A happy ending for ALL. In short, some stories end in victory for the heroes and villains alike. The Bad Guy Wins, but not in detriment of the hero, and certainly not as a Downer Ending. How can the story achieve an end like this? Sometimes, hero and villain can work out a compromise to their mutual benefit. Sometimes, heroes and villains can find a way to bypass each other on the way to achieving their goals. Sometimes rain falls on the just and the unjust alike, and both manage to bring in a good harvest. Perhaps the villain's goal was not bad in itself, so the hero prevented its disastrous side-consequences. Perhaps the President Evil realizes that he can still be a Manipulative Bastard getting wealth and power all without the interference of the Congress, the Supreme Court and the press by stepping down to just being a Corrupt Corporate Executive. Perhaps what the villain really wants is money, and he learned that he can get even more money legally. Perhaps he is in it for revenge, and drops everything when he realizes that his loved one was Not Quite Dead. The trope is more likely to take place in productions for children or in humorous settings. It is easier to come to an agreement with a Harmless Villain or and Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain than with an Eldritch Abomination who wants to destroy the universe For the Evulz. Also, see Morality Tropes for ways to throw audience expectations off regarding hero/villain divisions. Compare Sweet and Sour Grapes, which may contribute to this ending for either or both sides of the Conflict. Sub-Trope to Happy Ending. This is an Ending Trope, so expect spoilers.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- At the end of Macross 7, the Protodevlin discover that they can create Spiritua by singing, rather than needing to steal from humans.
- In Naruto, the very long-running villain Pain realizes that his and Naruto's goals are the same but winds up preferring Naruto's approach over his own. He ultimately sides with Naruto and dies happy by sacrificing his own life to resurrect everyone he just killed.
- Many villains in One Piece end up being even more well-off than before they took on (and got clobbered by) the heroic Straw Hat Pirates. The most prominent case is Wapol, who was previously an oppressive king in a failing kingdom and, indirectly due to the Straw Hats' meddling, became a CEO for a toy company and now makes weapons-grade metal for the World Government's military (that only he can make). Both positions make more money than he ever made as king.
- Er, subverted somewhat, as he goes on to rebuild his own Drum Kingdom after the two year Time Skip with a much more evil motif. Yeah, seems Wapol didn't learn diddly squat during his exile.
- Irresponsible Captain Tylor: Episode 23 features the conflict between Earth and the Raalgon coming to its climax... and then Tylor, the leader of Earth's forces, refuses to fire on the enemy, instead opting to pass through their lines peacefully. His unnatural luck, paired with his counterpart Dom's sense of honor (both of them repeatedly countered orders to fire from subordinates, believing in the other), caused the great conflict's final battle to end without bloodshed - a sympathetic retired admiral on Earth sent a message to both commanders congratulating them for both achieving victory (by going for peace).
- In Girls und Panzer, the final confrontation between Miho and her sister Maho's schools ends this way. Miho, in winning the tournament, saves her school from being shut down, enabling her to return for her third year with all her friends, and validates her own style of tankery. In doing so, she also makes this also a victory for Maho, whose greatest desire and reason for serving AS Nishizumi heir is for Miho to be able to live and do tankery her own way, and be happy doing so.
- Shakugan no Shana ultimately ends this way. A god named Fu Xi was awakened by the prayers of his followers, the Crimson Denizens, and planned to create a new world for his subjects to live in, away from the conflict with the Flame Hazes. Under the impression that the amount of Power of Existence that this plan would require would damage the Earth, the Flame Hazes fought back, and, in the end, sealed the god away. Cut to the present, and Fu Xi is released once again by Bal Masque, the antagonists of this series. This time, however, Fu Xi enters a contract with Yuji, and is renamed as 'The Snake of the Festival'. A second great war breaks out between the Flame Hazes and the Crimson Denizens, but Yuji and the god succeed in creating Xanadu, and were even able to do so without disrupting the fabric of reality around Earth. The conflict between the the two warring factions was now over, as the Crimson denizens relocate to Xanadu (alongside Shana and Yuji, to boot).
- Cardcaptor Sakura has this ending, as befitting a series with no real villains. The Clow Cards, antagonists of the first arc, end up with a new loving master who can sustain their power. Eriol, the antagonist of the second arc, only created conflict to help Sakura succeed, and took as much pleasure in her victories as she did. By the end of the series, with all the new relationships forged and old fences mended, everyone ends up better off than they did at the start.
