50 Most Depressing Happy Endings

12 Angry Men (1957)

The Happy Ending: Juror 3 finally changes his pivotal vote to ‘not guilty’, meaning an innocent man is spared life imprisonment.

The Depressing Implications: The reason Juror 3 wanted the convicted to be guilty? Because of his bad relationship with his son. This guy’s not got a particularly happy future, we feel…

The Thing (1982)

The Happy Ending: R.J. MacReady (Kurt Russell) and Blair (Wilford Brimley) escape the research station and watch it burn to the ground, taking with it the creepy shape-changing alien.

The Depressing Implications: Yippee, the guys managed to defeat the alien. Right? We mean, they definitely did didn't they? But now they’re stranded in the snowy Antarctic with little hope for survival. Also, one of them is probably an alien.

Clueless (1995)

The Happy Ending: Cher (Alicia Silverstone) ends up with the perfect guy – step-brother Josh (Paul Rudd).

The Depressing Implications: Cher’s still a teenager, which means she’s a hormonal mess who’ll probably change her mind about Josh in a New York minute. Not helping matters, she also lives her life my fashion, the greatest example of ‘out with the old, in with the new’ we can think of. Sorry Josh, it’s entirely likely you’re for the scrap heap.

Poltergeist (1982)

The Happy Ending: The Freeman family manage to get back young Carol-Anne (Heather O’Rourke), who’d been kidnapped by things from the beyond, and escape their house just as it implodes.

The Depressing Implications: Sure they survived, but the Freemans now have no home. And to top it off, Carol-Anne’s been through some serious trauma. Ignore Poltergeist II and III (and that throwaway line about her not remembering anything) – this girl’s head should be spinning after what she’s seen on the Other Side.

Star Wars Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi (1983)

The Happy Ending: The Emperor and his Republic have been defeated, and Luke (Mark Hamill), Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) can party in peace with the Ewoks.

The Depressing Implications: Is it really all that easy? Not according to astrophysicist Dr Curtis Saxton, whose analysis of the destruction of the Death Star 2 reveals that the Ewok moon Endor would have been completely destroyed by flying shrapnel. We'll probably find out in 2015 if Wicket and his mates were torn to shreds seconds after the credits rolled. It'll almost certainly be the opening scene of Episode VII.

Love And Other Drugs (2010)

The Happy Ending: Jamie (Jake Gyllenhaal) decides to turn down his job in Chicago and stay with sickly Maggie (Anne Hathaway), despite her protestations.

The Depressing Implications:
Maggie’s still got early on-set Parkinson’s disease, and her condition will only worsen over time…

Gladiator (2000)

The Happy Ending: General Maximus Decimus Meridius (Russell Crowe) dies at the hands of evil emperor Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), but reunites with his family in the fields of Elysium.

The Depressing Implications: So there’s a ghostly allusion to the fact that Maximus has reunited with his dead family in the afterlife. But he’s still ruddy dead, isn’t he?

Blade Runner (1982)

The Happy Ending: Ex-police officer Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) tracks down the last Replicant, Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) and watches as he dies on a rooftop. He then reunites with Rachael (Sean Young).

The Depressing Implications: Deckard’s defeated Roy, but is Deckard himself a Replicant who’ll be consigned to the same fate? Guess we’ll have to wait for the in-pre-production Blade Runner 2.

The Graduate (1967)

The Happy Ending: Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) gate-crashes Elaine’s (Katharine Ross) wedding and they run away together.

The Depressing Implications:
The “So, now what do we do?” looks on both their faces indicate this isn’t actually happily ever after, after all…

The Little Mermaid (1989)

The Happy Ending: Ariel and her fishy friends destroy evil sea-witch Ursula, and the wee sea-maiden bags her man and a band of gold.

The Depressing Implications: Sadly, bagging her man means Ariel has to leave behind her life under the sea and start a new one on land. Bye-bye family. Bye-bye fishy friends…

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.