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Earn Your Happy Ending / Film

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     Film — Animated 
  • In Arashi no Yoru ni, things just seem to get worse and worse for the main couple, but it all works out in the end eventually.
  • The eponymous character of Balto is forced through too much. He started the movie the hated outcast who was constantly being chased away from the one he loved, with the movie's Jerkass Big Bad trying to ruin his life, and being unable to accept himself as a dog or a wolf. He has to go through a blizzard, facing horrible danger at every single turn, and ultimately getting beaten by Steele, but in the end, he saves the entire town and is honored as a hero. On top of that, he finally accepts what he is and manages to get the love of his life. The next film shows there are some dogs who still make fun of him for his wolf half, but his life is a lot happier than it was.
  • In Batman: Assault on Arkham, despite being kidnapped by Amanda Waller and forced to make a black-ops raid on Arkham with a bunch of criminal lunatics, which was only intended to be a decoy so that another member of the team could murder the Riddler, Deadshot gets out alive, unharmed and manages to rescue his daughter, whom Waller was holding hostage to blackmail him into working for her. And, in our final shot of the film, he gets a chance to murder Waller for everything she put him through... he is a Villain Protagonist, after all.
  • In The Book of Life, Manolo goes through a lot of Break the Cutie moments, however in the end the people of San Angel accept him, his friendship with Joaquin is as strong as ever, his family accepts his music career, and he marries Maria.
  • The Brave Little Toaster from the start sends its characters through an endless amount of crap and presents the harshness of reality in an upfront fashion, but they keep positive throughout the adventure and never lose sight of their goal. In the end, it definitely pays off.
  • Cats Don't Dance depicts a cat named Danny trying to become a Hollywood star, only to learn that humans overlook talented animals. Despite the efforts of bratty child star Darla Dimple, Danny refuse to give up, which eventually pays off when he and his new friends finally show that humans aren't the only ones with huge talent.
  • Disney Animated Canon films often have characters who all go through some kind of hell, but all get some kind of happily-ever-after:
    • Sleeping Beauty is one of the few instances in them where the hero has to directly confront and slay the villain, rather than causing them to be Hoisted By Their Own Petard. Considering Maleficent is considered one of the most dangerous villains in Disney history and you've got yourself a textbook case of this trope.
    • Pinocchio's title character often gets double-crossed and kidnapped by others, then he's almost transformed into a donkey, has to rescue Geppetto from Monstro, and seemingly drowns as a Heroic Sacrifice, but he ends up becoming human as a reward for becoming brave, truthful and unselfish.
    • Dumbo is mocked and ostracized because of his large ears, his mother is declared mad after trying to save him and gets separated from him, and he's relegated to a clown, but with the help of the crows and their Magic Feather, he manages to put his ears in good use and achieve lots of fame.
    • The eponymous protagonist of Bambi loses his mother, his home in the forest is burned down by Man, and he gets shot, but in the end has two kids and takes his father's place as the Great Prince. And the midquel only extends his seemingly endless hardships to greater heights.
    • In The Lion King (1994), Simba witnesses Mufasa die, is led to believe he caused it, is driven away from Pride Rock, and is almost defeated by Scar in his attempt to set things right, but after he takes back Pride Rock, he becomes king and has a cub.
    • The Hunchback of Notre Dame:
      • Quasimodo is ostracized and mocked by the people of Paris for his deformity, abusively raised and isolated by Frollo, and almost killed by him at the climax, but after Frollo's death, he's quickly accepted by the Parisians.
      • Esmeralda is constantly hunted down by Frollo and nearly burnt at the stake after rejecting his love for her one too many times, only barely surviving, but she gets to marry Phoebus.
    • Mulan's title character disguises herself as a man to save her father's life, and struggles to keep up at the training with the rest of the army, yet does it and earns the respect of the army. After being discovered as a woman, she goes to warn her old team that the Huns have survived the avalanche and are coming, and gets to fight the leader Shan-Yu. She defeats him using a paper fan. Along the way, she also earnes the respect and admiration of her captain without needing a matchmaker.
    • Treasure Planet. First old Jim loses his home, after trying to do something right, then the pirates mutiny against the ship he's on, then he's almost gets destroyed by a self-destructing planet. Only in the last five minutes when Amelia and Delbert are dancing do we see any real joy.
    • Lilo & Stitch does this with everyone but especially Nani, who spends the entire movie making increasingly desperate efforts to keep her sister, the last thing she has of her old life. By the time she gets a job, her home burns down and they take her away anyway. Then Lilo runs off and gets kidnapped by aliens, and Nani possibly loses her forever. Sure, it all turns out okay in the end, but you can't help but feel sorry for her.
  • In Wreck-It Ralph: Ralph finally gets accepted by everyone else, Vanellope becomes a part of her game's code again and is now able to race (and rule the kingdom of Sugar Rush), Calhoun—who lost her previous husband—gets a new husband (Fix-It Felix Jr.), and now, whenever Ralph gets thrown off the building, he looks through his game's screen to see Vanellope racing, winning, and being happy. Then the credits show the four main characters going into other games and having fun together. Everything's good.
