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Sudden Downer Ending

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Cartman: And they all lived happily ever after... except for Kyle, who died of AIDS two weeks later.
Kyle: God damn it, Cartman!
South Park, "Woodland Critter Christmas"

A Sudden Downer Ending is a Grand Finale in which an otherwise completely upbeat, accessible series ends on an unimaginably bleak note. Can also apply to self-contained movies, books, video games, etc. with such endings.

Often done because True Art Is Angsty and because Mood Whiplash is an effective way of manipulating your audience, or as a way of adding depth to the main characters at the last moment.

The 3-way baby of Mood Whiplash, Cerebus Syndrome, and Downer Ending. See also Diabolus ex Machina, The End of the World as We Know It, The Bad Guy Wins, Gainax Ending, Cruel Twist Ending, Shoot the Shaggy Dog, and "Everybody Dies" Ending. Opposite of a Surprisingly Happy Ending. Can be a result of Creator Breakdown or used as a means to Torch the Franchise and Run. Can result in an Audience-Alienating Ending, cries of Ruined Forever and even Narm if handled poorly. Could have induced audience apathy...but then, you've probably already finished watching it, haven't you? If it's subverted for comedy, see Shock-and-Switch Ending. Contrast Tear Dryer.


Earn Your Bad Ending is a gameplay equivalent which can lead to this trope; indeed, in many games with Multiple Endings, it's a safe bet that at least one of the endings is going to be this if the tone of the rest of the game is upbeat.

If a work was dark or serious to begin with, it does not qualify for this trope and is simply a Downer Ending.

Note: This is a Spoilered Rotten trope, that means that EVERY SINGLE EXAMPLE on this list is a spoiler by default and will be unmarked. This is your last warning. Only proceed if you really believe you can handle this list.



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  • This 2015 Super Bowl commercial by Nationwide Insurance. Most of the commercial is the typical run-of-the-mill life insurance ad, with a young kid speaking about his future aspirations… and then the rug is pulled underneath the viewers when the commercial reveals the kid died in an accident (presumably from a bathtub drowning).
  • Played for laughs in a UFO Kamen Yakisoban ad, where Sauce and Claudia fight off the Demon King, escape safely, and get vaporized by a fireball in the last second of the commercial.

    Anime and Manga 
  • The End of Evangelion, not when viewed as a stand-alone work, but as an end to the TV series as a whole, is this after some heavy-handed Cerebus Syndrome that had been dissipated by a strange yet undeniably optimistic ending returns with a bitter twist in this film adaptation — resurrected by the alienation and dissatisfaction of the bulk of the series' original fan-base.
  • Excel Saga parodies this, like everything else, in one late-run episode, which is very dark and humorless compared to the other episodes and ends with Excel being shot and left to die. It's actually around episode 23 of 25. The actual final episode (#26) was unaired due to crossing the line way too many times.
  • Mahoromatic: It's a Foregone Conclusion that Mahoro would die. It's the whole premise. The ending is still ridiculously dark. And confusing.
  • Fairy Tail. The S-class/Tenrou Island arc ends with most of the main characters being blasted by Acnologia and presumably dead. As future seasons show, they thankfully weren’t, but it is still one of the darkest moments in the story.
  • Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt: In the very last minute of the series, Stocking turns out to be evil, slices Panty into 666 pieces, and walks into the sunset with the revived Big Bad. It's mostly Played for Laughs, but it just comes so out of nowhere that the audience is left shocked and confused.
  • Master of Martial Hearts: The first 4 out of 5 episodes will make you think that this OVA is just a silly, goofy, mushy comedy with some brutal fights between the main character Aya and her opponents in a tournament. Then the 5th episode comes in. To wit: Aya ends up killing her opponent in a Berserker Rage. Then, she finds out that every one of her friends was a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who had manipulated her right from the beginning. They mentally broke all the losers of the tournament, making them into "perfect women" to be sold into sexual slavery. Aya's "friends" did this because her parents did the same thing to their parents, and they want to kill her to get back at her mother. Then Aya's mother shows up and kills them off, revealing to her that this is a Cycle of Revenge going back to their grandparents. So an "Everybody Dies" Ending ensues, with Aya limping away from the blown-up building. Then her so-called best friend's mother gets a visit from someone that she is very scared to see. There had been very few hints that something like this was going to happen.
  • The 1975 anime adaptation of A Dog of Flanders, true to the original material, has the main character and his dog freeze to death in the last episode. The series is quite positive and upbeat (and looks like Heidi) otherwise, so to many children, this came as quite a shock.
    • Since a lot of people in Japan were familiar with the eponymous tale and how it ended, fans of the show sent tearful mails to the staff days before the final episode aired, pleading not to have Nello and Patrasche die at the end. The staff went ahead anyway, devastating everyone who watched it. Yes, even those who wrote the letters.
  • The first half of the first series of Magical Princess Minky Momo had this in episodes 45 and 46. In episode 45, Momo's main mode of transportation — the Gorumepopo — loses energy and disappears, Momo loses her pendant and pets on a train, Momo encounters bad guys who want her pets, and when she tries to get her pendant in order to transform to save the man who helped her, her pendant shatters. In the next episode, Momo tries to go to school and can't pay attention, so she goes to the park where she tries to retrieve a baseball and gets run over by a truck. She then dies, but is reincarnated as the real child of her foster parents. The rest of the series is All Just a Dream in the mind of the human Momo about a new Minky Momo that came to Earth.
  • Despite being a comedy, Prison School infamously ended with a pretty devastating one. Kiyoshi spends the entire series trying to get with Chiyo, the kind-hearted younger sister of the Absurdly Powerful Student Council President, and risks getting beaten or expelled at every turn for her. The final arc of the manga revolves around his Love Confession to her, but Hana tries to sabotage it in order to keep Kiyoshi for herself. She ends up succeeding at the last second after revealing that Kiyoshi was still wearing her panties, and as a result Chiyo is shown to end up becoming a bitter man-hater like her sister and it's heavily implied that boys at the school will continue to suffer with her as President.
  • Hoshino, Close Your Eyes is a niche series with an infamous ending that many believe was the author lashing out at the publisher out of spite after being denied an anime adaptation. The main character Kobayakawa is a socially awkward loner who gradually learns to come out of his shell and make friends. In the end, he suddenly becomes His Own Worst Enemy and rejects his crush after her Love Confession on the grounds that he doesn't feel that he's good enough for her. His friends encourage him to stop being an idiot but he reinforces his decision by cutting contact with everyone. In the end, after he's burned bridges with all the friends he made over the past year they all go on to lead happy, successful lives while he goes back to being the asocial Loser Protagonist he was at the start.
  • Happens in-universe in episode 8 of season 1's Haganai. Sena is playing a Visual Novel where her character is having fun with friends at a swimming pool, and Yozora nonchalantly mentions that the game would be godly if a shark suddenly appeared out of nowhere and killed them. Sena berates her for suggesting such an awful thing, but then that's exactly what happens. Sena at first thinks it's a joke and that her main character would easily vanquish it, only for the shark to kill him, and she suffers from a bad ending. Rika mentions that this game was particularly notorious in online forums for this ending if you failed to trigger a certain flag earlier in the game. Everyone in the clubroom, Yozora included, was completely shocked by it, but after she recollects herself, Yozora calls it a godly game, while Sena angrily snaps the disc in half.
  • In Guardian Fairy Michel, after 25 episodes of happy, lighthearted hijinks, Michel dies at the end to rejuvenate the Tree of Life, Kim leaves the island, and the villains still have their floating castle.
  • The end of the Fist of the North Star prequel film Legend of Kenshiro is so pointlessly sadistic it could have been written by Thouzer himself. Ken has recovered his spirit, embraced his destiny as the messiah, and saved the city… then Siska turns out to have a third detonator and blows it up anyway, leaving Kenshiro screaming despondently among the ruins and corpses of his friends. The only thing that saves this movie from being a complete downer is the fact that after the credits roll comes a montage of the very first episode of the series, where Kenshiro meets Bat and Lin and battles Zeed, setting off on his path to become the Savior of Century's End, set to the very awesome "Road of Lords".
  • The 2009 adaptation of Phantom of Inferno followed the Elen route from the game all the way up to the more-or-less happy ending Elen and Reiji got, ending on the same image of Elen standing in the middle of the flower field, smiling...then an Inferno sniper shoots Reiji dead and Elen kills herself out of grief. Which is NOT something that happened in the game.
  • The 1981 anime Kyōfu Densetsu: Kaiki! Frankenstein features a particularly off-the-wall instance of this trope. In this version of the story, Frankenstein's Monster befriends a little girl, whose father and the other villagers try to kill him. Frankie fights them off, but the little girl gets hurt in the crossfire, so he realizes that as long as he's around she'll be in danger. Saying his final goodbyes, Frankie throws himself off a cliff. The girl's father, seeing this, has a My God, What Have I Done? moment and shoots himself, and the movie ends with the little girl now a friendless orphan.
  • The final episode of the first season of Higurashi: When They Cry ends on a happy-looking ending where everything is back to normal after Rena tries to bomb the school. When Rika gets called into Ooishi's car it's revealed that the "Groundhog Day" Loop has started again. This is emphasised in the first episode of the second season when a present-day, now-adult Rena discusses what really happened after she hugged Keiichi on the rooftop. As it turns out she was arrested and sent away. Hinamizawa then suffered an accident, leaving Rena the Sole Survivor of the village.
  • In Dragon Ball, the conclusion of the 22nd Tenkaichi Budokai arc. After Goku loses to Tenshinhan in the finals but befriends him all the same, Krillin is killed off-panel when he goes to fetch Goku's Four-Star Ball and Nyoi-bo. Made worse in the anime where it happens as they have a victory dinner, but Goku doesn't feel like eating at all until he gets a horrible feeling and sprints back to the tournament grounds.
    • One airing of the anime's dub in New Zealand actually ended the current airing run with that episode, meaning there was no answer as to what killed Krillin or why!
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood, despite his adopted brother Dio slaughtering his loved ones and effectively ruining his life, the optimistic, compassionate hero, Jonathan Joestar, comes out on top and disintegrates his body with a fire-charged Hamon Overdrive. The artifact used to empower Dio is destroyed, peace returns, and Jonathan marries his childhood friend, Erina. All seems well, until Dio returns as a disembodied head and murders him on his honeymoon in an attempt to replace the body he lost. The viewer is initially comforted somewhat by Erina's escape and Dio's apparent failure and death. However, two parts later, Dio returns with Jonathan's body, indicating that he won after all. Though not for long thanks to the protagonists of Part 3.
  • There were plans for Pokémon: The Series to have a sad ending if it had ended early. The final episode would have been a Distant Finale showing Ash as an old man who is no longer a Pokémon Trainer looking back on his childhood and missing the friends he made.
  • Ojamajo Doremi. Everyone has to give up their powers, because one of the girls messed up and broke a witch law by casting a spell to make everyone forget learning that they were witches, causing her to go to sleep for an entire century as punishment. The whole giving-up-the-powers thing was the only way the others were finally able to wake her up. But that's just the first season.

