Top 10 Films With A Twist Ending

The twist ending can surprise, shock, frighten, exhilarate, make you laugh, make you cry. The best twist endings provide some of cinema’s most memorable conclusions and here we celebrate our favourites.

Even those who only come in contact with the products of Hollywood through the amazing movie themed real money casino games from all All Jackpots casino know the ending of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense. Shyamalan’s supernatural drama is a textbook example of a twist ending, putting the whole movie in a completely different perspective once found out. But it’s not the only one that bends the viewers’ mind with a shockingly surprising detail revealed at the last moment – there are, in fact, many movies that made their viewers gasp in surprise right before the credits.

Warning – the list below does definitely contain spoilers.

Planet Of The Apes (Schaffner, 1968)

twist ending moviesAfter travelling at light speed for more than 2,000 years, Taylor (Charlton Heston) and two of his crewmates crash on a seemingly alien planet ruled by intelligent primates seemingly evolved from species known to us, too – gorillas, chimpanzees, and orangutans. Humans, in turn, are sub-intelligent creatures without the ability to even understand speech. After many adventures – and the discovery of an attractive love interest – Taylor stumbles upon the remains of the Statue of Liberty, showing him that he has, in fact, returned to Earth.

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (Kershner, 1980)

twist ending moviesFew people are unaware of the plot twist that changed things completely in the Star Wars saga. The insidious Sith lord in a dark suit and helmet reveals that he did not in fact murder Luke’s father because he, himself, is actually the man himself. This revelation sets the stage for the next episode, Return of the Jedi.

The Usual Suspects (Singer, 1995)

twist ending moviesThe Usual Suspects boasts one of the best-known twist endings of them all, involving the mysterious crime lord Keyser Söze, responsible for a series of crimes throughout the movie. The sole survivor of the events of the movie is Roger “Verbal” Kint, who is, in fact, the mysterious criminal himself. The revelation is undoubtedly one of the cinema’s best twist endings because of how it changes everything that you have seen before, making a second viewing essential.

The Game (Fincher, 1997)

twist ending moviesThis David Fincher movie is a masterpiece for many. It involves financier Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) who receives a ticket to a life-changing game from his brother Conrad for his birthday. What comes next is his worst nightmare: he loses his fortune, he is drugged and finds himself inside a coffin in a Mexican cemetery. Ultimately, he ends up accidentally killing his brother, and he jumps to his death – and this is when it’s revealed that it was all part of the game. By the way, you just lost it.

Fallen (Hoblit, 1998)

twist ending moviesJohn Hobbes doesn’t believe it himself that the serial killer whose execution he has witnessed has survived death – but that’s what happened, as it was none other than the demon Azazel, able to jump from body to body. He ultimately lures Azazel to a remote cabin where he kills his host – and himself. But in the last minute, a cat wanders by, serving as a body for the possessing spirit.

Fight Club (Fincher, 1999)

twist ending moviesOne of the most impressive movies ever, Fight Club tells the story of a man losing interest in his life as a whole, creating an underground “Fight Club” with a friend, and getting tangled up in a major – and successful – terrorist attack. It is only revealed at the end of the film that both the man and his eccentric friend are the same person.

American Psycho (Harron, 2000)

twist ending moviesPatrick Bateman (whose name is perhaps a tribute to Alfred Hitchcock’s famous serial killer), a businessman gives in to his crazy side and starts killing in a gory and brutal fashion (at one point, he even starts taking orders from an ATM). It is not revealed until the end of the movie that he was, in fact, most likely just imagining the whole thing.

Cypher (Natali, 2002)

twist ending moviesVincenzo Natali’s science fiction thriller Cypher is about an accountant called Morgan (Jeremy Northam) who is fed up with his life and ends up doing corporate espionage by being brainwashed into a new identity. Then Rita (Lucy Liu) appears, offering him an antidote that opens his eyes to reality – everyone is, in fact, a spy, brainwashed into obedience by corporations. After a lot of running and shooting, the final plot twist of the movie is revealed – Morgan is, in fact, Sebastian, in love with Rita, using brainwashing and a network of deception to erase her identity for good.