  • Frozen puts Anna and Elsa through no small amount of tragedy, beginning with them being forced into isolation from each other and the world in the hopes of preventing Elsa from harming others with her powers, their parents dying, and Elsa's powers being exposed, resulting in her fleeing into the mountains to avoid harming others. By the climax, Anna is dying from slowly being frozen to death after Elsa accidentally strikes her with her magic, and Elsa wakes up, imprisoned in her own castle's dungeon, and learns that she brought endless winter on Arendelle. In the end, however, Anna's Heroic Sacrifice for Elsa saves both her sister and herself, and allows Elsa to understand that The Power of Love is the key to controlling her ice powers so that she can end the winter and stay close with her sister and her kingdom without harming either. By the end the open gates policy has been re-established, Anna has found her true love who truly cares for her, the sister successfully reconciles with each other, and Elsa has built the snowman that Anna always wanted for so long. After everything that happened with the sisters, they truly deserved it.
  • In Zootopia, Judy and Nick are nearly killed several times, face prejudice from several animals due to their species, and have a pretty serious Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure. However, in the end they reconcile, end the conspiracy, and restore peace to Zootopia. Nick also leaves behind his hustler life and joins the ZPD, becoming Judy's partner in the process, which further enhances their friendship.
  • Cinderella does this in Twist in Time. After her stepmother turns back the clock and enchants the prince to love Anastasia, Cinderella sets off to the palace and tries to first jog the prince's memory and then steal the magic wand from her stepmother. When that fails and the prince falls for Cinderella anyway, the stepmother makes Anastasia Cinderella's double while sending Cindy to be trapped in a pumpkin carriage that is to be driven off of a cliff on a mountain. Cinderella proceeds to escape, jump onto a horse, and ride all the way back to the castle to stop the wedding.
  • Don Bluth is excellent at this, and even his lesser films are united with his earlier work by this trope:
    • An American Tail heaps as much trauma on a (mouse) child as inhumanly possible, not giving poor Fievel a break until the last five minutes of the movie, when he finally gets to reunite with his family.
    • The Secret of NIMH: A frightened mouse mother struggles to keep her family safe from humans and conspiracies amongst the rats and literally is only able to save her family through her courage.
    • The Land Before Time: A group of dinosaur children undergo an odyssey to find a utopia, one of whom lost his mother at the beginning.
    • All Dogs Go to Heaven: A former criminal dog must change his ways and literally go through hell to redeem himself. By the end, he sacrifices himself to save a human child, and is finally allowed to go to Heaven because of it.
    • The Pebble and the Penguin: A penguin goes through great lengths and several oceans to be with the one he loves.
  • How to Train Your Dragon At the start of the movie, Hiccup is the village pariah because he's scrawny and usually messes everything up, with his father being openly ashamed of him and his peers (except Astrid and Fishlegs) constantly mocking him, all resulting in him having poor self-esteem. He finally finds a friend in Toothless and demonstrate that humans and dragons can co-exist, earning respect and getting together with his crush Astrid. By the third movie, he has become chief and after defeating the Big Bad marries Astrid. The epilogue shows they had two children during the Time Skip.
  • Po in Kung Fu Panda 2. He spends much of the film in a Heroic BSoD due to being tormented by visions and nightmares of his birth family, eventually finding out that he's the last of his kind. When Shifu said that inner peace is earned through pain and suffering he meant it. We find out at the end that he isn't actually the last of his kind though.
  • Osmosis Jones has Ozzy spending most of the movie struggling to stop a deadly virus named Thrax from killing Frank, the man in whose body Ozzy lives. It isn't until the very end, when Frank is half-dead, that things turn around.
  • The Peanuts Movie, as is to be expected from a Peanuts adaptation, puts Charlie Brown through a lot of humiliations and disappointments as he tries to win the favor of the Little Red-Haired Girl, one of the biggest being his having to reveal in public that to his own shock he was not the high scorer on the standardized test; his was mixed up with Peppermint Patty's (who had the high score via dumb luck). In the end, he finds himself racing to the school bus in hopes of finally really talking to her on the last day of school, and when he does, he learns that she regards him as a good person on the basis of all of his previous actions. With everyone else witnessing this conversation, they come around to this way of thinking too and treat him as a hero as she leaves. There is a deliberate Plot Parallel to this in the scenes of Snoopy's Red Baron novel, the last chapter of which is titled "Never Give Up!"
  • In The Pink Panther cartoon movie, Pink Christmas (available on YouTube, here), the Pink Panther spends most of the movie cold and hungry but gets a happy ending once he learns to share.
  • Pixar:
    • Each Toy Story film had the characters go through so much to return home. Neither a cruel, sadistic kid, nor a villainous prospector, nor an evil pink bear could stop them. They did technically give up when they reached the metaphorical gates of hell, but they didn't really have any hope of escape short of someone operating the giant claw to save them - which is, of course, exactly what happened. And as bittersweet as the ending may have been, all the good guys earned a happy ending indeed.
