Best surprise ending



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  • Best surprise ending

    What is your favorite surprise ending to a movie? And did you like it because:

    it made you view the movie in a completely different light than before the ending?
    it was clever?
    it was an ending that you could have figured out from the clues given, but you did not?

    or for whatever other reason...

  • #2
    I'd say The Sixth Sense, because the surprise was absolutely vital to the development of the main character, yet very well concealed by the writer/director--we thought that the main character's primary goal had been acheived (healing the child), when, in fact, it had not. There were enough clues along the way to have you scratching your head (why didn't the doc step forward when the boy was misdiagnosed at the emergency room?, why has the marriage gone south?), but most of those clues were couched with brilliant misdirection.

    As for other surprise endings (ah ha, the hand comes out of the grave!, look, this character is actually a traitor!, hey, that chick has a penis!), you can usually spot them coming...uh, except for that last one...that would have never got past the MPAA...

    Your pal,


    • #3
      Well my buddy said. . . his most surprise ending was in BRAVEHEART because the scottish actually beat the English.

      This movie was so historically inaccurate that he was expecting the queen to look like FAT BASTARD from Austin Powers. . .

      ain't movies grand - the week become strong, the poor become rich - and 'movie makers' make a hell of a lot of money.


      • #4
        re:Best Surprise Ending

        Got to be Usual Suspects. After such a labyrinth of twists and chicanes you knew something magnificent was on the cards and it delivered 100%


        • #5
          fight club

          followed closely by usual suspects and, of course, sixth sense

          most desired for surprise ending would be the disappearance of hangboy
          (sorry hang, but after that security quip on the other thread, i couldn't resist!)


          • #6
            Surprise endings

            The Third Man


            • #7
              Surprise endings

              I'll agree with Usual Suspects and Fight Club (the whole film was a surprise to me 'cause I didn't expect to like it), but I figured out Sixth Sense early on. Don't ask me how.
              An ending that surprised me a few years back was No Way Out, with Keven Costner and Gene Hackman. Uri.


              • #8
                Surprise endings

                Can't leave out "The Conversation"


                • #9
                  Re: Surprise endings

                  EXOTICA and ONE FALSE MOVE... both gave me chills. Also, both are twists that actually make sense when you see the film again.

                  I still can't figure out why that character in SIXTH SENSE didn't figure out the end while s/he was riding the bus (instead of driving). The character had to KNOW the end if s/he made the decision not to drive on those days.

                  - Bill

                  PS: My new website is open ( - a different screenwriting tip every day... plus a different screenwriting article every week (beginning with a never-in-print article called SIGHT & SOUND).


                  • #10
                    Re: Surprise endings

                    Diabolique (French Subtitled version) is still as fresh today.

                    The Killing, Kubricks non-linear story telling broke the mold and full of surprises.

                    Jacob's Ladder - SPOILER - Trippy, drug induced visions really his entrance to god's kingdom.

                    House of Games - If you didn't see the con coming - Mamet's best.

                    Ninth Configuration - Do not rent Batty's director's cut;
                    98 minute version is best.


                    • #11

                      Vampire's Kiss, Cage's best performance this side of Leaving Las Vegas.

                      And The Butcher Boy, I didn't forsee the boy's madness escalating to this degree.

                      -- Don Goreleone.


                      • #12
                        Re: Additions...

                        Am I the only one who feels the ending to "The Usual Suspects" was an easy cheat? In the sense that the whole movie was completely made up by the Spacey character and nothing before the "big twist" gave any significant clue to it. The ending actually solves little, because when you reflect upon the movie, there is little to solve. It seems like a complicated plot at first, but once the big revelation happens, there was less to the plot than the movie first suggests. The whole thing might as well have been a dream with Verbal waking up in the end.


                        • #13
                          The Usual Suspects (SPOILER?)

                          Perhaps there was more to the plot than the movie suggests. The same effect most certainly would not have been accomplished if Keyser had just woken up and like The Sixth Sense, this is not necessarily a movie where you really have anything to solve. If the Kobayashi character wasn't a lawyer, then who was the guy that picked Keyser up at the end? If there was no fence named Redfoot, how and why did they all go out to California? How did Keyser get himself arrested as Verbal to coincide perfectly with the lineup he was setting up? How was Keaton originally convinced to go along with MacManus (or did he even need any convincing?) I think even more than The Sixth Sense, if you sit down and think about The Usual Suspects, you can write your own story for each of the characters and their motivations that is completely removed from anything that we can see on the screen and in doing so, there is possibly a more interesting telling.

                          With regards to the actual topic:



                          • #14
                            Re: The Usual Suspects (SPOILER?)

                            I think the danger of creating a story where the characters' motivations are so loose that the viewer can (or should) write them themselves to fully appreciate the experience borderlines on lazy writing.

                            Are you posing these questions to me because there are clues in the film that answers them directly? Or are you posing these questions because they were unanswered by the movie's end? I think it takes a better writer to answer these questions solidly, then to just leave them hanging in the air untied.

                            Please keep in mind it's been a while since I've seen it. I can only go on my fuzzy memory. If there's something obvious I'm missing that logically leads to the "big twist", please point it out. Thanks.

                            P.S. I loved Mamet's con movies. But the problem with con movies is that you're looking for the con if you know what that movie is about. At least, that's what I do. I think one of the best endings is the under-appreciated Fincher film, "The Game."


                            • #15
                              Best "surprise" ending

                              Sixth Sense far and away delighted and surprised me. I figured out the Usual Suspects about midway through. I love the surprise and it doesn't usually happen. Hey what about Se7en? Not much surprise, but fun nonetheless, and Crying Game, which EVERYONE and their brother says they figured out, but according the very memorable and audible gasp in the theater, I don't think that many of us could have known. It got me!