- Asterix at the Olympic Games: The Romans (who are only the Designated Villains in this story) train the legionnaire Gluteus Maximus to take part in the Olympic Games. When the Gauls find out about the Games, they send their own champion, Asterix. They discover too late that they are not allowed to use magic potions in the games, and Asterix can not beat well trained Romans. However, he plays a Batman Gambit on them, so they are all disqualified, and Asterix becomes the unopposed champion. But he did not take the Palm of Victory home: as he had no use for it, he gave it to Gluteus Maximus, who is promoted to Centurion, and Centurion Gaius Veriambitius is promoted to senator.
- The first appearence of Arkon, in The Avengers. He comes from Another Dimension, and the rings of his world (similar to our sun) begin to collapse and shut down. He discovered that the first atomic explosion could light the skies for a brief time, and a higher explosion at a certain place would light Polemachus forever. Of course, Earth would be destroyed, but who cares? The Avengers follow him to that dimension, and then again to our world... except for Iron Man and Thor, who stayed in Polemachus. In no time, Iron Man built a machine lighted by Thor's lighting, that solved the problem without destroying earth.
- "What if? Civil War" has an alternative ending for the civil war. Both sides of the conflict save Goliath from the clone of Thor, and then Captain America and Iron met in an office, discussed the problem as adult people, and find a way to prevent superheroes doing disasters as in Stamford and, at the same time, keep their secret identities safe.
- In the ElfQuest Holiday Special episode there's a major grudge fight between Cutter and Rayek where they almost end up killing each other. The win-win part is that it lets Cutter burn out his (admittedly justified) aggression toward Rayek, allowing them to become allies, if not actual friends just yet.
- JLA/Avengers: The heroes get a great victory, the Grandmaster win a game... and Krona, as a cosmic egg, would experience first-hand the birth of the universe, the knowledge he was seeking all along.
- The first story arc of the Young Avengers. Hulking discovers that he is a Kree-Skrull mongrel, son of Princess Anelle and Captain Marvell. The Super-Skrull want to take him to the Skrull homeworld, the Kree want to take him to the Kree homeworld, and he just wants to stay in Earth. How do we deal with this? He proposed to stay a year in each world, to know each one, and then decide. Kree and Skrull are satisfied. And when they leave... the real Hulking shows up, he's not going anywhere: the Kree left with the Super-Skrull posing as Hulking, and in a great position to spy on them.
Folk & Fairy Tales
- In Bearskin, a soldier successfully escapes the Deal with the Devil he made out of desperation with a tidy profit, and gets a loving wife too. As for the devil, he proudly announces at the end that although he lost the soldier's soul, he gained the souls of his two new sisters-in-law in exchange: they had commited suicide out of envy when they saw what they had rejected.
- The tale of Peter Ox is an even better example: The Bad Guy Wins, but an odd brand of Hilarity Ensues and the farmer and his wife and their new step-son all end up living together Happily Ever After to the end of their days anyway. In this case, it's also win-win-win, as the titular Peter Ox is basically a bystander who just happens to reap great benefits when he gets caught up in the cover story the bad guy fed the farmer and his wife.
- Win Win only sort of has a Win Win Ending. Sure, Leo gets to stay in his own house, Kyle gets to stay in New Providence, and Cindy is out of the immediate picture — but she gets $1500 a month for nothing while Mike has to take a second job and Kyle may have blown his chance at a wrestling scholarship.
- A version in Thor: The Dark World: Thor gets to do what he wants: travel the worlds righting wrongs, fighting evil, and being with Jane Foster, without worrying about being king of Asgard, which he doesn't want anymore. Meanwhile, Loki gets what he wants: the throne of Asgard — which even Odin and Thor came to believe he was better suited temperamentally to occupy than Thor — no one the wiser, his adopted mother's killer dead, and Thor out of the picture). Even better, everyone else thinks he died a hero's death.
- The LEGO Movie ends with the villain being redeemed and the heroes fulfilling their goal. Even Emmett's romantic rival agrees to let him have the girl.
- The ending of Eric has Rincewind & Eric happy because they've escaped Hell, the demons and damned souls happy because Hell is back to the way it was before Astfgl took over, and Astfgl is happy because he's got the boring office job of his dreams.
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas! ended with the Grinch being reintegrated into Whoville to everyone's benefit.
- The Sword of Truth series ends with Richard using the Boxes of Orden to create an Alternate Universe without magic for the Imperial Order and sending them all there.
- In Treasure Island, the heroes did finally get their treasure. So did the villain Long John Silver, who escaped justice with several hundred pounds of it. In the words of protagonist Jim Hawkins, "I think we were all pleased to be so cheaply quit of him."
