Follow TV Tropes


Surprisingly Happy Ending

Go To
Towards the end of a work, it seems like the ending coming up is going to be bittersweet if not a full-blown downer; but a sudden plot-twist comes around that yields a happier ending than one could have logically expected.

Writers should take into account that when used badly, as the result of an especially jarring Genre Shift or Deus ex Machina, this trope is more annoying than heartwarming, and should be written carefully. Done especially poorly this can become an Esoteric Happy Ending (where the writer thinks they've pulled a happy ending off without realizing the darker implications of the story/setting remain unresolved.)

Note that while the happy ending is logically a surprise to the characters, it might not be one for viewers.

May be invoked via Earn Your Happy Ending.

Contrast to "Ray of Hope" Ending, which is a mainly bad ending that has some glimmers of hope on it, and Sudden Downer Ending, its direct opposite. May overlap with Tear Dryer.


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


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Parasyte ends with what first appears to be Shinichi failing to save Satomi from falling to her death. It is then revealed that what appeared to be her falling was actually a hallucination the hopeless Shinichi had in his mind, convinced that he wouldn't be able to save her. In fact, Migi succeeded in catching her after only falling a few feet.
  • Steins;Gate has multiple endings based on what you choose throughout the course of the game, but going by the anime, Okabe has completely resigned himself to Kurisu dying in order to save Mayuri, and for nearly the entirety of episode 22, that's what we think. Until that damn Post Credits Scene reveals that Suzuha has returned to help Okabe save her in order to stop the Third World War. Apparently, her megalomaniac father killed her and stole her time travel thesis, which prompted an arms race between countries to perfect time travel first, and they all ended up destroying each other in their quest for power. After being forced to accidentally kill Kurisu himself because he needed to personally feel what was at stake, he finally manages to save her, stop her father from publicizing the thesis, and convince his past self that she actually died, so as to prompt him to text Daru and make sure all this happens at all.
  • Tiger & Bunny managed to pull this trope twice in the final two episodes. In episode 25, Kotetsu gets up after his heroic sacrifice to reveal he hadn't died and had only passed out from the pain. A few minutes later, him and Bunny tell their friends they are going to retire from the hero-life, only to Time Skip a year forward with them both returning to the Hero business.
  • The Xenosaga anime (and the first game it's been adapted from) ends with KOS-MOS seemingly sacrificing herself to save Shion and the rest. Then, however, she comes back, battered but otherwise fine. It's still a Bittersweet Ending, since Kirsche died by Heroic Sacrifice earlier on, but not the Downer Ending it could have been.
  • In The Familiar of Zero, this happens at least twice:
    • In the second season of the anime, Saito makes a Last Stand while Louise is taken aboard a refugee ship. Cue Louise's Heroic BSoD when she realizes Saito is dead. But later, he reappears, claiming that an elf brought him back to life.
    • In the third season, it appears the heroes have successfully escaped a Fate Worse than Death...except that they've taken refuge back in Tristain, where they are wanted criminals. At the trial, Queen Henrietta sentences them to wear mantles, which for all practical purposes is a pardon.
  • Late in My-HiME, the main characters are turned against one another, resulting in all of them losing their Childs, and with it, their most important people. Even Mai, who stays in the carnival until the end, ends up losing her brother and the boy she loves when the Himes closest to them are defeated. However, as a result of a plan set in place earlier, Miyu shatters the pillars, resurrecting the dead and enabling them to take down the Obsidian Lord together, and the series ends happily with everyone moving towards their futures.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica:
    • After many deaths over the course of the series, and a seemingly hopeless final battle in which Madoka either perishes against Walpurgisnacht or becomes a witch even more powerful than Walpurgisnacht, Madoka chooses to become a magical girl, making a wish to destroy all witches before they are born, including the one she will eventually become. As a result, she rewrites the world into a more hopeful one where magical girls fight wraiths and simply disappear when their time is up, at the cost of vanishing forever and becoming hope itself.
    • The Rebellion Story has Homura, unsatisfied with the show's Bittersweet Ending, altering the entire system by overthrowing Madoka and taking her place as a Satanic Archetype, putting Madoka's happiness over everyone else's. In doing so, Madoka and Sayaka are restored to life, as is newcomer Nagisa, and Homura reduces Kyubey to a quivering, raggedy mess. The only problem with the scenario is the "Homura becomes the devil" thing. Concept art for a followup movie suggested this would end up as a Happy Ending Override, but nothing has come of it yet.
  • The final episode of Nurse Angel Ririka SOS is a non-stop Tear Jerker, but after trying so hard to get the audience to break down in tears from all the tragedy and noble sacrifice, the show goes out on a positive note. Ririka succeeds and survives. The only question is if her friends remember her.
  • Sugar Dark is a horror story about a young man who was imprisoned for the murder of an Asshole Victim that he didn't commit. He meets a girl Blessed with Suck and is faced with Nigh Invulnerable Eldritch Abominations. Even so, the story ends with the heroine having her First Time in the Sun and living with the main character to be Wealthy Ever After.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's leads up to a massive downer ending (Hayate's knights are killed, she herself is consumed by the Book of Darkness, which proceeds to destroy the Earth, along with the entire Team Nanoha), which is averted in the last moment by Hayate managing to assume full control over the Book — and by firepower, lots and lots of firepower. In the end, only one life is lost (Reinforce, the benign will of the Book), but the majority of the damage is averted. Throughout the subsequent seasons and other sequels, this event is universally seen as a miracle.
  • This is what happens in Stepping on Roses. Souichirou crashes Sumi's forced wedding to Nozomu and takes her away, while Eisuke and Mr. Ijuuin explain the Brother–Sister Incest deal in public, destroying Nozomu's intentions. Souichirou and Sumi re-declare their mutual love, and they get together again. In a not-so Distant Finale they're still together, Sumi works as a teacher while Souichirou is starting to rebuild his company (with Eisuke taking care of Souichirou and Sumi's newborn child alongside their adoptive siblings), and a back-to-sanity Nozomu has gotten back together with Miu, and they're both expecting a child of their own.
  • Arc the Lad II had one of the most crushing video game endings of all time, with the Dark One destroying 9/10ths of the world and Arc and Kukuru dying to seal him away. The anime of the game keeps many of the dark moments, but the ending is far happier than the game's. In the anime, Arc and Kukuru live, and the Dark One is defeated without destroying the world.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL: Most of the main and supporting cast members had died leading up to the series ending and it looked like some were gone for good...but the Numeron Code brought back everyone, including people like Kaito who had a regular death as opposed to a "transformed into energy for Barian World" death.
  • Yuki Yuna is a Hero seems like it could only end in a Downer Ending at the end of episode 11. In the middle of the final episode Yuna saves everyone and their Sange-induced disabilities are reversed, however it cost her, as she's comatose. Even the Bittersweet Ending is averted when she comes to and it just goes into Happy Ending territory.
  • Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! manages this. Episode 11 ends on a real cliffhanger, with the two teams of magical boys finally facing off over the wreckage of the school, in what's become clear is a personal battle between Kinshirou and Atsushi. Come the finale, however, the whole thing is revealed as an Immoral Reality Show, the Terrible Trio refuse to play along any further, and Kinshirou practically kisses and makes up with Atsushi, as lampshaded by Shipper on Deck Ryuu. The school is even magically repaired. And somehow it all works.
  • Kanon: After a long series of tragic relationships where everyone the main character loves is emotionally crushed and put at risk of death, in the end Ayu's miraculous wish saves them all at once.
  • Angel Beats!' final episode is extremely bittersweet, with the remaining cast making peace with their deaths and moving on to their next life, and the revelation that Kanade received a heart transplant from Otonashi after his death and was staying in purgatory to thank him. Then comes The Stinger, where Kanade and Otonashi are able to meet up again in their next life.
  • Princess Tutu sets itself up for tragedy in-universe, with the threat of a Shoot the Shaggy Dog to render everything meaningless and the author in charge of the in-universe story openly pulling for a Downer Ending where Tutu vanishes, the Prince re-shatters his heart, and everything the characters worked for amounts to nothing. Thanks to the power of hope, it ends on the happy side of bittersweet, as the characters defy their fate and defeat the Raven, Mytho and Rue are happily married inside the story, the machine used to make it is destroyed, and while Ahiru is forever a duck, she stays by Fakir's side and both are happy with their lives as the town and the people move on.
  • Despite Yuki, Rii, and especially Kurumi having a lot of death signs throughout the Zombie Apocalypse-themed manga School-Live!, the manga ends with everyone surviving.

    Comic Books 
  • Idées Noires is a series of short stories (usually unrelated to each other) designed to be as depressing as possible, each one of them terminating in a Downer Ending. Many strips even provide a Hope Spot, only to horrifically subvert it. In the very last strip, however, the protagonist manages to escape his prison without any cruel twists. His last words, to the readers, are "Sorry, no bad ending today".

