Top 10 - Great Movies With Terrible Endings

WARNING!!! - This Hub contains multiple movie spoilers (as in it's all about the ENDINGS of movies)


The idea for this began three nights ago when I watched Saw – The Final Chapter. After watching the entire series to its completion, I thought that the ending was a cheat. I along with most other viewers that I know thought that Dr. Gordon (Cary Elwes) was dead. Though he escaped the trap in the first movie, he was followed soon after by Jigsaw (Tobin Bell). And then in the second installment when the remaining cast of characters find themselves in the same basement bathroom from the first movie, we see a corpse in the hallway with a severed foot. Leading all of us to believe that Dr. Gordon had in fact died in that hallway (be it from blood loss or by Jigsaw as he had in fact failed his challenge). Fast forward seven movies later (Dr. Gordon is never seen in any of the other installments) And Dr. Gordon is now alive and well (minus a foot) and is helping Jigsaw (even after his death) with his plans and finally to rid the world of Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) who has taken Jigsaw’s “game” and turned it into his own games of vengeance.

All in all I loved the Saw series, but I still stand by my argument that the ending seemed like a cheat. And that is why it inspired me to come up with a new Top 10 list of great movies with terrible endings.


#10 – Knowing (2009)

It all starts out interestingly enough. There’s a little girl who keeps seeing these sets of numbers. A code that leads us on a path of conspiracy is discovered. The world is apparently coming to an end; all hell is breaking loose and we’re making a run for it. Then we get to the end and find out that the little girl along with several thousand others had been handpicked by aliens to continue the human race.

This was a great movie with lots of action and character development, if you were to re-write the last fifteen minutes of the movie that is.


#9 - Stephen King’s IT (1990)

Let me start off by saying that I was a big fan of this book long before it was made into a miniseries. Let me also say that I had very little expectations for this film as most of Stephen King’s works on film have been a disappointment. Then I was pleasantly surprised that it was well filmed, had good acting, and was actually following the plotline of the book pretty well (unlike most other book adaptations). Now, to the film, we learn through the scenes in the 1960’s and the 1990’s that Pennywise (Tim Curry) is a source of evil, what kind, we don’t know. But we do learn that it has been around literally forever. That it can be stopped, for a time, but eventually always returns.

We move to the end of the movie where a final battle is taking place. Pennywise the dancing clown has morphed into some odd spider looking creature and is “killed” by a single shot from a sling-shot with a melted silver earring as ammunition. And for all intents and purposes this thing (that is pure evil and been around FOREVER) is now destroyed. I didn’t buy it, I don’t think anyone else did either.


#8 - The Number 23 (2007)

I love conspiracy movies, and I actually had high hopes for this movie, that seemed very interesting in the beginning. You start out with a book; it’s all about the number 23 and all the “coincidental” things surrounding the number. Our main character Walter Sparrow (Jim Carrey) starts noticing a lot of similarities with his life that parallel the book. Soon he is sold on the idea and starts to notice the number 23 everywhere in his daily life. Eventually he discovers that he himself wrote the book and that he was a psychotic killer. Then at the end of the movie he tries to commit suicide by stepping in front of a bus, but stops at the last minute when he sees his son watching him. Then a final embrace with his family. Then we move to the voiceover (my least favorite movie cheat) that he turned himself in for the murder and that the judge should go lightly on him. Bull. And at last in our final scene they are at the memorial of Laura Tollins (the girl who was killed) and Walter is standing at the graveside (apparently released on his own recognizance, even though he was admittedly crazy and homicidal).

I thought the ending of this movie was almost laughable how ridiculous it was. Now had he been incarcerated or in a mental institution, I think it would have made a lot more sense. And never use voiceovers, they’re tacky.


#7 - The Village (2004)

I for one separated this movie into two separate films. There is the first half which is intriguing, and suspenseful. Then there is the second half which is predictable and disappointing. I for one saw the ending coming before it got there. I knew that the “town” she was going to get to was going to be modern times, not in the 1900’s or whenever they were supposed to be living in. I almost bought into it, and then the blind Ivy Walker (Bryce Dallas Howard), somehow (not shown) manages to get over a 20 foot fence (this was when I really began doubting the credibility of the ending) is found by a park ranger and in fact discovers that they are in modern times (surprised? I wasn’t) and that her father along with some of the older town folk had created a “wildlife preserve”, deemed it a no fly zone, and had been living as if they were in the frontier age. It really was as ridiculous as it sounds.


