Earn Your Happy Ending / Comic Books

  • Transmetropolitan is set in a crapsack future that's not too different from our world, just more futuristic and more screwed up. When Gary Callahan becomes President of the USA, he starts to turn it into an authoritarian state. Over the course of trying to bring him down, Spider Jerusalem, the main character, starts to suffer from a seemingly incurable brain condition. In the end, however, he manages to take down Callahan, survives and ends up being among the one percent that doesn't suffer from major long-term effects of his condition, but lets everyone else believe that his brain is a mess so he can live in peace. The world is still a mess, but not really worse than it was at the beginning of the series.
  • Preacher is this trope. Even more surprising since Garth Ennis is the writer, and the man is best known for writing gritty, bloody stories. Jesse is resurrected after being shot by Starr's men, he reunites with Tulip and they ride off into the sunset. Cassidy is also resurrected, cured of his vampirism and decides to finally mature and become a better person, all the while cherishing his friendship with Jesse and Tulip. Arseface find himself a woman who doesn't see his deformed face (seeing him as a conventionally handsome young man) and The Saint of Killers finally gets to rest in peace. On God's throne.
  • Marvel 2099: Manifest Destiny ends the 2099 line in this way. After several series of escalating catastrophes, culminating in a mass flood wiping out almost all of humanity, a re-frozen Captain America is discovered. He finally fills everyone in on the cycle of events that turned the 2099 universe into such a Crapsack World, and Miguel is able to steer what's left away from total annihilation. By the year 3099, war has ceased, humanity has accepted mutants and superhumans as their successors, and Earth has become one of the dominant forces in the universe.
  • During Mark Waid's run on Fantastic Four, the eponymous group ends up in Heaven. Then they meet God—who happens to look like Jack Kirby. He gives Johnny a sketch of the foursome—something to remember the trip by—and tells them 'you'll earn it'. The sketch? The Fantastic Four: merely older, happy as ever, close as ever, and a caption that reads "To Be Continued!"
  • Marvel Universe since 2004 to 2010. First, Scarlet Witch goes crazy and kills some people and the Avengers disband. Then House of M wiped ninety percent of the mutants on Earth, and stopped new ones from being born. Then heroes have to fight each other, one of Earth's greatest heroes dies, another makes a deal with the devil, another is labelled a fascist, Hulk is shot in space by people he thought were friends, has to fight for survival on another planet, and when he finally finds a place when he's accepted and loved, it's destroyed, so he comes back, pissed off. Then Bishop betrays the X-Men while Mister Sinister infiltrates the X-Mansion. Then we find out that Skrulls have infiltrated the superhero community, destroying the last bits of trust among heroes. And when they attack, the heroes taste Pyrrhic victory. Oh, and then Norman Osborn becomes the most powerful man in the United States, creates the Dark Avengers, attacks and destroys Asgard and....Good guys won. At that same point in time, various anti-mutant forces conspired to commit a single act of genocide that would destroy all of mutantkind by killing the last 200 mutants on the face of the Earth, starting with Cable and Nightcralwer and... Good guys won there too. After all of it, the heroes still won, managed to overthrow all those things, and their lives are returning back to normal, heading towards a Heroic Age.
    • Post Heroic Age, Cyclops manages to maintain the peace for a while by founding a mutant "nation," but concerns about his increasing radicalization lead the Avengers to attack the X-Men, all the while the Phoenix is baring down on Earth. Ultimately, several of the X-Men are possessed by the Phoenix and proceed to go Drunk with Power, with the force ultimately ending up in the hands of Hope... who does exactly what everyone thought she'd do and restores mutants' powers. Sure, Cyclops was arrested for his actions while possessed, but he plainly considers it Worth It, and everything ultimately works out okay for him too.
    • Except for you, Spider-Man. Though, one might say that by the end of Spider-Island, ol' Spidey prolly earned his happy ending. Except at the end of Spider-Island, he loses his latest girlfriend...though considering most of the fandom never liked her to begin with, one might say he earned a different kind of reward being freed from her. He also got Mary Jane to admit she still loved him, although he wasn't privy to her declaration of love.
