Greatest Film Plot Twists
Film Spoilers and
Surprise Endings


Greatest Movie Plot Twists, Spoilers and Surprise Endings
Title Screen
Film Title/Year and Plot Twist-Spoiler-Surprise Ending Description

Back to the Future (1985)

After Journeying to 1985, The Next Time Travel Journey Would Be To the Future Year of 2015

The funny twist ending when panicked mad scientist Dr. Emmett "Doc" Brown (Christopher Lloyd) suddenly returned to 1985 Hill Valley from the future year of 2015 in his silver DeLorean time machine vehicle, shouting: "Marty! You've gotta come back with me!...Back to the future!"

He forced reunited teenagers Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and girlfriend Jennifer Parker (Claudia Wells) into his car, as Marty asked: "Wait a minute, Doc. What are you talkin' about? What happens to us in the future? Do we become assholes or somethin'?"

Doc responded with worries about their future children: "No, no, no, no, no, Marty. Both you and Jennifer turn out fine. It's your kids, Marty! Something has gotta be done about your kids!"

As Doc charged up the DeLorean and squealed out of the driveway, Marty noted: "Hey, Doc. We better back up. We don't have enough road to get up to 88." Doc smugly replied with a famous line:

Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads!

The DeLorean unexpectedly levitated into the air, then zoomed down the street, turned, and flew directly into the camera.

Bad Education (2004, Sp.) (aka La Mala Educacion)

Juan ("Ignacio") and Father Manolo (Senor Manuel Berenguer) Had Killed Ignacio

Pedro Almodovar's noirish drama-thriller and murder mystery included a Hitchcock-like, Vertigo (1958)-inspired twisting identity plot in its 'story within a script' in the film. Its themes of trans-sexuality, drug abuse, and pedophilic child abuse brought a NC-17 rating. Its flashbacked themes included lost youth, mistaken and shifting identities and gender transformation.

The major plot line, set in 1980 in Madrid, was that successful Spanish filmmaker Enrique Goded (Fele Martinez) was reunited after 16 years with his first-love interest -- his grammar school friend, Ignacio Rodriguez (Gael Garcia Bernal), who had become a writer, and was an actor. Ignacio was also a cross-dressing transvestite - using the stage name Angel Andrade. Ignacio was actually a pre-operative trans-sexual for sex reassignment surgery.

During their visit, a bearded Ignacio/Angel brought Enrique a semi-fictional short story/script called "The Visit" about when they were in school in 1964. In the script, it described the relationship between Enrique and Ignacio (the trans-sexual character of Zahara): they went to a movie theatre where they stimulated each other while watching a film, and they were found together (in the school bathroom after hours) by Catholic School headmaster-priest Father Manolo (Daniel Giménez Cacho).

When the priest threatened to expel Enrique, Ignacio offered to give himself to the pedophilic priest (Enrique was expelled nonetheless). In the revised script during film-making, Ignacio was blackmailing Father Manolo, in order to raise funds for trans-sexual surgery, and was murdered.

A dark secret (and double-identity) was then revealed:

  • "Ignacio" - who had been killed four years earlier (the real Ignacio was played by real-life trans-sexual Francisco "Fran" Boira, seen in flashbacks) - was being impersonated by his younger heterosexual brother Juan. Juan was assuming Ignacio's identity in order to seduce Enrique into having him star in his new film based on Ignacio's story. (Ignacio was also engaged in blackmailing the priest for his sins.)

During filming on the set, another double-identity was revealed:

  • Senor Manuel Berenguer (Lluís Homar) -- actually Father Manolo with a new name/identity (and no longer a priest), described how he and Juan had teamed up to murder the real Ignacio. They had conspired together to kill Ignacio by providing him with pure heroin for an overdose, because he was a harsh, unlikeable individual who was blackmailing the priest about his molestation.

In the coda to the film, Father Manolo (or Senor Berenguer) was killed by a car driven by Juan (who was being blackmailed by Berenguer for his role in Ignacio's murder).

