Writing a story isn't simple. For that matter, it's not easy to write up a satisfying conclusion for a story. That being said, some writers find new and unique ways to conclude their stories and, even when they don't work, at least they're interesting. Other writers take the lazy route and just employ trite, over-used endings that not only aren't good, but are predictable. In taking the lazy "safe" route they, ironically, have conclusions that are generally worse. So, which three cliched ending scenarios stand out as the absolute worst? Let's take a look. 

3. The Forced Happy Ending

There's absolutely nothing wrong with having a  happy ending. However, some writers decide that they want one by any means and they force resolutions. They force everything to fall neatly into place so that they can have their happy ending. Even when a bittersweet or even sad ending would have been more natural. It's not just children's works that do this either. I've seen things for teenagers and adults that have all the setup leading to tragedy only for a rescue to come from nowhere  or for another form of Deus Ex moment to save the day so that everything can end on a happy note. 

A more minor form of this is when everything gets neatly wrapped up when there are some loose ends that really should have been left open since the writer has to basically force the resolution on them. If you're aiming to be a writer, let the story end naturally. Even if the natural ending is sad, depressing or bittersweet and don't be afraid to leave some aspects of the ending open. Sometimes, loose ends work for a story. 

2.  It Was All Just a Dream/Simulation.

We've all seen half-wit writers pull this one. The ending of Star Trek Enterprise pulled this one. Which is part of why Enterprise is to the series what the Abrams films are to the films. It's a lazy way to return things to the status quo while also invalidating every single thing that happened in a work. Just don't do this one. If you have something occur in a dream or simulation, either strongly hint at it, like the Batman episode: Perchance to Dream, although the title kind of gives it away in that case, or outright state it. Never go through a work, acting like the scenario in question is actually happening in the context of the fictional universe and then end it with the whole ordeal being just a dream or simulation. It's not just bad writing, it will make the audience mad.

I'm  sure a lot of you are thinking, what could possibly be lazier and generally worse than having it all be a dream? Well, there is one type of ending. One that's so egregiously over-used, so idiotically contrived that it ends up being a lot more obnoxious in general. 

1. Babies Ever After. 

Yeah, we've all seen this one hundreds of thousands of times. The hero and/or heroine settle down, have a family and become boring. It gives lousy writers a way to  give the main characters a happy ending while also giving the possibility that there could be a sequel about the child characters. 

You might be thinking, "what exactly makes that worse than it being a dream?" Well, I would say there's one major reason. It's a lot  more prevalent. Yes, it's pretty simple to think of a couple high-profile works that notoriously ended with everything being but a dream. But for every work that ends like that, there are hundreds that give you a "babies ever after" ending. 

This ending type is also frequently detrimental to the characters and can even muddle the narrative themes. To give a specific example, the anime Blue Seed is all about how humans have been carelessly over-populating and excessively using resources. Which results in the planet unleashing giant, killer bugs. So, how does it end? Our main characters settle down to have a baby, triumphant and not a single lesson was learned as there's no indication that they're going to be more careful. For another example, take the anime Shinsekai Yori. We have a dystopian future with a notably corrupt and dysfunctional society and our main characters have been witness to this. So, how does it end? They settle down in this corrupted society to be parents. Because isn't that what you would do if you knew first-hand that things were screwed up? Just settle into it and accept it? By the way, the anime treats this as a positive, happy ending. 

Even putting aside examples like that, sequels to works that end like this frequently feature the old heroes in ways that are insulting to any fans the previous work had. They'll be useless or die for cheap angst. Many of these endings also feature characters with no chemistry or who barely know one another or who have shown no indication of romantic feelings before this point, hooking up. Because if the writers were good, this wouldn't be their ending. Then we have the works that really take it to the heights of idiocy where every freaking character seems to hook up with their teenage/childhood love interest and they all have babies. 

That being said, it is possible to have characters have children as part of a good ending. I'd say the anime Nanoha StrikerS, which ends with the main heroines adopting a daughter, is a good example. But the writing for that also took the steps of establishing their relationship, introducing their adoptive child early on and it was only a small part of the ending and not the focal point. Furthermore, the follow-up series, Vivid, has both Nanoha and Fate in more supportive roles but they're also both shown to still be powerful and competent women. 

That being said, having children as a part of the ending, doesn't make it a "babies ever after" ending. The babies ever after ending is still complete, highly over-used, rubbish. 

Published by Mischa A