Picture the scene: you’ve spent the last hour-and-a-bit watching a movie that seems to be pretty darn amazing. You’re excited to see what the ending has in store – you’ve got high hopes based on the quality of the rest of the flick. The last few minutes roll around… And the end result is atrocious. The film’s conclusion is so dreadful that it spoils your enjoyment of the rest of the action. The writers had to go and ruin it, didn’t they?
Unfortunately, this kind of viewing experience is all too common in the world of film. Otherwise amazing movies are frequently ruined by terrible endings. Sometimes it’s clear that the writers simply ran out of ideas. In other cases, they went with a twist that turned out to be more frustrating than impressive. Here are just a few top-notch films that were totally ruined by an unexpectedly terrible ending. Watching them will only result in disappointment.
18. The Dark Knight Rises
As The Dark Knight Rises was the final movie in a trilogy, you’d expect its ending to tie up any unresolved plot points. Unfortunately, Christopher Nolan either didn’t get that message or just wanted to mess with his audience. At first, it looked like we were going to get the closure we needed. Bane was defeated, Gotham was saved, and Christian Bale‘s Batman was presumed dead. However, this neat ending was totally thrown out of the window when Bruce Wayne randomly reappeared in Italy with new squeeze Catwoman. How did that happen?! To add to the frustration, it was implied that Batman’s sidekick John Blake might take on his former mentor’s legendary role. However, this was never confirmed. We were basically left wondering what exactly every main character was doing and why they were doing it. Talk about an unsatisfying ending.
Director M. Night Shyamalan is notorious for ending his otherwise great movies really, really badly. Sci-fi horror flick Signs is no exception to this unfortunate rule. The whole premise of the movie – a terrifying alien invasion of Earth – falls apart within about ten seconds. Turns out the aliens’ biggest weakness is water – something we happen to have a lot of on this planet. You’d think a super-smart alien race would troubleshoot an invasion a bit more thoroughly, but apparently, they just didn’t do their research this time around. Joaquin Phoenix literally just throws a glass of water at a violent extraterrestrial who proceeds to melt like the Wicked Witch of the West. It’s anticlimactic, to say the least.
16. Superman: The Movie
1978’s Superman: The Movie is arguably the best movie adaptation of the Caped Crusader’s antics. It’s therefore a massive shame that the film’s ending is unbelievably and laughably terrible. Like, the writers must have just given up. While he’s super busy saving the entire world from a nasty bad guy, Superman is unable to save his love interest, Lois Lane, when she crashes her car into a ravine. The devastated superhero decides the best course of action is to FLY BACKWARDS AROUND THE WORLD TO TURN BACK TIME. Yep – Superman flies around the Earth so fast that he manages to alter the space-time continuum. WHAT? Of course, this enables him to save Lois. Everyone gets a happy ending – isn’t a great? Uhhhh, perhaps not when that ending is based on a mechanic so stupid that it’s practically a parody of an actual superhero film. Just… What even?
15. 2001: A Space Odyssey
The ending to Stanley Kubrick‘s epic sci-fi movie 2001: A Space Odyssey has baffled film buffs for decades. For most of its almost three-hour run, the film is a pretty standard sci-fi/horror flick. An AI machine goes a bit crazy in space and kills a guy, his surviving crew member has to try and get out alive… Your standard fare. However, things get REALLY weird as the film reaches its climax. The lead character, Dr. David Bowman, races through what can only be described as a psychedelic multi-colored vortex for a disturbingly long amount of time. He ends up in a room with an older version of himself, who he eventually becomes. Finally, Bowman is transformed into a giant fetus that floats around the Earth. Don’t ask me why. It’s such an unbelievably strange ending sequence.
14. I Am Legend
I Am Legend‘s ending fell flat because it deviated too much from that of the novel on which it was based. In fact, it decided to cut out the reveal which fully explained the title of the book/movie. It was a pretty stupid move and one that many fans picked up on. In the novel, it’s revealed that the seemingly ‘evil’ mutant vampires that the lead character is trying to kill are the ‘good guys.’ Dr. Robert Neville – Will Smith in the movie – is the sinister ‘legend’ of the title, a man feared by the vampires after he kidnapped one of their ranks. Apparently, the film version’s test audiences didn’t like this conclusion, so producers totally scrapped it. Neville sacrifices himself to save his comrades from the vampires and remains the ‘good guy’ the whole time. What a letdown!
