They force you to rethink everything you thought you knew. The twists can recontextualize the entire movie or maybe even multiple movies. But what are some of the best ones out there? Let’s look through the history of twists in famous media to find out which ones were the best. Lots of spoilers for tons of stuff, obviously, so be warned.
The Sixth Sense
There’s a reason that M. Night Shyamalan is always going to be known as the king of twist endings, even if his movies don’t always end up being that good. However, his very first, “The Sixth Sense,” is both an incredible film and features an incredible twist. Psychologist Malcolm Crowe, played by Bruce Willis in one of his best roles, wants to help a boy named Cole, Haley Joel Osment, who says that he sees dead people.
Through a movie full of incredible moments, the most incredible is when Malcolm realizes that he, too, is a ghost – a spirit that is yet to move on. It put the entire movie on its head since every interaction Cole and Malcolm had was when the latter was a ghost.
Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
In what is almost certainly the most famous movie twist in the history of filmmaking, the brutal and evil Darth Vader is revealed to be not the man who killed Luke Skywalker’s father, but Luke’s father. These days, it’s almost hackneyed for a character to be revealed as a long-lost relative, but this twist not only stunned audiences around the world, it stunned the actors: The only people who knew this revelation beforehand was George Lucas and the voice of Darth Vader, James Earl Jones.
The actor, David Prowse, wasn’t notified of this change. Neither was Mark Hamill, who played Luke, nor any of the crew. It was a statement heard practically around the world, and it’s still perhaps the most important Star Wars element to this day.
This legendary thriller by master director Alfred Hitchcock contains a number of twists to delight the senses. Firstly, we’re led to believe that Marion Crane, played by famous actress Janet Leigh, is the main character, but she’s murdered halfway through the film by Norman Bates’ psychopathic mother. To have a leading lady offed so quickly was a surprise to the audience, but a bigger one was to come.
Lila, Marian’s daughter, arrives to investigate her mother’s disappearance. The small shocks and surprises start to pile up until it’s finally revealed that Norman Bates’ mother has been dead for a long time and that Norman has been dressing up as her and terrorizing himself. It still tops most lists of the most famous twists of all time.
The Usual Suspects
Another one of the most famous twist endings of all time comes from the crime film “The Usual Suspects,” which has a man named Roger "Verbal" Kint (played by Kevin Spacey) be interrogated by the police after a bank heist that went pear-shaped. Kint tells the story of the heist in flashbacks, describing how a mysterious man named Keyser Soze brought a team together and laid out a plan.
However, after Kint has left the station, it’s discovered that there was never any Keyser Soze – Kint had made up the story wholesale, using items in the office he was in as inspiration. It seems so simple, but this is still regarded as one of the most famous ways to twist a movie ever – did ANYTHING in the film actually happen?
Just pretend you haven’t seen this one or don’t know the twist. It’s one of the most famous movies ever, so go with it. A group of outcasts, led by the enigmatic, charismatic Tyler Durden and Brad Pitt, form a fight club that eventually turns into an illegal organization. The narrator, played by Edward Norton, watches all of this from the sidelines...or so he thinks.
At the end of the film, as the skyscrapers tumble, it’s revealed that Tyler Durden IS the narrator, and all the things that Brad Pitt’s character was doing were actually the actions of the narrator, whose name is revealed to also (or only) be Tyler Durden. While not only a great film, the twist elevated the movie to something that anybody of age should see.
Brad Pitt's movie “Inglourious Basterds,” directed by Quentin Tarantino, was a surprise. The movie's plot is to kill one of history’s greatest villains, the former German Chancellor, who famously took his own life near the end of the war while hiding in his bunker. In this movie, however, he is given a violent and bloody death at the hands of the “basterds,” shocking historically-minded viewers.
It told us that Tarantino was going to be doing a bit of historical revisionism, but it also created a fun fan theory. It’s been thought that the ultra-violent world that we see in so many other Tarantino films all started with this historical change.
You wouldn’t expect a movie about a linguist to have a twist ending, but this one has a crazy one. After twelve strange alien ships arrive on Earth, linguist Louise Banks, played by Amy Adams, is sent in to try to communicate with them. During the tense scenes, we see flashbacks of Louise spending time with her daughter, who is not with her in the present, leading us to believe the daughter died.
However, the end of the film gives our brains a squeeze by revealing the aliens that arrived see a time much differently – in a circle. We then realize that the daughter in the flashbacks is from the FUTURE, not the past, and Louise’s involvement in the aliens saves the entire Earth from a much greater force and saves the aliens...even though they’re already dead, it’s a little complicated.
Made with a small budget and shot in almost entirely one single room, “Saw” gave rise to a whole genre and a long-running film series that, mostly, wasn’t very good. The first movie is a good watch, though, thanks in part to the twist. Two men are trapped in a room and desperate to get out, forced to mutilate their own bodies to make their freedom worth it.
It’s a wild ride of fear, stress, and bloody scenes, but the big twist comes when they realize that the person responsible for their torment has been disguised as a corpse in the room the entire time. It was just enough to make this film one of the most shocking that had ever come out, though it had a lot of help.
As a pair of detectives race to catch a serial killer who is offing people while following the seven deadly sins, we’re treated to an incredible movie that is, honestly, hard to watch. Still, it’s a really good film. Kevin Spacey is revealed to be the killer near the end of the movie – that’s not the twist.
In fact, that one was easy to figure out since people spotted the famous Spacey in the movie and figured that such a famous actor wouldn’t just be there for a single throwaway moment. The real twist was that Brad Pitt’s character is revealed to be the “wrath” of the seven sins, and he’s goaded into killing Spacey’s character when given a box that contains the head of his pregnant wife.
Planet of the Apes
After flying through space on a new type of engine, astronaut George Taylor, played by Charlton Heston, lands on a planet ruled by highly-evolved apes that keeps humans as slaves. After escaping from his captors at the end of the movie, after dealing with the many murderous factions of the new planet, finding allies among the apes, and even meeting a few other humans whom he can communicate with, Taylor travels through the land.