    • Everyone in WALL•E. At the beginning of the movie, the Earth has fallen into decay and waste. After 700 years life finally sprouts again. Despite having lived lives doing almost nothing, the people of the Axiom are happy to set foot back on Earth and try to fix it. In the credits, we see society develop back to its former glory, and lush green fields and lakes are once again alive. Mankind has grown fit and thin again as they start doing things again. The real trick to it all? This is the SECOND happy ending, and this all happens in the credits.
      • The part in the credits was actually added after a test screening because about half the audience walked away making the rather realistic assumption that humanity died in about a week.
      • Everything WALL•E does to win EVE's heart pays off with EVE deciding she'd rather spend her life with WALL•E than follow the life her programming leads her to do. This leads to another potential happy ending that needs earning: WALL•E gets badly damaged and needs to be fixed with parts that can only be found on Earth, leading everyone who was affected by WALL•E in a beneficial manner to work together to bring him home. Naturally, WALL•E's Heroic Sacrifice does not improve his chances of survival, but it helps the above ending come to pass. Cue thirty seconds of EVE's hardcore repairmanship, coupled with True Love's Kiss, in an effort to save WALL•E's life. Guess how well that pays off.
    • Cars 3: Lightning spends the film trying to beat Jackson Storm to prove that he isn't too old to keep racing. By switching places and letting Cruz take the finish line for him, Lightning not only manages to save his racing career from retirement, he also becomes a mentor to Cruz, like Doc was to him.
    • Coco: Miguel and Hector both go through much to earn what they want. Miguel wants to be a musician like his hero and supposed ancestor, Hector wants to visit the land of the living to see his daughter. After learning they are related and Miguel's hero is a fraud who murdered Hector, the two work with the rest of their family to expose the truth. One year later, Hector has reconciled with his wife and finally reunites with his beloved daughter, Coco. Miguel's family lifts the ban on music, allowing him to follow his dream and the footsteps on his real great-great-grandfather.
  • The Animaniacs movie Wakko's Wish gives all the characters (except the Mime and the movie's Big Bad) a well deserved happy ending. Sure, some had it kind of easy in their series, if not a little strange, but some of the series Woobies, particularly Rita, Runt, and Buttons, finally get their happy endings. And in the movie, everyone worked hard to try and get their own happy ending, everyone ultimately obtaining it.
  • Yellowbird: Yellowbird's last-ditch plan succeeds and the flock earns a free ride to Africa on a plane, which they call an "iron bird." In addition, he earns his official name, Sam, is forgiven by the rest of the flock, and he and Delf supposedly become a couple.
  • Sausage Party, surprisingly, has this in the end with Frank and Brenda becoming a couple, Barry gaining a lot of confidence and being key in defeating the bad guys, Sammy and Lavash affirming their love despite the conflicting religions and all the products free from the Gods's oppression.
  • Sahara: Ajar crosses the perilous Sahara desert to rescue Eva, whom he has developed feelings for, from the cruel snakecharmer Omar, almost becoming a meal for predatory glow worms in the process. He is justly rewarded for his efforts as Omar strips off his old skin and exposes his adult scale pattern. In addition, Eva is moved by his selfless actions and reciprocates his feelings.
  • Sky Blue follows Shua as he desperately tries to bring down Ecoban in order to mitigate the environmental damage it has caused to his home. Dr. Noah notes that most of its inhabitants will survive and be able to forge a better world, but it will take a lot of work.
  • Tom And Jerry Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. After Charlie has to give up the everlasting gobstopper, he learns the the infamous "YOU GET NOTHING!" rant was just a Secret Test of Character—which he passed. Wonka apologies to Charlie, Grandpa Joe, Tom and Jerry, and Tuffy. They also find out that Slugworth does not exist; he's really Mr. Wilkinson, an employee of the Wonka Chocolate Factory. And the real grand prize is not the year's supply of chocolate, but the factory itself—and Charlie is the new owner.

    Film — Live Action 
  • The Artist has George Valentin lose everything as a silent film actor and filmmaker in a artform that seems to have passed him by and comes within a hairsbreadth of suicide, only to be saved at the last moment and shown that he has talent that would make him a star in the sound era.
  • A Villain Protagonist example would have to be Thanos from Avengers: Infinity War where his ultimate goal is to gather the Infinity Stones to halve the universal population so they won't collapse from an Overpopulation Crisis like his own planet. He, in no short order suffered several setbacks from his minions, has two of his "Children" rebel against him while the rest of his loyal "Children" dies while having to tearfully sacrifice his beloved daughter, faced several opposition from the heroes while nearly getting defeated on two occasions but through his sheer willpower, he successfully gathered all 6 Stones and wiped out half of all the universe. By the end of the movie, Thanos retires to a quiet farmland, content as he watch the sun rise on a grateful universe.
