Stories have their usual set up. The protagonist does his thing and beats the antagonist in the end. It’s why people read, to see the happy ending. But what about the stories where the ending isn’t so happy?
I remember back when I was younger. I happened upon this thing called Zeta Gundam (Spoilers ahead). It shocked me because people kept dying. And at the end of it’s story, most of the main characters were either dead, M.I.A. or in the case of the protagonist, in a coma. And…I was oddly intrigued.
That started a whole thing of me wondering why so many stories have happy endings. And I went out of my way to try and find more books about the heroes losing. Villians have always been the more interesting to me, their goals, what turned them in the first place, whether they do what they do is out of a greater good. It was all interesting.
And indeed, when I was writing an early draft of my novel, this translated to that. In the end, I think about 66% of my cast of characters were killed off. One of my beta readers caught this and said to me that maybe a few more should live, at least for a few more chapters.
And then I started thinking about it harder. Too many of the things I see advertised today or in the stores have all the signs of modern stories. Oh, they’ll set up the scene fabulously and the protagonist will get dragged into the dirt, but in the end, they’ll get the bad guy and their love interest will return to them. All their friends and allies (well, except maybe one that has to do a heroic sacrifice) will be there to see the new future.
That’s all well and good, it’s a formula, and you can’t really stray to far from a formula. But at least for me, I’d love to see something that subverts the norm and throws me for a loop. I believe I heard of a story where the main character dies halfway in and the story picks up years later with his daughter. That’s some twist of fate stuff right there.
Now, you wonder why I bring this up. Could I be secretly easing everyone into the theoretical blood bath that is the sequel to Resurrection? It’s entirely possible, but you’ll have to wait and see haha. No, this is merely something I am quite interested in. I wished to write my thoughts on the topic and send out the question to everyone. What other books follow the pattern I described. Who is the modern day “Kill em all Tomino (Yoshiyuki Tomino, famous for most of his works where much of the main cast is killed off in the grand finales)?
What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you have any suggestions for me to read where the endings aren’t always happy? Leave them in the comments and let me know. Thanks for reading.