Main Bolivian Army Ending Discussion

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11:52:15 PM Jul 31st 2015
The "A Song of Ice and Fire" reference is misleading. Yes, her fate was an example of this trope in the 4th book, and this article states she's alive in the 5th, but the 4th and 5th books in the series happen more or less simultaneously. So chronologically, I think her cliffhanger is actually still her latest scnee.
12:16:25 PM Mar 5th 2014
Anyone else think the page image would work better if they used the sepia-toned version? Makes it feel more like an "ending" rather than just an action scene.
12:42:58 PM Jun 2nd 2013
edited by
I'm Tempting Fate by bringing up the Mass Effect 3 ending at all, I guess, but I don't think this example is really a Bolivian Army ending:

  • In Mass Effect 3: This is taken Up to Eleven; most endings are a massive Inferred Holocaust for the entire galaxy, and even in the more optimistic interpretation of the extreme Gainax Ending of the game, things seem pretty bleak.
    • The Refusal ending (added by the Extended Cut patch) is this all over, as Shepard refuses the Catalyst's power and chooses to go down fighting. This results in the allied forces having to do battle with the overwhelming power of the Reapers, on top of Shepard's mortal injuries, and they fail. However, the Stargazer stinger is completely different, and it's noted that the next Cycle basically caught the Reapers right out of the gate with a fully constructed Crucible thanks to Liara's time capsules.

The thing is, if I understand right, there's two big parts to this trope that the endings don't necessarily fit:
  • What happens to the heroes isn't definitively established. This means Refusal's out, as it basically tells you that the Reapers won in Shepard's cycle.
  • It ends with the heroes facing off against insurmountable odds. In all three main endings (other than Refusal) the "insurmountable odds" are the aftermath of the fight- the enemy is already defeated, unless you had too low of an EMS and got the intentional Bad Ending. Pre-Extended Cut they were definitely Downer Endings with a major Inferred Holocaust problem, but Pyrrhic Victory might be more fitting for that.

Post-Extended Cut, they aren't this trope at all, as it's made much clearer that you didn't just kill everyone via relay explosion and/or knock them back to the pre-space age, thus there aren't any insurmountable odds involved.

Seems pretty clear-cut to me, but since the vandal(s) is (are) still around, I figured I'd better explain my intentions. I'm not planning to stomp out criticism (I hated the original endings)— I'm just removing a shoehorned example. :)

(edited for formatting issues)
12:25:31 PM Mar 15th 2013
There are several examples of works in a series (say, the second novel in a trilogy) in which the ending is resolved in the next installment. Should they be here or in Uncertain Doom?
11:10:10 AM Sep 7th 2012
This felt like it didn't fit as written: partly because most Stephen King stories have the monster getting away into the night as part of the horror genre.

  • The Stephen King short story The Mangler (featured in the Night Shift collection). It ends with the machine (possessed by a particularly nasty and powerful demon) uprooting itself after an exorcism gone horribly wrong, before escaping from the factory itself.
01:00:37 AM Dec 14th 2011
Not examples, the characters are not facing insurmountable odds which they fails to surmount with their ultimate fate left to the imagination.

  • A Series of Unfortunate Events ends with the lovable orphans having escaped Count Olaf, never learning about the vast conspiracy haunting the storyline, and sailing off without a destination never to be seen again, their future never revealed to the reader.
    • You DO learn a little more after the book if you read The Beatrice Letters. They are still alive and adults, but went missing. It ends there. This trope is still in full effect.

  • Classic FPS Doom - the shareware episode (Knee Deep in the Dead) ends with the character teleported into a room full of zombies and demons and fades to black as the players life reach about 10%. However, that's the point. The teleporter you're standing on requires your health to drop to near-death levels before teleporting you to Deimos (which is currently engaged in hovering over Hell itself.
    • Of course, you're conveniently at full health once you reach the Shores of Hell.
11:29:03 PM Mar 1st 2012
The Series of Unfortunate Events example stands. The the three children are in the middle of uncovering and defeating a vast conspiracy. But they didn't know how, and so had only had one objective, based on vague clues (recovering a missing MacGuffin). The end of the series shows that that venture was pointless, that it's uncertain whether or not they can ever defeat or even escape the villains. They sail off into a world that may have been infected by an extremely dangerous virus, holding information about the cure, in the hopes that they can do something. Their whereabouts afterwards are explicitly undocumented.

I count, a.) insurmountable odds (apocalyptic virus) b.) protagonists don't overcome those odds, nor do they think it's realistic for them to do so, (they couldn't contain the virus) and c.) unknown fate (they sail into a world established to be dangerous).
12:59:20 AM Dec 14th 2011
Examples need details. Please see How to Write an Example.

10:52:58 PM Oct 9th 2011
Removed real life examples. The trope doesn't seem to fit real life.

     Real Life  
  • Truth in Television: Che Guevara literally had a Bolivian Army Ending, albeit averted in that he was definitely executed by the Bolivian army.
  • Butch Cassidy, as noted at the top of the page.
    • Though in his case it was more like "a couple of Bolivian soldiers ending". The group that got him and the Sundance Kid in a Real Life consisted of a couple of cops, some civilians, and three or four soldiers, in other words no more than a dozen men.
  • A possible real-life example: Spartacus. His rebellion was crushed, and most of the slaves fell in the battle; some were captured alive and crucified. No one knows what happened to Spartacus himself (as they Never Found the Body), but the chance of him surviving the rebellion is remote.
  • Another possible example is Jimmy Hoffa, who (apparently willingly) got into a car with some other unidentified men and was never seen again. It's definitely a case of Never Found the Body, and also of this since nobody seems to know or be willing to talk about how or when or whether he died; given the kind of associates he had, though, the chances that he is (or was) still alive after getting into that car are vanishingly small.
  • There's also Judge Crater, who lived a life very similar to Jimmy Hoffa's and disappeared in much the same manner. While some evidence concerning his death has since turned up, the case is now so cold and he's been gone for so long that no one can really know for sure. If nothing else, he would surely have died of old age by now anyway.
07:36:30 PM Sep 28th 2011
Because this trope name refers to a specific work (which seems to be frowned upon) and obviously leads to confusion, I propose a trope name change.

I propose the name "Uncertain Doom"

Let me know what you think?
10:54:42 PM Aug 14th 2011
I'm taking the bit about Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier being a subversion because it isn't. The fact that the audience expects this ending and the movie delivers makes this a trope played straight. If they built up an expectation for a historically accurate ending, and then he killed Santa Anna's entire army, that would be a subversion.
03:19:23 PM Mar 26th 2011
Point Break?
10:50:28 PM Aug 14th 2011
Nah. The protagonist was unquestionably Johnny Utah, and he was a cop trying to bring in Bohdi. His letting Bohdi go down surfing doesn't make it a Bolivian Army Ending.
09:41:51 PM Oct 13th 2010
Apparently this is a non-example, if we see them waking up during the titles.

  • Final Fantasy: Unlimited - The last episode has the two main characters finally reach the enemy's lair, and the climactic battle he fights with the allies the kids found on their long journey. The episode closes with a big explosion that blocks out the screen, and as the credits start to roll, you see everyone's bodies lay unmoving on the floor. Dead or unconscious? No one knows.

    In the Final Fantasy Unlimited: After continuity, everyone survived. Even Black Wind and White Cloud somehow returned from their heroic sacrifices.
    • If you're paying attention, the ending credits of episode 25 show all the main characters starting to regain consciousness. Also, as amply proven throughout the series, trying to kill Kaze is like trying to kill a cockroach. It never sticks.
01:41:38 AM Apr 10th 2011
It seems to me that many examples/posters in the article don't get the trope.

Its not that the ending is ambiguous, or that there's a fight that ends the movie. The "Bolivian Army" trope must include, insurmountable odds, an acknowledgement that a peaceful (albight less glorious) option is available, and end the film.

Having a blaze of glory charge mid-movie does not qualify as a "Bolivian Army"
03:13:11 PM Apr 19th 2011
I agree there's a problem here, but I can't say if the problem is the definition is too exclusive or the examples too inclusive.

There's actually 3 subcategories here: 1. Implied that they very definitely went down in a blaze of glory in the end, but technically leave it up the audience's imagination 2. Established without doubt they were all killed in the end (Black Adder) 3. Cliffhanger it (typically to end a season), which routinely means they DIDN'T all die.

  1. 2 really is more of the Downer Ending.
  2. 3 is sort of an Aversion of this trope, although a Aversion was not really the point of the move.

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