    • A more traditional example occurs to Captain America, Falcon, Hulk and Ant-Man in Avengers: Endgame. Captain America not only is allowed to return to the 1940s to be with Peggy Carter, but when he turned old and gray, he passes his mantle to Falcon, who was brought back from the dead during the film. Bruce Banner makes his peace with the Hulk and the two become merged, Bruce's mind with Hulk's Body, and is widely beloved by the world, it is probably the happiest we have ever seen him. Also, Ant-Man was trapped in the Quantum Realm with Wasp, Janet and Hank dead in Ant-Man and the Wasp. He had not only gotten free from the Quantum Realm, but he helped bring Wasp, Janet and Hank back from the dead, as well as getting to be with his daughter, again.
  • Bird Box: Malorie and the kids make it down the river and to the sanctuary, which is full of contented survivors and children to play with. She finally gives them names and tells them she's their mother. Even the parakeets get a luxurious retirement to the sanctuary canopy with all the other guard birds.
  • Boyz n the Hood has Tre who has kept clear of gang lifestyle despite living in the ghetto thanks to his strict father. When his best friend Ricky is gunned down, he almost gets pulled into the violence of his 'hood by seeking revenge alongside Ricky's brother Doughboy. Thankfully, he has a change of heart before revenge can be carried out and returns to his father. He goes on to attend college out of a state with his girlfriend where as Doughboy unfortunately is killed in retaliation by rival gang members.
  • Andy Barclay, the main protagonist of the first three Child's Play movie. He's terroized by a killer doll who wants to take over his body. His mother is put in a mental institution because of what she told the cops about Chucky. He lives in various foster homes, and at the end of the third movie he's taken away by the police for questioning about Chucky's latest killing spree. At the end of Curse of Chucky, we see him on the phone with his mom, apparently released and dating Mike, a cop who helped them out in the first film. Pictures show that he's still with his Love Interest from the third movie. And when Chucky has himself delivered to Andy's house, Andy is waiting for him with a shotgun. Sadly averted with the latest movie, Cult of Chucky where things have turned bad for Andy and Chucky finally gains back a human body alongside Tiffany and everyone who opposed him are either dead, broken or, in one character's case, possesed by Chucky himself.
  • In Cinderella (2015), Ella goes through the deaths of her beloved parents and abuse at the hands of her stepfamily, reaching a point where she doesn't even feel like a human girl, and very nearly is kept from the prince by her stepmother's greed and envy. Kit, meanwhile, fights pressure from his father and the Duke to agree to a politically advantageous marriage and goes through the death of his father. By the end of the movie, the pair find each other, finally know each other's true identities and accept them, and are Happily Married.
  • This is one of the big draws of The Crow, other than seeing Brandon Lee give his final performance and watching him carry out his Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy:
    • Batman Begins: Bruce loses his parents and all sense of purpose in his life other than vengeance against his parents' murder, Joe Chill, then loses that purpose when Joe Chill is murdered by a hitwoman for the Gotham mob. Then Bruce runs away from Gotham to try to understand the darker aspects of life and to find a way to overcome them. Bruce is then presumed dead and Gotham has to suffer for years through an economic depression as well as a corrupt legal system where almost every cop is a Corrupt Cop, the mafia rules the city and crimes like murder are extremely common. As Gotham loses hope, Bruce is trained by Henri Ducard, a Knight Templar who helps Bruce regain hope and find purpose in fighting crime...but Bruce has to betray and leave Ducard to save when he finds out Ducard wants to destroy places filled with crime (like Gotham). Bruce returns to Gotham as Batman, and fights to give the city hope against both normal criminals and Dr. Jonathan Crane...who gives Ducard a fear toxin that Ducard plans to use to destroy the city. Batman then must overcome both his fears and the returning Ducard (AKA Ra's al Ghul) and the League of Shadows to save his city. After much struggle, with Wayne Manor being burnt down and then some of Gotham's slums being driven insane, Batman saves the day and gives Gotham hope for the first time in years. To emphasize this, the Bat-signal triumphantly shines in the night for the first time during the final scene.
    • The Dark Knight: Yes, there are criminals who will do almost anything for money, and unapologetic evil that cannot be bargained with, and the Knight in Shining Armor can fall, hard. But in the end, Batman is able to apprehend The Joker without becoming the monster Joker wants him to be. And the citizens of Gotham pass Joker's "social experiment" (if only barely) by not turning on each other like he predicted.
    • At the end of the final movie in the trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, Bruce Wayne seems to have finally put his past behind him. He fakes his death — but leaves subtle (or not-so-subtle for some) clues of his survival to his Secret Keepers (giving them their own happy ending rather than leaving them in mourning) — and retires with Selina Kyle who, after helping Bruce save Gotham, has her own criminal past erased to allow her a fresh start as well.