A fellow human slave joins him, but at the end of the movie, he comes across a stirring, terrifying sight. No doubt you’re familiar with it, at least because of the many parodies that have been seen – the Statue of Liberty, buried up to the armpits in the sand, revealing that the planet is, in fact, Earth after a nuclear war.
There are a lot of movies on this list that tend to be more for adults, so it’s nice to be able to include something for the kids, too. Despite how much he wants to, Miguel is forbidden from playing music because his great-great-grandfather abandoned the family to pursue his musical goals. Somehow, Miguel is transported into the land of the dead to meet his ancestor, Ernesto, to get his blessing to play music.
He meets another old soul, Hector, who helps him reach his goal. However, Ernesto attempts to trap Miguel in the land of the dead. It’s then that the movie reveals Hector, a bedraggled idiot that few people remember, is actually Miguel’s ancestor and also the person who wrote all the songs Ernesto is famous for.
A couple of moments could fit onto this list from the famous slasher movie “Scream.” The first is that the apparent main character, Casey (played by Drew Barrymore, a big name at the time), is killed, which surprised many people. However, the main twist is not just the identity of the killer but the fact that there was more than one!
One of the characters, Billy (played by Skeet Ulrich), is killed, only to return later and reveal that the murders were done by both him and his friend Stu (played by Matthew Lillard). The slasher genre had been through a lot at that point, but it was a big surprise to have two different killers posing as the same person. It was a good enough twist to spawn quite a lot of sequels.
If you’ve never seen this film, you’re missing out. Not the remake starring Josh Brolin, the original from 2003. In it, a man, Oh Dae-Su, is kidnapped and imprisoned for fifteen years for seemingly no reason. After finally being released, he sets out on a bloody quest to discover who kidnapped and held him and why. Along the way, he meets a young, beautiful chef named Mi-Do, and the two...well, they do adult things.
He discovers the person responsible for his torment is a wealthy businessman he had inadvertently wronged in the past. There are a ton of twists that keep you on the edge of your seat, but the biggest is that Mi-Do is Oh Dae-Su’s DAUGHTER. It’s a very, very disgusting revelation, but it makes sense for the bad guy’s plan.
Ghosts are always good for a twist, and that’s true of the creepy period movie “The Others.” We follow Grace, played by Nicole Kidman, and her children as they wait for their husbands to return from World War II. They live in an old, drab mansion, and the children must always stay out of the sunlight due to a condition. Soon enough, a number of strange spirits start to terrorize them, turning their lives upside down.
Things get worse and worse for the family until the climax, in which the family realizes THEY are the spirits, unaware they are even dead, and they’ve been haunting the home of an innocent family that lives in their house.
If you’ve ever watched a Christopher Nolan movie, you know to go in with zero expectations – because they’re almost certainly going to be wrong. “The Prestige,” a movie about magic (mostly) is no exception. In it, a competition between two magicians becomes more and more deadly as they try to outdo each other on the stage, with plenty of reveals and amazing moments.
The first is that Christian Bale’s character, Alfred Borden, is actually a pair of twins who must do things like chop off their fingers or pretend to be in love with multiple women in order to keep it a secret, but Hugh Jackman’s character, Robert Angier, has been creating clones of himself, which drown underneath the stage in a chilling reveal at the very end of the movie. It’s the kind of movie you have to watch twice.
This best-picture winner was a shock to many because of the way it portrayed the different class struggles of South Korea. In it, a low-income family tricks a wealthy family into giving them various jobs, keeping it hidden that the workers are all from the same family. They replaced the other workers for the family, but the old housekeeper’s husband had been hiding in a secret basement to keep loan sharks off his back.
After several bloody moments, the family’s patriarch has to go on the run, and the twist is that he also ends up hiding underneath the house, much to the family’s and the audience’s surprise. It grabs and never lets go, which is surely one of the reasons why it was able to nab the top award at the Oscars.
This film seems to be quite straightforward, as much as a drama could be. A young woman (Briony, played by Saoirse Ronan) has a crush on the housekeeper’s son (Robbie, played by James McAvoy), but the housekeeper only has eyes for Briony’s sister, Cecilia. Seeing as how Cecelia is played by Keira Knightley, it’s hard to blame him. Cecelia returns his affection, and in a fit of envy, Briony frames Robbie for an assault, getting him sent to jail.
After that, however, Cecelia becomes a nurse during World War II, and Robbie is released to serve. The two meet again, and their romance is rekindled. Aww, how sweet. Except not really – that story is what Briony tells the viewers much later. Both actually died during the war, and the book Briony writes tells us that she feels terribly guilty about her lie.
Martin Vail, played by Richard Gere, plays a defense attorney who is defending shy, stuttering altar boy Aaron Stampler, who is played by the then-unknown Edward Norton. Stampler is on trial for the murder of an archbishop, but he is eventually found not guilty due to multiple personality disorders, as it was known at the time – one of his alter egos, Roy, killed the archbishop.
After the trial is said and done, Stampler shyly confesses he doesn’t have multiple personality disorder – he’s just a sociopath. This kind of twist might seem a little simple to viewers nowadays, but back then it was a big surprise, and Norton’s performance sold it well, putting him on the map.
Adapted from a book by Gillian Flynn, who also wrote the screenplay for the movie, “Gone Girl” has Amy Dunne, played by Rosamund Pike, disappear, seemingly killed by her philandering husband Nick, played by Ben Affleck. Though he tries to find her, it seems more and more likely that she is dead at his own hand, mostly since he doesn’t seem all that interested in finding her.
It’s then revealed that she IS alive and that Amy orchestrated everything to get back at her husband for his extramarital flings. Amy is revealed to be a twisted individual who plays her husband like a fiddle until the surprising, sickening end. It’s a shocking movie, and having the missing woman be the mastermind was a huge twist that threw everyone for a loop.
This film is the “Citizen Kane” of movies – meaning that it elevated the art style into something that had never been seen. Orson Welles took a fledgling art form and turned it into something that could bring people to the theater in droves. Kane is a clear reference to William Randolph Hearst, a famous tycoon of the time, but the mystery of what his last word – Rosebud – means isn’t explained until the final shot of the film when it turns out it was nothing more than his beloved childhood sled.