    • And then, of course, it gets blasted when Doctor Octopus occupies his body and pretty much kills him. Then, he comes back and fixes a lot of the crap Doc Ock did to him.
  • Spider-Man pays a heavy price earning his happy ending in the Marvel Comics 2 Universe's version of his mythology, which follows a lot of his late 90s continuiity. After apparently losing his baby at the hands of Norman Osborn, Peter is left to deal with Osborn's resurfacing as a legit buisnessman and a huge bounty placed on his head as he is framed for the gajillionth time. He's stalked by a mysterious new Green Goblin, the original Hobgoblin, and yet another son of the then-deceased Kraven The Hunter, before he finally clears his name. In the 616 continuity, he defeats Norman Osborn and is reunited with his elderly Aunt May and goes on to live in luxury with Mary Jane, having retired as Spider-Man... until the pull of the ol' "power and responsibility" kick gets the better of him again. In the MC 2 Universe, Peter is reunited with his infant daughter, but opts to remain Spidey anyway. Things go well for him and MJ before a fateful final battle with Norman Osborn costs Peter one of his legs... ouch. Peter decides that THIS is as big a wake-up call as ever to grow up and he puts his web-swinging behind him to raise his daughter... and then his daughter grows up, realizes she has powers, and sets about continuing where her father left off. Peter just can't catch a break trying to earn some peace and quiet... but that's why we love 'em.
  • Top 10: Beyond The Farthest Precinct. The villain becomes a caring a benevolent God despite his seeming death, and everyone is happy. May seem contrived but good damn did they earn that happy ending.
  • Neil Gaiman's Batman epilogue "Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?" (Batman #686; Detective Comics # 853). Batman eventually realizes that he's having a near-death experience at the end of his life, and comes to accept that even though any telling of the story of Batman has to inevitably end with his death, what defines him is that he will have never given up or stopped fighting to protect Gotham City or to save even one life, and that having the opportunity to do that as Batman has been its own reward.
  • Kingdom Come. After going to hell and back, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman (despite having major differences) manage to get along, save the day and restore the world population's faith in the heroes by basically acting like heroes, leading to a CMoH in the epilogue shared by Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman.
  • This is the biggest problem with the Utopia Initiative in Squadron Supreme. They do come up with solutions to crime, poverty, war and even a stop gap measure for death, but the solutions are generated, implemented and maintained by a small team of superheroes and rely on them to maintain it. Humanity didn't earn its happy ending the way Zarda's Utopians must have.
  • After ten years of Love Dodecahedrons, Romantic False Leads and Tear Jerkers, Strangers in Paradise ends with Katchoo and Francine finally proclaiming their love for each other.
  • Wallace from the Sin City story "Hell And Back" went through an entire army of assassins and even saw an old friend die in order to be reunited with his girlfriend Esther. Not only did he earn his happy ending, but considering the typical ending to Sin City stories, someone had to earn a happy one sometime.
  • Scott Pilgrim has the titular character start out as a slacker recovering from the calamity of his previous relationship and haing a pretty okay life. The books have him confront the various mistakes in his life with his new girlfriend, Ramona Flowers. She herself also conquers her demons so she could move forward with Scott.
    • Also applies to Scott's friends as Scott moving forward helps them do the same: Stephen Stills is revealed to be Straight Gay (or bisexual) with a new relationship after the on-off mess with Julie (granted, he is dating someone who is a male and possibly more mercurial version of Julie, but progress is progress), Kim and Scott have delved with the fallout of their relationship, Knives is going to university while keeping in touch with Scott, Young Neil is now Neil and so on. While it's implied that all of them still have work to do, they're heading in the right direction.
  • Whatever Happened to The Man of Tomorrow?: As the Grand Finale to Silver Age Superman, this counts. He defeats all of his famous villains, Loses four of his closest friends, breaks his oath not to kill and loses his power in penance for the act. However because he beat all the villains, he can FINALLY retire in peace.
