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Josh: I loved them so much...
Massages are good fodder for comedy, because the near-intimate touching is uncomfortable or can create an uncomfortable situation.
However, sometimes this "uncomfortable situation" is exactly what the customer is looking for. Beyond that, in fact, the customer is paying for sexual acts under the guise of getting a massage. When this happens, the customer will almost always be male, and the masseuse will almost always be an Asian female.
Truth in Television; many massage parlors, especially Asian massage parlors, have been discovered to be fronts for prostitution or offer prostitution services on the side. Sadly, human trafficking tends to be involved. This is why "massage parlour" is sometimes used as a euphemism for a brothel.
The best way for an honest citizen who really needs a massage to get one without the sex getting in the way, by the way, is to look for a registered massage therapist rather than some random parlor. If you just go to some random place, it's probably going to be one of these; they're surprisingly common. If you do wander in to the wrong type, keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with just saying, "No, thank you" to whatever is on offer.
- The titular character from Dark Reign: Mister Negative is a crimelord, who among many other criminal businesses owns a brothel masked as massage parlor. In one scene inside it we see a guest that just asks for "happy ending" - seconds later both he and girl are killed by a supervillain working for The Hood, who had just declared a gang war on Negative.
- The Night Stalker (1972). Kolchak is investigating the murders of several women, including a masseuse/prostitute. He goes the massage parlor to interview one of the girls, and ends up being arrested when the woman (actually an undercover vice cop) thinks he's asking for one of these.
- In Full Frontal, Gus (played by David Duchovny) asks for a happy ending to his massage - and wonders if he can wear a plastic bag on his head while doing it. The masseuse refuses but blames herself later when he's found asphyxiated in his room. And this is all played for laughs.
- Red Grant's masseuse in From Russia with Love doesn't go out of her way to do this with her clients, per se, but... it apparently turns out that way a lot. Grant stands out in that (among other things) he doesn't react at all.
- At one point in A Dirty Job, the main character had too much "sexual energy". Even though he ended up at a massage parlour, he didn't ask for a "happy ending" but instead later went to an "official" hooker. This led to trouble, as the girl he chose turned out to be a crazy incarnation of Death. Even the cop who saved him said that he should have just chosen the happy ending.
- In Irvine Welsh' Porno, this is the way college student Nikki Fuller-Smith makes good money: she knows she's not great at the job, but she's a much more conventional beauty than her colleagues and some customers ask for her based on looks alone. Arguably, it gets worse.
Live Action TV
- Two and A Half Men. Charlie turned Alan's chiropractic office into a place for these after filling in for one day.
- In an episode of Sex and the City, Samantha goes to a masseur precisely because he's supposed to do this. When he doesn't, she takes matters into her own hands (literally!), eventually leading to the man being fired.
- Spike's Manswers gives advice on how to get such a massage. (They do, however, add a disclaimer that this could be prosecuted as prostitution depending on where you live.)
- The Show Within a Show Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip had an ad for an (Asian, female) psychological therapist with the tagline "Doesn't everyone deserve a happy ending?"
- Brenda from Six Feet Under was a chiatsu masseuse, and one of her male customers got a Raging Stiffie during the massage. She gave him a happy ending out of curiosity.
- Inversely, she threw out a pushy customer who came to the appointment expecting a "happy ending."
- One of the Rumpole of the Bailey stories had such a massage parlor. One of the other main characters (Mr. Justice Sir Guthrie Featherstone, a stiff-necked, somewhat conservative type) thinks that he has been going to that parlor for actual massages, not realizing what was going on. As it turns out, he was going to a totally legitimate parlor with an almost-identical name.
- Entourage does this a few times, with the characters fully aware of the expected result, referring to it as a "rub and tug"
- There's an episode of Malcolm in the Middle that references this.
- Dr. Kelso from Scrubs took Turk to one of these once. Turk got a crick in his neck and had to watch Dr. Kelso receive his Happy Ending. YIKES.
- The League of Gentlemen featured a man who started a massage parlor (with a [supposedly] hot blonde woman as a front to improve business) and learned that all of his customers expected these. Still, a customer is a customer...
- Phoebe from Friends worked in a real massage parlour. Her idiot brother thought it was the other kind. Awkwardness ensues. Though she did once bite the arse of a guy she fancied, which implied that she'd be happy to do it for the right customer.
- They tried to bust one of these in Reno 911. The Masseuse gave him a very painful and entirely non-sexual massage, and he determined that this place in not a "Happy Ending" Massage. After he left, we find out that it is.
- Twelve-year-old Shane on Weeds gets in trouble at school for claiming that his uncle Andy bought him a Happy Ending at an Asian massage parlor. He is, in fact, being truthful.
- Carlos accidentally gives one of these while working as a masseur (his job while he was blind) on Desperate Housewives.
- In the Supernatural episode "Red Sky At Morning", Dean mentions having a "Happy Ending" Massage because, in his opinion, the supernatural object that he and Sam are looking for, a Hand of Glory, sounds like a euphemism for one.
- In one episode of Las Vegas, the staff struggle to find a tactful way to explain to the Montecito spa's new masseur that he is not supposed to be providing Happy Endings.
- In The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Will takes Uncle Phil to a massage parlour so he can get relief for a back injury, unaware of the "special extras" they offer. The police break in just as the masseuses are about to give them their (well, not so much Uncle Phil's) Happy Ending.
- In an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm Larry accepts a happy ending from a a masseuse without knowing what that means.
- In the short-lived series In Case of Emergency Kelly Hu's character works at one of these parlors.
Stand Up Comedy
- Ron White has a skit where he talks about how an upscale hotel's services are top-notch even for his dog. The concierge for dogs even offers a relaxing massage for his animal, to which Ron White says he replied "he's going to want a happy ending."
- Gabriel Iglesias encountered one of these.
Lady: Hey, you! You, come inside!
- In Laharl's cameo in the Disgaea spinoff Prinny, Etna seems to reference this when she says Laharl is going to massage her SO hard when they get home or she might teach him some new tricks. It doesn't help that Laharl is a Prinny in the cameo.
- She makes a Prinny massage her in the Drama CD as well. If you don't know what is going on it sounds just like what you would think it would sound like.
- Penny Arcade: The Jubilant Culmination references this, as seen in the page image.
- Katharin's "Services" in Two Kinds.
- Referenced in Spinnerette, Katt's massages aren't this but she is offended by people thinking about it.
- One episode of Teen Titans ends with Raven getting one from a bunch of aliens. Three inch tall Hive Mind aliens. One of the more pleasant endings, but no "happy ending". Not that it didn't sound like it...
- Parodied in a Robot Chicken sketch where the customer tries to decline the "happy ending" and ends up being chased all over town by his overenthusiastic masseuse. It turns out the "happy ending" was actually a free egg roll.
- Posey from Mission Hill becomes a massage therapist; all her customers become angry on finding out that she's not a prostitute, and a local pimp even comes after her for infringing on his territory. Her ad accidentally said " Healing Release" instead of "Healing Relief".
- Sealab 2021: when the other Debbie went on vacation, she insisted on getting one of these.
- In King of the Hill, Dale's wife cheats on him with John Redcorn, all under the guise of a massage treatment to help with her headaches. It is later revealed that John really does have a legitimate massage office, but it's strongly implied that his therapy works as a sort of foreplay.
- This quote from Otto the bus driver on The Simpsons: "Man. I guess this story had a happy ending after all. Just like my last massage."
- In pornography, massages inevitably lead to sex. Massage Creep is a Gender Inverted example: it's about a masseur giving "happy endings" to his female clients.
- There's also Nuru Massage. It's (mostly) Asian American porn starlets doing scenes where they give male porn stars a rubdown in the shower, a bubbly tub treatment and they finish off on an inflatable mat, covered in thick oil, giving body rubs and some variation of a happy ending. See Soapy Massage for much the same thing except without the oil.
- He can't have been that conservative, however, given his deeply disturbing discovery of disco during a fling with a clerk in 1978-79, and the fact that he was a Labour and then Social Democratic Party MP before becoming a judge
- A hanged murderer's severed, preserved hand which is used as a macabre candelabra