    Fan Works 
  • Tom spends about half of The Day the Earth Stood Still worrying that his house has been destroyed and Homer (the family dog) is dead. Turns out that's not the case.
  • In Jessica, the title character forgives Cameron for smashing his Pokémon Yellow cartridge, and thus causing her death. This outcome is by no means obvious before it happens.
  • By the end of Light Of Hope, a Sonic the Hedgehog fanfic, with Nyx having fallen in a large body of water and unable to swim, it appears to be headed for a Downer Ending in which Nyx allows herself to drown because her love interest, Infinite, will likely be imprisoned for a lifetime because of what he has done, despite his Heel–Face Turn. Then Infinite hears of his girlfriend drowning, rushes out of the prison to rescue her, and forces in all the mouth-to-mouth respiration he can do, to the point he passes out. It again appears to lead to a Downer Ending when Nyx believes he's dying. Suddenly, Infinite wakes up, the Resistance forgives him and sentences him to years of community service instead, and Nyx and Infinite are so happy that they're finally free to be together.
  • With the Anyone Can Die structure of Danganronpa, as well as its bleak nature of hope and despair, it's surprising that A New Hope (Danganronpa), which follows the same premise, ends on a higher note than most of its canon entries: the survivors escape to a recovering world, and some even bear children in this new era. Adding to this are its characters Spared by the Adaptation, most of whom were given tons of Character Development.

    Films — Animation 
  • Disney's Aladdin. Under the laws of Agrabah, Princess Jasmine had to marry a prince. At the end of the movie Aladdin was no longer a prince so Jasmine couldn't marry him. But wait!
    Sultan: Well, am I Sultan or am I Sultan? From this day forth, the princess shall marry whomever she deems worthy.
  • Cars 3 at first seems like it's going to have a Bittersweet Ending since Lightning gave up his place halfway through to Cruz, thus causing him to lose the bet with Sterling and has to retire because of it. However, since he started the race and she finished it under the same number, both are considered joint-winners, thus he wins the bet and gets to keep his career and becomes Cruz's teacher as well, giving the film an absolutely wonderful ending.
  • Lilo & Stitch. Just after Stitch saves Lilo, the Grand Councilwoman arrives to take him away. Even after Stitch shows signs of being reformed, the Councilwoman points out that the law is absolute. Then Lilo points out that she bought him at the shelter, and that taking him away would be stealing. The Councilwoman then declares that Stitch will serve the rest of his sentence on Earth, under the care of Lilo and her family, and as an added bonus, because of this, Lilo's family is under intergalactic protection, meaning she can't be taken away by child services, which she was initially facing.
  • Monsters, Inc. seems like it's about to have a Bittersweet Ending in the form of Sulley having to part ways with Boo, but it turns out that Mike recreated the door that leads to her room, so Sulley can at least still visit her.
  • In WALL•E, although EVE manages to repair and reactivate WALL•E, his memory and personality seems to have disappeared for good...until EVE kisses him.
  • In The Princess and the Frog, it looks like Tiana and Naveen will be stuck as frogs, only to discover that them marrying makes Tiana a princess, thus giving her kiss the power to turn them back.
  • In Tangled, Flynn actually dies after cutting Rapunzel's hair, which prevented her from using it to heal him. That is, until it turns out that Rapunzel's tears still retained some of her healing powers.
  • In The Peanuts Movie, Charlie Brown is on the verge of a typical Downer Ending for him, as he was unable to catch up with the Little Red-Haired Girl before she leaves town for summer camp, thus he won't be able to know why she picked him as his pen pal or how she feels about him. But then the Kite-Eating Tree takes pity on him and returns his kite, and his luck begins to turn around from then on, ending the movie on a triumphant note.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Arctic could probably set the record for holding back on revealing its a last-minute happy ending. By the end of the movie, Overgård has exhausted himself and all his resources trying to escape the Arctic with the woman, and can only watch helplessly as a nearby helicopter seems to ignore them, even when he burns his jacket in a last-ditch attempt to catch their attention. Deciding he's reached his limit, Overgård lies down, ready to die — and the last shot of the movie is the helicopter touching down a couple of feet behind the two.
  • The Japanese schoolgirls' subplot in The Cabin in the Woods ends with the girls singing a magic song that transforms the vengeful spirit into a happy frog.note 
  • Crush has a wonderfully surprising one for the side-plot: Bess being revealed as simply a sweet, romantic teenage girl with an obsessive streak that she can and will keep in check. She realizes that what she did came close to stalking, that Scott's girlfriend is a Good Bad Girl deserving of his love, and he might be a Jerk Jock, so she gets better. She unfriends him on Facebook, throws away all her memorandums of him, and has her first kiss with another boy, who already liked her and was a little bit stalky too. Too bad the real stalker is out there and she was the only one able to help him...
  • In Two Brothers, two tigers have escaped back into the wild, but the two main human characters are afraid that the tigers will become man-eaters if they never learn to hunt animals. At the last minute, the two tigers reunite with one of their parents, so now they have a tiger to learn hunting skills from.
  • 28 Days Later — After fighting off zombie-esque infected humans throughout the entire movie, Jim, Hannah, and Selena barely escape a military base gone mad, with Jim being shot in the stomach in the process. Hannah and Selena rush Jim off to a deserted hospital, where he falls into a coma. In brief flashes, Jim is shown struggling for life, one wonders how long Hannah and Selena can survive given the constant threats surrounding them, and at one point you see Hannah and Selena spell out in bed sheets on a hillside what appears to be, "HELL," leading the audience to believe it is a dire situation. However, the mood ultimately turns cheerful when it is revealed the words being spelled out is actually, "HELLO," an airplane spots them, and a rescue helicopter is ordered to take Hannah, Selena, and a recovering Jim to safety. This was done because test audiences hated the original Downer Ending. Originally, Jim dies of his injuries, and it ends with Selena and Hannah walking down the hall into the light of the outdoors. Although it was meant to symbolize their will to live, the test audience took it as a symbol of their hopeless inevitable death.
  • Another zombie movie example: State of Emergency. After an entire movie following four survivors holed up in a rural warehouse surrounded by 28 Days Later-style fast zombies created by a biochemical accident, the aversion of nearly every Downer Ending trope we've come to expect from a zombie film is downright surprising. Despite some earlier arguments, the survivors don't turn on each other. The one who was dying is cured by medicine recovered from an air drop. All four of them survive, and lonely protagonist Jim, who lost his girlfriend at the beginning of the film, realizes that he can finally consider the other three to be true friends. And on top of that, the military proves to be neither malevolent nor incompetent. They let the survivors go, and it even looks like they've got the zombie outbreak under control.
  • In 2012's The Three Stooges: The Movie, just as it seems the Three Stooges have failed to save their orphanage from closing down due to their incompetence, they notice that a second one has been built next to it that has everyone in it that use to work/live at the old orphanage. As it turns out, thanks to Moe's work on Jersey Shore, the writers and producers used Moe's money to buy a new, better orphanage while he was working.
  • Bad Santa, despite being a very cynical and bitter Black Comedy ends on a happy and optimistic note, with the Jerkass main character surviving his apparent death and becoming a better person thanks to his friendship with one kid.
  • Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps has Gordon Gecko play everyone like a harp and make a billion dollars during the worst financial crisis in US history save the Depression. He then, more or less, plays Santa Claus to his estranged daughter and the film's protagonist—buying back their affection.
  • Back to the Future Part III looks like it's going to end with Marty and Jennifer never getting to see Doc and Clara again, with Doc having eschewed the opportunity to go back to 1985 with Marty. However, while Marty and Jennifer are looking at the wrecked DeLorean, Doc shows up in a time-traveling train with Clara to greet the two, and reveals that they're Happily Married and have raised two children. Even though Doc's happy with living in the late 19th and early 20th century, he can go visit Marty and company whenever he wants.
  • In The Baby, a horror-psycho-drama 1973 B-Movie, the film ends on this sort of ending, though perhaps slightly more towards Ambiguous Ending. Baby Wadsworth has been rescued from his insanely misandric mother and siblings, who have conditioned him into never mentally developing beyond infanthood and given a comfortable new life with the Gentrys. He even has a new playmate. The final shot is of the two of them splashing around in a pool together. It's almost enough to make you forget that Baby's playmate is Ann Gentry's husband, reverted to incurable infancy as a result of brain damage from a car accident, or that the Gentrys killed the Wadsworths in order to take Baby as their own, and the pool is actually erected over the Wadsworths' concealed grave.
  • A classic last-minute example in Defending Your Life: Just when it's Daniel's Darkest Hour having learned the Celestial Bureaucracy will have him reincarnated on Earth to overcome fear over a lifetime, he sees his Love Interest Julia, who's been advanced, on a nearby tram and decides to escape his tram to get to her thinking he has nothing to lose at this point. Barely hanging on to the tram doors, it's then revealed it was all a Secret Test of Character with that same bureaucracy monitoring his actions. Having decided Daniel ultimately overcame fear, they allow him onto the tram with Julia where they both Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence.
  • A.I.: Artificial Intelligence is an extremely dark film for the most part, but it has a controversial happy ending, involving David spending a day with a clone of his mom made by highly-advanced robots whose existence was not foreshadowed previously in the film.
  • Assassin's Creed (2016): Relative to the video games' endings in general. The modern day portions of the games have been Pyrrhic Victories at best, but Callum's story ends on an unambiguously happy note, reconciling with his Assassin heritage, finding closure with his mother's death, taking out the CEO of Abstergo Industries, retrieving the Apple for the Assassins and officially being inducted into the Brotherhood.
  • The original version of Arthur (1981) ends with the title character deciding to choose his true love Linda over the $750 million inheritance he will only receive if he goes through with the Arranged Marriage with Susan. The lovers are lucky to get out of this decision alive when his Grande Dame grandmother stops Susan's father from murdering them over this. Later, Arthur and Linda are discussing their future together and how he intends to get a job...whereupon said grandmother says that no member of her family will be working-class, and tells him he can have Linda and the money. It's teased that he'll turn his back on the fortune anyway, but it turns out to be a quick prank he's playing on Linda and his driver ("I'm not crazy!"). Thus he gets everything without having to substantially change who he is, save that he's taken responsibility for his happiness in hand. Notably, the 2011 remake goes with a more realistic Not His Sled Earn Your Happy Ending instead — Arthur doesn't go through with the arranged marriage but then finally earns his fortune by getting a job within the family business, and then makes himself truly worthy of his sweetheart by cleaning up his childish ways and getting on the wagon.
  • In the 1928 classic The Wind, the protagonist is raped by a man who she shoots the next day. Letty was already undergoing Sanity Slippage before that due to being in near complete isolation. Her husband comes back home and suddenly there's a happy ending where Letty comes to terms with living in a perpetually dusty plains town and being in a Marriage of Convenience. This was actually the result of Executive Meddling. The original ending was going to have Letty go mad and walk into the dust storm. It was decided not to go with a Downer Ending.
  • Secrets & Lies: Once Roxanne gets over the shock of finding out about Hortense, she actually starts to warm up to the idea of having her as her half-sister.
  • Bob Le Flambeur is a movie about a casino heist. After Inspector Ledru and the police are tipped off, it seems like the robbery will end badly like most every heist film ends. It does end badly for most of the gang, but not for Bob. After Bob gives in to temptation and starts gambling while waiting for the others, he wins an enormous sum of money. This causes him to be late for the rendezvous. He charges out the front just as his gang is exchanging shots with the police. As Ledru is taking them away, Roger points out that with a good lawyer Bob will beat the rap—after all, he didn't rob the casino and wasn't actually seen to do anything illegal. Bob, who now has a whole bunch of money won from the casino, and also has gorgeous Anne waiting for him at home, cracks that he'll sue the cops for damages.
  • Searching looks like it's going to have a Downer Ending with David's efforts to find his missing daughter being All for Nothing with an ex-con confessing to murdering her, until a stock photo causes David to realize that the murder confession was actually a frame-up by the detective in charge of the case and his daughter turns out to be alive after all.
  • In The Jerk, Navin recounts his Rags to Riches to Rags story, and the film looks like it's going to end with Navin languishing alone and forgotten in poverty. That is, until his Love Interest Marie and his adoptive family show up for a more proper Happy Ending by bringing him home, which has been upscaled thanks to his father investing the money Navin gave the family throughout the film.
  • The One: Gabe manages to defeat Yulaw nonlethally, preserving the multiverse's stability, and ends up in an idyllic Los Angeles where he meets an alternate version of Izzy, showing his life will take the same track but even better. Meanwhile, despite being exiled, Yulaw prepares to tear the Hades Universe a new asshole and looks happy as a clam about it.
  • Similarly to its animated counterpart, in Aladdin (2019), Aladdin is no longer a prince since he used his last wish to free Genie as he promised. Instead of the Sultan nullifying the law preventing his daughter's marriage, he opts to abdicate the throne instead and name Jasmine his successor, enabling her to change the law herself.
  • Just Another Girl On The I.R.T: The high school protagonist with a troubled home life is hiding her pregnancy and then gives birth to her daughter in the freaked-out baby's father's dorm room. Initially, she had placed the baby girl in a plastic bag and set it on the curb, but both of their consciences made them go back for her and go to the hospital to get them both checked out. In the end, not only is the little girl healthy and thriving, her mother ends up in college, her previously workaholic parents help her raise their grandchild and she and the child's father happily co-parent her.
  • The Guest House: At first it looks like Amy and Rachel are done. Then after the latter initially breaks up with her, she meets Amy again later. They kiss and proclaim their love for each other.
  • With a tagline as brutal as "One Will Fall", Godzilla vs. Kong implies a tragic ending, especially with the director's insistence of a clear winner. The victor is Godzilla, who soundly defeats Kong fair and square...but then, Mecha-Godzilla attacks, and trounces Godzilla— but with the humans' help, Kong is revived, the two defeat Mecha-Godzilla together, and the film ends with Godzilla still as the victorious King of the Monsters...and Kong finding a peaceful new life as a ruler of the Hollow Earth, despite his defeat at Godzilla's hands.
  • Black Swan: A bit more ambiguous than most examples, but still counts. After the physical and mental Trauma Conga Line she endured throughout the production, Nina gives an amazing final performance and collapses from what seems like a self-inflicted stab wound, feeling she's finally achieved perfection. Word of God has confirmed that not only does she survive, but that her injury is symbolic of her becoming a woman. This means not only did she excel at a role she desperately wanted and everyone, including Lily, is absolutely proud of her, she can finally break free of her controlling Stage Mom and get the psychological help she absolutely needs.
  • All the Right Moves, a 1983 sports drama starring Tom Cruise, makes it seem like the protagonist Stefan is going to be doomed to the dead-end, miserable life in Ampipe he so desperately doesn't want, due to being blacklisted from most of his college opportunities. Then his former coach, who has taken a new job at Cal Poly, realizes that he was wrong is blacklisting him and offers Stefan a football scholarship there, which he accepts. However, there is a bit of a tarnished lining in that Stefan will most likely have to leave his family, his girlfriend, and his friends behind, since they will all spend the rest of their lives stuck in Ampipe.
  • One of the writers of Edge of Tomorrow stated that once the movie gave more focus on the comedy, they had to end in a way that wasn't harsh. Hence Cage's Taking You with Me moment to kill the Omega also allowed him to reset to the day before the mission. And the Omega is dead all along in this new timeline, meaning all the kills from the Suicide Mission were undone. Cage will also have a chance at building a relationship with Rita in peace.