    Comic Books 
  • Transformers: Wings of Honor: Metalhawk's and Onslaught's teams (as well as the other Elite Guard teams who operate mostly offscreen) work well together, complete many missions with an unbroken victory streak, and beat back numerous Decepticons, in relatively light-hearted adventures. And then it all goes to hell. Onslaught's team defects to the Decepticons, and attacks the Autobot base. They also become a combiner, Bruticus, which ends up crushing Sentinel Major in its hand, Over-Run is crushed by one of his drones, and almost all of the other Elite Guard are also killed in various ways including Powerflash. While Bruticus is finally brought down by one of the heroes, Onslaught still kills his former friend Metalhawk on their way out. It finally ends with the last remaining Elite Guard team coming to the base and requesting permission to land, but finding no response. Even a side comic which is usually a bunch of humorous stories about goofy newscasters, ends with, not a funny punchline, but one of the reporters coming to the sight of the carnage and asking to go home in shock. Geez.
  • Graduation Day, the Grand Finale of Young Justice. After 56 issues of comedy, the mini-series sees the violent deaths of Omen and Donna Troy, and the dissolution of both Young Justice and the Titans. One of the last scenes is of Wonder Girl tearfully stating that the kids will never learn enough to be real heroes, and that the entirety of the series was essentially a massive waste of time.
  • Secret Six, which was basically a Black Comedy about supervillains, ends with the team being taken down by the combined might of the Justice League, Teen Titans, JSA and numerous other heroes. It's deliberately unclear as to whether or not most of the Six survived, and the last scene is of Bane, battered and alone, being hauled off to Arkham Asylum.
  • Thanks to a combination of Running the Asylum (editor Nick Lowe's determination to see Gert Yorkes be resurrected at any cost) and Executive Meddling (Marvel's decision to cancel the series in mid-arc due to dropping sales), Runaways ended with Chase Stein abandoning the other Runaways and then getting hit by a car after somehow running into Gert Yorkes on the street.
  • The Kid Loki storyline in Journey into Mystery (Gillen) and Young Avengers ended this way with the Old Loki erasing Kid Loki and taking over his body after he had essentially won back everyone's trust and become a hero.
  • Age of the Sentry: The first five issues are faux-Silver Age wackiness, with the Sentry facing radioactive bears, planets about to give birth, overbearing shippers, himself from the Golden Age of Comic Books, superpowered hillbillies, a friend with romance problems, and Cranio (The Man With the Tri-Level Mind!). Issue 6 has him learning his entire life is a lie, that he's been warping reality to fit around him since he doesn't really belong there. Cranio dies informing him of this secret, and then the Void completely drains the Sentry of life, killing him, before turning into a new version of the Sentry, with no-one the wiser.
  • Spider-Men II: Inverted. 616 Miles winds up in the Ultimate Marvel universe and meets the alternate version of his dead wife at a wine bar, and then proceeds to hit it off...but in the background, a group of people runs away in fear, before the window behind them explodes...which, as it turns out, is because the 1610 Green Goblin crashed through the window as he was fighting Ultimate Spider-Man and The Ultimates.

  • The Desert Storm: Coronation, the final arc of Act I, ends with Ben exposing Palpatine as a Sith before he can be elected Chancellor and killing him in a vicious duel. For a moment, it seems as though the Sith are defeated for good and Ben can finally rest knowing the future is safe... until he's suddenly interrupted by Darth Plagueis, who congratulates him for defeating his apprentice, revealing that this timeline's Palpatine hadn't killed his master yet. Before Ben can warn the Jedi, he has a Post-Victory Collapse and is abducted by Plagueis, who implies that he's going force Ben to become his new apprentice.
  • The Transformers: Prime fanfic You will remain forever in my Spark ends with Starscream mourning the death of his adopted ward Nightshade.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • College: Most of the movie is a comedy in which Ronald the nerd attempts to become a jock in order to win Mary's love. He succeeds at both. We see a shot of Ronald carrying Mary into a church for the ceremony. Then there's a cut to them leaving. Then there's a cut to an older Ronald and Mary with a bunch of kids. Then there's a cut to an obviously unhappy, elderly Ronald and Mary, with him yelling at her. Then there's a cut to side-by-side graves, then the movie ends. The whole sequence lasts ten seconds.
  • Spring Dreams: A Screwball Comedy (from Japan) that seems to have a more or less upbeat, silly ending. Miss Yasugi has gotten paired off with the doctor. Chizuko has gotten paired off with Mr. Ema after all. Tamiko will avoid social humiliation. Miss Yae is left chasing after Mr. Okudaira, having confessed her love. And while Grandma couldn't bring herself to tell Mr. Atsumi who she is — they were lovers 50 years ago — at least she got to see him again after all those decades and get closure. Then at the end, Tamiko looks into Grandma's room and sees what is the very last shot of the movie: Grandma collapsed in death on the floor of her bedroom, her copy of Romeo and Juliet lying on the carpet next to her.
  • Marley & Me: The film actually ends with the eponymous dog being put to sleep because of old age... after a long and mostly happy life, so there's that.
  • In One Day, Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess play friends who meet once a year for twenty years and finally fall in love and get married. Then she gets hit by a truck.
  • Roller Boogie, a light-hearted roller-disco film, inexplicably ends on a downbeat note, with the main characters tearfully separating to pursue their futures in different cities.
  • Notoriously, the original ending to Clerks would have ended with this. A lighthearted comedy about two lazy store clerks wasting a day shift? The original version ended with a robber entering the store and shooting the main character, killing him instantly.
  • This Island Earth: Sure, the earth is saved, but the entire Metalunan race is wiped out by the Zagons. The Metalunans weren't really bad, just desperate. And the movie ends with Exeter's ship crashing into the ocean in flames.
  • The silent film Exit Smiling is a zany comedy about a terrible actress in a traveling theater troupe trying to save the man she loves from going to jail. She succeeds. But he never finds out she was the one who saved him, and he's so happy about being able to stay in town with some other girl he likes that she simply doesn't tell him. The movie ends with her crying quietly as he steps off the train.
  • At the end of BoyTown, the band dies in a plane crash, leaving behind wives, children, and an unrealized relationship for the recently outed Carl. It's extremely incongruous for a film that was quite light and farcical up to that point. It's uncomfortably played for laughs and drama.
  • The end of The Mole People: Adad and Bentley managed to escape the destruction of the Sumerian kingdom and had reached the surface… only for Adad to suddenly and inexplicably turn back towards the cave entrance and be crushed by a falling pillar. Her death was mandated by the studio, who considered American Bentley and Sumerian Adad a "mixed-race couple" and feared having them live happily ever after would be seen as endorsing miscegenation. This is Adad, by the way.
  • In Train Of Life, the Jewish villagers manage to smuggle their train across half of Europe, tricking the Germans along every step of the way, and eventually reach the safety of the Russian border. Everyone is celebrating, and Schlomo starts telling us what happened to the characters as the camera slowly zooms out from his face… revealing him standing behind the barbed wire of a concentration camp. The entire story was wishful thinking on his part.
  • Magic Mike starts out (and was marketed as) a comedy with male stripper Mike taking 19-year-old Adam under his wing at the strip club. It ends with Adam getting involved with drugs and owing $10,000 to drug dealers, and Mike having to bail him out.
  • The film Remember Me infamously ends with Tyler being killed on 9/11, and the characters having to move on without him.
  • The film Rue Des Plaisirs is the story of a handyman in love with a prostitute called Marion whose own boyfriend is in danger from mobsters. They've successfully managed to evade them and are living idyllically in the countryside. And then the gangsters arrive out of nowhere and kill her boyfriend, and then her, leaving the handyman alone to mourn. Cut to the two prostitutes who've spent the movie listening to a third one tell the story of how Marion managed to make something of herself, and cut to the credits. (Even the director later regretted sticking on the unhappy ending.)
  • Mexican Z-movie Zindy, the Swamp-Boy set up a happy ending where Zindy kills the ever-present cougar and is taken back to civilization by the parents of the girl he rescued. Possibly even able to claim inheritance of his grandfather's estate. Then the film suddenly pulls the rug out from under the audience: Zindy gets mauled by the dying cougar and dies himself, leaving the girl lost in the rainforest to fend for herself, with no word on whether or not her parents find her.
  • Unashamed - a 1938 "naturist"note  melodrama has protagonist Rae lose the affections of her boss to a socialite newcomer. She deals with this by dramatically climbing to the top of the highest mountain available ...and throwing herself off. Cue the Sun.
  • The Last American Virgin: A teen sex comedy, mind you. Minutes after a tender kiss that looked like a sealing one, it turns out that not only the protagonist Did Not Get the Girl — she also willingly chose her abuser over him. This ending being much more true-to-life than an expected happy one actually makes it even more impressive.
  • Troll 2 ends with the family seemingly defeating the goblins until it turns out the goblins somehow survived, end up turning the mom into plant food, and eat her right in front of the screaming son as the movie ends. Yes, this is the same film whose twist was that nilbog backward spells goblin.
  • On Her Majesty's Secret Service: Bond's defeated Blofeld's evil scheme and got the girl — in fact, for the first time in the 007 series, he's married her. It doesn't last. In the final scene, Bond is driving away from the wedding with his bride Tracy when Blofeld drives by and shoots her dead.
  • Suburbia: The TR kids successfully fight off an invasion by Jim and Bob and are seen celebrating. Cue the duo coming back around for round two, followed by Ethan getting run over and killed and Jack's father arriving too late to stop any of the aforementioned events from happening. Roll credits.
  • A Fairly Odd Summer the third in the live action The Fairly Oddparents films, is pretty jovial and filled with the usual shenanigans of the series until the climax where Timmy falls into lava trying to stop Foop from taking the Abracadanium. He only survives due to the artifact turning him into a fairy (of his ten-year-old form for some reason) and, due to this, he ultimately has to let go of Cosmo, Wanda and Poof as his godparents. The only good that comes from it is 1) His godparents become ones to two siblings they befriended and live close by and 2) This is possibly an Alternate Universe, so it might not be canon.
  • A Day in the Country: Most of the film plays like a comic romp as a mother and daughter go on a day trip to the countryside and have sex with two randy farmhands. Then the last five minutes of the movie jump forward an undetermined number of years, to find Henriette (the daughter), trapped in a seemingly unhappy marriage, having come back to the inn and met her randy farmhand, Henri. She weeps as she tells him that she thinks about their passionate fling every night.
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp is a lighthearted caper flick, a great mix of action and comedy and among the lighter of the MCU films. In The Stinger, Scott is in the Quantum Realm on a routine mission to collect some more quantum particles to continue healing their now-ally Ghost and calls to be let out… and the rooftop is suddenly nothing but ash as Hank, Janet and Hope have all been turned to dust by Thanos' finger-snap, leaving Scott trapped with no idea what's happening and Ghost's fate (snapped or left to die without the particles) unknown.
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home ends with the villain defeated and Peter Parker moving on with his life...until The Stinger shows that Mysterio managed to posthumously release a doctored video framing Spider-Man for his drone attack on London and his murder. J. Jonah Jameson makes a surprise appearance slandering Spider-Man and hailing Mysterio as a hero, and the footage ends with Mysterio outing Spider-Man as Peter Parker, turning the ending from hopeful into a Darkest Hour.
  • Mister Roberts is set far from the front lines of World War II with the zany antics of a manic ensign, a doctor who's Seen It All, and the Only Sane Man Lieutenant Roberts trying to keep a frustrated, bored crew from going crazy under the tyrannical captain of a cargo ship. The climax of the film is Roberts hurling a palm tree over the side. He finally gets the transfer to a destroyer that he's been pining for the whole film, the hapless Pulver is promoted, and Roberts sends an epilogue letter. Then Pulver opens a second letter, crumples it in shock, and announces: "Mr. Roberts is dead." (The end is ultimately bittersweet when Pulver hurls the replacement tree overboard, slams into the captain's cabin, and announces that he's going to be just as much a thorn in his side as Roberts was — cue the captain's Face Palm.)
  • American Graffiti, a Coming of Age nostalgia drama about four young men graduating from high school in 1962, was headed for Bittersweet Ending territory — one of the four friends is going off to college, another will probably soon be getting married, things won't be the same. But the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue veers into full Downer Ending territory, revealing that one of the four friends was killed in a drunk driving accident in 1965 and another was killed in Vietnam.
  • The title of Drag Me to Hell turns out to be descriptive of Christine's fate. She grabbed the wrong envelope to shove into the mouth of Ganush's corpse, and only finds out when Clay pulls out the button that she'd left in the car. Cue her getting Dragged Off to Hell not a minute later, complete with her face melting off as the ground opens up and demonic hands pull her down into a pit of fire.
  • The original planned ending for Army of Darkness had Ash return to his own time by ingesting a sleeping potion. He loses track of how many drops he was supposed to take and ends up oversleeping, awakening alone in a desolate, post-apocalyptic London. While the fanbase is divided on whether this or the studio-demanded happier ending is the better of the two, it's hard to argue that the darker original ending doesn't clash just a bit with the rest of the movie's humorous action/adventure tone.
  • Epic Movie surprisingly falls under this trope. The film ends with the main character Peter having finally gotten over his chicken like attitude, and also having finally gotten with the girl of his dreams, Mystique, albeit, in a rather bizarre form, thought he requested it and seemed happy about it. He and his brother and sisters finally become a family, as well becoming the queens and kings of Gnarnia, seemingly having a happy ending...until they find the wardrobe and leave Gnarnia, and get crushed by a giant wheel. Lampshaded by the Borat parody.
  • Electra Glide in Blue ends with Wintergreen pulling over a hippie he harassed earlier to apologize and tell him to get a bumper. After the hippie drives away, Wintergreen realizes he forgot his driver's license and drives after him. The hippie's companion shoots him dead.
  • Voyage Of The Damned , while a movie about a ship full of Jewish passengers escaping the horrors of Nazi Germany just before WWII, actually ends on an upbeat note as you find out the people onboard were given passage to safe ports across Europe. That is, until a series of titles reveals the fate of individual passengers whom we've come to know over the course of the film. The final one flatly states that about 2/3 of the people onboard the ship still ended up dead in the Holocaust despite getting away from Germany. Of course, an argument could be made that it's all there in the title.

