"You're asking me, will my love grow?
I don't know, I don't know.
You stick around now, it may show.
But I don't know, I don't know."
Normally, it's easy to recognize when a romance arc ends with a Relationship Upgrade
or an outright Happily Ever After
. The tale may end with True Love's Kiss
, romantic Holding Hands
, an embrace, a mutual Love Confession
or proposal, or even a wedding. Babies Ever After
may ensue, particularly in the credits.
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. In some cases, separated characters are reunited, or a quarrel between two romantically interested characters is resolved, but it isn't entirely certain 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."
Unlike some other forms of No Romantic Resolution
, a Maybe Ever After ending hints at or implies 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 a hint of something romantic developing between the characters.
When adding examples, don't forget that there must be a reasonable
likelihood that the characters in question would end up together. Wishful thinking doesn't count: if you can't point to specific 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 belongs in Relationship Upgrade
, Last Minute Hookup
, Happily Ever After
, or They Do
rather than this trope.
This is a common ending trope in anime adaptations of manga, where it may manifest as an alternative to a Gecko Ending
. In Western literature, it may function as part of a Sequel Hook
. Maybe Ever After is the subtrope of No Romantic Resolution
, which may offer less resolution or may otherwise lack the hint-of-a-positive-ending that characterizes Maybe Ever After.
If your example involves secondary characters whose relationship involves little or no romance arc to speak of, it might be a case of Hooked Up Afterwards
. 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 is unraveled in between the first work and the sequel. Contrast with Did Not Get the Girl
, which may lead to a Bittersweet Ending
This is an ending trope, and not all spoilers will be marked
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Anime & Manga
- Rihoko's arc in Amagami SS ends with Junichi and her apparently closer, but still in his "friend zone".
- Some kind of attraction is implied between Zessica and Kagura at the end of Aquarion Evol.
- Axis Powers Hetalia: The Buon San Valentino strip, in which Germany finally seems to be coming to terms with his feelings for Italy, never got finished, so we never get to see what happened there.
- Brigadoon: Marin and Melan is an unusual example. Normally, if a series ends with Sealed with a Kiss, you assume that They Do, but in context since the ending doesn't say whether Marin goes to Brigadoon with Melan, as opposed to staying on Earth, it's quite possible that this is a goodbye kiss. The new ending theme for the episode may hint at a happy ending, but not in a conclusive way.
- 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.
- 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 almost hint of what happens between them since the end of the series. It is confirmed by their last photo that she's still working alongside him. The third art book had commentary from the author that the military regulations prevent them from getting married, if Riza wants to remain working under Roy.
- Also Al and May Chang. They had some Ship Tease and the epilogue shows May and Al in the Elric family photo, but never clarifies exactly what their relationship is.
- GUN×SWORD: The finale ends with an unexpected reunion between two characters who had gone separate ways years before. They don't do anything but stare at each other, but the jingle from the ring on Van's hat suggests that he's happy to see the all-grown-up-now Wendy.
- The Movie of Gundam 00 has this trope. Just prior to Tieria launching for the final battle with the ELS, Mileina surprises him with a short but cute love confession out of the blue. Right afterward, he hitches a ride to the ELS homeworld with Setsuna and the 00 Qan[T]... and that's it. She's never seen again and it's unknown if he ever returned to Earth... although there IS a Tieria-type Innovade aboard the Sumeragi fifty years later.
- 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.
- Mahou Sensei Negima!
- Konoka and Setsuna in the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue are deliberately taken right to the border of They Do. Both are shown in wedding kimonos, and any reader knows that Setsuna is deeply in love with Konoka, but while it explicitly says they got married, it doesn't say if it was to each other.
- While the finale seems to sink the primary ships concerning our young hero in the immediate sense, it also left several options open (including said sunken ships).
- Monster has ambiguous endings for minor characters Karl and Lotte and between main characters Nina and Tenma, who show hints of potential romantic interest by the end of the series, but who are (temporarily?) separated by education and work.
- The anime of Ouran High School Host Club ends without definitively establishing which of her two major Love Interests Haruhi will choose, although there are some pretty strong hints.