  • In the DC Extended Universe -
    • In Man of Steel, while coming from a loving home, Clark has spent most of his life ostracized, Walking the Earth never daring to get close to anyone for fear of them learning his secret, but unable to stop using his powers to help people, causing him to always leave. Eventually he finds some answers about his past in a crashed Kryptonian ship, but that leads to General Zod and his crew arriving on Earth, who want Clark to help them Kill All Humans so they can create a new Krypton, and attempt to kill him when he refuses. Clark is forced to reveal himself to the world to save it, and ultimately is forced to kill Zod. However, he finds people that accept him for who he is, finds his true calling as Superman, and gets a permanent job as an Intrepid Reporter for the Daily Planet.
    • In Suicide Squad (2016), several members of the Squad earn a (somewhat) happy ending. While still incarcerated, the rewards they get for saving the world go a long way to making their lives much better, from Deadshot finally getting to spend time with his daughter to little things like Killer Croc getting a HDTV, and Harley an espresso machine. Subverted with Captain Boomerang, who mouths off to Waller, and ends up in solitary confinement worse off than he started.
  • Elvira, Mistress of the Dark : Her first movie is one long example: after being fired by her Slimeball boss for not giving him sexual favors, she heads to Fallwell to get an inheritance, only to find out it's just a decrepit house, a dog, an a "recipe book". Eventually, Chastity Pariah gets the whole town to hate her (although the kids still seem to like her). This gets to it's worst when her Evil Uncle Vincent turns out to be a wanna-be Evil Sorcerer, who wants the book (which is really a spellbook) and tries to get her burned at the stake. She manages to get free and destroy him, but her house is ruined. Thankfully the town decided they were wrong about her and start being nice. Even better, she inherits Vincent's stuff now that he's gone, and can finally get a show in Las Vegas (which she wanted all along).
  • Elysium: Though The Hero Dies, medical aid is rendered to Earth, Frey's daughter is cured of her leukemia, and the villains of the story are dead.
  • GoodDick The central couple overcome abuse, drug addiction, mental illness, a pornography addiction on their way to happy together.
  • After The Fly (1986) ended with the protagonist horrifically mutated and deranged to the point where the only option was for his lover to blow his head off, The Fly II opens with the aforementioned lover dying giving birth to their part-insect child, Martin Brundle, whose unique heritage means that he looks like he's in his mid-twenties when he's only five years old before he starts to mutate into a giant bug. However, where his father failed, Martin is able to not only restore the telepods and regain his humanity, but also punish Anton Bartok, the corrupt corporate executive who let his mother die and raised him just to use him as a tool — condemning Bartok to a hellish life as a genetic mess while Martin redeems his father's work and legacy, avenges his mother, becomes fully human, and lives happily ever after with his sweetheart.
  • The Hunger Games: The ending isn't even necessarily that happy; Katniss and Peeta survive the Games together and are going back to their district, but they now have a mortal enemy in President Snow.
    • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay certainly counts, although it comes close to a Bittersweet Ending. The Games are abolished along with the end of the war, but many people, including those close to Katniss, die along the way. Katniss and those who return home with her spend years barely able to function from the trauma. Katniss gets her peaceful ending by marrying Peeta and bears his kids, thus showing that she truly earned that ending the hard way. And even after they become parents the nightmares and flashbacks persist, suggesting that they'll never quite overcome the trauma.
  • Inception, it has one of the most tense climaxes seen in recent cinema. Cobb has to deal with the nearly impossible, and has almost everything going wrong at just the wrong time during the job; which makes the ending satisfying when Cobb repairs Fischer's relationship with his father, successfully performs an Inception and Everybody Lives.
    • That's assuming one interprets the ending of the movie as actually happening in reality. An other possibility is that several of the characters never actually emerge from Limbo and the happy-ending is just part of the main character's dream. Given the alternatives, being trapped in a happy dream forever (relative to one's perception of time) may qualify as a happy ending for him though anyway.
      • If you take Christopher Nolan's own interpretation as canon, it doesn't matter if Cobb's back in reality or not, what matters is that he's finally gotten over his wife's death and he's finally gotten to see his children again. The fact that he's finally happy since he first fled the US is what matters, and the fact that he had to work to achieve that happiness certainly qualifies for this trope.
      • That way of seeing it even holds true when you go with the most extreme interpretation of the ending: that in fact his wife was right and we never saw the real world in the entire movie.
  • In The Last Samurai after the destruction of the samurai army and the death of Katsumoto, although the Narrator says that no one is sure what happened to Algren, the final scene shows that he made it back to the village and Taka to find "some small measure of peace."
  • Mad Max: Fury Road ends with one of these, with Furiosa, Max and the wives defeating Immortan Joe, taking control of the Citadel and restoring some sense of peace to their world.
