ByRob Taylor, writer at
Rob Taylor

There's no better feeling when the final scene of a movie is AWESOME! Whether it's shocking, a gut punch, a twist or just a "hell yeah" moment. A great ending can make the whole movie better and has you buzzing, crying or talking about it as you leave the cinema.

In this article, we look at 7 of the best endings that made you pump your fist, clap, cheer or cry. There be spoilers ahead, so if you've not seen a film... look away and don't click the videos!!! You've been warned!

Iron Man

The 2008 original Marvel flick had won nearly everyone over by the time it heads to it's seemingly routine ending. Tony's back at a press conference, only this time going along with the programme and "sticking to the cards", but you REALLY hope he doesn't. One of the biggest reasons the movie did as well as it did was that Jon Favreau ends the movie on one of the best one-two punches in movies to date.

When Tony says "I AM Iron Man", people in theaters cheered, clapped - then with spot on timing, Black Sabbath's Iron Man cuts in as part of an unusually energetic credits design that teased everything from new tech to The Ten Rings to War Machine... and when that SHIELD badge appears on the final notes of the song, it made you WANT to sit through to see Nick Fury's cameo in the stinger and a sequel to be there, right then!

A LOT of the positive word of mouth came from that ending scene and it's amazing to think how much of what we now take for granted from Marvel in terms of cool ideas and style started with that scene.


The 1975 big time debut from Spielberg remains one of his greatest achievements. From it's difficult shooting to the triumphant reception it received, a big part of the films appeal and positive word of mouth came from the upbeat ending.

Many had read the book, which had been a huge seller and one of the myriad of changes made was Hooper's character. A lot of subplots were removed, including an affair with Ellen Brody and Richard Dreyfuss' performance was the most likeable of the film. Many of us didn't want to see him die, even though the book said he would...and he did. Or so we thought.

As well paced and perfectly executed as the death of the Shark is, the icing on the cake is the moment Hooper surfaces and makes his way over to Brody. The sheer relief on Roy Scheider's face matches our own, just as the simple two word exchange of "Quint...No..." matches our own feelings about Robert Shaw's epic character and his demise.

The final shot, of the two guys using whats left of the Orca as a raft to swim home with and in sight of land, just talking, is the perfect ending to one of the most tension filled movies ever.

The Exorcist

The ending of (what at the time was) the most horrific movie of all time has caused some controversy over the years, notably the writer of the book being unhappy that a more upbeat ending was removed by William Friedkin.

Where Jaws benefited from the release of pressure the ending gave - Friedkin disagreed that The Exorcist needed a happy ending, in this case Father Dyer and Detective Kinderman becoming friends, much as he and Father Karras had been.

Friedkin's ending is one of the most powerful ever - the horror in the eyes of Karras as the demon realises he has lost, the sheer brutality of the fall down the steps and the famed performance of Father William O'Malley (the real life priest and first time actor who played Dyer) giving the last rites - what may stun you is that this was right after Friedkin belted him across the face without warning!

I thoroughly recommend tracking down "The Fear Of God: 25 Years Of The Exorcist" in its feature length form. Both this and the removed ending are discussed in detail by O'Malley, Friedkin & Blatty. It's fascinating stuff.

To this day, the final scenes of The Exorcist remains one of the more nihilistic and tragic endings, of a Hollywood movie yet - only really surpassed by.

The Mist

This is arguably the biggest gut punch of an ending in history, it is loved and loathed in equal measure. If you have not seen the film look away more warnings on spoilers.

After finally escaping, the car the survivors are in runs out of gas. Out of options, David Drayton offers the gun to his friends, who all silently agree. Except for his young son, who he is in reality murdering. Moments after this, help arrives and their deaths are for nothing.

Many hate this ending, but as polarizing as it is, it can't be denied it has had a massive influence on modern culture.

Disagree? Well how about The Walking Dead being a direct result of this movie and this ending?

Frank Darabont was given the Walking Dead gig in no small part due to this movie, the tone of Dead is very similar in that anyone can die and often in futility. Two of the actors in that ending were also major characters in the early running of Walking Dead as well, Dale and Andrea.

To me it's Darabont's most satisfying conclusion to a King work, even if the man himself never wrote it that way. Shawshank Redemption was almost anti-climactic and Green Mile was just depressing. This is equally depressing, but it has some heart to it and makes you ask the question "what would you do?"

Without The Mist and it's controversial ending, Walking Dead never gets made and it's already nearly impossible to imagine a world without that show.

The Great Escape

You're kidding right? I know that's what you're thinking but in all seriousness there are few movies that after 3 hours and a depressing (but inevitable outcome) manages to leave you uplifted. How does it manage this?

With the simple combination of Steve McQueen, a baseball and catchers mitt and THAT theme tune. You leave that movie knowing that we won the war, that those who died didn't do so in vain and that Hilts took over the X organisation, running it from the cooler when needed. Even the guard who puts him in the cell knows they can't break him and admires him.

This remains one of the best feelgood endings ever, it gets the blood pumping more than a Rocky win and will make you hum the tune for the rest of the day.

Planet Of The Apes

The original "twist" ending, much ahem aped and copied but never actually bettered belongs to the 1968 Planet Of The Apes.

Why is it so iconic? Well, it's the first scene ever to depict America as a fallen nation, with its totem, the Statue Of Liberty, reduced to a shell. That alone made it inflammatory at the time the movie came out. However coupled with Charlton Heston's mesmerizing performance to that point, and his sheer despair at the reality of his situation, it is one of the most potent images ever put to film.

We all fear our lives being destroyed in this way, what we hold dear being taken from us and to find we are living a lie. That happens to Taylor and the final words, damning all humanity to hell for their insanity is then only punctuated by the ocean.

There is no end score. It is film making at its boldest and most effective.

The Departed

Scorcese has made some amazing movies but none have ended quite like The Departed. It would be easy for us to feel cheated with just a couple of minutes of run-time left, Colin Sullivan has gotten away with it all and is going about his daily life.

Until he comes home to find Dignam (the role Mark Wahlberg was Oscar nominated for) waiting for him. Not only that but he is fully kitted out in forensic booties, suit and gloves. Accepting his fate, a simple "OK" and Sullivan is gunned down, in much the same fashion as he had caused the death of so many others.

Why so good? The last shot of the Rat on the balcony ledge - the perfect metaphor for the whole film and despite this being a heinous, cold blooded killing, it is one you understand, accept and even cheer for.

It's made all the more poignant that Sullivan knows that there will be no 'justice' for him. Dignam has it all covered and he knows it.

He'll get his cop's funeral etc, but all his misdeeds will come come out eventually and sully his "heroic" name. Poetic Justice in cinematic form.

Of course there are other movies that may qualify. Rocky, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Empire Strikes Back could also make the list.


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