- Ranma ½ ends with the secondary finances/crushes on both sides crashing Ranma and Akane's wedding. Soun says that another cannot start until they sort out these relationships. On one hand, the two agreed to the wedding and Ranma confessed his love earlier, but on the other, it's ambigious if Akane remembers the confession (long story) she didn't explictly confess, and Ranma's motives for the wedding were not entirely motivated by love.
- The anime of Welcome to the NHK's includes a declaration of love, and it sure looks like it's mutual. But at the very end, Satou and Misaki are meeting together as usual, and though they are clearly involved in each other's lives, it isn't clear whether they are involved as friends or as romantic partners.
- Robin and Amon in Witch Hunter Robin. They've had heavy Ship Tease from the start, and while the ending has Amon basically agreeing to stay by her side for life (in case she ever loses it and needs someone to stop her, though it's shown neither believes such a thing will happen), we get no confirmation of anything.
- Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny ends on this note for Athrun and Cagalli. They were together at the beginning of the series, then a war and politics got in the way, Cagalli almost got into an Arranged Marriage with another man, harsh words were said, and near the end of the series Cagalli is shown not wearing the engagement ring Athrun gave her. It's obvious they still care for one another, but whether the relationship is salvageable is unknown. Also, Athrun's given some Ship Tease with Meyrin and Cagalli tells her to 'take care of him' just to make it more confusing.
- In the Trigun anime, its implied Meryl has feelings for Vash, but by the end of the story its never made clear whether he feels the same way.
- The anime of Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga Shuraba Sugiru ends like this. He and Masuzu confess their feelings to one another and he then tries to get all the other girls to hate him so that he can avoid "the battlefield". This somehow leads to some kind of weird individualized pseudo-Relationship Upgrade with each of them(Hime now thinks she can hold him rather than have him hold her, Ai now has his seal(blood) on her "marriage certificate" and thinks she is as good as his wife(she intends to have the form recognized officially once they graduate... because that will work), and Chiwa apparently is now spurred into being more sexually aggressive with him(she kissed him out of nowhere)). However, Masuzu seems to have the upper hand and actually be the object of his affection. Probably.
- In MÄR, this might be the case with Koyuki/Snow and Ginta. The anime ending is significantly more suggestive than the original manga. Given their feelings toward each other, and the fact she's the only one of his potential love interests still with him at the end, this may have been the implication.
- Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai! zig-zags the issue all over the place. Kyousuke and Kirino are unambiguously in love. But right after their mock wedding and Big Damn Kiss, it turns out they decided to end their relationship, because brothers and sisters can't really get married. But Kyousuke kisses her in the epilogue, and there's a vague implication that they're secretly still in a relationship...maybe.
- Patlabor: For much of the The Mobile Police/New Files continuity, Noa and Asuma have a Strictly Professional Relationship. Still, there's no denying they have chemistry. Their bond is such that their squadmates clearly believe their relationship goes deeper than "just friends". Yet, there's No Hugging, No Kissing either, though they've gone out while off duty. The last 2-3 episodes suggests they might be be headed towards actually becoming a couple, but still leaves it ambiguous.
- Throughout the entire series Yu-Gi-Oh! had a subplot involving Anzu's Two-Person Love Triangle with Yugi and Atem. At the end, Atem goes to the afterlife, and the series ends without saying whether or not Yugi and Anzu wind up together. The first episode of GX is set ten years later, and a grown-up Yugi appears, but gives no backstory on what happened in the interim. Thenceforth, several other characters make cameos, but nobody reveals what happened to any of the characters after the first series.
- The anime version of Genshiken ends this way between Sasahara and Oguie due to the show being Cut Short. They do get together in the manga and their budding relationship is explored.
- Yuugen Kaisha: There's no denying the attraction between Ayaka and Detective Karino, but Ayaka is obstinate and plays hard to get. She isn't above flirting with him though. At the end, she starts to confess her feelings for him, 'til her top pops open due to Clothing Damage from her duel with Mukyo. Naturally, he can't help but look and gets decked for it. It's left unclear whether he still has a shot with her, afterwards, or if he's ruined his chances for good.
- The last chapter of the Superjail! fanfic An Unexpected Child has this sort of ending, with the Mistress hinting to the Warden that she might go out with him after all just before she and the rest of Ultraprison leave.
- Earth and Sky: The Ship Tease between Braeburn and Rainbow Dash isn't brought up again after chapter 34, where them getting together was left as a possibility in the future.
