The Greatest Movies With Shocking Twists, Ranked

Spoilers for anyone who hasn't seen all these classic twist/surprise ending movies!

Remember how you felt the first time you realized the true identity of Keyser Soze? Or the disbelief regarding the ending of Memento? This is a list of the best twist endings in cinematic history. You know, the kind of conclusions that make your jaw-drop, your heart stop, and your head hurt because they are so unexpected. This collection features all your favorite shocking movie endings, that left you speechless, but which of these movies with twist endings are truly the best? It's time to vote!

Certain directors have a knack for telling stories that make you shriek OMG or WTF during Act III. Filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan is so innovative with his twist endings, that even when we’re searching for them, we still can’t find them anywhere in the narrative. Auteur directors like Christopher Nolan (Memento, The Prestige) and David Fincher (The Game, Se7en, Fight Club) are also repeat twist-ending offenders/geniuses/brain-benders, who somehow shock us to our core, despite the jaded media-rich world we live in.

Will you need to watch all of these films repeatedly to truly absorb the twists? Absolutely. These movies were actually meant to be watched several times. Think you can spot evidence of the twist in a film like Fight Club? Fincher wants you to find the clues (after you’ve seen the movie once), in fact the clues are everywhere within frame. Run it back with a fine-tooth comb. You just have to look closely for them.

Many films today have some sort of plot twist within the story, some more obvious than others. The movies listed here are simply the best use of the shocking device. Did we miss any of your beloved jaw-droppers? Let us know in the comment section and be sure to vote up best movies with twist endings below!

Photo: Fight Club / 20th Century Fox

  • 1
    9,919 VOTES

    Troubled and scared Cole (Haley Joel Osment) sees dead people in M. Night Shyamalan's 1999 psychological thriller that forever changed the way we tell ghost stories. Renowned child psychologist Dr. Malcom Crowe (Bruce Willis) is hired to help Cole with his ghost-issues.

    The big twist that no one saw coming is that Crowe is a ghost himself, killed in the home invasion that took place at the beginning of the film.

    • Actors: Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, Olivia Williams, Donnie Wahlberg
    • Released: 1999
    • Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
    9,919 votes

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  • 2
    7,580 VOTES

    “What’s in the box? What’s in the box?” John Doe (Kevin Spacey) completes his serial killing spree of following the seven deadly sins by forcing Detective Mills (Brad Pitt) to shoot him, when it’s revealed in a jaw-dropping twist that he decapitated Mills's wife (Gwyneth Paltrow) out of envy.

    • Actors: Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, R. Lee Ermey, Richard Roundtree
    • Released: 1995
    • Directed by: David Fincher
    7,580 votes

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  • 3
    7,058 VOTES

    Who is the ruthless criminal genius Keyser Soze? No way is it that bumbling, handicapped, feeble criminal Verbal Kint, who can barely look the detective in the eye during questioning. Oh wait, yeah it is. Kevin Spacey earned an Academy Award with his trickery, and The Usual Suspects is widely considered the greatest twist ending of the modern day neo-noir.

    • Actors: Stephen Baldwin, Gabriel Byrne, Chazz Palminteri, Kevin Pollak, Pete Postlethwaite
    • Released: 1995
    • Directed by: Bryan Singer
    7,058 votes

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  • 4
    7,326 VOTES

    David Fincher's 1999 postmodern classic about the perils of consumerism and the feminization of the American male has shocked and horrified audiences perhaps more than any film in past 25 years. Our narrator (Ed Norton) meets a macho male named Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), who is intent on blowing up the world in order to start over. The hard-to-believe plot twist (that you actually should've seen coming) is that the narrator suffers from dissociative identity disorder.

    He and Tyler are actually the same person. Mind blown, literally, the narrator shoots himself in the face at the end of the movie in order to kill Tyler.

    • Actors: Brad Pitt, Ed Norton, Helena Bonham Carter, Meat Loaf, Jared Leto
    • Released: 1999
    • Directed by: David Fincher
    7,326 votes

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  • 5
    4,807 VOTES

    Is there a better acting debut in film history than Ed Norton's Academy Award-nominated turn as Aaron in the 1996 courtroom drama Primal Fear? Aaron fooled everyone, even convinced a court of law that it was the dark side of his split personality, a mean guy named Roy, who killed the archbishop.

    The WTF moment smacked audiences on the side of the head when Aaron revealed to his lawyer (Richard Gere) that Roy did not really exist.

    • Actors: Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Ed Norton, John Mahoney, Alfre Woodard
    • Released: 1996
    • Directed by: Gregory Hoblit
    4,807 votes

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  • 6
    5,743 VOTES

    A ghost story in the truest sense of the word. Grace (Nicole Kidman) must keep her children safe at all costs, the kids suffer from a disease where they can have absolutely no contact with sunlight. Grace also suffers from near-debilitating migraine headaches. The mansion they live in is cold and dark. Grace is militant about the rules in the house.

    The kicker is that Grace and her two kids are actually all ghosts, it's revealed that Grace killed both her kids in a crazed-state, then took her own life.

    • Actors: Nicole Kidman, Christopher Eccleston, Alakina Mann, James Bentley, Fionnula Flanagan
    • Released: 2001
    • Directed by: Alejandro Amenábar
    5,743 votes

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