Various Roles/Looks of Gael Garcia Bernal

Enrique and Ignacio as School Friends

Father Manolo (Daniel Gimenez Cacho)

Enrique (Fele Martinez)

The Bad Seed (1956)

Sociopathic Rhoda Went to the Wharf To Try and Retrieve a Guilt-Betraying Penmanship Medal From the Lake - and Was Struck by Lightning (Divine Retribution?)

Director Mervyn LeRoy's film-noirish horror film told of an evil 8 year-old grade-school girl, a blonde pig-tailed Rhoda Penmark (Patty McCormack) who often wore cute pinafore dresses. In the opening scene, Rhoda demonstrated her tap dancing skill.

During a school picnic near a lake, Rhoda's male schoolmate Claude Daigle drowned. (He had won a Penmanship Medal which Rhoda coveted. She later explained: "He wouldn't give me the medal like I told him to, that's all." She repeatedly struck him with her tap shoes, and he fell into the water. When he struggled to get onto the wharf and threatened to tell on her, she hit him repeatedly.)

Eventually, Rhoda's suspicious mother Christine Penmark (Nancy Kelly) - after finding her daughter attempting to dispose of the incriminating tap shoes, heard heartless Rhoda's confession that she had killed the boy. It now made sense why the boy had half-moon-shaped bruises on his head and hands - they were imprints of the taps on the shoes. Peculiar handyman Leroy Jessup (Henry Jones) discovered Rhoda's secret, when he found her scorched shoes in an incinerator. He retrieved them, hid them, refused to give them up, and warned Rhoda: "Plenty left to put you in the electric chair." As a result, he was "accidentally" burned to death when she set his beding ablaze while he slept.

(Christine also learned that she had herself been adopted as a 2 year-old infant, and was the daughter of a foster father and his wife - a convicted serial killer/murderess named Bessie Denker. Christine surmised that the evil had been genetically passed on to her own daughter, Rhoda.)

To stop her 'bad seed' daughter, Rhoda's mother admitted to her daughter that she deposited the medal back into the lake after it was found in Rhoda's room. She then attempted to kill Rhoda with an overdose of barbituates (disguised as vitamins), and then shot herself in the head (but both survived).

To show that 'crime doesn't pay' (to satisfy the Hays Code censors), there was "divine retribution" in the film's finale. As rain-coated Rhoda searched for the medal on a dark rainy night, and grabbed a fishing net to retrieve it from the wharf, she was punished with a fiery bolt of lightning.

After a curtain-call with all the main cast members, Christine placed Rhoda across her lap and spanked her. The final title card reflected that the story was only fictional:

"You have just seen a motion picture whose theme dares to be startlingly different. May we ask that you do not divulge the unusual climax of this story. Thank you."

Basic (2003)

The Mission Was a Cover-Up For an Anti-Illegal Drug Trading Operation; West and the Others Had Not Been Killed; The Only Innocent One By The End Was Julia Osborne

By the twisty conclusion of this violent thriller from director John McTiernan, all of the preceding complex circumstances, flashbacks, interrogations, and confrontations were almost entirely negated. The film's premise began with an elite Army Ranger training exercise that had been held overnight in a rainy Panamanian jungle, led by detested Sergeant Nathan West (Samuel L. Jackson). There were only two survivors:

  • white Ray Dunbar (Brian Van Holt)
  • seriously-wounded homosexual Levi Kendall (Giovanni Ribisi)

Savvy, unconventional, hard-drinking ex-Ranger and DEA Agent Tom Hardy (John Travolta) was called upon by base commander Col. Bill Styles (Timothy Daly) to aid by-the-book Captain Julia Osborne (Connie Nielsen) in questioning the two men. A number 8 with a circle around it was an additional unknown element in the mysterious case.

After a few confusing run-throughs or flashbacks (derived from the differing and changing testimonies and far-fetched stories) of what may have transpired in the jungle that led to West's death and the deaths of four others, there were many startling revelations:

  1. Ray Dunbar was not Ray Dunbar (who was African-American) - "Ray Dunbar is black" - he was actually white-man Jay Pike who had switched identities with Dunbar by swapping dog-tags
  2. Dr. Peter Vilmer (Harry Connick, Jr.), Osborne's lover, had been profitably selling drugs ("combat cocktails") at the base's hospital to ease soldiers' pain and had falsified drug tests to cover up
  3. When Hardy suspected that Styles was lying and had set-up West to be killed in the jungle, he forced Styles to admit to wrong-doing (drug-trading), including being responsible for Kendall's death by poisoning him in his hospital bed; also, when Styles offered Hardy a 40% cut of the profits if he kept quiet, Hardy refused, forcing Styles to pull out a gun --- causing Osborne, who had been watching the entire conversation from outside, to shoot Styles dead to protect Hardy
  4. Although the case seemed closed, Osborne became suspicious of Hardy when he suggested: "all we gotta do is tell the story right" - this was further reinforced when she followed him and she saw Pike jump into his jeep as he drove into Panama City
  5. At a basement club marked by an 8-ball, Osborne pulled a gun on Hardy, but was completely startled to learn the film's major switcheroo -- Hardy was the head of a special-ops anti-drug unit, orchestrating a conspiracy that had been targeting Styles and Vilmer (and drug-user Kendall) for illicit drug trade
  6. West and the remainder of the soldiers in the training mission were alive - the question then became: was the elaborate hoax of a training exercise necessary?
  7. They were all members of a reportedly "renegade" drug unit called "Section 8" - with fake ("ghost") names: "Nunez," "Castro," "Pike," and "Dunbar"
  8. Because of Osborne's tenacity, she was offered a job as the film ended.

Basic Instinct (1992)

Catherine Tramell Was the Ice Pick Killer

Director Paul Verhoeven's glossy erotic thriller opened with views (from all angles, including a reflection in a ceiling mirror) of a couple making love - the unidentified female (the film's brutal ice-pick murder suspect) was atop rock star Johnny Boz (Bill Cable), and elements of S&M were revealed when she tied his arms to the bedpost - before stabbing him to death with an icepick.

In the film's final scene, prime suspect bi-sexual novelist Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone) made love to SF police detective/lover Nick Curran (Michael Douglas) - in the midst of their coupling, she suddenly came down on top of him - her whole body stretched across his - he was motionless. The film teased the audience: was he still alive? had he been pierced with an icepick? When she rolled to the outer side of the bed, she half-turned and twisted around - was there something in her hand?

As they kissed more passionately as she pulled him down to her body, the camera slowly descended down her side of the bed. When it lowered to the floor, the camera came to rest on a close-up of the murder weapon - a thin, steel-handled icepick.

The finale of the ambiguous film arbitrarily left the inexplicable question of the guilt and/or innocence of the main character still up in the air --?

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)

The Phantasm Was Andrea

The plot twist/spoiler in the downbeat and sad ending of this animated version of the Batman tale was that the murderous, masked, and vengeful vigilante villain Phantasm was not Carl Beaumont (voice of Stacy Keach), but his red-haired, blue-eyed daughter Andrea (voice of Dana Delany) - using his voice and assuming his identity to exact revenge on mob bosses led by Salvatore "The Wheezer" Valestra (voice of Abe Vigoda) and a paid hitman (the future Joker (voice of Mark Hamill), one of Valestra's mob members at the time) who were responsible for her father's death.

She had vengefully killed Chuckie Sol and other gangsters, shifting the blame to her father as necessary by using her father's voice. In the film's conclusion, she shockingly rejected lover Bruce Wayne/Batman's (voice of Kevin Conroy) plea to forsake revenge and start a life with him - when Batman couldn't convince her to give up her revenge, Andrea vanished, and Batman battled against the Joker within a miniatured version of Gotham City and the old World's Fair grounds. The entire area was wired with explosives, and everyone (including Andrea who reappeared) escaped or disappeared in clouds of smoke and fire.

Batman was propelled down a waterway and found himself back in his Batcave, where he was grief-stricken about not having saved Andrea. Alfred consoled him: "I don't think she wanted to be saved, sir. Vengeance blackens the soul, Bruce...No one, not even you, could have pulled her back." Batman discovered a locket that Andrea left for him in the Batcave, containing a portrait of the two of them.

The film ended sadly - Andrea was seen standing alone on the deck of an ocean liner, while Batman was simultaneously standing alone on the ledge of a city building, looking out at the Bat-Signal shining in the sky. He lept and swung off the building, to pursue further vigilante-style crime-fighting.

Bay of Blood (1971, It.) (aka Twitch of the Death Nerve, Reazione a Catena, or Ecology of a Crime)

The Murderers Were Shot By Their Own Children

Mario Bava's influential and controversial, bloody Italian horror-thriller (one of the first slasher films) told about numerous murders (over a dozen) related to the acquisition-inheritance of the deed to some lake-bayfront property.

In the film's ironic final shocking scene, two of the film's murderers: Renata (Claudine Auger) and husband Albert (Luigi Pistilli), had originally come to the lake to investigate the disappearance of her father Filippo Donati (Giovanni Nuvoletti), the unlamented husband of the late Countess Federica (Isa Miranda).

The two were abruptly shot-gunned to death as they stood at the trunk of their Mercedes. They were talking about how they had eliminated all competitors for the property, and that there were no other living heirs: "The whole bay will be legally ours." The two hugged each other with congratulations ("All's well that ends well") when a killer called out: "Mommy, Daddy!" and shot them dead.

As the next blurry shot came into focus, it showed their two young children at a trailer window: a boy with the shotgun and a red-headed, pig-tailed girl next to him (uncredited Renato Cestie and Nicoletta Elmi) who gleefully said: "Gee, they're good at playing dead, aren't they?"

They ran down to the bay to play as the film ended.

A Beautiful Mind (2001)

Nash's Friends (Parcher, Charles, and Marcee) Were All Delusionary Parts of His Mind

Director Ron Howard's Best Picture-winning biopic about Nobel Prize-winning mathematician John Forbes Nash, Jr. (Russell Crowe) began with the early years of the academic's life, as he began to exhibit signs of suffering from the mental disorder of paranoid schizophrenia, causing significant delusions. Although Nash in real-life had only auditory hallucinations, the film portrayed them as both auditory and visual.

The surprising twist in the film was that three pivotal characters were only Nash's hallucinations:

  • at the Pentagon's Department of Defense, mysterious agent William Parcher (Ed Harris) who had given Nash a code-breaking assignment to detect secret Soviet messages embedded in newspapers and magazines,
  • Nash's former "prodigal roommate" Charles Herman (Paul Bettany), and
  • Charles' young niece Marcee (Vivien Cardone)

In a dramatic scene in the film, Nash's wife Alicia (Jennifer Connelly) discovered that Nash had turned their abandoned garage-shed into an office while working for Parcher, littering it with bits of newspaper, magazine clippings and code. She ran back to the house and saved their infant baby from being accidentally drowned by Nash in the bathtub (Nash claimed: "Charles was watching him - he was OK" although Alicia shouted back: "There is no one here!").

Meanwhile, Parcher attempted to persuade Nash that he was going to murder his wife ("She'll compromise us again") as she frantically phoned the doctor. Nash suffered a nervous breakdown when all three characters appeared to him in the same scene, but still was able to realize that they were only fabrications - he admitted his revelation concerning Marcee to Alicia: "She never gets old. Marcee can't be real. She never gets old."

Nash's psychiatric doctor Dr. Rosen (Christopher Plummer) advised Nash, who had gone off his medications: "Without treatment, John, the fantasies may take over entirely." Stress triggered his delusions upon his return to Princeton. To end his association with the fabricated characters, Nash shouted back, first at Parcher: "You are not real...There's no mission! I'm not a soldier!" and tried to ignore his 'best' friend Charles' and Marcee's presence. He determinedly vowed to them: "I won't talk to you again. I just can't. Same goes for you, baby girl. Goodbye." He refused to acknowledge their existence, although he was still haunted by them from time to time:

They're not gone. And maybe they never will be. But I've gotten used to ignoring them and I think as a result they've kind of given up on me...They're my past...Everybody's haunted by their past.

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

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