Spoiler Alerts: Surprise Endings to Classic Movies

One of the greatest rewards for filmmakers is surprising their audience. It could be a mid-plot twist, a dramatic scene, or ultimately, an end-of-movie stunner. Here are a few films with endings that left people talking. Spoiler Alert: Even though, in some cases, these movies are decades old, this blog still contains spoilers.


Alfred Hitchcock directed this horror/thriller that was released in 1960 and starred Janet Leigh as a meek bank employee who steals $40,000 and heads out on the run. Along the way, an exhausted Leigh stops at the Bates Motel, operated by Norman Bates, played by Anthony Perkins. Bates and his mom operate the seedy motel, and Leigh dies in a dramatic in-room murder. The shower scene alone was shocking, but it is at the end of the movie that revealed who committed the murder that created the buzz. It was his mother…or was it?!

Planet of the Apes

The 1968 original release had some big stars and the biggest end of film shocker in the film series. Stars included Kim Hunter and Roddy McDowell, James Witmore, and the legendary Charlton Heston. Heston plays an astronaut who is part of a crew that crash lands onto an Earth-like planet run by talking apes. The roles between apes and humans are reversed in this film, with humans being used for labor and kept in cages. Heston escapes with a female friend on a horse after discovering some interesting artifacts in the forbidden zone. The couple rides along the water until the end of the movie, when they find a half-buried Statue of Liberty along the shore. Heston realizes he actually crash-landed back on earth far into the future.

The Fight Club

We are breaking the first rule of the Fight Club. We are talking about the Fight Club. The film is narrated by Edward Norton, who tells the tale of Brad Pitt’s character, Tyler Durden. It turns out, Tyler Durden is an imaginary character, an alter ego of the narrator.


Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt star as two detectives in this truly disturbing film about a crime spree based on the seven deadly sins. It is Freeman’s last case before retiring, as he mentors the young Pitt. Kevin Spacey plays the killer who clearly has no bounds, especially when the killing goes personal and involves the beheading of the wife of Pitt. This is an intense film that is well acted and not for the timid.

The Sixth Sense

Bruce Willis stars as a child psychologist who attempts to help young Cole Sear, who is played by Haley Joel Osment. After apparently failing an early patient, Willis attempts to help Cole through his issues, which include “seeing dead people.” It turns out that Willis is one of those dead people. The film is directed by M. Night Shyamalan, who has built his career on stunning endings.

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