Happy Ending Stories For Inspiration

Medically reviewed by Melissa Guarnaccia, LCSW
Updated April 17, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

You may have seen a happy ending in popular books, movies, or television shows. However, finding your own happy ending may feel unattainable, especially if you are living with depression, anxiety, or another mental health concern. 

Escaping into joyful news stories may make you feel better temporarily, but when it's time to take steps toward achieving your life goals, where do you begin?

Are you tired of waiting for your happy ending?

Why do people love happy endings?

Positive emotions like joy or hopefulness may help us build resilience during difficult periods of life. These emotions can give us the strength to persist through challenging circumstances because we may believe better days are just around the corner. Stories with happy endings may prove that even the most tragic circumstances or insurmountable problems can be overcome.

However, overvaluing happiness above all else may cause disappointment when milestones are not achieved. Defining our happy endings based on the lifestyles of others may cause discontentment with our daily lives. 

When mental health challenges make attaining happiness difficult, seeking solace in happy stories portrayed in popular books or movies may be comforting. However, immersing oneself in these stories may only provide a temporary escape from life's difficulties. Although we may feel like we're living vicariously through the experiences of others, once the movie ends, we often return to a life we're dissatisfied with.

If you're ready for supportive mental health treatment to help you take tangible steps toward reaching your goals and writing your own happy ending, you might consider reaching out to a counselor. 

Movies with happy endings

If you're looking for the comfort of happy ending stories, there are four classic movies that you can try out. Please be advised that these descriptions may contain spoilers.  

The Notebook

The Notebook is a movie that begins with an older man reading a story from a notebook to an older woman. The inscription says, "Read this to me, and I'll come back to you." 

The clip cuts to the story of a young couple, Allie and Noah, who meet at a carnival and fall in love. Allie's parents try to discourage their relationship because the young man's social class doesn't meet their wealthy standards. As a result, the couple splits. 

Years later, Allie is torn between her past love for Noah and a wealthy new suitor to her parents' liking. In this happy ending story, Allie and Noah eventually reunite. They build a life together and have children. 

As they age, Allie develops dementia, and they live separately in a nursing home. Before her dementia progressed, Allie wrote down their love story, which Noah reads to her to help her remember their life together. In the end, they die lovingly wrapped in each other's arms.

The Shawshank Redemption

In this thriller, a Maine banker named Andy Dufresne is sent to Shawshank Prison on a double life sentence after being accused of murdering his wife and her lover. Andy claims his innocence of these crimes. 

While in prison, Andy gets assaulted repeatedly and spends a few bouts in solitary confinement. He befriends a fellow inmate, Red, who procures a small rock hammer for Andy at his request. 

Eventually, Andy gets a job in the prison library and develops a reputation for giving guards financial advice. Over time, Andy becomes involved in a money laundering scheme with the warden and deposits large amounts of cash in various banks under a false name. 

He eventually escapes prison through a tunnel he dug in his cell over 19 years with the rock hammer. By withdrawing the money he deposited while in jail, he can live a joyful life as a free man.

Forrest Gump

Forrest Gump is a neurodivergent young boy. He struggles with spinal issues, which require him to wear leg braces. While fleeing some bullies during school one day, his leg braces fall off, and Forrest discovers he is a fast runner. 

Forrest is admitted to college at the University of Alabama on a football scholarship. After college, he joins the U.S. Army and is sent to Vietnam. Despite being a person with disabilities, he becomes a war hero. In the years after the war, Forrest becomes a ping pong celebrity, starts a shrimping business, and becomes a millionaire. 

His constant throughout life is his childhood friend, Jenny, who stands up for him throughout their lives, eventually marrying him and bearing him a son before passing away. In the end, Forrest finds happiness in his son and learns that "life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."


Matilda is a charming, intelligent little girl with a crooked father and a ditzy mother. The parents refuse to put her in school, so she educates herself at the library. They eventually enroll her in school where there is a brutal headmistress and a kind, loving teacher called Miss Honey. 

Matilda turns her energy inward and learns to use her mind to make things move with her eyes. Matilda uses her telekinetic powers to scare the headmistress off, leaving the family home and school to the kind and loving Miss Honey. Matilda's parents plan to leave the country to avoid being convicted of criminal charges, so Matilda convinces them to let Miss Honey adopt her.

Books with happy endings

Below are some books with happy endings if you prefer reading to watching a film. Some of the films above also have book versions.  

The Walk

The Walk is a series of books written by Richard Paul Evans. The main character, Alan Christoffersen, marries his childhood sweetheart, buys a mansion, and builds a successful advertising business. After his beloved wife passes away after a horse accident, his partner steals his business.

Feeling heartbroken, lost, and sad, Alan decides to travel from Seattle, Washington, to Key West, Florida, on foot. He sells what's left of his possessions and sets off on an adventure-filled journey across the country. Along the way, he meets a variety of characters under thought-provoking circumstances. Some of them are fleeting, but a few make such a lasting impression on Alan that they stick around in one capacity or another.

Alan and the people he meets along the way discover hard life lessons and truth. Eventually, Alan finally reaches his long-awaited destination. He learns more about himself along the journey than he thought possible. Through it all, he finds hope, love, and trust.


Willowdean Dickson is a plus-size girl who is confident in her skin. Her mother, a former beauty pageant star, calls her "Dumplin'," but her friends call her "Will." 

After meeting the handsome Bo at the fast-food joint where they work, Will becomes more self-conscious about her appearance. To get her confidence back, she does the unthinkable—she enters a beauty pageant. 

As Will challenges traditional stereotypes of the perfect teen girl body type, her self-esteem and confidence soar—and she gets the guy.

Anna And The French Kiss

Anna Oliphant is an American teen with her sights set on becoming a film critic. She is devastated to learn that her parents are sending her to a boarding school in Paris, France, at the beginning of her senior year of high school because she doesn't want to leave her best friend, Bridgette, and her new crush, Toph.

Anna is befriended by another student, Meredith, who introduces her to friends, including the handsome Etienne St. Clair, who has a girlfriend. As their friendship grows, Anna and Etienne become lab partners and start to develop feelings for one another. 

After learning that Toph and Bridgette are secretly dating—and navigating many complex family problems—Anna and Etienne kiss. Etienne breaks things off with his girlfriend, and Anna and Etienne finally confess their feelings for one another.

Anne Of Green Gables

Anne is a spunky, freckle-faced redhead orphan with a strong will, a ripe imagination, and lips that never stop talking. She is accidentally adopted by sibling farmers Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, who were expecting to adopt a boy to help them on the farm. They let Anne stay and enroll her in the local school, where she locks horns with a handsome boy named Gilbert Blythe, who pulls her hair and calls her "Carrots."

As Anne grows up, she begins to mature and focus on her studies. She and Gilbert forge a strong friendship through their classes at the Queen's Academy. Matthew gets ill and dies, and Marilla begins to go blind. 

Anne returns to Green Gables to care for her. Gilbert gives up his teaching position in Avonlea so Anne can teach there and still care for Marilla. The girl gets the guy one day, but readers must read the rest of the series to get to that happy ending.

What does a happy ending look like to you?

It can feel wonderful to immerse yourself in happy stories. However, when creating your own happy ending, you may want to define what would make you happy so you can take steps to reach your goals. For example:

  • Where do you want to live?
  • What does your ideal job look like?
  • Do you hope to have a romantic partner?
  • What would you like your romantic partner to be like? 
  • What activities make you happy in your free time?
  • Are children a part of your happy ending?

A therapist or life coach may be helpful if you want to support defining your happy ending or taking steps to reach it. 

Getty/Vadym Pastukh
Are you tired of waiting for your happy ending?

Finding happiness through therapy

Consider therapy if you're looking for a happy ending in your own life. Many individuals enjoy speaking to a therapist or life coach about their goals. If you have any barriers to therapy, such as cost or distance, you might also benefit from online treatment.  

Online therapy may help you build happiness, achieve goals, and heal from mental health challenges. As evidenced by a 12-week cognitive-behavioral therapy study, online therapy can support long-term clinically meaningful gains for people experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety. 

If you feel like mental health challenges are holding you back from attaining your happy ending, matching with a supportive therapist may help you define your life goals and take tangible steps towards achieving them. You can try signing up for an online platform such as BetterHelp for individuals or Regain for couples to get started. 


Many individuals hope to find their own happy endings in life. Reading stories about happy endings may inspire you or make you feel ready to go after your own goals.  

If you'd like professional support throughout this process, you might also decide to contact a counselor. Either way, your happy ending may be possible.

Find your happiness with professional support
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
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