There are movies with great storylines or great acting that everyone raves about time and again. However, we seldom talk about great endings in movies. Certain endings are
pure classics, offering a mix of different emotions all tied together within one sequence. There are movies that gave us unbelievable endings combining elements like thrill, suspense, comedy, and unexpected revelations, giving them a league of their own. Some films are sloppy in their overall storyline, but their endings make them a masterpiece. So why waste time? Let’s check out some of those classic endings that made their respective movies all the more entertaining.
Warning: This article contains major spoilers!
The Graduate (1967)
This is a coming-of-age epic and leaves most of its viewers speechless with its daunting, yet incredibly well-written ending. The film fades to black as grim-faced Ben and Elaine sit at the back of a bus after eloping from Elaine’s wedding. The contemplation and sudden realization of the ambiguous future lying in front of them becomes apparent. The scene perfectly captures the essence of young adulthood as the euphoria of rebellion dwindles out, leaving only the thoughts of the unseen future lying ahead.
Black Swan (2010)
Natalie Portman earned herself a lot of fame and accolades through her stellar performance in this Aronofsky’s ballet drama. The movie’s ending is iconic in many ways: it depicts the journey of many ballerinas as they buckle into the pressure of the ballet industry. The film uses the metaphor of the white swan turning into the black swan, depicted by Nina. She finally undergoes the much-needed metamorphosis, from a sweet and hesitant girl into a seductress. The climax is when Nina jumps on the bed with blood coming out of her abdomen, everyone applauding her performance, and says, without a worry of her wound, “It’s perfect!”
Say Anything (1989)
‘Say Anything’ has the ideal romcom ending we all need in our lives. The scene is sweet and short, while still channeling numerous emotions. The scene shows Lloyd and an anxious Diane waiting for the plane to take off. Lloyd soothes Diane, who has a fear of flying, by telling her that anything bad usually happens before the ‘ding!’ sound of the seatbelt sign turning off. He then proceeds to hold her hand and talk to her until that ‘ding!’
‘Us’ is horror-thriller that’ll make you bite your nails even after the credits roll. There’s never any closure or big reveal, meaning we’ll never know who the actual villain was.
The movie revolves around “doubles” that live inside mirrors and hold an evil side. By the end, the doubles have caused a huge uprising and killed a bunch of people. The plot twist stems from when Red, a double, switches places with Adelaide a real person from 1989, causing confusion as to which of them is the antagonist.
This drama thriller is situated in 1941– World War II era. It revolves around Rick, a casino and club owner in Casablanca, who, in the end, sacrifices his life for the girl he loves. The movie ends with every character happy and all major conflicts resolved. The mystery, although remains of whom Ilsa loved– was it Rick or Laszlo? Did she give up her true love (Rick) for the freedom of Lazslo?
Scream gave us the perfect combination of horror and comedy, and an amazing ending. The killer is finally revealed, and audiences are taken aback as there are two killers, one being Sidney’s boyfriend Billy, and the other is her friend Stu. The more significant plot twist in the movie is that Billy is the one who murdered Sidney’s mom a year ago because she had an affair with his dad, which ruined his parent’s marriage. The killer duo, confident in their murderous plans, gets interrupted as Sidney, who is enraged after hearing about her mother, throws a TV on Stu and shoots Billy in the head.
Rogue One (2016)
This prequel to the Star Wars franchise is the perfect back story; however, the movie follows a dark theme, and though this isn’t new for Star Wars, but we believe it was overdone. Every character in the film that rebelled got killed, mostly in Darth Vader’s hallway massacre. The most iconic scene is when a young princess Leia appears, an ending appreciated by many because it brought back the original characteristic of Darth Vader as someone evil and wrathful.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)
‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World’ is a romantic comedy about finding love in-between the inevitable doom of the planet. This film has many ideas that didn’t bode well with the audience, but in our opinion, the ending is super sweet. It shows Penny and Dodge lying on a bed, having no fear of the coming asteroid attack. They are just taking in each other’s presence and enjoying the little time they have left as they feel the asteroid hit the ground, and then the screen goes white.