It explains how a man who got so much – money, power, fame, relationships – could be so haunted by something he didn’t have. Nowadays, this film will seem old (and it is), but it did many things that movies had never tried before, from shots to lighting to writing.
Released in 1974, this movie shot Jack Nicholson to greater fame as he played detective JJ Gittes, a classic noir character. From a simple investigation into an affair, his job becomes a bigger and bigger job that starts to encompass more and more, from politicians to land to the entire titular town.
He’s originally hired by Evelyn Milwray, played by Faye Dunaway, but he eventually comes across a young girl of interest to Evelyn and his own father. The big twist comes when it’s revealed that this young woman is not only Evelyn’s daughter but also her sister – her father was involved, let’s just put it that way. Not only this, but the bad guys get away with their nefarious plot. A bigger twist is that sometimes, there is just no justice.
One of many movies by twist-master M. Night Shyamalan, and coming out after he had climbed out of the critical hole he had found himself in, “Old” presents us with a beach that ages people years in a manner of hours, turning kids into adults and turning adults into elderly or worse. The characters run around, wildly trying to find out what is happening and if they can reverse the effects, leading them deeper and deeper into the mystery.
Finally, it’s revealed that the beach is an experiment by a group of scientists who wanted to see how the strange minerals of the beach would react to human test subjects. It’s a little bit of a minor twist compared to some of the better ones in Shyamalan’s collection, but people were expecting one, so there it is.
When John Murdoch wakes up in a hotel bathtub with amnesia, you know something big is going to go down. Then, he finds out that he has telekinetic abilities, and things only get crazier from there. Played by Rufus Sewell, Murdoch tries to figure out the truth behind the dystopian world, which is also inhabited by an evil group that can both stop time and implant memories.
By the end of the film, he’s reached the end of the city, on the run from multiple groups and fearing for his life, and he’s trying to break through the wall that keeps him inside. When he finally does so, he finds the city is actually floating in deep space. The “Strangers” of the film are aliens trying to understand humanity.
In this long and complicated film, cop Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) infiltrates a criminal gang while criminal Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) infiltrates the police force. Before too long, both realize that someone else is inside their org, and both are scrambling to find out who the mole is and for whom.
Nobody expects this to end with a genial discussion, but the shocking end comes when both of these main characters are killed – Sullivan kills Costigan, and Sullivan thinks he’s gotten away with it until Sergeant Sean Dignam, played by Mark Wahlberg, figures this out and makes Sullivan pay for what he did. Such a brutal and bloody end was a shock to audiences, who expected at least one of these A-listers to survive.
When your husband’s mistress comes to you with an idea, it’s usually not a very good one. Such is the case when Christina (played by Vera Clouzot) is enlisted into murdering her own husband, Michael, by Nicole, played by Simone Signoret. Incredibly, Christina goes ahead with the murder according to Simone’s plan – but the body quickly disappears.
It doesn’t seem too tough for us, but this film came out back in 1955 – quite a while before the twist ending was common. The twist comes when it’s revealed that the husband isn’t dead – Simone and the husband came up with a plot to get Christina arrested in prison so that they could enjoy their lives together without worrying about her. Maybe not as crazy as some of the others here, but a twist for the time.
It’s a big birthday for Nicholas Van Orton (played by Michael Douglas). He has a fun party planned, but something called “The Game” gets in his way. This twisted adventure has him being buried alive, accidentally murdering his own brother, and subsequently contemplating suicide...before the twist reveals that it was all actually a game, and his brother is not only alive but the one who set it all up.
It was all a ploy to get Nicholas out of his shell and experience a little more. While Nicholas is pleased that his brother is alive and everything is fine in the end, it’s also pretty obvious that he has every right to be really, really mad at his brother. The whole thing is pretty ridiculous. He was buried alive!
In a clever piece of art about the hidden racism of our modern world and an incredible thriller on its own, “Get Out” has Chris, played by Daniel Kaluuya, go to meet the family of his girlfriend Rose, played by Allison Williams. Rose and her family are white, and Chris is nervous, but it soon turns out to be far worse than he was expecting.
Chris barely escapes having his mind destroyed and his body taken over and runs to rescue Rose, who has been in on it the entire time, according to her collection of pictures with previous black boyfriends and girlfriends. She brought him there just so they could harvest his body, which means that Chris has no allies to depend on while trying to escape.
There’s more than just a strange story going on here. The twin brothers of this film, Elias and Lukas, are played by a real pair of twins, played by Elias and Lukas Schwarz. It’s because of this fact that the movie has such a creepy feeling – helped, of course, by the fact that the mother of the family was in a car crash and has had her face reconstructed. The twins believe the woman is not their mother but a different woman who has taken her place.
They try to figure out how to expose her until the reveal – one of the twins actually died in the car accident, and the other, unable to accept that his brother had died, subconsciously blamed the mom for the death, trying to get revenge on her.
Ten strangers find themselves stranded in a Nevada hotel during a terrible downpour. Before too long, the ten start getting killed off one by one, and they scramble to find out who has been doing the killing. At the same time, a convict awaits execution for a number of murders, which leads the viewers to believe the convict escaped and has been picking them off.
It turns out, however, that the convict hasn’t been doing the killing and that the ten people were never real – they were split personalities of the convict, which have become more real during a treatment doctor used to try and figure out which personality was doing the killing. Another smaller twist occurs when it turns out the murderer of the ten personalities is the nine-year-old Timmy.
Iron Man 3
By this point in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we’re all familiar with Iron Man. At this point, “Avengers” had already come out, so we were already in what was known as phase two of the MCU. This movie was still able to throw us for a loop, though, by giving us a twist on the villain.
We think for the whole time that the bad guy is the Mandarin, played by Ben Kingsley, but a late surprise lets us know that the man behind the Ten Rings is actually the man Aldrich Killian, played by Guy Pearce, a scientist that Tony Stark had tossed away before going through all that character development from the movies leading up to this one. It’s a little simple, but it still gets the job done.
