Movies ruined by "Happy Endings". So spoilers, I hope

Riffing off of this thread, what are the films you think were, if not ruined, then lessened by a tacked-on happy ending (or a sad ending, to make it more ‘artsy’). I’m of the opinion that books-to-movie films are especially prone to this, I Am Legend jumps quickly into mind.

In my opinion, the movie that suffers the most for the dumb and so very much not needed “happy ending” is A.I. Artificial Intelligence. The very sad but appropriate ending was David sitting at the bottom of the ocean waiting for his mom to come love him. The tacked on alien bullshit was dumb. In that thread Slithy_Trove gives an example of the good happy ending being ruined by a tacked on sad ending. I think there are much less of those but would be happy to see examples. Any others?

I think the theatrical cut of Blade Runner is the perfect example of this. Ruins a great final line.

Well, right off the bat…they aren’t aliens. They’re advanced Mechas. And the reason they treat David so well is because he’s their only collection to the mythical “humans” that created them. That’s why they give him the lie of seeing his mother again. That was all a simulation. David was so unsophisticated that the mechas couldn’t “fix” him, so they did the best they could. They gave him what he wanted, even if it wasn’t real. And he was happy.

I think it is one of the best endings.

The Descent had a “happy ending” especially for the U.S. release. So did Blade Runner (or was that everywhere?) Disney version of The Little Mermaid. Lots of these, really.

Everyone is entitled to their own wrong opinions and this out-of-left-field, not at all related to the rest of the movie ending being the best can be yours.

The original story did not have the “happy ending”, did it? In any case, I distinctly remember Brian Aldiss saying that was the first time and the last time he agreed to have one of his stories adapted into a movie, and the only reason he agreed to do it was because he believed in Stanley Kubrick.

Book adoptions are very bad for this, as noted. I guess there is justification because when the movie Cujo came out, I did NOT want to see that ending played out on the big screen. Turns out I didn’t need to worry.

Same to you, then.


Cluless executives either didn’t understand the movie at all, or were just so stubbornly dedicated to their old-school thinking that “people want a happy ending!” that they didn’t care that their shitty ending ruined the film.

The Game would have been a much better movie if Michael Douglas’s character went splat instead of landing on an air cushion.

This is not the first time people have misunderstood the ending of A.I.

I have been explaining it for twenty years.

The 1990 film of The Witches has a tacked-on ending where a “good witch” randomly shows up to zap the main character back into human form. (In the book, he’s still a mouse at the end.)

People failing to understand that the aliens are actually mechas and failing to understand that the mechas are doing XYZ for reason ABC, is a not a failure of the audience, but a failure of the storyteller.

The audience was bracing themselves for a “Jurassic Bark” ending, watching this poor creature get set to wait for a happy ending that will never come, and the heart wrenching emotional hit they’re going to take when the movie ends, only to have it never happen. An audience ready to love this character and weep for his misfortune, got to watch a confusing happy ending instead.

I was going to say that people “misunderstanding” the ending of the movie and you having to explain it for 20 years does not speak well for the ending but Cheesesteak said it better.

This is an argument that no movie can be smarter than its stupidest audience member.

I was going to debate this more but then I thought of how the end of The Soprano makes absolute perfect sense, especially since one character explained that when you die, that’s it. The end of all for you. There is nothing else. And then half the world didn’t understand it the way I did. Everyone is entitled to their own wrong opinion.

I didn’t have any problem understanding they were an advanced form of robot and didn’t consider for a moment they were aliens. Because “advanced robots” trying to understand their long-departed makers made perfect sense in the context and “aliens” didn’t.

I’m not going to argue whether one should or should not like the ending, but it wasn’t that obscure IMO and I don’t know why people struggle with it.

“Minority Report.”

Mine was another Spielberg (the third!), War of the Worlds. I always thought it would be best for Rachel to die after Robbie leaves… say, when Rachel and Ray get captured by the aliens. Ray, feeling the weight of losing both of his children, resolves to do the bare minimum and inform his ex-wife, in person.

Final shots are the same… Ray approaches the house (without Rachel). The door opens, revealing the in-laws. Then Mary Ann, the ex, shows up. Cruise, still thinking that both his kids are dead, breaks down, crying, movie magic showing that the message that the kids were gone being communicated between the parents, Mary Ann obviously devastated.


Robbie shows up, pushes past his mother, taking to the fore. Ray gasps, realizing: his family was safer without him, even in a battlefield. Despondent, his self image shattered, he falls to his knees while Robbie guides his mother and grandmother back in the house, the final shot being the door closing on a prostate Ray.

A 1988 Dutch movie given the English name “The Vanishing” (“Spoorloos” in Dutch, meaning “Traceless” or “Without a Trace”) had an American remake with the same name in 1993, starring Kiefer Sutherland.

Both have a pretty simple plot- a man’s girlfriend disappears and he goes on an obsessive quest to find out what happened to her.

The Dutch version has a very dark, diabolical ending: a mysterious person tells him he can find out the truth about what happened to her if he takes a knockout drug. He does, and wakes up buried alive. Horrors! The end.

But the American version tacks on a stupid happy ending: an added character who figures out he’s buried alive and digs him out in time.