DISCUSSION: Cliché Endings

NOTE: The following post is coming from a young woman who is a supporter of the marriage/child-free lifestyle and the antinatalistic movement. In other words, I openly truly dislike the idea of marriage and children and have no desire to ever associate myself with them in any way. Due to this, you may or may not agree with certain aspects mentioned below.

I am bringing this topic up on behalf of everyone, who:

  1. consistently questions authors’ motives and ideas behind the typical “happily married with 2+ kids” story endings,

  2. is a supporter of the child-free lifestyle by choice, meaning they have no desire to associate themselves with children or ever have any of their own, biological or adopted (again, by choice), and

  3. is stopping by out of curiosity for educational purposes regarding the mentioned points above.

Please note that this post is in no way meant to bash anyone who likes and/or supports this type of ending, loves the idea of marriage and children, or even sees it as their personal goal in life – it is merely to exchange your thoughts and opinions about it, openly and respectfully.


This story seems great so far. I love the plot and character complexity. Oh, that’s a rough twist. Ooh, there’s another. And another… wait, what was that?

Was that yet another expected, casual proposal?

Oh, and now they’re suddenly happily married and living together with 3 kids while expecting another one? Bruh.

Dang it. That’s it? Meh.

#DisappointedButNotSurprised


Ah, the typical, cliché, and ridiculously overused happily ever afters. Aren’t they something special? More importantly, why am I even asking that?

On a serious note, aren’t you at least a little sick and tired of seeing the same ending over and over again in every story, regardless of what happened in it before it ended? You know, the ending containing the usual heteronormative, blindly-in-love couple that accidentally expects mini versions of them after an affair, but eventually decides to keep that “miracle” along with conceiving at least 2 more without considering anything else afterwards? The couple that stands together along with their [insert a bizarre number of kids here] kids through thick and thin, and somehow just never seems to fall apart like most people in the real world would?

Yeah… that ending. If you ask me, I could rant day and night about it, but I’m not here for that right now, so, the questions preserve…

  1. Why do you think authors feel the need to include this specific ending in their stories in the first place? Is it because it’s one the majority of readers expect/wish to see, or simply to fill the story in till its end, regardless of whatever happened in the plot before this?

  2. If the characters already must have kids, why do they almost always have more than one child? What message do you think this possibly sends to inexperienced readers, especially girls?

  3. Do you yourself like or dislike this type of ending and why?

  4. What are your main issues with such endings?

  5. Would you prefer to choose for your character whether or not to have any kids of their own, biological or adopted?

  6. In case of an existing pregnancy, would you prefer to have a choice whether to keep, abort, or put up for adoption? Why or why not?


Discuss away and remember to remain respectful to one another. :slightly_smiling_face:

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  1. Why do you think authors feel the need to include this specific ending in their stories in the first place? Is it because it’s one the majority of readers expect/wish to see, or simply to fill the story in till its end, regardless of whatever happened in the plot before this? I think they make these endings because they can’t bring themselves write other than the regular happy ending
  2. If the characters already must have kids, why do they almost never stop at a rather “normal” amount, such as one or two at most? What message do you think this possibly sends to inexperienced readers, especially girls? Idk, I don’t get this question
  3. Do you yourself like or dislike this type of ending and why? I’m neutral about it.
  4. What are your main issues with such endings? That they have no thought into the cliche ones, get married have two kids.
  5. Would you prefer to choose for your character whether or not to have any kids of their own, biological or adopted? In stories, adopted, It just makes the plot more interesting.
  6. In case of an existing pregnancy, would you prefer to have a choice whether to keep, abort, or put up for adoption? Why or why not? ** I would like the choice, I would feel like I’m missing a huge chunk of the story.I would keep it, I adore kids**
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I guess depending on the story, it could be a bit of all these examples. I think part of it is because this ending is what’s socially acceptable as the “norm” and so it can’t be seen as “problematic”. And I guess because most authors feel they need to add a flash-forward epilogue to make it feel complete, this is just what comes to them. I suppose they probably also think (or know) this is what their readers would want too.

I’m a little confused at this question because most stories I’ve read with this ending usually do stop at one or two kids? And I think the message one or two kids at the end sends to readers is that this is what’s “normal” which is probably what the author thought too.