Primal Fear (1996)
Set in Chicago, ‘Primal Fear’ narrates the story of a suave, successful lawyer who takes a pro–Bono case of a 19-year-old convict, Aaron, who was charged for killing the archbishop. The trial proves that he has a dissociative personality disorder, which gets him out of jail. The ending reveals a most unexpected twist: Aaron was faking his disorder the whole time which causes his charges of mental illness to be dropped.
Little Women (2019)
In this spectacular 19th century coming of age movie, Jo fights for the recognition and appreciation she deserves for her writing in a male-dominated industry. The end is perfect, in the sense that she takes charge of her life and finally gets what she’s earned. We couldn’t help clapping for her as her book, which means everything to her and she worked so hard on, finally gets published. The sense of pride and wholeness is evident on Jo’s face. Though her happily-ever-after in terms of love-life isn’t depicted in the ending, the Jo’s ultimate character development is what really matters.
A psychological thriller that offers us the most talked about twists of all time. The movie revolves around the killer, Norman Bates, and the murders at the Bates Motel. Right from the start, Norman’s mother is accused of the murders, but audiences get taken aback with the ending when Norman Bates turns out to be the killer. Even more impressive is that Bates took up his mother’s guise to carry out the killing spree. Norman wearing his mother’s clothes is not just a horrible fetish but also a depiction of psychotic behaviors. The final creepy, jumper scene gives this movie the perfect ending, when Bates gets wholly taken over by his “mother’s” persona.
Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)
Rebellion is the primary theme of this movie, and its ending is all about that as well. In the end, to break the force field, Katniss electrocutes it, getting shocked in the process. As she wakes up, she sees Finnick, Haymitch, Abernathy, and Plutarch Heavensbee on a plane, discussing that this was all a plan to save Katniss. The ending leaves us on a massive cliff-hanger regarding the future of the games or the rebellion, especially regarding Peeta who has been captured by the Capital.
Train to Busan (2016)
This film is a tear-jerking, emotional rollercoaster ending where the father, who gets bitten by a zombie, leaps to his death before his transformation. This movie is about a workaholic father and his daughter, who are in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. The ending is just heart-breaking and makes viewers cry every time. The father gets flashbacks of his daughter’s birth while he is about to jump, as he believes there is no option left other than leaving her behind, alone in such a challenging time.
The ending is profound in so many ways. Tarzan and Kerchak free the gorillas from Clayton, who ends up dying. Kerchak gets shot and does not live to see another day, but he does accept Tarzan as his son, making him the leader of the gorillas. Tarzan’s love, Jane, almost goes back home with her father, but decides at the last minute to stay with Tarzan in the Jungle. They all lived happily ever after—a most gratifying ending, in our opinion.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
The ending of ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ scene was creepy, to say the least. As the ending draws closer, Hannibal Lecter calls Clarice through a payphone. He starts the conversation with this iconic line– “Well Clarice, have the lambs stopped screaming?”. Clarice, who is scared and shocked, can do nothing and is agitated. Then he tells her he can’t talk to her for longer, as he has a friend waiting for him, the friend being a tied-up Dr. Chilton.
Andrew is a boy who was constantly bullied and undermined by Fletcher, a music studio manager. He ends up at the stage of Fletcher’s concert after getting him kicked out. Fletcher, in retaliation, gives Andrew the wrong music to play, but Andrew, due to his immense talent, turns the tables around and performs exceptionally well. ‘Whiplash’ shows audiences that real talent cannot be sidelined through bullying. Fletcher eventually became the source of bringing Andrew’s talent to the forefront, but on the cost of his humanity.
