Greatest Film Plot Twists
Film Spoilers and
Surprise Endings


Greatest Movie Plot Twists, Spoilers and Surprise Endings
(alphabetical by film title)
Intro | A1 | A2 | B1 | B2 | B3 | B4 | B5 | C1 | C2 | C3 | D1 | D2 | D3 | E1 | E2 | F1 | F2 | G | H1 | H2 | H3 | I | J-K | L1 | L2
M1 | M2 | M3 | M4 | M5 | N | O | P1 | P2 | Q-R1 | R2 | S1 | S2 | S3 | S4 | S5 | S6 | T1 | T2 | T3 | U-V | W1 | W2 | W3 | X-Z

Greatest Plot Twists, Spoilers, Surprise Endings: Avid filmgoers often speak about seeking rare movie surprises in the movie-going experience, such as discovering films that have cunning plot twists, a shocking surprise ending, a surprise revelation about a particular character, or some other unknown or unsuspected narrative element. Compiled here in this comprehensive collection is a detailed set of films with the greatest movie twists, spoilers, and surprise endings.

See also Greatest Film Death Scenes (with additional spoilers or surprise endings)

During and after the 1970's, major motion pictures began to "play tricks" more regularly on audiences, partly in homage to the "Master of Suspense" Alfred Hitchcock, but also after the re-discovery and appreciation of acclaimed B-films - film noirs in particular that used plot twists fairly regularly - and found that audiences reacted well to them. For example, Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) was one of the first films to caution audiences to not reveal the "shocking secrets" - other films were to follow, e.g., Planet of the Apes (1968), Presumed Innocent (1990), The Crying Game (1992), The Sixth Sense (1999) and The Others (2001), though unlike Hitchcock's carefully devised marketing ploy, these were grassroots campaigns by the filmgoers themselves.

Types of Major Plot Twists
  • time period shifts
  • story told from perspective of an 'unreliable narrator'
  • flashbacks (usually in the 'third act') that reveal hidden elements, explanations or motives
  • "guilty as suspected"
  • everything was a 'conspiracy'
  • death-dreams ("it was all a dream"), or fantasies at the point of death
  • character(s) unacknowledged as dead; presumed dead, but actually alive
  • mind-bending stories
  • virtual reality (VR) worlds
  • character or identity switches
  • films that are a "film-within-a-film"

Spoilers: When narrative elements, usually reserved for late in a film's plot development, are divulged to others who have not yet seen the film, they are termed spoilers. It is usually considered malicious, unfair and a major faux pas to reveal 'spoilers' without a warning, because their publication can 'spoil' or ruin the enjoyment of experiencing a film's twists and surprises for oneself - without advance warning. However, some advance marketing of teasers and other ads have often revealed a film's entire plot. Film critics often fastidiously avoid providing spoilers in their reviews, in order to not offend their readership.

However, some spoilers have become very common knowledge i.e., Planet of the Apes (1968), so that they are no longer considered real spoilers. Sometimes, a spoiler has been embedded in a famous line of dialogue, such as "Soylent Green is people!" Many spoilers are inexplicably revealed explicitly on (1) video/DVD box covers and its cover art (i.e., The Letter (1940), Random Harvest (1942), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Planet of the Apes (1968), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)), (2) the DVD menu itself (i.e., Barton Fink (1991), The Shawshank Redemption (1994)), and (3) the trailer.

Spoilers may generally include the revelation of the criminal or culprit, some other secret identity, or some other major plot event that changes the entire direction or perception of the film. Plot twists often help to make film-viewing a renewed experience, because a lot of the hints and red herrings in the film (that were missed during the first viewing) take on new meaning during a second screening. However, some plot twists have become so over-used that they have become tiresome and expected cliches (Halloween (1978) - the "undead dead", or Open Your Eyes/Abre Los Ojos (1997, Sp.) - reality is only a dream). Directors who are best known for film twists include Alfred Hitchcock, Brian De Palma, Pedro Almodovar, M. Night Shyamalan, and Dario Argento.

Note: The films that are marked with a yellow star are the films that "The Greatest Films" site has selected as the "100 Greatest Films".

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