“Ha-ha, that’s right Billy! Even your little soul is doomed!”
In keeping with my attempt to make more MST3K-based tropes, there’s this one…ironically based off of the same episode as my last one.
No one ever said the good guys always have to win to make a good story, or that everything had to be “happy” at the end. That said…it has to be kept within reason. Usually the main point of a “tragedy” in the classical sense is to show something deeper about human nature or, at minimum, to have a triumph of the human spirit. Even the old infamous tragedies of the Greeks and Shakespeare weren’t “true” tragedies as there was always some light at the end of the tunnel or some “inner victory” on some level.
These people, however, seemed to miss the point and just did the worst ending possible.
Technically this trope would be a subset of “When the Bad Guys Win”. However, it doesn’t result in any ulterior victory or deeper meaning or later “resurgance” by the protagonists bigger and stronger…it’s only point is to show notions of good get crushed by the power of evil and to give a big “*bleep* you” to the audience with anyone who was invested in the characters. Unlike a “true” tragedy, these kind of endings are only designed to unsettle the audience and leave them going away feeling scared or uncertain. However, when improperly done, and they are done improperly quite often, the only end result is to depress and irritate the audience and generally promote more negativity. While not necessarily a shock, usually these endings come off as so contrived and orientated toward sticking the protagonists in an impossible situation just to basically snuff them at the end and justify that the feelings of impossibility to survive or succeed at the beginning should have been maintained for an hour to ninety minutes, that one’s reaction might be the same as some kid just quirking their eyebrow and saying: “Uh…that’s your story?”
In the Company of Men
The Wicker Man (both original and remake)
John Carpenter’s “Apocalypse” movies (such as In the Mouth of Madness)
Just about every horror film made over the past 10 years
Just about every “found-footage” film ever made – The sad part is that the filmmakers aren’t even trying in this case. The fact that the movie is “found-footage” to begin with indicates the people in the film were dead when the footage as found.