#6 - No country for old men (2007)

This movie was full of suspense, a really bad guy who could apparently anticipate any move you might make. It was filled to the brim with murder, mayhem, cops, and killers. All in all a great movie, right up until the final scene. Our “hero” Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) is killed, and the hit man wins, but no then he’s in a random car accident and I, along with most people I think, were expecting some climactic finale, a shootout with the cops, something. But no, he just walks away from his crippled vehicle and moves on down the road. What a pathetic excuse for an ending. Really.

#5 - The Abyss (1988)

We understood that there were alien life forms involved about 30 minutes into the movie. So I think we were all anticipating the movie getting a little too sci-fi near the end. But someone please explain to me why an alien race who is hiding in the deepest ocean trench would surface and expose itself to the world just to save a few people. I don’t get it, I didn’t see the logic in it, and I think it ruined what would have otherwise been a very good movie. I actually think someone could have found a way to make this movie without all the sci-fi crap, then it probably might have been a better movie.


#4 – Contact (1997)

This movie had real potential. Right from the beginning I was hooked. There was a very interesting storyline, great character development, a mystery, good guys, bad guys; this film really had it all. Then they finally get the second “machine” to work and Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster) is transported through galaxies to talk to her dead father. What? No, it was an alien who somehow (superior intellect) decided that she would react better if she were to speak to her dead father. Really? Anyway, that’s where this movie lost me, and I don’t think I was the only one. Then back to Earth, and no one believes that she went anywhere, even though she states that she was gone for more than a day. And in the end nothing changed, nothing is different, and Arroway gets her funding to go sit in the desert with the satellite array, which is I guess all she really wanted to begin with. Boo. Roll credits.


#3 - Hide And Seek (2005)

This movie for one actually had me fooled. Right up until the end I was sure the little girl was the killer. Then we find out that it was actually her dad all along. It sounds good in theory, but this movie makes it to #3 simply because of how anti-climactic it was done. “Charlie” David Callaway’s (Robert De Niro) evil personality has decided to kill his own daughter. They all run to the cave where Emily (Dakota Fanning) first met “Charlie”, blah, blah, blah, Emily distracts Charlie allowing Katherine (Famke Janssen), to shoot Charlie/David. It was all just a letdown. There was no suspense, no buildup. Just boom, okay, let’s go home. Now Emily moves in with Katherine and all is well in the world, except that Katherine finds a picture drawn by Emily that has two heads suggesting that she too has a split personality! Oh no! Roll credits. Disappointing.

#2 - Swing vote (2008)

I found this movie interesting (despite how utterly impossible it would be). Basically due to a power outage one vote was not counted. One vote that was cast by the minor daughter of Ernest "Bud" Johnson (Kevin Costner) who didn’t even want to vote. And of course, this one vote was the determining factor of who would win the presidency of the United States. Then there’s a media frenzy, every politician with any sway making his way to this small Texas town to try to sway his vote their way. All in all so far it was a good movie, it was humorous, a little dramatic, but over all I would say good movie. Then to the climactic finish. Bud stands in the middle of a stadium for a final presidential debate with Bud as the only questioner, ever seat filled to capacity, every eye of the world watching to see what his decision will be. Bud’s final question “If this is supposed to be the richest country in the world, how come so many of us can barely afford to live here?” is fielded by Republican candidate Andrew Carington Boone (Kelsey Grammer) and as soon as he begins to speak we roll credits. The movie is left with the one question it is based on in its entirety unanswered. As soon as the credits began to stream across my screen I was left with this kind of “what the hell was that?” question panging around in my head. And so the way it was ended without solving any of the questions the movie was about, it completely ruined the rest of the movie.


#1 - The Mist (2007)

Another Stephen King adaptation takes the #1 spot for me. It wasn’t so much that the ending was bad, but it wasn’t what was in the story, which this movie followed almost flawlessly up until the end. And the ending angered me so much that it made me question why it was done (other than for obvious shock value) and what was wrong with the original ending (which left it wide open for a sequel).