  • In The Silver Chair, it looks like Eustace and Jill will be left to deal with the bullies chasing them. Then, Aslan gives them and Caspian swords and a riding crop and sends them to smack sense into the bullies. That fight also leads to the incompetent headmistress getting fired, because of her trying to find a lion seen on the school grounds.
  • The Song of Achilles: The entire ending of the book is very bleak. With Patroclus dead, Achilles becomes a mad man only interested in revenge against the man who killed him and spending every night crying over his lover's corpse on his bed, when he finally finds in himself to send it to the pyre and gets his revenge, he becomes a Death Seeker, going into battle armorless so some warrior will finally kill him. By the time he is finally killed, his sociopathic son shows up and refuses to follow through with Achilles burial instructions, which makes him go to the afterlife, but without proper rites, traps the ghost of Patroclus on the land, indicating that they'll never be able to be Together in Death as they planned. It's only on the very few final pages that Thetis, Achilles's mother that always hated Patroclus, has a change of heart and carves his name on Achilles's memorial, permitting him to pass on. The final paragraph of the novel describes their shades finding each other again in Hades, together at last.
  • In the last book of The Roman Mysteries, Flavia is exiled from Italia and must leave behind the place where she has grown up all her life. However, at the last minute, her love interest shows up and says that he is going to go into exile with her, leaving behind a promising political career and faking his own death just to be with her.
  • The book The Saddest Little Robot appears to end with the eponymous robot's Heroic Sacrifice, complete with the words "The End". What follows is an additional chapter where Snoot comes back to life.
  • The Black Company: Through the final tomes of the saga, the last characters that still remember the first book get killed off or simply die of old age. Croaker is once again the Company chronicler, but he keeps remarking on how old he is. Then other narrators of the story get killed. To save the world, they need to kill a sleeping Physical God, but even if they succeed the Lady will lose the rest of her magic, as she is currently leeching it from Kina. Their child, "Daughter of the Night", turns out beyond redemption, and as the ending approaches, it looks more and more like the story will end with all the characters dying while the new Company marches on to forge its own destiny. Then the two witches that Croaker jokingly "adopted" develop actual feelings towards him. And then he becomes the new guardian of the Plain of Glittering Stone, getting an immortal golem body with an ability to observe all 16 worlds, a dream of any historian, and with enough magic to fuel the Lady's powers to boot. As the two girls take over as the chroniclers, it might still be somewhat bittersweet, but by the world's standards a shockingly happy ending.
  • One of the short stories in Alice Munro's Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage is about a down-on-her-luck woman traveling to see a man she believes is in love with her when in fact he doesn't even know she exists and his love letters to her were all sent by a pair of teenage girls who didn't want her to be crushed by never receiving a reply from him. This can only lead to disappointment and heartbreak for the woman, right? Nope; the man turns out to be lonely and glad for the company and the woman decides that it would be best not to bring up the letters with him, and it ends with Babies Ever After and one of the girls in on the love letter plot wondering at how everything turned out all right in the end.
  • A surprisingly happy ending for a subplot happens in The Night Circus. It looks as if Chandresh has been left mentally destroyed from the years of being brainwashed by Marcus into not noticing the strange things going on in the circus. When Poppet meets him at the end though, she kisses him on the cheek and helps him get started on a new project. It's implied that her odd power helped fix him up enough that he at least can continue onward with the same energy he once had.
  • In the eighth novel of the Outlander series Written In My Own Heart's Blood, after all the fighting and death, the end sees Jamie, Claire and family (Jaime's sister Jenny, Jenny's son Ian, his wife Rachel, Jamie's grandson Germain and new adopted addition Fanny) ensconced contentedly back at Fraser's Ridge, with the assorted families left behind (the Higgenses, the Beardsleys, and the Weymess) all doing quite well. Then as a literal last scene, Jamie and Claire are sitting outside and down the road come their daughter Brianna, her husband Roger, and their children Jem and Mandy, back from the future presumably to stay.
  • The Spanish classic poem "Romance de Gerineldo" ("Gerineldo's Romance"), featuring the Secret Relationship between the Spanish Infanta (Princess of Spain) and the titular Gerineldo (the King's favorite page) has several different versions... and surprisingly, several of them finish with either the King willingly forgiving Gerineldo for sleeping with the Infanta, or the Infanta revealing their romance but managing to convince her dad to let them marry.
  • Crime and Punishment. After 400 pages of misery the book has a surprising upbeat ending, with Raskolnikov and Sonya falling in love and implied that they will marry when Raskolnikov gets out of prison after seven years. Controversial, to say the least.
  • Girl: “Who are you?” Alien: “Er, I’m an alien.”: After discovering that everything she's been through was simply a failure at a Happy Place that twisted into reliving her trauma, and that she was responsible for the death of her parents, the girl is Driven to Suicide - the cherry on top is that the alien insists she's also a figment of the girl's imagination, and leaves her to die by herself. However, the alien comes back in the nick of time to tell the girl she lied and that she really was the girl's only piece of reality. The alien saves the girl's life right as she's dying and gives her a new body so she can continue to live, then the alien takes the girl to the alien's ancestors' home planet, Earth, where they can live peacefully.
  • In 616, it's revealed that God is actually Satan and that every soul in Earth is condemned to Hell. Then the protagonist, who went mad from the revelation, makes an improbable Heroic Sacrifice to save a little girl, and it turns out that this was all that was needed for Satan to give God His place back and make everything good again.
  • The Dark Forest. It's a story about humanity horribly outmatched against an imminent Alien Invasion, establishes that the entire universe is full of paranoid, genocidal civilizations, and seemingly no hope in sight. And yet it ends with humans and the invaders, the Trisolarans, ultimately calling a truce when their conflict threats to reveal both their existences to the rest of the galaxy. The Trisolarans exchange their technology with humanity, who manages to build gravitational wave transmitters, and Luo Ji, a researcher who converses with them, reunites with his wife and daughter after they awaken from hibernation. He also converses with a Trisolaran who suggests that love may be a universal concept, and maybe they can help it grow.
  • Roys Bedoys: In “Don’t Spoil Surprises, Roys Bedoys!”, Roys spoils Wen’s surprise party and she fails at convincing her friends she’s surprised, but then she becomes genuinely surprised when she gets earrings as a present rather than the necklace Roys thought he was going to buy her.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 13 Reasons Why: For a show that was consistently grim to the point of being a near-constant Trauma Conga Line for the cast, the ending of Season 4 managed to be surprisingly positive. Although Justin tragically dies (which had been set up from the first episode of this season), everyone else is moving on to a bright future, having gotten into college and/or getting the careers they wanted, have found love or the promise of a new relationship, they don't have to deal with Liberty High anymore and none of them face any legal consequences for the various laws they've broken, up to and including murder.
  • The Devil Judge: The corrupt politicians and businessmen are killed and a new government is formed, Ga-on is still a judge, and Yo-han faked his death and left with Elijah.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "Forest of the Dead", after River Song's Heroic Sacrifice, just as the Doctor is about to leave the library (and the viewer expecting the episode to end), it turns out the sonic screwdriver River left him can be used to save her inside the computer, saving her life. It's still bittersweet, but less than it would have been should the episode have really ended in the former note.
    • The ending of Series 6, "The Wedding of River Song". Time is no longer going to unravel, but it happened at the expense of the Doctor's life. Except that it wasn't the Doctor who died, it was simply the Tessalecta disguised as the Doctor. Although none of the viewers actually expected it to happen.
    • At the beginning of "The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe", Reg is presumed dead and Madge hasn't told the children. Near the end of the episode, Madge has saved the lives of the tree spirits and brought herself and her children back to the correct time and place. The audience gears up for a Bittersweet Ending as Madge starts to tell the children about their father... and it turns out that Reg survived, thanks to Madge's actions.
    • "The Zygon Invasion"-"The Zygon Inversion" involves a war brewing between the Alien Among Us Zygons and humanity, whom the Doctor helped broker peace between. A radical Zygon faction desires to drop The Masquerade even if they will end up dead at the hands of humans. The human side has an itchy trigger finger ready to go; both sides seek the hidden means of achieving their goals. In the end, said means don't actually exist, but the leaders of the two sides are brought to the same place in the process of searching for them. The Doctor then convinces both sides that war is not the answer and that peace, however imperfect, is worth maintaining via a heartbreaking monologue. Even happier? He convinces the villain to have a Heel–Face Turn, who stands down her forces and becomes a new second Osgood, giving the bereaved one a "sister" once more!
    • "The Husbands of River Song" has a denouement that reveals that the Doctor and River's adventure here has brought them to Darillium — the site of the last night they spend together, for the Doctor knows their next meeting will be in a certain library. But a more-sweet-than-bitter Bittersweet Ending ensues: not only does the Doctor complete the stable time loop by giving her the sonic screwdriver that will "save" her in the library here, it turns out that nights on Darillium last twenty-four years!
    • The Series 10 finale "The Doctor Falls" gives one to Bill Potts. The previous episode ended with them fully Cyber-converted, something the Doctor cannot address due to circumstances, and which traditionally is a death sentence in this franchise. But in the denouement her lost love Heather, who has regained her sentience since her transformation into a Pilot creature back in the season premiere, turns out to have been tracking her all along and turns her into a Pilot creature too, restoring her original body in the process. They set out to travel the universe together. For bonus points, this sets up the circumstances that allow the Twelfth Doctor to regenerate, though it takes him one more episode to accept it and do so. The Expanded Universe Novelization of that episode, "Twice Upon a Time", goes on to confirm that Bill went on to live a full, rich life with Heather, and died on her own terms, and also reveals that Nardole and the solar farmers managed to defeat all subsequent Cybermen advances, with the cyborg eventually living to over 700 years old before he died.
    • In the classic series episode, "City of Death", The story ends with almost all the copies of the Mona Lisa being destroyed, except for one that likely has the writing that the Doctor wrote on the board in felt tip marker, "THIS IS A FAKE." Unlike Duggan, that doesn't bother the Doctor in the least since a copy of a painting by the original artist is not a fake, and anyone who would want to bother x-raying the painting to find his writing to determine its monetary value doesn't appreciate the real value of art anyway.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise: The two parter "Augments" episode ends on an unusually positive note. Although the Augments are defeated, Arik Soong (grandfather of Dr. Noonian Soong) is simply incarcerated. But while in prison, he changes his research interests to artificial intelligence. He also remarks that the fruits of his research may take a generation or two. That research, whatever it is, is implied to lead to the 24th century's Soong creating the android Data. This is significant as the episode made no indication that he had fathered any children previously. So it is possible that sometime before his death, he will be released from prison.
  • Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger: The final arc involves the team mentor Doggie Kruger seemingly perishing and giving a final speech for the Dekarangers to move on, combine their strengths, defeat Agent Abrellar, and retake the Deka Base. They eventually succeeded in doing so, deleting Abrellar, but their happy cheering came to halt after they realize that regardless, Doggie would still be in heaven...Cue "Who's in heaven?" from Doggie himself, having survived off-screen and hiding in the shadows to see how his rangers fared on their own (with full trust that they will succeed), and cue ALL Dekarangers hugging him in tears one by one, And the Adventure Continues. (They still got other criminals to apprehend!)
  • Kamen Rider Double: When it seems like Philip is gone for good and Shotaro has to move on without him, Wakana sacrifices herself to restore Philip.
  • The extremely dark and violent final season of The Musketeers ends with a thoroughly happy ending for all the sympathetic characters who survive: Queen Anne becomes Regent of France, firmly in charge of her son's future, and appoints Aramis as her first minister, so he can also be there for his son and for her. Porthos reunites with a single mother he befriended in a previous episode, he is appointed general in the army and proposes to her. Athos resigns as captain of the musketeers, returns to his country estate with a pregnant Sylvie and hands over the captaincy to D'Artagnan. All four Musketeers are finally happy in love and with a better position as Happy Ending music plays over the credits.
  • Virtually every season finale of Supernatural ends horribly for the main characters, and even in finales where they more or less win, there's always a steep price to be paid for the success. At the end of season 11, it looks like God is about to die, which will ultimately also cause the demise of his sister and the entire universe unless Dean pulls a Heroic Sacrifice to kill Amara too, which will bring back the balance necessary to keep everything spinning. So even if things go well, at least one character is doomed, whereas if things go poorly, everyone is doomed. Instead, Dean convinces Amara to reconcile with God, they both thank Dean and float happily off into the ether, the universe is saved, Dean is fine, and on top of everything, Amara resurrects Mary Winchester in gratitude. Everybody Lives, and the characters are now actually better off than they were before the season started. The only problem that crops up is that the British Men of Letters send an agent to arrest the Winchesters for the crap they keep pulling, which is minor in comparison to the happy ending they just got handed, and which they kind of deserve anyway.
  • Thunderbirds: In the episode "Ricochet", after the camera suddenly cuts from Alan Tracy cutting through the inner airlock of the KLA Satellite to Thunderbird 2 where Virgil Tracy and Brains are preparing to shoot KLA down, Virgil suddenly hears Rick O'Shea's voice on Thunderbird 2s radio, so it seems Thunderbird 3 failed to rescue Rick O'Shea. In a last ditch attempt to save both Rick O'Shea and an oil refinery, Virgil and Brains literately use Thunderbird 2 like a bumper car to catch KLA on its starboard wing and fly it to safety. However even though Virgil saved the refinery, it appeared that O'Shea was killed when KLA broke free and crashed. Very sad music only reinforces the reality of this tragic twist. However when an equally very sad Virgil and Brains return to Tracy Island they discover from Alan's flashbacks that the only part of O'Shea that died was a recording of his voice that was left playing on KLA! Alan saved both O'Shea and his assistant Loman after all!
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In the episode "Replica" a husband and wife team of scientists are working on cloning human organs when the wife is rendered comatose in a lab accident. Three years later, with the wife declared brain dead, the husband illegally clones her. When the original miraculously regains consciousness, the clone (who will be destroyed if anyone finds out what she is) realises that if she kills the original she can take over her life and marriage. So far, so standard. However, after the inevitable cat-and-mouse throughout the couple's home and Spot the Impostor scene, the two women suddenly realize the obvious solution: clone the husband. The originals get on with their lives, and the clones live Happily Ever After together in the couple's isolated vacation home.
  • The Untamed: While the original novel ended on a happy note for the Official Couple (who finally got together and spend the last few main chapters and extra chapters Happily Married), this adaptation drops many hints prior to the finale that the Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji are going to go their separate ways in the end. While that initially seems to be the case near the final five minutes of the episode, the very last scene implies otherwise; after playing the flute alone on a mountaintop, Wei Wuxian hears a very familiar voice call his name and smiles after turning around to see who it is. The Special Edition's alternate ending confirms this happier turn of events by showing that Wei Wuxian is now living in the Cloud Recesses.

