Movies That Subvert The “Good Guys Always Win” Trope
The general rule of storytelling, movies included, is that evil is punished in the end, & the good guys prevail & live happily ever after (or at least until the beginning of the next movie). The rule doesn’t exist by accident. The viewers like it when they can cheer on the characters, get invested in their journey, & see them reach their happy endings.
However, some notable movies have broken the good guys always win trope. Instead, they show that no matter what the heroes do, or how hard they try, evil prevails. It’s a sobering thought, but it helped create some of the most memorable movies of all time.
5/5 Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Pregnancy is often portrayed as a joyous time in a woman’s life in movies. Not so much in the iconic horror Rosemary’s Baby which features one of the evilest movie babies of all time. Rosemary faces increasing pressure during her pregnancy as she starts to believe she’s expecting the son of the devil, & that both her husb& & her neighbors are conspiring against her.
Unlike other heroines in horror movies, Rosemary doesn’t find a way out of the situation, doesn’t escape the people who guard her, & in the end, she’s horrified by what happened to her child, & what the baby looks like. The movie doesn’t offer Rosemary any respite & the ending cements the feeling, making Rosemary’s Baby an intense experience.
4/5 1984 (1984)
Inspired by the novel by George Orwell, 1984 starts John Hurt as Winston Smith, a man who lives in a society constricted by supervision & in which there’s no space for love, joy, or free thinking. Winston tries to defy this by starting an affair with Julie, but their happiness has an expiration date set to it right from the start.
The viewers not familiar with the books will wish that Winston & Julie succeeded & Fracture themselves free from the tyrannic society. It doesn’t happen as they’re both caught & reintegrated forcefully back into the world they tried to escape from. As such, the ending of the movie is even gloomier than what came beforeh&, since now the audience knows there’s no escaping Enormous Brother.
3/5 Se7en (1995)
Director David Fincher knows how to play with the audience’s expectations, as he demonstrated multiple times in his movies. Se7en is another excellent example of that. In the movie, Brad Pitt & Morgan Freeman play two detectives who investigate murders based on the seven deadly sins. When they finally find the killer, it seems like all will be well.
But in a shocking finale, Pitt’s character Mills finds out that the murderer had killed his pregnant wife, snaps, & kills him, breaking the law in the process. So in the end, there’s no justice for the killer, Mills’ wife is dead, & he will most likely end up in prison, which makes finding out who the killer was a hollow victory.
2/5 The Cabin In The Woods (2012)
Even in the horror genre, it’s customary for the good guys to win in the end, even when it takes sacrifices, & it’s almost clear that some protagonists will die. The Cabin in the Woods successfully changes all horror movie tropes & clichés. It starts a story about a group of students going into a scary forest cabin & ends up as a movie that pays homage to many horrors that came before it. While it pleases many horror fans, the characters aren’t so lucky.
After saving themselves from the monsters that pursue them, they die anyway as the old gods who reside deep inside the Earth wake up & destroy the world. So not only do the main characters die but so does every single human on the planet & the Earth is now destroyed by giant monsters. Even the biggest optimist could hardly call the movie’s finale a happy ending considering the scale of the destruction that happens in it.
1/5 Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Of all MCU movies, Avengers: Infinity War showcases the best that victory is never assured, even when the most powerful superheroes work together. After Thanos arrives at Earth, determined to get the remaining Infinity stones, & put his plan into action, he defeats all the superheroes, including powerhouses, such as Captain America, or Thor.
The movie ends with Thanos snapping his fingers & eradicating half of all life in the universe which is something that would change the MCU forever. Even though the Avengers later manage to reverse the process, the damage is already done. What’s more, the subsequent victory also doesn’t bring back some of the characters who died before the snap at Thanos’ h&, such as Vision or Gamora whom Thanos both kills in order to get the Infinity stones. The ending of Avengers: Infinity War is made even more impressive by the fact that it ends with a cliffhanger & both the heroes & the viewers alike are left reeling & shaken by what just happened.
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