One of the first rules of screenwriting has to be ensuring over the course of your movie characters goes through a journey, changing in the process. Even if a film has the most enticing plot in the world, if there’s no one to lead you and have some discernable stake in it all, why would you bother? Even plot heavy films like Christopher Nolan’s Inception have a relatable character at their centre, giving a journey as heartbreaking as the film is breathtaking.

But some films do it different. They’ll send the character through the wringer, only for our hero to come out the other end in exactly the same state as when they went in. Sometimes it’s intentional, most of the time it’s not, often hidden with happy songs or dazzling visuals. Only after you’ve left the cinema, gone home, made a cup of tea and sit down with a digestive biscuit do you realise the lovely person you spent two hours in the company of is as flawed as they were at the start.

To save you the gut wrenching shock, here’s seven classic films where the protagonists end up in the same sorry state they were in the first place. It’s not directly a bad thing; there’s at least two entries on this where it’s clear the lack of development was planned. However, more often than not it can leave a rather large gap in character motivations, potentially muddying what should by all rights be a masterpiece.

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This article was first posted on June 18, 2013