I’m not a huge fan of it… I prefer my endings either open ended or with multiple variations… And I usually prefer the endings to not be a flash-forward of any sorts. Lol.

It’s just a bit boring and overdone now

This depends on the content of the story I guess. If I think about it now, if it’s only for the epilogue, the choice to adopt, have babies or not have children at all would be nice. But considering the type of endings I like would not really line up with this choice anyway, it doesn’t matter to me.

I’ve only read a few pregnancy-stories and with them, there was usually some kind of argument with family members about adopting or aborting… Which, idk, was only there to make MC/reader hate her family or her baby daddy’s family which then somehow drive the plot… So in those case the choice to abort or put the baby up for adoption would not make sense anymore… However I think if someone were to make a pregnancy story that wasn’t relying on this big family fight about what to do with the pregnancy, then yes, I do think their should be a choice.

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It’s simple, it does well, and generally speaking, everyone likes a happy ending.

For some authors though, I feel like they do it because they’ve gotten to a point where they story has run its course, and it had to end somehow.

In a certain sense, it could be an open ending. Are they going to be a happy family that was the result of an affair?? Who knows :crazy_face:

I’m going to get on my soapbox for a minute and say that I think it’s unfair to make the cap at two, while that’s the amount I’d personally consider having.

A lot of people from varying cultures have big families. And people who do this either come from those backgrounds or always wanted a family like that.

I’m not sure what kind of message it could send young readers, particularly girls. While there’s something to be said about making the “getting married and having babies” a happy ending…I really think there’s worse content to be introducing to kids, and this is a low priority on my personal list of concerns.

I don’t like it, really. It just feels lazy.

Just that it’s lazy and the author really just wanted or needed to end the story.

It’s unimportant to me. :woman_shrugging:t4: For endings, I really just like to see the author tie up loose ends. I hate when side-plots or arcs are abandoned because the author was so laser focused on the romantic aspect.

If I know the MC is going to get pregnant at any point, I usually don’t read the story.

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As a person that does not want to have Children or to get Married I completely agree with you. They always end their stories with the “White Picket Fence” type ending, and it’s like, once the characters go through all their hardships they end up having having the most perfect relationship, which isn’t at all how things work in real life. And yes, I understand that it’s just a story, but there are more than 1 or 2 or even 5 or more ways a relationship could go. It shouldn’t just always be “I want to get married” , “I want to have kids”, because all that stuff equals happiness. All relationships have thier ups and downs, it’s not just always “happy good times”.

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What Amber said here is absolutely correct. Families are the norm. It’s been engraved in our law, our religion, movies and books! While I’m personally not fan, I see them quite a bit because growing up and having kids is what is expected of any person in the world. Which is why I’m assuming authors add these on purpose because young adults are expected to start a new chapter of their lives with children.

I’d assume this would depend on a specific author. Some authors come from big families and wish to have bigger families, so that transfer that desire to their story. However, people who prefer smaller families would use that number of children because it’s simply what they want.
The message? It would depend on the context of it. If the character is married and is continuing to have kids, I wouldn’t think too much on the message being a negative one. I do think that the overall simplification of birth and nursing a child will have effect a young girl reading stories with endings like those and how they approach childbirth in their future.

I hate those endings specifically for the reason Amber said. I prefer open-ended stories that allow the reader to use their imagination on what the resolute ending could ultimately be.

A lot of them are quite unrealistic in the sense that marriage and having a kid is the final stage in the journey and that life will be amazing from then on. Like nothing else is going to stand in this family’s way.

Yes! That would be amazing! I don’t want a biological kid in real life. I’d actually prefer adopting kids, so it could relate more to some readers. Other than that, the choice allows the reader to choose what they would be more comfortable with.

Yes, I would actually. Again, I’d like to think more about the context of the situation. So those options should be there with regard to an appropriate situation. A lot of the time, however, options like these don’t affect the story and never really matter because one particular option has already been set in stone. If that was the case, I would like to see some proper development from the way that character originally felt (with the choice) and what changed her mind.

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Finally someone! :raised_hands:t2:

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  1. Why do you think authors feel the need to include this specific ending in their stories in the first place? Is it because it’s one the majority of readers expect/wish to see, or simply to fill the story in till its end, regardless of whatever happened in the plot before this?

Honestly, it’s probably the ‘ideal’ life that they’ve been taught to want since they were young. The ‘apple pie life,’ as Dean Winchester would say, has become the ‘normal’ goal in life. It’s so expected that the people who choose not to have kids or get married are the weird ones.

Most stories should have tied up endings, and maybe that sort of life is what fits best for the characters, based on what happens in the story. For some reason, if the MC went on to just do their job, date their love interest, etc. by the end, that would be an ‘unfulfilled’ life. Too open-ended. But tying up their life in a nice bow by giving them kids and a spouse? You can probably guess where their life is headed.

  1. If the characters already must have kids, why do they almost always have more than one child? What message do you think this possibly sends to inexperienced readers, especially girls?

Honestly? I have no idea. Maybe because we’ve been taught that kids = happiness? So, more kids, more happiness? It’s not sending a great message to young girls, who may then learn to think that their self-worth and happiness is based on having kids.

  1. Do you yourself like or dislike this type of ending and why?

I kinda hate it! It’s just telling readers that that life with a spouse and two kids (one boy, one girl, usually) is what you should strive for. And, you shouldn’t! I mean, hell, if you want that kind of life, go for it. But it’s not the only type of life that exists.

What kind of message is it sending to ace/aro folks? Infertile people? Or just people who don’t want kids or a spouse or whatever. It’s not sending a good message.

One of the main reasons that I really did not like the ending of HTTYD3.

  1. What are your main issues with such endings?

See above answer. ^^

  1. Would you prefer to choose for your character whether or not to have any kids of their own, biological or adopted?

Yes! Like, maybe a question to the readers at the end of the story! “What kind of ending do you see for your MC?” Then give them the options of like, married with kids, married without kids, not married at all, single parent, etc. Just, options.

Of course, it feels like most stories involve the MC getting pregnant, so, sometimes it’s not really an option.

  1. In case of an existing pregnancy, would you prefer to have a choice whether to keep, abort, or put up for adoption? Why or why not?

From a reader’s standpoint, I love reading dramatic stories, so, I’d probably choose to keep the pregnancy if given the choice (again, as a READER, I would NEVER have kids myself, EVER). But, yeah. The option would be nice.

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i agree & feel the same 100%

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  1. Why do you think authors feel the need to include this specific ending in their stories in the first place?
    Because they don’t know any other way to curtains-down a romance, I guess. Honestly, I’d rather the MC and LI rode off into the sunset on horseback.

  2. Why do they almost always have more than one child? What message do you think this possibly sends to inexperienced readers, especially girls?
    The cries of newborn babies blot out the sound of your own inner voice whispering why so glum? Isn’t this what you wanted?
    Once those babies become toddlers you have to make another one, quick.

  3. Do you yourself like or dislike this type of ending and why?
    I find it boring, but if the MC has had a rough time throughout the story, and has expressed that she wants kids but x y z thing is stopping her, then I sometimes feel relieved for her.

  4. What are your main issues with such endings?
    The assumption that kids = the only possible happy ending. The concept of “happily ever after” in general, which doesn’t exist. And, if it’s an interesting story about a remarkable MC, that their days as a spy/hero/rebel/whatever are over and they’ll become sedentary.

  5. (+ 6) Would you prefer to choose for your character whether or not to have any kids of their own, biological or adopted? If pregnant, would you prefer to have a choice of keep, abort, or adoption?
    I prefer to have as much freedom over my character’s fate as the author will give me.

6 Likes
  • Why do you think authors feel the need to include this specific ending in their stories in the first place? Is it because it’s one the majority of readers expect/wish to see, or simply to fill the story in till its end, regardless of whatever happened in the plot before this?

I think that the readers want a happy ending for the characters after the plot events (especially if it’s a romance, typically, the main characters go through hell to be with each other), and they think that the characters deserve a happy ending after everything. And the authors write what the readers want, especially at the end of the story when it doesn’t really matter anymore. Stories with sad/realistic endings make me happy lol

  • If the characters already must have kids, why do they almost always have more than one child? What message do you think this possibly sends to inexperienced readers, especially girls?

I think it ties in with the whole “get married, have a few kids, maybe a dog or two, live in a gated neighborhood until we die” thing. It’s just the social norm to have more than one kid at this point. I think that young girls reading a bunch of stories where they end up having more than one kid won’t really affect the girl, mostly because society has ingrained in our minds that having kids is a MUST so it would just be normal to them.

  • Do you yourself like or dislike this type of ending and why?

It depends on the story. If I’m reading a highly unrealistic cliche story, I mostly just read those for comedy and what not, so the happy ending is expected and not much of an annoyance. But if I’m reading a hardcore, intense story with amazing character development and everything like that, if an unrealistically happy ending comes out of nowhere and hits me in the face I’m going to be pissed.

  • What are your main issues with such endings?

Mostly, the characters acting unrealistically. It’s like the author abandons all previous development to give them kids and shit. Happy endings aren’t completely forbidden, and they do happen in real life quite often, so if there’s proper set up, I don’t hate it.

  • Would you prefer to choose for your character whether or not to have any kids of their own, biological or adopted?

Yes! If it’s a choice oriented story, or a self-insert story. If I’m playing as an already crafted character, I don’t really care. But if I’m putting myself into the story, I’d like to make choices about children.

  • In case of an existing pregnancy, would you prefer to have a choice whether to keep, abort, or put up for adoption? Why or why not?

I would, like I said, if it’s a self insert story. Pregnancy and children are huge things, and in a lot of Episode stories it’s like the author basically forgot that abortion is a valid choice for a mother with an unwanted pregnancy. Like do they not know that the mother has options?!

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I have seen a lot of stories with couples who have a lot of children, and I mean a lot, a lot as if they are giving births to throne heirs…:roll_eyes:

I think for some people, it means; the more child you have, the more you like that person. Which is very flawed by itself, but I can see the appeal.

I like happy endings, but I don’t wanna see all of it, for me, just an engagement/marriage proposal scene will do. No need for children :tipping_hand_woman:t2:

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!!!

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  1. Why do you think authors feel the need to include this specific ending in their stories in the first place? Is it because it’s one the majority of readers expect/wish to see, or simply to fill the story in till its end, regardless of whatever happened in the plot before this?
    I like to call this thing the Disney Effect. People naturally like a happy fairytale like ending. That specific ending though, I just think it naturally appeals to most people in different cultures and belief systems, and how they symbolise stability or something.
  2. If the characters already must have kids, why do they almost always have more than one child? What message do you think this possibly sends to inexperienced readers, especially girls?
    An indirect ‘children are our future’ thing? To show that the next generation wouldn’t be as drama-filled (unless authors create sequels or spinoffs based on the children’s adventures)
  3. Do you yourself like or dislike this type of ending and why?
    As a romantic at heart, a little bit, though I just prefer the ultimate scene being them getting married or even them riding off towards the sunset, setting off for new adventures. As Long as the two have finally revealed their feelings for one another, I’m perfectly content.
  4. What are your main issues with such endings?
    Purely a sense of unoriginality and narrow-thinking. There are many different ways to end a story happily.
  5. Would you prefer to choose for your character whether or not to have any kids of their own, biological or adopted?
    I hope so, depends on the story, especially if it was horror
  6. In case of an existing pregnancy, would you prefer to have a choice whether to keep, abort, or put up for adoption? Why or why not?
    Same for these types of choices. Depending on the scope of the pregnancy plot, I’m afraid it might kinda minimise the issue even though there is a choice. Like all of these things have their ups and downs to begin with
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I didn’t even read what you wrote below yet, and I already agree. :heart_eyes:

I’m definitely tired of the “And they had 1-11 kids and lived happily ever after :heart_eyes:” kind of ending, not the angry kind of tired anymore, but the exhausted kind of tired. Not the “oOoOh, i’M sO hApPy WiTh My OnE hUnDrEd KiDs” anymore, just a small “ok”. While I do love complete endings, the kind of endings that say “and all of their problems from then on were the normal kind of problems, the end”, using children to prove that they’re happy is just picking the low-hanging fruit.

Tbh, I’ve never felt pressured by these story endings that my plan not to have kids is “wrong” in any way, maybe because I read about damn cats until I was like 15 but I can see how more sensitive girls might be uncomfortable with this. :frowning_face: “Everyone is having babies, why aren’t you???”

In the case of an existing pregnancy in a story, I yeet myself out the door in the top left corner as fast as I can. Nope. Absolutely not. Thank you, next.
But more seriously, I can understand the temptation of authors to avoid the word “abortion” like it’s a game of Taboo. It’s among the hottest issues, and no matter what stance you choose, you’re going to get a small angry mob in your fanmail. Pretending it doesn’t exist is a pretty safe method to get simple groans from the pro-choicers, smug silence from the pro-lifers, and no reaction from the rest.

I was reading Trapped by Alusza, thinking “wow, this is such a quality story, how can it get any better?” and then she writes “This choice is up to you, neither option is better than the other: a. have kids or b. have no kids”. -single tear of awe-

:woman_shrugging: Low-hanging fruit again. Writing a story is like baking a cake; anyone with a good brain and functioning hands can bake a cake using cake mix that comes from a box, but if you can go off the books, bake something unique, and actually manage to pull it off, you’re a chef. :chef: Likewise, anyone who speaks a language, has a means to write, and has at least an ounce of creativity can write a cliche, the formula has been done a thousand times. Girl meets boy, MeanGirl™ takes boy, boy chooses girl, marriage, crotchspawn occurs, happily ever after. Going with the minds of the majority and taking no risks will yield no uniqueness, but on the other hand, it’s hard to follow the game plan and still flop like a fish but Episode Official can do anything they put their mind to… :joy:

TL;DR Society, fiction, and people in general could do better to quit pushing the “married with kids = happiness” kind of thing. It’s the first step to a greater idea: “Happiness is not a checklist.” Maybe it’s up to us to write stories like that. :sunglasses:

Of course, I have nothing against anyone who wants to have kids, one kid or eight kids, it can be a joy… I guess. And someone has to do the breeding. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: If you don’t tell me that I have to have some, and I don’t tell you that you have to have less, we’ll get along.

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  1. Especially in Romance books this makes sense. Most authors know their target group and what their target group expects of them. It also could be, that the authors think this is the best ending for their story or maybe they have multiple endings, that can get unlocked if you made the right decision.

  2. I think because that is your typical picture perfect family. An older brother, a young sister and good parents. In my opinion, this picture is everywhere and it makes some girls feel, as if this is the only right way and as if you can only be happy with kids.

  3. I am not the biggest fan of them, although I do not hate them either. I just generally do not want kids or want to adopt. That picture perfect family was never a lifestyle I dreamt to pursue.

  4. That I don’t get to choose wether or not I want kids.

  5. One hundred percent. I do not want my own kids.

  6. Yes, there should be such a choice, I am sick of all those ‘I, a college student, am pregnant by a stranger, oh well, guess I will have to keep it’ storys. It makes it seem, as if you don’t have the choice. (Which, to be fair, you don’t have in a lot of US states)

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Y’all read such happy(ish) stories. The stories I read end with someone dying :joy::joy:

I’ll be able to answer all the questions a bit later

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I love these because they bring realism to stories, since we all know not everyone gets their happy ending.

Probably because it is the most straight forward ending that will satisfy the majority of their readers and it doesn’t leave a lot of room for questions. But I think this is also because society tells us we need to settle down and have children in order to be “successful” or “happy” in life.

Possibly because it’s the norm for most families? It would be great to see more stories about inferility or the struggle to conceive another child. I’m not sure what kind of message this could send to young readers, but I wonder if they will think it’s easy and financially possible to get pregnant and pop out one child after another?

I don’t particularly dislike it, although it’s overdone and predictable at this point. But it also depends on the hardships that the character has endured and what their goals are in life, so I’ll say I’m neutral about it.

It’s easiest to write and a bit unrealistic. There are different kinds of fairytale endings for people in life, and these stories are only showing one version of it. I think it pushes the idea that you can only have a happy and fulfilling life if you get married and have children.

Not really of importance to me. I guess it depends on the storyline?

It would be great to have those options, but that is a lot of branching for the author. I’m tired of seeing stories about unplanned pregnancies where the MC feels like they have to go through with it. Both abortion and adoption would be interesting to write about, and I’d like to see how the character may struggle emotionally and mentally with their decision.

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On the topic of cliché ending my stories usually have two ending:

Together: If they have enough points they stay together. If this is a romance then they are getting married, I spent the whole book leading up to this. The idea of children is left up to the reader:

  • Have Children
  • Adopt Children
  • Have no children at all

Break Up: If you treated them like crap you’re not staying together. Point blank, period.

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