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Happy Ending Override

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"If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story."

The Big Bad has been brought to a crushing end at the hands of The Hero, his Ragtag Bunch of Misfits and his trademark BFS. The Negative Space Wedgie that was threatening all of creation has been un-wedgied, the Sealed Evil in a Can has been safely disposed of, all the plot threads that were left hanging have been wrapped up nice and neat and everybody lives Happily Ever After.


And then the sequel happens.

It's inevitable: you can't have a story without conflict and chaos, and therefore you can't have a sequel set in a world that we last saw happy and peaceful without dropping a new horrible menace in the thick of things and letting him/her/it run amok. This, however, is taking things far beyond simple Status Quo Is God. We leave an idyllic paradise and come back to a Crapsack World: the Golden Age has rusted over, chivalry has been stabbed in the back, the peaceful kingdom has transformed into an evil empire (or invaded by it, or both) and everything that our protagonists fought so hard to save has been pillaged and murdered by time and writers. The shaggy dog was shot while we weren't looking. The world is not only substantially worse off than it was when we last saw it, much of the time it's worse off than it was when the story began. Particularly egregious ones feel forced and like a cop-out and have dramatic things that make no sense and at times were already supposedly addressed in the past, have a negative impact just for the sake of being dramatic. Better examples will have new problems that feel at least somewhat natural appear in the horizon. The best and most well-done cases have minor plot-points that people once ignored suddenly turn out to be much more important, that often also leave viewers wondering how much of it did the writers plan in advance.


This is the part where our heroes (assuming they're not dead, incapacitated or turned evil) fall to their knees and deliver their best Zero impression: "What were we fighting for?"

Full-Circle Revolution and Cartwright Curse are typical means to this effect. Likely to result in Fanon Discontinuity, if not Canon Discontinuity. The worst-case scenario is the death of the franchise.

For inversions, see Belated Happy Ending. Contrast Was It Really Worth It?, where the characters are made to feel the cost (usually personal) of their victory before the story ends, but the good which results is usually lasting. Compare Doomed by Canon, where the "sequel" story undoing the happy ending was written first.

Not to be confused with Your Princess Is in Another Castle!, where not only is the ending unhappy, but it isn't actually an ending at all. Or Tastes Like Diabetes, which is more like Happy Ending Overload.


This is an Ending Trope, so expect spoilers.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Defied in Mobile Suit Crossbone Gundam The Steel Seven. Kincade (aka Seabook) retired from war after the original manga, and he and Cecily settled down in peace. When another threat to Earth is revealed, Tobia initially considers going to him to get his help as a pilot... but decides against it seeing how happy Seabook is, and Tobia can't bring himself to interrupt that.
  • Eureka Seven AO shows that Eureka and Renton's child is abandoned in another dimension. It's later revealed that Corralian/Human babies can't survive in their home dimension because of high levels of Trapar.
  • Gall Force Earth Chapter ends with the heroes stopping GORN, the world saved and mankind, while in for a long time to rebuild, has a bright future ahead. Gall Force New Era revealed GORN survived in data form, managed to infect the network of All of Mankind's territory, and proceeded kill off the human race, save for six women who managed to get lead to safety and launched into space.
  • A very...odd example in Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Rebellion. Kyubey has turned Homura into a witch and trapped the others in her labyrinth, so that he can try to undo Madoka's wish. He fails, only for someone else to undo Madoka's wish: HOMURA, who absorbs/suppresses Madoka's goddess powers and becomes Lucifer, erases the other girls' memories, and proceeds to remake reality in her own image. To be fair, the ending she puts in place has all five girls (and newcomer Nagisa) alive, with only her and Kyubey really getting the short end of the stick: Homura because she feels unworthy of Madoka's friendship after betraying her, and Kyubey due to being stuffed with all of the curses he had laid on Magical Girls throughout history. So she overrode a happy ending to put a seemingly happier ending in place; it's very contentious among fans, as some see the new ending as happier, others less so.
    • The root of the divergence seems to be whether you believe whether being alive but mortal and trapped in an illusionary labyrinth is better than being in magical girl heaven with full agency and immortality, but technically "dead".
    • The Concept Movie's promise of a sequel to the film's events promise another one of these is in store.
  • Queen's Blade sees this happen in the Rebellion series, where the victorious Leina hands the mantle of Queen to her sister, Claudette, who goes on to make many reforms as Leina happily retires. The key sticking point is that the Swamp Witch is still free at the end of the first series, and she continues to expand her poisoned domain, starts cursing all of the old heroines to put them out of commission or limit their fighting ability, and corrupts Claudette into a Well-Intentioned Extremist Knight Templar who rules with an iron fist, making the "Rebellion" necessary.
  • Rurouni Kenshin: Part of the reason the titular hero became The Atoner was that he could no longer ignore the fact that he was killing people regardless of how good the motives were. Being indirectly responsible for the death of the woman he loved was the metaphorical last straw. Each major fight afterward, Kenshin speechifies about what he was fighting for, and it takes a Heroic BSoD for him to realize that he can only fight for his own personal peace of mind. The Seisouhen OVA goes on to erase all of that Character Development and have Kenshin still so wracked by guilt that he abandons his family to go Walking the Earth again; it's not until the very end that he returns, only to die in Kaoru's arms, and she dies moments later because he's infected her too. Yahiko has taken up Kenshin's mantle, and his son Kenji eventually comes around to the same point of view, but there's a reason most fans and Nobuhiro Watsuki himself, who didn't write it, deny Seisouhen's existence.
  • ∀ Gundam ends up being this. Because the Black History consists of all previous Gundam series up to that point, almost every single Gundam work is doomed to end in conflict and destruction of the world over the course of millennia. For one Gundam work to exist, the previous must have ended in failure for the protagonists. Ironically, one could argue that Turn A (and the works made between this and Reconquista in G) itself succumbs to this as it must end in setting up the Reguild Century.
  • Rebuild of Evangelion: At the end of the second movie, Shinji succeeds in rescuing Rei from an Angel that had devoured her, inadvertently starting Third Impact in the process, not that he's concerned. The Stinger, however, has Kaworu stop Third Impact, and by the time the third movie begins, nearly all of humanity is shown to have perished when Shinji nearly started Third Impact, and everyone Shinji knew and loved (except Kaworu) is either dead or flat-out hate him, some (like Asuka and Misato) rather irrationally. The Rei that he meets in this movie, to make things worse, is a clone: the Rei he thought he rescued is gone.
  • Both the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga and anime ended with a conclusively happy ending, but six months later in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions, trouble is afoot again. Seto Kaiba refuses to let go of the Pharaoh and causes most of the movie's plot by his obsessive desire to duel him again, while he, Yugi, and his friends are menaced by Aigami, who's determined to kill Kaiba and Yugi if needed to stop the Puzzle from being completed.
  • Naruto had a definite ending in which the eponymous hero, after living many years as a lonely outcast, gained acceptance and recognition from his village, achieved his lifelong dream, managed to bring peace to the ninja world, redeemed his best friend, found love and fathered two children. The sequel manga, Boruto: Naruto Next Generation kicks off by showing the Village of Konoha destroyed and a now more grown-up Naruto's son, Boruto Uzumaki, fighting a powerful enemy who is implied to have killed his father.
  • While Dragon Ball Super doesn't do this as a whole to Dragon Ball Z, as it's a midquel that takes place before the last three episodes of that series, it does do this to Future Trunks' story. The last time he was seen in the original series, thanks to training in the Z Warriors' timeline he'd managed to become strong enough to take down the Artificial Humans of his world (as well as Imperfect Cell), as well as rebuild all the damage they caused. In Super, new villain Goku Black (a.k.a. Zamasu) decimates his world even more so than the Artificial Humans did, murders his mother right in front of his eyes, and forces Future Trunks to flee back to the main timeline. Even worse, after Zamasu's defeat, he attempts to become reality itself, prompting the Omni-King to completely destroy Future Trunks' timeline (though Trunks and his family manage to escape), rendering the struggles of its inhabitants between both apocalypses null and void.
    • By extension, this also happened to the Future Trunks from Cell's timeline. After saving Goku's life and helping them deactivate the androids, he traveled back to his time to do the same. With the world saved, he decided to make one last trip to the past to celebrate with his friends. However, Cell got to him first.
  • In Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals, though Exdeath is defeated, Mid dies shortly after. Due to taking place centuries later, the heroes have all died by now. And there is a new Big Bad, Deathgyunos.
  • Girls und Panzer: the Ooarai High School is shutting down, but it will remain open if its tankery team manages to win the national tournament. After many trials and hardships, the tournament is won. Girls Und Panzer Der Film opens with an announcement that the school's closing down anyway, as apparently the administration's promise to keep the school open was hollow. Anzu manages to negotiate a promise to have the school remain open if the tankery team wins a match against a University-level team... and this time she gets the agreement in writing so they can't back out of it.
  • The ending to Super Danganronpa 2 shows Naegi and friends deleting AI Enoshima and reverting the surviving Remnants of Despair back to their old selves. The worst Naegi thinks will happen is filing a bunch of paperwork, right? Wrong. Danganronpa 3 begins one day later, when he's court-martialed by the leaders of the Future Foundation for harboring war criminals. Then Monokuma returns and forces everyone into another Deadly Game, revealing a traitor amongst them will be doing the killing. And Side:Future Episode 6 reveals that the former Remnants are about to be attacked by Future Foundation peacekeeping forces. Thankfully, all of the previously introduced characters survive to the end.
  • Perhaps better called a Bittersweet Ending Override, but Code Geass would be approaching this with the movie, Lelouch of the Resurrection that will follow up the events after the Zero Requiem. In the movie, the world remains at peace for one year; however, several nations such as the Zilkstan Kingdom still suffer the aftereffects of the Zero Requiem. This eventually leads to the Zilkstan Kingdom kidnapping Nunually and Suzaku at the beginning of the movie.
  • Season 2 of Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans slowly falls for the protagonists. Season 1 ended in a positive tone where no one in Tekkadan and their allies, the Turbines (except Biscuit) were killed off. Initially, Season 1 was supposed to have darker storylines such as higher casualties and the public distrusting Tekkadan but the director wanted a lighter and happier tone. As a result, Season 2 picks up these remaining storylines where Tekkadan started losing their friends and were vilified in public by Gjallarhorn's black propaganda. In the end, Tekkadan lost their leader and their Gundam pilots including Mikazuki and Rustal successfully reforms Gjallarhorn without receiving any punishment for his atrocities.
  • Sukasuka has a very bittersweet ending that takes place after a ten year time skip, with it being implied that everyone lived happily ever after during those ten years. Then the sequel, which takes place five years into the time skip, came out and revealed just how horrible things really were. Two days after the main conflict was seemingly resolved, Regul Aire was once again attacked by the 17 Beasts. Although the Warehouse inevitably managed to survive this, it’s not clear if all of its members could say the same.
  • Battle Angel Alita: The Motorball arc ended on one of the happiest tones of the series, promptly undone at the start of the next arc.

    Comic Books 
  • The Avatar: The Last Airbender graphic novels quickly establish that saving the world involves more than just beating the Fire Lord, with a lot of messes and problems to deal with in the aftermath of a large-scale global war. This includes everything from how to deal with the various colonies, handling any groups within the Fire Nation that are still loyal to the previous Fire Lord, and preventing new wars from breaking out. Not even the character's personal relationships are safe, with Mai and Zuko breaking up almost immediately, despite their heartwarming reunion in the show's finale.
    • The Legend of Korra graphic novels continue this trend, though it's somewhat downplayed by show's finale making it clear that Korra and Asami going on a date in the Spirit World is simply a short vacation before devoting themselves to rebuilding Republic City. When they return, they immediately have to deal with a refugee crisis and a new Big Bad swiftly going from a Badass Normal gangster to Humanoid Abomination that can command spirits like Unalaq all over again.
  • Age of Apocalypse. Inverted then played straight. The original event ended with most of the characters dead or about to be destroyed by a nuclear strike against the US, having sacrificed their own reality in the hope of restoring the main Marvel universe. Then a sequel came out in which people pick up the rubble and try to rebuild the world and their lives. Later in 2012, Uncanny X-Force had an arc in which they went to visit that same world and it was more horrifying than ever, with Apocalypse being replaced by something far worse and most of the dimension's X-Men being killed.
  • The final issue of Warren Ellis' run on Doom 2099 saw Doom about to realize his goal of creating a utopia by releasing thought-controlled Nanomachines that would give people whatever they wanted for free. The first three words in the next issue are "it didn't work".
  • Christopher Priest's Black Panther run ended with Kasper Cole becoming the new White Tiger and choosing to stay with Gwen so they could raise their baby together. When Kasper appeared in World of Wakanda years later, it was revealed that Gwen had dumped him and taken the baby with her. Worse still, work commitments and financial difficulties had killed his career as White Tiger before it ever really took off.
  • Crisis on Infinite Earths ended with a Bittersweet Ending for Superboy Prime, who after his Earth was destroyed was sent with other beings to an interdimensional heaven where he could spend the rest of his days. Come Infinite Crisis, he came back and made a Face–Heel Turn.
  • The Toxin mini-series ended with Patrick Mulligan finally coming to terms with being a symbiote-wearing superhero, coming back to his wife after leaving her behind to protect her for the entire series and telling her the truth about him. Then the writers had Patrick killed offscreen by Blackheart so they could give his symbiote to Eddie Brock and make a new opponent for Flash Thompson as Agent Venom.
  • The original Hack/Slash series ended with protagonist Cassie Hack moving on with her life, putting an end to her Serial-Killer Killer activities and getting together with her Love Interest Georgia to build a new life as a "normal" person. Comes the sequel Son of Samhain, she ends up breaking up with Georgia because "normal" life just wasn't interesting enough for her, and gets back to hunting monsters.
  • The Grendel "War Child" arc ended with Jupiter Assante becoming Khan and seemingly likely to rule relatively justly, even if authoritarianly and in a world with a Might Makes Right attitude. The next work in the sequence, the prose novel Past Prime, reveals that Jupiter was murdered by his own wife on his wedding night and that his empire has collapsed into a feudal quasi-anarchy plagued by self-servingly violent Grendel clans and wandering psychos.
  • Fray overrides the ending of the seventh season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which saw the mass empowerment of Slayers across the world; by Mel's time, it's back to one per generation.
  • The Fly: Outbreak: While The Fly II ended on a relatively upbeat tone with Martin restoring his human body and inflicting a karmic punishment upon the Corrupt Corporate Executive who has controlled him all his life, the comicbook sequel throws a wrench into this with the reveal that Martin's genes are still not stable and more people get infected and turned into Fly-hybrids because of him.
  • At the end of Watchmen, Adrian "Ozymandias" Veidt successfully saves the world from the brink of World War III via an elaborate alien invasion hoax, and the protagonists agree that no one must never know the truth. But Rorschach is a pre-emptive Spanner in the Works, as he had already sent evidence of Veidt's plan to a newspaper he trusts, and it was only a matter of time before the truth became public knowledge. Sure enough, by the time Doomsday Clock begins, Veidt had been exposed, and everything is back to square one.
  • Star Trek: Untold Voyages: In "Past Imperfect", the Enterprise learns that the vaccine that Dr. McCoy created for the virus that was killing the Onlies in "Miri" mutated into a new, more virulent strain. Miri was among the many Onlies to die as a result. Enraged and distraught by her death, Jahn seeks revenge on McCoy and kidnaps his daughter Joanna. He brings her back to his planet so that she will die from the virus and McCoy will learn what it is like to lose someone. However, McCoy is able to develop a new and more effective vaccine that permanently eliminates the virus.

