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No Happily Ever After for Heroes -

No Happily Ever After for Heroes

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No Happily Ever After for Heroes
By Julie Butcher Fedynich

Science fiction romance, science fiction story endings

There is no Happily Ever After for science fiction or fantasy. Romance writers everywhere have a plain goal. They know that HEA is the purpose of each and every story. We wouldn’t have loved The Proposal if Andrew hadn’t chased Margaret Tate back to New York (after she dumped him at the alter) to profess his love and propose right in front of everyone at their publishing house, right?

But in science fiction and fantasy, the happily ever after is more like Keep going you Pansy. What are you, a girl?” Even when our hero is a heroine, we know good and well that she’s not going to put on a white dress and take her vows—not unless her fiancée is possessed by Demon-Dong and goes on the rampage to chomp all of the wedding guests plus the priest. Of course then she has to go all Chuck Norris on his bad self and kill him before the marriage is consummated.


Honestly, can you name even one scifi or fantasy hero/heroine who has a happily ever after? (In a finished series, people.) I’ve been going over a few past series in my head and the forecast isn’t good for our current favorites. (Points a finger to the red wedding this season on Game of Thrones.)


Let’s start with the final episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The evil Caleb comes back to freaking life after she already killed him once and she splits him in half. Angel comes to her rescue and she chases him away because she’s half-baked. (Remember the cookie analogy?)She plays snuggle bunny with Spike and then they all go off to the final battle. But before that. Let’s recap how successful the rest of the cast has been at finding Happily Ever After.

Giles lost Jenny in Season 2. Willow lost Tara in Season 6. Poor Zander loved women who were giant bugs and former mummies before he fell for the vengeance demon, Anya. Faith was a love them and leave them type before she met Principal Wood, and their relationship had barely bloomed by the final episode. Then, everyone loses their true love. Spike explodes leaving Buffy with no one. Anya gets chopped by a vampire and Zander is alone. Principal Wood is stabbed in the gut and we never know if he and Faith even go on a date. No HEA for you, vampire slayers.


Star Trek—nope. Captain Kirk never finds true love. Neither does Jean-Luc Picard. Star Wars—aww heck. When it started , Luke loved Princess Leia and she ends up being his sister. That would be an extremely warped and epic no. (Although it’s not as twisted as what I expect we’ll get in Game of Thrones.) Even Iron Man’s HEA is qualified by so much loss that it DOES NOT COUNT. And that’s all I’ll say about that because I know some of you have to wait until Iron Man 3 comes out on DVD. What he had was a choice, not happily ever after.

I know it is hard to walk hand in hand into the sunset when you’re still kicking butts and taking names. But for goodness sake people, someone needs to find a little joy. Batman should have a vacation with his sweetie. Superman shouldn’t have had to erase Lois Lane’s memory and go the hard road alone. Captain America should have had that one dance. (Seriously, that one made me mad.)

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Recently, our dearest Sookie Stackhouse series came to its untimely (for us) end. Her agony started when her grandmother was murdered. She survived werewolf attacks, vampire regime changes, broken hearts, torture, orgies, and sore feet. The poor kid only realized her dream of being a bridesmaid because another girl was rushed to the hospital and she had to fill in.

Dirt poor, and called crazy by most of the town, our telepathic barmaid grabbed our hearts. In a lot of ways she was like us. She had no super-powers to knock villains over the tops of tall buildings. Paying the bills was always a struggle. Comfort food got her through the worst times, and she took little joys where she found them.
In a perfect world, Sookie would have married a prince, won the Powerball, and been elected as President of the United States. She deserved these things. BUT NO. I won’t go into the details because some of you are still a thousand people down on your library’s wait list. But she didn’t get her HEA. She got after, and she has a chance at happy. I guess that’s as good as you can get. It’s what we have, right?

Maybe Chuck from Supernatural said it best in the last episode of season five. “Endings are hard. Any chapped-ass monkey with a keyboard can poop out a beginning, but endings are impossible. You try to tie up every loose end, but you never can. The fans are always gonna bitch. There’s always gonna be holes. And since it’s the ending, it’s all supposed to add up to something. I’m telling you, they’re a raging pain in the ass.”

I imagine that most of the writers I’ve poked at in the above article feel the same way. Do any of you have a favorite science fiction or fantasy series where the ending was just right?

Written by Julie Butcher Fedynich



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Julie Butcher Fedynich
Buzzy Mag Columnist & Pundit. Julie Butcher lives with her husband and six children on the fringes of Utter Chaos. She is the sister of #1 USA Today and NYT bestselling author, Jim Butcher. She adores puppies, kittens, and thinks world peace would be awesome as long as stuff still blows up in the movies.
Comments
rileysdtr@yahoo.com' Rileysdtr says:

I think there is HEA in select stories but on the whole, SF/F readers may be more voracious across the genre and as such see the bigger, non-HEA scope.
For example: HEA? Narnia. “Further Up and Further In!”
But to counterbalance, the ending to “His Dark Materials” nearly broke my heart. No HEA there, by gum.
(Mentally rummaging through my bookshelves for FINISHED series that ended in HEA…) Ah – OK how about your brother’s “Furies of Calderon?” Or does all the ancillary carnage outweigh Octavian’s eventual happiness?

Kris and Zainal had a HEA in the Anne McCaffrey Freedom series.

mishagericke@gmail.com' Misha Gericke says:

Now that you mention it, you’re so right! Even in my story, there’ll be a HEA, but seriously qualified by someone getting hurt and a lot of people dying.

amf@gmail.com' Amy Farrah Fowler says:

Now that you have broached the subject of HEA will you also be writing about the proper use of UST aka Unresolved Sexual Tension?

laura.kramarsky@womenofmystery.net' Laura Curtis says:

I didn’t think of Luke as the hero even when I went to see that movie the day it came out when I was 13, and Han Solo got his HEA (after years of trial and tribulation). Mercedes Lackey wrote lots of HEAs (though, honestly, only a few of them were humans that it’s hard to tell). Bujold had HEAs. I thought the ending to Jennifer Roberson’s Sword Dancer series was pretty much perfect. Bruce Willis gets an HEA at the end of Die Hard, and then another one at the end of Die Hard 2…. ;D Harry Potter and his whole gang ended up paired off in HEAs, but maybe YA doesn’t count?

I remember when it took forever in Melanie Rawn’s “Dragon Prince” series for the H/h to get together and get into power and calm the kingdom somewhat….and then she killed off the hero. Oh, sure, it was from old age or illness or something, and they had kids, etc, but STILL. I couldn’t read after that. He was my hero for books and books, and once he was dead I just didn’t care anymore.

SpikeyFan says:

Robin Hobb does a fairly good job of wrapping up the endings in her books. In her Farseer series her character Fritz goes through
soooo much. Hell and back. I was so invested in his character. He ended up with the girl, but OMG what it took to get him there. Even the peripheral characters (allthough all of her characters have such depth and purpose to the story lines) were given endings not necessarily happy, but correct.

In her Forest Mage series, Nevare, much like Fritz went through such a journey (in fantasy isn’t it all about the journey?) Anyway he was able to make peace with those he loved, and also wound up with love.

Awwww… I just love Robin Hobb – go read her stuff, you get all the drama – great story archs – and proper endings!

nytessa@hotmail.com' theresa bane says:

Patricia Briggs ended her fantasy series with a happily ever after.

tammyjrizzo@gmail.com' Tammy J Rizzo says:

Hey, Julie, thanks for a great post!

I can think of one (ONE!) two-book series where the main characters got a HEA. And yeah, it wrapped up the main plot points and there was much rejoicing (yay), but it really wasn’t a very satisfying ending. I mean, yeah, marriage and kids and all in their future, but what was the point of the end of the book? Was NOTHING going to happen to them after the wedding to make me want to stay in their world and imagine my own fanficcy adventures for them? Nope, they were too tied up, no loose ends. Their adventure was done and ended in such a way that their world suddenly felt static and boring.

So, yeah, I think I agree – no HEA for heroes! Well, mine are going to have a happy after, but it’s not the end by a long shot. :-)