Our story begins with a storm, unlike any the small island community had ever experienced before. In the morning while cleaning up the aftermath our hero David Drayton (Thomas Jane) takes his 8 year old son, Billy (Nathan Gamble), and his argumentative neighbor Brent Norton (Andre Braugher) to town to get supplies to repair the damage. Once there an ominous fog descends and unleashes an odd version of hell that only Stephen King could come up with. A few that had survived the night make a break for it the next day and make it away from the store.

In the book some very large and very odd creatures are seen when making their escape. The novella ends with David, Billy and two others were driving through the mist searching for help. It really left it wide open for any continuation. The movie however found a much more cruel and profound way to end it. After traveling through the mist until they ran out of gas the four adults in the car discuss their fate as an ominous sound approaches. With only four bullets left in the gun and five people in the car David Drayton shoots and kills his own sun and the other three adults in the car “saving” them from impending doom. Only to find that the approaching sound was a military personnel carrier that would have been their salvation. David falls to his knees screaming . . . . . and roll credits.


What movie had the WORST ending in your opinion?

  • The Mist
  • Swing Vote
  • Hide and Seek
  • Contact
  • The Abyss
  • No Country For Old Men
  • The Village
  • The Number 23
  • Stephen King's IT
  • Knowing
  • The Worst Ending Ever Wasn't Even On Your List (please leave comment below)
See results without voting

More by this Author


Comments 31 comments

Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia

Very interesting hub....I have seen all the movies except for Hide and Seek and Contact.

Let's see I actually loved the ending of the The Mist...it is sad but...goes with the theme of always keeping faith even in the darkest hour.

Swing Vote...I agree 100% what a cope out...to waste the time for a movie without an ending.

Knowing great story until like you said the final 15 minutes...and the wheels come completely off.

It...hard to knock the end of the movie...it was a tv mini-series filmed on a limited budget...no way they could have come close to filming King's ending from the book.

Number 23....I agree a pretty bad ending...but then again the movie was pretty bad so the ending fit very well with the movie.

Abyss....there is actually a longer ending that Cameron wanted to use....but they made him cut the movie's time down so his ending ending up on the cutting room floor...but his ending explains the aliens more.

No Country For Old Men....I hated and I mean hated the ending....the Coen brothers followed the book faithfully which included the horrible ending.

The Village....the ending is when M. Night lost all respect with his audience...he has never gotten that respect back.

And finally I would say....Castaway and A.I. by Spielberg are two good movies that are ruined by their endings.....great hub that I really enjoyed reading.


Dee aka Nonna profile image

Dee aka Nonna 5 years ago

Knowing is the only one I've seen and it was indeed a little strange. The others just didn't look interesting to me. Thanks for a very interesting hub.


thelyricwriter profile image

thelyricwriter 5 years ago from West Virginia

Voted up. You hit this one on the tail. If I had to pick, I would have chose 6 of them on this list. Nice work and great reviews.


emichael profile image

emichael 5 years ago from New Orleans

Interesting hub. I'll give you some of these, but I have to wholeheartedly disagree with No Country for Old Men. In my opinion, a solid movie all around. An action packed shoot out in the end would have cheapened it. Cormac McCarthy can do no wrong for me, and I was happy to see the Coens stay pretty true to the book.


mcrawford76 profile image

mcrawford76 5 years ago from Greeley, Colorado Author

Cogerson - The reason The Mist bothered me so much, was because I loved the ending in the novella version. I thought it left you with a sense of dread and wonder. I just wish they would have left it the same, but as in most Stephen King adaptions, the director decided to take liberties he shouldn't have. The entire movie was almost 100% accurate up to the end.

I watched the extended ending for The Abyss - didn't make it any less cheesy.

On all your other points I wholeheartedly agree.

emichael - I've never read the book, so I wasn't aware that it was written that way. When our villain was in a car accident at the end I was expecting this dramatic conclusion, but then he just sauntered off down the street. The only thought in my mind was . . . lame.

