The Most Shocking Endings In Movie History

Seeing the characters we’ve spent a whole
movie getting to know ride off into the sunset might be a great feeling, but sometimes a
greater thrill can be found in a good shock. Luckily, there are plenty of writers and directors
who are adept at leaving audiences utterly speechless as the credits roll. Massive spoilers ahead. Bryan Singer’s neo-noir classic The Usual
Suspects follows the interrogation of seemingly helpless Roger “Verbal” Kint, one of only
two survivors of a devastating fire on a ship docked at the Port of Los Angeles. Kevin Spacey’s character spins the detectives
and viewers a long and twisted tale of drugs, deceit and death, explaining that everything
comes back to a mysterious mob boss by the name of Keyser Söze. The twist? Kint was Keyser Söze all along, which the
officers realize only a few moments too late. As Kint exits the police station and shuffles
off down the street, his awkward gait starts to straighten out – and we realize we’ve been
had. Quentin Tarantino’s gleefully inaccurate take
on the World War Two thriller was nominated for eight Academy Awards, with Christoph Waltz
taking home the Oscar for his portrayal of the film’s unforgettable villain: Hans Landa. Inglourious Basterds follows Lieutenant Aldo
“The Apache” Raine and his Basterds as they go on the hunt for Nazi scalps, finally machine-gunning
Hitler himself – although Landa is the the one German who Raine cannot kill. “Ooh, that’s a bingo! Is that the way you say it, ‘that’s a
bingo?’” “You just say bingo.” After striking a deal with the top brass,
the notorious villain is afforded his freedom in the States, though Aldo doesn’t let him
slide that easily. With the film all but wrapped up, Lt. Raine
pulls out his knife and proceeds to carve a Swastika into Landa’s forehead in a shockingly
gory close-up. Loosely based on French author Pierre Boulle’s
1963 novel La Planète des Singes, 1968’s Planet of the Apes was included in Empire’s
Greatest Movies of All Time list and contains one of the most iconic examples of a twist
ending. Astronaut George Taylor, played by Charlton
Heston, leads a group of astronauts stranded on a strange and seemingly deserted planet
after their spaceship crash lands there – but the crew soon come to realize that they are
not alone. Apes with human-like intelligence dominate
this world, and they don’t take kindly to the arrival of their otherworldly guests,
though it ultimately turns out Taylor and his team are far from alien. As he escapes the apes and makes his way along
the shoreline, he comes across the sandy remains of the Statue of Liberty – and discovers he’s
been on Earth the whole time, trapped in a future devastated by nuclear war. Orphan follows a couple trying to move on
with their lives after the death of their unborn child. In an attempt to save their marriage, the
pair decide to go ahead with their plans for a third child, adopting a quiet 9-year-old
Russian girl named Esther. At least, they’re lead to believe she’s nine. In truth, Esther is a 33-year-old woman named
Leena Klammer, a psychopath with a growth disorder who’s spent the majority of her life
posing as a pigtailed child and being repeatedly adopted. Why does she need to keep finding new families? Because she keeps trying to get it on with
the dads. Audiences watch in sheer horror as Esther
sets about seducing her new father – and finally kills him when he refuses her. The first Star Wars sequel picked up three
years after the destruction of the Death Star. Luke Skywalker and the Rebel assault squadron
bearing down on the super-weapon’s weak spot remains a memorable enough finale for that
first film, but it pales in comparison to the closing stages of The Empire Strikes Back. Han Solo being frozen alive in carbonite and
carted off was a shock for fans of the dashing pilot, though the real jaw-dropper comes when
Luke arrives at Cloud City, spurred on by a premonition of Han and Leia in pain. The young Jedi falls right into Vader’s trap,
losing his hand during the lightsaber battle that ensues. In a moment that would be quoted, referenced
and parodied countless times over the years that followed, Vader makes cinema’s most
notorious parental declaration. “No, I am your father.” David Fincher’s gory thriller Seven is crammed
full of shocking moments, but one scene in particular sticks long in the memory: the
film’s haunting finale. After veteran detective William Somerset and
his new partner David Mills finally manage to corner the killer, they discover a box
containing the head of Mills’ pregnant wife Tracy. Despite it being exactly what the killer wants,
the heartbroken detective guns down the skin-headed madman in a heartbreaking climax that, unlike
many of the movie’s other scenes, doesn’t need to rely on gore to be shocking. A loose remake of 2002 Hong Kong crime thriller
Infernal Affairs, Martin Scorsese’s Best Picture winner The Departed moves the action out of
Asia and brings it to Boston, home of notorious Irish mob boss Whitey Bulger – the inspiration
behind Jack Nicholson’s character, Frank Costello. The veteran gangster relies on his police
mole Colin Sullivan to stay ahead of the game, though he doesn’t realize he also has a double
agent in his ranks: Billy Costigan. But after finally exposing Sullivan, Costigan
is unceremoniously shot in the head by another of Costello’s moles. Even more unexpected to audiences, however,
was the double-blow which followed: Staff Sergeant Dignam showing up right at the final
moment to put a bullet in Sullivan’s temple. Another Scorsese-DiCaprio collaboration with
an unexpected ending, psychological thriller Shutter Island follows U.S. Marshal Teddy
Daniels and his new partner Chuck. They visit Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally
Insane to investigate the disappearance of a woman incarcerated there for drowning her
children. Scorsese delivers a gripping mystery that
leads viewers down a winding path with a stunning end. Just as Teddy believes he’s about to solve
the puzzle of the missing woman, he discovers that his real name is Andrew Laeddis and he’s
actually a patient at the hospital, sent there for killing his wife – who had previously
killed their children. The whole investigation was actually a ruse
by the head of the facility, designed as a last-ditch effort to snap Laeddis out of his
conspiracy-obsessed insanity. Based on the life and travels of American
hiker Christopher McCandless, Sean Penn’s Into The Wild is a biographical survival film
that spends 148 minutes building up to a happy ending that never comes. The audience gets to know McCandless as he
lives in complete isolation in the Alaskan wilderness, intercut with scenes depicting
the long road he took to get there. As the film draws to an end, McCandless begins
to realize that true happiness can only be shared with others, and plans to return home
to his family – but the river he crossed four months earlier has become impassible. On the point of starvation, the young backpacker
is forced to gather roots and plants to eat, accidentally consuming a poisonous one in
the process. The film ends with McCandless crawling into
his sleeping bag to die. Writer/director Stephen Chbosky wasn’t just
aiming to make another teen-centric indie flick when he decided to adapt his own novel,
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, for the big screen. He also wanted to make his story, which tackled
mental health issues among young people, a more “communal experience” – in the hope of
reaching more of those affected by its themes. The film itself is very well acted by its
leads, though it’s hard to put your finger on what was so good about their performances
when all you can think about is the ending. By the end of the movie, troubled protagonist
Charlie has been through the ringer and is about to finally get the girl – but when she
touches his leg, he has a flashback of his late Aunt Helen. The film comes to a grim close with Charlie
admitting to a psychiatrist that he’s been repressing memories of the sexual abuse he
suffered from his Aunt. Frank Darabont’s adaptation of the Stephen
King novella The Mist caused controversy before it was even released, after the director chose
to go with a different ending from the book. King fans were put at ease when the author
gave his approval of the changes, though only a man who has spent a lifetime delving into
the bleak could ever claim to have enjoyed it. The film follows a group of people trapped
in a supermarket by a deadly mist full of tentacled creatures. In the end, protagonist David and his young
son manage to escape in a car, though when they run out of gas David is forced to use
his remaining four bullets on his child and passengers. After shooting them all, he steps out of the
car to accept his gruesome fate at the hands of the monsters, only for the mist to clear
and the U.S. Army to appear. If there’s one director known for his mastery
of the twist ending, it’s M. Night Shyamalan – a man who enjoys nothing more than lulling
his audience into a false sense of security, only to flip the world he’s created on its
head. He did it to great effect in 2000’s Unbreakable
and 2004’s The Village, but his most famous shock ending came in his first major success:
The Sixth Sense. “I see dead people.” The story follows a kid named Cole as he tries
to talk through his ability to see ghosts with a troubled child psychologist. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, of
course, you’ll know that Willis’ character was actually dead the whole time – and when
the film first came out, news of its shocking finale spread like wildfire. Arguably, it was the power of that twist which
helped this small-scale supernatural horror bag six Oscar nominations and a staggering
worldwide box office total of $673 million. Those who had read John Boyne’s The Boy in
the Striped Pyjamas before going into this movie adaptation were better prepared for
the shocking ending than most. But even then, it would have been hard not
to tense up the moment young Bruno and his new Jewish friend Shmuel started heading in
the direction of the gas chambers. The film follows these two 8-year-old boys,
one the son of a high ranking Nazi stationed at a countryside manor house, and the other
a prisoner at the camp situated directly behind that house. Not fully understanding the events going on
around them, the pair become friends, and when Shmuel’s father “goes missing” Bruno
offers to help find him, donning the prisoner’s uniform and entering the hell of the camp
– never to return. One of the first filmmakers to truly understand
the art of the twist, Alfred Hitchcock’s particular brand of suspense earned him a well-deserved
reputation as “the Master of Suspense” – something he delivered consistently over
a distinguished, five-decade career. Perhaps his most famous shock ending is the
one he conceived for Psycho, the story of Norman Bates and his family’s motel. While Janet Leigh being slashed in the shower
is undoubtedly the movie’s best-known scene, the most shocking moment of all comes in the
closing stage; we finally realize Norman’s mother has been dead all along and he’s been
committing murders dressed in her clothing. Hitchcock went to great lengths to keep the
twist a secret, swearing the cast and crew to an oath of secrecy and imploring the public
to keep quiet about Bates via the film’s advertisements. Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Looper videos about your favorite
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