This one gets pretty wild, so buckle up. A pair of contract killers are given a list of people to off, and this long trail of bodies leads them to a cult group that is in the middle of a ceremony. One of the killers, Jay (who is played by Neil Maskell), has a final name on his list: The Hunchback. At the end of the movie, it turns out The Hunchback is none other than Jay’s wife, imprisoned, who has their son strapped to her back.
Incredibly, he goes through with this final job, and then he is crowned by the cultists. The cultists, who had been wearing masks, take the masks off to reveal the man who hired them, allies they had met along the way, and random people they had seen.
Yes, it’s a movie by Christopher Nolan, which means it’s going to have a fun twist. One of his earlier works, “Memento,” follows Leonard, played by Guy Pearce, who suffers from short-term memory loss, looking for the man who killed his wife. The movie has a back-in-time script, making the short-term memory loss even more apparent. At one point, Leonard tells the story of a man named Sammy Jenkins, who accidentally kills his diabetic wife.
By the end of the movie, the audience is told of a few things: Leonard is actually Sammy Jenkins, HE actually killed his wife (his wife didn’t think he has real memory loss, and he accidentally killed her with insulin at her insistence), and he killed the man who attacked his wife years ago, unaware he doesn’t have to look anymore.
Million Dollar Baby
Directed by and starring Clint Eastwood, this movie follows Maggie, played by Hillary Swank, as she goes from a scrappy young boxer who is poised to step into the limelight. It seems like a scrappy underdog movie that will have her succeeding at the end, until the mid-movie twist when Maggie breaks her neck after a sucker punch. At that point, the movie takes a hard left turn.
Her family – which the movie makes out to be a bunch of little twerps, and that’s putting it mildly, are introduced, creating a sudden drama about the morals, ethics, and option of euthanasia. Those going in expecting an uplifting sports film like “Rocky” were a little put off. Still, the movie garnered a number of awards and found plenty of critical acclaim.
Based on a Stephen King novel, “The Mist” has a dangerous mist that holds shadowy creatures – there’s no escape if they catch you. At the end of this horror-thriller, David Drayton (played by Thomas Jane) leads the remaining survivors from the supermarket they’d been hiding in, finding a car and driving away, but quickly running out of gas.
They have no way out, and David makes the gut-wrenching choice to mercy-kill the rest of the survivors, including his young son. Just before he turns the gun on himself, the creatures from the mist approach...and are revealed to be the military, who have fought the creatures back to rescue them. David is the only survivor, and he killed his son needlessly. This twist was so good, that even Stephen King thought it was better than the original ending.
In this mind-bending thriller, a US Marshal and his partner, played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo, respectively, arrive on the eponymous island to look for an escaped killer who drowned three of her children. Before the reveal, there are tons of strange sights and scenes, questions that simply can’t be answered, and plenty of great moments that leave you, the viewer, wondering if you’re going crazy.
Then the twist hits and everything is made clear: Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, Teddy Daniels, is a patient at the center, having killed his wife after she drowned their three children. Ruffalo’s character is Daniels’s doctor, and the ruse is an attempt to bring repressed memories to the surface. At the end of the film, it works, and Daniels is able to start getting the help he needs.
A young, introverted girl named Angela (played by Felissa Rose, yes, Felissa) is starting to realize that a murderer is killing people at the same campsite where her brother Peter was killed eight years before – and the same campsite where Angela is now spending her time. In a similar manner to “Friday the 13th,” the campers have to figure out what is going on before they’re all picked off...except that this movie has a little more going on beneath the surface.
The very end of the film reveals the roles of the siblings have been swapped – Angela is dead, and Peter is alive, having been raised by his aunt to be a girl following Angela’s death. The events twisted in such a way that he became extremely violent.
The Skin I Live In
This Spanish film features Antonio Banderas in the lead role, but don’t expect him to play a dashing hero this time. Instead, Banderas plays Dr. Robert Ledgard, who has been working to develop a “new skin” that can help the lives of burn victims after his own wife, Vera, is burned in an auto accident.
There are a lot of jumps through time to show stuff in the past, so it’s a little complicated, but it eventually turns out that the Vera that we see in the present is not actually Ledgard’s wife but a young man named Vicente Ledgard subjected to a number of horrible, unwilling plastic surgeries. It’s a horror film that doesn’t have scares or monsters other than a single, normal doctor.
It’s a Spider-Man movie set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which means there’s going to be some kind of unexpected twist. This entry into the MCU has a minor one that doesn’t change how you think about the entire film, but it is surprising and funny: At one point, Peter Parker takes a break from fighting the villain of the movie, the Vulture (played by Michael Keaton), and heads over to a date’s house to take her to his school’s homecoming dance.
Oh, the trials of a young hero – will they ever end? It seems no, as his date’s father comes to the door and reveals himself to be the Vulture. At that point, the Vulture is unaware, but he’s a smart guy – it doesn’t take long for him to realize he’s facing the costumed hero who had been bothering him.
Yes, once again, our old friend M. Night Shyamalan appears on the list, and it’s because of his second film, “Unbreakable.” This amazing film follows a man named David Dunn (Bruce Willis) who survives a terrible train crash that kills every single other person onboard, realizing that he has superpowers, able to survive terrible events without even a single injury.
He meets with a comic book store owner named Elijah Glass, played by Samuel L. Jackson, who helps him see the evil that people can be capable of – another super ability for David. The twist comes at the very end when David shakes Elijah’s hand and realizes that Elijah is responsible for a number of tragedies, including the train crash – all in an attempt to find a hero to balance out Elijah’s rare, debilitating bone disorder.
The Wicker Man
We’re pretty certain that most people reading this list will already be aware of the big twist both to the original version of this film and the remake starring Nicholas Cage. What starts out as a police sergeant getting sent to a remote island to investigate the case of a missing girl quickly becomes a fight for survival as more and more horrible things are revealed, but the biggest twist is that the hunt for the missing girl is all a fake.
The girl was never missing, and it was all a hoax to lure someone to the island that the cultists could sacrifice to their deity. In the original, this culminates in the investigator being burned alive, and in the remake, it ends with the now-iconic “NOT THE BEES” moment.
