The Biggest Plot Twists In Film You Never Saw Coming

Screenwriters are arguably some of the best predators around. They lure the audience in with crazy stories, taking them to worlds they never thought possible. Then, when the viewers least expect it, WHAM!, they go and throw in a plot twist the audience never saw coming.

Take Shutter Island, for example. Who would have guessed that Leonardo DiCaprio’s character was actually someone in the asylum and not a US Marshal looking for an escaped patient? Keep scrolling to read up on some of cinema’s best plot twists we never saw coming. And forewarning, there’s more than one spoiler ahead.

Us

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Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

Jordon Peele’s critically acclaimed horror film Us has a plot twist no one, at least we, didn’t see coming. The film follows the Wilson family as they go on a nice beach vacation. Of course, nothing happens as it should, and their relaxing family getaway soon becomes debunked by a strange group of doppelgängers.

The “shock factor” comes when the viewer learns that the mother, Adelaide Wilson, is actually the imposter doppelgänger, and Red, the murderess, is actually Adelaide! As it turns out, the real Adelaide’s identity was stolen at that very same beach years prior when she was a young girl.

Coco

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Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar Animation
Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar Animation

If you’ve seen the Pixar movie Coco, get ready to cry all over again. This moving motion picture follows Miguel, a young guitarist who is trying to persuade his family that playing instruments isn’t bad. Of course, to do so, he decides to travel to the Land of the Dead to find Ernesto de la Cruz, a famous singer who also happens to be his great-great-grandfather.

Wait for it, plot twist, Ernesto is a fame-hungry man who has no blood relation to Miguel’s family. Instead, he finds out that Héctor, a man trying to reconnect with his family, is Miguel’s relative, and Ernesto murdered him and stole his music! Gasp!

Planet Of The Apes

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Twentieth Century Fox
Twentieth Century Fox

The 1968 film Planet of the Apes starts with three astronauts crash-landing on some futuristic planet that is not even close to Earth. Rather, the strange world has apes ruling and humans enslaved. But after traveling at light-speed for more than 2,000 years, what were they expecting to find?

With gorillas, orangutans, and chimpanzees running things, the astronauts have to learn how to live in this new world where they are second-class citizens. Fast forward to the end of the film and plot twist, the last surviving astronaut walks past a half-sunk Statue of Liberty. Yup, they were on Earth the entire time.

Psycho

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Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

A classic film everyone should watch at least once in their lifetime is the original 1960 Alfred Hitchcock masterpiece Psycho. The movie follows the story of Norman Bates, a socially awkward motel owner who is caught in the middle of his mother’s murderous ways, as seen when she murders poor Janet Leigh’s character in the iconic shower scene.

Plot twist, Norman Bates’ mother has been dead the entire time! Norman cross-dresses the whole movie, unbeknownst to the viewers, murdering the motel guests. The weirdest part? His mother’s skeletal remains are still in his house, where he killed her years before, resulting in his split personality.

Once Upon A Time … In Hollywood

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Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures

Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio rewrite history in the film Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood. Following the story of western star Rick Dalton and his stunt double Cliff Booth, viewers watch as they live their lives in a 1960s Manson-era of history.

If you know a bit about the Manson family, then you’re familiar with the havoc they wreaked upon Hollywood, namely the Sharon Tate murder. Well, plot twist, in the film, Tate lives! In an epic final “battle,” Cliff and Rick take on the infamous Manson Family, saving Tate and her unborn child in the process.

Parasite

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CJ Entertainment
CJ Entertainment

The critically acclaimed film Parasite is both brilliant and unassuming when it comes to the plot. The film surrounds the less affluent Kim family as they infiltrate the wealthy Park’s home as workers. Ironically, the Park’s have no clue their new housekeepers are related, or that they want their lifestyle.

Plot twist, the Park’s old housekeeper’s husband actually lives in their basement, without the family’s knowledge. But the biggest twist is when Moon-gwang finds out the Kim family’s secret and a bloody battle occurs in the backyard of the Park’s house during their son’s birthday party. Then the Kim patriarch winds up living in the very same basement.

Citizen Kane

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RKO Radio Pictures
RKO Radio Pictures

Considered to be one of the greatest films ever made by film critics and movie lovers alike is Citizen Kane. The film begins with newspaper mogul Charles Foster Kane on his deathbed as he whispers one last word before passing, “rosebud.” Rewind time and the movie follows the story of Kane as he builds his ruthless empire.

A journalist chronicles his life, searching for power and fortune, making it sound like he didn’t have a sentimental bone in his body. Then, plot twist, the viewers learn that Kane had a sled named “Rosebud” when he was younger, alluding to the fact that he did have some emotion.

Gone Girl

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20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox

Ben Affleck’s character Nick in Gone Girl wouldn’t have been able to see this plot twist coming if his psycho wife hit him over the head with it! In the film, Nick becomes a prime suspect after his wife goes missing. The only thing is, plot twist, she orchestrates the entire “missing persons” after learning Nick cheated.

The issue is that she isn’t even a missing person; rather, Amy makes it looks as though Nick murdered her. Of course, she decides to go back to him after a bit, seducing and killing her ex-boyfriend beforehand, obviously. This is what we call a bright red flag.

The Departed

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Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures

In the 2006 film The Departed, viewers were shocked by the ending of the crime thriller. The movie follows Billy Costigan, a detective who goes undercover in the Irish mob. As movies go, he gets in way over his head, and while he tries to take down mob boss Frank Costello, a dirty cop, Colin Sullivan, is hot on Costigan’s tail.

But the ending is where things get really interesting. Not that things weren’t interesting up until that point. The twist in the film is when Sullivan kills Costigan, but Costigan’s handler, Staff Sergeant Sean Dignam, gets revenge on “the rat” by killing him.

Friday The 13th

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Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

It was 1980 when people were first introduced to the horrible events that happened at Camp Crystal Lake on Friday the 13th one summer. After Jason Voorhees drowned that summer, and two counselors were found dead, the camp shut down.

Twenty years later, the camp tries to reopen, but counselors are being killed one by one. The thing about what happened all those years ago is that Jason’s body was never found in the lake. So people think he’s come back to finish off the people who were tasked with watching over him and the other campers. Plot twist, it’s Jason’s vengeful mother murdering the camp counselors!

Atonement

Atonement
Focus Features
Focus Features

Based on a book of the same name by Ian McEwan, Atonement follows the story of two lovers whose lives are derailed all because of the jealousy of a younger sister. Briony Tallis walks in on her older sister Cecilia having intimate relations with her crush, Robbie. So, in retaliation, she blames him for assault, and Robbie is thrown in jail.

Later, Robbie and Cecilia reconnect during World War II and live happily ever after. The twist? Robbie actually died during the war and Cecilia in a bombing. As a way to make herself feel better, Briony writes a book where the two end up together, aka the movie’s plot.

Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
Twentieth Century Fox
Twentieth Century Fox

George Lucas’ film Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back has arguably the biggest plot twist in cinematic history. The Rebel Alliance is running from the Empire and the Sith Lord Darth Vader, one of the cruelest beings in the galaxy. And while Han, Leia, and Chewy, work with the rebellion, Luke travels to Dagobah to be trained as a Jedi Knight by Yoda.

While there, Luke has a vision that his friends need his help. So, in his attempt to save his friends from the ruthless Vadar, he winds up in a battle with the sith lord. Plot twist, Darth Vadar is actually Luke’s father.

The Usual Suspects

The Usual Suspects
Gramercy Pictures
Gramercy Pictures

The Academy Award-winning film The Usual Suspects has a final plot twist that left a lot of viewers speechless. After being round up and booked for a crime he didn’t commit, small-time con man Roger “Verbal” Kint defends his innocence after being one of two survivors of a massacre and fire.

Through a series of flashbacks, Kint explains that legendary crime boss Keyser Söze is responsible for everything, in hopes that the cops will let him leave the station. Eventually, the boys in blue believe Kint’s story, releasing him. Plot twist: after Kint is released, the cops realize his real name is Keyser Söze.