- At the end of the Star Trek fanfic Memories Born Of Fire, Spock tells Christine Chapel that he has to sort out whether taking a human wife would work out. However, he tells her to ask about the possibility of a Relationship Upgrade later.
- 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.
- Mulan This is odd for a Disney movie and especially one that's marketed as a Disney Princess movie. It 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."
Film (Live Action)
- In Lockout Snow and Emilie end the movie with her punching him in the face, him being very surprised and saying "For a second there I thought you were going to kiss me!" and then they walk off into the sunset together as he says that he can't see the relationship going anywhere and her responding that it all depends on how good he is in bed. He laughs and says that, in that case, it will last about ten minutes.
- 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.
- The film Scott Pilgrim vs. The World ends this way.
- The six-book series it's based on does too; it's mostly a Gainax Ending (or, if you're uncharitable, a No Ending).
- Mal and Inara at the end of Serenity.
Mal: So, you ready to get off this boat and back to civilized life?
Inara: I, uh...I don't know.
- The ending of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
- Paul & Michelle (1974) ends this way, with Paul and Michelle separated, but holding out some hope that he will keep his promise to return to her again in three years when he's finished with college.
- The Rebound ends in this way with the main couple sitting down to dinner with their extended family, secretly holding hands.
- Broadway Danny Rose has a Bitter Sweet Ending but ends on a glimmer of hope with Danny Rose chasing after Tina though its unclear if his accepting her offer of friendship will extend to anything more than that.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, they had this happen between Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood, something which definitely didn't happen in the books. Neville mentions to Harry that he's going to find Luna so that he could tell her that he loved her, but whether he actually did or not, and whether the confession was before or after their scene on the stairs, is left vague. According to Matthew Lewis (who played Neville), they got together for a "summer fling", but eventually moved on to their canon pairings.
- In My Fair Lady, Eliza returns to Henry, and it is clear from both their responses that they're reconciling after their quarrel. There is romantic interest on both sides, but no definitive sign of a Relationship Upgrade.
- Going the Distance has one after Garrett moves closer to Erin and they re-connect at the concert.
- The drama adaptation of the manga Yankee kun to Megane chan has this for Adachi and Shinagumi. The former finally confesses in the last few minutes and the latter seems to be playing hard to get, grinning and teasing him by feigning obliviousness when he asks her for an answer. Things are looking good though.
- The film In Good Company has Dennis Quaid's character's daughter (played by Scarlett Johansson) breaking up with Topher Grace's character midway into the movie. The ending hints that they are possibly still romantically interested in each other but did not actively pursue it.
- Before Sunrise ends with Jesse and Celine very clearly in love, despite only having met the night before, but having to seperate and return to their homes in American and France respectively; they agree to meet up again in Vienna six months later, but the audience doesn't find out if they made the rendezvous and it's left to each person's individual opinion to decide. This fact was remarked on by many critics of the film, and hearty lampshaded in the sequel.
- Then a sequel was made almost a decade later that clarified things: Jesse made the rendezvous, but Celene didn't due to a sudden family emergency.
- Definitely, Maybe has Will reuniting with April after not talking to each other for many years and even sharing a kiss, though given their past relationship, it may not be a sure thing that they will get together.
- In Rear Window, Jeff and Lisa are a couple at the end - the question is whether they're going to last. Early on, Jeff says that their relationship can't work out, because their lifestyles are too different - he's a photographer who takes dangerous assignments, she's a fashion model. Lisa can't really counter this, but they still remain together. The ending scene shows the ambiguity of their future; Lisa is wearing a shirt and pants instead of her earlier, impractical high-fashion outfits, and she reads a book called Beyond the High Himalayas. However, once she notices that Jeff has fallen asleep, she puts the book away, and starts reading a fashion magazine — showing that she hasn't really changed.
- In John Tucker Must Die, Kate and Scott still had some unsolved feelings for each other. Beth, Carrie and Heather noticed and begin to act as Shippers On Deck when the movie ends.
- In The People I've Slept With, the final scene shows Angela meeting Jefferson a few months after the other events of the movie. At this point, the other issues have been resolved and it appears they may resume their relationship.
- Trish and Han in Romeo Must Die. Apparently, the movie originally had more explicit romance between them, but these scenes didn't go over well with test audiences, so their relationship is left ambiguous.
