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15 Could-Be-Great Movies Ruined By Their Terrible Endings

19 July 2015 | Features, Film Lists | by Joao Vieira

artificial intelligence movie

The hardest part of writing a screenplay is creating the ending. Some films such as Casablanca and Godfather II achieve an extra moment that produces a masterpiece. Some other movies are not as good and are only remembered by one last good scene. Others, with good plot and cast are completely ruined for the opposite reason.

This list will showcase some movies which could have been great until that last scene which ruined everything due to a terrible ending twist with aliens or a cliffhanger that’s overly ambiguous when the movie needed something more clear. A really good movie of two or more hours can be destroyed in a blink of an eye.

Some movies, such as the Tim Burton version of Planet of the Apes could easily fit into this list if it weren’t bad enough without that goofy ending, the scene with a new version of the Abraham Lincoln memorial, complete with a couple of ape reporters, ape cops and fire apes. Others, such as Titanic, already a good movie, were chosen for other particular reasons.

Never underestimate the power of the ending scenes. Spoiler Alert.


15. Titanic (1997)

titanic ending

Titanic’s a good movie but something’s wrong for it could be even better. The historical ending is already known. The problem here is the way the director and writers chose to end this beautiful fictional love story over which they had creative control.

The Ending: Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio), after the Titanic sinks, puts Rose (Kate Winslet) on a board, which is part of the ship’s remains. The board itself is big enough for the two, so the last part where Jack is dying in the icy waters from hypothermia in front of Rose turns out to be an unnecessary emotional goodbye for the couple.


14. Remember Me (2010)

Remember Me

This is a romantic drama ruined by a “Hollywood” ending. First, the story: Tyler (Robert Pattinson) is an introverted guy who isolates himself from the world after his brother Michael commits suicide. His family fractures depresses him until he finds Ally (Emilie de Ravin), another damaged human being. They both heal each other’s souls against all the odds.

The Ending: Tyler is visiting his father at work when it’s revealed that he’s in the Twin Towers just before the plane crash of 2001. A tasteless 9/11 advertise campaign. This is an exploitative twist which seems completely out of place in an engaging love story which actually deserved another type of ending. A national tragedy is an unnecessary ending which steals the focus from the movie’s real message.


13. The Devil Inside (2012)

Devil Inside

This is a good horror movie until the final crucial seconds, this time containing a cliffhanger which is hard to explain, and not for being awesome or interesting, unfortunately.

The Ending: It actually can’t be considered a real ending. Someone obviously got bored of writing the script and thought it was right to go to a website “for more information”. No, people pay their tickets to see a movie with an “ending”.


12. Superman (1978)


This entry in the Superman franchise is directed by Richard Donner with Christopher Reeve as the man of steel/Clark Kent. Superman was nominated for three Oscar nominations, but the ending though…

The Ending: Superman has no logic sense powers. He just flew around the Earth to reverse the planet’s rotation and turn the time back to resurrect Lois Lane (Margot Kidder). He didn’t even bother holding on to something. He just flew around the Earth as fast as possible and she was resurrected with that force. Well, he can do it, he’s Superman.


11. The Wolverine (2013)


Hugh Jackman did what no one thought it would be possible. He turned Wolverine into a beloved and recognizable character inside the X-Men movies. James Mangold embraced the challenge and directed the movie, which was good until the end.

The Ending: Logan showed throughout the movie that he doesn’t need to be a fighter to be an interesting character. The movie is introspective with some good action scenes in Japan until the end where Wolverine is forced to battle a giant samurai robot made out of Adamantium and also a femme fatale. There was no need. This was a good way of ruining the first two acts in a few minutes.


10. Savages (2012)


This Oliver Stone movie based on Don Winslow’s novel had all the elements to be great… if not for the last 5 or so minutes. The film features a strong plot with an awesome cast including Benicio Del Toro, John Travolta, Salma Hayek, Demian Bichir, Emile Hirsch and Aaron-Taylor Johnson, Taylor Kitsch with Blake Lively forming a love trio. They deserved a lot better end to the movie.

The Ending: Oliver Stone went Hollywood and ruined the story where O, Ben and Chon should have died in each other’s arms like true “savages”. Instead, they all survive (including the bad guys) after a “rewind” moment and lived happily forever. It looks like the directors got scared of the way the novel ends.


9. Sunshine (2007)


A great achievement by Danny Boyle in the sci-fi genre features an ending that’s inadequate. In 2057 an astronauts crew is sent to revive the dying Sun with a nuclear fission bomb, but they fail. 7 years later a new team is sent as the Earth’s last resort.

