There’s nothing quite like a villainous plot twist at the end of a movie to really shock an audience. While most people enjoy the “good guys come out on top” stories, there are films that are equally as good where things don’t end fairly for the characters.
It’s not just the cliche horror flicks where some bad guy is picking off people one by one. We’re talking movies such as The Dark Knight Rises and Star Wars, movies that are critically-acclaimed and have some of the most memorable villains in cinematic history. Be forewarned, this article contains many spoilers!
The Dark Knight Brought The Joker’s Dream To Life
The Dark Knight was the second installment in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy. And while most superhero movies end with the bad guy going to prison or worse, Nolan decides to take the audience through a whirlwind of emotion that we’re not entirely over. And this movie was released in 2008!
At the end of the movie, we see Batman falling over a ledge with Harvey Dent, of whom was going to shoot Gordon’s family. Being the vigilante that he is, Batman takes the blame for Dent’s death. Leaving Gotham without their Dark Knight and the Joker with what he wanted all along: a city full of anarchy.
Let’s Talk About Fight Club
We know that we’re not supposed to talk about Fight Club, but rules are meant to be broken. This movie is one of those films that you have to watch a few times in order to realize what on Earth is actually going on. To put it in simple terms, the unnamed narrator and Tyler Durden are the same people!
This cult classic brings the audience through so many different character development points that the plot twist is the last thing they expect! Alas, at the end of the movie, the narrator finally realizes he’s the bad guy, Project Meyhem still happens, buildings explode, and “Tyler” is shot.
No Country For Old Men Ends With A Promise
No Country For Old Men follows the journey of hitman Anton Chigurh as he trails Llewelyn Moss through Texas and Mexico. Moss stumbles upon a drug deal gone wrong and took the phrase “finders keeps losers weepers” to heart, taking the money that was left behind. Too bad there was a tracking device hidden in the money!
Sadly, Chigurh is labeled a villain. He’s just doing what he was hired to do! Granted, he didn’t have to go back and kill Carla Jean, but he did promise her husband that he was going to do it if he didn’t give him the money.
Darth Vadar Rises In Star War: Episode III – Revenge Of The Sith
Star War: Episode III – Revenge Of The Sith was a highly anticipated movie in 2005. Fans of the franchise were finally going to see how Anakin transforms into the evil Darth Vadar! Too bad for the Jedi that Palpatine’s Order 66 completely wipes out their “species.” Unfortunately, the dark side of the force is pretty strong, and the Jedi were unable to sense the Palpatine was Darth Sidious.
Then he brainwashes Anakin to join him, naming him Darth Vadar and starting the Empire. The film ends with an epic lightsaber battle between Anakin and Obi-Wan. And even though the Obi-Wan wins the fight, the Empire ends up ruling the galaxy.
Memento Has Two Timelines And One Villain
Memento goes from a chronological black and white sequence, present-day, to color, which shows the plot in reverse. The confusion is meant to show the viewers the mental state of Leonard. Because of the crazy duel timelines, a brief summary of what happens during the film is a bit difficult.
We can tell you that the bad guy ends up not knowing he’s the bad guy because of anterograde amnesia, meaning he can’t store any recent memories. The film follows Leonard as he tries to figure out who murdered his wife, using a series of Polaroid pictures and tattoos to track information he can’t remember. Plot twist, he did it.
Saw (All Of Them!)
Considering Jigsaw was able to get away with his violent games through seven movies without getting caught speaks wonders of the villain and his apprentice(s). Pretty much all we have to know is that Jigsaw wins his deadly games. Every. Single. Time.
Ironically, Jigsaw’s primary goal isn’t to kill anyone, but rather see what people are willing to do to survive. Unfortunately, for his victims, that usually means that they either have to kill someone or gravely injure themselves to escape the weird and gory puzzles. Needless to say, most people who have watched these movies never want people to ask them “Do you want to play a game?”
Identity Has A Big Twist At The End
In the film Identity, convict Malcolm Rivers has a clear-cut case of multi-personality disorder. While he is on death row for murders, his psychiatrist finds a journal that should be able to grant him an insanity plea. The twist in the film is when this is going on, in Malcolm’s head, ten people are stranded in a motel in Nevada. Each of whom is getting killed off one by one.
The interesting thing is that those ten people are Malcolm’s personalities! Unfortunately, the doctor didn’t “kill off” the correct personality from the journal, nine-year-old Timmy. And when that personality comes to seek vengeance, he strangles the doctor.