  • In the final chapters of Tottie: The Story of a Doll's House, one of the dolls is burned to death.
  • Mostly Harmless, the fifth book of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, ends with all but one of the protagonists dying horribly. The author, Douglas Adams, did plan on writing a sixth book and ending the series on a happier note, but his own death prevented this. A more upbeat sixth book was eventually written.
  • Xinran's Miss Chopsticks is a fairly upbeat book about three sisters making their way in modern China and finally gaining their father's respect. The Author's Note at the end reveals that of the three real-life girls the characters were based on, one was then forced into an unwanted marriage, one lost her job when her employer was shut down for distributing banned books, and the third disappeared.
  • Played with in the Captain Underpants series. At the end of the ninth book, Tippy Tinkletrousers accidentally creates a post-apocalyptic timeline and apparently gets crushed to death, and the book appears to end with a textless two-page spread of Scenery Gorn...but then the following page reveals that the story will be continued. Doubly so when you realise that Tippy's disruption of George and Harold's arrest (seen at the end of Book 8 and the beginning of Book 9) had yet to happen.
  • The novel Breathers is a horror-comedy about a world where the recently dead randomly reanimate (but still retain their minds) and have no civil rights, are used as lab animals and are even destroyed for fun in the streets. The protagonist Andy eventually becomes a celebrity who fights for zombie rights and really seems to be making a difference despite that fact that he and several other zombies secretly eat people, since human flesh reverses zombie decomposition, makes their hearts beat again and even makes them able to have children). Then at the very end Andy, his pregnant zombie girlfriend Rita and his zombie best friend Jerry are attacked by fratboys who burn Rita and Jerry to (re)death. Knowing which fraternity is responsible, Andy then gathers their circle of zombie friends and attacks the frathouse in a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, slaughtering everyone inside despite knowing full well that this will utterly destroy the zombie rights movement. While some of their armed friends rescue them after their capture, they face a Bolivian Army Ending with the police closing in and nowhere to run. This all happens in the last twenty pages. Fortunately, despite the ending implying otherwise, Andy survives to a sequel, I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus, where he does get a happier ending.
  • On Her Majesty's Secret Service is a thrilling James Bond story in Ian Fleming's trademark cavalcade of spy thrillers. In its ending, James marries the beautiful Tracy Draco and drives off into the sunset, but their car breaks down. James steps out to inspect the damage, while Tracy is simultaneously killed by Irma Bunt and Ernst Stavro Blofeld in a drive-by shooting. This ending has become one of the most memorable in the Bond franchise, and it isn't hard to see why.
  • The Winter Queen has Lady Astair letting Fandorin escape from her suicide bomb after Fandorin promises not to hunt down the members of her Azazel secret society. But the Moscow police start hunting down Azazel members, with Fandorin being involved against his will. The book seems to be ending happily, with Fandorin having solved the mystery and getting married to his beloved Elizaveta. However, the remnants of the Azazel group get their revenge in the last two pages, via a bomb that fails to kill Fandorin but does kill his wife.
  • In Oscar Wilde's short story, The Star Child, the eponymous star child finally learns An Aesop about humility and not judging others based on their physical appearance. He is rewarded for his troubles by being reunited with his royal birth parents, and eventually succeeding them as a King. Then the story ends with a sentence saying that the star child would die young, and that the ruler after him is a cruel tyrant.
  • The English novel The Towers of Trebizond is generally a light comedy of manners/travelogue, featuring, for example, an old woman riding a deranged camel to church and gentle mockery of attempts to convert Turkish people to Anglicanism. Although the book sometimes discusses faith in more serious tones, it generally maintains its breezy air right up until about five pages from the end, when the protagonist's poor judgment in driving kills her adulterous lover. She then spends the remainder of the book musing about the relationship of love and faith and ultimately seems to decide that she is destined to die outside of the church, which she believes to be the path of salvation.
  • Played with in Redshirts, which ends with the ship and its crew going on to further adventures...for six months, until the ship was destroyed when it hit an asteroid and everyone died. The next (very short) chapter simply says "Just kidding, they're fine."
  • The Burning Room: Pretty much out of nowhere, after both mysteries have been solved and all the plot threads have been wrapped up, Harry Bosch is fired from the LAPD for the incident where he broke into his captain's office. There's foreshadowing in the novel about how the department is looking to force out grizzled old veteran cops like Bosch, but it still comes as a shock.
  • For the most part, Star Wars: Queen's Shadow is a lighthearted, low-stakes Coming-of-Age Story about Padmé learning to become a senator and develop her own identity beyond being "Queen of Naboo", with the help of her loyal handmaidens and new friends in the Senate. The main story ends with Padmé having successfully transitioned into galactic politics and saved the Bromlarch aqueducts...then the epilogue skips ahead nine years to the end of Revenge of the Sith, where a heartbroken Sabé is attending Padmé's funeral after she died in childbirth (and her baby seemingly having died with her), the Republic's recently become the Galactic Empire and basically everything has gone to hell. The only bright spot is Bail Organa contacting Sabé after she vows to find out what really happened to Padmé, thus implying she may join the Rebel Alliance.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In terms of individual seasons, Power Rangers Turbo ends rather sadly. Turbo, being based on a parody sentai, was written as light-hearted (even compared to Power Rangers in general). However, the ending is downright depressing. The Rangers have to sacrifice all of their Zords and all of their weapons to defeat Goldgoyle. Dimitria and Blue Senturion leave to help Zordon, who has been kidnapped. The Power Chamber is raided and destroyed. The Turbo Rangers lose their powers and can't stop Divatox from taking over the Earth. The only reason she doesn't is because she is called away by Dark Specter, who has been behind all of the previous threats facing Earth. The four teen Rangers leave with Alpha 6, powerless, into space to find Zordon, with no idea if they can find him, or whether they can even rescue him if they do find him. Justin stays behind to be with his dad. It is, so far, the only season to end on such a sour note.note 
  • The ending of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers came close, but the start of Zeo reversed most of its more serious consequences back to the status quo, whereas the start of Power Rangers in Space took the Sudden Downer Ending and ran with it.
  • The finale of Blackadder Goes Forth gradually abandons the gallows comedy that the series displayed with the looming shadow of death over the main characters and tragically shows the inevitability of it.
    • Made all the more sad because the same trope was played in two of the previous series for laughs. Justified in that playing the result of the finale for laughs this time would not have produced the best reaction given the subject matter. The criticism ends up much more effective by having audiences empathise with the characters. Also because for anyone with any emotional investment in WW1 (read: everyone in Britain above a certain age), the ending is actually incredibly touching, respectful, and appropriate. Writer Ben Elton's uncle, an eminent historian specialising in the period, was outraged when he first saw Blackadder Goes Forth and practically disowned him for what he saw as trivialisation of the war. After seeing the final episode, he wrote his nephew a letter apologizing and praising him for the way it was handled.
    • And the ending was nearly an accident, being almost entirely fixed in post, as seen here.
  • The finale of the original Roseanne series, where it's revealed that the entire series was a book Roseanne had written after Dan died of a heart attack. When the series was revived, the death was retconned to be part of the book itself, with Dan (possibly jokingly) being annoyed about it.
  • In the last episode of ALF our wise-cracking alien protagonist is captured by the Alien Task Force, presumably never to be seen again by the Tanners. The producers were told they'd get a TV Movie to Wrap It Up, but it wasn't until years later that it actually happened, and the tone of it was distinctly darker than the series.
  • This trope began a season early in the BBC's version of Robin Hood. At the end of season two, Maid Marian was brutally murdered at Guy of Gisborne's hands, changing an upbeat family show into something unimaginably bleak, and without any hope for a happy ending. Bizarrely, season three tried to regain its reputation as a family show, but the fed-up actors left for greener pastures, ensuring that the show ended with the deaths of Robin Hood, Allan-a-Dale, Guy of Gisborne, and the Sheriff of Nottingham. Despite the gutted cast, there was an attempt to introduce a Legacy Character for Robin Hood, but the show was not commissioned for a fourth series. The show ended with the remaining outlaws vowing to continue the fight against Prince John, but anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of English history knows how well that would have turned out.
  • Season 1 of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds ends with Pike on the bridge after returning from the Bad Future, with Makin' Memories playing…and then he and Una get summoned to the transporter room, where she’s arrested for violating the Federation’s No Transhumanism Allowed law.
  • Publicity for the last ever episode of largely light-hearted series Lovejoy focused on the return of Will They or Won't They? love interest Lady Jane and Lovejoy's wedding to Replacement Goldfish Charlotte. Instead, the Villain of the Week kidnaps Lovejoy on the way to the wedding as revenge for foiling his plot and Charlotte refuses to believe it, thinks she's been jilted, and takes a job away from the area. What's more, Lovejoy's other two friends also take jobs away from the area and he's effectively evicted from his home/shop. The final scene of him packing his things into the back of his truck and driving off alone is actually quite depressing.
  • Seinfeld's two-part series finale. The show itself was about selfish people coasting through life, and the finale showed them finally getting their comeuppance. Still, it divided fans of the show, some thought that it was a very dark and uncharacteristically serious way to send off a sitcom, especially one that had prided itself on being a "show about nothing". It also didn't help that said comeuppance came at the hands of the minor and one-shot characters from the series, many of whom were even worse than the protagonists.
