Sliding Scale of Endings
Originally, the word "comedy" meant that the story ended on a positive note, and the word "tragedy" meant a Downer Ending (or, at the very least, a Bittersweet Ending). The meanings of these words have evolved over time, but the concept remains: Some stories end happily, and others...not so much. This is a scale of how happily a given story is bound to end. See Multiple Endings when a work has more than one possible outcome (good, bad, AND neutral).
- Deus ex Machina: Something completely out of left field saves the day.
- Golden Ending: Top of the list, variant of Multiple Endings. Usually invoking Earn Your Happy Ending. Everybody Lives is generally a prerequisite.
- Happily Ever After: The good guys win, the bad guys get their comeuppance or redemption (depending on the villain), and everyone is happy.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: The good guys will have to slog through a great deal of mud and tragedy first, but, ultimately, everything ends well. At least, for the ones that survive.
- Everybody Lives: Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- Surprisingly Happy Ending: You have braced for a Bittersweet Ending, but things turned out a lot better than you expected.
- Bittersweet Ending: The good guys win, but due to terrible tragedies, they will not be able to fully enjoy the victory. Alternatively, the heroes die, but everyone else good is happy.
- Ray of Hope Ending: Alternatively, the bad guys win, but there are still hints that the heroes can turn things around, and all is not lost.
- Multiple Endings: A character's actions in the game decide how the ending turns out.
- No Ending: The ending is ambiguous. Did the heroes win, or did they all die horribly? The author or creator ain't talking, so it's up to the viewer to decide.
- Bolivian Army Ending is a subtrope.
- Gainax Ending: The ending is confusing and full of Mind Screw; differing interpretations can lead it to being placed in any of these three categories.
- Downer Ending: The good guys lose. They might at least get to take the villain down with them, though.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Or not.
- Have a Nice Death: You've lost the game and are dead but at least you get a cheery message about it.
- Shaggy Dog Story: An Anti-Climax renders the events of the whole story moot.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The bad guys win. Or nobody wins and the whole ordeal is a waste of time and human lives.
- It's a Wonderful Failure: A game player has screwed up big time and has to watch the repercussions.
- Pyrrhic Victory: One side wins, but they are so ruined that the net benefit is minimal or even negative.
- Sudden Downer Ending: You fought hard, you got that Infinity plus one sword, you pulled 100% Completion...And the best you can get is a Sadistic Choice.
- Cruel Twist Ending: A story that screws the heroes at the very end.
- Diabolus Ex Machina: Similar to the above, but it comes out of nowhere.
- Esoteric Happy Ending: Happily Ever After in the mind of the writer/director, Downer Ending or Shoot the Shaggy Dog for the audience.
- Kill 'em All: Exactly what it sounds like.
- Earn Your Bad Ending: A bad ending out of multiple endings that can only be seen if the player goes out of the way to achieve the requirements to watch it.