Thank you all for reading and commenting.


JANINAMARIE profile image

JANINAMARIE 4 years ago from New York

I hate that when the movie is good and then the ending is a let-down - you almost feel cheated! Like there's this build-up, build-up, build-up, and then...nothing...fizzle. Steven King is guilty of this sometimes, I hate to say...


mcrawford76 profile image

mcrawford76 4 years ago from Greeley, Colorado Author

Janinamarie - Don't get me wrong, I love Stephen King, but he really doesn't transfer well to screen in most cases. With only a couple of exceptions I didn't like most of his movies.

Other King favorite adaptations with bad endings would include Sleepwalkers, Needful Things, and The Stand.


4 years ago

I found the ending of "The Departed" disappointing. Leonardo Dicaprio gets shot in the head coming out of the elevator. Why spend all that time investing in a character who is killed in such a trivial way? At least there is some redemption by Mark Wahlberg's character.


Im me 4 years ago

I felt that the end of "The crazies" was rather disipointing.


DavidT45 profile image

DavidT45 4 years ago from London

Nice Hub, I would agree with most although I thought the Mist wasn't so much bad as just a little darker than the movie needed.

If you want a film with a truly bad and crazy ending check out the new movie 'Mirror Mirror' I do not want to spoil it for anyone that hasn't but will watch it, so I won't mention what actually happens. However for those that have seen it I am sure you will agree that the last 5mins or so is completely random and does not follow the flow of the movie at all.


MelChi profile image

MelChi 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

I am a huge Nicolas Cage fan, so watching "Knowing" was disappointing. It almost left a bad taste in my mouth and his status dropped as one of my favourite actors - not entirely his fault, maybe he didn't even know what the ending would be when he signed up for the movie.

Great movie list you've got here! Well done! Voted up - interesting - awesome.


RavenBiker profile image

RavenBiker 4 years ago from Pittsburgh, PA.

Hey mcrawford, long time no see.

Aw! The Abyss? Really? I wll say the extened version is better than the theatrical version. I agree with most all endings to Stephen King movies only because Stephen King finishes his novels in a very so-so manner,

I would have to agree A.I. is the all time worse. I curse Speilberg for A.I. It was a movie that did not honor Kubrick----who died midway through filming.


George Greene Jr. profile image

George Greene Jr. 4 years ago from California PA

Nigh of the living Dead 4! Since when did Zombies decide to kill themselves?

And yes to A.I.. Tha endng made as much sense as our government! How could even machin like that possbily survive all those years witout rusting?


LA Elsen profile image

LA Elsen 4 years ago from Chicago, IL

I must add the Wicker Man to the list. I hated Nicolas Cage for doing that movie and the end was the worst.


Connor 3 years ago

Is everybody forgetting about Repo Men with Jude Law and Forrest Whitaker??! THAT was by far the worst moving ending of all time!!! I was never so pissed off in my entire life!!! The whole time after about a little more than halfway in the movie the hero, (Law) was just hemoraging he was saving the day only to find out the bad guys had won, and put Laws head in a simulation helmet gadget.WTF!!! and then making fun of it saying he was happy,when clearly he saw a glitch in his "reality" and the movie just ends there??? I still to this day want to fucking kill all who were a part of THAT BULLSHIT OF A FUCKING MOVIE!!!


Lybrah 3 years ago

Okay, the worst movie ending of all time was The Devil Inside. It's like they didn't know how to end the movie or where to take the story. I wish at least one of the characters could have been delivered! This hub reminds me of one of my hubs--Best Movie Endings--check it out if you have some time.


Victoria Anne profile image

Victoria Anne 3 years ago from Las Vegas

The first time I saw IT I was around 10 years old and I thought it was terrifying...now its just kind of lame. With The Mist I saw it in theaters and was so disappointed by the ending. Since then I've watched it a few more times and even though it does bother me a little that it doesn't follow the book, I've actually grown to like the end.