  • Although Medium dealt with many bad things, its overall ethos was generally that the bad guys always got caught and everything turned out well in the end. Which made the series finale in which Alison's husband Joe is killed in a plane crash, most of the episode is taken up with a bizarre soap opera tale of it all being a ghastly mistake and an amnesiac Joe living in Mexico which turns out to be a dream, and then Alison spending the next 40+ years of her life without the one person who has kept her sane throughout her psychic travails and whom she has repeatedly been shown to depend on utterly, all alone because she never finds someone else or remarries all the more difficult to take.
  • The True Life episode "I Don't Trust My Partner" had two couples talking about their trust issues. The audience sees Nikki and Shawny, the second couple interviewed, fighting for the extent of the episode, thanks to Shawny flirting with girls behind his girlfriend's back, and eventually going to couple's therapy to see whether they should move in together. Fast forward some months later, the show pans over to the new apartment the couple talked about renting, with their stuff inside. Problem is, shortly after they moved in together, Shawny suddenly died after complications from a hernia, and Nikki went through a period of overwhelming grief. For a show that usually goes no further than a Bittersweet Ending, this depressing conclusion came out of nowhere.
  • The last episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun: all of the main characters are forced to return home. Mary doesn't want to leave Earth, and she is given a Mind Wipe so she won't remember Dick. An alternate ending has Mary being abducted by Dick after the Mind Wipe, but it still ends on a depressing note.
  • In Glee's third season finale, Kurt was rejected from the prestigious performing arts college he spent the whole season trying to get into. The whole thing felt extremely out of the blue since his audition made him out to be a shoo-in several episodes prior, being praised by the recruiter and all. Luckily in season 4 he gets in after another audition at the winter showcase.
  • The final episode of Xena: Warrior Princess. Things looked dark, darker than usual, but there was a clear path to victory set up that was going to make everything better. Except right before reaching it, the protagonist suddenly decided that Redemption Equals Death (despite the entire show up to that point being explicitly about redemption via living a better life) and chose to just stay dead, leaving her soulmate alone. It wasn't even a Heroic Sacrifice, as nothing was gained by it. This ending was quickly disavowed by the comic book continuation.
  • That Mitchell and Webb Look had an interesting variant of this. The trope was discussed in the penultimate episode, with the duo deciding they wanted their last sketch to be this. The sketch at the end of that episode was a spoof of the trope. Then the actual last episode came around, and it ended with one of the most depressing sketches ever made.
  • Titus did this for every season finale — but especially in the final three episodes of the series. In the first, Christopher's mother Juanita shows up suddenly in Christopher's house, apparently having broken out of the mental hospital she was in. The episode is mostly lighthearted as usual, focusing on Christopher and his family trying to catch/find Juanita...until they finally have her cornered, in a closet, when Erin comes in with a message from the mental hospital, that Juanita had committed suicide four hours prior; meaning Christopher had been hallucinating her the entire time. And THEN, there is the two-parter finale that continues the story, 'Insanity Genetic', in which the cast is on an airplane coming back from Juanita's funeral, Christopher has a mental breakdown, and they all cause a panic and get arrested under suspicion of being terrorists. They are all thoroughly interviewed, the authorities become convinced Christopher is mentally ill, and the rest of the cast end up admitting him to a mental hospital, where he reassures Erin that he'll be okay as she tearfully says goodbye, and we're left with a last, lingering shot of Christopher sitting alone in his cell.
  • Chinese Paladin I: after defeating the Big Bad, saving the world, and slaying the water-demon who killed her mother, Ling'er returns triumphantly from the battle; and then collapses in her husband's arms, having fulfilled her destiny to die saving the world. The final scene—of her husband and newborn daughter returning home alone—becomes even worse with the realization that her daughter is going eventually to meet the same fate as her mother, and grandmother.
  • The series finale of How I Met Your Mother had earned the scorn of most fans for this. The mother dies, Barney and Robin divorce, and the gang split apart and become shells of their former selves. For a show that was mostly lighthearted and fun the ending came as a shock to many fans, fortunately the season 9 DVD had a happier ending which many fans considered far superior.
  • The BBC's Merlin suffers deeply of this — for all that the first 4 years were mostly light, and even for all the Darker and Edgier vibes on the 5th season, it reaches new heights by the series finale. Considering the legends it comes from, though, it is a Foregone Conclusion.
  • Super Sentai:
  • Adam Ruins Everything is an informational comedy about a know-it-all named Adam that goes around, barging into people's lives and bothering them with harsh truths. The whole series is played for laughs and discusses a wide range of subjects, but the last episode of the first season, "Adam ruins Death", takes a pretty somber turn. It starts with Adam talking directly to the viewer, telling them the harsh truth that they, the person watching this, will die someday, and there's nothing they can do to stop it. Shortly after that, Emily, a recurring character, gets hit by a truck and ends up in a coma, with her fiance overlooking her unconscious body. Adam comes up and talks to Emily's spirit, before giving the harsh truths of the episode, revolving around the concept of death. At the end of the episode, Emily makes a miraculous recovery and comes out of her coma. Everything seems to leading towards a happy ending, until Hayley, Emily's friend and Adam's love interest, has a nasty fall while coming into the hospital room to check up on Emily, and dies. The episode ends with Adam having a breakdown at Hayley's funeral, telling Emily that despite his vast knowledge on the subject, he is still terrified of death. The two friends leave the church to go on a walk together, with Emily trying to cheer Adam up with random facts, like he used to do. Roll credits.
  • For the most part, Ultraman Leo is a fairly standard Showa era entry in the Ultra Series, albeit one without an overarching antagonist for most of the series once the Alien Magmas are out of the picture.
  • One occurs in the iCarly episode "iGo Nuclear": Cal, the man that helped Carly make an exquisite nuclear power generator which gives her an A+, is revealed to be a wanted criminal as the rod he used to the generator's energy source was an illegal substance. As a result, Carly's grade reverts to a D- and she is forced to attend her class's "Root and Berry Retreat" for extra credit.
  • Companions being Killed Off for Real in Doctor Who is a very rare event. Therefore the deaths of Adric in the 1982 storyline "Earthshock" and especially Clara Oswald in 2015's "Face the Raven" (a tragedy that still happens, despite the show playing with the Timey-Wimey Ball afterwards) have impact on viewers who have avoided spoilers. The endings of the David Tennant episodes "Doomsday" (2006) and "Journey's End" (2008) are likewise extreme downers for an otherwise upbeat series.
    • The Doctor's regenerations can be this, especially if they come out of nowhere (the Ninth Doctor), or if everything appears to be all right when the regeneration hits (Four, Nine again, Ten, and Eleven). Or, well, any of the Doctors, since they're always someone's favorite, and they all leave the show eventually.
  • This happened with the episode "Second Chance" from Growing Pains. Carol's boyfriend Sandy (played by a young Matthew Perry) gets in a car accident due to him drinking and driving and winds up in the hospital. When Carol visits him, Sandy looks like he's okay and we're to believed that he'll be out in no time. Carol then comes home and Mike tells her that the hospital just called and said that Sandy had just died from internal bleeding. The last shot shows Carol in tears as Mike and their parents try to comfort her.
  • Done fairly frequently in Law & Order, particularly the original and Law & Order: SVU. The story will be shaping up towards what seems like as decent an ending as there can be given the circumstances, only for there to be a last-minute twist that completely changes the tone of the ending. (This can be anything from a judge overturing a verdict to a witness ending up dead.)
    • Special mention goes to the SVU Season 17 finale "Heartfelt Passages". After being shot in the abdomen, Mike Dodds pulls through the surgery and is recovering in the ICU, where he's apparently doing well enough to exchange a little banter with his father and Benson, only for his condition to take a rapid turn for the worse. It turns out that blood clots from the injury resulted in a massive and ultimately fatal stroke.
  • In the Dragnet episode "The Little Victim," the titular infant's abusive father is jailed, and the mother divorces him to protect her son. Until a year later, when the father gets out of jail and pays his ex-wife a visit. She's so lonely that she lets him in. This time he beats his son to death.
  • A channel-wide example: the Fine Living Network was a cable channel aimed at an upper-class lifestyle, not unlike OWN. When it shut down after the Great Recession, the last thing shown before it became Cooking Channel was a clip of a pale-faced Grim Reaper coming to a house, reading a card with the FLN logo on it, and ringing the doorbell.
  • Subverted with the first season of Angry Birds on the Run. King Pig drops the phone in the ocean, and the birds realize that their only chance of getting home is gone. Luckily, the mother and daughter happen to have a tablet with them that the birds can use to get home.
  • In the season 1 finale of Nickelodeon's The Other Kingdom, just as Astral's finally able to have a proper conversation with Tristan and gets to have a dance with him — and he reveals himself to be a fairy like her ... Tristan turns out to have been the lost prince of Spartania destined to bring doom to Athenia, and is taken away by his father King Reed against his will, and Astral left all alone, meaning all of Astral's attempts to be with Tristan in the other world were completely in vain.
  • Akumaizer 3's penultimate episode sets the series up for a happy ending, with the heroes reforming the Akuma Clan and finally defeating the Big Bad. In the final episode however things take a dark turn. The Greater-Scope Villain sends his strongest warrior on a rampage that claims the lives of the Akumaizer 3's demon allies and ends with them sacrificing themselves to kill him. The final scene of the episode is the Akumaizer 3's surviving allies somberly watching as their souls drift away.