The Ending: This is a sci-fi movie that suddenly turns into a slasher horror movie. A drastic shift in the last third act that just doesn’t fit in the plot.



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  • Klaus Dannick

    Very few of these are potentially “great”, regardless of their endings.

    • Xanian

      Sunshine is a great science fiction film, in spite of its ending.

      • Ianto_Jones

        It reminded me of Event Horizon in that it too was a great cerebral sci-fi film that was ruined by a lazy slasher-movie ending. It even threw in some jump scares.

  • Stephus

    War of the worlds, Indiana jones 4, both has worst ending ever

    • I Am Tyler Durden

      Indiana Jones 4 was pretty bad after the 1st half hour to be honest, it just got progressiveley worse towards the end until it was almost unbearable.

    • JudgeMethos

      The original War of the Worlds had the exact same ending and that movie was a classic.

  • RF Victor

    The aliens in Signs were NOT defeated by water, they were defeated by FAITH. The radio in the end says “ancient methods” were being used against the aliens, causing them to retreat. The water in Mel Gibson’s house was holy water, that’s why it burned them. 😉

    • Alexandro Sifuentes Díaz

      if that’s the case, that’s worst and more ridiculous than the other one…

    • Rudi

      That’s not true, I’m afraid. A bit earlier in the movie the character played by Shyamalan himself already reveals he’s leaving for the lake because he believes the aliens have a weakness for water.

      Overall I find this a weak list, though. In most cases the author shouldn’t be so literal. They’re movies dealing with emotions, it’s not exact science. Over analyzing entertainment is never a good thing in my opinion.

      • I Am Tyler Durden

        Some of the lists here are like a student thesis and often poorly reasoned, although you have to accept that all opinions are subjective.

      • RF Victor

        Indeed, but the “Signs” in the title are not just the agroglyphs, but also the signs Mel Gibson receives from God:

        — His daughter keeps insisting the water is “contaminated.”
        — Some wacko decides the aliens have water as a weakness.
        — His dying wife years ago tells his brother to “swing away.”

        Someone with a religious or magical worldview sometimes interprets random things as “signs,” giving personal meaning to an otherwise inpersonal, uncaring universe. That’s just how it works here in my opinion. Besides, that one alien was NOT defeated by the water, he was defeated by his brother with a baseball bat.

        And if the water was not holy water — what “ancient methods are being used to defeat the aliens” actually mean, as heard in the radio? Is a bucket of water an ancient method of defeating evil? 😉

        • Susan Wallace

          I thought it was stupid because it was all about “Faith”. If God created the universe and everything in it, where did the damn “evil” aliens come from?

  • Terry Shannon

    The author totally missed the irony of the ending of A.I. Try watching the film again with a less literal eye.

    • KP108

      You beat me to it.

  • Peter Rutt

    I would have added “Born on the 4th of July.” I did not mind the ending to “Sunshine” or “Titanic.”

  • faramarz

    the species at the end of A.I aren’t aliens. they are the next generation of species living on earth, evolved from the first A.Is. thats the whole point, David is one of their first ancestors.

    • I Am Tyler Durden

      Agreed, it’s very clear they were evolved robots. I actually liked that ending. I thought the deep sea moment was the end and then it said “1000 Years later” and I thought “Whoa” that was actually a daring and mind blowing jump to make and what happened next made it profound and great, I’m in a minority it seems.

    • mrsatyre

      I didn’t get that at all. Didn’t they actually say that they didn’t know what happened to the humans? I understood them to be aliens archaeologists.

  • Benedict Allen

    How is Monty Python and the Holy Grail not on this list?

    • Nash Knight

      Are you kidding? It just may have the best ending ever seen in a comedy!

  • Joao Ribeiro

    Don’t talk about A.I. as if it was Steven spielberg’s movie, it was a Kubrick film, Steven just came along and ruined it.

    • Gordon Morgans

      No actually Speilberg didnt ruin anything. In fact he tried his best to stick with Kubricks script the best that he could

    • duke_of_omnium

      It was supposed to be a mixture of Kubrick’s brain and Spielberg’s heart. I think they got it backward.

    • Adrian

      Completely agree. I’d say where Spielberg falls for the sentimental reasons, Kubrick would have gone for the more philosophical ones. Instead it becomes a tearfest and fails, at least for me.

  • Damarco4u

    Even worse about the ending for “Savages” was the xenophobia. The Mexican drug sellers all get punished for their actions, but the Americans go off into the sunset. It was all saying white Americans mean no harm with their drug sales. As for AI, I don’t know how you’d end the movie. It’s main problem is that the kid is a robot and you never feel for it because you know it’s a program that makes him have affection, and it will end as soon as the program is shut off. Where do you go from there?

