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"If everyone's happy, the show would be over, and above all else, the show has to keep going"

May 31, 2018
4,159
#1
THIS THREAD CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS FOR:
- STAR WARS: RETURN OF THE JEDI + FORCE AWAKENS + LAST JEDI
- BOJACK HORSEMAN
- HALO 4 AND 5: GUARDIANS
- TOY STORY 3
- ALIEN 3
- LUTHER (BBC TV SERIES)


IT ALSO CONTAINS REFERENCES TO A NUMBER OF OTHER FRANCHISES, BUT NOTHING SPECIFIC SO I DON'T CONSIDER THEM TO BE SPOILERS

The thread's title is a quote from S5E6 of Bojack Horseman (it's an amazing episode, go watch it and the series if you can!) and one that's stuck with me for a while afterwards. Whilst holding many personal connotations to the character of Bojack and that show in its entirety there's also the more surface-level reading there that, in media, there has to be some level of unhappiness or else "the show would be over." No conflict can ever be fully resolved and no character can ever have their 'happy ever after' because, if they did, there would no longer be conflict the thing that every piece of media needs for it to continue onwards.

That led to me thinking and, frankly, it's lead to me growing cynical over just how much media follows the line to a tee. Take Star Wars, for example. Here's the ending shot of Return of the Jedi:



Looks happy, right? The Rebellion has defeated the Empire and all that's likely to remain are remnants that will seem feeble compared to what came before. They can go on to live the happy ever after that they deserve and that the story-book 'classical adventure' nature of Star Wars implies.. However, since the characters in this shot are marketable characters and because Disney wanted the Star Wars franchise to continue, these are their actual fates:

Han Solo: Regresses into his old smuggler ways after his son falls to the Dark Side, becomes estranged from his wife Leia and then dies after failing to save his son from the Dark Side
Princess Leia: Faces 30 years of being shut out from the political system she helped create, sees her Son turn to the Dark Side and destroy her life's work, loses her husband and then loses most of the Resistance she helped build
Luke Skywalker: Fails in his role as a Jedi teacher when he reverts to his old Empire Strikes Back self, becomes a hermit who stands by and does nothing as his friends die and the galaxy turns to darkness, and then dies to save a tiny amount of Resistance fighters and "inspire the next generation."
R2-D2: Becomes catatonic after their old Master abandons him, stays like this for decades until someone happens to find the other piece of the map to Luke's location
C-3PO: Loses an arm, loses his best friend and then loses his old Master and creator
Chewbacca: Sees his best friend die horribly in front of him. Gets shafted by Leia once more as he doesn't even get a hug afterwards.
Lando: Nobody knows, but considering his complete absence from The Resistance and Han's smuggling operation, it's easy to assume he hasn't a had a great life since then

Literally none of the main characters in that shot have a happy ending, not even the comic relief characters. The three entire films leading to that moment end up meaning very little in the end as the galaxy as a whole reverts to the state it was years prior, only worse this time of course. This, to me, does nothing but make me cynical as to the aims of the sequel trilogy. Instead of expanding on the Star Wars universe and creating a new adventure with a new conflict, Abrams and then Johnson decided to essentially revert the series back to the way it was and ruin all of the old character's lives because they wouldn't/couldn't figure out a way to do something different. Disney demanded it, and it was so.

Now before this becomes another Sequel Trilogy or, dare I say, The Last Jedi thread I'd like to point to a number of other examples where otherwise happy endings are rewritten and ruined due to the unending nature of media franchises:

Halo 4 and 5: Guardians - The covenant returns, the galaxy is still at War, and Cortana dies and then gets reborn as a maniacal rogue AI that wants to destroy humanity
Toy Story 3: Woody and the gang finally find a new home to live in and say a peaceful goodbye to Andy... no wait there's more and they're going to go through another existential crisis!
Alien 3: Ripley, having survived two encounters with the Aliens through her own badassery, is tormented again by an Alien and then dies having not seen a single day of peace since the start of Alien 1
Luther: After three series of mental and physical turmoil the titular character finally hangs up his iconic coat and gives up his life as a detective... no wait he's back and depressed and Alice is dead and then not dead again and then dead for real this time and then he's arrested for something he didn't even do!

...and you get the idea. However those are only examples of franchises that had 'bolted on' sequels that reversed the happy endings of their predecessors, there are many, many more examples of franchises, both ongoing and concluded, that simply have 'unending misery and no happy endings' as one of their core tenets whether they've concluded or not, these include:

- Every single soap opera ever
- Most comic books
- Most sitcoms
- The Walking Dead
- Attack on Titan
- Terminator
- The Marvel Cinematic Universe
- And more!

Essentially, to me there are perhaps fewer examples of popular media franchises that have conclusive and happy endings for their characters than there are ones where conclusions are, in some way shape or form, put into a loop of being reverted and then made. This, as you can probably tell, has made me rather cynical; I've found that I don't particularly 'trust' happy endings anymore because I just know that, if the thing is to get a sequel, that happy ending might as well have not happened in the first place. It's also made me more aware of media that uses this tactic instead of creating new conflict that doesn't override the conflict that came before, and it's made me less willing to be impressed by "depressing endings" because, to me, most media already has those.

"But Plum, you fruit of the subgenus Prunus of the genus Prunus, that's just how business works!"
Yes, and that's why I'm cynical about it. It is perhaps the most obvious and blatant example of how media's desire for franchise (especially American media) harms the more wholeseome aspects of storytelling.

Now, to generate some discussion on this rant, here's some questions for you to consider:
Do you or do you not care about the issue? If you do/don't, why do you feel that way? Do you have any more examples of franchises that fit Bojack's quote? Am I a silly doofus for not liking how the Star Wars sequel trilogy has gone about doing things?

And, most importantly:

What will happen next time? Tune in next week! Same Plum Time. Same Plum Channel!
 
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Oct 27, 2017
13,287
#2
I pretty much agree with you man. It's also the same thing with relationships in most fiction. Writers are often incapable of making a stable couple interesting so the two love interests are either in a perpetual "will they, won't they" situation or always breaking up.

"Everything went to shit" is just a lazy and easy way to keep a story going.
 

Fat4all

Community Resettler
Member
Oct 25, 2017
16,916
bork land
#3
the creator of Scrubs was originally gonna have a spinoff show about med students but was instead made to turn that into Scrubs Season 9

so at the very least you can know in your heart that Scrubs ends at "My Finale"
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,327
GTA (Toronto)
#4
I am sick of reboots, reimaginings, business-driven sequels and the people that do NOT stop paying to watch them. People en mass are voting with their wallets. Studios are responding to that in advance or at the cost of memorable and succinct stories. Part of the reason I have stopped watching most franchise tv and movies completely.
 
Nov 1, 2017
3,254
Boise
#5
Happy sappy endings already feel artificial. Don’t see the issue with more artificiality to reverse that.

Edit: and ya’ll are kidding yourself if you think the ending of Halo 3 is the least bit satisfying.
 
Oct 25, 2017
11,694
#6
This is a huge reason why I dislike the Force Awakens. If you don’t wanna focus on Luke, Han, & Leia, that’s fine, but having them all revert back to their old selves and erase practically all progress they made is absolute garbage writing.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,614
#8
Fans hold some of the blame with this. We want to have the experience we had when we watched the original, perfectly self-contained story, but in perpetuity and somehow always new. We want the stakes to be high enough that Batman could die, but refuse to live in a world without more new Batman stories. At this point I feel like we sort of instinctively know as consumers of franchises like these that nothing that happens will ever be final as long as someone will buy a ticket to the next one. And then things eventually die once we beat every last ounce of juice from it until no one cares anymore...so that it can await a reboot in ten years.
 
OP
OP
Plum
May 31, 2018
4,159
#10
Happy sappy endings already feel artificial. Don’t see the issue with more artificiality to reverse that.
Of course happy sappy endings are artificial, but to me I'd rather have positive artificiality than negative artificiality. Unless it has a meaningful thing to say about whatever topic the media is about (no, a zombie series going "ain't humans shit tho" for the 1,000th time isn't meaningful anymore) I just don't see much good in artificial misery when I could be having artificial not-misery.

I am sick of reboots, reimaginings, business-driven sequels and the people that do NOT stop paying to watch them. People en mass are voting with their wallets. Studios are responding to that in advance or at the cost of memorable and succinct stories. Part of the reason I have stopped watching most franchise tv and movies completely.
The thing is I'm not averse to sequels, I'm averse to sequels that don't know/don't want to create a story that naturally continues what came before, and that aversion gets greater the more "happy" what came before was, if that make sany sense.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,417
#11
I don't think I've ever really been able to relate to why this would make someone cynical, or why it bothers people in general.
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,741
#12
Halo is the only one I’m vested in. The Covenant ideology never left - And the factions that formed its makeup , still existed of course. Their organizational hierarchy was largely destroyed, many and their “great journey” was indefinitely delayed. Other groups that left the ideology behind still hold contention with humanity - and Humanity with them.

Halo 4 & 5’s plot was bolted on in the sense that the Forerunner saga created a new conflict for our heroes to address, but there were plenty of conflicts left at the end of 3, that could have been used instead. It wasn’t “happily ever after”
 
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Oct 25, 2017
4,241
#14
Everything you wrote is right. I've found the star wars sequels infuriating for this quality alone. Throw in one more day with this.

Even Pheonix Wright couldn't help itself, but at least they made up for it and fixed things well enough. Pheonix's struggles actually put him in a better place rather than just shit all over him. I actually enjoy hobo pheonix a lot more knowing that it was just a stepping stone instead of a gratuitous way of making every future challenge look extra tough.
 
OP
OP
Plum
May 31, 2018
4,159
#15
I don't think I've ever really been able to relate to why this would make someone cynical, or why it bothers people in general.
Because when I see a happy ending I want to feel that I've seen something significant within that universe and within that character's lives, however when I know that the story is very likely/certainly not over the thought of "yeah this won't last long" ends up harming those good feelings.
At least Lord of the Rings ended conclusively and happily.
Just you wait. In The Lord of the Rings: The Ring Awakens Frodo's gets called back into action to defeat Mauron, Sauron's more evil half-brother that everyone was too embarrassed to talk about the first time around. Samwise becomes an alcoholic wreck after losing his wife in a terrible "directed by Christopher Nolan" accident. Aragorn turns out to be an awful leader that leaves Gondor and Rohan in tatters. Legolas becomes a racist again, Ghimli comes down with gold fever, Merry and Pippin become pipeweed addicts, and Gandalf fucks off to go chill with the Eagles.

Fun!
 
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OP
OP
Plum
May 31, 2018
4,159
#19
The happy ending of Return of the Jedi was reversed long before The Force Awakens.
What are you referring to? If it's the old extended universe then I generally didn't care for that even if it was considered 'canon', that and Star Wars is pretty much just a film (and occasionally game) franchise to me. If it's the new extended universe then that doesn't really change anything as the outcome is still the same.
 
Jan 18, 2018
3,535
#20
What are you referring to? If it's the old extended universe then I generally didn't care for that even if it was considered 'canon', that and Star Wars is pretty much just a film (and occasionally game) franchise to me. If it's the new extended universe then that doesn't really change anything as the outcome is still the same.
I was referring to the old extended universe.

My point is that if you can ignore that, why can't you just ignore the new movies if they bother you?
 
OP
OP
Plum
May 31, 2018
4,159
#22
I was referring to the old extended universe.

My point is that if you can ignore that, why can't you just ignore the new movies if they bother you?
Because it's much harder to ignore "STAR WARS EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS" in cinemas worldwide than it is to ignore "Star Wars: Darth Revan Does Some Shit" in the 'Sci Fi' section of my local book-store. That is, I went to see The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi but I haven't even taken a glance at the vast majority of the EU material, especially that which came after the OT finished chronologically.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,417
#23
I'm not sure. For one I just never really feel bothered by sequels or prequels or returning characters. To me it doesn't change whatever original work I enjoyed. If the new thing is bad, it's bad, and I move on. If it's good I'm happy to have it. And in all honesty, happily ever after is far more 'forced', (though I'm not against that either). It's probably less reasonable that all the OT crew, for example, would just live happily ever after considering what they were a part of.

Now, I think it is a fair criticism to not like exactly what that conflict was for that crew, sure. But I don't really have a problem with deciding they aren't all 'happily ever after' and making new movies.

So I don't know, just not a thing that bothers me. I'm always interested in seeing what creative people do with established stuff just as much as I am in new things. And I just can't help but feel that if the situation was in reverse - if the majority of this stuff was contained, happily ever after, never touched again - we'd probably see people complaining about that. But we don't have that world, of course....and I kind of feel like that's because this kind of thing is appealing to our nature in general.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,816
#25
Now that I think about it, Dragon Ball Z has all the characters live happily after, and the fights and arcs that follow and super don't really take away from anyone's happiness because Goku and Vegeta want to fight stronger opponents.
 
OP
OP
Plum
May 31, 2018
4,159
#26
I'm not sure. For one I just never really feel bothered by sequels or prequels or returning characters. To me it doesn't change whatever original work I enjoyed. If the new thing is bad, it's bad, and I move on. If it's good I'm happy to have it. And in all honesty, happily ever after is far more 'forced', (though I'm not against that either). It's probably less reasonable that all the OT crew, for example, would just live happily ever after considering what they were a part of.

Now, I think it is a fair criticism to not like exactly what that conflict was for that crew, sure. But I don't really have a problem with deciding they aren't all 'happily ever after' and making new movies.

So I don't know, just not a thing that bothers me. I'm always interested in seeing what creative people do with established stuff just as much as I am in new things. And I just can't help but feel that if the situation was in reverse - if the majority of this stuff was contained, happily ever after, never touched again - we'd probably see people complaining about that. But we don't have that world, of course....and I kind of feel like that's because this kind of thing is appealing to our nature in general.
If you're not bothered then you're not bothered, I ain't gonna say that you should feel otherwise. However I don't agree with the idea that happily ever after is more "forced" because, generally, happily ever afters are the conclusions to the stories themselves instead of things bolted on after the fact or mandated by the nature of that franchise. Star Wars' original happy ending wasn't forced because that was what George Lucas and all the writers wanted to happen, same goes for everything else.

Also I think you're focusing too much on the specific Star Wars example and less on the overall point; my cynicism stems mainly from this happening so often that it's become expected. You get the happy endings, whether forced or not, and then years down the line it turns out that the happy ending meant very little in the grand scheme of things. Then there's franchises that build themselves on the "continued misery" aspect, and in those any genuinely happy ending leaves me just as cynical as the misery to come is very much expected.
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,646
#27
Just on the subject of Star Wars. It's entirely silly to think that the ending shot of Return of the Jedi should be interpreted as everyone should be happy now. Even though some of the story lines from the EU were very silly, it made sense that the empire, full of hundreds of star destroyers and a political system wouldn't just crumble
 
Oct 28, 2017
5,755
New Jersey
#28
Han living out the rest of his days happily married to Leia and having kids is about the most boring thing imaginable for that character. Same for Tony Stark marrying Pepper Potts, settling down and having a child.
 
Oct 25, 2017
5,070
corvallis, OR
#30
we'll come back around to a world of contrived happy endings and all us old pieces of shit are going to complain about how things aren't gritty and real anymore
 
OP
OP
Plum
May 31, 2018
4,159
#31
Oh god. Oh fuck. I'm helping to turn this into another Star Wars Sequel Trilogy Thread



Just on the subject of Star Wars. It's entirely silly to think that the ending shot of Return of the Jedi should be interpreted as everyone should be happy now. Even though some of the story lines from the EU were very silly, it made sense that the empire, full of hundreds of star destroyers and a political system wouldn't just crumble
I referred to that in the OP in that yes, there were parts of the Empire left, but the brunt of the 'work' had been done by that point. There's nothing there to suggest "The Empire 2: Electric Boogaloo" will come out and fuck everyone and everything over.

Han living out the rest of his days happily married to Leia and having kids is about the most boring thing imaginable for that character. Same for Tony Stark marrying Pepper Potts, settling down and having a child.
It would be pretty boring, but the complete and utter destruction of every single character change he went through in the OT trilogy is just as boring, and even worse because it's not even very fun.

Tbf it’s a perfect reflection of how happiness is fleeting and life sicks.

Er
I already got too much of that shit in my real life thank you very much.
 
OP
OP
Plum
May 31, 2018
4,159
#35
I do not understand the meaning behind this gif. You could say it remains Supernatural to me.

this thread could be about the correct way to shower and it would eventually turn into a star wars thread
OP: "How do you like your milk?"

Posters: "BLUE ALIEN MILK BECAUSE LUKE SKYWALKER DRANK IT. ONLY NERDS AND IDIOTS WOULD WANT HIM TO DRINK OTHER TYPES OF MILK."
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,363
#36
I think the Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight trilogy is interesting, because that's a series that did begin as a one-off and needed to manufacture a plot for the sequels.

Now, none of the endings are exactly happy, but they are melancholy, and each suggests the characters are moving towards a more positive future. And even when each movie begins, it does seem as if their years between films were meaningful.

The films seem to occupy moments of significant flashpoints in their relationship, and are actually about those nadirs, as opposed to the nadir being something presented offscreen that precipitates the necessity of the existance of the sequels.
 
Oct 26, 2017
1,631
Sydney, Australia
#38
S9 is garbage trash. Actually scrubs is actually a bad show b/c JD is annoying
I wouldn't say it was a bad show. I agree that JD got worse as the series went on (everyone did really, the first 3-4 seasons were the awesome and then characters became increasingly OTT and flanderized), but it still had great moments here and there, and I liked it enough to finish it.
 
OP
OP
Plum
May 31, 2018
4,159
#42
This is why I like reading sad stuff with depressing endings. You know that shit's real.
Yeah, I like depressing endings as well, and one of the reasons is definitely the knowledge that it's unlikely that that shit's getting reversed in a sequel ten years later. Like, nobody's gonna be making a sequel to The Thing (80s) where it turns out

The Thing got the mainland but it turned out that it was actually a good alien wanting to cure cancer. Oh, and all the characters are back because it can also bring people back from the dead.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,786
#43
But life is just like this anyway, there is no happy ever after. I don't mean that in an edgy way, just that life is a series of challenges. You sort out your finances, okay great now you gotta do your love life. Okay great now you're having kids, oh shit now the finances are fucked again. Etc etc.

Shows are unrealistic in many ways, but there always being a problem isn't one of them.
 
OP
OP
Plum
May 31, 2018
4,159
#44
Imagine the prequels came first and feeling cynical because Yoda and Obi-Wan didn't have happy endings.
"You think you're right? Well in a completely different universe where the Prequels were somehow made in the exact same way despite being intrinsically linked to the Original Trilogy in both plot and theme you would be a hypocrite!"

I've seen some serious "you're a hypocrite" reaching in my time but this definitely takes the cake.
But life is just like this anyway, there is no happy ever after. I don't mean that in an edgy way, just that life is a series of challenges. You sort out your finances, okay great now you gotta do your love life. Okay great now you're having kids, oh shit now the finances are fucked again. Etc etc.

Shows are unrealistic in many ways, but there always being a problem isn't one of them.
It's fine if a film/tv show wants to show the realities of how life works. Game of Thrones is/was amazing, Better Call Saul is one of my favorite shows from recent years, and my literal favourite film of all time is Children of Men (which is really fucking bleak). I'm also fine with more serialised formats where there's a new threat/challenge each episode/film/etc.

However, my issue is when something has a happy ending but then something else comes along and reverses that for the sole reason of making more money out of the franchise. Whether that's done after the fact or through the very nature of the media itself it doesn't matter. That's not "a realistic portrayal of real life" to me nor does it hold any of the virtues of being a "realistic portrayal of real life"; all it is in my eyes is an artificial portrayal of an executive's desire for their second yacht.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,786
#45
"You think you're right? Well in a completely different universe where the Prequels were somehow made in the exact same way despite being intrinsically linked to the Original Trilogy you would be a hypocrite!"

I've seen some serious "you're a hypocrite" reaching in my time but this does take the cake.



It's fine if a film/tv show wants to show the realities of how life works. Game of Thrones is/was amazing, Better Call Saul is one of my favorite shows from recent years, and my literal favourite film of all time is Children of Men (which is really fucking bleak). I'm also fine with more serialised formats where there's a new threat/challenge each episode/film/etc.

However, my issue is when something has a happy ending meant to take one's mind off the troubles of real life but then something else comes along and reverses that for the sole reason of making more money out of the franchise. Whether that's done after the fact or through the very nature of the media itself it doesn't matter. That's not "a realistic portrayal of real life" to me nor does it hold any of the virtues of being a "realistic portrayal of real life"; all it is in my eyes is an artificial portrayal of an executive's desire for their second yacht.
Ahhh okay, I get you now.
 
Oct 27, 2017
2,462
#46
Good post, and I love that epsiode of Bojack too. I pretty much agree with you. I guess it's the result of the machine having to grind out more "content" (god, I hate that word) to rake in the dough. It sort of clashes with the sanctity of the storytelling.

It really depends on the specific work if this is an issue or not. To come back to Bojack, it is serialized and has never had writing that embraces neat endings wrapped up with a bow. The characters have real lives, and are messed up enough that it feels fitting that they keep messing up. Make a sequel to Lord of the rings, though, and watch as you undo everything the original books or movie accomplished. Not everything needs a sequel, regardless of what the audience thinks.

Happy sappy endings already feel artificial. Don’t see the issue with more artificiality to reverse that.
It depends on what kind of story we are talking about. The original Star Wars trilogy had a pretty explicit fairy tale vibe to it, and the happy ever after ending felt completely fitting. I like most of the sequels and the animated shows, but in my mind I pretty much view them all as fan fiction. The first three movies are the only ones I immediately think of when talking about Star Wars.
 
Oct 27, 2017
1,505
#47
Congrats, you discovered the basics of screenwriting and storytelling: you need conflict, or you don't have a story. If all is happy and good. Character's need a deficit in their life, an unhappiness, which they then strife to solve.

So yes, if you write a sequel (and that's indeed business, people want sequels), you often 'revert' a happy ending or install new conflicts. The best sequels succeed in coming up with new conflicts and new lessons for character's to learn, in stead of reverting to the old problems they already overcame in the original.

I have absolutely no problem with this. Star Wars is the franchise I know best, so I'll go into that one, but the ending of RotJ doesn't become less happy for me because I know new troubles will arise later on. It is still the conclusion of the story that trilogy told. I don't feel like the sequel trilogy reverts or undoes that, because on a character level the conflicts for the three original heroes (who are now supporting characters) are quite new in the ST. Solo and Leia have to cope with a son who they have lost their grip on. In TFA Solo tries to bring Ben back. That's a new objective for the character, and showing a parenting side he didn't have before. (And he is not back to who he was at the beginning of ANH either. He's back to smuggling yes, but that is superficial. One big chance that is one on one in the text is 'It's real, all of it') Leia has to cope with leadership and the difficulty of being a fringe group that is not really taken seriously by the leadership (this (and the rise of the FO and life in the New Republic) could all been explored better maybe, but again, these are supporting characters now. It's not their story anymore). Luke's arc is the most developped of the three (like everything in TLJ on a character level is more developed than in TFA). He's struggling with his legacy and the mistakes he made. I personally found it very interesting to not see him as the optimistic hero from before, but as an old man at the end of his life having regrets and doubts. These are all new internal conflicts for him to overcome, in stead of the hero's journey he had in the original trilogy

But again, the sequel trilogy is not really about them. It's the story of Rey, Finn and Poe, who have new arcs to complete and new lessons to learn. Personally I think that's a interesting way of making sequels: focussing on new character's and stories, with the old heroes in a supporting role. It opens up the possibility for new character arcs, without the old protagonist having to unlearn what he learned in the original.
 
OP
OP
Plum
May 31, 2018
4,159
#49
Congrats, you discovered the basics of screenwriting and storytelling: you need conflict, or you don't have a story. If all is happy and good. Character's need a deficit in their life, an unhappiness, which they then strife to solve.

So yes, if you write a sequel (and that's indeed business, people want sequels), you often 'revert' a happy ending or install new conflicts. The best sequels succeed in coming up with new conflicts and new lessons for character's to learn, in stead of reverting to the old problems they already overcame in the original.

I have absolutely no problem with this. Star Wars is the franchise I know best, so I'll go into that one, but the ending of RotJ doesn't become less happy for me because I know new troubles will arise later on. It is still the conclusion of the story that trilogy told. I don't feel like the sequel trilogy reverts or undoes that, because on a character level the conflicts for the three original heroes (who are now supporting characters) are quite new in the ST. Solo and Leia have to cope with a son who they have lost their grip on. In TFA Solo tries to bring Ben back. That's a new objective for the character, and showing a parenting side he didn't have before. (And he is not back to who he was at the beginning of ANH either. He's back to smuggling yes, but that is superficial. One big chance that is one on one in the text is 'It's real, all of it') Leia has to cope with leadership and the difficulty of being a fringe group that is not really taken seriously by the leadership (this (and the rise of the FO and life in the New Republic) could all been explored better maybe, but again, these are supporting characters now. It's not their story anymore). Luke's arc is the most developped of the three (like everything in TLJ on a character level is more developed than in TFA). He's struggling with his legacy and the mistakes he made. I personally found it very interesting to not see him as the optimistic hero from before, but as an old man at the end of his life having regrets and doubts. These are all new internal conflicts for him to overcome, in stead of the hero's journey he had in the original trilogy

But again, the sequel trilogy is not really about them. It's the story of Rey, Finn and Poe, who have new arcs to complete and new lessons to learn. Personally I think that's a interesting way of making sequels: focussing on new character's and stories, with the old heroes in a supporting role. It opens up the possibility for new character arcs, without the old protagonist having to unlearn what he learned in the original.
Congrats, you ignored a good chunk of my OP to make a condescending 'gotcha' statement!

As for your points about Star Wars; note that in no way am I averse to new conflicts, but what we got in the ST weren't new conflicts as they demanded a reversal of fortune back to the status quo. As I said, the Empire might as well have not been defeated because literally all of the efforts that went into doing so were reversed; that's not up for debate as TFA literally blows the New Republic up with a massive laser beam. As for the characters: Han does go back to smuggling, yes, but what that represents is his character reverting back to his ANH appearance where he has to learn not to run away from a challenge. The bulk of Leia's 'coping with leadership' happens off-screen in books I (and many others) will never read so, when TFA rolls around, she's facing the same old "Empire" problem that she faced in the Original Trilogy. Luke isn't just an old man having regrets and doubts, he's an old man who completely failed in everything he set out to do before deciding to leave the friends and family he held dear to die because of it. That's a 'new' conflict, sure, but it's a conflict that relies entirely on the progress made in the OT being erased, and the same goes for every other conflict that the OT cast goes through in the ST.

However I feel that we're getting bogged down in the specifics as is often the case when Star Wars discussion comes up. What matters to me isn't just the exact way in which Star Wars represents this issue but in the way this issue has become so prevalent over the years. It's not just "basic storytelling" as you condescendingly argued it is, it's storytelling that is mandated purely by money and the desire for 'recognisable' scenarios and characters. The rules of storytelling do not say "to make a new story with these characters, one must completely erase any happy endings they had before." It's simply something we've come to expect due to it happening so many times throughout media. Some may see that as fine but when all I can think about on seeing a happy ending is "how long until this all gets fucked up?" the impact of said happy endings just grows lower and lower over time.
 
Oct 27, 2017
1,505
#50
Congrats, you ignored a good chunk of my OP to make a condescending 'gotcha' statement!

As for your points about Star Wars; note that in no way am I averse to new conflicts, but what we got in the ST weren't new conflicts as they demanded a reversal of fortune back to the status quo. As I said, the Empire might as well have not been defeated because literally all of the efforts that went into doing so were reversed; that's not up for debate as TFA literally blows the New Republic up with a massive laser beam. As for the characters: Han does go back to smuggling, yes, but what that represents is his character reverting back to his ANH appearance where he has to learn not to run away from a challenge. The bulk of Leia's 'coping with leadership' happens off-screen in books I (and many others) will never read so, when TFA rolls around, she's facing the same old "Empire" problem that she faced in the Original Trilogy. Luke isn't just an old man having regrets and doubts, he's an old man who completely failed in everything he set out to do before deciding to leave the friends and family he held dear to die because of it. That's a 'new' conflict, sure, but it's a conflict that relies entirely on the progress made in the OT being erased, and the same goes for every other conflict that the OT cast goes through in the ST.

However I feel that we're getting bogged down in the specifics as is often the case when Star Wars discussion comes up. What matters to me isn't just the exact way in which Star Wars represents this issue but in the way this issue has become so prevalent over the years. It's not just "basic storytelling" as you condescendingly argued it is, it's storytelling that is mandated purely by money and the desire for 'recognisable' scenarios and characters. The rules of storytelling do not say "to make a new story with these characters, one must completely erase any happy endings they had before." It's simply something we've come to expect due to it happening so many times throughout media. Some may see that as fine but when all I can think about on seeing a happy ending is "how long until this all gets fucked up?" the impact of said happy endings just grows lower and lower over time.
I'm sorry if I came over as condensending, but all those TLJ and sequel trilogy discussions have made me kind of sensitive to this argument. I don't feel like it's a compelling one, as, as I argued, the other alternative would lead to a non-story. You can't tell a story without conflict. The trick is to come up with new, compelling conflicts and use what came before as a jump of point. Any conflict will in a way 'undo' a happy ending, as happy endings kind of imply a state of absolute happiness and 'everything is okay'. It's just a sentiment I can't get behind. It's inherent to a sequel that it will fuck up the all-is-perfect status quo the original happy ending left behind. Because, and that's what I ment with 'basic storytelling' you need this to be able to tell a story.

I feel the new Star Wars trilogy, by choosing new main character's and giving the old heroes new conflicts to overcome (I'm mostly talking about Luke, as TFA doesn't do this as well as TLJ. And yes, Luke fails and runs away from it all. He went trough an arc in the OT, and then made new mistakes. It doesn't revert his previous succes. He is still the man that redeemed his father. But in trying to restore the Jedi Order he made mistakes, and reacts to it in the wrong way by giving up, and than learns that he was wrong. It's a new arc, that imo doesn't revert his previous one at all.)

It's also an argument that mostly looks at the external conflict, which at best is the most superfluous and least important one in a story. Yes, the Galaxy is at war again and there is an Empire 2.0 but what the character's have learned along the way has not really changed. (And what would the alternative be? It's Star Wars. You kind of need a War of some sorts. if it wasn't an Empire-esque FO, it would've been another fatcion threatening peace. Again, the rise of the FO and the backstory could've been handled a bit better, but it was kind of expected that peace wouldn't last in the New Republic if you want to make a sequel, right?)

I don't think it's realistic to expect to have a happy ending ànd a sequel that completely keeps that ending in place. It's seems to me your problem is not with the storytelling, but with the concept of sequels and franchising. (And that's perfectly fine.)

In my opinion you have two kind of sequels:

- the bad and not so good ones: completely disregard what the main character learned in the previous movie, and repeats the same conflict and arc again. An example of a sequel I actually kind of like, but did not enjoy as much as the original: In How to Train Your Dragon Hiccup struggles with being different and not being able to live up to expectations. In the sequel that is kind of repeated. Again he is afraid not being able to live up to expectations (becoming chief). The writer's failed to give him a new arc. Your Luther example seems to be a great one too (haven't seen that series)
-The good ones find new arcs for the main characters, without reverting the arcs of the previous movie. Imo the ST of Star Wars mostly fits that bill. I hope IX can confirm this.

To close things of: you did not give an example of a sequel who did it right in your opinion. Can you name me one story with a happy ending, ànd a straight sequel that didn't at least revert some stuff from that happy ending?