A family takes a trip to a beach for some fun in the sun, but before long, they find themselves being hunted by a gang of doppelgangers – people who look just like them. The matriarch of the family, Adelaide Wilson (played by Lupita Nyong’o), is clearly wrestling with a secret for pretty much the entire run of the film until it’s finally revealed that she isn’t actually Adelaide – she’s “tethered,” a copy of a person that took over the life of the real Adelaide, who has now come back to try and reclaim her real life.
Even more, the real Adelaide (referred to as “Red”) was abducted and replaced by the false Adelaide from the same beach, which explains why the false Adelaide was so strange during the trip.
Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood
Quentin Tarantino might not be a big twist filmmaker, but he has a couple of movies that can end up surprising us. The final movie before his alleged retirement, “Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood” shows us the life of Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth, played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt respectively, as they pal around in Hollywood in the sixties.
It turns out they live right next to an actress named Sharon Tate, who was the real-life target of the heinous Manson murders. In the film, the would-be Manson killers storm Cliff’s mansion, only to find history rewritten when they are defeated and killed, and Sharon Tate survives. It’s another of Tarantino’s revisionist films like “Inglourious Basterds,” and a surprise to people who know the horrible tragedy's events.
A squad of gal spelunkers heads to an intense cave to explore, led by Sarah (Shauna Macdonald), and it isn’t long before things turn terrible. A cave-in blocks their escape, forcing them to find a new method of egress, and they discover that the cave is full of “crawlers,” human monsters that are hungry enough to enjoy a meal that is trapped in their cave.
At the end of the movie, Sarah has made it past crawlers, natural dangers, and traitorous friends to reach an exit and escape in a truck, suffering from hallucinations of the friends she left behind. In the original UK ending, however, she escapes, only to wake up and realize she’s next to the bodies of her friends, still in the cave, as the crawlers surround her.
Friday the 13th
There’s nothing like a horror movie with a twist to make sure you can’t sleep at night. “Friday the 13th” was one of the original slasher movies, made on a shoestring budget but released to wide critical acclaim. It follows a bunch of altogether too horny teen camp counselors that are systematically offed by a killer, thought to be a boy who drowned due to negligence of the altogether too horny camp counselors from twenty years before.
In the end, however, it’s revealed that it’s actually Mrs. Voorhees, the mother of the drowned Jason, who was doing the killings. That is, until the very end, when the single survivor, Alice, is attacked by the decaying body of the real Jason, setting up the rest of the film.
At the start of this film, we hear Detective John Hobbes, played by Denzel Washington, tell us the movie “Fallen” is a story about how he almost died, and then we are taken to the start of the story. Hobbes has just witnessed the execution of a serial killer and immediately finds a copycat, beginning the chase once again. The killer reveals himself to be a demon spirit named Azazel, who is able to flicker through bodies with just a touch.
Hobbes comes up with a plan to trap the demon in his own body and then kill himself, ending the murders once and for all since Azazel will have no living body to inhabit. His plan seems to go off without a hitch, but then a wandering cat comes too close, and Azazel escapes. We then hear the voice of Hobbes again, revealing that the initial voiceover at the beginning was Azazel using Hobbes’s voice.
Patrick Bateman is a little crazy. And by that, we mean he starts killing people regularly while also working as an entitled businessman who does absolutely zero work, fretting about his appearance and standing with others. His kills get increasingly heinous, including using nail guns and axes to dispatch his victims, and he does little more than look on dispassionately while they beg for their lives.
However, at the end of the film, Bateman learns that a lot of his victims are still alive – maybe. He might have imagined everything or only some of it, or it may be real and he may be imagining the last sights. No matter which option you take, Bateman is undoubtedly crazy.
We’ve seen this film, but we’re still not really sure exactly what was going on – our favorite kind of film. In it, Jake Gyllenhaal plays Donnie Darko, a kid who is just sitting in his bedroom when an airplane engine crashes through the walls, almost killing him. Just before that, he saw a huge, human-sized rabbit named Frank that told him the world would end and exactly when.
A whole lot of really weird stuff happens, including Donnie going on a killing spree, but at the end of the film, just as the apocalypse is about to hit, Donnie goes back in time, choosing to die in the crash that tore apart his house. Nobody except perhaps the writer (and maybe not even him) knows what is really going on, but there are plenty of theories.
In this thriller, Mort Rainey, played by Johnny Depp, is a writer who is struggling with writer’s block. He’s also learned that his wife is having an affair, so he withdraws to the country to get some peace and quiet. Shortly thereafter, however, he starts being harassed by another writer named John Shooter, who claims that Rainey is plagiarizing him. At that point, a number of strange things start happening, such as Mort’s dog dying under strange circumstances, his wife’s house being set on fire, and even finding a recent murderer.
The final part of the movie reveals that there was never any John Shooter – Rainey is suffering from dissociative identity disorder and is at fault for all the strange occurrences. In the end, as his wife and her new lover arrive with divorce papers, Rainey snaps again and kills them.
While not an incredible movie, this film by M. Night Shyamalan still has one of his trademark twists. The small 19th-century village of Covington seems a little secluded, but that’s because plenty of creatures roam the surrounding forest, known as “those we don’t speak of.” The creatures are enough to keep everyone in their small area until the events of the film start pushing people out.
Once past the forests, the audience discovers that Covington is set in modern times and was founded by people who wanted to escape the modern world. The tale of “Those we don’t speak of” was created to discourage villagers who didn’t know any better from leaving.
Gone Baby Gone
Just like so many other movies, this film has a child go missing. A pair of private detectives are brought onto the case to try and find where the girl has gone, believing that a local illegal lord has kidnapped her. To the surprise of the characters and the viewers, it turns out that this is not the case at all – in fact, it was the chief of police, played by Morgan Freeman, who had kidnapped the girl.
You see, his own daughter had died years earlier, and the girl, Amanda, had been living in an unkind place and a toxic home. At the film's end, the main characters have to wonder if they’ve done the right thing in bringing the girl back to a biological family that doesn’t seem to love her.
