The best movie twists are the ones that change everything that came before it. Ones that make you want to immediately go back and rewatch the movie for clues you may have missed.
Movies like this are the reason spoiler warnings were invented, so consider yourself warned. However these twists were so good that they’ve become common pop culture knowledge and required viewing for any film fan. So if you still don’t know who Luke Skywalker’s father is, we apologize in advance.
Here are 10 shocking plot twists you never saw coming
Empire Strikes Back
The first Star Wars film set up one of cinema’s all time greatest villains. Not only did we see Darth Vader is willing to decimate entire planets, we also learned that he was directly responsible for the death of our hero’s father. Fans who lined up around the block to see Luke take on Vader had no idea what was in store for them.
Can you imagine what would have happened if Empire Strikes Back had come out in the internet age? One of the all-time greatest movie plot twists probably would have been spoiled for millions by fanboys who had just had their minds blown. Considered by many to be the definitive Star Wars movie, Empire set the bar for franchise plot twists.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows
You have to give J.K. Rowling credit for keeping a secret for seven books and seven movies. Snape was always one of the most interesting characters in the Harry Potter universe, but we had no idea how important his role would be until the story’s final instalment. Clearly never a fan of Potter’s, we never knew if the professor was a full fledged practitioner of the dark arts, or just kind of a dick. When he killed Dumbledore at the end of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, that question seemed to have a pretty definitive answer.
In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows it’s revealed that this was all part of an elaborate plan Snape and Dumbledore concocted and Snape has been helping Harry all along, it changes everything you thought you knew about the character. Acting out of an unrequited love for Harry’s mother, it’s Snape who sacrifices the most to rid the world of Voldemort.
Is there a more messed up, harder hitting twist ending than Oldboy? I don’t think so. When Dae-Su Oh finally learns the reason behind his mysterious 16 year incarceration and the strange string of events that followed, he probably wished he’d never gotten out of that hotel room. An elaborate revenge plot involving hypnosis and incest make this one of the most shocking movie endings of all time.
The Force Awakens
With The Force Awakens now on Blu-ray, Star Wars fans have had ample opportunity to see it. The cat’s out of the bag. Our favourite smuggler bit the dust at the hands of his own son. This development had people talking in hushed tones when the film was first released for fear of spoiling it for anyone who hadn’t seen it yet. It was the best kept secret in a film with many secrets and surprises. With much of the movie based around Solo, it felt like a proper sendoff while also setting up Kylo Ren as a heartless villain. If only Han had known that walking out onto a bridge like that never ends well in Star Wars.
The ending of The Departed confused many people. The movie had so many double crosses that you’re left with a pile of rats with their tales in one big knot. Mark Wahlberg’s character seemed to be the only honest cop, until the film’s last scene when we see him take out Matt Damon’s character gangland style. While Wahlberg is still acting in the interest of the police, he’s employing the other side’s tactics to get the job done.
Book of Eli
The Book of Eli did an excellent of foreshadowing its twist without giving it away. As we follow Denzel Washington’s Eli through this post apocalyptic world, nobody else seems better equipped to handle its threats. More than capable of defending himself against cannibals and other enemies, it’s revealed at the end that he has been navigating these dangers without the benefit of sight. If you watch the film with this knowledge you’ll notice him listening and feeling his way through scenes as Eli takes a page out of Daredevil’s book by using his other heightened senses to survive.
The Usual Suspects
The Usual Suspects is about a mastermind criminal pulling the wool over a detective’s eyes, and fooling all of us in the process. Director Brian Singer crafted such an elaborate web of lies that even the most of the cast didn’t know who the real Keyser Soze was until they saw the film. Singer pulls a real cinematic magic trick by having us look one way and believe Gabriel Byrne’s Keaton had orchestrated the film’s events before revealing that the real puppet master was in front of us all along. You can’t blame Detective Dave Kujan for not suspecting the crippled Verbal Kint, Kevin Spacey’s performance was so convincing that he won an actor for his role.
The Sixth Sense
Sixth Sense is known for having one of the best twist endings of all time. It was so good that writer/ director M. Night Shyamalan has been trying to match it ever since with very little luck. Watching the movie now, it seems painfully obvious that Bruce Willis’s character dies in the first scene and is a ghost for the rest of the film, but seeing it for the first time in 1999 had audiences getting right back in line to find the clues they missed the first time around.
The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club’s ending with someone who hasn’t seen it. The second rule of Fight Club is: expect the unexpected. This explosive, mind-bending action comedy helped the 90s go out with a bang by pitting Edward Norton’s narrator against his alter ego Tyler Durden. Once you realize the two are one in the same, it seems so illogical that revisiting the film would surely disprove this left turn, yet scrutinizing Fight Club only reveals that David Fincher knew exactly what he was doing the entire time.
The name Shutter Island is an anagram for “Truth and Lies”, which is quite fitting for the story that sees Leonardo DiCaprio’s detective character Teddy Daniels investigating a patient missing from a hospital for the criminally insane. Much like Fight Club, the delusional protagonist turns out to be his own antagonist, as Daniels learns that he is in fact the missing the patient and what we’ve been watching is an elaborate fantasy the character created to deal with past trauma.