  • In the original Peter and the Wolf the story ends by revealing that the duck that had been eaten was swallowed alive by the wolf, creating only the vague possibility that the duck would be recovered. However, it also allows for the possibility that the duck would simply die a slow death inside the wolf, which is the interpretation that "Weird Al" Yankovic gave to it. Because of this, many adaptations add the wolf vomiting the still-alive duck back up at the ending, and the Disney version in Make Mine Music has her only appear to be eaten but turn out to have just been hiding inside a hollow tree at the end.
  • Some of J.S. Bach's minor-key works end with the chord of the parallel major (e.g. C major, for a piece in C minor). This is called a "Tierce de Picardie" and was an extremely common feature in music of the time period.
  • Rolf Just Nilsen's "Julekveld i skogen" ("Christmas Eve in the Forest"), a parody of excessively sentimental Christmas songs, starts by spending four verses describing the miserable Christmas of a poor old couple. Then their eldest son, who hasn't even bothered to contact them in the last 24 years, suddenly shows up and showers them with Christmas presents. This is a downplayed example, however — the son appears out of nowhere, but as the narrator points out, "the main characters get a happy Christmas after all" is the expected ending of a Christmas Song that tells a story.
  • The music video for Daft Punk's "Da Funk" follows the misfortunes of Charles, an inexplicably dog-headed humanoid wandering through the streets of New York with a ghettoblaster and a broken leg, getting bullied by kids and street vendors, with the sole glimmer of hope being his fortunate reunion with an old friend... which gets cut off by the ending as the two suddenly get separated again. Viewers reportedly felt so bad for Charles that the duo decided to make a sequel video in "Fresh", showing him having gotten an acting gig and having reunited with Beatrice, with the two happily driving off into the sunset together.
  • The end of the music video for The Bloodhound Gang's "Why's Everybody Always Pickin' On Me?" makes it clearer than in the song with the freeze-frame epilogue:

