Why can't Mass Effect 3 have a happy ending?

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Oh no, another topic about Mass Effect 3's endings! No please, don't run awa-damn it.

You know, with all this bollcoks about Mass Effect 3's endings, and how people were not happy about it "because it isn't an ending with rainbows and cake" I wondered why it is a bad thing that people want a happy ending for characters they grew attached too.

I for one am okay with a bitter-sweet ending, Shepard dies, some race dies for the greater good, I don't know, something like that, but honestly, why can't we have an ending with rainbows and cake? Why can't we go with Garrus's plan and retire in a tropical area, getting royalties from all the vids about how you guys saved the galaxy?

With a lot of room for error between three games, it would be the primmest example of earning your happy ending, since I don't think everyone would replay the last two games and the third one again just to get that best ending, and if they did, congratulations Bioware, you just made increased the longevity of your game.

I ask you fellow Escapees, why can't Mass Effect 3 have a happy ending?

Because people these days think that "happy endings" are for children and the mentally challenged, that a bitter-sweet/downer ending is "art". Honestly the tone an ending shouldn't matter, only that it fits the game's overall tone, is complete, and doesn't seem to completely recon major points of the game/series in the last minutes of the game. That aside I'd actually prefer a downer/bittersweet ending in which Shep and most of the attacking forces perish in the attack, but the galaxy as a whole is saved. Though part of me does want an ending in which Shep survives, settle down on Ronnoch with Tali, living large of the sales of his Memoirs. Or retiring with Liara somewhere.

I sure would appreciate an ending like that myself. It may not be artistic or thought provoking but I rather like my shepards and my crew, I'd love to be able to make things end well.

I don't see why it shouldn't have a happy ending. But at the same time, I guess it's because most people expect something like the endings we have now, just, you know, better. And actually making some sense. Plus having a bit of closure.

I actually would like to see if Garrus and Shepard actually

*sniff* I just wanted to see my Shepard retired with Tali on Rannoch. Maybe a few adopted kids. But noooooooo. It had to be bittersweet and "thought provoking".

relevant: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TrueArtIsAngsty

Because the series has already set a precedent for happy, positive endings. Mass Effect 1 ends on a triumphant note with the fact that the galaxy has proven capable of fighting off the Reapers.

Mass Effect 2 showed that against all odds, on a mission that would most likely end in death, victory can be achieved.

Even with all the sacrifices that you make along the way, it is hard to dispute the happiness of those endings.

That sounds really pretentious, saying it's not happy in the name of art.

I think we can thank the "You just wanted a Rainbows and Ponies Ending" nay-sayers for that. It's reached the point where those of us who are displeased with the ending have to be very careful about how we defend ourself because it's far too easy to dismiss us as "just sad that we couldn't fly away to some beach and watch our little blue babies play while we crack a beer with Garrus."

Of course anyone with half a brain has realized how shortsighted and stupid such a dismissal is, and yet I am continually having to say "I don't need Shepard to even survive, I just want an actual ending, not some disjointed, inconclusive, circular logic bullcrap that feels like it didn't even happen in the same game I was playing for the last 19 or so hours."

The Jakeinator:
Oh no, another topic about Mass Effect 3's endings! No please, don't run awa-damn it.

You know, with all this bollcoks about Mass Effect 3's endings, and how people were not happy about it "because it isn't an ending with rainbows and cake" I wondered why it is a bad thing that people want a happy ending for characters they grew attached too.

I for one am okay with a bitter-sweet ending, Shepard dies, some race dies for the greater good, I don't know, something like that, but honestly, why can't we have an ending with rainbows and cake? Why can't we go with Garrus's plan and retire in a tropical area, getting royalties from all the vids about how you guys saved the galaxy?

With a lot of room for error between three games, it would be the primmest example of earning your happy ending, since I don't think everyone would replay the last two games and the third one again just to get that best ending, and if they did, congratulations Bioware, you just made increased the longevity of your game.

I ask you fellow Escapees, why can't Mass Effect 3 have a happy ending?

Because a happy ending would pretty much run against the theme of the game. I mean, look at Earth, Palaven, Thessia, they're all decimated by the Reapers. There is no happy ending for the characters in the current cycle because it will take more than their natural lives to rebuild from the destruction wrought by the Reapers.

There is no beach for Shepard and Garrus to retire to; Mordin's seashells are ashes.

What's the point of the ice cream cone Reapers and Krogan cake if all you have to celebrate in the ruins of an empire?

The Jakeinator:
I ask you fellow Escapees, why can't Mass Effect 3 have a happy ending?

It seems like "bittersweet" was the best we could've hoped for, what with a few dozen planets reduced to smoldering ruins and a few billion people dead.

Anyway, there really should've been a "Reapers win, everyone dies" ending, and a "Reapers barely defeated, but loads of people die and the galaxy is screwed for a while" ending. But yeah, I also think there could've been a "Reapers beaten, Shepard and crew live and have a post-credits dialogue scene for closure's sake" ending, and that that one should've been the absolute hardest to get (maxed out war assets, all the right choices through all three games, etc.).

Then again, maybe True Art is Angsty, and we're just a bunch of simpletons who expected a basket of candy and puppies. Or whatever.

EDIT: Huh, somebody beat me to the TV Tropes page. Oh well.

Valanthe:
I think we can thank the "You just wanted a Rainbows and Ponies Ending" nay-sayers for that. It's reached the point where those of us who are displeased with the ending have to be very careful about how we defend ourself because it's far too easy to dismiss us as "just sad that we couldn't fly away to some beach and watch our little blue babies play while we crack a beer with Garrus."

Of course anyone with half a brain has realized how shortsighted and stupid such a dismissal is, and yet I am continually having to say "I don't need Shepard to even survive, I just want an actual ending, not some disjointed, inconclusive, circular logic bullcrap that feels like it didn't even happen in the same game I was playing for the last 19 or so hours."

Like I said, I don't mind a bittersweet ending, but I still don't see why there shouldn't be an option to have an ending with rainbows and ponies. I mean, if you have enough war assets-

So why not just have an ending where everything is just fine if it can be implied that happens with enough war assets? I mean, doing everything near perfectly across all three games would have to be the only way to do this, and don't you think people who worked real hard for it deserve an ending that is so satisfying as cracking open a bottle of booze with Garrus while relaxing on the beach>

Ignoring some of the plot holes and contrived bollocks that the games ending comes with, of course.

I think one of the biggest assumptions made, and a completely legitimate one at that, was that the EMS in ME3 would affect the ending of your playthrough. Is it not safe to say that the bigger the allied fleet, the better the odds of survival for the Normandy and its crew members? I didn't think it unreasonable to believe that, much like ME2, the better prepared you went in to the climax of the game, the better the outcome.

Theron Julius:
But noooooooo. It had to be bittersweet and "thought provoking".

I would have been fine both ways.

Little-blue-children-and-beers-on-the-beech-with-Wrex-and-Garrus does have an undeniable appeal.

On the other hand, I was kind of hoping that Shepard would get indoctrinated (yes, I know about that theory, don't bother telling me about it), then struggle on to the final hurdle and barely overcome it before finally releasing self-control and being reduced to a mindless husk. Then one of the squad mates (love interest if your Shepard has one) would volunteer to put Shepard down as an act of mercy.

In short, I have no problems with a happy ending but I feel a bittersweet one would be more in keeping with the game's tone.

At the end of the day I'm just glad they didn't go with pick-your-explosion-colour-with-zero-closure. That would have sucked.

Oh wait.

*nerd rage and bitterness*

Best argument I've seen against the concept is the sheer impossibility of fighting an armada of enemies with a technological edge as extreme as the Reapers have. That argument, I can see, at least. Though it's a claim of questionable validity given both the tendency of the heros to be presented as underdogs in fiction and the technological advancements shown to occur in even the 2 year gap between ME1 and ME2 (notably the Thanix Cannons[1]) which should have given them at least a fighting chance with adequate strategy, and let's face it, half the Reaper's strategy was the element of surprise and cutting off the enemy's head before the battle started[2]. And let's be honest, the entire game sets up the Crucible as something that would shift the odds in your favor anyway[3].

Though as was put in what I considered a fairly well written fan-ending, the Reapers had never had to face the full might of a galaxy united against them, much less one that had started using the Reapers' own weapons against them. So really, why not? Would I expect such a battle to come at a heavy cost? Oh yes, definitely. I'd expect the odds to be as stacked against you as they were when the SR2 began its suicide mission and result in extrmely high casualties even if you did everything right, but it should still be possible if very difficult to achieve, if only because it does EXACTLY what the Reapers' methodology tried to prevent in the first place. I say let an epitaph for World War 2 soldiers apply to the armada: When you go home, tell them of us and say: For your tomorrow, we gave our today.

Should Shepherd survive? Honestly, I could go either way.


That said, I'm very much a fan of the Earn Your Happy Ending. If a good ending is suitably difficult to achieve, then really, why not? Give variants where he dies? Oh yes, please. But we certainly should not be averse to the idea of a happier ending in a space opera.
[1] which utilized the same concepts as Sovereign's attacks, cut through the Collector ship like butter in ME2 as opposed to the ship's prior cutting-edge tech of Javelin Missiles...mind you, ME3 made it rather explict that the Thanix Cannons had become standard issue in the Alliance military, at least
[2] As noted by Vigil in ME1, taking the citadel first not only gave the Reapers access to all relevant data, military tactics, census results, etc, but it also allowed them to kill their victims' leaders before they even realize they're under attack.
[3] that said, I am VERY fond of the idea of the crucible not working as planned, as putting the galaxy's destiny in its own hands plays very well into the repeated notion that people should find their own path rather than retreading an existing one, as it does with the entire 'only together do we have a chance' mantra that had been pushed since ME1

I freely admit, the Hollywood triumphant ending was the one I wanted to see. I don't think it would have to be 100% cake and rainbows - obviously it's a war, there's going to be losses and I'd expect for that to be shown. But I don't think there would have been anything wrong per se with a positive ending.

That said, I figured there was a pretty good chance Shepard was going to wind up dead and I was going to be OK with a bittersweet or downer ending - I just wanted one that made some damned sense.

It's just not about happy/sad endings. It's about an ending that makes sense and actually suits the game universe. This whole "happy/sad" ending discussion is just deflecting what the real problem is.

I thought the endings were fine actually. Not great, they did leave a few lose ends open, but fie. Actually these two articles are pretty similar to my thoughts on the matter.

http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/03/19/whats-right-with-mass-effect-3s-ending/
http://escort-mission.com/2012/03/19/why-retake-mass-effect-makes-me-furious/

The Jakeinator:
why can't Mass Effect 3 have a happy ending?

It's not that it can't, but Bioware has a point that it has been building up to a sacrifice. War sucks, especially when fighting [mecha]Cthulhu. There will be losses and pain and suffering. To do otherwise would be a disservice to how the game has functioned so far.

that isn't to say that the current endings aren't a disservice, but let's not get into that here.

I think we're approaching the point where having a sad ending is more cliché than the apparently cliché happy ending.

I was having this conversation with a friend of mine (who thinks much less highly of the series than I do, and to be honest, probably likes the endings primarily because they piss off so many people), and he thought that there should be no happy ending, because sad endings are "better", and if there was a happy ending, everyone would think of it as the "best" ending. Of course the problem there, is that if you think the happy ending will ultimately be the "best" ending, then maybe you're deluding yourself about what you want...

That being said, even if you were to try and save everyone, and have a "good" ending, there are still numerous people who die. It's not like me2 where you can save everybody and their dog (except for lilith). If you want to get all the war assets, Legion dies, thane dies, and Mordin (one of the best characters from the series imo), and the virmire casualty have to die. Those in themselves, along with other events in me3, were all the sadness I needed from me3. Regardless of what happens at the end, it was never going to be any happier than bittersweet for me.

What I fail to understand when people complain about people who want happy endings, is why they find the idea of a CHOICE of a happy ending so abhorrent. If you want a sad ending because you like sad endings/you think it fits your shepard better/whatever else, then fair enough. I'm not going to argue that you're wrong. What I will argue, is that the people who like happy endings should be able to have the choice for a happy ending (provided of course that bioware finish up the ending).

Even if the game ended with Shepard beating the Reapers, and everyone celebrating afterward in the happiest way possible. It still really isn't a super happy ending. Billions of people died, and a lot of your friends and allies gave their lives during the course of the game.
It is also the last chapter in a beloved series, no matter what, you are going to feel a bit depressed. So people calling bullshit on a happy ending are just idiots.
If I had my way, the ending would just depend heavily on your decisions all game, your war assets and utilizing them properly. Who lives and who dies would all be based on your decisions. You could come out winning with very few losses or you could lose everything.

psicat:
I thought the endings were fine actually. Not great, they did leave a few lose ends open, but fie. Actually these two articles are pretty similar to my thoughts on the matter.

http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/03/19/whats-right-with-mass-effect-3s-ending/
http://escort-mission.com/2012/03/19/why-retake-mass-effect-makes-me-furious/

Yeah, I've got to say those links miss the point spectacularly. Let me quote the second link:

What fans are rebelling against so harshly is the fact that the final moments all lead to the destruction of the relays, and therefore a massive destruction of life in the galaxy. There is no clean, overtly happy ending to the game, and the Catalyst explains this before the final decision is made. This means that for the first time in the series, players actually know the consequences of their choice before they make it- and that's what makes the conclusion so important.

Haha, no. What fans are rebelling against is the fact that
a) The endings come off as incredibly rushed and thereby sloppy, especially in light of the fact that the final cinematics are almost identical in all cases, with most of those differences being invisible if you're unfortunate enough to be colorblind. It simply does not live up to the quality of writing we've come to expect from this series or Bioware in general.
b) that the principle characters seem very much to be acting out of character, perhaps most notably in the case of Shepherd's simple acquiesence of the Catalyst's claims regardless of the fact that a decent portion of that game alone can be spent proving those exact claims wrong, and the fact that Shepherd's character was built on defying those kinds of claims throughout the last two games
c) It completely and utterly fails to deliver any true sense of closure (and indeed, the conclusion actually raises more questions in the process) which is a cardinal sin in writing a conclusion, not to mention completely at odds with their public statements regarding it before release.

The problem isn't even the options, it's the quality of the ending that's the main issue.

Because when you spend the entire trilogy explaining that the Reapers are nigh unstoppable space cthulhu's, there's only one way to have a happy ending: Deus Ex Machina.

The game teases you with the possibility of the ultimate happy ending all the time. Either they scrapped the ending in the last minute because it was too hard to pull off and they didn't have enough time, or they're going to make a DLC ending. If the latter is true, I will only get it if it's free.

Whatever the case may be, Mass Effect 3 is an unfinished product with many bugs and many corners cut. It is a disgrace and a shit stain on Bioware's reputation. Even if they fix the ending.

Jesus christ. Of course there can be a happy ending. There just appear to be many people of the opinion that a sad ending is better. There are also lots of people wanting a happy end. It doesn't mean anything. It's just opinions on the internet. Stop making a big deal about it.

Let me be perfectly clear here: I expected Shepard to bite it.

I did. I figured that was the natural progression of things and I was prepared for it. I was prepared for a buttload of death in this game because whenever there is war in a series (games, movies, books, name it) you're going to get awful, heart-wrenching, character death.

I had to play the game with a box of tissues next to my couch is all I'm sayin'.

I'm cool with that. I love it when something pulls that sort of an emotional response from me. But I feel like they could have gotten a similar response by surprising the hell out of everyone and giving their fans a happy send-off.

But alas, my issue with the endings was not with how rainbowtastic they were, it was with the massive lack of actual -y'know- plot.

"And everyone died in Earth's orbit because Shepard borked interstellar transportation. The end."

I am actually one of the people who do want a happy end for Shep and the gang. Problem is, you say that out loud during the discussion, it magically invalidates every other argument you have so carefully laid out before.

That said, I'm good with a number of possible outcomes, if they just put in a hope spot or two. Show how the civilizations start rebuilding. The sacrifices have been made over the course of the game, and they ring a little hollow without them meaning anything by the end.

Elmoth:
Because when you spend the entire trilogy explaining that the Reapers are nigh unstoppable space cthulhu's, there's only one way to have a happy ending: Deus Ex Machina.

...

Seeing as Bioware pulled a Deus Ex Machina out of their arses for the ending(s) anyway, using one for a different/alternative set of endings won't make any difference.

To be honest, I wanted a bitter sweet ending.

We know this is the last outing for ole Shep so I wanted him/her to go out in a blaze of glory but then see the good that came out of it at the end.

What we got was (and i've said this before) an ending that went out with sputter like a soggy firework and a feeling that i've been playing these games for several years and that is the best it can give me.

Anti climatic would how I describe it. It didn't grip me, it didn't satisfy my ending needs.

I don't care if my Shep survives or not. I romanced Liara so a happy ending there wouldn't matter (Asari live for centuries so she'd have to cope with Shep dying at some point anyway). What I do care about is seeing what the hell happens to everyone.

Some people may not care but this is the finale. There is no ME4, this is it. If this is the last time we get to see these characters then I damn well want to know what happens to them afterwards. And what happens to all the other races that are so far stranded around earth.

The Mass Relays i'm not too bothered about....

And finally I want them to "clean" the ending up a bit and remove the stupid as feth plot holes and sparkly imagination child. And i'm not going to buy into the whole "indoctrination" theory because, while it does make more sense than the literal ending, it still has it's holes.

Rawne1980:
The Mass Relays i'm not too bothered about....

You know, I've thought about that... and I like the idea.

Rawne1980:
There is no ME4

Not until EA demands there be one, anyway.

Mine does have a happy ending, "amanda" shepard and Garrus have now retired somewhere tropical and warm and are living off the vid royalties!

I would have liked a happy (or at least happier) ending. One that resolves things. But then, unlike most Star Wars fans, I prefer Jedi to Empire because it has closure. I'm not about to to and force Bioware to change their ending and am certainly not going to pay for DLC to "fix it". I came up with my own interpretation/version which I think is similar to others (I've only glanced at other people's).

This is how I would have ended it and is the fate of my Shepard as far as I'm concerned.

Most people weren't complaing about the fact that the ending wasn't "rainbows and cake" but bacause of lack of choice and some contradictions in the endings.

That said, why does every game have to have a happy ending? Aren't we limiting game writting by making every ending a happy ending?

RhombusHatesYou:

Rawne1980:
There is no ME4

Not until EA demands there be one, anyway.

Plus they never stated this would be the end of Mass Effect. Only the Shepard trilogy.

The Jakeinator:

I ask you fellow Escapees, why can't Mass Effect 3 have a happy ending?

It should, but as an option.


this guy knows what he's on about

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