10 Most Controversial Endings Of All Time

Endings that caused our jaws to drop. Spoiler Alert! See why one twist will shock you to the core: Oldboy is out in theaters November 27.

1. Off with her head!

Mary Evans/New Line Cinema/Everett Collection

THE PLOT: In 1995 thriller Se7en, serial killer John Doe thinks the world is a nasty, evil place. In an attempt to expose its evil, he constructs a plan to kill seven different people all representing each of the seven deadly sins.

THE TWIST: Once the law catches up with him, Doe manages to get detective David Mills to kill him after revealing a heinous offense he made against Mills’ family, thus causing the detective to embody wrath and finish the serial killer’s work.

WHY IT WAS CONTROVERSIAL: What sent Detective Mills over the edge? John Doe killed the detective’s pregnant wife, and had her severed head delivered to him in a box at their final showdown.

2. Who’s for dinner?

Orion / Everett Collection

Orion / Everett Collection

 

THE PLOT: Psychiatrist turned cannibal Hannibal Lecter is the only key for FBI trainee Clarice Starling to track down heinous serial killer Buffalo Bill in the critically acclaimed masterpiece, Silence of the Lambs. Locked up in a maximum security prison for the mentally insane, Lecter demands that he be transferred to a lower security holding before he will offer Clarice any help. Though unwilling, the FBI caves.

THE TWIST: Lecter helps bring Buffalo Bill down, but then escapes into the wild, leaving the world with another serial killer on the loose.

WHY IT WAS CONTROVERSIAL: In the final scene, Lecter tells Clarice that he’s “having an old friend for dinner.” Moviegoers are still debating if the chilling line in fact meant that the now unshackled Lecter had returned to cannibalism.

3. We still don’t know what any of it meant.

Mario Perez/Disney ABC Television Group / Getty Images

Mario Perez/Disney ABC Television Group / Getty Images

 

THE PLOT: In the six-season television epic, Lost, after a group of survivors escape from the wreckage of their crashed plane, they discover that they’re stranded on a tropical island. Panic and drama ensue as the survivors continue to fight for their lives when confronted with conspiracy.

THE TWIST: Audiences were floored in the series finale when the “flash-sideways” device was revealed to be a metaphysical purgatory of sorts in which the characters passed after dying in the real world.

WHY IT WAS CONTROVERSIAL: After six seasons of questions and no answers, fans expected a little more (read: a lot more) from the finale.

4. And then there was… nothing.

Craig Blankenhorn / HBO / Everett Collection

THE PLOT: The Sopranos took a close look at a tight-knit Italian-American crime family in New Jersey during the 2000s. The series documented the ups and downs of Tony Soprano — from affairs and arrests to cold-blooded murders — and quickly developed a cult following.

THE TWIST: After its eight-year run, America’s obsession came to a screeching halt when the series finale suddenly cut to black, leaving the audience hanging with plenty of unresolved questions.

WHY IT WAS CONTROVERSIAL: Many fans argued (and are still arguing) over what the abrupt ending was supposed to mean. Even James Gandolfini (Tony Soprano) admitted to not knowing what was behind the symbolic ending.

5. Who’s really to blame?

Universal / courtesy Everett Collection

Universal / courtesy Everett Collection

 

THE PLOT: In 12 Monkeys, James Cole is a condemned man living in a dystopian future where humans have been forced to live underground to avoid a deadly virus released by the terrorist organization, The Twelve Monkeys. To reduce his sentence, James is offered a chance to travel back in time to gather an information virus.

THE TWIST: All clues pointed to the terrorist organization, but we were all speechless when that was revealed to be a red herring!

WHY IT WAS CONTROVERSIAL: Critics had a tough time coming to a consensus over the film’s artistic qualities and merits, but one thing that’s certain is that it was definitely one of the most influential science-fiction films of the ’90s.

6. Shh! You’re going to ruin it!

Lionsgate/Everett Collection

THE PLOT: In 2012’s Cabin in the Woods, five unassuming teens decide to spend a weekend at a deserted cabin in the woods when it turns out that they are being monitored and influenced by two off-site “technicians” controlling them with psychotropic drugs.

THE TWIST: The teens are actually a part of an ancient sacrificial ritual that will cause another species to reign on earth.

WHY IT WAS CONTROVERSIAL: Cabin in the Woods’ ending was so epic that critics had a hard time writing about the film without spoiling it for everyone, which enraged moviegoers everywhere.

7. Who’s your daddy?

Lucasfilms/Everett Collection

Lucasfilms/Everett Collection

 

THE PLOT: “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”… Three years after blowing up the Death Star, the chosen one — Luke Skywalker — must train with Jedi Master Yoda before facing his ultimate foe, Darth Vader.

THE TWIST: Luke was blown away when Vader revealed that he was in fact Luke’s father.

WHY IT WAS CONTROVERSIAL: Audiences were absolutely shocked at this big reveal, and it has remained one of the most epic twists in cinema history! (Dutch speakers may not have been as surprised since “vader” is Dutch for “father.”)

8. Who’s the crazy one now?

Andrew Cooper/Paramount/Everett Collection

THE PLOT: In Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island, Teddy Daniels is a U.S. Marshall investigating the disappearance of a patient at Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Conspiracy is in the air, and Terry must uncover the actual ongoings of the mental institution.

THE TWIST: Through a series of well-placed clues, Teddy comes to find that HE is the patient, and the things he experienced were designed by hospital staff to test his sanity.

WHY IT WAS CONTROVERSIAL: The film received mixed to positive reviews. Some critics claimed that the film requires multiple viewings to be fully realized while others claimed that the “twist” could be seen from a mile away.

9. Everybody drowns.

20th Century Fox Film/Everett Collection

20th Century Fox Film/Everett Collection

 

THE PLOT: What Lies Beneath follows the story of Claire Spencer and her struggle to understand why she is being haunted by a ghost after moving into a new house with her seemingly perfect husband. After witnessing what she suspects to be her neighbor Mary’s murder, she believes the ghost belongs to her…

THE TWIST: BUT later, after finding her neighbor alive and well, the truth finally surfaces: The ghost is really the spirit of a young woman Claire’s husband had an affair with and killed to keep quiet!

WHY IT WAS CONTROVERSIAL: The ending involves Mr. Spencer attempting to kill his wife, but she survives with a little help from the ghost. Their struggle is taken outside, and he ends up drowning in the same lake in which he drowned his love. Now how’s that for just desserts?!

10. Who knows what actually happened?

Pandora Cinema/Everett Collection

THE PLOT: In the 2001 standout film, Donnie Darko, a terrifying giant rabbit informs Donnie that the world will end in 28 days. Soon after, a jet engine falls from the sky and crashes into Donnie’s house.

THE TWIST: 28 days later, during the world’s final moments, a plane is seen being sucked up into a vortex that has formed over Donnie’s house. In that instant, time reverses to 28 days prior. Donnie is in bed when the jet engine falls into his house and through his bedroom, killing him instantly.

WHY IT WAS CONTROVERSIAL: Fans of the film cannot seem to agree on what actually happened. Was it real? Was it just a dream?

You’ll just have to see this one for yourself!

THE PLOT: In Spike Lee’s upcoming film, Oldboy, Joe Doucett is an ordinary enough man who is one day kidnapped out of the blue and held in solitary confinement for 20 years.

THE TWIST: Upon his sudden release, Doucett attempts to understand why he had been locked up in the first place, only to find that he is still caught up in his kidnapper’s games… and then the unthinkable happens!

WHY IT WAS CONTROVERSIAL: See it in theaters Wednesday, November 27 to find out!

See Oldboy in theaters Friday, November 27!

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