  • "Detroit Rock City" by KISS: A song about a young man driving to a KISS concert and generally enjoying the hell out of life. Right up until he's killed in a head-on collision with a semi. Worse, it's Based on a True Story.
  • Lilian Garcia's video for "You Drive Me Loca" seems like it's just Lilian having fun with her boyfriend on the beach. Then the end of the video reveals that Lilian is actually in a mental hospital and the boyfriend is actually her doctor.
  • Depeche Mode has "Blasphemous Rumours". It's about a sixteen-year-old girl who attempts suicide, survives and is so thankful that her faith in God is renewed...but less than two years later, she is involved in a car accident, ends up on life support and dies.
  • Panic! at the Disco's music video for "Look Ma, I Made It" has Brendon Urie and his puppet self go through all the pains of stardom. After he gets to his lowest point, he starts building himself back up and rehabilitating himself. By the end, he's so back on track that the real Brendon is able to proudly perform for an adoring audience...up until he bows and his muppet self takes his place on the stage. We then see his producer holding Muppet Brendon up, basking in the applause before unceremoniously pulling him off and throwing him in a pile of discarded muppets.
  • They Might Be Giants's "Hopeless Bleak Despair" pulls a double reversal with this. The title naturally suggests a sad song, but the song is actually an upbeat and about how the singer's despair has gone away...until the ending, which reveals it went away because he died and went to hell, while his despair went to heaven.
  • Kero Kero Bonito's "Pocket Crocodile" is a cute, quirky number about taking loving care of a pocket-sized crocodile. Then the final verse suddenly ends lamenting that his lifespan isn't very long and that he'll be gone someday, abruptly turning the song about a fable of dealing with losing a pet.