This film starts out with a family adopting Esther, a nine-year-old girl from Russia, and bringing her into their home, but things very quickly start to go bad. Esther exhibits a whole lot of unchild-like information and actions, such as killing an injured pigeon, and badly hurting a classmate who had been bullying her. A nun from the orphanage warns the family that Esther may not be all that she seems.
Eventually, the secret is revealed that Esther is not a little girl – she’s actually a thirty-three-year-old working girl from Estonia who has an extremely rare disorder called hypopituitarism, which stunted her physical growth and caused proportional dwarfism. “Esther” becomes more and more violent, until a bloody confrontation at the end of the film, when she is killed.
A Perfect Getaway
A new couple, Cliff and Cydney, invite some new friends, Nick and Gina, on a trip, hoping to create the perfect getaway. However, the two C's start to wonder if maybe their friends were involved in a double homicide on the island of Oahu, where the movie is set. The two continue to pry deeper and deeper, only for the twist to reveal that Nick and Gina are innocent, while Cliff and Cydney are actually the murderers.
They had killed the real Cliff and Cydney and were masquerading as them, throwing the viewers for a loop and simply acting as sociopaths for the film until that point. Thankfully, the two killers are defeated, and Nick and Gina – the real main characters, are safe.
The Cabin in the Woods
Just like so many other horror movies, a bunch of teens head to a creepy cabin and get harassed, but this one breaks the mold. It flips tons of horror tropes on their heads by not only having the five characters break out of archetypes – the jock is summa cum laude, the good-girl redhead is having an affair with her professor, etc – but also has a reason behind the haunting.
It’s a ritual to keep the world from being destroyed, and it must use these tropes to fulfill the ritual. Very quickly things go from bad to worse as every single possible horror trope is released on the characters...and then the final twist, which has the ritual fail, and great old ones rise up to reset the entire world.
Laura and her son Simon have moved to a converted orphanage on the coast of Spain, so obviously, this is going to be a horror movie. Simon quickly befriends a little ghost boy named Tomas, who wears an incredibly creepy sack on his head, which Laura isn’t a fan of. It’s hard to argue with her, honestly. Once Simon goes missing, it’s up to Laura to figure out what happened, and she immediately blames the ghosts. Again, not an unfair choice.
However, it turns out that it was Laura herself who was responsible not only for Simon’s disappearance but his death, as well. She had accidentally trapped her own son inside a secret room, moving scaffolding and causing him to fall to his doom. There are actually a lot of twists in this one – check it out for more.
Drawing on the troubles of immigrants in new countries, a Sudanese couple tries to make a life for themselves in an unfriendly English town, dealing with things like rats, racism, and an angry apeth, a “night witch.” We gotta admit, that last one seems to be the worst of the bunch. They think that getting rid of the past and pretending to be English will make the ghost-like them, but they are far from the mark.
They are forced to come to grips with what they did to escape their war-torn country, including lying, stealing, and killing, including the death of the girl they pretended was their daughter, a girl they had stolen from another woman.
Cooper, played by Matthew McConaughey, is sent on an interstellar voyage from earth to try and find a new place to live after dust storms begin to make life on Earth miserable. He’s planning on being gone for the rest of his life. Meanwhile, his brilliant daughter Murphy stays on Earth to try and solve the question of gravity, which is making it difficult to figure out a way to move everybody off Earth, if a suitable planet can even be found.
Incredibly, she is able to solve these difficult problems with the help of a “ghost,” but the climax of the film reveals that the ghost is actually her father, Cooper, who traveled back in time through a black hole to communicate to his daughter how to solve the problems.
When the wealthy patriarch of a really distasteful family, Harlan Thrombey, is killed, every member of the family is a suspect. They all suspect Marta, his nurse and caretaker, and it turns out she did actually kill him (or almost) by giving him a lethal dose of medicine. Once they figure that out, he slits his own throat to keep her from taking any of the blame.
However, the famous detective Benoit Blanc figures out that there is actually a family member who was trying to kill Harlan – his grandson, Ransom. Ransom wanted to frame Marta by switching the labels on the medicine bottles. Marta had actually given Harlan the correct medicine, something that wouldn’t have killed him, but Harlan killed himself anyway. Ransom is arrested for attempted murder, and Marta is free to go.
Hopeful singer Kate is struggling with life. Her career is going nowhere; she has to live with her parents and get a heart transplant just to stay alive. A year after the transplant, all of these issues come to a head as she also meets kind stranger Tom, who charms her with odd observations and adds some energy back into her life, getting her to focus on helping others.
As she does this, she goes to visit Tom again, only to find his home empty and for sale. Confused, Kate wanders into the garden, seeing Tom appear as a ghost. It turns out that Tom got into a bike accident the year before, and donated his heart to Kate. He asks her to look after her heart and disappears.
Last Night in Soho
Ellie, played by Thomasin McKenzie, is a sweet, mentally damaged girl who loves the swinging sixties and dreams of being a fashion designer. She rents a room from the elderly Ms. Collins while learning that she can see back into the past. She sees a singer working as a working girl, Sandie (played by Anya Taylor-Joy), who is seemingly murdered by her pimp Jack.
There is a great deal more going on here, but the film’s biggest twist is that Sandie is not only alive, but going about racking up quite the list of kills when men come to see her. Not only THAT, but she’s the very same Ms. Collins that Ellie is renting her room from! Edgar Wright is a stellar writer who does some great twists, including this one.
A pair of cynical wedding guests, Nyles and Sarah (played by Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti) meet up at a wedding and feel a spark, but nothing happens until the second time they meet – at the same wedding, because they’re in a time loop. That’s the first-act twist, but there’s a lot more to go over here. Eventually, these two fall in love as they repeat the same wedding over and over, but they want to get out of the loop.
However, the film’s final twist is that we never really get to find out what happened. Sarah comes up with a plan involving quantum physics. The two options are that they did manage to break the time loop and escape, but they could also be in an alternate universe.
