Hollywood loves to give us happy endings — but often as not, when the good guys scrape a last-minute victory in the face of incredible odds, you're left wondering how long it'll last. Maybe part of the reason why that victory seems so miraculous is because it'll never work.
Here are science fiction/fantasy 10 movies and TV shows where everybody probably died five minutes after the end credits rolled.
10. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.
This is the one that everybody always points out, but it's still true. There's even a whole "Endor Holocaust" page, detailing just how screwed those Ewoks are. According to Dr. Curtis Saxon, an astrophysicist at the Mullard Space Science Lab, "The explosion of a small artificial moon in low orbit sends a meteoric rain onto the Ewok sanctuary, on a scale unmatched since Endor formed. Through either direct atmospheric injection of small particles, or showers of ejecta from large impacts, the atmosphere will be filled with smoke and fallout causing a gargantuan nuclear-winter effect." In other words, there should be debris raining down on that little "Yub Nub" party shortly after Luke finishes basking in the warm glow of Anakin, Yoda and Obi-Wan.
This show ends with the world already in ruins, but there's hope! The remains of the human race have been freed from the runaway imprinting technology, and now there are people in the ruins, ready to to rebuild. Except... it's a bunch of amnesiac people with brain damage. In a totally destroyed world. Tasked with rebuilding society. How is that ever going to turn out well?
8. X3: X-Men United
The X-Men trilogy ends with a muted triumph — on the one hand, Cyclops is dead, but nobody liked that guy. And Xavier is dead but he's kind of got a new body. On the other hand, they stopped Magneto and dealt with the Dark Phoenix. The only trouble is, the "cure" for mutation has been synthesized now, and it's become weaponized and incredibly easy to administer. And everybody hates mutants more than ever, thanks to Magneto's stunt with the Golden Gate Bridge. So how long does it take after this movie ends for everybody to be "cured" and rounded up?
7. Almost every Doctor Who story ever
A good example of this is "The Sontaran Strategem"/"The Poisoned Sky." Sure, the Doctor stops the Sontarans from making babies in Earth's atmosphere with the help of Sergey Brin. But the Sontarans have still spewed poison all over the planet and changed the molecular structure of our atmosphere. There's absolutely no way that's not going to kill most of the human race. But in general, the Doctor "solving" people's problems only to leave them in the lurch afterwards is one of this show's motifs. In "The Sunmakers," he leaves the human race trapped on Pluto, with soon-to-be-failing artificial suns to keep them alive. In "The Daleks," he leaves the Thals starving in the ruins of the Dalek city. In "Planet of the Spiders," he leaves the humans on Metebellis Three to try and survive on an unforgiving rock with the remains of a spiderocracy. And so on.
6. Independence Day
For starters, those ginormous alien ships had to crash somewhere at the end. Between debris from the ships and fallout from the nuclear bomb that destroyed the Mothership, people are definitely going to die. The huge ships were sending out attackers, though, so that means there are lots of aliens on board. In all likelihood, the aliens will manage to take over the world anyway and kill the heroes who destroyed their ships. (That's assuming they don't just wipe out humanity.)
After taking control of the Axiom from the mutinous autopilot, the human captain sets a course for Earth. When the people arrive there, it's a desolate wasteland where, realistically, the humans in their present condition would have no hope of survival. If you don't include the ending credits as part of the plot, those people should have died. In fact, during a test screening, the audience mostly felt this was true, which is why the animations showing people happily gardening to a sweet Peter Gabriel ditty were added in the first place.
4. Star Trek (2009)
Nero's drill may have been stopped in time to prevent him from destroying Earth as he had Vulcan — but it does leave a gaping hole in the middle of the ocean off the coast of San Francisco. This should create all sorts of problems, as ocean water rushes into the hole in the Earth's mantle. The giant space drill itself also fell into the ocean, in the exact same spot where it was just drilling. Shouldn't this generate some kind of tsunami that would wipe out everything in the coastal areas?
3. The Matrix Trilogy
Neo sacrifices his life to get rid of Agent Smith and save humanity from the machines. Thanks to his sacrifice, people can leave the Matrix if they wish to do so. Assuming tons of people decide to leave their reality in the Matrix, they will awaken to a post-apocalyptic world they can't even inhabit. There's Zion, but it can only hold so many people, plus it needs some serious rebuilding. The machines might not want to kill the humans now, but they do need the Matrix to keep everything running. It's possible that eventually the machines will change their minds when they need more energy. Ultimately, it just seems like everyone is doomed anyway.
2. The Terminator
Why would Skynet wait 11 years to send a second Terminator after Sarah Connor? Why wait ten whole minutes, in fact? There should be a second, pristine Arnold Schwarzenegger homing in on the remains of the first one before Kyle Reese's body is cold. In fact, there should be a non-stop parade of killing machines, until Sarah Connor is dead. If Skynet has the ability to send a liquid-metal terminator to stalk John Connor in T2, why not send another machine to 1984? (Yes, we know Kyle Reese says, "Nobody else comes through. It's just him and me." But T2 disproves that, as it does so many other things.) Bottom line: Arnie says he'll be back. So why isn't he?
I mean, come on. You just know that the humans nuked Pandora and killed all the Na'vi and avatars, five minutes after they reached their big mothership in orbit. That's the only logical course of action. What's Eywa or the big red dragon-rider guy going to do about it? As long as they can do it without damaging all that unobtanium, bombardment from orbit is the obvious next move.
Note: After we were already most of the way through working on this, we discovered this TVTropes Page, which overlaps a fair bit with what we're talking about here. When we were finishing up, we also found a couple Cracked.com articles that overlap slightly with this list. Check it out, for further reading. Thanks also to Annalee and Cyriaque for the suggestions!