    Puppet Shows 
  • In the final episode of Dinosaurs, the main character, Earl Sinclair, accidentally triggers an ice age by over-industrializing the world. He then has to explain why they're all going to die to his youngest child. Cut to the outside of the house, where snow is piling over the entire house. In the final shot, a newscaster solemnly states that the snow is getting harsher, the days are getting darker, and there's no end in sight. He issues a formal "Good night". He reconsiders for a moment, then looks straight into the camera with weary, uncertain eyes, and solidly states, "Goodbye."

  • The play Chicken! by Mark Wheeller, also known as Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road?, is a play familiar to a lot of former British schoolchildren. It follows two cousins, Tammy and Chris. The play is mostly comical, featuring audience participation and silly jokes, and deals with issues like bullying and peer pressure. We are led to believe that Chris, an irresponsible teenager, will be killed by refusing to wear his helmet while on his bike, but in a sudden and shocking twist, Tammy, in a momentary lapse of judgment, decides to play a game of chicken with cars, and she is killed by being run over. In some performances, Tammy is carrying a balloon, and her being killed results in the balloon popping very loudly. Once again, this is a play performed for children as young as eight.

    Video Games 
  • The true ending of Braid. Open to interpretation, but it would appear that the princess was trying to escape from the protagonist to the antagonist, not the other way around. Or she's the atomic bomb. Either way, or both ways, she appears to explode, which is sort of hard to think of as a positive ending.
  • In Broforce using the fire button instead of the melee button when asked to handshake the president will result the main character killing the president and getting imprisoned because of it.
  • Call of Duty: Ghosts: You completed your mission to kill Gabriel Rorke, blasting his train with a Kill Sat, knocking it into the ocean, shooting Rorke with a Hand Cannon, and leaving him to drown. You and your brother barely make it out alive, but you manage to swim back to shore. Congrats, you did it, so sit back and watch the ODIN satellite take care of whatever's left of the Feredation... at least until you look to your right and see that Rorke actually managed to survive, at which points he knocks you and your brother out and drags you off to torture and brainwash you into evil.
  • In Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, should Silas go through with his revenge after sniffing out one of the patrons as the man he's after, the whole thing ends tragically with everyone being horrified and Silas regrets the whole thing.
  • In Cyberpunk 2077, if you die during "(Don't Fear) the Reaper", one of the endgame missions where you let your allies survive and you don't collaborate with Arasaka, no matter how much friendship have you developed, how much you getting along with others, many of them end up absolutely devastated upon hearing the news about your death, even though you're doing a Suicide Mission on your own as Your Days Are Numbered.
  • Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter for the DS. Basically, all of the adorable Raposa in the village are killed, G-Rated style (they fade away). One of the characters, named Mike, fades away last. The voice of Mike's sister Heather is heard asking the Creator, the god-like figure in the game, to bring her brother back, which at first seems like a heartwarming moment. Then her message changes and she was really trying to say, "God, just bring back my little brother to me." It is now revealed that Mike and Heather are actually humans, and the whole story with the village of cute animals was All Just a Dream that Mike was having. It wasn't a regular dream, either; it turns out that Mike and his family were in a car crash, which killed his parents, injured his sister, and put him in a coma. note 
  • Fantasy Zone is a weird and silly Cute 'em Up that involves a sentient space ship called Opa-Opa who has to stop the planet Menon from stealing other planet's money to build a giant army and find out who is responsible by shooting cute, bizarre looking enemies. In the end, it turns out that Opa-Opa's long-lost dad is responsible, and Opa kills him and saves the Fantasy Zone, but wonders if it was worth it. The end, begin a new loop.
  • Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life. You die. Admittedly, the game is one of the darkest in the franchise (if not the darkest), but it's typically quite happy. To make matters worse you die suddenly and rather young (likely in your 50s or 60s).
  • BIT.TRIP FATE is a pretty dark game compared to the other games in the series, but the ending takes the cake. Upon defeating Timbletot, CommanderVideo Turns Red, gets into position...and rams himself into the Timbletot, destroying him and killing himself. After the final point tally, CommandgirlVideo arrives at the site of the final battle, realizes what just happened, and sheds a Single Tear.
  • Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse is a comedy Lovecraft Lite that, while Darker and Edgier than the previous games, is still very lighthearted and playful. The ending involves Max being Killed Off for Real.
    • The Narrator's clear and unmistakeable announcement that it would happen should have removed the 'suddenly' qualifier, but that was taken with a hearty dose of Like You Would Really Do It, leaving the shock when it actually did happen.
    • There was also a last-minute, post-credits inversion of this trope didn't so much negate the Downer Ending as even it out to Bittersweet Ending. The Max that died was still the same one who had been with Sam since "Chariot of the Gods", when time travel copies of Sam and Max was created. And if the Max who joined with Sam at the end was the "real" one, then that would mean the real Sam had died during his adventures elsewhere.
    • These events are mentioned in Poker Night 2. Strangely, Max confirms Sam's version of the events instead of his own.
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day. After a humorous South Park-styled adventure, Conker inadvertently becomes King of All the Lands. But at a price. His girlfriend, Berri, died during the final boss fight, and he fails to realize that he might've had a chance to bring her back to life. By the time he realizes it himself, it's too late, and it's highly implied that he's spiraling towards booze-filled self-destruction. In the original ending, things were a bit less...subtle. In the bar scene at the end, Conker was supposed to shoot himself in the head. The only reason this was changed was because the creators were planning on a sequel where he inadvertently becomes Emperor of the Known Universe.
  • DeathSpank is a comedic hack and slash RPG that prides itself in its wacky, lighthearted Monkey Island-esque humor. Then, at the end of the sequel, DeathSpank's closest ally and possible love interest goes batshit insane due to the Thongs of Power's corrupting power, and he must either let himself be killed to fuel her delusions of godhood or cut her down himself, which greatly troubles him as he mourns and buries her. Unlike literally the entire rest of the series, this is all treated as somber and tragic as possible. And the canonical choice? He kills her.
  • The Bad Ending to the Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (8-bit), in which Sonic fails to get all the Chaos Emeralds before fighting Silver Sonic, and is punished for it by not completing his adventure, and instead showing a montage of him running from the middle of the day into the dead of night while the credits roll. The bad part? When he stops running, he looks up into the sky and sees Tails' face in the sky, implying that he died.
  • In Sonic Battle, after spending the entire game learning, forming strong friendships, and growing more powerful, with the player watching Emerl grow from babyhood to a mature young robot, Eggman overloads him with power and makes him go crazy. You then play as Sonic to kill him. The game ends on Sonic and Shadow lamenting the tragic turn of events whilst Tails comforts a devastated Cream.
  • The ending to Blade Dancer: Lineage of Light, which had up to that point been a fairly normal, relatively upbeat (no major betrayals, no major massacres, nobody dies, etc.) RPG, can only be summarized by The Bad Guy Wins.
  • Sly 2: Band of Thieves ends this way. Granted, the Big Bad is finally gone for good (both of them) and Sly gets away in the end, but the gang disbands due to Bentley getting crippled for good during the fight and Murray blaming himself for it. Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves' first chapter is the three coming back together and confronting their lingering feelings from that disaster.
    • Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time becomes a Downer Ending when Penelope betrays the Cooper Gang for her own selfish gain (but escapes prison and continues sending postcards to her now-ex Bentley), Sly disappears without a trace and the Bad Guy nearly wins. The secret ending reveals that Sly is alive in Ancient Egypt, setting up a sequel which has yet to be announced.
  • The Conquest ending to the otherwise giggles-and-rainbows game Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 has Nepgear taking the lives of the 7 other CPUs, including her own sister, in the most heartwrenchingly depressing death scenes you can imagine.
  • In the Fire Emblem series.
  • Ultima V ends this way; the Avatar returns to Earth to discover that his house has been robbed while he was away saving Lord British. This was apparently done to drive home the moral that the path of virtue is its own reward.
  • Reah: Face the Unknown ends with a final encounter with the phantom Alchemist, who delivers an ominous speech that blows away anything presumed about the player's reason for ever coming to the planet, Reah. Everything the player had seen from the beginning was actually made up by the Alchemist, as part of his "cybernetic dream", and that the alchemist wasn't just a ghost, but some kind of AI. Furthermore, the player has already come along the path he took before, hence why everyone along the way knew him. It's implied that the alchemist had wiped the player's memory, and used him as a test subject of sorts for some kind of experiment. And on top of it all, the alchemist intends to keep using this person for as many times as he sees fit. The player character normally talks a lot, but in this scene, he has no words to say. After the alchemist stops talking, the game then abruptly turns to a "GAME OVER" screen, and no possible alternate endings exist for this game.
  • Dead Space 3: Awakened: After destroying the Tau Volantis moon, Isaac and Carver return to Earth only to find that the Brethren Moons got there first.
  • Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction appears to end on a happy note. Tachyon and Slag are defeated, the Cragmites are permanently banished again, and Polaris is now free from the former's tyranny. But then the Zoni reappear and kidnap Clank, taking him back to their home where he is put into a coma. Ratchet and the rest of the cast, even Qwark and Rusty Pete, are left standing in silent horror just before the fade out to the credits.
  • The various books in Odin Sphere give each of the playable characters relatively happy endings, with Velvet making progress in trying to avert Armageddon. Then Armageddon happens anyway, and everyone dies except for four of the five main characters. Things get better after that, but the sudden swerve towards the sadistically cruel can be surprising.
  • The Amstrad CPC version of Contra had the heroes defeating the evil Red Falcon and saving the Earth...but, by destroying Red Falcon, it activated a bomb which destroys the Earth anyway!
  • In Word Realms, you're trying to save the local village from a monstrosity called Lord Nightmare before he can come to full power. The art style is very cartoony, combat consists of making bad puns at your opponent, and dialogue is generally very genre-savvy bordering on fourth-wall-breaking. If you lose to Lord Nightmare when you fight - and you probably will, unless you know the trick - the rest of the game is very bleak, leading to an ending where you either unwittingly destroy half the town, leaving it in ruins, or unwittingly destroy half the town and murder almost everyone living there.
  • More of a Sudden Bittersweet Ending but Klonoa: Door to Phantomile reveals at the end that Klonoa came from another world and his entire life in this world was a lie made by the good guys (including Huepow) to stop the Big Bad. Nevertheless his adoptive grandfather is still dead, and he and Huepow must be separated for good as the world is returned to normal.
  • If you complete a Gotta Kill Them All run in Undertale, both variants of the Golden Ending gain a Stinger that transforms them from ordinary happy endings into bad ones. After completing the Gotta Kill Them All run, the world was destroyed, and you had to sell your SOUL to the Fallen Child to get it back. The added stinger strongly implies that they intend to use that SOUL to take control of the Player Character and go and Gotta Kill Them All again without you.
  • The normal ending for Distorted Travesty 3 has Jerry and Claire defeat both Hexor and the Warmaster and proceed to bring down the Warship, only for Hex to have put a safeguard in both control consoles. Jeremy, Jerry, and Claire all perish when the Warship is destroyed, leaving Chao as the only survivor, and in the end, Hex got what he wanted, his own demise and that of Jeremy.
    • Later, an unlockable epilogue was added which leads to a Golden Ending where Jeremy was able to push the Reset Button, sending things back before they stormed the Warship, destroy the Parasite controlling the Eldritch Abomination, who brings down the Warship on its own, and Jeremy manages to defeat Hex, resulting in a happy ending for everyone instead.
  • In Cheesy, right after you defeat the final boss Cheesy throws the last ingredient into the magic pot, and then jumps inside it. He falls into a room filled by mouse traps; he looks around and shrugs. Then the screen goes black and you hear the mouse traps being activated and you hear him scream in pain.
  • The best ending of Prey (2017) implies that you made the best out of a terrible situation. You rescued the humans that could be saved, you defeated an unexpected and terrible foe and have evidence on the wrongdoings of an Evil, Inc.. And then it turns out it's all been a simulation! The bad guys won, or at least have infested Earth. Morgan, and likely everyone you 'saved'. were likely Dead All Along, and you are a monster dreaming of being a human who can slaughter any remaining hope of humanity's survival right at the last moment. Yeesh.
  • The original ending of Portal was moderately happy, with the player successfully defeating the Mad AI GLaDoS and escaping from the facility. However, in the patch released shortly before Portal 2, an unseen robot is heard, and it drags Chell back into the nightmarish Aperture Science Facility.
  • Iron Helix: After destroying the Obrian, the player character goes to Starbase Amethyst, only to immediately get detained, interrogated, and tortured by Admiral Arboc, who was helping them throughout the game, but now is demanding to know how much the protagonist knows about "Project: Iron Helix". For some reason, this cutscene is only in the Sega CD version. In the Mac and PC versions, the game simply ends with the player character being summoned to Starbase Amethyst, leaving their fate ambiguous.
  • Shovel Knight prequel King of Cards' downer ending was intended, but the story of this sole adventure makes it fall into this trope. After having united all of the kingdoms behind him, defeated the Enchantress and broken her spell on his companions, King Knight decides to betray them and to enter in the Order of No Quarter, to their dismay. The final cutscene, where he is the Puppet King of Pridemoor Keep, is ambiguous, but saddening in both cases: is he mourning his companions and his mother, or is he happy to get what he always wanted? Shovel Knight's entrance in the throne room is only the last straw.
  • Baba Is You: You're playing along, solving mind-bending puzzles that feature cute, quirky characters and (mostly) colorful visuals, and then the secret ending happens, where you (as Baba) annihilate all of reality by making the simple rule "All is Done". Oh, and even the credits are messed up. Baba is Whoops.
  • Crush Crush is a silly, lighthearted Idle Dating Sim for most of its running time. Even when you accidentally create a Dark Portal that threatens to end all of reality, the game doesn't take it too seriously...until you finish the final girl's levels and she reveals to you that the only way to stop the portal from ending the world is for someone pure of heart to make a Heroic Sacrifice and you are given the choice of letting her sacrifice herself (which causes her to become permanently unavailable until the next time you reset the game) or sacrificing yourself instead (which causes an ending cutscene to play of all the girls weeping over your sacrifice). While neither ending prevents you from resetting the game and continuing to play it, both of them are surprisingly somber and basically force you to sacrifice something to be able to complete the game.
  • Tales of Xillia 2 is one of the goofier games in the Tales series, but features one of the darkest endings. In the Julius Ending, you decide not to fight your corrupted brother, and instead protect him against your party members, killing them all and in the end leaving him corrupted with no hope for a cure and humanity doomed. Luckily, much like the above-mentioned Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 which shares a similar ending, you have to choose to do it.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky has a short Playable Epilogue where your two permanent party members, Estelle and Joshua, enjoy the Queen's birthday festivities after defeating the final boss and preventing the villain's coup. They've also individually worked up the resolve to talk to each other about their romantic feelings for each other. Then recurring character Professor Alba appears to talk to Joshua while he's waiting for Estelle, and he reveals that he's The Man Behind the Man and part of a shadowy evil organization called Ouroboros, Joshua used to be a member and assassin until he failed to kill Estelle's father and Alba, whose real name is Weissmann the Faceless, wiped his memory and has used him as a spy and puppet for the last five years, and everything the heroes did was just furthering his own plan. Joshua later confesses it all to Estelle, drugs her with a kiss and tells her to forget about him, and runs away. Cue end credits.
  • Dreaming Treat, part five of the Lonely Wolf Treat series, is a heartwarming story where Mochi and Treat start a garden together and Moxie helps Treat work out her romantic feelings. In the end, Treat finally admits her feelings to Mochi and becomes an Official Throuple with her and Moxie... and then finds out that some wolf-hating vandal came by and wrecked Mochi's garden while they were away.