  • A surprising number of Greek tragedies have happy endings. note  Some of the more notable examples include:
    • The Oresteia. Not that it isn't a pretty dark and grisly trilogy throughout, but the last entry, "The Eumenidies" ends on a remarkably good note. Orestes is rescued from the wrath of the Furies by Apollo and Athena, who acquit him in a jury trial and let him go free, pardoned of guilt. This ''also'' paves the way for Athena to establish Athens' legal system, which favors innocence over guilt, thus putting an end to the cycle of revenge and transforming the Furies into the Kindly Ones.
    • Philoctetes. Neoptolemus manages to work a compromise between Odysseus and Philoctetes, in a way that both saves the Greek army at Troy and repays the titular character for the wrong he's suffered at their hands. The play ends with them sailing off with Philoctetes on board, leaving the deserted island of Lemnos.
    • Oedipus at Colonus. It may not seem like a happy ending, what with the main character dying, but after years of being tossed around as the plaything of fate, Oedipus comes to grips with his destiny, gets to die on his own terms, and does it in a way that makes him a hero and blesses the only city willing to take him in: Athens. This doubles as a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming when you consider the historical context of the play. This is Sophocles' last play, produced posthumously, and considered by many to be his farewell to the Athenian stage.
    • Alcestis. Admetus receives his wife back from the dead, his friendship with Heracles is patched up, and a day of celebration is proclaimed throughout the kingdom. note 
    • Iphigenia Among the Taurians. Yes, even Iphigenia gets a happy ending! In this version, she wasn't actually sacrificed to Artemis, but whisked away at the last moment and taken to Tauris, where she serves as the King's high priestess. There, she manages to reunite with her long lost brother Orestes, steal the temple idol from the Taurians, and escape the land scot-free with her last living relative, thanks to some last minute help from Athena.
  • In The Abduction from the Seraglio, the heroes' plan has Gone Horribly Wrong in every conceivable way, they are preparing to be tortured and executed, and Belmonte and Konstanze sing a duet of being Together in Death. Then Pasha Selim changes his mind and lets everyone go, leading to a happy chorus in his honor.
  • Parodied in The Beggar's Opera, when just as the Villain Protagonist is about to be hanged, it's announced that the audience demands a happy ending (even though, morally, they should be in favour of him being hanged), so he gets reprieved and marries Polly for a Dance Party Ending. The Threepenny Opera has him not only reprieved, but given lands and a title by the Queen.
  • Similarly parodied in the 2001 Edinburgh Fringe show Opera Galactica, a bizarre operatic Star Wars spoof, which intially ends with all the characters dead (Duke [who is Luke and Han] kills Dark Invader while he explains Luke, I Am Your Father, Princess Slayer kills herself due to the Surprise Incest, and Invader kills Duke with his last breath). And then ... the Galactic President (a George W. Bush impression) appears on the screen, announces that this is not family entertainment, and the final scene is redone with Duke, Slayer and Invader becoming a happy family, and Guru (the Obi Wan character) turning out to not be dead either, and to have planned the whole thing to bring them together, as explained in a cheesy musical number called "I Lied to You All, But I Did It For Love". The 2019 Brisbane Opera version replaces the Galactic President with the director, who's just had a phone call from Disney ("Apparently, our opera has some similarities to a movie franchise..."), but it's the same idea.
  • With the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice being a Foregone Conclusion and Bugs Bunny famously noting that operas don't tend to have happy endings, it comes as a surprise that in Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice opera, after Orpheus turns around and dooms Eurydice, Cupid brings her back to life in honor of their undying love.
  • Opera's tendency to always end in death and/or floods of tears makes Vincenzo Bellini's opera 'I Puritani' exceedingly surprising. Just when it looks like Arturo is going to be executed and Elvira plunged back into a madness from which she will never return, an official arrives and announces that Arturo is pardoned. So, he and Elvira will be getting married after all, making this one of the few non-comedic operas with a happy ending.

