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Top 10 - Great Movies With Terrible Endings

Updated on June 19, 2013

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?

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