13. Remember Me
Coming-of-age drama Remember Me was heavily criticised upon its release for appropriating a real-life terrorist attack to make its ending more dramatic. This Robert Pattinson-fronted movie is otherwise pretty good. It deals with issues like suicide, family estrangement, and young love with sensitivity and care. Unfortunately, that approach is totally thrown out of the window when the main character ends up dying in the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks. In what some critics called a “borderline offensive” twist, Pattinson’s character is in the North Tower when the plane hits. This ending shamelessly exploits a tragedy that affected thousands upon thousands of people and doesn’t even seem slightly ashamed of it. It was a disappointing move, to say the least.
12. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
While many Indiana Jones fans were wary when Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was released, it turned out to be not that bad of a film. Sure, it didn’t quite live up to the original trilogy, but what could? If you forget about that random scene where Indie survives a nuclear attack by hiding in a fridge (???), this sequel shapes up pretty well. Indie discovering he’s a father was a neat little storyline to include, as was the adventurer’s inability to accept that he’s kinda old now. The mystery of the Crystal Skull was pretty fun too… Until the movie’s ending rolled around. ALIENS? REALLY? It was such a far-fetched conclusion, especially considering nothing extra-terrestrial had happened in a Indiana Jones movie before. This ending just made so little sense. WHY ALIENS???
11. Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Romantic drama movie Vicky Cristina Barcelona definitely has its good moments. However, it’s basically ruined by the fact that nothing has progressed by the end of the film. It starts off with two women, played by Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall, holidaying in Barcelona. Johansson’s character is single and unsure of what she wants in life. Hall’s character is seemingly happily engaged but is beginning to have doubts about her partner. Both women have flings with the same Spanish guy, Juan, who is still married to his estranged wife Maria Elena. By the end of the movie, Johansson’s character is still single and unsure, Hall’s is now married but uncertain, and the Spanish couple is still married but estranged. Like, what was the point of watching all of that drama unfold if it goes on to have literally no impact? Also, we’ll admit that we’re NOT Woody Allen fans.
Interstellar may be a multiple Oscar-winner, but that doesn’t make it immune to the ‘bad ending’ curse. While the majority of the movie is undoubtedly pretty outstanding, its final scenes are something of a letdown. Apparently, the film’s co-writer Jonathan Nolan had planned for the film to end in a simple, straightforward way. Unfortunately, his brother Christopher chucked all of that out of the window. He went for a confusing and seemingly random scene in which Matthew McConaughey‘s character ends up in an alternate timeline for no apparent reason. This ending was way too left-field to be a success. Many viewers left movie screens frustrated that an otherwise amazing movie had ended in such an incomprehensible and baffling way.
9. The Lord of The Rings: The Return of the King
While the Lord of the Rings trilogy is basically the best fantasy movie series of all time, its concluding scenes left many viewers disappointed. The main issue with Return of the King‘s ending is that it just doesn’t know where to stop. The first time you watch the film, you’re fooled into thinking that about three different scenes are the ending, only for the film to just keep going. It could have stopped when Sam and Frodo are rescued from Mount Doom. The part where everyone bows to the hobbits was also a great place to stop. Frodo getting on the boat to the Undying Lands would have made such an emotional closing scene! But no: each time, the fade-to-black gets interrupted by more action. While some fans didn’t complain – they were just grateful for more screentime – others were a bit annoyed by the constant false-stops.
8. War of the Worlds
It’s not often that a happy ending is criticized by moviegoers. However, the conclusion to the 2005 remake of War of the Worlds was unrealistically chipper and wholesome. To recap, the movie sees aliens invading the Earth, destroying numerous major cities, and inflicting general despair upon humanity. Ordinary guy Ray Ferrier – aka Tom Cruise – fights off the extraterrestrial threat while knowing that his family is in mortal danger. For most of the film, Ferrier actually believes that his teen son is dead. However, despite their home city of Boston being razed to the ground, Ferrier and his kids turn out to be just fine. Even the teen son just randomly appears to reunite with his father, despite being sent off to his certain death earlier in the film. This movie went out with more of a whimper than a bang, to be honest.
7. High Fidelity
Romantic drama High Fidelity disappointed many viewers when its genuinely awful lead character got a happy ending that he really didn’t deserve. John Cusack portrays Rob Gordon, a guy who treats all women awfully then can’t understand why they don’t want to date him. Rob spends most of the movie pursuing a woman called Laura, his most recent ex who got tired of his nonsense and (rightfully) walked away. While Rob goes through some personal growth throughout the film, it’s not nearly enough to justify Laura rekindling their relationship. However, that’s exactly what happens. The couple even gets engaged at the end of the movie. Note to High Fidelity‘s producers: becoming a good person doesn’t completely nullify everything bad you did in the past. ROB DID NOT DESERVE LAURA.