When a pair of girls go missing from the same town on Thanksgiving Day, Detective Loki (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) is brought in to find the culprit. The first suspect is a man named Alex, who is revealed to be mentally stunted, possessing the intelligence of a ten-year-old despite being far older.
There are quite a number of twists during the film, but the main one is that Alex IS responsible – he was forced to kidnap the two girls on the urges of his adoptive mother, Holly, who has been kidnapping and killing children for years. In addition, Alex himself was kidnapped by Holly after her child had died and was then forced to join her awful crusade.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, S.H.I.E.L.D. was one of the biggest forces of good for the entire first phase. They fought against Hydra, battled aliens, and worked tirelessly to stop terrorists, up until “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” which revealed that the entire organization was infiltrated by Hydra and not the force of good that it’s made out to be.
This affected the entire universe, including the weekly “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” which responded to this change by having one of the main characters, Agent Grant Ward, be revealed to be a member of Hydra. He was a complicated, arrogant, and not-always sympathetic character, but many people still liked him. It was a great twist since it made the stakes a lot higher and kept the tension high.
The Good Place
Self-centered Eleanor dies and ends up in “the good place,” despite being a pretty awful person all around. At first, her goal is to keep up the facade with the help of her friend Chidi, who attempted to teach her how to be a better person. It ends up being a whole lot of stress and even starts to feel a little hellish to poor Eleanor.
In fact, that’s the twist: she – as well as all the other human characters, AREN’T in the good place. They’re in the bad place. Michael, the leader of the...place...cackles with evil glee. The show is clever, well-written, and fast-paced, and this twist is one of the big reasons it’s so fondly remembered since it sends the characters on a quest to get to the real good place.
Game of Thrones
Why yes, there are twists in “Game of Thrones,” one of the most famous shows and book series in the world. We might not love how the show ended, but you have to admit that there were plenty of moments that threw us for a loop. Perhaps the biggest, and the most unexpected, was the “red wedding.” Walder Frey invites Robb Stark and his heroic family to a feast, despite Robb breaking a promise to marry his daughter in order to forge an alliance.
Instead of honoring the rules of hospitality, however, Frey murders Robb, his pregnant wife, and a number of other members of the Stark family. It was the end of a season, meaning people had to sit and wait for the outcome for quite some time.
American Horror Story
It doesn’t matter which season of “American Horror Story” is playing, you’re bound to see some twists and turns. This is best exemplified in the first season. Taissa Farmiga plays Violet, who takes too many pills and overdoses. Amazingly, she is saved by a ghost living in the house named Tate, but...well, you can probably see where this is going.
Violet did actually die – Tate tried to save her but was too late. He hid her body to keep the truth from her, believing it would hurt her, and the house her family lived in made it seem like she was still alive. Up until that point, the show had told us something was wrong with Violet, but we didn’t know what. It took Violet to find her own body to reveal the truth.
The way this long-running show works is the main character, the doctor, regenerates into a new actor. So, too, are his human companions replaced as they leave the show, making sure he always has someone to act against. Two beloved companions, Amy and Rory, are a married couple who have a daughter, River, and their final episode ends with a crushing note. Rory is touched by the last weeping angel, transporting him back in time.
Amy makes the painful decision to try and follow her husband to find him again and, incredibly, this works. We are told of this by the gravestone that appears, in a blink, at the feet of the doctor, bearing their names and the years of their deaths. Nobody expected Amy and Rory to stick around, but the method of their departure took everyone by surprise.
How I Met Your Mother
This show was a dramedy that mostly stayed on the comedy side of things, but there were plenty of episodes when things got serious. As it was being told to the main character’s kids in the future, there was a whole lot of fun stuff the creators could do with revealing information or showing flash-forwards. One episode, during the sixth season, has couple Marshall and Lily trying to conceive.
Marshall is worried that he’s infertile and he’s being tested, getting advice from his dad. The whole episode, we see an on-screen counter from fifty down to zero, using numbers on walls, taxi cabs, bottles on the counter, and everywhere else. EVERYONE expects the episode to end with the reveal Lily is pregnant...but the final moment has Lily tearfully telling Marshall that his dad had a heart attack and is dead. Not even the actors were told how the episode would end until filming the final scene.
Since this show follows a protagonist serial killer and also deals with antagonist serial killers, you know that there are going to be a lot of surprising moments. The biggest shock to viewers was at the end of season four after Dexter finally got rid of the chilling, brutal Trinity Killer, played by John Lithgow. Dexter makes the decision to leave his violent ways behind and settle down with his wife, Rita, and their son Harrison.
He goes home, ready to close that chapter of his life...only to find Rita dead in a bloody bathtub, their son Harrison sitting in a pool of his mother’s blood in a gruesome and shocking scene. It’s a powerful and unforgettable callback to the fact that Dexter was found in a pool of his own mother’s blood.
Yes, “Lost” had a lot of twists – a couple of them every episode, depending on how you qualify a twist. Not everybody loved the way the show ended, but there’s one twist in the middle of the series that almost every fan can call a genius move. In the season three finale, “Through the Looking Glass,” we the viewers have been seeing flashbacks of Jack as a suicidal alcoholic, telling us about his past...until fellow island survivor Kate shows up in one of them, telling us that these flashbacks have actually been flashFORWARDS.
It changed everything that we had been seeing, and Jack imploring that they have to go back to the island renewed waning interest in the show.
This famous dramatic tale is another TV show that has twists all over the place, and we’re here to talk about one that hits at the end of season four. Jesse Pinkman’s girlfriend (Andrea) has a son named Brock, and Brock is fatally poisoned. At first, Jesse believes Walter – who was becoming more and more morally black as the show went on – poisoned Brock, but Walter convinces him that Gus was behind the death.
This is buoyed by the fact that Brock was poisoned by eating toxic berries from a lily of the valley, a wild plant. Jesse believes him, but at the end of the episode, we find out that there are lilies of the valley growing in Walt’s backyard, telling the viewers that Walt did, indeed, poison the child. For many, this put Walt firmly in the camp of a bad guy.
