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed]]'' revealed that, against all odds, he survived - his vehicle in that game is ''the missile''. Likewise, ''VideoGame/ProjectXZone 2'' further confirms his survival (and he's even managed to ditch the missile somewhere).
* ''VideoGame/TheWitcher3WildHunt'' has potentially this scenario if Geralt romanced Yennefer or Triss, but got the DownerEnding in the base game. Completing the ''Blood and Wine'' DLC expansion has whichever Geralt romanced show up at his vineyard at Corvo Bianco. Yennefer even moves in with him.

* ''WesternAnimation/BatmanBeyond'': While TheReveal in [[FullyAbsorbedFinale "Epilogue"]] caused a bit of a BrokenBase, the episode finally gave resolution to [[OfficialCouple Terry and Dana]]'s relationship, which made them and their shippers very happy.