    Visual Novels 
  • The Secret True End of Lily's Night Off. Both this story and the prior one, Lily's Day Off, had focused on comedy to the point that even their bad ends, often featuring the brutalization and/or death of the cast, are darkly humorous. But the final ending, as seen here, is an entirely serious and dramatic reveal that everything beforehand has been failed attempts to reunite with a beloved, which is costing the protagonist his life...and then it's followed by a Mood Whiplash, Breaking the Fourth Wall epilogue.
  • Malus Code is mostly a light-hearted romp not unlike Tokyo School Life (made by the same people), but at the end of each route things become very messed up. Also, after finishing the game once, the title screen changes to a more horror-inducing one. You can see the endings for yourself.

    Web Animation 
  • The original Jerry short. The final Jerry short was also quite dark compared to the others, until the ending.
  • The 100th episode of Weebl & Bob actually ends with the death of Donkey, Chris the Ninja Pirate's wife. Inverted in the following episode, which revolves around Weebl, Bob, and Chris attending Donkey's funeral. Cue Mr. Teeth.
    Mr. Teeth: It's time to put the donkey into the asshole!
  • The flash series My Little Pony: Thinking With Portals, is a lighthearted comedy crossover between MLP and Portal, and features each of the Mane Cast (and the Princesses) having lighthearted hijinks with portal guns. The final episode, which will involve Twilight getting her revenge for being the Butt-Monkey for the entire series, is stated to be much more serious than the rest of the series, the author admitting some of it may end up veering into Grimdark territory. However, the author has personally leaked that in the end, Everybody Lives.
  • In the last episode of Nyan~ Neko Sugar Girls, Raku dies of a broken heart after she confesses her love for Hitoshi, only to find out that he has entered a romantic relationship with his kidnapper.
  • The quirky and random Mass Defect video ends on a really somber note with Shepard being killed.
  • Episode 12 of Llamas with Hats ends on a very downbeat note. After Paul left Carl in episode 6, Carl struggled to adapt to life without him and he became even more unhinged than ever. Episode 12 takes place after Carl has destroyed all of civilization and Carl tries to get back together with Paul, only to find out that Paul died a long time ago. With his only friend gone and nothing left to do, Carl throws himself off a bridge and drowns. Unlike the rest of the series, none of this is played for laughs.
  • Meta Runner: Season 2’s finale, “Fatal Error”, initially makes it seem like things are ending on a happy note: TASCorp’s shady activities have been exposed, Tari finally has some answers to who she really is, and after talking Masa out of shooting Lucks, MD-5 are about to leave Lucks to the authorities...and then Masa’s arm gets hijacked, forcing him to kill Lucks anyways, and he and Belle stay behind and presumably get arrested while the rest of MD-5 are forced to go on the run.

  • The 'Flower Knight' sidestory in Drowtales. A Knight quested and struggled for years to find the world's most beautiful flower for his queen. He finds it, brings it to his queen and the two live Happily Ever After alongside Babies Ever After. Then the flowers reveal themselves to be parasitic in nature and drain the life out of every single person in the Knight's city. His wife, his children, his servants, the commonfolk...Everyone, leaving him the sole survivor in a city of bodies. He sets out of the city to kill the creature that gave him the flower and ruined his life. That is when the story ends. No resolution and to make it worse the flowers are still around.
  • Doobl: What appears to be a normal family-friendly webcomic for a fair number of strips, then has the protagonist go crazy and slaughter the cast before killing himself. Meanwhile, in the news posts, the author's mother dies. He spends the remaining posts increasingly lashing out against the world. It ends with a newspaper clipping covering the author's suicide. It turned out to be a hoax.
  • Concerned, the Half-Life and Death of Gordon Frohman, is mostly a gag strip that ends with...oh, guess. Of course, it's still funny while doing so.
  • The Last Days of FOXHOUND has everyone Doomed by Canon. As such, the last chapter is just a montage of their bodies. It's emphasized by how sudden it is — cutting straight from the "preparing for battle" montage to the death montage. At least the ghosts of the dead characters show up to joke about their ineptitude, providing a relieving comical note.
    Liquid Snake: That sucked.
    Big Boss: You suck.
  • It's All Been Done ended with the main character and his wacky group of talking toys about to have an adventure when he realizes the entire thing was an attempt to avoid dealing with his wife's death.
  • Ctrl+Alt+Del had a mini-arc in which the female lead Lihah becomes pregnant only to have a miscarriage. Yes, this is the same comic in which the main character built a wacky human-hating robot out of an Xbox and was once crowned the King of Gaming after an evil company tried to exploit the fictional gamer holiday of "Winter-een-mas". Naturally, the internet made its own humor out of the situation, making the miscarriage strip (entitled "Loss") one of the comic's most famous, and arguably an inversion of this trope to new readers.

    Web Original 
  • Doctor Horrible's Sing-along Blog seems like a silly musical about super heroes and villains, even if it does have a Villain Protagonist. Then you hit the point where the "evil scheme" starts to unfurl, and things start happening.
  • Tales From The Table started off very comedic and ends in a depressing way, as the Game Master is fed up with his players and kills them all, invoking The Bad Guy Wins and leading them to quit in disgust.
  • The finale of GuavaMovement's Let's Play of X-COM Apocalypse. Humanity won. They defeated the aliens. Then, in the final chapter, Soup Bot, an android who has been protagonist Otto Zander's closest friend and ally throughout the story, reveals that he was manipulating and using Zander from the beginning as part of his plan to commit genocide on humanity in retribution for their mistreatment of Androids. Soup Bot also reveals that he was responsible for several of the story's major events (the attack on the Evening Star, the attack on the Senate that X-Com was framed for, etc). The story ends with Otto, alone and dejected in his base, unable to do anything but watch as Soup Bot's army takes over the world. Oh, and The Stinger has a member of the Cult of Sirius forming an alliance with the Alien Hive Mind to destroy both the Androids and humanity.
  • Jade Star's Let's Play of UFO: Aftermath, a direct continuation of the above, ends in a similar way. The remnants of humanity find a way to repel the encroaching alien Biomass and launch a successful mission against the alien command center on the moon. But the final chapter consists of Commander Vault's reports over subsequent months about how the Biomass is growing resistant to the humans' repulsors, then it starts pushing back and retaking lost ground no matter what they do to it. This is a case of Doomed by Canon, however, since UFO: Aftershock assumes that humanity agreed to the truce offered by the aliens late in Aftermath, so Jade Star had to find a way to link the good ending of Aftermath to the sub-optimal start of Aftershock to LP the next game.
  • Demo Reel was never very happy to begin with, but The Review Must Go On ended with the apparent Ret-Gone of all of the characters except Donnie, who regressed and reawakened back into The Nostalgia Critic, who seems to be even more unhappy and suicidal these days than he was before To Boldly Flee.
  • Discussed and parodied in the '80s All Over December 1983 episode. Noting that the comedy-drama Reuben, Reuben has a shockingly dark ending (he doesn't spoil it, but the despondent main character decides not to commit suicide after all only for a dog to accidentally see his death through instead) — Drew McWeeny compares its effect to what would have happened had the merry title character of Arthur (1981) suddenly killed himself, complete with playing the sound effect of a gunshot...and then the chorus of "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)".
  • Season 1 of The Penumbra Podcast ends like this, although it's more of a Sudden Bittersweet Ending. After a season's worth of Will They or Won't They?, Juno and Peter finally get together; they make plans to leave Mars for good and travel the galaxy together. Until Juno chickens out at the last second because of his fear of commitment and, the day before they're supposed to take off, leaves Peter in the middle of the night without saying goodbye.
  • Subverted in Professor Juice's Toy Story 2 review. After Rosie gives a butchered overview of the game's plot, her Woody and Buzz toys turn out to be alive all along and leave her for making a mockery of the story. Rosie is heartbroken by their departure...that is, until she realizes she can just buy replacements on eBay.