Primal Fear

Primal Fear
Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Edward Norton and Richard Gere star as an attorney-client duo in the thriller crime film Primal Fear. The movie follows Martin Vail, a lawyer who is more interested in money than defending people for the greater good. But when he is hired to defend Aaron Stampler, an altar boy with multiple-personality disorder accused of murdering an archbishop, things take a dark an unexpected turn.

Stampler is blaming the murder on one of his alter-egos, “Roy.” And while Vail believes his client is innocent, he never expected, plot twist, that Stampler doesn’t actually suffer from multiple-personality disorder. Instead, Roy is his true personality.

Scream

Scream
Lionsgate Entertainment
Lionsgate Entertainment

The 1996 film Scream reinvented the slasher-horror genre, making it more comedic and less “jump out of your seat.” In middle-class suburbia of fictional Woodsboro, California, a knife-wielding maniac known as Ghostface is hunting Sydney Prescott, a girl whose mother was murdered a year prior. But nothing is as it seems, especially Ghostface.

As it turns out, the villain of the movie is two people, Billy and Stu. And while the two hunt down Sydney, her friends, and her father, it’s revealed that Billy and Stu are the ones who killed Sydney’s mother because she was having an affair with Billy’s father, resulting in his mother leaving. Scandalous!

The Game

The Game
PolyGram Filmed Entertainment
PolyGram Filmed Entertainment

Buckle up and get ready for a wild ride with the 1997 film The Game. The film follows the story of Nicholas Van Orton, a successful banker who throws himself into work after witnessing his father’s suicide. But after his estranged brother comes to his birthday and offers him a “game,” Van Orton reluctantly accepts, and everything changes.

Van Orton finds himself penniless with strange agents from the gaming company Consumer Recreation Service following him around. Finding himself cornered on a roof, he accidentally shoots his brother, leading Van Orton to jump to his death. Plot twist: it’s just a game, and the two brothers are alive.

The Sixth Sense

The Sixth Sense
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures

Cole Sear is a young boy with a dark secret: he can see dead people. And while most would think that’s the plot twist of the thriller film, it’s not. Dr. Malcolm Crowe, a children’s psychologist, is the only person who is able to get through to Cole, eventually believing in his ability to speak with ghosts and trying to understand his supernatural “power.”

But things start to get out of hand, especially when, plot twist, they realize Dr. Crowe is actually a ghost who has come to Cole to resolve some unfinished business.

Orphan

Orphan
Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures

After giving birth to a stillborn, Kate and John want nothing more than to adopt a child to complete their small family. When they visit an orphanage, both are drawn to one young girl, in particular, nine-year-old Esther. She’s the perfect fit, or so they think.

But there’s more to Esther than meets the eye. And when Kate realizes dangerous events keep occurring, she believes Esther is behind it, noting that there is something sinister behind the child’s angelic face. Plot twist: Esther suffers from a rare disease that has stunted her growth, and she is actually a 33-year-old named Leena Klammer.

Shutter Island

Shutter Island
Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

If you guessed the ending to Shutter Island, then you have some serious plot-guessing superpowers. In an attempt to track down an escaped mental patient named Rachel, US Marshal Teddy Daniels sets out to Ashecliffe Hospital. There, the Marshal encounters his worst fears and can only hope to make it off the island with his partner, Chuck Aule, alive.

Plot twist, Teddy Daniels’ real name is actually Andrew Laeddis, a patient at the psychiatric hospital, and his “partner” is a doctor. Laeddis is there because he killed his wife, Rachel, after she murdered their three children. The “search for Rachel” is a game he made up to deal with his insanity.

The Prestige

The Prestige
Touchstone Pictures
Touchstone Pictures

The 2006 thriller film The Prestige has one of the most jaw-dropping plot twists in cinema. Set in Edwardian London, Robert Angier and Alfred Borden, two rival magicians, try to outdo one another tricks and illusions. Both of their quests is to have the best show in London.

But here’s the twist, the only way Borden’s been able to pull off his tricks is because he has an identical twin who helps him. Then, with the help of Nikola Tesla, Angier is able to clone himself and replicate his rival’s act. Long story short, nothing is what it seems in the mystical movie.