10 Shocking Movie Endings That No One Saw Coming

All movies follow the same recipe for their plot: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and conclusion. Some films are so predictable that it is easy to guess the ending halfway through the story. Many screenwriters rely on typical plots to write stories. Fighting a monster, rags to riches, quests, traveling, comedy, and tragedy are some of the most encountered ones in films.

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But sometimes, moviemakers create an original plot that leaves the audience guessing until the end. Unforeseen twists and shocking endings can leave an audience marked for days when skillfully used and can make those movies iconic and unforgettable.

This article contains spoilers for each entry.


‘The Sixth Sense’ (1999)

Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis), a child psychologist, takes on the case of a young boy named Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment), who can see dead people. The boy reminds Malcolm of an old patient he failed to diagnose correctly and who, as an adult, entered his house one night, shot Crowe, and then turned the gun on himself.

This movie, by M. Night Shyamalan, left audiences gasping at the revelation that Malcolm died that fateful night. And he is now one of the ghosts Cole sees. The clever clues throughout the story are subtle and come together beautifully at the end. A masterpiece in its genre, that confounding ending is still referenced today as one of the best surprise endings of all time.

‘Incident in a Ghostland’ (2018)

Colleen (Mylène Farmer) and her two daughters survive a horrible home invasion. Years later, Beth (Emilia Jones) became a successful author. However, Vera (Taylor Hickson) has severe PTSD and still lives with their mom. A disturbing call from Vera prompts Beth to visit them.

Pascal Laugier, the writer and director, drops quite the astonishing plot twist in this disturbing horror movie. Beth imagines her bright future in her head to escape her terrible situation. The intruders killed Pauline. And both girls are still teenagers and at the mercy of the two sadistic men. Vera is trying desperately to bring Beth back to reality. The movie’s happy ending is doubtful. Beth spots her mom inside the house. Did they survive, or are they still trapped, and Beth has escaped reality once more?

‘Twilight: Breaking Dawn — Part 2’ (2011)

Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Bella (Kristen Stewart) are searching for witnesses to prove their child is not immortal. They want to convince the Volturi they did not break any laws. But Aro (Michael Sheen) has sinister intentions, and when Alice sees right through him, a battle ensues.

Fans of Stephenie Meyer were flabbergasted to see the movie include an epic final battle that was not in her book. The nail-biting fight causes the death of many beloved characters but ends with Aro’s death. And the revelation that it was all a vision Alice showed Aro during the stand-off of the two separate armies came as a massive relief to the many bristling fans watching the movie.

‘The Mist’ (2007)

A thick mist inundates a town in Maine. In a grocery store, the patron’s curiosity soon turns to horror when they realize that terrifying creatures are hiding in the mist.

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Based on Stephen King’s novel, Frank Darabont, who wrote and directed the film, changed the ending to one so staggering that King wished he had written it himself. David (Thomas Jane), his son, and a few others escape the store in a car. David shoots them all when they run out of fuel, but he is one bullet short. David gets out of the car to give himself to the creatures, but the mist clears. Military trucks full of survivors pass him by as he falls to his knees in utter shock and despair.

‘The Departed’ (2006)

The Boston PD recruits Officer Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) to infiltrate the notorious band of Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). Unbeknownst to the police and the FBI, Costello also has an inside man, Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), in their ranks, helping him avoid getting caught.

Directed by Martin Scorcese, this is one anxiety-inducing tale. Several characters die, but the most shocking deaths come during the dramatic ending. Knowing Sullivan is Costello’s rat, Costigan baits Sullivan into a rendezvous and arrests him. At this point, the movie gives the impression it will have a satisfactory conclusion. But Costigan gets shot down by another one of Costello’s inside men and liberates Sullivan. Taking no chances, Sullivan then kills him. The movie ends with Sullivan’s murder by Sergeant Dignam (Mark Wahlberg).

‘Fight Club’ (1999)

The Narrator (Edward Norton), the main character, is an insomniac disillusioned by his job and possessions. When he meets Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), who tells him his problem is consumerism, the two have a cathartic fistfight. They both start a Fight Club, where they bring more men into their cult-like group.

The fights provide a psychological and physical release for the men, who also help Tyler promote his ideals. But as the group gets more destructive, the Narrator wants to stop their activities and comes to a shocking discovery; he and Tyler are the same person. His sleep-deprived mind created Tyler, and the Narrator wants to get rid of him. In the gut-wrenching final scene, Tyler, under the Narrator’s control, shoots the latter through the cheek, making Tyler disappear.

‘Dragonfly’ (2002)

Dr. Joe Darrow (Kevin Costner) is a grieving man. His pregnant wife, Emily (Susanna Thomson), also a doctor, died in Venezuela when the bus she was in got swept away into a river during a mudslide. Joe soon receives messages from beyond that seem to come from Emily.

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The plot does a great job at starting the messages as unsettling coincidences. But as the messages get stronger and creepier, Joe is convinced that his wife is somehow alive, especially knowing the local authorities never found her body. When all the clues lead Joe back to Venezuela, he understands why Emily’s ghost is communicating with him. In one of the huts of the Indigenous people his wife cared for, he finds his infant daughter, who miraculously survived the accident.

‘Gothika’ (2003)

After a chilling encounter with a young girl bearing signs of a violent assault, Dr. Miranda Grey (Halle Berry) wakes up as a patient in the prison where she works. She has killed her husband with an ax. Having no memory of the event and being haunted by the apparition of the young girl she saw, Miranda suspects the two events are connected.

A cast of outstanding actors supports this underrated and gripping plot. In the end, Miranda’s husband and the sheriff have been killing girls for years, and the young girl haunting Miranda was one of their victims. But the story has an eery conclusion as it seems that Miranda now can see ghosts when she spots the apparition of a young boy who is missing.

‘The Others’ (2001)

Grace Stewart (Nicole Kidman) is waiting for her husband to return from the war. After hiring three new servants, Grace and her children experience unexplained occurrences in the house, supposedly caused by ghosts.

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Alejandro Amenábar, the writer and director, weaves quite a unique plot in its genre and, from the beginning, leaves slight hints to what is happening. Grace has recurring nightmares, the children are ghostly pale, and the new servants do not appear bothered by the disturbing events that plague the house. And the explanation is ghastly. After her husband died in the war, Grace shot her children and herself. Their violent deaths prevented the family from realizing they were dead and were the ones haunting the house and its residents.

‘Memento’ (2000)

Someone attacked Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) and his wife, murdering her and leaving him with no short-term memory. Relying on polaroids, written notes, and tattoos on his body, he successfully finds his wife’s murderer and kills him.

Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, this thriller is distinctive in how the story unravels. Leonard finds his wife’s killer and shoots him, and from there, the plot moves in reverse to explain how he did it. Teddy, a corrupt cop, is taking advantage of Leonard’s condition to kill and rob drug dealers. During an argument, Teddy divulges that his wife survived the attack and that Leonard’s condition was the cause of her death. Refusing to believe Teddy and knowing he will forget this soon, Leonard marks him as his new target. Teddy is the one Leonard kills at the beginning of the movie.

KEEP READING: 8 Movies Where The Big Plot-Twist Happens Super Early

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