Darth Vadar Wins Again In Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back has THE villain winning at the end of the film. Getting to the end is a journey, to say the least! Let’s do a shortened version of main plot points: Lando betrays the main gang to Darth Vadar, Luke has a bad dream and ditches Jedi training with Yoda, which was a bad idea because he loses a hand and learns Vadar is his father, Han turns into a rock, and Vadar/The Empire ultimately win.
Obviously there are more details to the movie than that! The main thing to take away is that the bad guy wins at the end.
The Silence Of The Lambs Isn’t So Silent
The Silence of The Lambs is a 1991 physiological thriller that revolves around FBI trainee Clarice Starling. The story follows Clarice as she tracks down a serial killer, ‘Buffalo Bill.’ In her attempt to capture the notorious killer she is assigned to interview none other than Hannibal Lecter.
Now, Hannibal is our main villain in this film. He’s a cannibal who just happens to also be a former psychiatrist. Through a bunch of twists and turns and false leads, Hannibal somehow manages to kill his prison guards, escape from his cell, and disappear. Let’s just say that Hannibal is the villain who somehow wins at the end.
OneSuperhero In Watchmen Turns Into A Villain
If you had enough time to sit through the three-and-a-half-hour movie that is Watchman than you know that it is a fantastic display of betrayal. In typical superhero fashion, the gang of crime-fighting heroes helps the world only to find their way of life illegal and frowned upon in later years.
One of these heroes is Adrian Veidt (Ozymandias) who is a vigilante-turned-billionaire. He is also the character that orchestrates a murder, a doctor’s exile, frames someone else, and attempts to take his own life. He gets away with everything and exposes the world to a virus that unites the US and USSR. Worth it?
You Won’t Believe What Happens On Arlington Road
Unfortunately, for Jeff Bridges’ character, Michael, no one believes his conspiracy theory regarding his neighbors until it’s too late. Even then, he ends up getting in trouble for what his anti-government neighbors, Oliver and Cheryl Lang, do — bomb the FBI headquarters.
The issue with this couple winning at the end of the film, moving on to frame another innocent person with a terrorist act, is that it shouldn’t have happened! If Michael didn’t outwardly express his dislike for the FBI after his wife’s death, they might have believed him about the threat. Too bad, the bomb was in the trunk of Michael’s car and he was blamed.
Fallen‘s Villain Is Crafty And Latches On To Hosts
There’s something to be said about a detective who thinks he can outsmart a fallen angel, especially if that fallen angel happens to be Azazel, a biblical name that is said to be synonymous with Hell. That should have been the first red flag for detective Hobbes in Fallen.
After a series of murders, of which Hobbes is suspected, the detective brings “Azazel” to an abandoned cabin, miles from hosts. Unfortunately, his plans to eliminate Azazel, so the spirit wouldn’t jump from host to host, is foiled by a cat. Go figure. The end of the film shows the spirit latching onto a cat and walking to town. Sigh.
Thankfully, No One Uses Phone Booths Anymore
If you’re able to write an entire script where the main character is stuck in a phone booth, major props. For Colin Farrell’s character, Stu, he’s stuck in a phone booth with a sniper pointed at him. All because he was cheating on his wife with someone who thought he was single!
Anywho, the sniper gives him a bunch of instructions, but Stu brings in the police. As the story goes, the sniper was gone by the time they traced the call. The film ends with the phone booth ringing again, and another man answers. Moral of the story: don’t answer strange calls in New York phone booths.
Matchstick Men Makes You Wonder Who To Trust
As far as Nicolas Cage movies go, Matchstick Men is definitely one that is higher up in the ranks. The film also makes you wonder who you can trust. As a con-artist, Roy Waller has an apprentice in Frank Mercer, AKA the man who ultimately betrays him. Roy’s “daughter” Angela and Frank wind up assaulting Roy, stealing his money, and locking him in a storage container that is made to look like a hospital room.
Too bad that Angela was actually Frank’s accomplice and not Roy’s daughter. Both Frank and Angela get away with their con, Resulting in Nick Cage’s character leaving the life of a con artist behind.
Gone Girl Is A Whole Lot Of Crazy Wrapped Up In One Woman
If you’ve ever seen the movie Gone Girl, you know that it is a whirlwind of emotion and mystery. How else are you able to explain crazy-lady wife Amy framing her husband for her murder? He might have cheated on her, but there are probably better ways to go around that marital issue.
Regardless, Amy sets up a ‘treasure hunt” that frames her husband Nick of murder. Ultimately, she falls back in love with him and frames one of her ex-boyfriends of kidnapping her. She kills him, obviously, and returns home covered in blood. Oh, she’s also pregnant, so Nick won’t divorce the insane woman.