    Video Games 
  • Fairune 2 has Layla learn her name and immediately gets thrust through the Gate, leaving Hope Girl and Ancient Codex behind. The two bemoan Layla's sudden departure and take solace in the fact that the Ashen World no longer threatens Fairune, and note how Sunset Cage was left on top of the Administrator's Tower. Then, the version of Layla they first met comes down the second floor ladder and excitedly remarks how Layla of the Ashen World brought her back, and how she sends her thanks. The three then go off to travel the worlds with the Fairies as guides.
  • Every canon Resident Evil installment is this, with the best ending (if Multiple Endings exist, otherwise it's almost always a surprisingly happy ending by default) generally involve the good guys escaping and living for another day.
    • For example, this theme that plays in the credits for Resident Evil 3: Nemesis is the cherry on top. While Raccoon City being nuked is bittersweet, at least most of the good guys survived and the city was largely evacuated.
    • Resident Evil 5 sees the hero of the aforementioned game being Brainwashed and Crazy. Beyond all hope, she recovered.
    • Resident Evil 6 starts apocalyptically and ends with the whole outbreak contained as well as almost everybody good involved survives.
    • Taking all of the DLC into account, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard takes the cake due to the hopelessly bleak the situation was. Ethan gets Mia back home to safety in the main game. The Not a Hero DLC sees Chris Redfield finishing off Lucas and stopping the further spread of bioweapons by destroying the databases. The End of Zoe DLC sees Zoe cured of the mold infection, Joe survives his ordeal (with Zoe knowing it was him who saved her), and Jack finally gets put to rest after the hell he's gone through.
    • Somewhat averted in Resident Evil Village, as it's a standard Bittersweet Ending where Ethan realized that he's been Dead All Along at the beginning of the preceding game. However, his final act of sacrifice severs the literal root of all evil (as it's the thing that inspires the founder of Umbrella to start the whole mess up since the beginning), though the B.O.Ws worldwide are far from being fully contained, with a Sequel Hook very clearly set up.
  • In Crysis 3, you've killed the Alpha Ceph, but the wormhole has already opened, the continent-sized Ceph battleship is coming through, and you have been flung into space. It looks like it's going for a downer ending, when Prophet gets a surge of willpower and leaps to the Archangel Satellite and blows the ship to hell.
  • In Lufia & The Fortress of Doom, it appears that the Hero has succeeded in saving the world from the Sinistrals, but has lost Lufia in the process. However, Lufia reappears during the ending, alive but suffering from Identity Amnesia.
  • Lufia: The Legend Returns. Before her death, Seena promises Wain that they'll meet again, and she gets revived because of such promise, since as her last bit of Sinistral Erim's omnipotent fortune telling power grants her her wish before it fades away.
  • Super Mario Sunshine: FLUDD is destroyed, while everything else about the plot reaches its resolution. Then, in the final scene, the Toads present a repaired FLUDD.
  • The normal ending of Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 looks like it would be a Bittersweet Ending thanks to the four CPU goddesses (Neptune, Vert, Blanc, Noire) who sacrificed themselves to destroy Arfoire. Only for the four of them to show up after Nepgear makes her speech about becoming the new goddess of Planeptune.
  • Mass Effect 3: After a massive fan outcry centered around the original ending (which was felt to be too much of a Downer Ending regardless of the player's actions), BioWare released the "Extended Cut" DLC, which adds an epilogue sequence showing the fate of the galaxy in the aftermath of the Reaper War. If the player accumulated enough War Assets, it can be surprisingly hopeful; though casualties were heavy, the lion's share of humanity and the other Council species are still alive, galactic civilization is being rebuilt, and the alliances forged during the war usher in a new era of peace and mutual cooperation (possibly bolstered by Shepard, the Reapers, or the newfound connection between organics and synthetics, depending on outcome).
  • Castlevania: Chronicles of Sorrow ends the classic Castlevania series not with Dracula destroyed, but with him reborn as a human and trying to overcome his past crimes, now aided by the heroes that previously tried to kill him.
  • One of Undertale's neutral endings sees all the leaders dead, but no one else hurt. In the end, the Annoying Dog ascends to the throne and makes life better for everyone by just sleeping all day.
  • At the end of Half-Life: Blue Shift, Barney purely and simply manages to escape Black Mesa. No strings attached like Gordon, or being captured like Shepard.
  • Tacoma. A space station suffering a terrible accident that threatens the entire crew, the ship's AI acting suspiciously, an Evil Corporation plotting in the shadows, a crew member becoming increasingly terrified, the desperate escape plan blowing up in their faces...and then Everybody Lives, gets away, and the benevolent AI is rescued at the end of the game.
  • RuneScape's Myreque quest storyline's final quest River of Blood ends surprisingly happily after the Sudden Downer Ending of the previous quest The Lord of Vampyrium. In The Lord of Vampyrium the Myreque succeeds in assassinating Lord Drakan, although several members die, but at the end Vanescula betrays the Myreque and kills Safalan, and plans to use his blood to make vampyres and werewolves immune to the River Salve barrier so they can invade Misthalin, and Veliaf disbands the Myreque and reveals that Calsidiu doesn't exist. The only Ray of Hope is that a mysterious person held prisoner by Drakan is now free. In River of Blood the mysterious prisoner is revealed to be the former queen Efaritay and it is revealed that Safalan wasn't killed by Vanescula, but was turned into a wyrd. The player character manages to cure Safalan's hunger for blood and uses the same cure to make it so that any former human vampyre that tries to cross the River Salve barrier will turn back to human. After this, the werewolves declare themselves independent of their vampyre masters, thus preventing war between Morytania and Misthalin. Vanescula admits defeat and rules over Morytania with Safalan and Efaritay note  as advisors, making Morytania a better place for both humans and vampyres, with the cure for blood lust the player character created making it so vampyres won't need to feed on humans as much anymore.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VI seems like it's well on its way some kind of tragic or heavily bittersweet ending after Kefka destroys the world, but whether it gets that way is entirely up to the actions of the player, as any party deaths, as well as the death of Cid, are entirely preventable, with the only hero who's unaccounted for being Banon, and once the party defeats Kefka the ending goes out of its way to show that the "World of Ruin" is on its way to recovery.
    • Final Fantasy VIII seems like it will end in tragedy for the main characters, as Squall appears to die and Rinoa finds his seemingly dead body, cradles him in her arms and grieves...and then apparently he's revived by The Power of Love, so the entire main cast get a happy ending. Even Seifer, Raijin, and Fujin appear happy with where they are now, even though they're likely never welcome back to Balamb Garden ever again.
    • Final Fantasy IX again teases the main character's death, since Zidane stays with his dying brother even as everything is crashing down on them, and then gives us a closing narration in the form of a goodbye letter from another of the main characters, Vivi, who is implied to have actually died. Queen Garnet is heartbroken over Zidane's uncertain fate but still must attend a performance by Tantalus, a Bookends to the start of the game. But then one of the play's actors, kept in a cloak for most of the performance, reveals himself to be Zidane, resulting in one of the series' most heartwarming endings in which Garnet runs to embrace Zidane as the whole crowd (which included their friends, and clones of Vivi, his "offspring") cheers.
  • Kingdom Hearts II is playing its last scenes following the Final Boss and it looks almost certain that the story will end with Sora and Riku separated from their friends and left stranded on a beach to waste away into darkness, at least content with reconciling their friendship and knowing that everyone and everything they love in the realm of light is safe from harm thanks to their actions. And then Kairi's message in a bottle, which she wrote and sent adrift way back in the games' Prolonged Prologue, finds its way to Sora and Riku. Immense happiness follows.
  • Yoko Taro has a habit of writing oppressively bleak stories full of suffering and hardship where there's little hope of a happy ending for anyone. It seems like NieR: Automata, already a game full of characters suffering from the horrors of a many millennia-long war of attrition as well as their own personal existential crises, tumbling over the Despair Event Horizon in droves, is well on its way to a tragic ending as well, with the YoRHa project destroyed, the revelation that humans have been long extinct and the androids trying to liberate the Earth on their behalf have been fighting and dying for a lie, 2B dead, 9S driven to murderous insanity by grief and rage over 2B's death as well learning the Awful Truth about Project YoRHa and the meaninglessness of his own existence, and either A2 and 9S killing each other or A2 purging a logic virus from 9S' system to possibly ease his psyche and then pulling a Heroic Sacrifice to destroy the Tower. At best the end of the game seems to be depressingly bittersweet. And then comes Ending E, where Pod 042 Grows Beyond His Programming and tries to salvage A2, 9S and 2B's data to bring them back to life at the risk of killing himself, which is represented by a brutally difficult Bullet Hell True Final Boss battle against the end credits themselves. But instead of the tragically bleak feeling of the endgame the whole fight becomes more and more optimistic as the game sends the player encouraging messages from other players each time they die, and eventually even offers help from other player ships. If the player succeeds, then the trio are rebuilt and given a second chance at life. The whole thing comes off like the playerbase grabbing Yoko Taro by the collar and viciously shaking him until he agrees to write a happier ending.
  • Days Gone has a shockingly happy ending for a game with such a dark post-apocalyptic setting compared to most other works set in that kind of world. Deacon finds out his wife Sarah isn't dead after all, kills the traitor Skizzo and destroys the Colonel's army and when it looks like the Colonel is about to finish off Deacon, he coughs and collapses dead(Sarah having poisoned his tea) also while the zombie outbreak is still a problem, Deacon has an ally in the form O'Brian, so overall the characters alive at the end are in a much better place then they were before.
  • In Iter Vehemens Ad Necem, going through the incredibly hard dungeon and finally retrieving the head of Elpuri, or going even further to get the Shirt of the Golden Eagle results in...Petrus upholding their promise and freeing/knighting you, respectively, and in the former case, that's still happier than you might think, as you still get to keep all the loot you acquired. The only ending that could be considered 'bad' is slaughtering the entirety of Attnam and becoming Mortifier's right-hand man, but even that is beneficial to the Player Character.
  • Luminous Avenger iX: Despite being Darker and Edgier than the previous titles of the Azure Striker Gunvolt Series (which themselves usually have a Bittersweet Ending at best), complete with The Reveal the game takes place in an Alternate Timeline where the Bad Ending of the first game goes through, the game actually does end on a genuinely optimistic note, with Blade and Kohaku managing to save Copen and Lola from dying after the Final Battle, and as the sequel indicates, the world has largely remained peaceful after Asimov's demise.