6. AI: Artificial Intelligence
The circumstances of AI: Artificial Intelligence‘s production were always going to make it a controversial film. It was originally going to be produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick. However, Kubrick passed the project on to Steven Spielberg in 1995. The result is a movie that wants to be a Kubrick production but falls slightly short. Most of the film is suitably eerie and thought-provoking. However, the ending scene – featuring a time-jump of two thousand years – sticks out like a sore thumb. Child-sized AI robot David is given another chance to love his former adoptive mother, but it’s like the producers couldn’t decide whether to make this moment heart-warming or creepy. It’s a disappointingly ‘meh’ conclusion to an otherwise great film.
5. The Village
Psychologicial horror flick The Village was totally let down by its implausible and confusing ending. The main action of the movie is pretty good – it’s your classic “there are monsters living in the woods” film and features great acting from Bryce Dallas Howard. However, all 108 minutes of action become totally pointless thanks to a disappointing twist at the end. It’s M. Night Shyamalan, at it again with a stupid ‘reveal’ that ruins the rest of his plot! It turns out that despite seemingly being set in the early 20th Century, the film has taken place in a modern-day controlled compound. The monsters aren’t real. The mythology surrounding them is all fake. It’s basically all been an elaborately staged drama with no real threat to anyone. The whole movie was essentially a massive waste of time. Great.
4. No Country For Old Men
Don’t get me wrong: the Coen brothers are amazing filmmakers. However, somebody really, really needs to teach them how to write a good ending. Let’s take No Country For Old Men, for example. This neo-noir, neo-western thriller is generally an amazing film. Tommy Lee Jones excels as Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, a grumpy old WWII veteran on the trail of a thief and a drug lord. Bell ultimately fails, with the drug lord murdering the thief and running away into the night. Not only is this somewhat unhappy ending really unsatisfying, it’s not actually used as a conclusion to the movie. Instead, Bell talks about his dreams for a little while before the screen cuts to black. While this movie could have gone out with a bang – quite literally, the bang of a gunshot – it chose to peter out pitifully instead.
3. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
While everyone loves a happy ending, there’s a fine line between “pleasingly wholesome” and “disgustingly saccharine.” Unfortunately, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi ends up on the wrong side of that line. The whole Ewok party in the forest is just too much. It’s clear that George Lucas really wanted to sell a lot of cute Ewok toys to his young viewers. Plus, it’s totally unrealistic that all of the major good guys made it through a literal galactic war unscathed. They could have had Lando Calrissian sacrifice himself in a heroic act of redemption. C3PO could have short-circuited due to stress. Instead, we were deprived of the emotional payoff of a bittersweet ending. And don’t even get me started on Hayden Christensen appearing as a Force ghost in the later cut of the movie. That should never have happened.
Don’t worry: this isn’t going to be another “JACK COULD HAVE FIT ON THAT DOOR!” argument. He probably couldn’t have, and he needed to die anyway for dramatic effect. The issue with Titanic‘s ending wasn’t the loss of life involved. Frankly, that was kind of a given considering the movie’s subject matter. The problems only begin when the movie flashes forward to the present. What on earth was elderly Rose thinking when she threw that jewel back into the sea? Sure, maybe it held some symbolic value for her… But think of the good she could have done with the money she’d get from selling it! She could have donated it to charity, helped young people like Jack who were undergoing economic hardship… The possibilities were endless! But no. The jewel ended up on the seabed and was ultimately of no use to anyone.
1. The Devil Inside
The ending of horror flick The Devil Inside is such a cop-out that it’s a shock it was allowed to be released. This documentary-style movie chronicles a woman searching for answers after her mother murders three people while being exorcised. After attending several exorcisms to ascertain whether a person really can house a demon or not, the protagonist predictably becomes possessed herself. What happens next? Well, we don’t know, because the movie stops there. Yep, really. It cuts out mid-action, encouraging viewers to head to a website that will explore the rest of the story. Said website is now defunct. Unsurprisingly, critics and viewers alike hated this frankly stupid conclusion. It’s like the writers ran out ideas so just decided to give up.