The Vanishing (Sluizer, 1988)

twist ending moviesGeorge Sluizer’s mystery drama features a devastatingly effective twist ending which hits you like a punch to the gut. A boyfriend’s desperation to find his missing girlfriend eventually leads him to her abductor who says he won’t reveal what happened to the girl, he’ll show him what happened. Driven by both guilt and hope, the man accepts the offer and is knocked out by a drug. He awakens to a shocking truth; his girlfriend was buried alive. Now, he too, must suffer the same fate.

Arrival (2016)

twist ending moviesDr Louise Banks is a linguist seemingly haunted by the memories of her daughter lost to an incurable genetic condition. When aliens arrive, Dr Banks is recruited by the military to try to communicate with them. After many futile attempts to decipher their language, she finally gets the hang of it – and this changes her life, and the life of the whole planet, for good. As it is revealed late in Arrival, the memories she had of her daughter were in fact memories of the future, caused by her brain being rewired by the non-linear language used by the aliens.

Over to you: what are the great twist endings in your opinion?

Written and Compiled by Rory Fish

About the Author
Rory Fish has loved movies since he can remember. If he was to put together an "all time" top 10 of absolute favourites it would have to include North By Northwest, 12 Angry Men and Sunset Boulevard.

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  1. Avatar
    Callum Reply

    I love a good twist. The Usual Suspects is my favourite.

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      Rory Reply

      A classic.

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    Michael Scoates Reply

    Kudos for Arrival, caught it recently and it really is mind-blowing.

    Psycho, Se7en, and Shutter Island I also rate very highly. I don’t mind twists in the middle either and love sci-fi so The Matrix, Inception and their ilk are all on my list 🙂

    • Avatar
      Rory Reply

      Ooh… a good middle-film twist, now there’s another list! 🙂

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    S Reply

    How can you not have the 6th Sense on here?

    • Avatar
      Rory Reply

      Dare I say I’m not a huge fan of The 6th Sense or its twist. It’s too cloyingly melodramatic.

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      Dan Reply

      It is mentioned in the first paragraph. I love The Sixth Sense and its twist ending, it’s one of my faves and it would be in my own top 10. But it’s nice to see some others make the top spots.

  4. Avatar
    Mark Fraser Reply

    Good list, although Arrival annoyed the hell out of me. Also,
    Angel Heart

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    Dan Grant Reply

    Love this topic. Well done Rory.

    A few others:

    Angel Heart
    Sixth Sense

    Also, I loved the twist ending in Dead Again.
    I also loved how mad the ending was in Shattered, the Tom Berenger/Greta Scachi film. Also, Presdumed Innocent had a good one.

    • Avatar
      Rory Reply

      Yeah, good to see Angel Heart and Dead Again mentioned.

      Shattered – I’ve seen it but I remember little about it. I’m guessing I didn’t like it.

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        Dan Grant Reply

        Shattered wasn’t a great movie, but the ending was a real shocker….just google it.

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    Rory Reply

    A lot of love for The 6th Sense. I’m not disputing that choice only that the film didn’t really work for me overall. I’ve seen the film in a lot of other twist ending lists so that was another reason to consider some others.

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    Neal Reply

    Citizen Kane, shutter island, Dead Mans Shoes

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    Darren Whitfield Reply

    Easy, The Usual Suspects. Nothing comes close.

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      John Reply

      You read my mind…

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        Darren Whitfield Reply

        There’s some other good ones but that easily tops the list for me. And to think
        Christopher McQuarrie was 23 when he wrote it. Brilliant.

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    Kost Reply

    Planet of the Apes

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    The Next Jedi Reply

    I still think that the ending of The Village is a great twist. Also the shocking ending of The Mist

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    Scott Ballantyne‏ Reply

    To Kill A Mocking Bird. Boo Radley turns out to be a really shitty 90’s band.

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    Dan Grant Reply

    This is a terrific piece, Rory. I always enjoy your articles. Thanks for another terrific think piece.

  13. Avatar
    Angus Reply

    Some great choices. Can’t beat Usual Suspects!

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