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, despite all the hardships the group goes through, and even during what seems to be a no-win situation, they manage to Take a Third Option and escape the Neo World Program with their memories and a drive to create their own futures intact. It's also heavily implied that their dead friends could all be revived from their comas as well. Not only that, said friends (with one exception) are ultimately revived as of Danganronpa 3. That's right, a near-Everybody Lives ending in Danganronpa of all things!
  • After the tragically bittersweet ending of Doki Doki Literature Club! in which Monika realizes the error of her ways and restores the game to normal, but with what's left of her data removed, only for Sayori to gain self-awareness instead and start to turn into the next Monika before Monika gives up and destroys the entire game, the player may be surprised to learn of a secret, significantly less bittersweet ending unlocked by going through every girl's route and viewing every CG before Sayori's suicide (which requires starting the game multiple times.) Said ending still involves Sayori gaining self-awareness, but upon seeing how much the player went out of their way to spend time with everyone ends up thanking the player for caring about everyone so much, and the goodbye note from Monika is replaced with a thank you letter from the developer. The game is still rendered unplayable afterwards, but Sayori, Natsuki and Yuri still get to live on afterwards.
  • Fate/stay night:
    • The Realta Nua PS2 port adds a "Last Episode" epilogue to the Fate Route's ending, where Saber returns to Camlann at the end of the Grail War. In that epilogue, Merlin explains that for Saber to be reunited with Shirou, two miracles must occur — Saber has to wait endlessly while Shirou has to pursue her endlessly. In the end, they both fulfill the miracles and reunite in Avalon.
    Shirou: "I'm back, Saber."
    Saber: "Yes. Welcome back, Shirou."
    • The Heaven's Feel route of the visual novel counts; while one of the endings is an absolute soul-crushing Tear Jerker in which Shirou dies performing a Heroic Sacrifice, the other ending, marked as the "True" ending, is the only no-caveats happy ending in the entire work, in which Everybody Lives who possibly can, and they all make it out happy.
  • Higurashi: When They Cry is a Dysfunction Junction horror series where the murderous, gory insanity of nearly all its protagonists is integral to their Character Development, and to the viewer solving the central mystery and figuring out the plot. It is also a series devoted to showing the best aspects of human nature as well as the worst, and it is ultimately the story of how seven very damaged, surprisingly sympathetic people learn to trust and confide in one another, overcoming their flaws to build the safe, loving family that only a few of them had and all of them need. The finale's Aesop is not a new one for anime or video games — working together, friends can defy fate itself — but the realism and multiple angles from which it approaches that Aesop makes the story a surprisingly heartwarming, inspirational one. In particular, the Atonement arc had this going for it (in the anime, not the visual novel; the latter had a rather nasty plot twist). Rena did some terrible things, and tried to do even more, but that hug between her and Keiichi was so sweet it transcended shipping preferences.
  • Steins;Gate seemingly ends with Okabe achieving a Pyrrhic Victory, saving his closest friend after an extensive Trauma Conga Line and at the cost of the woman he fell in love with. But then the series reminds the audience of the yet-to-be-explained weirdness of the first episode and that John Titor existed before the shift to the Alpha world line...

    Web Animation 
  • The last part of PONY.MOV, in sharp contrast with the usual endings from other animations done by Max Gilardi, and the cynical tone of the previous episodes, ends on a happy manner with Ponyville rebuilt, the Mane Six on good terms again, and Applejack even keeps her character development from Ask Jappleack.
  • RWBY: After the Downer Ending of Volume 3 which saw the deaths of Pyrrha and Penny, the destruction of Beacon Academy, Ozpin going missing, and all of the heroines sans Ruby all varying degrees of battered and demoralised, Volume 4 ends with Weiss escaping from Atlas and her controlling abusive father to join Cool Big Sis Winter, Blake undergoing much-needed Character Development and vowing to take back control of the White Fang, and perhaps most optimistically, Yang regaining her fighting spirit (as well as a replacement for her right arm) and travelling to Mistral to join Ruby. The only thing that's sad about the ending is that Weiss had to leave Atlas with her claim to the Schnee Dust Company ripped away from her and that Haven's already infiltrated with Salem's minions, with the headmaster being The Mole.
  • Invoked in Internet Historian's biography of Stede Bonnet, The Gentleman Pirate. He acknowledges that the real-life Stede was executed and didn't have a happy ending, but the biography decides to go with a more satisfying conclusion: Stede is able to stop his execution and kill his enemies with a machine gun. He then rides away on a speedboat with tons of gold, his children, and his magically-revived Quartermaster.
  • Monster Lab (2021) is a rather bloody adult comedy - oh, and an original work by MeatCanyon for crying out loud - about a Mad Scientist and his paranoid neighbour. Yet surprisingly it isn't a complete horror fest, but rather has an ending where every major character (protagonist and antagonist) ends up a better person (yes, even the bloodthirsty demon in the basement comes out better).
  • Missing Cat is a video by Darkbox Horror, who specializes in horror works. Rather than some Cruel Twist Ending as usual, the video ends with the protagonist finding the missing daughter from the posters, beating down the kidnapper, and getting his reward money as the family happily reunites.