    Western Animation 
  • Camp Lazlo: The ending of the last episode "Lumpus' Last Stand" reveals a humongous plot twist - Lumpus was never really the scoutmaster, he was a literally insane man who had locked the real scoutmaster away (Namely, an older version of Heffer from Rocko's Modern Life) presumably for the duration of the entire show, to steal his life. He is sent to an asylum. This twist is so dark and downright shocking that the entire cast except Lazlo can do nothing but stand in silence for a moment. Word of God claims that Jane Doe busted him out afterward and married him, but it's still an Ass Pull.
  • "Chicken Little", from the Classic Disney Shorts plays like a normal Cat-and-Mouse cartoon...until the end, where despite the Narrator's assurance to the audience that everything turns out alright, Foxy Loxy catches and eats all the chickens, turkeys, and ducks, smiling smugly all the while. "Hey, wait a minute!" the Narrator exclaims. "This isn't right! That's not the way it ends in my book!" Foxy, leaning against his "Psychology" book, responds with "Oh, yeah? Don't believe everything ya read, brother!".
  • The Snowman, which remains upbeat until the final moments, which reveals first that the Snowman has melted and died, then that it definitely wasn't a dream, and the main character breaks down and cries. Supposedly this was to teach viewers about treasuring time with loved ones because of how these things don't last, but that still makes the ending a downer and a gut punch.
  • Der Schneemann ("The Snowman") is a 1944 German cartoon that basically has the exact same ending. A snowman that comes to life sees a picture of summer in July and decides to wait in an icebox until July comes so he can enjoy summer. One might expect, given the light, whimsical tone of the cartoon, that the snowman would eventually go back to his icebox, or somehow escape his fate, but he still melts at the end.
  • The classic Looney Tunes short "What's Opera, Doc?" is mostly a goofy parody of opera tropes combined with Bugs Bunny's typical slapstick and Attractive Bent-Gender gags, and ends with Elmer going into a rage and killing him. Bugs does break the fourth wall long enough to deliver the last line, though:
    "Well, what did ya expect in an opera—a happy ending?"
  • Adventure Time has two examples, both related to the Ice King:
    • The infamous (within its fandom, at least) "Holly Jolly Secrets" Christmas Special. It is about the heroes Finn and Jake watching a bunch of videotapes made by their arch-enemy and Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain. The whole time, Finn and Jake continue because they believe the Ice King has hidden "evil secrets" in the tapes. Once the Ice King finds out that they are watching his tapes, he tries to stop them, but fails to prevent them from putting the last tape in their VCR. At that point, all he can do is watch in horror as Finn and Jake discover that he used to wear glasses, but more importantly, that he used to be a normal human being named Simon Petrikov who was driven insane and transformed by his crown, which was actually a supernatural artifact that he'd bought. They watch the young Ice King lose his mind and the woman he loved (who he called "princess" before she left him). Before this, the Ice King had almost always been a funny character, and plenty of things that were Played for Laughs in the past were made tragic by this revelation. While the series would continue to use the character for comic relief, this was held back on for a string of episodes following the reveal. In addition, the other tapes before the last one are usually the Ice King saying or doing hilarious things, but some of them show him sitting around his house, crying, although that still seems to be Played for Laughs.
    • Ice King's past comes up again in "I Remember You", when it's revealed that Simon took care of Marceline when she was a child in the aftermath of the Mushroom War. The crown's magic allowed him to protect her from danger, but every time he used that magic, he started losing his mind, and came closer and closer to being irreversibly driven insane. At present, he doesn't remember her very well. It's later subverted when he temporarily becomes normal again and brings Betty Grof (his "princess") to the future. She swears that she'll find a way to reverse what the crown did to him, and the fact that he never lost her makes the revelation less tragic.
  • If any episode of The Simpsons has any character change in a positive way or gain something nice, and they keep it near the end of the episode — expect it be suddenly yanked away soon afterward. The Status Quo must be preserved. That being said, there were only a few notable exceptions: Barney recovering from his alcoholism (although the writers eventually undid this), Lisa telling Homer that she'll never be happy with her body image (though the whole thing about Lisa being insecure with her body hasn't been mentioned since that episode), and Milhouse's parents staying divorced (though they did get remarried in "Little Orphan Millie").
  • The final segment in the last episode of Animaniacs, "The Animaniacs Suite", is a musical Clip Show of the highlights of the show using the various Leitmotifs of the characters. The final shot is of Ralph, Dr. Scratchensniff, and Hello Nurse bringing a net down onto the Warners, presumably catching them and dragging them back off to the water tower now that the series is over.
  • Drawn Together ends with one of the main characters dying a brutal, tragic death, and then reality itself being RetGoned due to Spanky's idiocy.
  • Parodied in BoJack Horseman with the in-universe family sitcom Horsin' Around. Thanks to BoJack's growing disillusionment with the show, it ultimately ended with his character dying and his adopted kids being sent off to foster care, while believing that their adoptive father died because they didn't appreciate him enough.
  • The infamous Futurama episode Jurassic Bark shows one of the few positive things about Fry's life in the 20th century: the stray dog Seymour Asses who he befriended and adopted, and centers around him wanting to use the dog's remains to revive it. He ultimately comes to the conclusion that it would be wrong, since the dog lived its natural lifespan and probably forgot all about him. It seems like it's heading for a Bittersweet Ending as Fry decides to let his friend rest in peace...and then the credits sequence shows that Seymour waited the rest of his natural life in front of the pizza parlor for Fry to come back, not only because he loved his master that much, but also because Fry's last words to him were "stay here, I'll be right back". This ending was so depressing that the writers ended up retconning it, and had a second Fry created via Timey-Wimey Ball who took care of Seymour all those years in the past.
  • Rick and Morty: "Total Rickall" seems to end on a triumphant note as Beth shoots the final parasite, Mr. Poopybutthole...only for it to be revealed that he was actually real. The episode ends with Beth having a chillingly realistic nervous breakdown and the rest of the family panicking as they desperately try to save Mr. Poopybutthole. Although it ends up being a Sudden Bittersweet Ending, as Mr. Poopybutthole survives, but is shown to need months of painful rehab in order to get back to functioning again, and having his nurse turn Beth away when she tries to visit him in the hospital.
  • The Russian animated short Mountain of Dinosaurs portrays the Age of Dinosaurs as a Sugar Bowl, but ends with their extinction.
  • Kaeloo: As this is a Sadist Show, this has happened in many episodes:
    • In Episode 118, when the Alpha Bitch Pretty posts humiliating pictures of Kaeloo, Stumpy, Quack Quack and Mr. Cat on social networking site "Fakebook", they get revenge on her, and then the fight escalates until the four of them use Disproportionate Retribution to punish her. At the end of the episode, they decide that they were too harsh and go to apologize and give her some presents, but before they can, they find out that she wrote a book revealing all of their embarrassing secrets and already published two million copies. They decide to leave without saying anything and accept that they'll never change her.
    • In Episode 124, Kaeloo, Stumpy and Quack Quack play a new game that uses technology which requires an immense amount of concentration. The episode goes well and they have fun together, but at the very end of the episode, since Stumpy doesn't have much in the way of a brain, concentrating proves to be too much for him and he has to go to the hospital, and ends up flatliningnote . Of course, this being Kaeloo, nobody cares, but it still is pretty sad.
    • In Episode 16, the episode has a generally funny plot, but at the end, Mr. Cat suggests kicking Kaeloo out of Smileyland and everyone else agrees.
    • A pirate themed two-part episode had Olaf send the main four on a dangerous treasure hunt and promise that he would reward them if they found the treasure. They manage to find the treasure and get back to Olaf alive. Just as it looks like Olaf is about to reward them, Olaf suddenly leaves with both the treasure and the reward, revealing that the main four have been scammed.
  • The finale of Scary Larry has the band breaking up and all the members moving out of the house.
  • The final episode of The Amazing World of Gumball was largely about a live-action antagonist trying to integrate the cartoon kids into the real world by turning them into humans, only to be thwarted by Gumball and Darwin. In the closing moments of the episode, the villain, who turned out to be recurring character Rob, laments that he was unable to explain that he was trying to save everyone from the Void, which begins to suck in all of Elmore at the very end.
  • In The Crumpets season 3 finale "Va te catcher vilain!", Caprice and Cassandra, who are substituting an injured Triceps in a televised wrestling match and wear a costume of her together, are beaten up by their gargantuan opponent. This is when the episode suddenly concludes, too, and this is very shocking for a season that is somewhat lighter than the earlier episodes.
  • In Sir Billi, after roughly 80 minutes of mood whiplash and inappropriate sexuality, the movie ends relatively happily. And then the credits suddenly show a flashback montage of Sir Billi's life, one blatantly lifted from the opening of Up - complete with the death of Billi's wife.
  • Hilda: Season 2 ends with everyone safe home in their beds, and Hilda has finally patched up her relationship with her mother...only for the last minute of the episode to have Hilda turned into a troll and teleported far away from Trolberg.
  • Tangled: The Series:
    • The second season ends with Rapunzel about to get the Moonstone...until Cassandra snatches it and bonds with its power, changing her appearance and turning into a demonic monster, her hair light blue. Long story short, Cassandra betrays Rapunzel and Eugene, telling them to "be careful of who to trust!" as they look in horror. Cue Fade to Black and credits. In the next episode "Rapunzel's Return", Cass reveals she did this because her mother, Gothel, abandoned her in favor of Rapunzel and always lived in her shadow, thus she claimed Rapunzel's destiny as her own.
    • The penultimate episode "Once a Handmaiden..." ends with Cass declaring herself a bad guy and unleashing the true power of the black rocks, seizing full control over Corona, leading into the Grand Finale.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): The Show Within a Show Grognar The Barbarian ends with Grognar being eaten by a dragon, much to the disappointment of the Turtles. This serves as foreshadowing for the season finale, when the Tricereton armada arrives. The season ends with Shredder choosing to kill Splinter than to save Earth, and the Earth destroyed by the Triceretons' singularity weapon. The Turtles are miraculously able to fix everything thanks to some time traveling, but it is still a serious downer until then.
  • Pixel Pinkie: The last episode opens with an unusually sad narration from Nina's journal entry, foreshadowing Pixel Pinkie's departure from her life and states that she will never see her again. Pixel Pinkie divulges to Nina that genies only get a certain number of wishes and that Nina only has 19 more wishes left. After some escapades that led to most of the wishes being wasted, Nina and Anni give Pixel Pinkie a chance what she wishes for, which is for Nina and Anni to visit the digital genie world, and so Nina wishes it for her. Whilst making the most of their visit in Pixel Pinkie's world, the wish (as per usual) wears off and Nina and Anni are transported back to the real world, ending the episode and the series as a whole.
  • Gravity Falls:
    • "Dreamscaperers" ends with Bill Cipher defeated, the deed to the Mystery Shack defended, and Dipper finally understanding Stan's treatment of him and bonding. Everyone lives happily ever after for about three seconds, whereupon Gideon blows open Stan's safe with dynamite, steals the deed, and begins demolishing the building, which continues in "Gideon Rises".
    • "Dipper and Mabel Vs. the Future" ends with Mabel upset that Dipper is leaving her, taking the wrong backpack, and being tricked into handing the interdimensional rift to Bill Cipher, who breaks it and brings about The End of the World as We Know It, leading to the epic "Weirdmageddon" finale.
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks season two ends with the crew of the Cerritos saving the crew of the Archimedes, Captain Freeman performing her first First Contact and ultimately deciding to forego her promotion to captain of another ship — only for a group of Starfleet personnel to arrest Freeman under the assumption that she caused the destruction of Pakled Planet and conspired with Klingon extremists to do so.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Cerebus Ending


The Nuke Crashes the Party

In an invoked and played for laughs example, at the end of the 2020 Christmas Special, the narrator, who turns out to be SMG3, suddenly has the special end with a nuke crashing the party and killing everybody. However the Ugandan Knuckles don't like that and eat him again.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / SuddenDownerEnding

Media sources: