Warning: The following contains spoilers from some of the greatest plot twists in cinema history.
It’s happened to all of us at one point in our lives. It can be confusing, frustrating, and leave us feeling empty. Nobody is ever prepared and it comes out of nowhere. Life feels perfect with the guarantee of a happy ending. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works out for everyone. It’s so shocking and surprising that it feels like you’re the only person in the world that didn’t see it coming. No, we’re not talking about heartbreak that leaves you in tears. We’re talking about something that is much more devastating—twist endings.
A twist ending can make a great film into a timeless classic that is debated in universities for decades. Other times, a twist ending can completely ruin a great movie or make an awful movie that much worse. Most films try to follow the proven formula of a satisfying ending that sends the audience home happy. A twist ending is a major gamble that may or may not pay off. Several classic movies are known for their creative and out-of-the-box ending. The twist made sense and added a new element to the film. However, that is not always the case with a twist ending. Some of them might feel repeated or simply make no sense. In many cases, the twist ending is being done for the sake of doing a twist ending. Regardless, these surprising endings still have fans talking today. Here is a look at 8 Movies with infuriating Twist Endings and 7 That Are Classic.
15 Planet Of The Apes (Infuriating)
The 1968 classic film The Planet of the Apes is known for its iconic twist ending. Astronaut George Taylor (Charlton Heston) realizes he’s been on earth the whole time after discovering the nearly-demolished Statue of Liberty. The 2001 remake’s twist ending did not have the same impact. Director Tim Burton attempted to create an original twist ending that would pay tribute to the first film. Leo Davidson (Mark Wahlberg) is eventually able to escape back to his earth and timeline. He crashes at the Abraham Lincoln Memorial but is shocked to discover that the villain and chimpanzee military commander, General Thade (Tim Roth), has replaced Lincoln. A large group of ape police officers, firefighters, medical personnel, and the media swarm the human. The ending was criticized as being so ambiguous that it confused audiences. Tim Roth admitted he couldn’t explain the ending and said, “I have seen it twice and I don’t understand anything.”
14 Memento (Classic)
Memento revolves around Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) who is unable to make new memories and suffers from short-term memory loss. Despite this, he is determined to track down his wife’s killer and the person that made him this way. He uses photographs and tattoos as notes to aid him in uncovering the killer’s identity. Christopher Nolan directed Memento, and it was released on March 16, 2001 to rave reviews. It contains two sequences—one in black and white which is told chronologically and one in color which is told in the reverse. The two sequences come together in the end. The ambiguous twist ending reveals that Leonard is likely responsible for his wife’s death after botching her with insulin injection. The guilt then drives him insane, and he creates this fictional killer. In the end, he forgets the previous events and continues looking for his wife’s killer.
13 Wild Things (Infuriating)
A common twist often used is to portray an evil mastermind that is manipulating the situation as weak and naïve. In some cases, the reveal can be hugely shocking but other times, it’s a disappointment. Wild Things revolved around an elaborate scheme and a twist ending that felt underwhelming. It is best known for a plethora of steamy scenes that left audiences hot and sweaty. In particular, a red-hot scene between Denise Richards, Neve Campbell, and Matt Dillion had everyone talking. The films plot and twist ending is secondary to the sensual and seductive moments. At one point, each character is presumed to be manipulating the situation and other characters. In the end, it’s revealed that the naïve and dim Suzie (Campbell) is highly intelligent and is actually the mastermind behind the scheme. Some audiences felt let down by the twist ending but others didn’t care as they went to see it for the nudity and steamy scenes.
12 Safe Haven (Infuriating)
Safe Haven revolved around Katie (Julianne Hough) as she moves to a small town to escape her abusive husband. She befriends her next-door neighbor, Jo (Cobie Smulders), and also starts a relationship with widower Alex (Josh Duhamel). It is an adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks novel Safe Haven. Most romance movies end with the guy and girl ending up together. Safe Haven decided to twist it up a bit with an ending that wasn’t well-received. After Katie’s husband finds her and is killed, the film takes a strange turn. At the end, Alex gives Katie a letter written by his deceased wife. Katie is shocked to find out that her friend, Jo, is actually the spirit of Alex’s dead wife. Her ghost brought Katie and Alex together for them to find happiness. At least somebody found happiness because most audiences went home confused and disappointed.