  • Luther Arkwright: When Luther appears in Heart of Empire, he has retreated to a war-ravaged world where he serves as a pacifistic healer and diplomat. Victoria herself chooses to abdicate and turn over power to a democratic government, leaving Albion to explore the world and "to end animosity, to make amends, to facilitate recovery".
  • From The Flash:
    • The The Trial of the Flash storyline ran for over two years and had the Flash's life being completely wrecked several times, but in the end Barry and Iris are married happily together in the future.
    • Geoff Johns' run on the title when it starred Wally West also counts. Under Johns, Wally had to deal with the birth of the new Zoom, a former friend of his he failed to save and resolved to make Wally a better hero by forcing him to experience tragedy. Zoom would go on to cause his Wally's wife Linda to miscarry their twin children. After that, Wally learned that his mentor Barry was not the squeaky clean, white knight hero Wally thought he was, and in fact dipped into some very morally grey territory. After that, Wally had to deal with the reformed Rogues turning back to their villainous ways but upping it to eleven. Then, he had to deal with a war between various groups all calling themselves the Rogues. And finally, Zoom would return, with Professor Zoom in tow, and force Wally to relive his attack on Wally's wife repeatedly before Wally eventually beat him. At the end of all this, Wally got a second chance at being a father, with his twins being saved, Zoom admitting he was wrong in what he did before disappearing (he got better) and Wally coming to the conclusion that being the Flash is never about tragedy, but about always moving forward.
  • Deconstructed in the first arc of "Artifacts" in the Top Cow universe. Jackie Estacado manages to create a perfect life for himself when he destroys the universe and recreates it In Their Own Image, with Hope alive remaining as his daughter, but Jenny Romano as his wife and Hope's mother, rather than her original mother, Sara Pezzini. With the fact that Jackie perverted the universe to make himself have a happy ending, ruining lives in the process, the wielders of several of the other Artifacts, namely the Magdalena, Tom Judge, and Finch (the new wielder of the Angelus) go out to try to punish him, and Sara herself enters an Angst Coma as a result of learning that her daughter was stolen away from her.
    Jackie stole a child from her mother. He perverted the universe's designs for his own needs.
  • Convergence:
    • The writers have stated that many of the previous status quos will receive closure. Examples:
      • Superman and Lois have their first baby and name him after Clark's father.
      • Both Stephanie Brown and Barbara Gordon finally get their They Do with Tim and Dick. We see Babs and Dick's Wedding Day and Tim and Steph almost have Their First Time before injuries force them to decide to wait a while. In an alternate unvierse, Dick ends up patching things up with Starfire instead, being a different happy ending.
      • Dreamslayer pulls a Nice Job Fixing It, Villain that allows Roy Harper to finally have his daughter, Lian, Back from the Dead. Lian has no idea what Roy has been through since she died, but the happiness one can feel for the character is unreal.
    • The series as a whole has an overtly happy ending: the Crisis on Infinite Earths is averted, the original Multiverse is reborn, Telos' prisoners are freed, the Earth-2 survivors find a new planet to call home and Brainiac and Telos attain some measure of redemption.
  • Volume 3 of Kick-Ass ends the trilogy on a far better note compared to the first two volumes. Chris dies somewhat redeemed after refusing to go through executing Mindy out of remorse for traumatizing his mother with his crimes, allowing her and Dave to kill off much of the Mob and the corrupt cops, while Vic is brutally maimed and intimidated into turning up state evidence. Mindy's stepfather Marcus was cleared of wrongdoing and is allowed to return to the force, where he immediately leads a purge of its corrupt elements as well as crackdowns on the severely demoralized Mob. While the two have since cut off all contact, Dave is now happier with Valerie and has given up superheroics for good in favor of becoming a cop, while Mindy goes on a worldwide vigilante hunt, though she still sends flowers to her mother once in a while.

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