The beginning is nice, but it’s the ending, the last moment you remember when the credits roll up that carries so much weight. The ending has to be perfect. Nobody wants to sit there for two hours, invest themselves emotionally, and then have an awful result. It feels like getting ripped off, or cheated - the cinematic trust is broken, and you’ll never get those two hours back.
What hurts is that the movie was really good for a long time. The characters were likable and made logical decisions, the setting seemed real, the conflicts were tough but the goals were attainable. And then the end came and everything fell through. If the ending would have been better, it could have been the best movie ever. But instead there’s bitterness. A hole in the plot that cannot be patched. Even worse, a much better, more reasonable ending seems clearly in reach. So close, yet so far, and so frustrating - until now.
The ending gets better for all 15 films in this article. What’s broken can never be completely fixed but at least this will help heal the wounds. After all, bad endings are just accidents. The movie was supposed to be perfect, but there were too many people involved, too many ideas, money and egos. It’s the rule of percentages - with so many plot variables, and so many movies, things are bound to go wrong eventually. Just be happy that you had enough free time to Netflix and Chill, and be glad that a majority of the movie was enjoyable. And be delighted to discuss how the flick should have turned out. Time to un-spoil these endings.
15 Gone Girl
This 2014 movie is nearly vomit-inducing it has such an unrealistic ending. True, the reality is constantly questionable when psycho girl, Amy (Rosamund Pike) gets away with so much for so long. Her husband Nick (Ben Affleck) is on public trial and faces charges for murdering her after her disappearance, but once that witch comes home, it’s time for Nicky to ghost. Get the hell out of there, dude! Amy is a maniac, killer, psychopath and worse. Don’t make any sudden moves. Once she goes to sleep though, leave town! Get out of Dodge. She can wake up wondering where you went this time. Let the ending go full circle with the beginning. Taking her back as a wife? Never.
14 Spring Breakers
If you enjoy gratuitous slow motion shots of beautiful bodies or Disney child stars (Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens) besmirching their glossy reputations, then this 2012 flick is perfect. The whole film attempts to document what party animals do on spring break, and does a highly fantasized but compelling job, and then the ending is absolutely bonkers. Like some college babes are going watch their boyfriend get gunned down, and then continue to walk into the belly of the beast, past numerous gun wielding gangsters, and then locate, and gun down the head gangster. Without putting a scratch on their lovely bikini bods, by the way. Then they drive their dead boyfriend’s (James Franco) Lamborghini back home, and kinda sorta regret what happened. Unreal. They should have just ran for the hills when dude got shot, and they still could have kept his car.
13 Dumb and Dumber
In this zany 1994 comedy, two idiots somehow manage to stay alive after getting wrapped up in a ransom plot, and then there is a chance for a very happy ending. Lloyd (Jim Carrey) and Harry (Jeff Daniels) are walking down the side of the road when a Hawaiian Tropics bus pulls up, asking if they want to help apply sun tan lotion. Perfect ending, right? But no. They refuse the offer, and decide to keep walking, much to the dismay of the super hot girls and the audience. So why didn’t they get on the bus and ride into the sunset? Well, according to IMDb, Jim Carrey refused to shoot the scene in any other way. Hollywood egos. After all, he made $7 million, to Daniels’ $50K.
12 Roman Holiday
This is a classic 1953 film, and the mother of all amnesia-plotted romantic comedies. Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn) gets all messed up, and then sneaks out of her ritzy hotel and lands in the arms of a journalist, Joe (Gregory Peck). Ann joyrides around town, takes in the sights of Rome and befriends Joe. After a few days, she finally remembers who she is and goes home. But in the end, the princess and reporter face each other at a press conference… and act like they don’t even know each other. What? That girl should give him a kiss or a reward, put him in jail, do something, anything. Don’t let it just slide. Talk about anti-climactic.
11 Cast Away
This 2000 movie is somehow deeply entertaining even though its just Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) and a volleyball named Wilson for over two hours. He’s marooned on a desert island after a FedEx plane crashes into the ocean. The shocker is when Chuck gets home and finds his fiancée has moved on… very quickly. Not only has she found another husband, but she also has a child, and the kid looks pretty old. If Chuck was only on that island for 4 years, then old girl got busy in a hurry. Mourned him for a week, tops. Another thing— Chuck never opened that one package! He kept it sealed the whole time he was marooned and after getting home. The audience deserves to know what’s in that package! In 2003, a hilarious FedEx Super Bowl commercial spoofed the mystery contents, which included a satellite phone, GPS locator, fishing rod, water purifier and seeds. Perfect ending.
10 This is The End
This was a great 2013 movie in a goofy, gross, stoner kind of way. It’s the end of the world, and Armageddon has fallen on Hollywood. Jay Baruchel, Seth Rogan, James Franco, Jonah Hill and an endless list of hotshot celebrity cameos, all play the worst versions of themselves. Many scenes seem improvised, just a group of buddies messing around. But there are also high-budget CGI effects, like the sparkly blue beams lifting folks up to heaven, and the 80-foot tall devil with a member the size of a school bus. The problem occurs when Jay and Seth actually make it to heaven… and it’s a Backstreet Boys concert. Really? That’s heaven? Sure these guys are trying to be funny, but Backstreet? Even NSYNC would have been better. At least those dudes can dance.
9 American History X
This is a heavy 1998 flick about race relations in America, and a very hopeless one. Ed Norton plays Derek, a brutally racist Neo-Nazi who commits a hate crime and ends up in prison. Soon he learns the error of his ways, repents, gets home and shuns the evil dude who taught him to hate. Then after all that, his little bro, Danny (Edward Furlong), still has to die? Wouldn’t it have been a more positive message if Derek got to the school just in time, saved his bro, and then Danny could apologize to his would-be killer, or maybe even befriend him, and at least tolerate each other? A little shimmer of hope here, please. The film makes out like there’s hardly any chance of things ever getting any better. Sadly the movie’s message is way too relevant today.
Here’s looking at you, kid. Ever hear grandpa say that and have no idea what he’s talking about? Well it’s a quote from this 1942 war flick when Rick, (Humphrey Bogart) lets his true love, Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), slip through his fingers. Wouldn’t it have been great if Ilsa never got on that plane with her husband and stayed with Rick forever? Or they could have hopped in a car and rolled off into the fog. SNL parodied this classic ending in Feb 2015. Kate McKinnon cleverly plays Ilsa, as wanting to get the hell out of that Nazi infested country as soon as possible. Not a bad idea either. Casablanca is so perfectly sad, it’s legendary, arguably inventing the sad romantic ending.
7 Saving Private Ryan
Come on! You’ve got to kill old Captain Miller (Tom Hanks)? And killed by the bad guy that he let live? Really? Isn’t it sad enough that the 1998 film opens with dudes dropping left and right on Normandy, and that Private Ryan (Matt Damon) already lost all his brothers? Sure Spielberg, WW2 flicks are brutal, but it would have been easy to keep Captain Miller alive. He was still alive when the allied tank-buster planes rolled in and the battle was over. And in the flash forward finale, old-man Ryan can still salute the other men that died to save him, and then he looks over his shoulder and there’s old Miller, saluting too. That’d be great, right? The film was frightening realistic at times, but Ryan is a composite character based on numerous stories. It’s not factual. Let the captain live.
6 The Graduate
This 1967 flick includes the arguably most awkward ending in cinematic history. It’s not good, it’s not bad, just kind of weird. Ben (Dustin Hoffman) sprints all the way to the church, pounds on the glass, steals the bride and bars the door. Then he hops on a bus? Why don’t they just run back to his car? Is the bus even going in the direction of his car? And what in the world is so terribly wrong with the groom that the bride ditches him for the guy that screwed her mom like a bazillion times. You’ve got to be in true love to do something that stupid, but then you’re not even going to make out on the bus? Everybody makes out on the bus. What is going on here? Not really sure what should be done with this ending, but it does feel like the film never finished.
5 Gran Torino
Alright, this 2008 Clint Eastwood flick should have ended more like his 1992 film, Unforgiven. Why doesn’t Walt (Eastwood) load up with guns, go over to the gangsters’ house, and blow them all away? Instead he reaches in his pocket for a stinking cigarette lighter? Falling in death with arms outstretched like Jesus? Come on. So what if he’s dying and sacrifices himself for his new friends that were beaten by the gang. He should have shot those gangsters Dirty Harry style. Sure the gangbangers all fire away at an unarmed grandpa Walt, but those charges won’t stick in court. Dirtball lawyers will have those kids out on parole in a year or two, and then they’ll really be pissed. And it’ll be easy for them to find Walt’s buddy, Thao, driving that big old loud muscle car through the hood.
4 Easy Rider
This 1969 film defined the hippie generation. The journey of Billy (Dennis Hopper) and Wyatt, aka Captain America (Peter Fonda), a couple of bikers who load up on cash after a drug deal and head to Mardi Gras. The story meanders in a laid back pace and then, wham! Sometimes endings are abrupt, but please. These dudes were just riding along and got blown away by a couple of hillbillies in a pickup truck. Didn’t the film already make the point that rednecks are bad? They already killed George (Jack Nicholson) at the campsite. If somebody was going to kill them it should have been the guy from that drug deal in the beginning. After all, Phil Spector, a real convicted murderer played the shady dealer, Connection. Or why don’t the bikers just ride into the sunset?
3 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Jack Nicholson is perfect in this acclaimed 1975 drama, until his character blows it in the end. Here’s this awesome guy, R.P. McMurphy, who is mischievous but clearly not insane like the rest of the nuts in the nuthouse. He shows his fellow patients a good time, befriends them, and then throws a huge bash with booze and hookers. He also has his escape plan worked out. The window is literally open. He’s ready to walk towards the freedom he deserves. Then he goes back inside to see about Billy Bibbit, and ends up strangling that evil Nurse Ratched. Ultimately R.P. becomes a lobotomized zombie, and is put out of his misery, suffocated by big Chief Bromden. But the plot should never have gone that far. Just hop out of the window, buddy, please! Or at least kill Nurse Ratched. Don’t just die for nothing
Okay, everyone who knows this 1997 flick knows that the stupid floating door was big enough for two people! Move over bacon, here comes something leaner. It’s just that simple—scoot over, girl! And if that door doesn’t fit, there is a ton more wreckage, find a bigger one. There is no way that after all those death-defying stunts that the lovely couple is going to let a floating door be the death of Jack. No way. And another thing—why did the old lady toss that priceless necklace in the sea? After keeping it secret all those years? Don’t chuck it! Come on. Cash that thing in, grandma, or at least put it in your will.
1 It’s a Wonderful Life
Everyone knows this 1946 classic Christmas movie that’s been rehashed a hundred times. Thanks to an angel, George Bailey gets to see the world as if he had never existed, and it sucks. Then he’s magically returned to normalcy, where he is in financial peril, but well loved so everything works out. The problem with the ending is that Mr. Potter, who found Bailey’s money and basically stole it, is the whole reason why Bailey was in trouble to begin with. So the ending should have grumpy old Potter getting his just desserts. How about a shot of him having a massive heart attack? Or being beaten with bats by an angry mob? SNL did a spoof of the latter ending idea with the classic 1986 cast including Phil Hartman, Dana Carvey, Jon Lovitz, and a stuffed mannequin body double.