YMMV / The NeverEnding Story
aka: Neverending Story

The Book:

  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • The Childlike Empress: Between the time loop, everything we learn in The City of Old Emperors, and finding out that she'd drawn Bastian into a world that it became more and more impossible for him to escape from even if he was frugal with his wishes and didn't lose his mind without a single warning, it's not too difficult to read The Childlike Empress as the villain of the story.
    • She is supposed to be True Neutral, and give each user of AURYN equal chances. It's up to them what they wish for. Remember that good, evil, beauty and ugliness are all equal for her. Likewise, insane, mindless husk of an Emperor is just as valuable as an enlightened human being who understands AURYN's true purpose: both serve to tell a good story.
  • Bizarro Episode: Chapter XXI, The Star Cloister's only relevance to the plot is that Bastian loses Al Tsahir before its intended use. Not even the fact that Bastian brought Atreyu with him is even mentioned again.
  • Doorstopper: For a book that, at least in the English Speaking world, usually finds its way in the Children's or Adolescent's section. If Harry Potter is the daddy of young-adult doorstoppers, then The Neverending Story is the grand-daddy.
  • Ho Yay: When Atreyu announces that he has found the Savior (Bastian) everyone throws a great party and Atreyu and Bastian are described as Holding Hands all through the night. This continues long after everyone else has fallen asleep, when they hear Falkor's song, an event described as being a beautiful, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and they are overwhelmed "with the joy of meeting a new friend." Not to mention that Bastian's admiration of Atreyu before going into the book sounds a bit like a budding crush at times.
  • One-Scene Wonder: The Childlike Empress actually appears in only three chapters. It's a plot point that no one can meet her more than once.
  • Painful Rhyme: Granted, it was translated from German and the whole thing is impressive considering the translator worked with what he had.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: In many ways:
    • Child finds a passageway into another world and becomes written into a story leaving his mundane life behind? Gee, sounds like almost every other children's book today. Except this trope wasn't as common back in the day.
    • Its length as well - 448 pages. And it was put in the kids' section - in the eighties and the nineties? It was assumed that kids wouldn't have the attention span for this. Nowadays with doorstoppers being all over the YA section, it's hard to believe that 448 pages was considered a heavy read for kids.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: The idea that imagination, fantasy and willingness to fight apathy is stronger now more than ever.
  • Woolseyism: The dragon's name was Fuchur in the original German book. Apparently they changed it because it sounds like future in English. Or, if pronounced a certain way, an obscenity.

The Film adaptations:

  • Accidental Innuendo: The great threat in the third film is "the Nasty", leading to perhaps one of the most unintentionally funny lines ever;
    Childlike Empress: We must not give into the Nasty!
  • Adaptation Displacement: In the English-speaking world, the first movie is far better-known than the book, despite covering only roughly half of the book's length.
  • Awesome Music: The title song by Limahl. Inspired countless remixes. The lack of it in the third movie was greatly missed.
  • Badass Decay:
    • The Old Man of Wandering Mountain.
    • Practically every character, especially Falkor and Bastian.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Bastian in the first movie. He's either cute and relatable, or whiny and annoying. In the sequels... he gets worse.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • In the second film, Bastian randomly falls down a completely random chute and ends up in an underground room called "The Ship of Secret Plots" filled with odd fantasy characters who are never explained or seen again.
    • Rock Biter singing "Born To Be Wild" in III.
  • Designated Hero: Bastian in the third movie. The Old Man of Wandering Mountain describes him as "a special young human, a voracious reader, with great imagination and extraordinary courage", traits that Bastian does not possess this time around. Bastian never does anything with the power of the Auyrn and sits around hoping the problem will go away, while the bratty sister and even the villains use the power they are given.
  • Designated Villain: Bastian's stepsister in the third movie may be a witch, but she actually does something with the power she obtains, and while what she does with it is selfish, Bastian's calling her out for screwing things up falls flat since he could have avoided it all by actually doing something with it himself when he had the chance. Also, she's part of why he wins the final fight, by using the book to give him super kung-fu moves. While he's still got the amulet and, as noted under Idiot Plot, still isn't using it.
  • Ear Worm:
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Falcor in the first film.
    • Artax. He has five minutes of screen time, most of which is him dying, yet is one of the most remembered parts of the movie.
    • Slip the bully from the third film, due to being played by a delightfully over-the-top Jack Black.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: The third film. If you need help understanding why, look no further than this recap.
  • First Installment Wins: Though the sequelitis helped.
  • Franchise Killer: The third film was so awful on every level that there have been no sequels or reboots or plans for either in the 22 years since it was made.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Bastian's gelled-up hair in the 3rd movie. According to The Agony Booth's recap:
    Over the next few scenes, everyone laughs at Bastian's hair, but to be honest, his hairdo looks completely ordinary and commonplace circa 2008. You could go to any shopping mall in America and see plenty of kids with their hair just like this. So, in fact, NeverEnding Story III was a trendsetter, and well over a decade ahead of its time!
    • Actually, thanks to The Simpsons, it was stylish in the early 90's already.
    • Always from the third movie, Slip played by Jack Black, engage Bastian in a martial arts fight.
    • When you revise these films at adulthood it can sometimes be very difficult to accept that children's fantasy involves pairings between characters only in the form of Ho Yay in the first two films and not blood related Brother–Sister Incest in the third. It's strange, but at the same time it's funny.
    • In the second film, the costumes of monsters are so obvious and bad that their appearance on the square resembles a standard scene from the Power Rangers.
  • Ho Yay: In the first film, Bastian seems to have a crush on Atreyu, just from reading about him. Especially when he's first about to appear, and Bastian gets this big smile on his face and whispers Atreyu's name reverently.
  • Idiot Plot:
    • In the sequel, Bastian is given the power to wish for anything and have it come true. That being said, the only reason he went on this giant quest was because he didn't have the brains to consider simply wishing away the entire conflict. Considering he didn't yet know there were consequences to making wishes, there was no reason for his behavior except plain thoughtlessness.
      • In one scene in the sequel, Bastian wishes a way into the witch's fortress, and a series of ledges appear for him to climb up. Halfway up, the ledges run out so what does he do? He says "I wish for a step, I wish for another, I wish for another step, and I wish for another step." Even if he doesn't know that he loses a memory each time he does makes a wish, it's still a hassle doing it his way and idiotic. How about "I wish for a staircase" or "I wish I was inside this place." The witch is understandably smiling with delight as she watches him piss away all his wishes and memories in one sitting, probably thinking What an Idiot.
    • The third movie is much worse. Bastian leaves the AURYN out in the open in his bedroom, where it is promptly taken by Nicole. And towards the end, when facing Jack Black, Bastian actually gives into his "Fight me like a man" spiel, even though he's got the AURYN back, and could easily wreak all kinds of vengeance upon him. In fact, Bastian barely uses the AURYN, even when he can just use it to solve the conflict at the very moment he arrives back to the real world, due to reasons that just boil down to "No, Bastian."
  • Iron Woobie: Atreyu in the first film.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Nicole from the third movie. She treats Bastion like crap before she's given a reason to really hate him and she abuses the power of the Orin (which was a result of Bastion leaving it in the open). However, the movie shows that she misses her biological father and was concerned about her mom and stepdad. Also, some Character Development led to her bonding with Bastion, despite the earlier conflict.
  • Memetic Mutation: "Come for me, G'mork! I am Atreyu!"
  • Narm/Narm Charm: In the first film, every time Bastian reacts to what he's reading, it's pure narm. Every. Time.
    • When we first see Morla, Bastian looks up from the book and randomly screams at the top of his lungs, creating a hilariously narmy moment. His simply screaming in shock at something he was reading would be bad enough, but the shot instead feels like he paused and then gave a loud scream deliberately for absolutely no reason.
    • And of course, when Bastian actually does cry out the name he's chosen for the Empress. His scream of her name is so unintelligible that the initial DVD release's subtitles didn't even have anything for it. For the record, he's screaming "Moon Child", but the way he screams it: "Maaaaaaaaahoon-chaaaaaaaaaa-eeyuuuuuuld!" makes it damn near impossible to understand even if you know what he's saying. It's meant to be a hugely dramatic moment for him, but comes off like a kid randomly screaming out a window.
    • In the first film the Big Bad is "The Nothingness" an intangible concept of humankind losing their ability to dream and create given physical representation, in the second film the Big Bad is "The Emptiness", the evil witch Xayide who wishes to use Bastian by having his wishes drain away his memories. The third movie? The Big Bad are some high school gang of thugs called "The Nasty" from the real world ... a seriously sad step down from the previous enemies.
  • Never Live It Down:
    • As mentioned in Narm, Bastion's incomprehensible screaming of his mother's name is a frequently heard joke.
    • The constant changing and recasting of all the characters throughout the series and the entire third film are these for the franchise.
    • The scene in the second film where Bastian wishes for a spray can to ward off Xayide's monsters.
    • "Born to Be Wild" is this for the third film by itself.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Jack Black plays the bully in part III. Also, the brief appearance of Deep Roy in the first film might be worth mentioning.
  • Rooting for the Empire: In the third film Slip, the villain, shows more initiative and charm than Bastian, who spends the whole film sitting around trying to hope his problems away. As a result, viewers tend to hope that he wins out in the end.
  • The Scrappy:
    • The Rock Biter baby and the Bark Troll in the third movie literally contribute absolutely nothing to the story. The latter may also be a Creator's Pet, seeing how he's given so many idiotic puns for every scene.
    • Rockbiter himself in the third, where he is given an irritating child, an irritating wife, and sings an out-of-tune rendition of "Born To Be Wild" all in the third film.
    • Also in the third movie (seeing a pattern here?), Bastion. He is given an amulet that give him the power to do anything...and does nothing with it. Even his sister and the villains do more with it then he does.
  • Sequelitis: Neither of the two sequels is considered anywhere near as good as the first. Opinions as to whether or not the second film is still watchable despite the drop-off in quality, but virtually nobody will defend the third film.
  • So Okay, It's Average: The second film was pretty polarized by critics and fans when it was initially released, but opinions softened into this as time went on, appreciating that it at least gave respectful and accurate portrayals of the characters from the first film and was a well-intentioned but misguided attempt to adapt the second half of the novel for the screen.
  • Special Effect Failure:
    • The optical effects in the first film haven't really held up over the years. Then there's the animatronics of the second (Sans Falkor and Rockbiter) and of the third... OH SWEET JESUS! WHAT HAPPENED TO FALKOR!?
    • The CGI in the third film hasn't aged well either, though it was pretty bad to begin with.
  • Squick: The way Falcor smiles at Atreyu is... rather unsettling. There are parody videos on Youtube turning him into a Memetic Molester.
  • Superlative Dubbing: The German dub is preferred by some. The voice acting is quite good, and the German script itself is rather more complex than the original.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks:
    • What many readers of the book and its creator think about the movies.
    • How many fans see the characters in the sequels, especially the infamous "Born To Be Wild" sequence.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: The whole idea of schoolyard bullies getting their hands on the book could have worked, if the writers had actually given a damn, as well as Fantasia characters exploring the human world for a change, as opposed to the other way around. Unfortunately, it's played purely for comedy and not very good comedy at that. Heck, even the random changes to the characters could've worked if it'd been tied into the bullies getting their hands on the book instead of being random, it could've shown the damage they're causing.
  • Took the Bad Film Seriously: Everyone in the third movie, but especially Jack Black, who plays a poorly written, one-dimensional character like a diabolical mastermind.
  • Uncanny Valley: Falkor's appearance, even in the first movie, has this affect on some viewers. His face is... well, almost like a dog's. Almost.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: Quite a few mistook Atreyu to be a girl.
  • The Woobie: Bastian in the first film.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?:
    • Very little of the original cast returned for the sequels.
      • This is understandable and excusable for the child cast (Bastian, Atreyu, and the Empress) given the fact that the original actors were considerably older than their characters by the time the second movie was made. However, the difference in voice actors for Falkor and Rock Biter is jarringly noticeable, not to mention John Wesley Shipp as Bastian's father vs. Gerald McRainey in the original.
    • The third film's villain, that's Jack Black. To be fair though, he's often considered the best part of the movie.
    • Julie Cox, who played the Childlike Empress in the same film, is an example of both this and Dawson Casting, considering that she was 19 during filming and a good couple of inches taller than Jason James Richter, who played Bastian. In fact, Cox is only slightly younger in real-life than Tami Stronach, the Empress from the first film — which was made ten years before the third. That being said, Cox would actually have been a decent casting choice if the Empress had a Plot-Relevant Age-Up in the film, as she is believable as an older version of Stronach's character.

Alternative Title(s): Neverending Story