11 Psycho (Classic)
Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is weirdly regarded as one of the greatest horror films ever made. It is known for having several twists and turns that keep the audience guessing. However, it was the shocking and disturbing ending that literally had audiences running out of the theater. It was released on September 8, 1960 to mixed reviews but soon became a massive hit. It revolves around Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) who is on the run and ends up at the Bates Motel. She meets the deranged Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), who lives with his overbearing mother. At one point, Mother snaps and butchers Marion while she showers in an iconic scene. It was the twist ending that had audiences shocked and screaming. The end reveals that Norman killed his mother years ago and her rotting corpse is still in the house. Additionally, Norman has been dressing up has his mother and murdered Marion. Psycho is a groundbreaking film that changed cinema and the horror genre forever.
10 The Number 23 (Infuriating)
One of the most common plot twist devices is amnesia. There are times when amnesia served as a satisfying explanation for several movies. This is not one of those times. The Number 23 revolved around Walter Sparrow who becomes obsessed with the number 23 after reading a strange book that resembles his life. It starred Jim Carrey and was released on February 23, 2007. Carrey is best known for his comedic roles but this was one of his many serious attempts. The twist ending in this film seemed to make little sense to audiences. In the end, Sparrow discovers that he has amnesia and was the author of the book he became obsessed with. Most audiences found the ending to be confusing and a let-down. It currently holds an 8% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Additionally, Carrey was nominated for Worst Actor at the Golden Raspberry Awards that year.
9 Arrival (Classic)
The twist ending in the critically-acclaimed film Arrival had audiences shocked, heartbroken, and amazed. Arrival revolves around a linguistics professor, Louise Banks (Amy Adams), who assists the US military in communicating with aliens, known as heptapods. Throughout the film, she reflects on the death of her teenage daughter from a rare disease and the subsequent end of her marriage. The film was universally praised for its direction and Adams’ stellar performance. It was nominated for several Academy Awards including Best Picture. However, it was the twist ending that shocked audiences all over the universe. Banks begins to understand and comprehend the heptapods’ complex language that is so advanced it enables time travel. Banks is not having flashbacks but flash-forwards of the death of her yet-to-be-conceived daughter who will die of a rare disease. Despite knowing all of this, Banks allows it all to still happen.
8 Now You See Me (Infuriating)
Just about every heist movie features an elaborate plan that involves a complex twist ending. It's been done so many times that filmmakers must find a new angle on it. In this instance, they were hoping that a little magic could do the trick. Now You See Me revolved around four magicians that rob banks under the guise of a performance. It starred Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson, and Dave Franco. It was released on May 21, 2013 to mixed reviews but did very well at the box office. The twist ending is similar to several other bank heist films but seemed much more obvious than others. In the end, the detective that was pursuing the magicians, Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo), is revealed to be the 5th member of the magicians and was actually working with the group. Unfortunately for the producers, magic isn’t real and no trick could save the ending.
7 Fight Club (Classic)
The first rule of Fight Club is…you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule is…do not spoil the twist ending. Fight Club is known for its mind-twisting and exceptional ending. It revolved around an unnamed narrator (Edward Norton) who is dissatisfied with his life. He forms a fight club with a soap maker named Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) for men who want to fight for recreation. However, soon, Tyler spirals out of control and the only person that can stop him is the narrator. David Fincher directed Fight Club, which was released on October 15, 1999 to mixed reviews. It would later gain cult status. The film features a memorable twist ending that reveals that the narrator has a split personality and is in fact Tyler. It is one of the most famous twist endings in Hollywood history.
6 Signs (Infuriating)
M. Night Shyamalan is known for being the master of the twist ending. However, he had a string of disappointing films with poorly-received twist endings, such as The Village, The Happening, and The Lady in the Water. His sci-fi film Signs was met with positive reviews but the twist ending was criticized. It starred Mel Gibson and was released August 2, 2002. The film revolved around a group of aliens that land on earth and terrorize former priest Father Graham Hess and his family. The Hess family defeats an alien by hitting it with a baseball bat into glasses of water because H2O is their greatest weakness. Audiences found it unnecessary for Hess’ wife to die just so he can have the revelation to hit the alien with a bat. Many also felt that it seemed random for the daughter to leave glasses of water around the house without any real explanation. The twist ending felt a little flat for some audiences.
5 The Sixth Sense (Classic)
M. Night Shyamalan had his big breakthrough as a filmmaker with the beloved film The Sixth Sense. The twist ending is one of the most talked-about endings in any film. It left audiences speechless and heartbroken all at the same time. It revolved around a child psychiatrist, Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis), who attempts to help a troubled young patient, Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment). Cole eventually reveals that he has the ability to see dead people. The Sixth Sense was released on August 6, 1999 and became one of the highest-grossing horror films of all time. It is considered one of the scariest movies made. It’s best known for the shocking reveal and twist ending that had audiences rewatching the film multiple times. In the end, Crowe realizes that he had died earlier in the film and was actually a ghost the entire time.
4 Savages (Infuriating)
Filmmakers must be cautious when using a twist ending. Some endings can become iconic while others might betray and insult the audience. Oliver Stone’s Savages starred Blake Lively, Taylor Kitch, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson. It was released on July 6, 2012 to mixed reviews. Stone is considered one of the greatest filmmakers, but not all of his films are classic. The film revolved around two marijuana dealers that get mixed up with the cartel and must free their kidnapped girlfriend. It was an adaptation of a novel. However, Stone made one major change. The book ends with the main characters dying in a murder suicide. The film contains this same scene, but instead of ending, the film rewinds and eventually ends on a happy note with the main characters living on a beachfront. The twist ending was heavily criticized and viewed as confusing, infuriating, and a cop-out.
3 The Empire Strikes Back (Classic)
The Empire Strikes Back features one of the most earth-shattering and shocking twists in film history. Additionally, it’s accompanied by one of the greatest lines ever uttered on camera. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back is the second film in the Star Wars Saga. It starred Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher. It was released to universal praise on May 21, 1980. The twist completely surprised fans and changed the Star Wars story forever. In the climactic battle scene, Luke Skywalker fought the evil Sith lord, Darth Vader. During the battle, Vader asks if Luke knows what happened to his father, with Luke revealing he knows Vader killed him. Vader then utters one of the most memorable and mis-quoted lines in cinema history, “No. I am your father.” To this day, Star Wars fans still talk about the shocking revelation that helped cement the Star Wars Saga’s legacy.
2 The Dark Knight Rises (Infuriating)
The Dark Knight Rises is the final film in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. The final film had a great deal of anticipation but let many of its fans down. It starred Christian Bale as Batman for the final time and was released July 16, 2012. The two previous films in the trilogy were held in very high regard. However, the final installment angered fans with its several twists that seemed to make little sense. Many fans were disappointed with the reveal that Bruce Wayne’s love interest turned out to be Talia al Ghul, which regulated classic Batman villain Bane to a secondary role. However, the twist ending had many fans scratching their heads. The final scene reveals that Batman had faked his death and was hiding out in a quaint town in Italy with Catwoman (Anne Hathaway). Most fans pointed out that both Bruce and Batman were presumed dead yet nobody seemed to notice the supposedly dead billionaire hanging out at a café.
1 The Usual Suspects (Classic)
A con artist with cerebral palsy, Verbal Kint (Kevin Spacey) is one of two survivors of a massacre on a ship. Kint tells Customs agent Dave Kujan (Chazz Palminteri) the events that lead to the bloodbath on the ship and the legend of the mysterious crime lord, Keyser Söze. The critically-acclaimed Usual Suspects features one of the most famous twist endings in cinema history. Bryan Singer directed The Usual Suspects, and it was released on August 16, 1995 to positive reviews. With the use of flashbacks, Kint recounts how he and a group of criminals attempted a heist but Keyser Söze showed up and murdered everyone. After being released, Kint begins walking without a limp revealing that he was Keyser Söze the whole time. Jaws dropped all over the world with that shocking ending. The conclusion is widely considered the greatest twist ending of all time.