- In The Apartment, CC Baxter is definitely in love with Fran, but at the end of the movie her exact feelings toward him are still ambiguous.
- Kissing Jessica Stein ends with Jessica getting dumped by Helen, but then there are hints that Jessica might get back together with Josh.
Live Action TV
- That '70s Show ended this way for Eric and Donna. Although they had been the show's primary couple for the first seven seasons (sans Season 4), Eric left the cast in Season 8, and they broke up offscreen. He returned for the finale, but his scenes with Donna did not make it clear whether they were reconciling or not.
- 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.
- The X-Files series ends this way. The romantic arc for Mulder and Scully had been going pretty much since day one, and even after they were officially a couple and had a child, they couldn't be together. The final scene of the series ends with the two cuddling on a hotel bed while on the run from the FBI. It was the first time they'd been able to do such in over a year, and it ends with Mulder saying "Maybe there's hope." It's unclear about where the relationship is going or even where they're going. The 2008 movie "I Want to Believe" shows that they had bought a house and were living together like a married couple. Chris Carter actually played on this trope in the trailers for the movie, as the trailers imply that Mulder and Scully were no longer together.
- Veronica Mars ended this way, with hints of possible feelings lingering between Veronica and Logan. In this case, the lack of resolution might simply be a result of the series being canceled.
- Single Father ends on an optimistic note but without a definitive happy ending for Dave and Sarah.
- Played with in the finale for JAG. During the last ten minutes, Harm and Mac finally admitted their love for each other after nearly a decade and she accepted his marriage proposal. However, as she was being reassigned to San Diego, and he was reassigned to England, the show did end on a question mark, as they literally flipped a coin to determine whether Mac would resign from the Marines or Harm from the Navy so they could be together.
- Ugly Betty ends this way with Betty and Daniel together in London, but not necessarily "together". Again, the lack of resolution may be a result of the series being canceled.
- An interesting case in Chuck. After two and a half seasons of Will They or Won't They? Chuck and Sarah become an Official Couple after the mid-season finale of Season 3, and marry at the end of Season 4. Season 5, however, ends with Sarah Mind Raped by the Big Bad Quinn with a faulty Intersect, wiping out much of her memory of the past four years and turning her against the team and leaving her believing her marriage to Chuck was part of her mission. By the end of the first part of the finale Sarah is shown that these events were genuine, but she doesn't feel them now. The second half drops hints that her memory hasn't been entirely destroyed and she may recover, and the very last scene is of Chuck and Sarah sitting on the beach from the premier with Chuck telling Sarah their story and both laughing as he tells her about their adventures over the last five years. The episode and series closes on a kiss between them, but the ending is ultimately ambiguous over whether Sarah's memory and feelings will ever fully be recovered.
- Though Word of God is that the ending was meant to show that Sarah has always loved Chuck and always will.
- Happens in one episode of Castle. The main witness to a crime has amnesia and doesn't remember anything. As a part of the investigation the police end up bringing in his ex-wife (who he doesn't remember). At the end of the episode the two of them decide to go out on a date together.
- The last episode of Stargate Atlantis hints at an attraction between Ronon and Amelia Banks, a gate room technician and Action Girl with kickboxing skills.
- At the end of Measure for Measure, the Duke proposes to Isabella, a novice in a religious order. She never replies, so the script leaves it unclear whether she accepts or declines. Depending on which performance you see, however, this might be played as a Maybe Ever After: some theater companies depict her given a sign of consent or acceptance. Others have the actress assume an expression of dismay or shock, implying a rejection.
- Sophie and Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier.
- Cripple Billy Claven and Slippy Helen McCormick in Martin McDonagh's The Cripple of Inishmaan. Possibly a Belated Happy Ending as the next play in the trilogy, The Lieutenant of Inishmore introduces Mairead and Davey Claven, a sister/brother duo with personalities eerily similar to Helen and her brother Bartley respectively. Billy was established as having no living relatives. This hypothesis depends on how long Billy lives after the ending of The Cripple of Inishmaan.
- Hal and Catherine in Proof.
- The Addams Family musical technically ends on this for Wednesday and Lucas. The implications are on the heavy side, just short of actually confirming their marriage, but it's apparent that both have gone through some Character Development and may still have a few issues to work out. (Averted in the tour version, where a brief wedding scene is part of the curtain call.)