  • Platypus Comix has pulled this a few times:
    • In True Believers, Joe Quesadilla's attempts to break up the Happily Married Spider-Man and Mary Jane Watson climax with MJ undergoing a Disney Villain Death. When he goes down to collect MJ's body, though, she springs back to life, pulls out a Retcon stamp that she stole from Quesadilla earlier, and uses it to Retgone Quesadilla. Once she reunites with Spidey, she explains that she managed to return because Death Is Cheap in the Marvel Universe. Additionally, the disappearance of Joe Quesadilla and his Executive Meddling cause the comic industry to flourish.
    • Electric Wonderland has a story in which a cyberspace superhero known as the Nettropolis Narvel finds his life to be a mere simulation. In the "real" cyberspace, he falls in love with a selfish young woman, Vicky, who he mistakes for his crimefighting partner, Girl Friday. Unfortunately, Vicky deems herself too sinful for an incorruptible boyfriend like Narvel, and sends him to get treated for his delusions of superheroism. Narvel continues to insist to remorseful Vicky that she is Girl Friday, and gives her a kiss. They suddenly both find themselves back in the lives they led as superheroes, revealing that the world in which Narvel and Friday had no superpowers was nothing more than a simulation created by their enemy.
  • Tales of the Unusual is known for its multitude of downer endings. However, a few stories end surprisingly well considering their genre:
    • "The Future Spirit" is about a man who can see how people are going to die (including himself) but usually leaves them to their fate lest he be blamed when they inevitably die another way. He falls in love with a woman he saved, but he is worried that she wouldn't take it well if he told her about the future spirits. They have several close calls with death, culminating in an earthquake with a large death toll. The man gives up his protective charm to save the woman and worries that she died anyway, but it turns out she is alive and understands his situation. They become Happily Married and find stable jobs.
    • "Ghost Home Care" is about a man who hires a ghost cleaning service because his apartment is a mess and he's too exhausted to clean it after working at his new job. After a month, he finds the ghosts' help awkward and cancels the service. Unlike other stories of that nature, there are no repercussions to canceling and the man realizes he can handle the housekeeping himself.

    Web Original 
  • Worm is very dark, and it's a very rough ride for the characters, especially the protagonist. But in the end, the world is saved and Taylor survives with a chance to start her life over. A lot of people still died, and it's still definitely a Crapsack World, but considering the From Bad to Worse nature of the series, the world not literally ending is pretty positive result.
  • Ruby Quest is a Cosmic Horror Story with a happy ending. It's even more surprising because it wasn't supposed to be this way; the players kept doing the unexpected, resulting in Ruby and Tom escaping the facility together along with fellow survivor Jay, sharing a bottle of champagne as they ride off into the sunset.
  • If you want to believe this tale, the SCP Foundation actually gets this in the end, and boy if it isn't well deserved. After the Scarlet King is defeated by the armies of the Brothers Three, one of their soldiers comes to a pond in a forest, where she takes of her armor and washes off the blood, before she walks home.
    The end of the world went like this: Everyone lived happily ever after.
  • Season 2 of the Dream SMP was just one long Trauma Conga Line for Tommy, to the point where, when Dream sent him and Tubbo an ultimatum to meet him somewhere far away to fight for the discs one last time, the most optimistic predictions still involved Tommy and Tubbo losing the fight and ending up in prison. However, a few days before the fight, Tommy quietly sent Punz a massive bribe, leading to Punz secretly rallying about half the server to come in and save Tommy and Tubbo from Dream. Dream was subsequently stripped of his power, locked in prison, and the season ended with Tommy and Tubbo sitting on their bench, listening to the discs, as Wilbur briefly returns as a ghost to tell Tommy just how proud he is of what they've pulled off. However, this gets somewhat undercut by Dream and Punz later confirming that this "victory" had been staged all along, to much contention from some parts of the fandom. That being said, it's fair to say that the results of this "staged victory" were much, much worse than Dream anticipated.

    Western Animation 
  • The final moments of Moral Orel are surprisingly uplifting, specially taking in consideration the bitter conclusion of the first and second season, and the more cynical tone of the third season, with the last minutes of the series showing the main character having a happy, loving family as an adult.
  • The series finale of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated. After Scooby destroys the Evil Entity (whom has just torn Crystal Cove to pieces and threatened to do so to the rest of the world), the results of doing so wind up re-writing and undoing all of the series pre-history, transforming their home into a perfect utopia of peace and happiness. Initially, the gang is down on their luck because in doing so, there are no more mysteries to solve. Until the new timeline's version of their taskmaster Mr. E (Season 1 special guest Harlan Ellison, who remembers all timeline alterations) offers them admission to his school, which specializes in solving mysteries.
  • Castlevania (2017) is not the kind of story you'd expect to have a happy ending, yet the season 4 finale firmly established that all the heroes and even some of the villains got their happily ever after.
    • The entire 4th season had been full of death flags for Trevor. His girlfriend was pregnant, he admitted that there was no place for killers like him in a happy world, even the poster showed him somberly looking at the audience as the family crest on his tunic dissolved. When he goes up against Death, both him, the other characters and the audience expect it to be his last dance. However, as Trevor strikes at Death with a dagger that will surely kill him in the backlash, Saint Germain opens the Infinite Corridoor, sending Trevor safely a few miles away from the explosion. He arrives back at the Dracula castle a few days later, a bit worse for wear but still alive, ready to live in the world Sypha and Alucard are building.
    • Isaac spent all of season 3 growing a deep hatred for humanity, though gaining some appreciation for it as well. In season 4, he admits that killing the evil magician felt good, like he was ridding the world of some evil. After killing Carmilla, he decides to take the Captain's advice and build something better in Styria.
    • Hector manages to outwit the vampires that enslaved him and, surprising even himself, is spared by Isaac, who encourages him to do what he wants, not be a slave to someone else. Hector decides to settle down in peace.
    • Striga and Morana realize that following Carmilla's plan would ultimately result in a Pyrrhic Victory. When Carmilla dies, they decide to run off together.
    • Most surprising of all, Dracula. As a side-effect of Saint Germain and Trevor screwing up Death's plan, he and his Morality Chain wife Lisa are resurrected safely. No longer motivated to kill all of humanity, they decide to move to Whitby, England.
  • It seemed like the Grand Finale of Codename: Kids Next Door was going to end the series on a bittersweet note at best. Numbuh One apparently had to leave the Earth and his friends behind forever, and now it looked like he and kids in general in the universe at large might be in more trouble than before, due to the information Father had gained from the interview. Until the final scene, that is, when a call revealed that the adult members of Sector V had been playing Father for a sap all along, and Numbuh One was finally coming back home.
  • Another seemingly bittersweet example is Gravity Falls, when Stan Pines sacrificed himself by having his mind erased in order to destroy Bill Cipher. Mabel, desperate to restore his memories, showed him a scrapbook she worked on throughout the summer, and it gradually manages to work.
  • In the Sponge Bob Squarepants episode “Party Pooper Pants”, SpongeBob throws a house party that he tries to assert tyrannical authority over, due to reading a guide to throwing parties that said unsupervised parties lead to disaster. He takes this literally and rips into his guests whenever they deviate from his impractical schedule and forces them to participate in his ideas of fun (which are all really lame). It’s not until he gets locked outside his house that the guests finally have a good time doing what they want, and SpongeBob, watching from outside, thinks the party is going disastrously, oblivious to how much they’re enjoying themselves. He doesn’t get back into his house until the following morning, by which time he assumes the party was a disaster without his supervision. However, Patrick arrives to thank him for the party, declaring he’s the best party-planner ever. SpongeBob finally finds peace knowing everyone enjoyed the party, and is implied to realize it went great without his boring schedule, giving the episode a happy ending.
  • In the Wander over Yonder episode "The Nice Guy," Wander goes through hell trying to buy one bottle of Thunder Blazz for Sylvia. When he's about to buy the last bottle, he sees a little girl crying over there being none left. Wander then pays for the drink, but gives it to the little girl. It looks like this episode is going to have a Bittersweet Ending as Wander goes to Sylvia and is about to give her the bad news that he couldn't get her the drink she wanted, only for the little girl to come up and give the drink to Sylvia, whom she planned on giving it to all along because she saw how thirsty she was. She even says Wander's line, "Never hurts to help."
    Real Life 
  • Although not a work, the end of the Cold War qualifies. Even as late as 1986, everyone believed the only way the ideological struggle between the USSR/Warsaw Pact and United States/NATO was going to end was with a nuclear war, as both blocs finally threw all their nuclear missiles at their opponent as World War III erupted. Nobody suspected that 1987 would see the beginnings of a renewed detente between the two nations, rapprochment between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev and a major arms-limitation agreement. Much less did anyone forsee the Hole in Flag revolutions that swept through the Warsaw Pact nations in 1989, including the dismantling of the Berlin Wall and the peaceful reunification of East and West Germany. And the events of 1991, culminating in the Christmas Day dissolution of the Soviet Union, and Gorbachev peacefully handing over his power to Boris Yeltsin of the Russian Federation, would have been a complete surprise to people in 1986.


Video Example(s):


Party Pooper Pants

SpongeBob comes home after a night in jail, thinking his party was a disaster because no one followed his schedule, but Patrick happily agrees it was the best party ever, and SpongeBob realizes he doesn't need a schedule to have the perfect party.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / SurprisinglyHappyEnding

Media sources: