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  • Oh, Chuck. The series occasionally touched on some very dark themes, but things really took a turn for the bittersweet in the final two episodes of the show. At the very end, Sarah's memory is still damaged and it's unclear how much of it can, or will, be recovered. Optimists believe that the Magic Kiss worked and that they all lived Happily Ever After. Pessimists don't think it worked at all and that everything in Chuck is now something that the show's best character won't remember. Realists think that Sarah may eventually remember everything, but that memory and personality interact in some pretty complicated ways, so that doesn't necessarily mean that remembering everything will make her the Sarah that the audience knew.
    • Word of God says that they see the ending as a happy one, for what it's worth.
  • The final episode of the TV version of The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy ends with Arthur and Ford discovering that the meaning of life is nonsensical. In addition, they're trapped five million years in Earth's past with no apparent way out of their situation. The radio and novel versions show that they get out of this predicament okay, but still...
    • Heck, every incarnation of The Hitchhiker's Guide thrives on either this trope, or Downer Endings.
  • While The A-Team was almost always a fun, lighthearted show, there were a few episodes that ended this way. Most notably The Sound of Thunder, which ends with Fullbright being killed just hours after finally becoming convinced that the team is innocent, and meeting the daughter he never knew he had, and Family Reunion: Face wiill have the chance to get to know his newly-discovered half-sister, but their father dies without even telling Face who he is (Face finds out from Murdock).
  • The ending to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine starts with the Federation officers most involved in the Dominion War refusing to toast their victory with General Martok, thanks to the loss of lives on both sides. It ends with most of the characters separated to start new lives and one of them dead (sort of).
    • Even the Cardassians get a bittersweet ending, Garak in particular. While Garak is happy that Cardassia is now free of Dominion rule (and that he can return home), he notes that it had been devastated from the war, twisted under its occupation, and further ruined by the attempted genocide of its people. When Bashir tries to cheer him up by saying that they will rebuild, Garak angrily responds that, of course they will rebuild, but not as the Cardassia he knew. He succeded at freeing Cardassia and going home, but the home that he was banished from no longer existed.
    • Pretty much everything about Deep Space Nine's finale was a bittersweet ending. The Dominion was defeated? Awesome, but hundreds of billions of people died on both sides. Sisko stopped Dukat once and for all and got to ascend to the level of a god? That's great, but now his wife and two children are on their own. Odo finally gets to return to his people and help them change from their murderous ways? Good news for him, but to do so he has to leave behind Kira, who he made pretty clear was the one thing that mattered to him more than returning home, with the added sting of Odo being one of the few people Kira was close to who hadn't died horribly by the end of the series. Then you've got Worf, O'Brien, and Rom leaving, and, well... the Dominion war was a very good example of a pyrrhic victory and we'll leave it at that.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise:
    • The series ends with the knowledge that the Enterprise NX-01's mission was a resounding success, Captain Archer is virtually guaranteed a promotion to Admiral, and the Coalition of Planets is about to become official. But with all that, Archer has still lost his best buddy, Trip. And the Enterprise is still going to be decommissioned, ending the era for the ship his father built.
    • Of course, fan backlash to the finale was so strong that there are canonical implications in books that the holographic log Riker is watching is not historically accurate, but a cover story for a secret mission. In that version, Trip survives.
    • And Archer is still going to lose his prized beagle in one of the timelines. It's likely not Porthos, but still...
  • Every season of 24, to one extent or another. Jack thwarts the terrorists, but in the process, ends up losing more and more of himself to do it, and many heroic characters and innocent civilians end up dead. The series ultimately concludes in the same fashion: Jack Bauer and President Taylor both face grim futures because of several questionable acts they committed in the course of the day, and the peace Omar Hassan fought and died for doesn't come to pass and may never be. On the other hand, the graver injustice of a fraudulent peace is avoided, the heroes ultimately do the right thing, and the villains fail and get their comeuppances.
  • The second season of Waterloo Road. Every one of the villainous characters threatening the titular school has been dealt with. It remains open and not under the influence of Gerry Preston's Corrupt Church, and the people selling drugs outside the school have been arrested. Then right at the end, one of said drug dealers (out on bail) stabs a main character to death.
  • Kamen Rider almost never has an unambiguously happy ending. Just to name a few:
    • Kamen Rider Black: Saved the world, killed the Big Bad. All seems well... except for the fact that the one thing the main character set out to do, save his step-brother, had not been accomplished.
    • Kamen Rider Ryuki: Good news: The Rider War is stopped, everyone harmed by the mirror world restored. Bad news: Yui has to die, Asakura is restored too, and Kitoaka's illness will presumably kill him. Yui's aunt, all alone in the shop we know they once ran together, is a real Tear Jerker of a sight even if she will presumably never know Yui was supposed to be there.
    • Kamen Rider 555: Good news: The Orphenoch King is stopped for now. The bad news: Emphasis on "for now." He's still alive and Saeko is still tending to him. All this could start again in a week. This also means Teruo is probably gone for good. We didn't directly see Kiba die, but he almost certainly did. Also, Orphenochs still probably suffer from the reduced life span - bad news for the good ones.
    • Kamen Rider Blade: Kenzaki decides to sacrifice his humanity in order for his best friend to live as a human. However, as the End of the World could potentially occur if one or the other destroys each other, they have to separate, never being able to see each other again.
    • Kamen Rider OOO: Ankh sacrifices himself by giving Eiji his last three Medals to form the Tajadol combo and defeat Maki. However, he lives on as a spirit and accompanies Eiji (who does not know Ankh is there) as Eiji returns to Walking the Earth.
  • Every season of The Wire is one of these -- sure, they manage to capture a few drug-dealer lieutenants, and a major player now and then, but the drug trade goes on. A Where Are They Now? Epilogue plays at the end of each season, just to drive this point home. At the end of the series, the message of life in Baltimore working in an endless cycle is reinforced. Dukie becomes a drug addict like Bubbles was, Michael becomes a stick-up artist like Omar was, and Sydnor becomes the new McNulty, working to cement a bond with Judge Phelan. In addition, most of the individuals who lied or cheated in the legal or police systems get off scot-free with their actions. Clay Davis is acquitted of money laundering, Rawls is promoted to a higher rank and Carcetti becomes Governor of Maryland. Finally, almost all of the morally good characters in the series are punished for their actions: Scott Templeton wins a Pulitzer Prize for his false coverage of the homeless murders in Baltimore, while the rest of the staff go unnoticed for their hard work; McNulty and Freamon take the fall for the falsified homeless killings and have to resign from the force; Daniels and Pearlman take new jobs as a judge and attorney. The few characters who end off better than where they started in the series include Bubbles, Kima, Namond and Cutty.
    • Moreover, Michael aside, a grand total of one of the more likable characters in the drug game who stayed in the drug game didn't end up either imprisoned or dead, that being Slim Charles, who cemented his status as a fan favorite in the series finale by, in one of the few moments the series would allow where an antagonist truly got what they deserved, he shot Cheese Wagstaff in the head for his betrayal of Proposition Joe.
    • Carver's promotion seems to indicate he has learned the lessons Daniels and Colvin tried to teach him and has a bright future... which somewhat makes up for how royally those two got shafted.
  • The ending of the new Battlestar Galactica episode "Revelations." The good news: the fleet, including their new Cylon allies, finds Earth. The bad news: it looks like a bombed-out wasteland. Dayamn.
    • Also the ending of episode 3.04, "Exodus, Part 2". Whilst humanity is rescued from New Caprica, Colonel Tigh loses his eye and his wife, and is left alone and despairing as Bill Adama is being celebrated. Adama: "You did it, Saul. You brought them back." Tigh: "Not all of them."
    • Plus, the Galactica is saved from near-destruction, but at the cost of the advanced battlestar Pegasus. As the series draws to its conclusion, the Bucket has begun to fall apart partly as a result of the horrendous punishment she took at New Caprica, aggravated by recent events.
    • Played much straighter in the series finale. The fleet has managed to successfully rescue Hera Agathon, defeated Cavil's forces and have finally found a new home (our Earth, essentialy). Meanwhile, the Centurions are freed and it is implied that they find a destiny free from the cycle of violence. However, many people have died in the process, including Kara (who was revealed to be Dead All Along), Boomer (who achieved redemption at the cost of her life) Laura Roslin (whose cancer finally does her in, leaving Adama lonely), and Anders (who is about to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence with Kara).
      • And with Dee's suicide, Kara's ascending, Laura's death and Adama's decision to just leave everything, Lee Adama has effectively lost everyone he was ever close too, for the second time in half a decade.
      • And then there's Galen Tyrol. After everything that's happened to him (discovering his ex-girlfriend is a Cylon, discovering he's a Cylon, his wife getting murdered, and getting emotionally manipulated through the years, he becomes sick of people and becomes an Ineffectual Loner who leaves to live up on an island up north.
        • Actually, what happens to Galen Tyrol results in a very amusing speculation. He's a Cylon, so probably very long lived. He is going to become a hermit on an "Island Up North." He's extremely intelligent, a survivor, and a master engineer. His memories are of a highly technological and advanced world, so that, in a way, he remembers the future. Add to that Clarke's observation that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Sound familiar? That's right. Perhaps somewhere along the line he picks up the nickname "Merlin" ... which, of course, leads right to another bittersweet ending.
  • Quantum Leap -- Five words: "Sam Beckett never returned home."
    • The "sweet" part comes from Al being a happily-married man, and from Sam doing what he subconsciously wanted to do all along. The "bitter" part involves Al never meeting Sam, and Sam's wife never getting her husband back.
  • Psych Several episodes end this way, specifically the episodes with the Yin/Yang killers
    • "An Evening With Mr. Yang" Shawn manages to save his mother and aid in capturing Yang and even gets the girl (former highschool sweetheart, Abigail) only to finally have his love interest, Juliet O'Hara, ask him out. He turns her down as he was on a date with Abigail at the time.
    • "Mr. Yin Presents" While victims are rescued, the characters also have to deal with the death of a recurring character and Shawn is dumped by Abigail.
  • Doctor Who finales are almost always this, as are the episodes. It's the Trope Namer for Everybody Lives specifically because there's a terrible cost the other 99% of the time. (Series Five/Season 31/Series Fnarg bucked the trend; but then, it was written by the guy who gave us Everybody Lives.)
    • New series, season 1 finale: The last Dalek fleet is blown to dust, but Earth has suffered casualties maybe in the millions, and the Doctor has to die/regenerate to save Rose from her own power. Meanwhile Jack is abandoned on the space station. And much (like try a couple of centuries) later? We find out that The Doctor left him behind deliberately because he can't stand to look at what Jack had become.
    • Season 2: The walls between universes are repaired, Jackie is reunited with an alternate-universe iteration of her lost husband, and the armies of Cybermen and the Dalek Ark are destroyed, but Rose is permanently separated from the Doctor and London has once again sustained a massacre.
    • Season 3: The conquest of Earth is temporally reversed, the Doctor is saved, and Martha has become a Badass of legend, but The Master is dead, leaving the Doctor alone again as the last of the Time Lords, and Martha quits her Companionship rather than pine after the Doctor (presumably not without some trauma from having witnessed the Master's subjugation of Earth first-hand).
    • Season 4: Donna might have saved the world, but she can't be allowed to remember any of it or she'll die. All that Character Development, all that belief in herself? All gone. The Doctor abandons his Children of Time to live their own lives, leaving him alone with lots of angst. Rose has her own version of the Doctor, but his ability to live a mortal life is uncertain and there is no guarantee he and Rose will have a lasting love.
      • Huh? The Doctor says "One heart, one life." Now, he's not guaranteeing they're going to be married fifty years, but it's definitely implied that 10.2 will have a single mortal lifespan and that he and Rose will stay together. Still a downer for the "real" Doctor, though.
        • Not what was meant. The Doctor is a time traveller. He has seen humanity develop and grow from the Adam and Eve Plot beginnings to the universe collapsing into itself and he's been to every planet in the galaxy. Sarah-Jane Smith had to adjust to a normal life after only three years of living like that. If you've never known anything else, could you just settle down in Suburbia and forget about everything you've seen and done throughout the universe?
      • While most season finales in the new series have ended with something to lighten the mood and lead into their corresponding Christmas Special, season four ends with the Doctor, soaked and alone, staring at the control panel in the TARDIS. Cut to credits.
    • "The End of Time" has Earth saved from the Master's bio-template, the horrors of the Time War sent back into their lock, and a startlingly low bodycount. Then he knocks four times and the Doctor has to take a fatal dose of radiation to save someone from a mundane failure of engineering forethought, says a final goodbye to all of the new-series companions, and dies in a fiery cataclysm of regeneration. Also, the Time Lords in their final days went Ax Crazy, and even if they could be rescued from the timelock, were planning to mercy-kill the universe.
      • It's also implied that the 'mercy' part of 'mercy-kill' is also inaccurate.
      • Not to mention that "The End of Time" changed the way that Wilf (and the audience) thought of regeneration. The transition to a new Doctor is always jarring to the audience, but at least we could take comfort in the fact that it's just a normal part of life for our favourite Time Lord. Well, not quite. 10's last words? "I don't want to go."
  • Every Buffy the Vampire Slayer season finale except 1 and 4.
  • Life On Mars (the British version) technically possesses a downer ending, as it ends with Sam committing suicide by jumping off a roof. However, as this also enables him to save the lives of his friends in 1973, get the girl and drive off into the sunset, in another sense, it's quite a happy one as well.
    • But not for his mum, who is all alone yet again, or all the people who might have been glad that he was back.
      • The spin-off Ashes to Ashes ends with the principal characters (except for Gene Hunt, who stays behind to help others cross over) accepting their deaths and moving on to an afterlife, but this means that Alex Drake will never see her daughter again.
  • Andromeda ends with them saving the universe... but not before Earth explodes.
  • The second season of Supernatural'. John is released from hell and they finally kill the demon that started all the trouble. But Dean is going to hell, Sam may be negatively affected by his resurrection, and there are now over 200 demons to deal with.
    • The fifth season takes this even further. Sam, holding Lucifer inside him, drags the Archangel Michael with him into Lucifer's prison, sacrificing himself to seal the two and prevent Armageddon. Dean goes to live with Lisa and Ben, Castiel takes over Heaven..and we see Sam watching Lisa's house at the very end...
  • M* A* S* H: The war is over and everyone is going home. On the other hand, besides the emotional scars from their time in a war zone, Father Mulchahy is going deaf and the main cast realize they will probably never see each other again.
  • The ending of Volume Three for Heroes. Sure, the world was saved (again) and Sylar was defeated (again) (or so we are made to think (again)), but Claire's biological mother Meredith is killed and Nathan approaches the US Government for help in rounding up everybody with powers.
  • The ending of Runaway. Sean is reunited with his family which despite still being broken, he knows it is where he belongs. And thanks to Gary (his mother's boyfriend) the boy who bullies him at school won't be bothering him anymore. However, Molly is still out on the streets alone, her dreams of finding her home and family completely destroyed.
  • Power Rangers in Space. The rangers fail. Push comes to shove, the United Alliance of Evil attacks in full force, and the rangers lose. Good triumphs, yes, but only because The Dragon stabbed the Big Bad in the back with a planetbuster missile, and the father figure Zordon kills himself to cause a Deus Ex Machina and take out the army. The enemy may have fallen, but the rangers failed, Zordon died to make up for it, and they know it.
    • Again in Power Rangers RPM. The rangers beat Venjix or so they think, and the Robot War is finally over, with humanity having won. Except... now the rangers have to go back to their ordinary lives, something that they don't want to do. Oh yeah, and there's still that "most of humanity is dead, and the entire planet outside Corinth is a mildly radioactive wasteland with the entire ecosystem gone" problem.
      • Well, it's shown that the ecosystem is likely to recover[1]. After 16 years of this show, the most dangerous villain in the entire series may have gotten away with no one realizing it. 16 years. The show that began with a Sealed Evil in a Can leaves us right where we started at the end... but this time, as stated before, most of the global population is dead.
  • Rome has this in spades at the end of the second season, which is admittedly a step up from the full on Downer Ending in the first season. Octavian is finally in power, the wars are at an end, Pullo is reunited with his son and life on the Aventine appears to be stabilizing...but Lucius Vorenus is dead.
    • Word of God has it that Pullo was lying and Vorenus lives, or will if the movie is made.
  • The season three finale of Lost became a prime example of bittersweet. The 815 survivors are celebrating "being rescued" and gaining a huge victory over their "enemies", the Others. The cost, of course, is that unknown to almost everyone at the time Charlie bites the big one. Not to mention, the ending of the episode reveals that some of the characters suffered from depression and regret after returning to civilization.
    • The end became this as well. The Man in Black is defeated and eight people make it off the island in the end (only four of them survivors of the original crash) Jack ensures their escape and saves the island at the cost of his own death; Hurley and Ben live but stay behind as the island's new protectors, and everyone else by this point is already dead. Made a little less bitter with the knowledge that they all meet up in some kind of afterlife later.
  • The ending of Torchwood: Children Of Earth. The 456 have been defeated, the Prime Minister's role is about to be exposed and Gwen and Rhys are expecting a baby. But Captain Jack's grandson and Ianto are now dead, his daughter wants nothing more to do with him and at the end he decides to leave Earth.
  • Quite a few episodes of Farscape end like this. For example, in "Throne For A Loss" though the heroes save the day, the Tavlek mercenary that Zhaan was trying to rehabilitate goes straight back to drugs the moment he leaves Moya.
    • At the end of "That Old Black Magic," Crichton and Zhaan manage to defeat Maldis. Unfortunately, Crichton failed to talk Crais out of his Roaring Rampage of Revenge, and Zhaan is now dangerously close to giving in to her dark and selfish impulses- And considering that the next episode was "DNA Mad Scientist," in which Zhaan eagerly helped D'Argo and Rygel hack off one of Pilot's arms...
    • The end of the "Liars, Guns And Money" trilogy: the crew is now officially rich thanks to the raid on the Shadow Depository, and they've managed to save Jothee from Scorpius in the process. Unfortunately, Moya is suffering from crippling injuries; only one out of the five mercenaries survived (though he promises to deliver his dead partners' shares to their families); finally, Crichton is suffering a Split Personality Takeover and begging D'Argo to kill him.
    • In "Eat Me," though Kaarvok dies when Rovhu explodes, and Rovhu's tormented pilot is finally put out of his misery, the two Crichtons are now trying to decide which of them is real. Plus, Talyn has been reunited with Moya- but he and Crais have been terribly injured in a battle with someone or something that may still be hunting for them.
    • The end of the "We're So Screwed" trilogy seems so hopeful at first: the Scarrans have been dealt a blow that will eventually force them to leave the region, Captain Braca has had Grayza removed from her command and saved the lives of his crew in the process, D'Argo and Chiana have managed to rekindle their relationship, and Scorpius and Sikozu appear to have fallen in love. However, Crichton is clearly unhappy at having to use a nuclear weapon to achieve his ends, wondering what he might be forced to do next time; worse still, the Scarrans are planning an invasion of Earth thanks to a minute slip of the tongue on Crichton's part.
    • Then you have the Peacekeeper Wars mini-series, meant to tie up loose ends in the show. It ends with Crichton and Aeryn naming their baby. Also, the Scarran-Peacekeeper War is over, at the cost of thousands of lives, including Jool and D'Argo. There's also a follow-up comic, which has Rygel regaining his throne... but Scorpy is back to his old tricks and has taken an interest in Crichton Jr.
  • I recall an episode of Stargate SG-1 where the heroes manages to free a group of Unas from slavery, only to realize that they have inadvertantly started a civil war.
    • The end of Season 5 was just as bad. Yes, the Kelownans have been saved, Daniel has ascended and is still sort of "around" (the broken ventilation shaft), Jonas has been granted asylum at the SGC, and SG-1 is starting to move on after Daniel's "death", but at the same time the Kelownans are probably going to go do exactly what Daniel just saved them from, Jonas can never go home (as far as we know), and Daniel's still gone.
    • There's also the Season 4 Episode "Serpent's Venom". In that episode, while Teal'c manages to escape a Goa'uld ship he was held captive on (as well as convincing a Mook to defect) the plan to start an Enemy Civil War fails spectacularly and instead of having the two biggest System Lords engage in a costly war, the Big Bad Apophis kills the biggest obstacle to his conquest of the Goa'uld System Lords and absorbs his forces, becoming a bigger threat than ever thanks to SG-1.
  • Besides also being a cliffhanger, the end of The 4400. Yes, most of the heroes are safe, the Virus has been stopped, and the Marked have been defeated (we think), but Susan and Danny Farrell both died, along with thousands of other people. Isabelle was killed trying to save Jordan, who took over Seattle and apparently has no intention of giving it back. Shawn has no idea what to do now, especially after killing his brother. Diana's just found out that her daughter sympathizes with people she thinks are terrorists. Countless p-s are going to have to adjust to life with their new abilities. And we don't know whether Tom will take promicin or not.
  • The 2005 Casanova serial ends with Casanova dying under the illusion that the one love of his life is still alive and coming to be with him. However, we learn from a letter that the elusive Henriette never stopped trying to find him all those years and did always love him, despite being married to another man. Add to that the closing shot of a young Casanova and Henriette dancing through the empty streets of Venice, and it looks less and less like Did Not Get the Girl really applies.
  • The X-Files certainly ends on this note; Mulder and Scully, who had been separated for over a year, are reunited, but at a cost. Mulder only escapes execution by breaking out of jail (with help), and he and Scully are fugitives from the law. On top of that, Mulder finally learns the depressing truth, and the long-anticipated child born to the couple at the end of the previous season was given up for adoption for his own safety.
    • Also, the conspiracy is still very active and they've just learned that the aliens have plans for a massive invasion in 2012 leaving Mulder with a devastating feeling of defeat hanging over him. The upside? He and Scully have eachother, she tells him she knows he will never give up and makes him feel that his pursuits were worth while because he opened her eyes and made her a believer. Mulder's last words to close out the show: "Maybe there's hope."
  • Little House On the Prairie, the town of Walnut Grove is bought out by a scheming, corrupt railroad tycoon. Rather than hand over their town, the citizens of Walnut Grove defiantly demolish all of their homes, robbing the tycoon of his prize. This act also inspires the neighboring towns to threaten the same thing if they are bought out as well and the people of Walnut Grove take comfort in the fact that the sacrifice of their town was not in vain.
  • Super Sentai:
    • Mirai Sentai Timeranger - Naoto/TimeFire is killed. Eventually, Tatsuya decides he must send the other Rangers back to the year 3000, forever separating him from his friends and his love Yuuri. When they return, they find that the events of the show have altered their timelines: Yuuri's family are still alive, Domon's ban from the ring became a one-year suspension which is now over, and a cure has been found for Ayase's terminal illness. However, nothing has changed for Shion, whose planet is still destroyed.
    • Choujin Sentai Jetman - In a Where Are They Now? Epilogue, Gai is a successful businessman, Raita is happily married, Ako has achieved her dream of becoming an Idol Singer and the characters go to the wedding of Ryuu and Kaori. Everyone's happy - and then Gai is knifed by a bandit on his way to the ceremony. He does make it in time to see his friends, but collapses and presumably dies. Fan opinion is divided on whether or not he's really dead but a tie-in manga sequel and Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger both confirmed that Toei does consider Gai dead.
    • Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger - Mikoto/AbareKiller is dead and Asuka and Mahoro return to Dino Earth, vowing that they will name their new baby after him. Some time later, there is a reunion of the show's True Companions, with the missing Mikoto, Rijewel, Asuka and Mahoro replaced by identical-looking customers who just happen to wander into Dino Curry at the right moment.
    • Hikari Sentai Maskman - Peace has been restored to the earth, but Takeru and Mio/Iyal cannot be together because she has become the queen of Tube and is forbidden to have a relationship with a human.
    • Choushinsei Flashman - The Flashmen have ended Mess' reign of terror, and Sara finds her real family. However, they have to leave Earth and return to the Flash solar system or risk losing their lives to the Anti-Flash Phenomenon.
    • Tensou Sentai Goseiger - The Goseigers obtain permission to stay on earth and follow their dreams there, but Nozomu is heartbroken when he discovers they will be leaving him. Alata reassures him they will be friends forever, and that the Gosei Angels will be watching over him. Some time later, Nozomu is looking at the apple seeds he planted with Alata when a white feather lands upon him, showing that Alata is looking out for him after all.
    • Denshi Sentai Denziman - The Denziman have defeated the Vader Clan. However, the Team Pet, Denji Dog IC, sacrificed his life to help the Denziman defeat them. What's worse is that Queen Hedrian is still alive, which sets up the events for the next Super Sentai series.
  • Horatio Hornblower has the episode "Retribution," in which Horatio and co have taken many prisoners and prize ships, narrowly averted disaster multiple times, and Horatio's name has been cleared of mutiny charges and he is even promoted. However Archie Kennedy, his best friend of many years, dies of wounds received in battle, having confessed to mutiny in order to save Horatio. Horatio's face in the final scene looks like he's struggling between being heartbroken and being grateful.
  • Heck, the show hasn't ended yet, but how could Merlin possibly end any differently? Thanks to the Foregone Conclusion, we know that Arthur will become King with Gwen as his wife and Merlin as his most trusted advisor, but they'll still have lost Morgana to evil, Arthur will one day be slain by Mordred, and there's always the shadow of Lancelot lingering over the Official Couple...
  • The first season of In Treatment ends with a mix of good and bad consequences. Sophie and Laura have made breakthroughs and have left treatment with Paul as happier, healthier people, while Paul stopped himself from making a mistake with Laura. However, his marriage to Kate is marriage is effectively over, as is Jake and Amy's, and Alex's possible suicide is still on his conscience.
  • The Thorn Birds: Justine and Meggie have finally reconciled, as have Meggie and her mother Fee. Justine and her lover Rainer have also reconciled and are leaving Australia to start their life together. But Father Ralph dies in Meggie's arms, forever remorseful that he never had a proper relationship with her or their son (who also died recently without every knowing Ralph was his father).
  • Any episode of Cold Case.
  • Bittersweet endings were common in House. The most common varieties were the one in which the patient had to choose between taking the cure and compromising another aspect of their health or lifestyle (eg. losing a limb) or forgoing it in favor of whatever they stood to lose and the one in which the diagnosis revealed something about the patient that their family, friends, partner and sometimes the patient themselves didn't know, which changed their life for the worse.
    • The trope characterized the series finale as well. Wilson has five months to live, and House has been told he must spend that time completing his prison sentence. House tries to drown his sorrows by shooting heroin with the patient of the week in an abandoned building, but ends up surrounded by fire with a dead drug buddy and a host of hallucinations of former acquaintances, dead and alive. House summons the will to live, but the floor above collapses and and explosion follows. The EM Ts recover a body, which the coroner identifies as that of House. Several people from House's past and present eulogize him, the last of them Wilson, whose words turn blunt just before he receives a text message: SHUT UP YOU IDIOT. House faked his death, leaving he and Wilson free to hit the road. Barring a big Karma Houdini act even by his standards, House can never be a doctor again and will either spend the rest of his life in hiding or go to prison for years, but he's made critical realisations about himself that suggest that his life is not forfeit. Wilson will still die, but for now, "cancer's boring".
      • David Shore confirmed that the ending is to be taken at face value and is not a dream or a hallucination. How House could hear Wilson from a location that Wilson had to drive to can presumably be chalked up to a Plot Hole.
  • The miniseries Hatfields and McCoys mirrors history in how miserable everyone ends up once the feud is over. Randall McCoy lost six children during the feud and his wife went insane with grief. Devil Anse Hatfield lost two brothers and an uncle and his eldest son left the state and he will not see him for another ten years. Johnse Hatfield survived the feud but the love of his life and their child are dead, his wife has betrayed him and when he returns home ten years later he is arrested and imprisoned. However, despite all this misery the killing is over and the descendants of the participants will be able to move on and make peace.

Notes

  1. although it'll take thousands of years for species diversity to recover and fill a lot of niches, and most of the known species, particularly the photogenic mammals, are probably done for
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