  • Maleficent: After losing her wings due to her betrayal by her childhood friend King Stefan, Maleficent curses Stefan's daughter Aurora to fall into a "sleep like death" on her sixteenth birthday, and can only be awakened with True Love's Kiss (a Curse Escape Clause Maleficent adds out of spite, as Stefan's betrayal made her lose her belief in true love). As Aurora grows into her teens, Maleficent comes to care for her, and ultimately decides to revoke the curse she placed on her. Unfortunately, the curse cannot be revoked, and once Aurora realizes who Maleficent is and what role she played in the former's infant years, she becomes heartbroken, and runs back to her father, wherein the curse itself possesses her and causes her to fall into her death sleep. Maleficent pursues Aurora, bringing Prince Phillip (who Aurora has feelings for) and knowing full well that, should she enter Stefan's castle, she may not come out alive. Unfortunately, Phillip and Aurora's feelings for each other, while sweet, are not strong enough to free the latter. When Phillip leaves, Maleficent tells an unconscious Aurora how she regrets hurting someone she grew to love, and kisses her on the forehead. This kiss, however, is the True Love's Kiss that frees Aurora from her curse, and the two prepare to run back to the Faerie Moors, only to be cornered and separated by Stefan's knights. Running to safety, however, allows Aurora to find Maleficent's wings and free them, allowing the fairy to fight back against the man who betrayed her, and ultimately come out as the victor. The film's ending shows Maleficent crowning Aurora Queen of both humans and fairies, hoping to end the Fantastic Racism between the two races. Able to fly once more, Maleficent takes to the skies, content for the first time in a long while; back on the ground, Aurora reunites with Phillip, implying that the two may someday be together as a couple.
  • The Muppets: For both The Muppets and Walter:
    • For the former, after so many years since their last show, The Muppets were practically forgotten by the general public, and when they attempt a comeback to save their theater, new obstacles keep on appearing, Kermit comes close to losing it, and they initially don't even succeed in reaching their goal either, but they won back the hearts of the general public and have become as beloved as ever, and even getting their theater back thanks to a change of heart from Tex Richman, and not because of Gonzo's bowling ball knocking him out.
    • For Walter. His whole life growing up was a constant struggle, and one of the few things that helped him get through was his brother Gary and his love for the Muppets. He not only managed to bring back his heroes together to save the show, but was acknowledged as one of them so unconditionally that it was nothing less of a dream come true. The scene just before the final music number was him being lifted by the Muppets in front of their cheering fans.
  • X-Men Film Series
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past: After nearly drowning, Logan wakes up in the Sentinel-averted future to find all the X-Men and children at Xavier's school. Also, this is the first film to give Wolverine a perfect happy ending. He's a teacher!
    • X-Men: Apocalypse: Professor X is savagely victimized by En Sabah Nur. After his mind, body and soul are violated, and he nearly dies twice because of it—on the astral plane, Xavier is not only drenched in his own blood, but he's also lying in a pool of it—his terror and misery are rewarded with a surrogate family which is larger than what he had in the original trilogy. Raven returns home as his second-in-command, plus Quicksilver and Nightcrawler are now officially part of the X-Men, which they never were in the original timeline. Charles and Erik reconcile much earlier, even though the latter decides not to stay at the school. The Professor succeeds in preventing Jean Grey from developing a Superpowered Evil Side, and thus ensures that she, Cyclops, himself and many others won't die because of the Phoenix.
  • Enchanted: So the world isn't perfect... but hey, maybe there still is something to The Power of Love.
  • The final act of Interstellar, once Cooper ejects from his disintegrating shuttle and falls into the tesseract, is a 2001-ish road to creating a Stable Time Loop to explain all the signs that led to Cooper joining the mission, to get the needed information to Murph to bring Cooper home and to save humanity, Cooper fulfilling his promise to come home to Murph and to get Cooper and Brand together.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean:
    • According to Word of God, Will is freed from his curse during the third film's Post-Credits scene because Elizabeth remained faithful to him.
    • Also, Philip and Syrena in the fourth movie. And boy, did they earn it.

  • Serenity ends with the people of Miranda avenged, River somewhere closer to sanity, and Mal having put some of his demons to rest... but only at the cost of two of his crew members and a lot of innocents. It says something about Joss Whedon's Signature Style when Serenity has one of the more upbeat endings of his works.
  • Saving Private Ryan ends its War Is Hell theme with this quite explicitly, with Captain Miller telling the eponymous private to earn it when he returns to the 'States. The Epilogue shows him as an old man at Captain Miller's grave in France with his wife, children and grandchildren, and has him breaking down and asking his wife if he was a good man. Manly Tears were shed, especially by battle hardened old men in the audience.
  • The world of Quantum of Solace may be a Crapsack World, with the official stances of the CIA and MI6 to let Quantum, the Nebulous Evil Organisation, do what they want in the name of oil, but at the end of the film, James Bond has torn open a huge hole in Quantum, earned his solace over Vesper's betrayal and death, helped Camille get revenge and remove a would-be dictator, and given the Bolivian people their resources back. Leiter also gets promoted to his corrupt chief's position.
    • Spectre might feature the series' most (and only) genuinely happy ending in the franchise's history. Blofeld has been captured and imprisoned by MI6, Bond finally recovers from the events of Casino Royale (2006) and Skyfall and is able to pursue a normal life with someone he loves.
  • Slumdog Millionaire, applies this literally — almost every horrific thing that happens to the characters contributes to Jamal's win.