Live Action Television
- In Graduados, everybody was happy in the end. The true loves were united, the villains were redeemed by The Power of Love, the bachelors became parents, the fat girl was accepted by everybody, the immature guy matured, the Happily Married parents of Andy stayed that way, and Vero stills provides Rock for everybody in her amateur radio. Long live Rock & Roll!
- Los Exitosos Pells. The designated couple is together at last. The third one, the gay forced by his father to stay married with the woman, gets rid of him and leaves with his own love. Amanda, the evil assistant, got her own TV channel. And Franco Andrada, the big bad, is captured and sentenced to prison... but that's not the end! The narrative jumps 10 years, and the people that Franco met in the prison help him to begin a successful political career.
- In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Nog and sometimes Jake's recurring subplots about a Chain of Deals usually end this way, with everyone getting what they want or ending up better off than at the episode's start. Most apparent in the episode "In the Cards", which ends with a montage of everyone in a better mood while the Captain's Log voiceover remarks on the sense of renewed energy.
- The Doctor Who 50th anniversary episode "The Day of the Doctor" ends with the humans and Zygons forming a perfect peace treaty, the Eleventh Doctor being told that Gallifrey falls no more, and even the War Doctor finding some hope to hold onto in his final moments.
- In Dilbert, the much-despised Pointy-Haired Boss often comes into conflict with his workers over their efforts to do as little work as possible and still get paid — but not always.
- This Bloom County strip, which also demonstrates an upside to Book Burning: as long as the burners are buying their kindling, the customers are satisfied, the stores that sold them their materials get paid, and the offending creator of the works destroyed gets another big fat royalty check.
- In the Firestorm extension for Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun, both GDI and Nod are better off at the term of their Enemy Mine situation.
- Final Fantasy XII ends this way. The heroes get their homeland's sovereignty back and the villains achieve their goal (which conquering the area was a necessary step in):overthrowing Ivalice's Jerkass Gods.
- Animaniacs: Wakko's Wish ends with everyone getting his and her wish.
- Lampshaded in Asterix and Cleopatra, where Cleopatra orders an architect to build a huge monument in 3 months. If he does it, he will be covered with gold, if he does not, he will be hurled to the crocodiles. Of course, he finished the building in time. In the last scene, all the characters (Romans, Egyptians, Caesar, Cleopatra and the 3 Gauls) share a celebration. The narrator points that everybody is happy, everybody is eating, everybody is drinking, everybody is enjoying the happy ending... well, almost everybody. And then we saw the angry crocodiles with protest banners, because nobody was sentenced to be their food.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In the two-part series opener, the heroines save Equestria from Nightmare Moonís attempted eternal night. In the process, Nightmare Moon is reverted to her pre-villain identity as Princess Luna. After she asks forgiveness for her wrongdoing, the episode ends with a celebration in honor of Princess Lunaís return. (And the entire reason Luna had turned to villainy in the first place was because she thought the ponies didnít love or respect her.)
- Superfriends: This happened at the end of several of the first season (1973-74) episodes.
- "Dr. Pelagian's War". The title ecoterrorist uses his control of the weather and the oceans to try to stop three business people from polluting. Although the Super Friends capture him, all three of the business people agree to stop their polluting so he effectively wins.
- "Too Hot To Handle". The alien Solar Terrarians require a hot climate to be comfortable, but they've polluted their planet so much that its climate has grown too cold for them. They try to alter the Earth's climate to make it hot enough so they can live here (which would kill all humans on Earth), but the Super Friends foil their plan. The Super Friends go to the alien's home planet and clean up the pollution, allowing the aliens to continue to live there in comfort.
- "The Weather Maker". The inhabitants of the frozen country of Glacia need warmth to survive, so they plot to alter the course of the Gulf Stream. Unfortunately this would cause massive weather disruption in the rest of the world, so the Super Friends stop them. They discover that the machine used to alter the Gulf Stream has tapped into an undersea source of geothermal energy which will warm up Glacia.
- "The Watermen". An alien spaceship runs out of fuel and crashes on Earth. The aliens try to extract more fuel (silicon) from seawater, but this causes a red tide-like effect in the ocean. The Super Friends track down the aliens and stop their mining activities, but also provide them with enough silicon to return home.
- Almost the definition of commerce if it works as intended (note the qualifier). For instance, the Chinese had a great craving for jade and The Roman Empire had a great craving for silk, and after a Chain of Deals through the Silk Road by relays of Intrepid Merchants, each managed to get it. A little more complicated than a simple trade, as Romans didn't have jade but they did have gold, with which they could buy jade in central Asia.