A HAPPY ENDING is an ending of the plot of a work of fiction in which
almost everything turns out for the best for the protagonists , their
sidekicks , and almost everyone except the villains .
In storylines where the protagonists are in physical danger , a happy
ending mainly consists in their surviving and successfully concluding
their quest or mission. Where there is no physical danger, a happy
ending may be lovers consummating their love despite various factors
which may have thwarted it. A considerable number of storylines
combine both situations. In
Steven Spielberg 's version of "War of the
Worlds ", the happy ending consists of three distinct elements: The
protagonists all survive the countless perils of their journey;
humanity as a whole survives the alien invasion; and the protagonist
father regains the respect of his estranged children. The plot is so
constructed that all three are needed for the audience's feeling of
satisfaction in the end.
A happy ending is epitomized in the standard fairy tale ending
phrase, "HAPPILY EVER AFTER" or "and they lived happily ever after".
One Thousand and One Nights has the more restrained formula "they
lived happily until there came to them the One who Destroys all
Happiness" (i.e. Death); likewise, the Russian versions of fairy tales
typically end with "they lived long and happily, and died together on
the same day".) Satisfactory happy endings are happy for the reader as
well, in that the characters he or she sympathizes with are rewarded.
However, this can also serve as an open path for a possible sequel.
For example, in the 1977 film Star Wars ,
Luke Skywalker defeats the
Galactic Empire by destroying the
Death Star ; however, the story's
happy ending has consequences that follow in
The Empire Strikes Back .
The concept of a permanent happy ending is specifically brought up in
Stephen King fantasy/fairy tale novel
The Eyes of the Dragon which
has a standard good ending for the genre, but simply states that
"there were good days and bad days" afterwards.
* 1 Features
* 2 Examples
* 2.2 Novels
* 3 See also
* 4 References
A happy ending only requires that the main characters be all right.
Millions of innocent background characters can die, but as long as the
characters that the reader/viewer/audience cares about survive, it can
still be a happy ending.
Roger Ebert comments ironically in his review
Roland Emmerich 's
The Day After Tomorrow
The Day After Tomorrow : "Billions of people may
have died, but at least the major characters have survived. Los
Angeles is leveled by multiple tornadoes, New York is buried under ice
and snow, the United Kingdom is flash-frozen, and lots of the Northern
Hemisphere is wiped out for good measure. Thank god that Jack, Sam,
Laura, Jason and Dr. Lucy Hall survive, along with Dr. Hall's little
The presence of a happy ending is one of the key points that
distinguish melodrama from tragedy . In certain periods, the endings
of traditional tragedies such as
Oedipus Rex , in which
most of the major characters end up dead, disfigured, or
discountenanced, have been actively disliked. In the Seventeenth
Century, the Irish author
Nahum Tate sought to improve William
King Lear in his own heavily modified version in which
Lear survives and Cordelia marries Edgar. Tate's version dominated
performances for a century and a half, Shakespeare's original nearly
David Garrick and
John Philip Kemble , while taking up
some of Shakespeare's original text, kept Tate's happy ending. Edmund
King Lear with its tragic ending in 1823, but failed and
reverted to Tate's crowd-pleaser after only three performances. Only
in 1838 did
William Macready at Covent Garden successfully restore
Shakespeare's original tragic end – Helen Faucit 's final appearance
as Cordelia, dead in her father's arms, became one of the most iconic
of Victorian images and the play's tragic end was finally accepted by
the general public. Most subsequent critics have not found Tate's
amendments an improvement, and welcomed the restoration of
Shakespeare's original. Happy endings have also been fastened –
equally, with no lasting success – to
Romeo and Juliet and
There is no universally accepted definition of what a happy ending is;
such definitions can considerably vary with time and cultural
differences. An interpretation of
The Merchant of Venice 's forced
Shylock to Christianity is that it was intended as a
happy ending. As a Christian,
Shylock could no longer impose interest,
undoing his schemes in the play and ending the rivalry between him and
Antonio, but more important, contemporary audiences would see becoming
a Christian as a means to save his soul (cf. Romans 11:15). In later
times, Jews (and non-Jewish opponents of anti-Semitism) strongly
objected to that ending, regarding it as depicting a victory for
injustice and oppression and as pandering to the audience's
Similarly, given the assumptions about women's role in society
prevalent at the time of writing,
The Taming of the Shrew 's
concluding with the complete breaking of Kate's rebelliousness and her
transformation into an obedient wife counted as a happy ending.
A Times review of
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold strongly
John le Carré for failing to provide a happy ending, and
gave unequivocal reasons why in the reviewer's opinion (shared by many
others) such an ending is needed: "The hero must triumph over his
enemies, as surely as Jack must kill the giant in the nursery tale. If
the giant kills Jack, we have missed the whole point of the story."
George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw had to wage an uphill struggle against audiences,
as well as some critics, persistently demanding that his "Pygmalion "
have a happy ending, i.e. that Professor Higgins and Eliza Doolitle
would ultimately get married. To Shaw's great chagrin, Herbert
Beerbohm Tree who presented the play in London's West End in 1914 had
sweetened the ending and told Shaw: "My ending makes money; you ought
to be grateful. Your ending is damnable; you ought to be shot." The
irritated Shaw added a postscript essay, "'What Happened Afterwards",
to the 1916 print edition, for inclusion with subsequent editions, in
which he explained precisely why in his view it was impossible for the
story to end with Higgins and Eliza getting married. Nevertheless,
audiences continued wanting a happy ending also for later adaptations
such as the musical and film "
My Fair Lady ".
Once upon a time
* ^ Ebert\'s review of The Day After Tomorrow
The Times , September 13, 1968.
* ^ Evans, T.F. (ed.) (1997).
George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw (The Critical
Heritage Series). ISBN 0-415-15953-9 , pp. 223–30.
* ^ "From the Point of View of A Playwright," by Bernard Shaw,
collected in Herbert Beerbohm Tree, Some Memories of Him and His Art,
Collected by Max Beerbohm (1919). London: Hutchinson. Versions at Text
Archive Internet Archive
* ^ Shaw, Bernard, edited by Dan H. Laurence. Collected Letters
vol. III: 1911–1925.
* ^ Shaw, G.B. (1916). Pygmalion. New York: Brentano. Sequel: What
Happened Afterwards. Bartleby: Great Books Online.
* Dying Earth
Fantasy of manners
* Lost World
Sword and sorcery
FILM AND TELEVISION
* Television programs
* Ballantine Adult
* The Encyclopedia of
* Internet Speculative
* List of novels (A–H)
* Newcastle Forgotten
* The Magazine of Fantasy
Harry Potter fandom
Works inspired by J. R. R. Tolkien
* Old Ones