20 Worst Movie Endings

Articles | Aug 12th, 2007

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Entertainment Weekly recently opined their “20 Perfect Movie Endings,” which included the cliche, the schmaltzy, and the very, very recent. I was going to make my own list of fade-to-credits perfection when EW raised the ante by adding 20 more to their original dull list.

Instead of beating EW at their game, especially if they’re going to keep having add-ons until there are no more good movie endings left, I started thinking about the worst endings to otherwise pretty good movies, and came up with this perfect list.

The Ultimate 20 Worst Movie Endings

20. Johnny Mnemonic
Yeah, I know you haven’t seen it. It’s actually a decent, if stupid, sci-fi movie once you ignore all tenets of physics and common sense. I’d say it’s one step above a Sci Fi Channel original movie starring Bruce Campbell and giant insect puppets, and one tiny step below Freejack. Anyway, the movie chugs along nicely until the ending, in which all is explained by a psychic dolphin. This scene is the final Jenga log in a flimsy, teetering story, and is only redeemed by being mocked by South Park.

19. Say Anything
Every girl from high school loved this movie, though I found it to be meandering and dull. Time has helped me appreciate its nuanced and unique sensitivities, though the greatness of the ending still eludes me, and I find it more unsatisfying than sweet.

18. Battle Royale
This movie about high school kids being forced to kill each other on an island with random objects is the coolest thing ever. Even if you’re not into the children-killing-each-other factor, it’s an amazing well-made multilayered movie. But the ending confrontation with the sadistic teacher (the omnipresent Beat Takeshi) is a little silly, as is the two kids running off into hiding, which then spawned a sequel so bad it might even be worse than the inevitable American version of BR.

17. Contact
I actually watched this movie. All seven hours of it. The only good thing about the ending is that it meant the movie was mercifully over.

16. Titanic
I can’t believe it sunk!

15. Cast Away
I saw this movie on a flight (probably not the best film choice…), and it took awhile, but I kind of got into the groove of Tom Hanks battling the elements and befriending a volleyball. He then gets rescued in a climactic movie-ending scene. Except there’s then another hour of Tom Hanks walking around aimlessly and being sad. Go back to the island, emo boy!

14. Rocky Balboa
A tie? A freakin tie?

13. Sweet Home Alabama
That Reese Witherspoon didn’t get hit by a truck really ruined this movie for me.

12. King Kong (remake)
Jack Black is given the last line of this film, and, delivered in his hipster-cocky way, defeats the gravity of the ending. Not that the remake’s drama is anything but a thin coat of paint over Jurassic Park action and special effects flexing, but Jack Black really shouldn’t be allowed to speak unless he’s starring in a biopic of Ronnie James Dio.

11. Christine
Sometimes one single line can ruin an otherwise good movie. This Stephen King-penned horror about an angry Chevy Cavalier has the misfortune of ending with the terribly lame joke “God, I hate rock n’ roll.” It makes me cringe and I can’t even go near the movie now, even though it stars the beautifully ethereal Keith Gordon.

10. The Breakfast Club
Everyone hooks up except the geek who still has to write the paper. A stunning defeat for geeks everywhere.

9. The Fifth Element
The true ending to this film is when we’re introduced to the painfully insufferable Chris Tucker who can suck the fun out of a situation faster than a child with leukemia.

8. The Hulk
I really don’t know. The impenetrable bad lighting succeeded in hiding the poor special effects, but it also obstructed the last 10 minutes. I think Nick Nolte turns into a Hulk too and they Hulk it out, and there was electricity and an explosion and some army guys and maybe a tornado… I have no clue. A disappointing climax since the only other thing the Hulk fought in three dull hours was a pack of dogs.

7. Kissing Jessica Stein
She decides she’s straight, setting back the nature vs. nurture homosexuality debate by 30 years. Plus it’s sad when girls quit girls.

6. Clerks
Kevin Smith originally didn’t know how to end the movie, so he had main character Dante killed in a botched robbery. The perfect irony being that he “wasn’t supposed to be here today.” That ending destroyed the comical tone of the film, but the bland, wet-towel “see ya tomorrow” final version isn’t very satisfying either. It left fans so unsatisfied that Smith felt the need to make a pointless, unfunny sequel.

5. Signs
This isn’t a strong movie, but it at least keeps you engaged… until the end, which has the lamest cop-out since War of the Worlds. The aliens are fatally vulnerable to water? Umm, what did they think that big blue sphere they were flying toward was made out of?

4. Metallica: Some Kind of Monster
They decide to stay together and finish their shitty album.

3. Bowling for Columbine
Michael Moore’s near-perfect commentary on America’s gun culture ends with a nasty, bitter-tasting confrontation with Charlton Heston. Sure, he’s the NRA’s poster boy, but he’s also a dotty old man who didn’t seem to have the wherewithal to defend himself. Instead of putting a resounding exclamation mark on this powerful film, it leaves a tacky shadow.

2. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
ROTK’s non-ending endings is quite possible the most irritating movie finish for people with weak bladders. I just sat through four hours and you’re still not done telling me about what happened to Sam and the bar wench’s grandchildren? Holy shit.

1. Return of the Jedi
The greatest sci-fi epic ever ends with teddy bears doing the chicken noodle dance.

Oh, and for the record…

The Best Movie Endings That Lame-Ass EW Snubbed:

5. Terminator 3
A lot of people hated this ending because they’re lame and wanted some bright happy shit. Um, hello people? This ending means the beginning of awesome human-robot wars! So long as Arnold keeps his 70-year-old flesh in his de-oxygenated steroid chamber, there will be some serious fucking junkyard-style action.

4. Midnight Madness
In retrospect, my naivety is a little silly, but I had no idea the Yellow Team was gonna win. I jumped up and screamed like a girl when they did. Cut me some slack, I was only 19.

3. Monty Python & the Holy Grail
You have to love that after years of adventuring and myth-making, right at the end of his quest, King Arthur and his knights get arrested.

2. Back to the Future
Ending with Doc and Marty taking off in a FLYING DeLoreon into the future? Not only the most awesome awesomeness ever, but it guaranteed an awesome sequel. Awesome.

1. Rock N Roll High School
The Ramones blow up a high school. Nuff Said!


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