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Tragedy vs. Comedy vs. Fairy Tale Ending

After listening to Rob's BTS for the Azveltara Z campaign, where he was talking about people's reactions to the Beenu's deaths, i found myself again reminded that, as a person, I like tragic stories. But, as Rob said, not everyone agrees, and some people can't stomach that sort of thing. So, I wanted to gauge people's thoughts in a three-answer question: do you prefer tragedies, comedies, or fairy tales? Let me clarify.

Tragedies are, obviously, stories that end in tears. That doesn't necessarily mean that the hero fails, or that evil wins or whatever. It means a story where the price of getting to the end feels too great. Maybe all your heroes die, but succeed in defeating the villain—a la Rogue One—or maybe the one hero keeps losing and losing and losing until their final attempt succeeds, but gets them killed. There are also tragedies where the hero succeeds at their task, and survives, but loses something important along the way: all their loved ones vanish, their successes are used for horrid purposes, etc. Death Note is a good example of a tragic story as well, as is Code Geass.

Comedies are also fairly obvious. these stories are meant to be goofy and funny. Sometimes they contain tragic or dramatic elements, but their purpose is pure entertainment. They don't necessarily need to be high-brow or intelligent, but some are regardless. I'm sure you can think of tons of content that is just around to amuse or create laughter, and doesn't really have any structure to it beyond that. I personally also classify slice-of-life style stories under this heading, since they're so much fluffy, cute scenes while not really having much drama to them.

Finally, Fairy Tales are things that have a happy ending. I'm sure there are better terms than "fairy tale," but since so many of said stories act like this in modern days, that's the term I use. You all know how it goes: the hero will eventually succeed, triumphing over adversity, and everything turns out well in the end. Most Disney movies follow this category, and tons of books, video games, and novels do the same. Some of these stories may get dark and intellectual, others might stay light and hopeful all the way through. But one way or another, the ending is happy.

Personally, as I said, I love tragedies. I love stories where the protagonists have their ideologies crushed, or lose all their loved ones as a price for success. I'm sometimes okay with Fairy Tales, but many of them have serious issues: resurrecting characters, sinking into a repeated formula, breaking their own canon, etc. Comedies, meanwhile, I can rarely stand. Dumb, silly situations, with either no overarching story or intelligent backbone, just lose my interest really quick. Comedic, light-hearted moments are important in any story, but if that's all the story is, I'll move on to something else.

So, which of those three categories do you prefer, and what are your reasons for the preference? Feel free to provide examples of books/movies/shows/anime/etc. that you really like, and that mirror your choice. I'd be interested in hearing what you lot think. Besides, it's also a fun way to judge which way the people on this forum lean in regards to Rob content.


  • edited September 2017
    I really love tragedies. I love/hate the emotion they make me feel. However with urealms I think most campaigns are a mix.

    For example, Azveltara Z had one of the darkest scenes yet, but it still had two acts that were 100% comedy.
  • I am an optimist at heart, so I usually prefer a happy ending. I understand the need for tragedy. Tragedy is one of the best ways to get characters to grow, but having it all the time would get draining really fast. 
  • For a truly great story, I feel you need elements of all three.

    You need some Fairy-Tale, some Comedy, and some Tragedy.
    Without the Comedy, the Tragedy is too much and the Fairy-Tale falls flat.
    Without Fairy-Tale, the Tragedy takes over to the point where the Comedy can't balance it out.
    Without Tragedy, nothing bad happens to the invincible super heroes, and the story isn't good.

    You need a balance to prevent the entire story from just feeling fantasy. Tragedy should typically have a larger portion of the pie than the other two, which makes the good times from Fairy-Tales and Comedy scenes even more good. By lifting the spirits, it makes it easier to crush and grind them into the dust again.

    Just my opinion though.
  • I like all of them, I like all of them mixed into some unholy amalgamation. I also love to make characters suffer... its hard to pick like one over the other. so like, i like the fairy tale ending, but do I want my characters to feel hardships along the way? sure, do I want them to laugh, sure!

    If I had to give an example, i love the work of Bo Burnham. he's a comedian, he writes funny songs like "My whole family think I'm gay" and Repeat stuff" where he like makes fun of everything and everyday life. But what I like most is how he weaves tragedies into comedy, he's not afraid to tackle that hard thinks in life and will present sad ideas while making them funny, like with "Kill yourself" and "Sad". it really shows in his song "can't handle this right now". anyways, the reason i rambled on is that you can have comedy and tragedy and it'll still be entertaining.

    To make a good story, you need elements of all three. you need people to sympathize and laugh and to have hope in the hero. sure you can make good entertainment using only one genre, but you make great entertainment from using all three.

    sorry for the long rant :)
  • @Ninjathis Your point about lack of tragedy basically sums up why I can't watch a ton of shonen anime out there: there are absolutely no stakes for the heroes, so I can't bring myself to give a damn about them. It's also why I've never really liked a lot of superhero comics.
  • A story is meant to do a couple of things, and one of those is to make you feel things for the characters and the world. Hell one my favourite book series as a child was a series of unfortunate events, a dark tragic comedy (If any of you are fans can we agree Mr Poe is the true villain?). The scene with Beenu was awesome, it was dark and gruesome and too me made the world feel much more alive. However in my opinion stories are also meant to do one other thing, be an escape from the world something to entertain, it is a hard balance to strike in my opinion and importance of these thing change by writer to writer. Personally I like the darker direction to a extent, my only fear and this is why I dislike Game of Thrones is that it becomes so focused on being dark and sad that I don't feel any hope or happiness. A story in my opinion needs to represent a lot of different facets of humanity, and in my opinion, despite all the shit in the world we are naturally happy, we naturally laugh. Too me you should not include darkness for the sake of darkness, it needs a reason, whether that be to make the world feel more real(The beenu scene was very much that in my opinion), make the characters more complicated, grow characters or surprise the audience(This last one can only be used so many times). There are a couple of exceptions but I generally feel that darkness should exist, as mentioned something that doesn't have darkness doesn't challenge the characters and as such isn't a good story, however making darkness a primary part I feel takes away a major part of why people want stories, as an escape. I feel the best way to view darkness is akin to spices in a cooking dish, you need them if you want to make a good dish however what spice you use, and how much is how you define a great dish, use too much and it overwhelms taking away from the dish as people are too focused on the spices, however too little and you got a tasteless dish.
  • Bump for an awesome discussion
  • I find tragedies rather compelling 
  • I make tragedies for my RPs. Everyone hates me because I make them cry. (i.e. @Jj_TeRroR_jJ and @h00ney_b00ney16 )
  • @Gushy48 this is true but they dont really hate you
  • @helperbot0613
    I know. (Good thing I did the 900 Page thing for happiness stuff)
  • @Gushy48
    (Ya fuck for that, you know how bad Lillie's life has been in the thread)
  • I would say every single one is enjoyable if the resolution matches the established tone of the work in question. Imagine if Lotr ended with Frodo just croaking before Mt.Doom, no matter how great the writing of that new ending is, it would wreck every theme of the main story. Another example would be if Berserk just ends with Guts, Griffith and Casca living happily ever after.

    While I absolutely adore most of Azveltara Z, the ending of that campaign felt really weird, I guess. Like we had the last three acts with three different tone shifts and if we switched up their order of appearance, it wouldn't change the campaign much. (I am one of those chumps who whined about the ending not because it was pre-recorded but it had little connection to the campaign so far.)

    tl;dr. I don't have preference as long as the conflict has a resolution and it makes sense in context
  • Tragedy and Comedy works well in many different ways and can often work used together as well. a Fairy Tale Ending is in my opinion not really in the same type of category as the other two options. you can put Tragic and Comedic aspects in a Fairytale Ending. it is also just a wrap up of a story there are a good number of stories that are pure Tragedy right up in to the end that then suddenly end it with a Fairytale Ending but still keeps the ending feeling Tragic or sad. but don't have a problem with either of the options really. it all depends on my mode and expectations if i like it or if i think it fits. i think we all can agree that if you go in hoping and expecting to see a Tragedy or Comedy only to get the opposite. you well end up getting disappointed in most cases!
  • They all suck in my book. I'd rather have a cliff hanger.
  • @LuckyLOO Unless that was sarcasm, you are a strange breed, friend. I don't mind cliffhangers when the story is incomplete, but once the storyline has been completed, leaving sequel bait feels a bit cheap.
  • While I tend to enjoy tragedies more, I think comedies can be more than lighthearted fluff. For example, a series of books called The Heavenly Nostrils Chronicles may sound like a little girls series about unicorns (which it is). However, it also has interesting realistic characters that are more than running gags. I think comedies can have very little tragedy and still tell a satisfying story. As for me, a story will be enjoyable if the characters are interesting. 
  • edited December 2017
    I like all of them, honestly. I personally believe it’s better to have a good mix of each element in stories. Honestly, I love Urealms and how it does have all of these elements. You see both fairytale and tragedy elements in this show, you also have comedy as well. The Grand Paladin Order is a good example of this, because it entails comedic elements of Fetch, the Tragedy of Tania, and the Fairytale element of all the heroes slaying the Giant Spiders. Urealms captures all of this perfectly, and I love it for that.
  • Made my comment on this a while ago, it is very much a mix
  • I feel that the Fairy Tale formula is used way to often. When I watch a movie or show I find that I end up feel like the end is already spoiled for me because I know the hero's will win. I want to see a movie where the good guy, through trying to be good, ends up bad or at least the catalyst of the darkness which they where fighting. Take a hero who's fighting to save the world but with the choices they make they end up in the position where they fail or take the place of the villain. 
  • I like it when the set up doesn't match the ending. Like a winter's tale. 
  • @GuestD578 This is where I disagree, sure you know the hero will win, but how they win, and the journey and adventure they have, the classic saying of it's the journey not the destination. Beyond that, while it is true that you can think like that, but if a story is good, it can make you forget that more then likely the hero will win, that's somewhat the power of a good story. That's not to say there can't be dark elements in the ending or story, hell my favourite stories are ones that focus on characters and the shades of grey they inhabit, something that urealms is going towards seemingly which I am very happy, in stories like that, there is no such thing as a happy or tragic ending, outside of what a character wants. However in a classic adventure? I like a happy ending, both because it makes me feel good, but because part of the thing of tragic endings is that often time, they are unsatisfying, they leave story lines unfinished, and no matter what anyone says, that's not a good thing, that's not good story telling. Is it more realistic? Somewhat but since when have I read stories for them to be realistic? 
  • A little bit of everything is important, but if I had to pick a favorite I'd say Fairy Tale with Tragedy being a veeeeery close second. I prefer darker and more serious stories, but I also like my stories to have a happy ending regardless. I generally don't like pure comedies, imo comedy is best used as emotional relief in more serious stories, rather than being the main focus of a work.
  • Tragedy and comedy. Its hard for me to pick a favorite, I find both great. Fairy Tale stories shouldn't be a campaign I think. To me Fairy Tales are more like something that gets told to children or become a legend after the great adventure happened. And sometimes the true story gets twisted to fit the Fairy Tale motif. 
  • I like them all. There are times where i want more of something or disappointed in something though. For example, if i watch Elf, or The Office, or Parks and Rec, i expect comedy, and not a whole lot of the other two. My biggest personal example is Watch Dogs vs. Watch Dogs 2. Obviously gameplay improved drastically in the sequel, but the story was totally fairy tale, and there attempt at tragedy did not resonate well compared to the first Watch Dogs, in which the whole story is tragic, with even the happy moments being serious, and having a good test of what's really right and wrong.
    Urealms is great, because it's got them all. The tragedies are what will keep me watching the show for years and makes each campaign special, and the comedy makes everything light and will back off of the tragedy and lets us have furry fish boys. The fairy tale is light, but the story is far from complete, so i expect we'll see some more of everything.
  • @Mortem You do raise a good point, a story is really only as good as its entertainment value. I think that sometimes stories can be left untold and still be great, a urealms example would be No Eye Bromas, When he died I was sad. I felt that his character deserved more and should have had alot more stories in him but his death inspired Raynel to go on. She is the one carrying him into the future, you can look at them and see her fire based on their unfinished story. That is what a good tragedy is, it is a loss and an untold story that sparks life in other characters that would not have been there if not for the loss.
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