  • David Mamet's Redbelt. Through a veritable Deus Angst Machina noble jujitsu instructor Mike Terry loses his business, his reputation, and his best friend, and is forced to fight in a PPV match. Once there he not only discovers the matches are fixed, but that it was his own wife who caused his downfall. After a brief Heroic BSoD he becomes determined to make it to the ring and reveal the truth about the fixes. On the way there, he defeats the arrogant jujitsu guy, is awarded the championship belt, has a moment with the woman whose life he probably saved, and when he reaches the ring is embraced by his life-long mentor, who gives him the highest honor in jujitsu - the eponymous red belt.
  • In Star Trek III: The Search for Spock Kirk and the others sacrifice almost everything, including the Enterprise and Kirk's son, in order to bring Spock back to life.
    Sarek: Your ship... your son.
    Kirk: If I hadn't tried, the cost would have been my soul.
  • In a genuinely unexpected twist, Blue Velvet has a happy ending.
  • The prequel to Twin Peaks, Fire Walk With Me. With lots of elements of Gainax Ending and Mind Screw.
  • After facing much girl trouble in both Clerks films, Dante Hicks finally hooks up happily with Becky Scotts at the end of Clerks II.
  • The Shawshank Redemption. The possibility that Andy could escape was given hints earlier on that were deliberately so subtle that one was likely not to notice them until re-watching the movie, partly because of the overwhelmingly dire nature of the situation he was in. One particular example is the rock hammer; Red thought it'd take centuries to tunnel out of prison with it, but it was vaguely hinted at, by the scene where it took a decent sized chunk out of the wall, that taking it one day at a time still left the possibility of an eventual escape.
    • In the end, he gets what he deserves: after having his peak years taken away; a carefree life, on a beach with his own boat, and his best mate by his side.
  • Schindler's List: The movie adaptation of his life implies he never recovers from the events of World War II, either emotionally or financially, but seeing Liam Neeson portraying Oskar Schindler standing in front of all the people he saved at the cost of virtually everything he owned, hundreds of people there, and then having a Heroic Blue Screen of Death because it was only virtually everything he owned, when if he'd gotten rid of literally everything he may have saved perhaps a dozen more... and then the epilogue reveals that the Final Solution in Poland was so severe that fewer than four thousand Jews remained there at the time of the film's release... and then, finally, The Reveal that the descendants of the Jews Schindler saved number over six thousand.

  • In Love Actually, most of the couples fought and made sacrifices for the name of love. Sam learned how to play the drums and then escaped the security guards at the airport to reach his crush. Both Jamie and Aurelia learned the other's language so they could properly speak to each other when they meet again. David and Natalie went through a Second-Act Breakup, only to realize that it was a misunderstanding and they make up. Colin sold his apartment to go to America, where he meets four stunning American girls who were very interested in his British accent. The couples that didn't work was because they didn't take the chance to make it work or were unable to move on (like Sarah whose duties to her mentally illy brother took priority over her crush Karl).
  • What Dreams May Come - "Let this hell be our heaven."
  • In a rare example of this trope spanning several connected films instead of just applying to the course of the plot throughout one film, Young Frankenstein. All the five earlier Frankenstein films in the original series (alluded to being in continuity with Young Frakenstein with the line, "We're still having nightmares..from five times before!") had unhappy endings. Young Frankenstein was the first to end quite happily—because it was the first Frankenstein film in which the doctor does take responsibility for his creature and even shows fatherly caring for it.
  • The characters in Mystery Team had to go through their first REAL case in order to grow up and become respected.

  • Jenna has to go through a lot of abuse and self assessment in Waitress till she gets her independence.
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon has Sentinel Prime turn out to be a traitor to the Autobots, Chicago devastated by Decepticon forces, Sam and Carly having relationship troubles, and the Autobots untrusted by the world. But by the end of it all, Sentinel Prime and all of the Decepticons are killed and defeated, Sam and Carly get together again by the end, and the Autobots have proved they're not the reason the Decepticons are staying on Earth.

  • The 2013 CBC movie Jack, about Canadian politician Jack Layton, shows him fighting the uphill battle throughout his political career against powerful rivals, and dismissiveness from those who figured he never had a chance; eventually, though, he made it to opposition leader status before he died. Granted, it's not an entirely happy ending, but it's uplifting compared to most of the movie.
  • The hero of Im Juli has to suffer a lot in order to get from Hamburg to Istanbul and meets his love.
  • In Nurse Betty, after all the bad stuff which happens to the main character (Like for example, being traumatized as a result of witnessing her husband's brutal slaying, to the point of not being able to tell the difference between fiction and reality.) things end well for her: She not only recovers her sanity and also manages to don´t be killed by the two hitmen that were trying to eliminate her, but also gets a job in her favorite show and the movie concludes with her taking a vacation in Rome, while she plans to pursue nursing as a career.

  • Pain and Gain: Paul Doyle. Though he continues apologizing.
  • This Is the End mixes this trope with a Dance Party Ending. Thanks to their selfless actions and enduring Hell on Earth, Seth, Jay and Craig get to go to Heaven and enjoy all of the luxurious things that it has. One of which is partying with Backstreet Boys, a life long dream of Jay's.

  • Noah has the closest one we'll see in an Aronofsky movie. After enduring the violence of man, the flood wiping out humanity, Noah almost killing his newborn children and their son Ham leaving them, Noah and his family prosper on their new land with the animals, with The Creator bringing life to the planet once more.
  • For both parties in Neighbors. The fraternity moves closer to the campus i.e away from Mac and Kelly, allowing them to raise Stella in peace, and Teddy grows up and gets a post-college career as a male model while taking night courses to boost his GPA. He and Mac also make up.
  • Apparently so in Youth in Revolt. Nick wins Sheeni's love, and she agrees to wait for him while he's in juvie. Whatever he may have done, no one can say he didn't work to earn her love.... But, if you keep watch during the credits, a cartoon epilogue scene plays where Nick escapes from juvenile hall and finds Sheeni driving down the road, so then he gets in the car with her and they fly around the world.
    • Not to mention that everyone from Nick's deadbeat parents to Francois seems to have given them their blessing, in spite of everything that's occurred...
  • In spite of the destruction that occurred over the course of Godzilla (2014), the victory over the Mutos and Godzilla's return to the ocean are portrayed in a triumphant light.
  • Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory After Charlie returns his gobstopper, Wonka changes his mind and declares the winner.
  • Mark has to do this big time in "SAVE ME", and in two directions: first he has to get out of the drug-and-sex-fueled disaster area that was his life at the beginning of the film, and then he has to disentangle himself from the distortions and corruptions of Genesis House, the thing that got him out of drugs and meaningless promiscuity in the first place.
  • In Tell No One, Alexandre gets falsely accused of murder twice, finds himself on the run from both the police and vicious killers, and discovers he's been lied to and betrayed by his sister and his father-in-law...but at the end, he finally reunites with his wife Margot, whom he thought was dead for the past eight years.
  • In the final scene of Playing It Cool, the Narrator tells Her that they may well end up making each other miserable but he still wants to try, and convinces her to give their relationship a shot. The movie ends abruptly there, leaving it unsaid how it turned out.
  • It takes two trilogies' worth of Star Wars movies, but at the end, the sith, the empire, and the dark side are defeated forever, thanks to the jedi, the rebellion, and Vader's redemption. Anakin/Vader himself gets this, becoming a ghost with the force, having saved his son, regaining his humanity and fulfilling his role as the chosen one.
  • In the 1982 Soviet film adaptation of Charles Perrault's fairy tale Donkeyskin, little Princess Theresa is put under an ambiguous spell by a bitter Fairy, which states that she will live a happy and fulfilled life "only if..." After she grows up, the Princess then goes through many hardships and dangerous situations, until finally she overcomes all adversity and finds her Prince Charming after saving him from near-death. In the end, the Fairy's full curse is revealed: "The Princess will live a happy and fulfilled life only if... Even when the odds are against her, she is still worthy of a happy ending through her actions."
  • In Ujala, Ramu goes through a lot for his kindness and honesty to pay off. After the death of his sister, he becomes a pickpocket, gets framed for a murder he didn't commit, framed for stealing a knife and has to go on the run, but fortunately he is taken mercy on and though he is injured in a knife fight, he's not too badly injured and gets to be with his love interest.
  • The Grand Seduction: The townsfolk of Tickle Head convince Dr. John Lewis to stay in Tickle Head, Newfoundland and Labrador, ensuring that the town gets the petrochemical facility. With the construction of the facility, the town finally has a real source of income, returning a sense of town pride to the residents.
  • 3 Generations: After lengthy family drama and struggle regarding Ray's identity, both his parents give him consent to start testosterone. His entire family also has accepted him by the end, with Ray also reconnecting with his father and father's family.
  • The Lord of the Rings has more of a Bittersweet Ending than most examples. Still, after three movies of constant conflict, impossible odds, and certainty of death, the ring is destroyed, taking down Sauron and all his power, freeing Middle-Earth and the world from his shadow once and for all. Gondor and the world of men can begin to rebuild, Aragorn is crowned king and marries Arwen, the hobbits return to the shire and Sam marries Rosie Cotton. On the bitter side, Boromir, Theoden, and innumerable beings have died on the war; Frodo's wounds will never fully heal, so he takes a ship with Gandalf and Bilbo to the Undying Lands, splitting the fellowship forever; and the elves, now with their rings powerless, will also go to the west and live with their kind, forsaking Middle-Earth until the end of the world.
  • Trapped: The Alex Cooper Story: After much hardship and a 6 month court battle,teenage lesbian Alex wins her freedom from the Simms (who ran the brutal conversion therapy camp where she was essentially held prisoner) and her homophobic parents (who sent her there). According to the ending message, they have reconnected since then and accept her now.


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