  • Gabi Hanauer

    The ending of “Titanic” didn’t bother me at all. In fact, if you’ve included it here, it would have been better to get mentioned by its actual ending. The old Rose throwing the necklace into the ocean was far worse than Jack’s death. Just because an ending is sad, it doesn’t mean it’s bad.

  • IljaOblomov

    Another detail overlooked by the author: in Titanic, they show that the board sinks when two people are on top of it, so Jack is chivalrous enough to stay in the water.

  • Carlos Cardoso

    The third matrix was totally misunderstood. It is a puzzle movie like kubrick’s 2001 (of course not with the same quality). The second movie is shit. The third is full of hints sugesting that the so called “reality” is in fact another layer of The Matrix. Hints like: Smith being able to upload him to “reality”, Neo is able to feel and destroy sentinels. When he becomes blind, then he starts to have visions of orange lights (greek philosophy: “our senses can deceive our peception of the real nature of the things”). If you watch closely (mostly on Bluray) you can see that the orange lights are the codes of the second layer of the matrix. Knowing this, we have a complete different view of the ending. The ending purposely wants not answer everything (like 2001). The movie ending could really be greater, but it’s far from being a terible ending as said the post (because of lack of understanding).

    • José Abel Salazar Lizárraga

      The reality is the reality. The thing about reality is that it can be transcend with a little bit more of effort.

  • Still D.R.E.

    Dark Knight Rises ending was perfect.

  • Allister Cooper

    Minority Report – now that the precrogs are out of work and the centre is closed, then crime rises… Not a good ending.

  • Murali Subramonian

    Dark knight rises….Devil’s advocate….Is it just that the author can’t handle twists????

  • bru

    This list is bs, but I’m not surprised since the author’s favorite director is Woody Allen.

  • thelivingmanpart2

    Ninth Gate and A.I should not be on here

  • helen

    A lazily written article – I feel like the author didn’t understand half the films here. As for his comments on Remember Me – an advertising campaign for 9/11? Err, what??!!

  • Lucien Hellsubus

    Titanic wouldn’t be Titanic without that ending. It’s the one thing that made people think it had some gravitas. A happy ending would have made it a mere tuttifrutti blockbuster like any other.

  • Stephus

    Many of these movies are bad from the beginning. Others work perfectly well. Titanic ending is not bad at all actually is very good and closes the movie pretty well also if it’d had a happy ending the movie would suck bad. The devils advocate also has a good ending its like an statement that proves the point of the whole thing, vanity is my favorite sin lol, which is cause of many things wrong in the world. Nolan’s third batman movie closes very well his trilogy whixh is awesome. If you’re talking about movies with awful ending the best example is Spielberg’s war of the worlds, the last 30 minutes are the worst.

  • italo

    I’m I the only one int the whole world that notices, that when Jack tries to get on the door it sinks, it can’t handle both Jack and Rose weight, thats why he doesn’t get up on the freaking door.

  • Gogzilla

    I love the movie, but Disney’s The Black Hole had one of the worst endings of all time. When I watch it & they start entering the black hole, I stop the movie. No need to watch any further.

  • Allister Cooper

    On a slightly different topic, for me, Rocky ended at Rocky III…

  • Ozhan

    this might be the worst cinema list ever! Signs? A.I.? Devils Advocate? Revolutions? I mean… really?

    and I’d start with, Law Abiding Citizen.

  • L0lwut

    Agree with most people here. The one on the list I will support though is “I am Legend”. The source material is excellent and the original ending butchers the entire meaning of the original story. “Sunshine” also had me until it went “Event Horizon” all of the sudden.

    Also what’s not to understand about the ending of “The Ninth Gate”. He goes through the gate and it ends, which can be interpreted as him being the only worthy one out of all the cultists/crazies who tried or can be left up to whatever the viewer thinks. The girl/demon/devil throughout the movie hints that he has been selected. Why does every ending have to be literally spelled out?

  • Darío Loz

    The Ninth Gathe: I think the ending is perfect and that Dean Corso is the devil himself. He made the books as a tool to return to hell/heaven

  • FlyteBro

    Falling Down!

  • Sathishkumar Gunasekaran

    The author of this article has no Cinema sense at all.. please remove him from the group.. else you will loose many fans for this page.

  • Nikos Ikonomidis

    What????The ninth gate has a lousy ending???are you serious?I believe that the ending determines the success or failure of the whole concept of a movie and I do not agree with most of the examples here, but in the case of Polanski’s film, not only I disagree but I think it’s a marvellous ending that makes the movie a masterpiece.

  • Lars Franssen

    The Hobbit! It could really have been great but was ruined by its last 455 minutes!