Lou Gets Away With Illegal Activities In Nightcrawler
The public usually hears about dirty cops but hardly about dirty journalists who will do almost anything to get a story to the press, such as Lou Bloom in Nightcrawler. The petty thief decides to become a freelance photojournalist, after seeing someone recording the accident for money. The only difference being that Lou decides to tamper with crime scenes in order to make stories more interesting.
If you’re wondering, it is 100 percent illegal to move bodies at a crime scene. One might say that Lou turns into a con-artist of his own making, eventually leaving his partner for dead and expanding his business.
Funny Games Isn’t So Funny
Funny Games is an Austrian horror flick that will have you on the edge of your seat. It revolves around a wealthy family of three and a half: Gerog, his wife Anna, their son Georgie, and their dog Rolfi. All the family wanted to do was have a nice vacation at the lake. Instead, they encounter Peter and Paul, two young Viennese men.
The two men take the family hostage and begin to play “games” with them. One such game had them betting if they would be alive come nine in the morning. Spoiler alert: Peter and Paul kill the entire family and move on to the next one.
Basic Instinct Will Have You Questioning Authors
Basic Instinct is a prime example of a femme fatale character. In this case, that character is novelist Catherine Tramell who bases her books off of murders that she commits (although, the audience doesn’t know that). Her signature weapon is an ice pick because nothing says “stone-cold bee-otch” like stabbing someone with an ice pick.
That being said, the film goes through various people who could be suspects, all of whom were framed in some way by Catherine. By the end of the film, Catherine is having an affair with the lead detective. As the camera zooms out, viewers see an ice pick under her bed. Cue the dramatic music!
Avengers: Infinity War Will Leave You In Tears
One word: Thanos. Everyone who saw Avengers: Infinity War was not prepared to see half of the Avengers zapped away, turning into ash, and Thanos winning. Most of us still aren’t over the hug between Tony Stark and Peter Parker as he disintegrates! If you’re like us and haven’t read the comics, the ending was a major plot twist.
Thanos’ plan is to eliminate at least half of the life across the universe. A horrible feat he is able to do because he collected the six Infinity Stones. Unfortunately, all of the viewers were left with their jaws on the floor as they witness Thanos peacefully watching the sunrise.
“One, Two, Freddy’s Coming For You”
Let’s just say that a Nightmare on Elm Street had most of us running away from any street sign that was named Elm. Wes Craven’s 1984 horror film introduced the world to the scar-faced dream-intruder Freddy Krueger. Luckily, Nancy “banishes” Kreuger by turning her back on him. A stance that says, “I’m not afraid of you.”
Go figure, that didn’t actually work as intended. And just when everything is “normal,” Nancy gets into a car with a young Johnny Depp, only to realize Krueger has possessed the car, and they’ve lost all control of the steering. Cut to creepy girls singing “one, two, Freddy’s coming for you.”
The Villain In The Usual Suspects Isn’t Who You Think
The Usual Suspects is a complex thriller that has two characters, Arkosh Kovash and Roger “Verbal” Kint, spinning a tale about a mysterious Turkish crime lord, Keyser Soze. The first scene of the film is of a ship burning and a lot of bodies being recovered by the police. The only two survivors being Kovash and Kint.
Plot twist: Verbal Kint, of whom has cerebral palsy, is the criminal mastermind who burned down the ship, Soze. Something no one saw coming because of his illness. Kint walks out of his interrogation, gradually losing his limp and flexing his “disabled” hand, and hops into a getaway car.
Spoorloos (The Vanishing) Is Terrifying
Let’s say that Spoorloos (The Vanishing, in English), sounds like something Edgar Allen Poe would draft up: creepy, Gothic, and skin-crawl worthy. There is a young couple, Rex and Saskia, who are vacationing in France. Saskia goes into a convenient store and never comes out.
Three years later, Rex is with her kidnapper, Raymond. Rex only wants to know what happened to Saskia. That was his second mistake, after getting in the car. Raymond says the only way to know is to experience what she went through. Rex is drugged and wakes up in a box underground. The last scene is Raymond at home with his wife and children.
The Wicker Man Has A Major Twist At The End
Before the Nicolas Cage version came out, The Wicker Man was known for its shocking ending. No offense to the re-make, of course. The original film is set on the mysterious island of Summerisle, where Police Sergeant Neil Howie is looking for a missing girl, Rowan Morrison.