American Psycho (2000)
‘American Psycho’ is a movie showcasing Wall Street’s busy life, and revolves around a broker named Patrick. Patrick is a cold-blooded murderer responsible for killing a person called Paul Allen. He confesses his guilt to his friend, who laughs it off and reveals that Paul Allen is alive and well, and no one ever even attempted to kill him. The scene then shifts to an apartment, which supposedly is Paul’s apartment and the murder site. However, the apartment is neat and clean, with no evidence. The twist in this thriller is that it was all in Patrick’s head, which was proved by the drawings of murder scenes found in his drawers.
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
The movie’s ending revolves around Steve and Peggy, the doomed lovers. The couple has plans of going dancing as a date, but that is soon over as Steve crashes his plane to save the country, and his arrangements of the date with Peggy are over. Later, Captain America is shown seventy years in the future, where he meets Nick Fury. Nick Fury asks Steve what’s wrong, to which he replies, “Nothing. . . I had a date,” signifying his love for Peggy.
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
The ending, although extraordinarily gory and graphic, contains the binding piece of the movie. The theatre goes into flames and Hitler, along with everyone else in the theatre, gets killed. Landa and the radio operator drive Raine and Ultvich to allied territories, but even after agreeing to Landa’s deal, Raine turns his back on them and shoots the radio operator, making a swastika on his forehead as a symbol.
La La Land (2016)
The end of ‘La La Land’ was executed so beautifully that the twist was a shocker for everyone. The scenes showing the colorful life of Sebastian and Mia were nothing but Sebastian’s imagination. Mia was actually married to the jazz musician. The last scene where Mia gives Sebastian one last look before leaving the club broke many hearts. The ending proves that no matter how much love you have for someone, sometimes things just don’t work because of timing, no matter how hard you try.
The Departed (2006)
The movie ends at Costigan’s funeral, attended by Sullivan and his pregnant ex-girlfriend. The movie is a typical good cop-bad cop story where both cops are working undercover, one working for the police while the other working for the gangsters. Costigan dies, and at his funeral, Sullivan gets killed by agent Dignam. We never get to know who tipped off agent Dignam about Sullivan’s antics. Was it the ex-girlfriend who didn’t want anything to do with him after finding out about his dirty cop habits, or was it just instinct by agent Dignam? This ending still has the viewers divided on what actually happened.
Fight Club (1999)
The narrator (Brad Pitt) turns out to be Tyler Durden, who has an alternate personality, and that is the biggest twist of the movie. While trying to end Project Mayhem, he tries to fight his alternate personality and kills him by tricking him. The narrator deceives Tyler by thinking he is shot in the brain when, in reality, he shot himself through the cheek. In the end, the narrator has vanquished Tyler and now has a new life ahead of him.
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
This movie’s ending has many different possibilities. Some believe it was real, while some believe it wasn’t. In the ending scene, Faun demands the blood of Ophelia’s little brother. Ophelia decides to make a huge sacrifice to protect her baby brother. She now has to spend all her life as a human being. The ending symbolizes her love for her sibling, and her sacrifice is the biggest take away because it was against her morals to hurt an innocent person.
The Shining (1980)
Set in the Overlook Hotel back in 1921, ‘The Shining’ revolves around the family of Jack Torrance. Torrance is a serial killer and, by the end, it is his mission to kill his own family. While looking for his son, Danny, in the hotel in order to murder him, Torrance ends up in the hedge maze himself. While this happens, a snowstorm is taking place, which eventually kills Torrance. However, his face shows no sign of remorse. The smile definitely gave us the creepers.
Lord of the Ring: The Return of the King (2003)
After fighting the battle of the middle-earth, Sam and Frodo leave to meet the Elves and Bilbo. They then go with the Elves and sail away. We don’t know what happens afterward, as the movie ends right at this point. Before leaving, Frodo gives Sam a book that holds all the details to their adventures as a token. Fred returns home to the shire to his wife and children, and the movie rolls to credits with the words, “Well, I’m back.”
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