50 Most Depressing Happy Endings

The Last Samurai (2003)

The Happy Ending: American soldier Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise) helps the Japanese emperor realise that Japan needs to modernise in order to progress, and the country rediscovers its fighting spirit.

The Depressing Implications: Just seventy years later, the country bombs Pearl Harbour and launches itself into World War II… Gulp.

The Pursuit Of Happyness (2008)

The Happy Ending: Struggling genius Chris Gardner (Will Smith) finally nabs himself a job and establishes his own brokerage firm.

The Depressing Implications: The film’s set in 1981. In 1982, a “deep recession” gripped America, causing many to lose their jobs. We hope the movie version of Gardner wasn’t one of them. Despite being based on a true story, Happyness condenses real events that took place over a period of several years into a few months. The real Gardner made it out of the recession okay - but Smith's version had a lot more to deal with, in a shorter space of time.

Field Of Dreams (1989)

The Happy Ending: “Build it and they will come.” Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) builds his own baseball field, plays catch with his dead dad, and watches as hundreds of people come to watch the baseball.

The Depressing Implications: But wait, Ray doesn’t have a license to charge for large-scale baseball games, nor does he belong to a league. Then there’s the fact that he has no staff, no toilets and his business is out in the middle of bleeding nowhere…

Predator (1987)

The Happy Ending: Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger) outsmarts the Predator and traps it after a fist fight. Then blows the sucker to smithereens.

The Depressing Implications: So there’s no trace of the Predator left. How on Earth is Dutch going to explain all the deaths in the jungle to his superiors without ending up in a mental asylum and/or jail?

What Dreams May Come (1998)

The Happy Ending: After the most epic of quests, Chris (Robin Williams) reunites with his wife and kids in Heaven. Ahhh.

The Depressing Implications: Chris suggests reincarnation to his wife, and they’re apparently reborn as kids. Which means they'll probably have to go through the whole palava all over again at some point.

Stranger Than Fiction (2006)

The Happy Ending: Harold (Will Ferrell) saves a boy from being mowed down by a bus and ends up in hospital – but he doesn’t die as his narrator Karen (Emma Thompson) had predicted.

The Depressing Implications: Harold survived, hurrah! But he’s still a character in a book whose entire life is predetermined by an author. Not exactly the happiest of endings, then…

Scream (1996)

The Happy Ending: After being stalked by a pair of psycho serial killers, Sidney (Neve Campbell) survives – alongside buddy Randy (Jamie Kennedy), news reporter Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) and police officer Dewey (David Arquette).

The Depressing Implications: Sidney survived, but she also discovered that her mum was a massive slut and basically responsible (however indirectly) for all of her friends being dead. Bummer.

Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King (2003)

The Happy Ending: The One Ring has been destroyed. So has Gollum and, apparently, Sauron. Cue lots of drinking and partying in the Shire.

The Depressing Implications: All is right in Middle-earth, with balance restored and the evil forces of Sauron defeated. But Frodo still has to go off to the Undying Lands with the elves, leaving behind his hobbit friends. Fetch the tissues, will you?

Beauty And The Beast (1991)

The Happy Ending: Belle declares her love for the Beast, which he returns. Cue a swish of Disney magic, and the Beast is returned to his princely human form just in time for the end credits.

The Depressing Implications: The film’s set in the late 1700s. Problem is, the French revolution kicked off in 1789 and the aristocracy were overthrown by new notions of equality and citizenship. Wonder if Belle, her prince, and their staff survived that…

Forrest Gump (1994)

The Happy Ending: Forrest’s (Tom Hanks) true love Jenny (Robin Wright) dies, but he’s left with a gorgeous little Forrest Jr (Haley Joel Osment) to give his life meaning.

The Depressing Implications: Jenny dies from an unknown illness. Considering the time period (this is the ‘80s) and the script's own heavy hints, one could argue she is dying of AIDS. Therefore, if she gave birth to a child while ill, whatever she had is likely to have passed onto her offspring…

Josh Winning has worn a lot of hats over the years. Contributing Editor at Total Film, writer for SFX, and senior film writer at the Radio Times. Josh has also penned a novel about mysteries and monsters, is the co-host of a movie podcast, and has a library of pretty phenomenal stories from visiting some of the biggest TV and film sets in the world. He would also like you to know that he "lives for cat videos..." Don't we all, Josh. Don't we all.