    Fan Works 
  • "Flaihhsam s'Spahkh" has a throwaway mention that Ael t'Rllaillieu from the Rihannsu novels was assassinated at some point after becoming Empress of the Romulan Star Empire in the last book, which probably explains why her friendship with Kirk and the Enterprise crew hadn't led to a long-term thaw in relations with the Federation by Star Trek: The Next Generation.
  • The end of Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality had Harry obliviating Voldemort of all his memories, hoping to raise him again in love and warmth one day. Yet in its fan sequel Significant Digits, Voldemort got all his memories back.
  • The Teen Titans fanfic Beware the Grey Ghost does this to the Batman: The Animated Series episode of the same name. At the conclusion of the episode, the actor who played the titular Grey Ghost found his acting career revitalized thanks to helping Batman thwart the Mad Bomber recreating an episode of his show. In the opening chapter, however, Robin tells the rest of the Titans that said Mad Bomber escaped during a mass breakout of Arkham, then planted a bomb in the actor's car, killing him.
  • Ask The New Hope's Peak does this for Danganronpa 3, showing plenty of Ascended Fridge Horror about the world after an apocalypse.
  • old light still slants through overrides the light-hearted and comical tone of Katekyo Hitman Reborn's ending, which left off with Tsuna having to endure the shenanigans of Reborn's tutoring once more with all of his new friends. After becoming the boss of the Vongola, he attempts to return the organization to its vigilante roots, only for the rise of Quirks to throw the world into chaos as the Vongola desperately tried to maintain order. The Vongola ultimately lose and it's heavily implied that Tsuna had seen the deaths of all of his loved ones, family members, and Guardians, including the death of his younger brother, who was only 19 at the time. With nothing left to live for, Tsuna becomes a Death Seeker and goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, indiscriminately slaughtering everyone he held responsible before finally dying himself and reincarnating as Izuku Midoriya. Filled with guilt and regret, Tsuna now acts as a Spirit Advisor to Izuku, coaching him on how to use his Dying Will Flames to become a Hero and prevent Izuku from going down the same path he did.
  • The 6th installment of the Tales of the Undiscovered Swords ends with Sasanoyuki on kiwame seemingly able to move on from his past. However, in the 8th fic which features him after the kiwame training, it's revealed that his self-hatred problem has gotten worse from being exposed to the past events again. He gets better in the end though.
  • The Queens Admiral does this for Beauty and the Beast, as whatever peace and happiness the characters managed to achieve were undercut by the French Revolution, during which Adam (the Beast) lost his kingdom, his son, and almost all of his servants aside from Chip. The former prince Adam had since become a senile old man who eventually dies of heart attack when he got involved in the conflict that the main characters were involved in.
  • In the Ruby and Nora story Attacks, the titular duo save the town of Muzukasi from robotic Grimm attacks after finding out that Harold White was behind them. In the very next story, Bloodsucker, Muzukasi was destroyed by the Aswang with Penwood the only survivor.

    Film — Animated 
  • The end of The LEGO Movie ends with Brickburg being saved and everyone being happy. Cut to to the sequel, where that happy ending has been destroyed and the world is now a post-apocalyptic Crapsack World. Well, for everyone but Emmett, anyways.
  • At the end of The Incredibles, it looks like the Parr family can finally come out of hiding after saving the city from Syndrome's Omidroid, and can now fight crime in public as a superhero family, but in the sequel, which picks up right where the previous film left off, it's revealed that superheroes are still illegal and one of the main goals of the film is to try and get the law changed. Even Violet getting a date with her crush, Tony, gets undone when Dicker erases his memory making him to forget all about her.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • 28 Days Later: Jim, Selena and Hannah all survive the zombie apocalypse and move to a safe area while the Infected from Britain starve to death and it becomes safe again. They are eventually spotted by a plane and rescued. Then, 28 Weeks Later causes another infection outbreak due to an Idiot Plot, this time possibly worldwide. Meanwhile, a comic series starring one of the survivors from the first movie reveals that Jim has been sentenced to death for his Roaring Rampage of Revenge on the soldiers who were trying to repopulate the earth by using his friends...
  • Child's Play. The first three movies play the trope straight, as both the first and second movies end with protagonist Andy successfully killing Chucky and moving on, only for the Killer Doll to come back from the dead by the next opus, where it's always revealed Andy's life only got worse in the mid-time. Andy is Put on a Bus for the next two movies, but brought back in the sixth one, where the trope gets spectacularly subverted: Andy's situation finally got better (he reunited with his mother and lives a normal life), and when Chucky does find him again, Andy welcomes him with a shotgun. Ultimately played straight again in the following movie, Cult of Chucky: Andy is miserable and obsessed with Chucky at the onset, and by the end of the movie, Chucky has a human form and his latest murders will probably be attributed to Andy.
  • Alien franchise:
    • Ripley had destroyed the monster and escaped in a pod in Alien, but in Aliens she discovered that her ship wandered without a destination and she stayed in hypersleep for several decades. Doesn't seem such a downer until Ripley learns that she outlived her own daughter while she was in stasis.
    • The transition from Aliens to Alien³, in which Hicks, Bishop, and Newt, the three that Ripley fought tooth and nail to save in the previous movie, are killed off-screen before the opening credits. Bishop technically survives, but he's damaged beyond repair and permanently turned off by Ripley. James Cameron was horrified that the survivors from his film died horribly instead of being able to start a family (with the exception of Ripley), and the author hired to write novelizations for the series went so far as to call this twist "obscene". Notably, the Dark Horse comic series ignores the twist, keeping Newt and Hicks alive. Only for things to get worse.
    • Alien: Resurrection completely negates Ripley's Heroic Sacrifice at the end of Alien 3 by putting alien DNA into the hands of another Corrupt Corporation.
    • While Prometheus certainly didn't end happily, by any means, it did end hopefully with the lone survivors—Elizabeth and David—headed towards the Engineers' homeworld for answers. In Alien: Covenant, it turns out David took a flying leap off the slippery slope, murdered Elizabeth, and horrifically mutilated her remains to help create the ultimate lifeform: the Xenomorphs. Shaw is long dead and David is now the Big Bad of the series.
  • Happens to James Cameron again in the Terminator series. After our heroes Screw Destiny and avert Judgment Day in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines insists that You Can't Fight Fate and Judgment Day has to happen after all to fix those Stable Time Loops and Temporal Paradoxes. James Cameron while working on a new Terminator film to serve as a direct sequel to Judgment Day has dismissed all sequels that he wasn't involved in (Rise of the Machines, Salvation, Genisys) to have all happened in alternate timelines.
  • TRON: Yay! Master Control was destroyed, Dillinger was busted, the Programs are free again, and Flynn's not only got his job back, he's the guy in charge! He wraps his arms around Lora and Alan and off they go into the sunset... TRON: Legacy opens, and Encom's back to being run by crooks, with Alan as the Only Sane Man in the room. Lora's nowhere to be seen (Expanded Universe material says she was Put on a Bus, which is actually nicer than her fate in the other sequel; the actress is trying to fix this). Meanwhile, Flynn's trapped by his own creation, has been fighting a Hopeless War for the equivalent of centuries, and has had to watch the genocide of a species. And just to frost the cake? The title character made an attempt at Heroic Sacrifice that turned into a Fate Worse than Death. Suddenly, the first film doesn't seem like such cheery Disney fare. Worse, TRON: Legacy veers incredibly close to a full-blown Downer Ending since over 2/3 of the characters are dead and most of the other 1/3 have dim survival odds at best. The only bright spot at the end of Legacy is that Sam and Quorra manage to escape alive.
    • The video game sequel TRON 2.0 is Lighter and Softer, but not by much; the comic establishes that Flynn apparently went nuts and vanished, Lora was killed by an accident in the laser lab with the part of her remaining in the system compiled into Ma3a, Alan has been exiled to a lab in the basement instead of a token position in the boardroom, Encom is on such shaky ground that a shady fly-by-night like F-Con can swoop in and buy them out, and Tron's fate is explicitly stated to be "unknown."
  • Shanghai Noon ended with the heroes each getting the girl, becoming rich and both getting respected jobs as sheriffs. By the second film, the girls were gone, the money had been lost in a poor investment and while Roy had already left his job and become a writer, Chon had to leave it in order to follow the plot of the next film.
  • Men in Black: Agent K passes the torch to Agent J and moves on to a well-earned retirement with the wife he hasn't seen in decades, J forms a new partnership with L, and everybody wins! Then Men in Black II comes along and decides to completely rehash the original, so L breaks up with J and gets a transfer to the morgue, leading J to a series of unsuitable partners, before being forced to reactivate K, which is only made slightly better because K's miserable and can't remember that it's because he used to be a galactic sheriff for all of Earth, and has become so uncertain and wistful about the things he can't remember that the woman he longed for his whole life and finally got to marry left him. Yay?
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country ends on a high (if bittersweet) note, with our heroes, including Captain Kirk, heading towards retirement after saving the Federation and the galaxy yet again. Then Star Trek: Generations happens, and Kirk first gets chucked out of the Enterprise-B's hull into the Nexus, and then proceeds to be the trope namer for Dropped a Bridge on Him when he comes out to stop the Mad Scientist Soran from blowing up a sun in order to get into the Nexus.
    • Similarly, Star Trek: Nemesis ends on the hope that the Romulan Empire and the Federation will be able to put the past behind them and band together for the common good, even after the time they spent fighting. It never happens because Romulus of this universe was canonically destroyed by a supernova in the Continuity Reboot Star Trek (2009), giving Nero the impetus to screw around with the Alternate Continuity of the Abrams films.
  • Ghostbusters (1984) ends with the titular team defeating an ancient Sumerian deity, sending it back where it came from, and being hailed as heroes by a grateful city. Ghostbusters II opens up five years later with their reputation inexplicably in shambles, the partnership dissolved, a court order preventing them from offering their services, and some of them even being so desperate that they have taken to performing at birthday parties. Peter and Dana broke up too. Fortunately, the happy ending of that movie seems to stick, as the video game (which is considered canon) shows them still active a few years later, and the current mayoral administration having very Ghostbuster-friendly policies.
  • The Karate Kid: Daniel-san wins the tournament and gets the girl. Come the sequel, said girl has wrecked his car and dumped him for a college guy.
  • The Blues Brothers ended with Elwood and Jake barely managing to save the orphanage before being arrested. At the beginning of Blues Brothers 2000, Elwood discovers that the orphanage has been demolished and Jake died offscreen before the movie begins, in a case of The Character Died with Him.
  • At the end of the first Transformers film, Megatron is killed; gets resurrected in the next one. Part of Sam's character arc in the second film is his refusal to tell Mikaela he loves her, but he finally does at the end. She dumps him between films. Transformers: Dark of the Moon has the Autobots emerge triumphant as seemingly all the Decepticons (including Megatron, Starscream and the long-absent Barricade) are killed. Transformers: Age of Extinction begins four years later, during which time humanity has turned on the Autobots and are now hunting them down to kill them. And their remains are used to create new Transformers controlled by humans. Including Megatron, who, as it turns out, is still alive.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past: The cautious optimism that Professor X carried at the end of X-Men: First Class turned out to be short-lived. After just one semester, conscription for the Vietnam War forces Charles Xavier to close his school, which serves as the last straw that broke the camel's back. Losing his sense of purpose exacerbates the traumas he has experienced during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and he soon becomes a drug-addled recluse.
    • Logan itself overrides the ending Wolverine fought for in Days of Future Past, as it adapts elements of Old Man Logan, including mutants dying out, Logan as a tired old man, and the X-Men being killed by an unknowing member of their own ranks (in the film's case, Professor Xavier during a seizure).
  • Mortal Kombat: Annihilation not only completely invalidates our heroes' victory at the end of the first movie by having Shao Kahn invade Earth anyway despite the tournament being won (a result of Shinnok, the true Big Bad, manipulating things from behind the scenes), it also robs Raiden of his godly powers and brutally murders Johnny Cage in the first three minutes of the film.
  • In Muppets Most Wanted, all those millions of Muppet fans that appeared at the end of The Muppets to lend their support to the gang in their time of need?
    Rowlf: Actually, those were extras.
    Fozzie: I saw a few tapping their toes.
    Scooter: Yeah, those were paid dancers.
    Fozzie: ...Oh.
  • Star Wars:
    • A New Hope ends on a triumphant note with the Rebels destroying the Death Star and receiving medals for it. Come The Empire Strikes Back and we learn that the celebrations were short-lived as the Empire's counterattack was swift and drove them out from their base, starting the darkest episode of the original trilogy.
    • Happens also in the Star Wars: Ewok Adventures of all movies. Caravan of Courage had a teenage boy and his younger sister team up with some teddy bears to rescue their parents from a giant. Within the first few minutes of Battle for Endor all the humans except the little girl are killed by Space Pirates, who go on to slaughter or enslave all but one of the Ewoks.
    • The Force Awakens:
      • The Empire has fallen, dealt a final blow shortly after Return of the Jedi, but sympathizers have worked behind the scenes to create a replacement for thirty years. The New Republic leadership doesn't take them seriously, so Princess Leia forms La Résistance with surreptitious support from old political allies to fight them as best they can. Until the New Republic is at best utterly devastated and at worst annihilated during the events of the film.
      • Luke's attempt at resurrecting the Jedi Order ended in total disaster when his nephew turned to the Dark Side and killed most of the other apprentices and taking some with him. After several decades he is still the last Jedi, and has retreated into unknown space.
      • Han and Leia's ending. Not only do they lose their son to the Dark Side, devastating their relationship and sending them back to what is comfortable: Leia leading the resistance against the Empire-influenced First Order and Han back to smuggling, but it is overridden further when their son completes his fall by killing Han.
    • The Last Jedi continues this, having the First Order reigning the Galaxy with their losses at Starkiller Base in The Force Awakens barely slowing them down, the remaining Resistance members being picked off, Leia's call for help ignored out of fear, Finn and Rose's unsanctioned mission making things worse, and Luke Skywalker himself dying to help the last remnants of the Resistance escape.
      • In fact, the sequel trilogy has become this for the Skywalker Saga - Han Solo is murdered by his own son; Leia has lost nearly all of her loved ones by the end of The Last Jedi; Ben Solo has fallen to the Dark Side and, unlike Anakin Skywalker, is declared a lost cause by his last surviving family; and, finally, Luke is reduced to the antithesis of his old self after failing to complete his promise to Master Yoda to form a new Jedi Order, and then dies of exhaustion after his last heroic act to save his sister. The galaxy moves on, with the Skywalkers and their loved ones ultimately ended up being just another group of its casualties instead of the heroes of their time.
  • The ending of the original Kick Boxer has the hero avenge his brother's death by beating the bully Tong Po and the film ends on a happy note. The beginning of Kick Boxer 2 has Tong Po murder the hero in cold blood, setting up the revenge story for the next younger brother. This wasn't the original script, but they changed it because the first film's star, Jean-Claude Van Damme, refused to return for the sequel.
  • Paul Blart: Mall Cop. The first movie ended with Paul a hero and getting married to his Love Interest, Amy. The sequel opens with the reveal that Amy filed for a divorce less than a week later for unexplained reasons, and to make matters worse, a short time after that his mother gets hit by milk truck one morning while getting the paper. At least Paul finds someone else (who's also a security guard) and Maya gets to go to her dream college at the end.
  • This happened (albeit with more subtlety than usual) in the course of Tim Burton's two Batman films. True, the 1989 original didn't exactly end with the cast singing "Smile, Darn Ya, Smile"...but things wrapped up about as well as they possibly could in such a dark franchise: Gotham City was saved and Batman got his revenge. But Batman Returns shows us early on that Bruce Wayne was still unhappy, his revenge didn't satisfy him, and if anything the experience had left him even more brutal and bloodthirsty. And then he's framed for the murder of an innocent, causing everyone to hate him again (and we never do see Batman being officially exonerated, despite the actual killer being punished by Batman himself). Batman Forever (with which Burton was only peripherally involved) managed to un-undo everything, having Batman finally overcome his anger at seeing his parents murdered and being respected by the people of Gotham once again. Almost everyone agreed that the follow-up to that, Batman & Robin, was a little too happy.
  • Final Destination: It's a splatter film series where every movie ends with a Downer Ending in which Death gruesomely murders the protagonists, usually after a fake-out happy ending. The two leads of Final Destination 2 are the only ones to get an unambiguous happy ending, as being killed and then revived in time seems to get them off of Death's list. And yet deleted scenes from the third movie show newspaper clippings revealing that they died in a freak accident sometime in between movies.
  • Well, more like a Bittersweet Ending Override for Independence Day, given the death toll and the destruction, despite the defeat of the alien armada. But humanity survives and gets tons of alien tech to study. Twenty years later, Independence Day: Resurgence comes and reveals that an even larger alien fleet is on the way, and humanity's advances and efforts to integrate alien tech with Earth tech may not be enough to stop them. Also, Will Smith's character was killed in-between the films, while testing a hybrid fighter jet.
  • Captain America: Civil War might as well be called "Happy Ending Override: The Movie'':
    • Avengers: Age of Ultron ended with Hawkeye leaving the Avengers to spend more time with his wife and kids. Here, he comes out of retirement to help Cap, and ends up getting arrested and imprisoned. At the end of the movie, he goes on the run and becomes a wanted fugitive. Avengers: Infinity War revealed that he was recaptured and put on house arrest as a deal from the government, meaning he's unable to help his allies on their battle against Thanos.
    • Likewise, Ant-Man ended with Scott Lang having his name fully cleared, regaining respect from his ex-wife and her new husband—who also becomes his Friend on the Force—and finally living up to be the hero his daughter worships him as. Here, he becomes a fugitive again and is put under house arrest as a deal from the government. His involvement with Captain America also affected Hank and Hope who are forced to flee from the government.
    • At the end of Age of Ultron, Scarlet Witch lost her brother, but found a new family in the Avengers. At the beginning of Civil War she becomes hated across the globe after a mistake during a mission causes civilian casualties, and the Avengers subsequently end up splitting up.
    • Iron Man 2 had Tony and Pepper becoming an Official Couple, and Iron Man 3 ended with Tony destroying his suits and promising to spend more time with her. In Civil War, the two are separated, and it turns out that Tony's inability to stay retired after Iron Man 3 was one of the major reasons why they split up. This has been reversed as of Spider-Man: Homecoming where Tony and Pepper have reconciled and hinting that Tony will propose.
    • Age of Ultron had a final battle that was dependent on trying to rescue as many civilians as they could before Ultron could cause an extinction-level event and rebuild the world in his image, which was prevented until this film not only showed that the final battle resulted in many casualties and millions in property damage anyway, but the main villain's motivation is that he lost his family in the battle of Sokovia and holds the Avengers responsible and wants to tear apart their team from the inside.
  • Considering that this is the darkest Marvel Cinematic Universe film to date with as Thanos finally entering the main stage to assemble all the Infinity Stones, Avengers: Infinity War overrides any positive outcome that the earlier movies left off with:
    • Thor: Ragnarok ends with hope for the Asgardians who lost their homes and with Thor rallying them to start their civilization anew on Earth. It also sees Loki staying at his brother's side at the end, finally being redeemed and forgiven by Thor after all his misdeeds in previous films. Then, Thanos and the Black Order attack their ship just to get the Tesseract. Many Asgardians are killed, including Heimdall and Loki, which leaves Thor as one of the few survivors of his kind.
    • Peter Quill and his friends saved Xander from total destruction and retrieve the Power Stone in the first Guardians of the Galaxy. But their efforts are undone by Thanos who is able to get the Power Stone offscreen, implying that he also destroyed Xander who tried to protect it, or at least wiped out half their population.
    • On a larger scale, at the end of the movie, Thanos successfully executes his fingersnap of doom and wipes out half the population of the universe. This wipes out several prominent heroes such as Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, and Black Panther, whose previous appearances in their own movies had at least bittersweet endings if not outright happy. Another victim is Bucky Barnes, who was last seen at the end of Black Panther and shown to be cured of his brainwashing.
    • Even the Lighter and Softer Ant-Man and the Wasp is not spared from this considering that this is set between Civil War and Infinity War. While the film's ending gives a happy ending for the main characters, the post-credit scene undoes all the happiness away as it's set during Infinity War where the Pym family become victims of Thanos' Badass Fingersnap and Scott is trapped in the Quantum Realm.
  • Avengers: Endgame:
    • At least implied for Captain Marvel (2019) - no mention is made of Talos or the Skrulls, and the fact that Carol appears to to Iron Man and Nebula while travelling through space completely alone implies that they didn't survive the snap.
    • For The Avengers (2012): there's now a timeline where Loki got his hands on the space stone and escaped following the Battle of New York.
    • Within the film itself, Tony has spent the five years since the snap relatively happy: he and Pepper live in a calm country home with their three-year-old daughter. When Nat, Steve, and Scott show up with a plan to undo the snap via time travel - a very risky plan with low chance of survival, he has to decide whether it's worth it to risk giving up everything he has.
  • Zoolander ended with Mugatu in jail, Derek and Matilda getting married and having a son, and the Derek Zoolander Center For Kids Who Can't Read Good finally being opened. The sequel reveals that Mugatu orchestrated the collapse of the center while imprisoned, which scarred Hansel's face and killed Matilda. Derek subsequently lost custody of his son, and retreated from the public eye to live as a recluse.
  • The Rocky movies love their Overrides.
    • Rocky ends with the title hero going the distance against the champion Apollo Creed, which is all he really wanted; they agree there won't be a rematch, and Rocky quits the boxing biz. Rocky II sees Balboa's endorsements and money from the fight run dry. Creed, his pride now wounded by skeptical fans, demands a rematch. Rocky, desperate to feed his family, has no choice but to take it.
    • After beating Ivan Drago at the end of Rocky IV, Rocky returns to the states in Rocky V, only to learn that he has lost all of his money and that he also has serious brain damage which could lead to his death if he ever fights again.
  • The film Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl ends in the best possible and most uplifting scenario with the villains dead, Will and Elisabeth getting officially together and Norrington generously giving Jack a head start all of which is done with the approval of the Governor, who is the highest authority figure in Port Royal leaving nothing in doubt about the whole matter. Until Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest that is, where a higher authority figure named Cutler Beckett (Lord actually) does appear, who shares a history with both Governor Swann and Jack and proceeds to use this seemingly innocuous development to his advantage by taking over and sentencing all those involved to death by hanging for aiding a branded pirate - this also means that Will is forced to miss his own wedding. And all this in order to blackmail Turner into fetching him Jack's magic compass. Oh and and old debt of Jack's comes back to haunt him. This leads to a far less happy ending and a lot of things that need to be fixed by the next film. In fact the second film manages to offer an alternate happy ending overriding case that doesn't lead to anywhere, since it shows Jack coming close to facing yet another mutiny from the same crew that seemingly accepted him as captain at the end of the previous film. Even Norrington is reduced to a drunken shadow of his former self.
  • The classic Soviet film The Irony of Fate ends with the two protagonists seemingly ending up together, with both of them ditching their Romantic False Leads. Skip to the sequel 30 years later (both in Real Life and in the film), and it turns out that the male protagonist simply went back to his fiancee, forcing the female protagonist to go back to the guy she dumped, who still haven't forgiven her for leaving him, even after 30 years of marriage. The previous film's leads haven't spoken or seen one another in three decades and have told different accounts of the story to their children. The sequel rehashes the first film's story, but in a modern setting, and the now-elderly former leads end up together, just like their children.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street: As a Villain-Based Franchise, it's a given that Freddy will return to menace the heroes again in a new entry, which makes the protagonist's efforts in previous entries largely worthless. However, the meanest example is without a doubt the Series Fauxnale Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, which is set after a ten-year Time Skip after Alice's last encounter with him. By now Freddy has slaughtered every living child in Springwood and turned it into a Ghost Town populated only by a few residents who have been driven to insanity by their grief, while planning to use the last surviving teenager to spread his influence to the rest of the world.
  • Halloween: Like A Nightmare on Elm Street above, any time it looks as though Michael Myers has been killed, the next installment brings him back. The most obvious example is after Michael is decapitated at the end of Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later, Halloween: Resurrection instead reveals that he's still alive because the one who was decapitated was another person he dressed up as himself.

  • In the old pre-Disney-takeover Star Wars expanded universe, following the defeat of the Emperor, over the course of several decades we get repeated Imperial counterattacks, Palpatine returning and converting Luke to the Dark Side, a race of freaky humanoids invading and ravaging the Galaxy (and killing Chewbacca), and most of Han and Leia's children dying or going to the Dark Side. This all comes to a head with the Legacy comics, which have (a somewhat more Federation-like) Empire back on top 130 years after the films. Even the Sith are still a lurking threat.
    • On a smaller scale, the Del Rey novels can be considered this for the previous books published by Bantam. The Bantam novels ended with peace actually being made between the Republic and Empire, and the sane Admiral Pellaeon taking control of the latter after a long succession of evil kooks. When Del Rey got the rights, however, they promptly revealed the Yuuzhan Vong, an Outside-Context Problem arguably even worse than the Empire, and had a number of Bantam-era characters (and some movie characters) reduced to cannon fodder or turned evil. Timothy Zahn, the best-regarded Bantam writer, has criticized Del Rey for doing this.
  • Happens in the second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant series, though at least it is made fairly clear in the first one the Big Bad cannot be technically killed. Even so it was a kick in the gut, though not a surprise given the nature of the series.
  • The first Sword of Truth book has the Seeker fight to defeat the evil tyrant Darken Rahl. When he finally succeeds, a new crisis even worse than Rahl's tyranny takes place in the second book. Eventually, Richard discovers that The Empire he fought against in the first book is nothing compared to the Imperial Order, a massive empire that has somehow remained unknown to everyone within the New World, despite it being right next door.
  • In Warrior Cats, the first arc ends on a pure happy ending. The sequel has humans tear down the forest which the story is set in and reveals that the villain is still hanging around from beyond the grave.
  • Though the first book of the Never Again series has only a Bittersweet Ending, it still qualifies for this trope, because it ends with the heroes succeeding in democratizing the world, albeit at the cost of their lives. The Distant Finale clearly implies that they succeeded. However, all of that is ignored in the second book, in which it is revealed that somehow one dictatorship still survived John and Joy's changes to history, and was able to start a nuclear war, Take Over the World, and cause more deaths than all the wars, democides, and dictatorships of the Real-Life twentieth century combined. And all this just to set up a Continuity Reboot.
  • In The Chronicles of Narnia, the heroes leave Narnia restored and happy in the first book, and come back in the second to a later Narnia where everything's even worse than it was before; the winter may be gone, but many Talking Animals have ceased to talk and much of the magic has begun to go away under the reign of the Telmarines. That's because time in Narnia flows as quickly relative to time on Earth as it needs to, and Aslan calls the children from England only at a point when Narnia needs them, and when it would be most beneficial to their personal development.
  • In Starchild trilogy by Frederik Pohl and Jack Williamson the humanity controlled by a totalitarian Plan of Man which is ruled by a supercomputer called the Machine. It's implied however that this is the only way to survive for an enormous population whose expansion is restricted by limitations of ion engines. At the end of the first book the protagonist invents "reactionless drives" and the Machine declares that harsh control is no longer required. However in the second book this decision of the Machine is completely forgotten... May be justified because the events of the first book showed that high-ranking officials of the Plan can influence on the decisions of the Machine and may not be interested in the change.
  • Troubling A Star by Madeleine L'Engle brings back the fictional country of Vespugia from A Swiftly Tilting Planet and reveals that the events of the latter book only delayed the country's dictatorial government from coming to power by about 10 or 15 years, rather than averting it entirely.
  • The book Holes ends with the juvenile detention facility Camp Green Lake being closed, and turned into a Girl Scout camp. In the companion book Stanley Yelnats's Guide To Surviving Camp Green Lake, the detention has been reopened, because several state officials read Holes and thought "What a great idea!" Even the original staff gets put back in charge, despite being under investigation, and one even arrested.
  • The Witcher: The Last Wish's section "A Question of Price" ends on a high note, with Queen Calanthe of Cintra marrying Eist Tuiseach, king of Skellige, and her daughter Princess Pavetta marrying her true love Duny, while already pregnant with Duny's child. In the several-year interval between The Last Wish and Blood of Elves, Pavetta and Duny are lost at sea, and Cintra is brutally conquered by the invading Nilfgaardians and Calanthe and Eist Tuiseach are killed. However, Pavetta and Duny's daughter Cirella survives and escapes, and is eventually picked up by Geralt.
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone ends with Harry feeling well after defeating evil, and being hopeful his powers will lead to fear and less bullying at home. The next book opens by showing his guardians are still as unpleasant to him as ever, if not more. Harry Potter is actually one of the most justifiable examples of this. Not only is the Dark Lord not destroyed and therefore the war not over, but also new problems arise, which are often impossible to foresee. Take the above mentioned example about the Dursleys: they learn that he is not allowed to perform magic outside of school thanks to Dobby and by the next book he has to rely on his godfather's reputation to keep them in check.
    • The final book shows, after a Time Skip, Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Draco sending their kids to Hogwarts on a hopeful note. The follow-up play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child reveals that Albus Potter's time at Hogwarts is hardly pleasant. He's an Inept Mage, who can't fly on a broom and has only one friend, Scorpius Malfoy. Even that friendship is threatened by Harry, who distrusts Scorpius.
  • The Paw Thing by Paul Jennings ends with Singenpoo the cat chasing over a hundred mice out of her owner's chicken shop. The owner is so grateful he vows to stop treating her so badly. In the sequel Singenpoo Strikes Again, we find out that this change stuck for about a week or two and the owner is just as cruel as he was before, to the point of denying that Singenpoo had anything to do with saving his business.
  • The Moon Maid by Edgar Rice Burroughs ends with the astronauts repairing their ship and returning triumphantly to Earth, taking with them the moon princess their leader, Julian, has fallen in love with and leaving behind the saboteur who stranded them on the Moon to begin with. In the sequel, the saboteur returns to Earth at the head of a lunarian invasion fleet, takes over the world and kills Julian — all in the first chapter, after which the story skips ahead a century to show life under the invader's yoke. (Burroughs had actually written the atypically grim tale of Earth under alien overlords first, but couldn't find a buyer for it, so wrote The Moon Maid as a more usual Burroughs adventure tale to create demand for the sequel.) If you take into account all the Canon Welding Burroughs did in later years, the lunarian invasion also counts as a happy ending override for the characters of the Tarzan and Pellucidar series, along with several other lesser-known works, or at least for their descendants.
  • The original version of Stephen King's The Stand, published in 1978, had a Bittersweet Ending. Flagg's plans to destroy the Boulder Free Zone have been thwarted, Flagg himself has seemingly been eliminated in the annihilation of Las Vegas, and the remaining residents of the Free Zone are left to reconstruct the world and society as best they can....all at a great cost. Then in 1990 came the "Complete and Uncut Edition," which added a brief coda: Flagg's body may have been destroyed, but his essence survived, and he reappears to a tribe of natives to "teach them to be civilized." And Here We Go Again!.
  • Enna Burning, the second of the Books of Bayern, does this to the happy ending of The Goose Girl. Just two years later the kingdom is plunged into war, the king is killed in battle, and Isi (the princess) has trouble controlling her wind-communication powers, resulting in the wind's nonstop "voice" nearly driving her insane. And this is just backdrop for the trauma that protagonist Enna goes through over the course of the book. Fortunately, they all eventually reach a new, hard-earned happy ending.
  • In Oscar Wilde's short story, "The Star-Child", the titular Wonder Child finally passed his Secret Test of Character, regains his beauty and discovers his roots as an heir to the kingdom. All would have been well if the story ended with him reigning as a good and merciful king. Instead, the very last line of the text mentions that the new king would die young, and would be replaced by a despot.
  • One of the earliest example: The Odyssey ends with Odysseus happily reunited with his wife Penelope and their son Telemachus after a long and perilous journey. In The Telegony, the lost sequel and last installment of the The Trojan Cycle, Odysseus is forced to leave for the killing of Penelope's suitors, forgets about Penelope and marries the Queen of Thesprotia Callidice. After the later dies during a battle, Odysseus returns to Ithaca only to be killed by Telegonus the son he had with Circe (absent in the Odyssey) contradicting Tiresias' prophecy that he would die a gentle death in sleek old age.
  • While it was more of a Bittersweet Ending due to many characters, including some of Bilbo's allies, dying in the Battle of Five Armies, The Hobbit ends with Bilbo having taken a level in badass, with a newfound love of adventure and a magic ring as a keepsake of his long and eventful journey with Gandalf and the Dwarves. Then it's revealed early on in The Lord of the Rings that Bilbo's magic ring is really an Artifact of Doom forged by Sauron himself, and that it's corrupting Bilbo in a manner not unlike it's corruption of it's previous owner: Gollum. This, and the revelation that Bilbo is only the latest in a string of victims seduced by it's power, and that it's unnaturally stretched out his left span since The Hobbit, casts the events of the previous book in a new and darker light.
  • The novel version of The Princess Bride overrides its own happy ending. As the heroes ride off on the white horses, Inigo's wound re-opens, they can hear the prince's hounds getting closer, and the resurrection pill begins to wear off. That part was left out of the "just the good parts" abridgement, and by Peter Falk in the movie.
  • At the end of Labyrinth of Reflections, the protagonist develops Neo-like powers both inside the Deep and in the real world (able to tap into the Deep without a modem) and meets his Love Interest at the train station, who turns out to look exactly like her in-Deep avatar. The second novel reveals that most of that was a result of Deep psychosis, although other characters confirm that his powers in the Deep weren't a figment of his imagination. His wife's appearance also matches her avatar, but he never actually met her at the train station, and their marriage is now on the rocks. Furthermore, he lost his powers sometime between the novels and doesn't know how.
  • The Hunger Games: The first book ends with Katniss and Peeta winning the Hunger Games and returning to District 12 as heroes. Both are traumatized from their experiences, but at least they can rebuild themselves. The second book, Catching Fire, reveals that Katniss is reeling from her past experiences as the life of a Victor turns out to be no better than a Tribute. Then she and Peeta get reaped again, just as they are beginning to move on. By the end of the book, Katniss is rescued by rebels who secretly sabotage the Games, but finds out that Peeta has been captured by the Capitol, who responds to the sabotage by bombing District 12 to shreds, killing off more than 90% of the population, including many of Katniss' friends and all of Peeta's family.
  • The Camp Half-Blood Series:
    • The first sequel series, The Heroes of Olympus scales Percy and Annabeth's happy ending back as Percy is magically teleported by Hera to the San Francisco Bay Area sometime after the Second Titanomachy. Since they don't know where he goes to, Annabeth and Sally are left to grieve in the cold, while Percy spends more than six months cut off from his friends and family.
    • The second sequel series, The Trials of Apollo completely destroys Jason and Piper's happy ending from the previous series because of several factors. First, Jason and Piper broke up, albeit amicably. Second, Piper is moving to Oklahoma because of her father's financial troubles, making reconciliation with Jason difficult since she isn't going to meet him as often. Third, Jason dies, leaving any kind of reconciliation impossible.
  • At the end of The Great Brain, Tom appears to have reformed from his ways swindling all the kids in the neighborhood, although his brother, John secretly complained about things being too dull. The sequel, More Adventures of the Great Brain, however, it's revealed that he was only behaving to try and get a bicycle for Christmas, and once the holidays are over, he reverts back to his old ways.
  • Scorpia Rising, which was intended to be the final Alex Rider book at the time it was written, ends with Alex finally escaping MI6 and starting a new life in America with the Pleasure family. A few years down the line, however, author Anthony Horowitz decided to revive the series, and Never Say Die opens with Alex miserable and unable to accustomise to his new life, still traumatised by the events of the previous book.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Between the first and second season of Heroes, Matt Parkman's forgiveness of his wife and the happy reunion of Niki with DL were both undone. So was Sylar's death, but this had been heavily implied to begin with.
  • 24:
    • The series did this for Tony Almeida. During the third season, Tony was forced into some tough choices that saw him lose everything: he was stripped of his job, his wife Michelle left him, and wound up briefly being jailed. Season four went about giving him personal redemption, helping Jack Bauer stop a terrorist threat that ultimately saw a nuclear missile nearly hit L.A., and by the time it was over he'd managed to get his life back in order and get back together with Michelle. So what does season 5 proceed to do? Within the first 15 minutes of the premiere she's killed by a car bomb as part of the antagonists of that Day's plot, leading him to lose it for the rest of the series and eventually sink so low that in a Roaring Rampage of Revenge to avenge her death winds up working with terrorists. Yeah. Definitely made the fourth season's happy ending a moot point there.
    • The show revealed more than once that Jack had been living happily in the time between seasons and then ripped that apart. Between seasons 3 and 4 he's been working for the Department of Defense and dating his boss's daughter Audrey, but at the end he's forced to fake his death because of a bungled invasion of the Chinese Embassy. Redemption disrupts his quiet life as an aid worker in the African nation of Sangala. Season 8 reveals that he fully recovered from his near death at the end of the previous season, has reconciled with Kim and plans to move from New York to LA to be close to her and her daughter and husband, but he ends up a fugitive wanted by both the American and Russian Governments.
  • In Season 4 of Baywatch, Cort was diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease that was slowly causing him to go blind. The Season 5 episode "Baja Run" ended with Cort realizing the inevitability of his condition and seemingly coming to terms with it. This was completely abandoned for his final episode, "Deep Trouble," which revealed that Cort had become a drunken, homeless wreck, and that the knowledge of what was going to happen to him had given him severe depression.
  • Mixed together with Sequel Reboot with the season five premiere of Community: the fourth season ended optimistically with Jeff and Pierce graduating in the Fall semester, Shirley's business getting off the ground, Annie picking a major in criminology, and Chang deciding to stay friends with the group as "Kevin". Fast-forward to the next Fall, where Jeff's newly found scruples lead his career as an attorney to ruins, Shirley's family left her because she lost their savings on her failed business, Annie has gotten as job as a sales rep for the same prescription drugs that lead to her breakdown, none of the rest of the group are having any more success, and Chang is on work release for arson. The group decides they still need to learn more, but Greendale is the only place they can go to, while Jeff takes a job as a teacher to get by while he tries to get it in some form of working order.
  • Defied when it comes to Kamen Rider Kuuga. Kamen Rider Agito was originally supposed to be a sequel series, but Kuuga's writers vetoed it on the grounds it'd have made Kuuga's battles meaningless. As a result, while there's some suggestion it's a sequel, it's primarily intended as an alternate universe.
  • Code Lyoko ended with XANA defeated and the Lyoko-Warriors shutting down the Supercomputer before moving on with their life. The very first episode of the live-action sequel Code Lyoko: Evolution reveals XANA survived by turning the Lyoko-Warriors into his Soul Jars, forcing them to reactivate Lyoko and get back to fighting him.
  • Zordon's sacrifice in the finale of Power Rangers in Space goes from destroying all evil in the universe to merely Dark Specter and his forces (Rita, Lord Zedd, the Machine Empire, Divatox, and Astronema). Otherwise Power Rangers Lost Galaxy (and all subsequent series) couldn't happen.
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which is an Alternate Timeline to Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, similarly revealed that Sarah's hopes that Terminator 2: Judgment Day had averted Skynet were false. The overall tone of the series, however, was more positive than the third film, with the revelation that there is a second Machine faction opposing Skynet who might ally with humanity and the overall implication that it might be possible to somehow alter the future to avert war between humans and AIs without preventing the creation of the latter.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Between Series 6 and Series 7 of Doctor Who, Amy and Rory go from Happily Married with Amy completely in awe of Rory's strength and nobility, to divorced and antagonistic. The reason given is that Amy was made infertile as a result of her abuse in the finale of Series 6 and she knew Rory wanted kids so she "gave him up." By the end of the season 7 premiere, they're back together since Rory (predictably) wants Amy more than biological kids.
    • In The Keeper of Traken, the Doctor foils the Master's plan to gain a new body for himself in a way that could have destroyed the titular planet, although the Master gets away with a stolen Trakenite body. In the next story, Logopolis, the Master's plan accidentally unleashes an entropy field that destroys a large number of planets. One of the planets destroyed is Traken.
  • Star Trek: In the Original Series episode "Mirror, Mirror", Kirk convinces the Spock of an alternate universe (in which the Federation is The Empire) to work for peace. In Deep Space Nine, that world is revisited, and it turns out that Spock took Kirk's advice, and succeeded... leading to the destruction of the Empire by its enemies. Humans, and presumably Vulcans, are now slaves. Word of God is that the episode was specifically intended to mock Kirk by changing Kirk's triumph in "Mirror, Mirror" into a bitter failure, thereby vilifying Kirk as the man singularly responsible for ruining the lives of all humanity in another universe. Later episodes in the mirror universe de-emphasized (or ignored altogether) this motive, making it more of a standard rebellion-against-alien-oppressors situation. And the Expanded Universe Star Trek: Mirror Universe novels subverted it, revealing Mirror!Spock was playing a really long game which finally succeeded over a century later, so Kirk's advice did work after all.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: Kes leaves Voyager as she Ascends to a Higher Plane of Existence. Which inexplicably doesn't mean she stops aging, as we see when she returns nearly three years later. On top of that, she's bitter and delusional, thinking her friends abandoned her when she chose to leave. In the end, she decides to return to her home planet, a broken-down old woman.
  • Played with in the season 3 finale of M*A*S*H. The episode starts with Radar coming into the OR with news that Henry is going home. Everyone is thrilled; parties, gifts, the whole 9 yards. Henry's last day in camp is sad because of all the goodbye's, but it's still happy since he is GOING HOME. But later, back in the OR, Radar comes in with a new report: Henry's plane was shot down...there were no survivors.
  • Played for Laughs regarding Rebecca Howe in the Frasier episode "The One Where Sam Shows Up." Sam describes how everyone at Cheers has been getting along since Frasier moved to Seattle. Rebecca, who was last seen happily married to a plumber at the end of Cheers, had been divorced when her husband struck rich.
    Sam: She's back at the bar.
    Frasier: Working at Cheers again?
    Sam: No... Just back at the bar.
  • Season 6 of Once Upon a Time ended with the characters finally earning their happy endings, especially the reformed villains. Season 7 is a soft reboot set in another town with Dark Curse versions of characters from a different fairy tale universe ... except Henry, Regina, Killian and Rumplestiltskin have got caught up in it too. And it looks like Rumple's taken yet another spin through the Heel–Face Revolving Door.
    • Turns out to be averted in the case of Killian Jones- the one in Hyperion Heights is not the one from previous seasons, but his doppelganger from the alternate Enchanted Forest created by Regina's wish. The 'real' Hook, as far as we know, is still living happily with Emma
  • In Witches of East End, the Season 2 finale is bittersweet, due to one of the characters sacrificing themselves for someone they love, but otherwise the protagonists defeat almost all obstacles and come out on top. Then, the last 5 minutes of the last episode set out the complications for Season 3, which never happened - thus defeating or negating almost everything the protagonists have just achieved.
  • Daredevil (2015): Season 1 ends with Matt, Karen and Foggy successfully taking down Wilson Fisk and putting him in jail for numerous crimes. However, season 2 renders their work in season 1 all for naught, as Fisk immediately begins scheming to rebuild his criminal empire within days of his arrival in jail, starting with using Frank Castle as a pawn to get rid of Dutton, the lifer in charge of the prison's underground economy. Matt realizes Fisk is regaining power when he comes by the prison trying to figure out Fisk's role in Frank's escape. And Fisk is last seen in his cell asking for his files on Matt, suggesting he's about to figure out Matt's real identity. By the start of season 3, Fisk is out of prison thanks to some long-term manipulations of Ray Nadeem, and seeking revenge on Matt, Karen and Foggy.
  • Luke Cage (2016): Season 1 seems to end on a triumphant note. Mariah has been arrested for Cottonmouth's murder, Diamondback has been defeated. And then it's partially overridden as Misty learns that Shades has killed off Candace, the would-be witness to Cottonmouth's murder Misty had gotten to flip. This means that Mariah and Shades walk free and can come back for season 2.

  • In ''aha's music video to "The Sun Always Shines on TV," the video starts with the character from their "Take On Me" video turning back into a drawing and disappearing while the girl watches helplessly.
  • Greg Champion's "I Made a Hundred in the Backyard at Mum's" ends on a triumphant note with the narrator making a hundred. The P.O.V. Sequel, "I Hit that Wicket" by Ian Macnamara immediately reveals that he was bowled out by his brother, who seemingly got all the glory for breaking his streak.

     Newspaper Comics 
  • The happy ending of Opus, in which Opus finally finds happiness in the pages of Goodnight Moon is overriden by the reboot comic revealing that the entire comic and the previous comic Outland were All Just a Dream.

    Video Games 
  • Zero of Mega Man X fame gets his own series where, despite all the sacrifices, things get worse.
    • To put this into perspective, the best thing that happens to Zero here is that he finally knows what he's fighting for, and it takes four earth-shattering games and Zero's own death for him to receive closure. Even then, the (comparatively) Lighter and Softer sequel series essentially overrides Zero's own Bittersweet Ending once the heroes start delving into the intrigue since Mavericks and world-destroying threats still pop up. It's still Downplayed, however, as the 200 years of (relative) peace between Zero and ZX are all but stated to be the best times humans and Reploids have experienced in ages, so Zero's sacrifice still has meaning. Even Legends, which sets things really far back, is set thousands of years after ZX and long after all the previous protagonists have passed on.
  • .hack//G.U. seems to have been engineered for the sole purpose of trolling fans of the original series, either as a Player Punch or a colossal This Loser Is You to anyone who accepted its message of "AI are people too" at face value. The World that we left happy, peaceful and safe in the first series has been completely destroyed by a madman (who personally killed a plot-important A.I. character from the original series in backstory), Player Killers rule the landscape of the Darker and Edgier The World R:2, all of our previous heroes are too busy with real life to do anything about the situation, protagonist Haseo turns out to have been that childish jackass Sora from R:1 all along... and in the end, the bastard responsible gets neither mention nor punishment.
    • Said bastard actually burned up in the fire that destroyed most of the R:1 servers, which he also set.
  • Chrono Trigger is the tale of a time-traveling Ragtag Bunch of Misfits who adventure across history and prevent a world-eating parasite called Lavos from destroying the world in 1999 AD. Chrono Cross is the tale of a boy muddling through the fallout from those changes to history, which includes but is not limited to: a timeline split in two, Porre growing from a minor town into an imperial power that sacked The Good Kingdom the original heroes lived in, the Reptite Future from a joke ending showing up for revenge, the heavily implied deaths of the previous protagonists, and on top of all this Lavos, or a piece of him anyway, is still alive — and now it's going to end existence, instead of just Earth. This makes Cross a Contested Sequel by some fans, who wished the happy ending from Trigger wasn't so harshly undone.
  • In Gears of War 2, we first discover that not only has the Lightmass Bomb (which was dropped in the heart of the Locust's underground hive network at the close of the last game) failed to destroy the Locust, but that they have since redoubled their efforts (later revealed to be in desperation), and mankind has been forced back to their last bastion of defense, Jacinto. Not only that, but the Locust now have a method of sinking cities. At the end of the game, the heroes are forced to sink Jacinto in order to flood the underground networks and hopefully take out the Locust once and for all.
    • In Gears of War 3, it turns out that the Locust managed to survive the sinking of Jacinto and have migrated above ground. Also another faction, the Lambent (creatures created by being infected with Imulsion), has appeared and is fighting both the humans and the Locust.
    • In Gears of War 4, The Anti-Imulsion radioactive pulsar commits genocide among the Locust throughout the planet, but it works by critically overloading Imulsion, an energy resource nested in almost every single Locust on the planet, which also causes the Imulsion throughout the world to go critical and die screaming, causing a brand new energy crisis in a post-apocalyptic world that's now teeming with the unearthed creatures of the underworld. This game shifts the franchise from modern war to extreme environment survival warfare, as your party struggles to fight a horde of sentient beasts that make the Locust horde look like children.
  • The Jak and Daxter series does this with the second and third games. We leave the first game with our heroes triumphant over the Card-Carrying Villains and about to embark on a new journey into the unknown. Then in the first few minutes of the second game we discover that their journey into the unknown takes them 20 Minutes into the Future, where the idyllic natural paradise has become a Cyberpunk Crapsack World ruled by an iron-fisted dictator and under siege from a seemingly endless swarm of monsters called "Metalheads." The villains from the first game seem rather pleasant by comparison (the mooks from the first game have been turned into pets by Haven's Apathetic Citizens). After completing the game and bringing peace to Haven City, we open Jak 3 to find that the city has been nearly destroyed and Jak and Daxter exiled to the wastelands.
  • Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves ends with Sly and Carmelita becoming a couple, as well as Bentley and Penelope. Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time brings the gang back together, and confirms that Sly was faking his amensia - but ends with Penelope betraying Bentley and breaking out of jail while Sly is lost in time, leaving Carmelita heartbroken. Murray is about the only person that doesn't come off any worse, except for the fact that his friend is now missing. What makes this worse is that Word of God has confirmed there are no plans for a sequel.
  • Diablo:
  • In Dragon Quest II, most of the towns of Alefgard have been destroyed, stronger monsters roam the land, and a new Big Bad makes the Dragon Lord seem tame in comparison. Even rediscovering Erdrick's sword is a letdown, as it's not that powerful compared to other equipment.
  • Left 4 Dead:
    • Almost fell into this trope by having the first campaign lead to the second one, as the helicopter pilot would have been revealed to be infected. However, the developers found out it was not a satisfactory ending, and made the four campaigns completely separate instead... before changing their minds again and releasing a mini-campaign that links the original first and second with exactly that justification. And they use it again in Left 4 Dead 2, to set up the third (now the fourth) campaign.
    • The ending to the first game managed to do this to both games after trying to tie the narratives together. At the end of the last campaign of the first game, your team is finally rescued by the military. Not some random pilot or civilian with a gun, but the ones who knows what they're doing and are backed by armored vehicles and real weapons. In the tie-in comic everything goes to hell as it turns out the military doesn't know what they're doing, and on top of that all of the protagonists are carriers — asymptomatic carriers of the virus that are unintentionally spreading the infection to everyone they've come across. And the military do not like carriers. The comic managed to conclude that the original game's protagonists do manage to earn a new happy ending (although not without some costs) by moving to a remote island where they can't infect anyone, but the second game ends with the four new guys happily rescued by the military...
  • In the original Geneforge, the best ending has you destroying the Geneforge and saving the world from its menace. In the sequel, we find that Zakary and Barzahl, two characters sent to clean up after the fact, thought that it would be a shame to let such a marvel of science vanish from existence, and decided to rebuild it in another isolated area. The third game ramps it up that no matter what you did (except for one Take a Third Option faction ending of the second), your actions did nothing to stop the Drakons' rise. The fourth game averts this by stating that the Rebel Ending of the third game is canon. The fifth game also qualifies—the Unbound, released in the fourth game to destroy the Shapers, have succeeded only in causing massive collateral damage, and it's up to a new main character to resolve the conflict. Which may fit with one of the hidden factions' endings of the fourth game.
    • Each Geneforge tends to assume a particular outcome from the previous game, but it's usually not any of the (many) actually available endings. It's often a blend of a few with some more things that aren't from any of the endings added in. This is all made even stranger by the fact that the role and fate of the player character from previous games is alluded to but never clarified; by the fifth game, this leads to some impressive Wild Mass Guessing about the protagonist's identity.
    • The ending to the first Geneforge hints at the fact that destroying the Geneforge and dealing with the rebellion on the island isn't going to permanently fix everything, since it ends with the quote that "you cannot unring a bell."
  • Final Fantasy XIII-2. At the end of the first game, Lightning and friends managed to Take a Third Option and defeat the Jerkass Gods without destroying the world, Serah returns to normal and Lightning approves of her marriage to Snow. The sequel reveals that Lightning disappeared due to Time Paradox shortly afterwards, and Snow left to look for her, leaving Serah alone. A time traveler from the future arrives and reveals that he's the last of humanity living After the End. Furthermore, that crystal pillar holding up Cocoon won't hold out forever, and then, well... Thankfully, the third installment of the trilogy goes the opposite route, with the creation of a new world and all of the heroes, Lightning included, free to live out their lives in peace.
  • After the Belated Happy Ending of Final Fantasy X-2, this came in full force with the Final Fantasy X-2.5 ~Eien no Daishou novella and Final Fantasy X -Will- audio drama written by Kazuhige Nojima. Tidus dies (again) while he and Yuna are shipwrecked on a unknown island, and though Yuna is able to bring him back from the Farplane, it's implied Tidus may have not returned fully intact. And the Farplane has become unstable, causing the dead to return to life. That means Sin is along for the ride, too, possibly willed back to Spira because of an unknown party's desires. Sin, the aforementioned Eldritch Abomination whose thousand-year cycle of suffering and Senseless Sacrifices only ended because of Tidus' Heroic Sacrifice. And Yuna calls off her relationship with Tidus because of petty jealousy over one of his friends, in spite of their romance being a pivotal part of the last two games.
  • In Final Fantasy VII, while it's implied all of humanity is extinct in the far future, Cloud resolved all of his personal issues and rebuilt his mind, become honest with himself about his flaws and insecurities, and gained a strong and intentionally funny personality. Come Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, and Cloud is severely depressed, having strange episodes again and alienating the friends he'd long since learned how to rely on.
  • This is the main theme of Knights of the Old Republic II. The first game ended on a high note, with your Player Character being victorious (either as Republic hero or a Sith lord, depending on alignment). The writer of the sequel read all of the Expanded Universe and concluded that most of EU canon is this trope with characters fighting the same war between a Sith-backed Empire and Jedi-backed Republic over thousands of years. The second game starts with a Crapsack Galaxy that's still devastated by war, hates Jedi and Sith equally, and the Player Character is one of the only Jedi left alive. The Big Bad critiques both sides as short-sighted extremists who rely on the Force too much, and her goal is to destroy the Force itself to stop the cycle. Unsurprisingly, this is a Contested Sequel by those who see it as a spiteful Take That! against the franchise—particularly since no dialog choices permit a competent rebuttal of said Big Bad's arguments. It is possible only to respond as a Jedi or Sith might, and never to offer an alternative to all three philosophies.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic goes further. Not that the second game had happiness to override (it got a Gainax Ending instead thanks to a rushed deadline), but it nullifies every accomplishment from both games. The Exile walks into an obvious trap and gets killed, and the first game's Player Character has been tortured for 300 years in an effort to stall the new Sith Empire and has gone insane as a result. A bunch of sidequests are revealed to have ultimately ended in despair. The Republic does get some victories within the game storyline, but let's face it, they can't win until they stop updating the game... the best thing they've got is that Republic survival is a Foregone Conclusion. And in a later storyline, some Outside-Context Problem (the Big Bad's "side project") just wiped out both governments, and completely tossed all the Player Character's accomplishments out an airlock.
  • Guild Wars was made up of a series of standalone campaigns. That is, until the Nightfall campaign revealed that there had been a Greater-Scope Villain all along, the dark god Abaddon, who had orchestrated all of the evils you had faced. However, according to the official Guild Wars 2 lore, neither Tyria nor Elona has fared too well during the 200 years between games, and while native Canthan humans might be okay, it has grown xenophobic and isolationist in that time. Some of these things were foreshadowed earlier on, however.
    • After the developers decided to make a sequel, they decided to create the Eye of the North expansion to serve as a bit of a thematic bridge. While this ends with you having defeated the villain as well, it's only a servant of the Elder Dragon that would be among the villains to devastate Tyria and become the new Big Bads of Guild Wars 2.
    • The Winds of Change event in the latter days of Guild Wars introduced the Ministry of Purity, a ministry of Cantha formed to cleanse the afflicted from the Factions campaign, but whose stated ideology of security over freedom would obviously lead to the isolationist and xenophobic Cantha of Guild Wars 2.
    • Perhaps most notably of all, however, since it was foreshadowed before the decision to make a sequel, was Elona's fate. The only person who had the means to cross the Death World to reach the Big Bad was an unstoppable evil who had been sealed away. Thus, in order to save the world, you have no choice but to release that evil. While it saved the world in the long term, and Elona in the short term, it's not a big surprise to find out that it eventually doomed Elona.
  • King's Quest III: To Heir Is Human ends with King Graham throwing his hat to Alexander. King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella shows while the hat is travelling mid-air, King Graham suffers a heart attack.
  • Happens in Modern Warfare 2, where Shepherd, Soap, and Price all ask why they fought the last war against the Ultranationalists, if things just became worse afterwards.
    • The older Call of Duty games that take place during World War II all end with the Allies victorious and the fascists defeated, and the endings of the very first game and World at War are pretty highly optimistic about the future. But anyone who knows anything about the Cold War or who played Call of Duty: Black Ops will know that the future is anything but sunshine and rainbows.
  • Similar to Modern Warfare 2, Half-Life ends with Gordon Freeman successfully killing the alien being that prevented the scientists on earth from sealing the portal that spewed forth endless hordes of alien invaders. He gets captured by the G-Man and put into a freezer, but at least Earth is safe. More than a decade later Gordon is brought back to Earth, only to learn that the alien being he killed was just desperate to allow its own people to escape from an even scarier and more powerful alien invasion of its home dimension. With Freeman taking care of their leader, the Combine quickly had the alien world conquered and continued its campaign by invading Earth as well.
  • Portal:
    • A new ending was patched in to justify Chell being the star of the sequel. Instead of successfully escaping, she is dragged back in by a robot and locked away in one of the hypersleep chambers.
    • In an inversion, the credits of the first game have GlaDOS singing about still being alive despite you killing her, learning from the experience, and being eager to find new test subjects to practice science on. The second game ignores this, showing that not only did you really kill her, but she was reliving her death repeatedly in a simulation. Til you went and woke her back up, anyway.
  • In the Fire Emblem series:
    • At the end of Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light, Gharnef and Medeus have been wasted and peace has returned to the continent of Archanea. In Mystery of the Emblem, Hardin pulls a Face–Heel Turn and begins menacing the continent, and Marth has to go through the same thing all over again.
    • Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade ends with Eliwood and Hector victorious over Nergal and his mad plan to summon dragons in ruins. However, anyone who has played the previous game, The Binding Blade, knows that Zephiel has become a ticking time bomb who will eventually become the greatest threat Elibe has seen since the Scouring.
    • When Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance ends, the Evil Empire has been defeated, Crimea is entering a new golden age and reestablishing ties with the laguz, and the world is by and large peaceful — even the massive Begnion theocracy seems well at ease with the world. By the time of Radiant Dawn, Crimea is being undermined by greedy nobles (including one who starts an open revolution), Daein (the aforementioned Evil Empire) is completely oppressed by the occupational Begnion forces, and Begnion itself is in the midst of a power struggle between its senate and its empress — and to top it all off, the laguz wind up going to war with Begnion partway through the game. The fact the world is now at war with someone becomes a plot point. Granted, the ending of Path of Radiance blatantly foreshadowed that things were about to get worse. Thankfully, Radiant Dawn's happy ending sticks for 1200 years.
  • Golden Sun and its continuation ended with the world being saved by the party, everyone from the Doomed Hometown happily surviving, and the Big Bad sinking beneath the earth as a volcano erupted beneath him. 30 years later in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, the world is made up of several powerful warring nations, most people are unhappy with the protagonists of the previous games saving the world, half the original party just straight up vanished, and to top it all off, magic-eating vortexes have started popping up. OH. And the previous Big Bad is back.
  • Katamari Damacy has a relatively mild example. At the end of the first game, the King announces that the sky is complete, but We ♥ Katamari reveals that actually only the stars immediately around Earth were restored, and there's still a lot of work to do.
  • Kingdom Hearts ends with Sora still looking for a way to find his best friends, but the worlds, at least, seem saved. Then it turns out The Heartless are still plentiful if no longer endangering reality, new enemies are showing up, and the first universe-threatening Big Bad was only one aspect of a greater villain with a very confusing history.
    • Kingdom Hearts II ended pretty unambiguously happy, with the villain defeated and everyone reuniting with laughter and smiles. It wasn't until later games came out that the cast realized that there were still people to save, and then in Dream Drop Distance they learned that they hadn't even stopped the Big Bad at all; if anything, they had helped him.
  • Mass Effect: The galaxy is saved! Shepard is hailed as a hero! Humanity becomes an influential member of the council! Until the first minutes of Mass Effect 2, where the Normandy is destroyed, Shepard is killed, his/her crew disbands and the council denies the events of the first game.
  • In EarthBound Beginnings and EarthBound, humans are fighting the evil alien Giygas, although only the protagonists, a couple of kids, know that it's him that they're fighting, and in the first game, you don't even find that out until very late in the story, but it's All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game" anyway, especially outside of Japan. Giygas, in the first game, is attempting to enslave the human race, and his army does some pretty bad stuff. But, the heroes sing a song to him and he goes mad from the nostalgia and gives up on trying to conquer Earth. But, later, although it is only revealed in the second game, Giygas comes back with a vengeance and conquers the universe, turning it into a living hell. The End. (Don't worry, someone comes back from that future and stops it from happening in the second game.)
  • Starlancer involves the player thrust into a desperate war between The Alliance and the Coalition on the side of the Alliance. While the Coalition's sneak attack deals a heavy blow to the Alliance, the multiple successes by the player's squadron (including destroying countless enemy ships and the Coalition flagship) seem to indicate that the Alliance may yet prevail. Then Freelancer happens, a game almost completely unrelated to Starlancer except for the intro, which reveals that the Alliance-Coalition war lasted for another century, with the Coalition being the inevitable victor (unless you count the original E3 trailer). There was absolutely no reason to make Freelancer a sequel of Starlancer, as it has completely different gameplay and takes place 900 years later. Not one character or news report in Freelancer mentions either side or the war, despite the intro's emphatic "We will never forget". Thanks for ruining the game, Chris Roberts!
  • Star Trek: Armada ends with The Federation, the Klingons, and the Romulans allying to stop a massive Borg invasion, which is barely stopped and ends on a typical upbeat Trek note. Guess what? The Borg are back in the sequel, stronger than before. The Cardassians also decide to attack the Federation for no reason, even though they should still be devastated from the Dominion War. And Species 8472 randomly decide to wipe out everyone else, despite Janeway earlier convincing them that the Federation means them no harm.
  • There's a certain degree of this in Star Trek Online as well.
    • The Klingon/Federation Alliance, which Kirk's crew fought so hard to establish, is broken (though that was foreshadowed, every live action Star Trek that went that far into the future had the Federation and Klingons on bad terms); the hope of reconciliation with the Romulans that Star Trek: Nemesis ends on is destroyed along with Romulus (although admittedly, that's more due to the Star Trek XI movie); The Mirror Universe is back in the hands of an evil Terran empire; Voyager's defeat of the Borg in the finale (though much later the game revealed that it really did do significant and lasting damage to the Collective) and the tentative peace with Species 8472 are shattered... even one-note villains like the Breen and Devidians are up in arms. The only thing that hasn't been completely destroyed from the series is the establishment of Democracy on Cardassia, but there are a lot of left over villains from DS9 who are set on destroying that one, too. (This isn't necessarily a bad thing for an MMORPG setting, however, and the fall seems to make logical sense if you read the backstory of the intervening 30 years.)
    • The Legacy of Romulus free expansion/season/thingy partly overrode Star Trek XI and the related overriding of the Nemesis Romulan reconciliation hope — there is no real chance of a reconciliation with the Romulan Star Empire after the events of the game... but the rising Romulan Republic (which by the end of their storyline is well on their way to being the single strongest faction in what used to be Romulan space) is quite conciliated and is in fact even allies with the Federation (and the Klingons. They are neutral on the Federation-Klingon War until later plot developments that make it a moot point).
  • The Legend of Zelda is chock-full of this, since the centuries-spanning plot rests on three people constantly being reborn to continue their ancient, destructive conflict.
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker reveals in the opening credits that after Hyrule is saved in Ocarina of Time, eventually Ganondorf is freed and Link does not arrive to save the day, causing the world to become lost, and the land flooded by the gods. And in its climax; it's revealed that the King sacrificed the Triforce and Hyrule to prevent Link and Zelda from being eternally reborn and forced to fight the same battle over and over again, and let them have their own existence. It couldn't last. In the subsequent installments, Ganon may not be back, but Link and Zelda are back in the same roles.
    • The prequel to the series as a whole, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, makes the Wind Waker timeline's situation even more dire, since Ganon is merely the symptom, not the disease; killing him and destroying Hyrule forever didn't lift Demise's curse from Link's bloodline, and so incarnations of the demon king's hate will continue to haunt Link's descendants unless the curse is somehow broken. All killing Ganon accomplished was severing the curse's connection to the Triforce and losing the Master Sword, the most powerful weapon of good in the world, forever.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess:
      • The game overrides many of the hopeful overtures of Zelda's decision to return Link to his original time. She had obviously intended for him to regain his lost years and live his life in peace. If The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask hadn't already obliterated any delusions of that happening, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess went a step further to confirm his lifelong Chronic Hero Syndrome, having him appear as the Hero's Shade and a mentor to the new Hero. The fact that he contributed to a thriving bloodline meant that he eventually settled down enough to have a family, but he still lingered for more than a century in the afterlife out of regret for his lost title.
      • There is also the fate of Ganondorf, arrested and sentenced to execution for attempting to usurp the throne. Seems foolproof, given that Zelda sent Link back to a point before Ganondorf got his hands on the Triforce, and thusly before gaining its powers. Except, as it turns out, he does have the Triforce of Power for an unexplained reason (even the game references how there is no explainable reason for how he has it), and with its power, survives the execution attempt, killing one of the sages before the others, in a last-ditch effort, manage to banish him to the Twilight Realm, which only delays and alters his eventual plot to conquer Hyrule.
  • Metal Gear:
    • After settling down with Rosemary and his son John in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Raiden is now working as a PMC in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance because his cyborg body looked too unnatural for him to find civilian work. By the end of the game he's once again on a quest of revenge to end his personal war, forgetting everything Snake had taught him. It is worth noticing though, that unlike many other examples on this page, Jack didn't leave Rose and John. He still cares very much for them and provides for them with all the money he gains.
    • Also, in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, the Plot Twist ending you get after the ending credits and dramatic logo show, with Paz manning the giant Metal Gear you fought so hard to disable. It's likely that many players wholeheartedly believed this was an easter egg at first, soon to discover that it actually showed a great deal of Paz's character the player wasn't aware of before.
    • This can even be said to go back all the way to the original Metal Gear Solid as that game ends with Snake successfully killing his clone and riding off into the sunset with Meryl/Otacon for a life of peace in Alaska. Come Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty the world's now under threat from Revolver Ocelot and Snake is once again fighting to stop Metal Gears from being used to take over the world. It's then taken to the absolute extreme in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots which shows Snake as a tired old man still struggling in a fight against Liquid Ocelot, all alone in the world except for Otacon and Sunny.
  • The ending of Tales of Itzkeria is pretty happy — Itzka and his friends defeat the evil (or is he?) Darius, ending his guild and his ambitions of world domination. Conveniently, the Emperor gets a heart attack, and Itzka is appointed as his successor, finally bringing peace to the land! Aside from the unfortunate implication that Laura will die soon due to her accelerated aging, as revealed in the true ending there is nothing to indicate the finale is anything but happy. Jump forward to the sequel, where it's revealed that, within 20 years, Itzka has become a ruthless dictator who's not above burning cities (ironic, considering the burning of his hometown jump-started the plot of the first game) and slaughtering all inside just because they dared to oppose him.
  • All those Alien Wars you've been fighting for the majority of the Contra series and winning? As of Contra: Shattered Soldier, it turns out that the war was actually part of a Government Conspiracy known as the Triumvirate, and that Lance Bean had accidentally uncovered the truth about it. Hence the fact that Lance became a notorious terrorist leader trying to overthrow the Triumvirate after Bill Rizer was thought to have killed Lance and destroyed 80% of the world's population.
  • The ending of Dead Space 3 gives hope in a bittersweet ending, where Isaac and Carver disappear, but the source of the Marker signals, the Brother Moon, is slain. Its expansion, Dead Space 3: Awakened, reveals that while Isaac and Carver survived, the Moon they killed still awoke the rest of its kind, and managed to successfully delay them from warning Earth in time, and have already arrived ahead of them and begun to feed on humanity. And when Isaac and Carver arrive, a Brother Moon looms over their ship, attacking their minds, before the credits roll.
  • Warcraft:
    • The first game was an early example of this; the Orc and Human campaigns seemed to be treated as alternate universes; on the one hand, the Humans prevailed and defeated the Orcish Horde. On the other, the Orcs razed Stormwind Keep and killed the human king. Tides of Darkness, the sequel, revealed the Orc campaign was made canon. Tides Of Darkness was itself treated similarly; this time the expansion, Beyond the Dark Portal, revealed the Alliance victory to be the canonical one. (Blizzard would switch tactics with StarCraft and abandon this technique for Warcraft III, wherein they actually subvert their earlier use of the trope by clarifying that elements from both Horde and Alliance campaigns from the previous games happened—for example, the death of Medivh (Human in I) and Gul'dan's betrayal (Horde in II)—but the Orc ending mission for I and the Alliance ending mission for II canceled out the opposing side.)
    • Warcraft III ended with The Alliance, the reformed Horde and the Night Elves finally putting their different aside and joining forces against the Burning Legion, defeating their leader Archimonde allegedly for good and saving Azeroth. Come the extension Frozen Throne, it turns out the Scourge took advantage of the Legion's defeat to become their own faction and a new threat on Azeroth, while a human Knight Templar attempted an unprovoked offensive on the Horde, reigniting the hostilities between Orcs and Humans. Things get even worse in World of Warcraft, where not only do the Alliance and Horde get more and more aggressive toward each other, to the point of regularly grabbing the Conflict Ball, but the Legion is back again.
  • Implied in Starcraft II: In the sequel trilogy's first installment, You rescue a bunch of colonists from the Zerg and resettle them on a world called Haven which, although near Protoss space, seems out of the way and safe enough. Surprise, surprise, it's not long before said Protoss, led by an Executor named Selendis show up on the doorstep and inform you that their scanners show Zerg spores infesting the colonists and that they intend to burn them all just to be sure. After fighting off the Protoss and taking care of the spores, Haven is left to itself. Come the trilogy's third installment and resident Big Bad Amon has Mind Controlled a good majority of the Protoss, Selendis included, and is using their immense armada of spaceships to destroy every single human world he can find. Haven and its colony is never mentioned, but it likely shares the fate of countless other unnamed planets that were Killed Offscreen.
  • Dragon Age:
    • While the main ending in Dragon Age: Origins doesn't get cancelled (the Archdemon stays dead and Ferelden still survives), a lot of the improvements you can potentially bring to other problems in the story will inevitably be made meaningless to not get in the way of the story. Most notably, if a Mage Warden managed to get more freedom for the Circle of Magi, this will inevitably turn out to be a failure, since one of the main plot-points in Dragon Age II is a Mage-Templar war.
    • This can happen to the better endings for Anders and Justice in Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening, as they are inevitably driven from the Wardens in order to appear in the next game.
    • Dragon Age: Inquisition has the Inquisitor defeating the Big Bad, sealing the breach for good and there’s a new Divine of the Chantry. Come the Trespasser DLC, the anchor is hurting the Inquisitor, the two nations that you helped in the game want to disband the Inquisition, your party member Solas wants to destroy Thedas in order to pay for his mistake (giving the orb to the Big Bad which started the whole mess) and to save the elves and he had his agents infiltrated the Inquisition. It gets worse that you’re unable to convince Solas who later cut off your anchor arm, leaving you crippled (though it was to save your life and there was no other option) and you’re left with the decision to disband the now corrupted Inquisition or to go after Solas with secrecy.
  • Shin Megami Tensei II was rather brutal to the ending of its predecessor, revealing that the peace its hero brought lasted only ten years before it was overthrown, and he himself assassinated, by the forces of the Lawful Evil Archangels. II's ending appears to stick for its own timeline, except possibly for the main character, as a person resembling him showed up in another timeline, claiming to have been hit with a seriously nasty curse.
  • At the end of Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey's Neutral route, you blow the Schwarzwelt to kingdom come and end the demon invasion. Sounds like a happy ending, right? Redux reveals humanity learned jack shit from the experience and went right back to its warmongering ways. When the Schwarzwelt came back for round two, humanity was unable to stop it, leading to the apocalypse. Now Alex has come back in time to kill your ass in the hopes that doing so will fix everything.
  • Inverted by Freespace Silent Threat, though for more-or-less the same reasons as this trope usually comes into play (conflict and chaos requires there being people around who can get involved into conflicts) — at the end of the original game, the narrator makes clear the expectation is that the Shivans will destroy what's left of the Terran-Vasudan colonial empires, and that's what been won is a reprieve for the now isolated Solar system. Come the expansion, and it turns out that the Lucifer's destruction had a far greater impact on Shivan coherence than expected, and that the remaining Terran-Vasudan forces in the colonies are actually winning the war.
  • At the end of Strider, Hiryu has defeated the god-complex Grandmaster Meio and put a stop to his plan to erradicate all life on Earth to repopulate it with his own created humanity. In the sequel Meio has not only survived the encounter, but in the 2000-year interval between games he was able to complete his plan, and the world is now populated by a new humanity that worships him as their creator and have turned Earth into a polluted, disease and war-ridden wreck on the verge of self-destruction
  • X-COM:
    • The first game ends with humanity defeating the aliens, taking all their stuff, and blasting into space. The second game steps on that last part and sets us against a different bunch of aliens that was lurking on Earth the whole time. The third game is set in an extremely advanced and self-sufficient megalopolis - built that way because the defeat of those other aliens blew the Earth's environment into tatters. At the same time, though, both Interceptor and background material reveals that, while Earth is still the center of human activity, it is no longer the only bastion of humanity. Mars has been settled, and there are a number of colonies in a far-off region of space called the Frontier. This means that humanity's contact with the aliens allowed us to, eventually, spread through space.
    • The Spiritual Sequel series UFO: Afterblank is just weird: the second game is based on the first game's Bad Ending, but it went horribly wrong for the bad guys, so it's cool.
    • Defied in the successor series because the developers felt it would have cheapened the victory of Enemy Unknown, so instead it follows the Bad Ending: The Aliens discovered and rushed the XCOM base before XCOM even discovered laser weapons, capturing the Commander. To add insult to injury, they hooked him up to simulations for twenty years, playing Long War.
  • The GDI campaign in Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun ends with a new medical treatment for the female lead and the Cool Ship flying into the sunset. The expansion campaign has the ship crashed and wrecked and the treatment backfiring badly.
    • Speaking of which, Firestorm also got the receiving end of this trope. Early on in the GDI campaign, it was stated that Earth had less than a year before it became uninhabitable due to atmospheric Tiberium contamination; at the end of the campaign, taking place in 2032, GDI managed to gleam a countermeasure to this and developed sonic resonators as an anti-Tiberium countermeasure. By 2047, GDI is slowly but steadily cleansing and reclaiming Tiberium-infested areas of the planet... then in 2062, humanity is on the brink of extinction due to Tiberium suddenly having mutated into a hyper-aggressive strain that No Sells all forms of containment and reclamation. It's only at the very end of Tiberian Twilight that Tiberium is finally brought under control for good.
  • The best ending of Silent Hill ends with Harry and Cybil defeating the cult's God and escaping the town with a reincarnation of Cheryl in hopes of living a better life, an easter egg from the game's intro also implies that Cybil and Harry formed a family together. Jump to Silent Hill 3, Cybil is missing ever since the first game, Harry dies shortly after the prologue, the reincarnation of Cheryl/Alessa is being stalked by the cult and she still has the God feeding on her hatred within her.
  • In Odin Sphere, the first four books end on a victorious note for the hero involved. All of which goes out the window once the final book begins.
  • Persona 3 ends with deuteragonist Aigis finding a purpose in life with protecting the protagonist and smiling at the rest of her friends as the hero falls asleep in her arms. In the epilogue The Answer, added as part of the Updated Re-release, the protagonist actually died, and Aigis seems to have lost herself since. The rest of the group is depressed and irritable, torn asunder after the hero's passing.
  • Pokémon
    • At the end of Pokémon Black and White, the player character managed to defeat Team Plasma, foil Ghetsis's true plans, and make N realize that humans and Pokémon can coexist together. Come Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 and Team Plasma has returned, now divided into two factions. While the old Team Plasma is making amends for what they did in the previous games, the new Team Plasma throws out the liberating Pokémon aspect and embodies world domination/destruction. Also, Ghetsis has returned, leading the new Team Plasma, has captured Kyurem, and plans on using it to freeze the world and take every Pokémon for himself.
    • In Pokémon Red and Blue (and their remakes), after being defeated as the final Gym Leader, Giovanni decides to disband Team Rocket and make amends. In Pokémon Gold and Silver (and their remakes), Team Rocket resurfaces, once again causing havoc while trying to contact Giovanni to lead them again. In the case of the remakes, a special event reveals that Giovanni isn't even done with Team Rocket and was actually working on getting stronger in the meantime.
    • At the end of Pokémon Colosseum, Cipher is stopped and their creation of Shadow Pokémon brought to an end. Five years later, in Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness, Cipher returns, hijacks a cargo ship containing a number of Pokémon, and use them to create more powerful Shadow Pokémon, including the ultimate one, XD-001 Shadow Lugia.
  • Every Leisure Suit Larry sequel negates the ending of the previous game in some manner, such as the Final Girl jilting or backstabbing Larry, or his memory being erased, as is the case between 3 and 5.
    • LSL 6 has it even worse, since the plot of LSL 5 was about Larry and Passionate Patti (who the series made out to be his One True Love) being separated and losing their memories as a result of Leisure Suit Larry 4 being deleted. They're reunited at the end of the game, but despite the fact that the game repeatedly portrayed Patti as feeling lonely and like a piece of her soul was missing, Patti suddenly doesn't seem interested in Larry anymore and by the next game she's completely gone without any explanation.
  • Inverted in Scarface: The World Is Yours. At the end of the original film, Tony had lost everyone close to him, his drug empire was in ruins, and he himself was killed in a last stand against Alejandro Sosa's minions. In The World Is Yours, he survives the attack on his mansion, spends three months recovering from his cocaine addiction, and returns to take back his empire and get revenge on all of the people who crossed him in the past.
  • The Baldur's Gate Saga, a game set in the Forgotten Realms setting of Dungeons & Dragons, escalates into a conflict where you must prevent the dark god Bhaal's resurrection. After you slay the Big Bad you get the option to either take Bhaal's place and become a god or ditch it an stay mortal. Either way the game very much states that Bhaal is gone for good. One of the introductory adventures made for the 5th edition of D&D overrode this ending by having Bhaal make his return to the Realms a century after the end of the game... Killing the canonical protagonist from the games' less-than-well-received novelizations in the process.
  • Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island ended with the Baby Mario Bros. finally reunited and brought to their parents, and it was a rather touching ending... which Yoshi's New Island proceeds to ruin by claiming that the "silly stork" brought the babies to the wrong house. Cue Sequel Reset.
  • In Valkyria Chronicles, Welkin and Squad 7 managed to defeat Maximilian, destroy the Marmota, and drive The Empire out of Gallia. In addition, Princess Cordelia was revealed to be a Darscen rather than a Valkyrur, which would suggest that better treatment for Darscens would begin. Two years later, in Valkyria Chronicles II, it turns out that Cordelia's decision to make her Darscen heritage public had caused a rift between the people of Gallia, with the faction that opposes her forming the Gallia Revolutionary Army, throwing the country into another war while also hunting Darscens and creating Artificial Valkyria.
  • Flashback initially ends on a bittersweet note, with the Morphs' home planet blown up but Conrad Hart adrift in space with little hope of rescue. The sequel, Fade to Black, reveals that the Morphs took over Earth during Conrad's 50-year cryosleep.
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time ends with the Prince successfully undoing the events of the game by using the hourglass to rewind time. Prince of Persia: Warrior Within takes place seven years after and we learn that doing so he disturbed the flow of time and has been hunted by a creature called the Dahaka. Also the Prince has become a much more self-centered and violent person. The interquels Battles of Prince of Persia and Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands provide some context of how all of this happen.
  • Dying Light: The Following DLC's endings are this. At the end of the game, You have the choice of whether to help Mother or not. Choosing to not help her will result in making Crane drink a vial that turns him into a sentient Volatile that escapes the quarantine zone to spread the infection, And helping her results in the region being destroyed by nuclear warheads.
  • Lufia:
    • The first game, Lufia & The Fortress of Doom, retroactively becomes one for its prequel, Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals. The prequel ended with the defeat of the Sinistrals and peace returning to the world, but this victory is rather tainted by the knowledge that the original game concerns the Sinistrals reappearing 100 years later and having to be defeated again. It doesn't help that said prequel's ending is really a Bittersweet Ending (although at least the world got a hundred Sinistral-free years out of the deal).
    • Lufia: The Legend Returns overrides the original game's ending (once again a Bittersweet Ending) by revealing that the Sinistrals weren't really defeated that time either, and 100 years later they're trying to destroy the world again. The Legend Returns is chronologically the last game in the series, so the Sinistrals haven't come back from that one...yet.
    • To a lesser extent, Lufia: The Ruins of Lore is another one for Rise of the Sinistrals, specifically the Gratze subplot. The subplot originally ended with Gratze Kingdom's military might defeated and their dreams of conquest ruined (and, in the remake Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals at least, a promise from the ruler of Gratze to work towards peace). Come The Ruins of Lore, Gratze is out to take over the world again, and they're even much more effective at it than they were before, earning them an upgrade to main antagonists in the absence of the Sinistrals.
  • MechWarrior 4 and its Mission-Pack Sequel Black Knight were bad about this. You play as Ian Dresari in the first game, liberating the planet from the oppressive whims of House Steiner military forces and your toady of a cousin, where you're hailed as a hero for saving your homeworld. Then Black Knight turns Ian into a tyrant so that you can undo all your hard work from the first game, putting the planet back into House Steiner's hands while also killing off almost all of the cast from the first game in the process. note  The only thing that even remotely makes the second game palatable to fans of the story from the first is that the corrupt representatives of House Steiner get their comeuppance too for having just a little bit too much Chronic Backstabbing Disorder for their own good.
  • In Ultima VI, the Avatar prevents the complete fulfillment of the False Prophet prophecy, as the Gargoyle world is not destroyed, and peace is established between Britannia and the Gargoyles. In Ultima IX, the Avatar destroys the Gargoyle colony Ambrosia, fulfilling the prophecy anyway.
  • Undertale, being the game that it is, implies that the player can do this. If you re-open the game after getting the Golden Ending, Flowey begs the player not to reset the game, stating that doing so would wipe out everyone's memories and take them right back to where they started, negating their happy ending.
    • Being Undertale, it plays with this trope. The player can fully Subvert it if they go for the Golden Ending again, Downplay it if they go for a low-violence Neutral run, or play it straight if they go for a high-kill Neutral or the Kill ’Em All route.
    • If the player goes for the Golden Ending after ending a Genocide Route, the ending plays normally, until the very last shot of the game, which implies The Fallen Child has taken over Frisk's body and is going to murder all your friends.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's 3 ends with the killer animatronics and the corrupt Fazbear Entertainment long dead, the murdered children finally getting payback on their killer and passing on after so many years, and Fazbear's Fright burning to the ground, seemingly taking Springtrap (haunted by the murderer) down with it. Five Nights at Freddy's: Sister Location, however, dampens this severely since not only is Springtrap shown to have survived, but it's implied that he's (probably) really haunted by the killer's son, meaning the children never got their revenge, killed the wrong guy yet again, and their killer is still alive somewhere.
  • In The Elder Scrolls series, no matter how happy the ending (and the endings of some of the games are already Downers or Bittersweet at best), future games in the series almost always override it by showing the consequences of the events of the game on the world:
    • Following Arena, the coup is stopped and the true emperor returned to the throne, but later games show that irreparable damage has been done to the empire, sending it on a downhill path to its eventual dissolution following Oblivion.
    • Each of Daggerfall's mutually exclusive endings are shown to have happened simultaneously due to a Dragon Break. While peace is temporarily brought to the region, the Player Character is dead, High Rock's various factions (including Orsinium) eventually fall back into strife, and the King of Worms ascends to godhood only to return and cause problems during the Oblivion Crisis.
    • Morrowind may get the worst of it. As a result of the player's actions, the Tribunal are cut off from their source of divinity and two of the three are killed. When Vivec disappears early in the 4th era, the rogue moon over Vivec City resumes its descent with its original momentum, causing Red Mountain to erupt and destroy Vvardenfell along with a good portion of Morrowind. The Argonians then invade prior to the events of Skyrim, putting an end to the Dunmer way of life.
    • Oblivion:
      • Oblivion ends with the seals between Oblivion and the mortal plane closed forever, but no Septim on the throne. Wars break out, provinces secede, and by the time of Skyrim, only four remain, with Skyrim being locked in a civil war and Morrowind becoming a devastated landscape after the eruption of the Red Mountain, the disappearance of the Tribunal, and the massive, vengeful Argonian invasion from Black Marsh.
      • The expanded universe novel "The Infernal City" chronicles that giving Umbra to Clavicus Vile caused a chain of events that eventually created an evil floating city, that turns everyone under its shadow into a zombie army.
    • Only time will tell what future games have in store for Tamriel after Skyrim, but we do know that Alduin will eventually fulfill his role of ending the world one day, as evidenced by his soul not being absorbed after the Dragonborn defeats him. This defeat is only temporary. Additionally, regardless of which side (if any) you choose to lead to victory in the Civil War, the Aldmeri Dominion is still out there growing in power as the Greater-Scope Villain who will need to be dealt with.
    • The main quest of The Elder Scrolls Online ends with Molag Bal's Planemeld being thwarted, but given that the game is a prequel, all of the above events are still going to happen to Tamriel. Worse still, both Bal and Meridia confirm that stopping Molag Bal has opened the door for something worse to come about, but given that neither explains further, we don't know if the event they've described has even happened in any game thus far.
  • Through flavor text in Dark Souls II, we learn the story of Alva the Wayfarer, a knight who sought the cure for his love's terminal illness, opposed at every turn by the wicked witch Zullie. When Alva failed to find the cure in time, he renounced his knighthood in grief, only for Zullie to take pity on him and pull a Heel–Face Turn, deciding to help him in all his future endeavours. The two eventually hooked up and lived happily ever after. Come Dark Souls III, Alva becomes a hostile invader under the new name "Alva, Seeker of the Spurned", having now lost Zullie as well. He invades a second time in the DLC, and once you get past him you find Zullie's corpse which he was guarding.
  • Similar to Zelda, many Castlevania games have this happen as Dracula always finds a way to come back in time for the next game.
    • Castlevania ended with Simon defeating Dracula and all seemed well. Castlevania II: Simon's Quest revealed that Dracula laid a curse on Simon that would slowly kill him and make his body a host for Dracula if he wasn't revived and killed again in time.
    • Castlevania: Rondo of Blood ended with Richter defeating Dracula and saving Maria, Annette, and other maidens in the best ending, only for Castlevania: Symphony of the Night to have Shaft brainwash Richter into resurrecting Dracula, forcing Alucard to save the world.
  • Resident Evil does this very frequently:
    • Resident Evil endings has Chris overlooking a city with a newscast in the background showing Umbrella being exposed for their crimes while Jill is in her room relaxing. Resident Evil 2 overrides these endings by having Umbrella getting away with what they had done and the zombie outbreak has now spread to Raccoon City itself. The remake of the first game avoids this by having Chris or Jill simply pose in their ending pictures.
    • Resident Evil 2 has its endings show Leon assisting with the military cleaning up the city while Claire is seen on a lone road with her motorcycle and Sherry, implying the two of them are having a good time going cross country. Resident Evil 3: Nemesis overrides the endings with its own ending plus epilogues; Raccoon City nuked to oblivion, Leon being forced to either work for the government or have Sherry's fate decided by them, and Claire abandonds Sherry and Leon to find Chris.
    • Resident Evil 5 has the series' Big Bad Wesker finally killed off and the corrupt Tri-Cell corporation dismantled, ending the Uroborous project. Resident Evil 6 reveals that there was yet another terrorist group (called Neo-Umbrella) that aim to control the world with the C-Virus. The U.S. President turns into a zombie and the majority of China gets turned into zombies by the C-Virus.
  • Happened in the second and third games of ToeJam & Earl:
    • The ending of the first game has ToeJam and Earl returning to their home planet of Funkotron from their crash-landing on Earth after reassembling their rocket ship. All the Funkotronians welcome them back with open arms... then the beginning of Panic on Funkotron reveals that earthlings have stowed away on their ship with the inhabitants trying to fend off the invasion.
    • The ending to Panic has ToeJam and Earl celebrating after they ship the earthlings back to Earth. Then the third game reveals that the twelve Sacred Albums of Funk have been stolen, likely by the earthlings ToeJam and Earl had previously captured.
  • Blaster Master Zero has the true ending where Jason manages to destroy Invem Sophia, defeat the Mutant Overlord, and rescue Eve, resulting in Jason and Eve sitting on the hood of SOPHIA-ZERO, Jason's arm wrapped around her and ending with the implication of a love confession. Then Blaster Master Zero 2 starts and Eve's body is in a state of severe mutation from being infected by mutant cells left over from Invem Sophia. Your goal in the game is to remove the infection and save Eve's life.

    Visual Novels 
  • Kajiri Kamui Kagura is this to the ending of the Marie route of Dies Irae. Several thousand years after in the ending Marie aka Tasogare took the Throne and became the fifth Heaven, watching over reality with Ren aka Yato until she and the other Gods were killed by Hajun usurping the Throne. Hajun starts to destroy all of reality until Yato, the only one to survive due to having the series strongest defense power and Hajun almost not noticing him barely managed to stop the complete manifestation of Hajuns Law with his time stop. This continues for eight thousand years until the arrival of the Eastern Expedition, who start their journey to oppose Yato and Hajun.
  • Danganronpa 3 ended with Ryota Mitarai's plan to brainwash what's left of the world stopped thanks to the Future Foundation and the former Remnants of Despair, and Makoto Naegi founds a new Hope's Peak Academy as the world starts to rebuild. New Danganronpa V3 initially seems to have no relation to that timeline, leaving its happy ending intact while its own universe deals with the extinction of humanity by a disease-carrying meteor shower. However, it then proceeds to subvert and then double subvert it: it's initially "revealed" that the extinction of humanity occurred during the time of Naegi's rebuilt Hope's Peak Academy, wiping away his and his friends' efforts for good...only for it to be established that both the universe of the earlier games and the universe of V3 are in-universe fictional stories, and that they originally were going to be separate universes before the mastermind had to quickly retcon them to be related. In the end, whether you believe the ending to be overriden depends on your own personal interpretation of whether Tsumugi Shirogane's hasty modifications to the in-universe Hope's Peak canon count as canon to the Hope's Peak media released in real life.
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations might have ended on a bittersweet note (what with Maya's long lost mother dying and Godot going to jail for it, all because of Morgan and Dahlia's actions), but it ultimately wraps up the original trilogy quite nicely, with all main characters being given a proper closure... that is until Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney came, revealing that Phoenix had been disbarred shortly after the events of Trials and Tribulations (also having a rather strong case of Same Character, but Different). To make matters worse, the only other returning character from the original trilogy is Ema Skye, which was originally not in Phoenix's arc until the DS remake and the English localization (there's also the Judge, if you want to count THAT), while the whereabouts every other main character remained unknown until Dual Destinies and Spirit of Justice.
  • Winged Cloud's Sakura Beach ends with Seiji realizing how Ayumi and Momoko feel about him and he shares a kiss with both of them, implying he begins a relationship with them both. Sakura Beach 2, however, reverts Seiji back to his old self with him as dense as ever, with him even saying he never kissed them before.

    Web Animation 
  • The Madness Combat series seemed to end on a happy note at the end of Madness Combat 10: Abrogation with the Auditor being seemingly destroyed until seven years later when Madness Combat 11: Expurgation was released and Hank and Sanford have to fight a revived Tricky. Things seem to be going well up until the end when Hank, Sanford and Tricky all die and the Auditor comes Back from the Dead, now with no one to oppose him.

    Web Originals 
  • Improbable Island. Defeated the Improbability Drive, did you? Great! Now you get to do it again six times, after having discovered that the drive permanently mutated your body.
  • Atop the Fourth Wall. After Linkara defeats his evil robot counterpart (actually Pollo from another universe), it's revealed that Mechakara wasn't the only one who escaped into Linkara's universe. And the other person who did? Lord Vyce, an all-powerful Multiversal Conqueror who makes Mechakara look weak by comparison. But at least Linkara is able to defeat Vyce. Except he learns that the reason Vyce was out conquering universes was to protect them from The Entity, an Eldritch Abomination bent on consuming universes and make everyone in them disappear forever. Lewis stated in an interview that he wanted to keep invoking this trope with bigger and bigger threats, but couldn't come up with anything stronger than a god, so he switched to character-driven story arcs instead.

    Western Animation 
  • Beast Wars ended with the Maximals successfully capturing Megatron and taking him back to Cybertron, with him tied to the roof of their spaceship. However, in Beast Machines, it's revealed that Megatron has been able to successfully take over Cybertron, in large part because he was left outside the spaceship. note  Originally, had there been a fourth season of Transformers Animated, their version of Megatron would have escaped from prison (he is arrested at the end of the show's final episode), possibly with help from Team Chaar, and been reformatted into a Triple Changer. Some fanfics take it a bit further and see Megatron being reformatted into Galvatron.
  • The ending of Osmosis Jones has Frank turn his life around and adopt a healthier lifestyle, and we see him spending time outdoors with his daughter. In Ozzy & Drix, on the other hand, Frank is once again an obese slob, suggesting that either he has relapsed back into unhealthy habits, or Ozzy and Drix is an Alternate Continuity, and if the latter, then Frank will be killed by Thrax.
  • Combined with Chronic Villainy when it comes to the Vreedle Brothers in the Ben 10 franchise. At the end of their final appearance in Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, they had reformed and become students at the Plumber Academy. Come Ben 10: Omniverse, we learn that since then, they blew up the Plumber Academy and went back to being thugs.
  • Downplayed in The Legend of Korra regarding the original Team Avatar. They defeated the Fire Nation, are revered as heroes well into the new age, and went on to have very eventful lives. However, their kids still have issues from having parents with such huge legacies and responsibilities. Tenzin's siblings feel he got the bulk of Aang's attention due to being an airbender, and Lin has more than a few choice words for Toph when they finally meet again. In this case, it's not so much "the characters didn't get to live happy lives" as much as " the characters went on to live realistic lives with ups and downs", coming off the heels of The Last Airbender 's Happily Ever After finale.
  • In the lead-up to Toonami's The Intruder II event, a comic was released that depicted The Intruder being fended off by TOM 4. Week 5 of the event proper has the Intruder gloating about killing TOM 4.
  • The Simpsons
    • Played for Laughs with Homer's half-brother Herb Powell, an auto manufacturer who was ruined and reduced to abject poverty in one of the earliest seasons after he allowed Homer to design the new car for that year...but made his fortune back by inventing a "baby translator" to help mothers understand their babies. Many years later, the Simpsons pay him another call...and get a message on his answering machine announcing that he's broke again.
    • "Marge vs. the Monorail" ended with the runaway monorail successfully stopped before anything serious can happen. Years later, "The Old Blue Mayor She Ain't What She Used To Be" opens with the abandoned monorail reactivating and causing devastation in Springfield.
  • At the end of the The Fairly Oddparents TV Movie Channel Chasers, Timmy learns that he will have to one day grow up and part ways with Cosmo and Wanda, but that he can still cherish the time he has with them. We're treated to a Distant Finale that shows an adult Timmy and his two children Tommy and Tammy, who are shown to have Cosmo and Wanda as fairy godparents. In 2011's A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner!, however, it turns out that this Character Development for Timmy was thrown out the window in favor of having him live his life exactly the same way he did as a kid, including still having Cosmo and Wanda, even though he should've parted ways with them upon becoming an adult. In a more meta sense of the trope, the events of the live-action movies also overrode the ending to Channel Chasers, retconning the ending out of existence in favor of this future. Even then, though, the canonicity of the live-action films is frequently questioned.
  • ReBoot's third season ended with a pretty happy ending (including restoring dead people back to life). Then came season four with "Daemon Rising" and "My Two Bobs" which ended on a giant cliffhanger which left Megabyte in control of the principal office, and this was never resolved.
  • Duck Dodgers was originally intended to run for two seasons and two seasons only, the finale having Earth sign a peace treaty with Mars and the Martian Queen Tyr'ahnee preparing to get married to Commander X-2 after learning that he loved her. When the show was renewed for a third season because of good ratings, the premiere had Tyr'ahnee leave X-2 because she decided she still had feelings for Duck Dodgers and she also revoked Mars' truce with Earth when Dodgers continued refusing to reciprocate her feelings towards him.


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