- Arnold and Nabalungi in Book Of Mormon.
- The stage version of Holiday ends with Linda running after John, who has just broken up with her sister Julia. Her brother Ned drinks a toast to them and to his grandfather. Curtain. We're never told what kind of relationship John and Linda end up having, we can only hope that Linda wins John's heart in the end. The 1938 film adaptation adds an extra scene of the couple reuniting, and ends on their kiss.
- Blaze Union's C ending hints that protagonist Garlot and his childhood friend Siskier might be getting together in the near future—if for no other reason, because their third childhood friend Jenon (who had a crush on Siskier) and Garlot's first crush Nessiah are both conveniently dead, leaving Siskier with no more obstacles. Remarks by the creators in an interview confirm that they eventually do get together.
- Rikku and Gippal in Final Fantasy X-2. The scene where he says they were together (which Rikku denies) is optional though she does have a few moments in the game that suggests otherwise and the two are seen leaving the Farplane holding hands.
- Nearly every single possible pairing in Final Fantasy XII. Vaan and Penelo have known each other a looooong time and are travelling together at the end, Penelo's final line being "Every sky pirate needs a partner" and that's it. Supposed Platonic Life Partners Balthier and Fran get a bit of Ship Tease in the game, as do Balthier and Ashe, though nothing ever comes of either relationship.
- In Gloria Union, the B ending involves Elisha sending a letter to Ishut that hints at her having feelings for him, and Ishut's comrades teasing him about it. Aside from that, nothing.
- The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks. The constant strong Toy Ship of the game would suffice by itself, but it goes further. The last shot of the game is Link and Zelda holding hands in a very romantic tone. Also, in two of the three epilogues of the game we see that they still are together in some way.
- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword as well. After chasing/saving Zelda for the entire game the two of them stand together on top of a statue where the game previously teased a kiss and look over the landscape. Zelda decides that she's going to try to make a life for herself there and asks Link if he'll be doing the same. He smiles and the game ends.
- Solatorobo strongly implies that Red and Elh will get together in the near future (and, as of DLC Quest #8, Elh knows Red's feelings, though he has amnesia of the event and Elh has decided to wait until he comes to his senses on his own, rather than trying to push for anything - despite the fact that asking to remain together was what prompted Red to begin to confess). Less strongly implied but still quite possible is Beta Couple Merveille and Béluga.
- Tales of Graces. Hubert and Pascal. Before the final cutscene the ship looks almost sunk, as Hubert has already confessed his love to Pascal and she essentially didn't get it. But in the ending cutscene she interacts with him and nearly no one else, gives him an Affectionate Nickname, and meows at him. Then resident Big Brother Mentor and Troll to end all trolls, Malik, takes Hubert aside, gives him Pascal's communicator, and encourages him to "tame the stray cat." During the credits there's a sketch of Hubert sitting at a fountain and receiving a message from Pascal.
- Some of the non Miou endings in A Profile give a hint to a possible Kaine/Miou relationship developing in the future. Before this, Kaine was alternately jealous of and angry with Masayuki regarding Miou because he felt that Masayuki broke up with her in a harsh way.
- In Katawa Shoujo, Shizune's route ends with Hisao, his girlfriend and her best friend going their separate ways for now, but promising to meet again one day.
- In Penny and Aggie, the title characters, having tried and failed at a romantic relationship in their last year of high school, keep in touch through college and beyond. The comic ends with their five-year High School Reunion, during which they discuss their recently-ended relationships with others, and what they've learned from those and from each other. In the final strip, Penny asks Aggie what she thinks they mean to each other now. Aggie smiles and says, "Now's when we find out."
- The final episode of Code Lyoko left a hint the Ulrich and Yumi might get over their Unresolved Sexual Tension, but left it really unclear.
- 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 as 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.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In the episode "Hearts and Hooves Day", Big Mac and Cheerilee fall in love due to a love potion given to them by the Cutie Mark Crusaders. At the end of the episode after the potion has been cured, they're last seen pretending to still be in love before going off to have a picnic. It's left ambiguous whether they're just friends putting on a act to troll the CMC or whether there's actually something going on.
- Implied -by Word of God- with Ferb and Vanessa in Phineas and Ferb.