Gcrhoads64 profile image

Gcrhoads64 3 years ago from North Dakota

It was a hard call between The Mist and It. I had to go with It just for sheer cheesiness. +++


mcrawford76 profile image

mcrawford76 3 years ago from Greeley, Colorado Author

A little disappointing yes, but it was leading somewhere, as in, there is going to be a sequal.


mcrawford76 profile image

mcrawford76 3 years ago from Greeley, Colorado Author

Id have to agree with that one. I absoluetly loved that movie, and the ending did piss me off, like a lot. But at the same time, I liked the way it was done, and it was foreshadowed earlier in the movie. (that and I wrote this hub before I saw that movie)


mcrawford76 profile image

mcrawford76 3 years ago from Greeley, Colorado Author

IT was simply poorly done (we all remember the 80's), but at least it followed the book. The ending for The Mist was completely different from the book. It was done for sure shock value. I didn't see how the book ending was so bad, it totally would have set it up for a sequal as well.


Thief12 profile image

Thief12 3 years ago from Puerto Rico

Interesting hub. Disagree with several, though. I'm a huge fan of The Village, and loved its ending (I have a hub about it, so feel free to check it out). I also think the No Country for Old Men ending was perfect. Anti-climatic, but perfect. I also really liked the ending to Contact and The Mist.

I do agree with Knowing and It. Haven't seen the others.


Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 3 years ago from San Diego California

I agree with you about "It," which strayed too much from the book by not introducing the turtle, but I do not agree with you about The Mist. The ending was totally unique and shocking. It was a definite bummer, to be sure, but artistically it put you on the edge of your seat and made you think. Problem is that everyone wants a feel good ending and I think that is why this great movie flopped at the box office.


Linda T. 2 years ago

Gone with the Wind worst movie ending ever!!!!


Anonymous 2 years ago

I just watched a movie called Nine Dead. The movie itself wasn't great but it was interesting enough. I liked it overall but I absolutely hated the ending.


Thief12 profile image

Thief12 2 years ago from Puerto Rico

I'd like to elaborate a bit in some of these...

First, No Country for Old Men. A lot of people disliked the last act, specifically for the reasons you mentioned. Most notably the fate of the "hero" Llewelyn Moss. But that's one of the things I like more about the film. How it breaks the conventions of most films by taking the least expected route. But anyway, the point of the film is the overcoming nature of evil, represented by the hitman, Anton Chigurh. Moss tries to bite more than he can chew by facing him, which leads him to eventually let his guard down.

As for Contact, you say that "in the end nothing changed, nothing is different", but I disagree. It's evident from the last scene that this is not the same Ellie that we saw at the beginning. Obviously, the change has nothing to do with actually seeing aliens or finding extraterrestrial life, but her experience changes her in a more personal way. Despite all her previous attempts of trying to explain things scientifically, she was faced with an experience that she couldn't explain and that changed her profoundly in her soul. It was the sort of spiritual experience that she scoffed at, for example when Palmer told her. But now, she had a similar experience.


Luke Ellis profile image

Luke Ellis 2 years ago from Nottingham, England

Good list, I actually liked NCFOM because I thought it suited the movie really well. The Mist on the other hand had a downright awful ending. Up to the point it was a pretty well acted horror flick but then the film ended and I was left with a bitter taste in my mouth.

As for the Abyss, I remember finding the last 10 or so minutes of that laughable. There's a point when the 'alien' race causes a huge tidal wave but out of compassion they freeze it in midair. The humans all seem relieved, I think my reaction would be "Holy crap a tsunami just froze in midair".

Anyway, I went off a bit there, voted up :)


Shelly Nun-Chucks profile image

Shelly Nun-Chucks 2 years ago from worldwide

When I saw the end of the Mist I was really kind of bummed with the ending and was kind of balling my eyes out, then again, you know Stephen King.


mcrawford76 profile image

mcrawford76 2 years ago from Greeley, Colorado Author

True, but, that was not how it ended in the book.


Thief12 profile image

Thief12 2 years ago from Puerto Rico

But it's worth noting that King did praise Darabont's ending.


Dewey Stack 2 years ago

I think that the point of "Swing Vote" ending was that the audience should be the arbiter of the election, instead of the film's characters - which IS the case in real life. The whole theme of the film was that the majority - not one individual voter - should choose the president. By leaving the question unanswered, the film puts the ball entirely in our corner

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working