As a devout Christian, Howie was not entirely comfortable with the pagan practices performed on the island. One of which was a human sacrifice for a good harvest. Howie figured out that the people planned on sacrificing Rowan. but really, she was being used as bait to lure Howie to the island. The final scene is the Sergeant being burned inside a huge wicker man.
Brazil Is Set In A Dystopia
Pro tip: if you are whimsical about your future, do not watch Brazil. The story is of a dystopian society that is kind of similar to Orwell’s novel, 1984. The viewers watch as the main character, Sam, dreams about a girl but works a mindnumbing job with machines that never seem to work, all while living in a hyper-bureaucratic society.
Sam eventually commits treason in the eyes of non-elected elected officials. After a whirlwind of happy daydreams, the audience realizes that the government has won. They kidnapped Sam and strapped him to a chair to be tortured and lobotomized. The film ends with Sam singing, “Aquarela do Brasil.”
Models Drink Blood In The Neon Demon
The occult might be bad, but even more so when it comes in the form of jealous models. Jesse moves to Los Angeles to pursue a career in modeling just to be dragged down by two older models, Gigi and Sarah. Pretty Much, The Neon Demon is exactly what it sounds like — glitz, glamor, and Satanic rituals.
Fast forward to the end of the movie, and you see Sarah and Gigi, along with makeup artist Ruby, chase Jesse with sharp weapons. They believe that eating Jesse and bathing in her blood with transfer her youthfulness to them. Unfortunately, they get away with everything. Definitely not a pick-me-up type of movie.
The Nurse Is The Villain In One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
Not that we agree with the main character, Randle Patrick McMurphy, assaulting a 15-year-old, but he’s not the real villain of the film, surprisingly. The real villain is the nurse running the mental institution he is sentenced to, Mildred Ratched. She is a passive-aggressive tyrant who intimidates her patients and makes sure they live a joyless life. Pretty much, she’s cold and heartless.
Because of Ratched, one of the patients, Billy, commits suicide due to fear of her telling his mother that he was with a woman. McMurphy then goes on a rampage, ending up with Ratched lobotomizing him. Thankfully, one of the other patients escapes her wrath.
Primal Fear Will Leave You In Fear
Primal Fear is one of those movies where you’re not entirely sure if you can trust one of the characters or not. In this case, it was suspected murderer Aaron Stampler, a 19-year-old altar boy accused of murdering Archbishop Rushman. Defense Attorney Martin Vail takes on Stampler’s case, thinking that the boy must be innocent.
Vail witnesses Aaron turn into “Roy,” a personality that confesses to the murder. Roy then attacks the prosecuting attorney. Aaron/Roy is sentenced to a mental institution where he will be released in no time. The thing is, he tells Vail that “there was never an Aaron,” meaning that he faked the mental illness but committed the murder.
Hannibal Is Back And Hungrier Than Ever!
Hannibal Lecter is obviously not going down without a fight, as we can see in this Silence of the Lambs sequel, Hannibal. Unfortunately, because Clarice Starling was unable to capture Lecter, she has become a public disgrace. It’s only when Mason Verger, a very wealthy and politically influential person, and the only surviving victim of Lecter, gets her reassigned that she once again comes in contact with Lecter.
As the film progresses, the audience can see that the serial killer has a bit of a soft spot for the female officer. Not that it matters because he still gets away at the end, after killing and eating a few people.
The Uruk-Hai Win The Final Battle In Lord Of The Rings: Fellowship Of The Ring
While the Lord of the Rings trilogy has some happy moments, the ending of The Fellowship of the Ring is not one of them. Let’s start with Boromir trying to steal the ring from Frodo, all while the forces of Mordor are surrounding them. With the Uruk-Hai soldiers attacking them, the fellowship is split up.
Rule number one in any movie: splitting up never seems to work. Boromir is shot with arrows, Merry and Pippin are kidnapped, and Sam and Frodo are on their own. Meanwhile, Legolas, Gimli, and Aragorn are left to find the kidnapped hobbits. Not to mention the armies of Mordor are now thriving.
Magneto Turns Into A Villain In X-Men: First Class
Although X-Men: First Class ends with the main villain being defeated, that doesn’t mean a new villain doesn’t rise from the ashes. In this case, the audience sees the rise of Magneto, at least, the evil version of the character.
First Class explores the relationship between a young Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr. The story shows two men who have a meaningful friendship until they don’t. After defeating Sebastian Shaw, the two mutants go their separate ways. Erik becomes the evil mutant activist known as Magneto, while Charles becomes Professor X and the headmaster of a mutant school. It’s a sad ending X-Men fans knew was coming.