Despite this medical show being mostly a humorous look at the lives of some crazy and wild medical professionals at a hospital, it had plenty of dramatic moments. One that caught a ton of viewers by surprise was the shock at the end of “My Screw Up.” The irascible and hilarious Dr. Cox’s best friend, brother-in-law Ben (played by Brendan Fraser) shows up for the third time on the show, having previously been diagnosed with leukemia, though it’s in remission.
In the entire episode, Dr. Cox is agonizing over a patient’s death that he thinks he should have prevented. The final scene has Cox, Ben, and main character J.D. dressed up for Cox’s son’s birthday party, until it’s revealed that they are dressed for Ben’s funeral. Ben was, in fact, the patient that had died.
Twists about in this famous cop show, which regularly lands on people’s lists of amazing television shows. The twist we’re going to be talking about happens in the VERY FIRST EPISODE! It deals with corrupt detective Vic Makey, played by Michael Chiklis, and his team of similarly corrupt cops on a strike force. LAPD captain David Aceveda needs to clean his force up, so he adds a mole to the team, named Terry Crowley, hoping to expose Mackey’s illicit deeds.
At the end of the episode, however, Mackey grabs a substance dealer’s gun and shoots Crowley in the head, aware of just what he was planning to do. It cemented Mackey as an immediate anti-hero and one of the driving forces behind this show.
Obviously, such a tense, dramatic, and powerful show has a lot of twists, but the one at the end of the first season is perhaps the most powerful of them all. The entire time, Jack Bauer and his team knew there was a mole in the CTU, working to undermine it, but it wasn’t until the last episode that they and the viewers find out that it’s none other than Jack’s love interest, Nina Myers.
She was an early suspect but had been discarded as impossible for several factors. The final episode, however, shows that she’s been the mole the entire time...and not only that, but she killed Jack's ex-wife, Teri. Additionally, Teri was pregnant, leading to a double gut punch for both Jack and the audience.
This show is widely considered to be one of the best that has ever been on television, and it’s thanks in part to its twists. Without a doubt, one of the coolest characters on the show was Omar Little, a thug who would rip off substance dealers and do everything he could to avoid civilian collateral damage.
He was a living legend on the streets of Baltimore. He’s a constant thorn in the side of both sides of the law, but he’s taken out by someone you wouldn’t expect. Instead of a powerful kingpin or a veteran cop, it’s a little boy that pulls the trigger, just as Omar enters a convenience store. In-universe, his death quickly turns into a shootout with either cops or gangsters, since the idea of a child killing him was far too strange.
One thing has become clear thanks to this list: if you want a show that focuses on criminals or their activity, you have to have some good twists and turns. “The Sopranos,” which follows a mob family of the same name, knew this, but audiences are still divided as to whether or not the final “twist” was a good enough ending. Tony Soprano is sitting with his family in a diner when someone enters.
Tony looks up, and then the screen cuts to black. It was so unexpected that many viewers thought that the cable had gone out or something like that. The show’s creator, David Chase, has gone back and forth about what the ending meant – death? Did Tony Soprano go to prison? Is he still alive? There are many who didn’t like it, but it’s still memorable.
The Haunting of Hill House
A family lives in a horrible haunted house, and most continually deal with its effects even after moving away and becoming adults. They see apparitions, they deal with terror, and the results are sometimes brutal. The twist at the end of the first episode tells us that the youngest daughter, Nell, is dead despite the oldest brother Steven seeing her after she died. However, an additional twist makes this even more brutal – through her life, Nell was haunted by a “bent-neck lady,” an apparition with an elongated neck.
This ghost terrorizes her all through her life, and might even be responsible for her beloved husband’s death. Pushed to suicide by the house’s influence, Nell hangs herself – and is then transported back to all the times she saw the bent-neck lady, revealing that it had been her, hanging from a rope, every time...even when her husband died.
Though less dramatic than some of the other shows on this list, “Supernatural” still had plenty of twists to delight viewers, along with clever writing and fun characters. There are a couple of big ones, such as who the enigmatic “Chuck,” is after multiple appearances: he’s none other than the creator of the universe, God. Additionally, he becomes perhaps the biggest antagonist for the brothers Sam and Dean by the end of the show.
Another shocking twist was not only that long-haired brother Sam was killed and pulled to hell along with Lucifer, followed by another when he seemingly reappears immediately...and then a third and final twist, revealing that he had lost his soul while in the depths of the underworld, meaning he was no longer the Sam we all knew and loved.
This movie contains one of the most famous twists of all time, which not only means we have to talk about it, but also that you likely already know the secret. For those who haven’t seen this classic sci-fi movie, it follows a man stuck in a dystopian world with little food – what little there is goes by the name “Soylent Green,” a mysterious substance that nevertheless provides food for people.
The lower classes riot as the higher classes sit and watch dispassionately, and the main character goes on a quest for answers. His discovery changes his life, as well as the life of everyone else – the delicious and nutritious Soylent Green is made from the ground-up bodies of people!
The much-loved animated movie “Frozen” has some amazing scenes, and it also has a surprising twist – the man that Princess Anna loved, Hans, had no love in return, despite a number of sequences showing his affection. It was all a ruse to get out from under his many, many older brothers and claim a rule of his own. The reveal comes at a time when Anna’s life is in danger, and seemingly only he can save her...and he chooses not to.
For so long, Disney movies had told us that true romantic love is powerful, and then to have this hunk revealed to be not only evil but cruel at the same time was a freezing-cold shock. It might have begun the now-tired “Surprise villain” trope in animated movies, but this one was one of the first and did it well.
Sorry to Bother You
What begins as a movie about a man, Cash, moving up in the world from a simple telemarketer to a high-level manager takes a turn for the strange and shocking when he finds out that the company he works for is not only unethical – it’s literally turning its employees into horses. Known as equisapiens, these creatures are stronger, more obedient, and more profitable according to the odd CEO of the company, and the rest of the film is Cash attempting to reveal this to the greater public.
He does so...only for the world at large to call it an excellent tactic and praise the CEO. Despite his best efforts, Cash is eventually transformed into an equisapien and ends up leading a revolt against the CEO at the very end of the film.