10 Best Unscripted Movie Endings Ever

The films that made an art form out of winging it.

Captain Phillips
Columbia Pictures

Ending a movie is a tough job, as depending on how it lands a finale can often make or break the film in question, regardless of how great or terrible the build-up had been.

Over the years, there have been literally hundreds of brilliant movie endings, from every genre under the sun, but many of the best are only so effective because they've been planned, rehearsed, and perfected long before they were actually shot.

That's not the case with the following endings, though, all of which came together at the last minute thanks to a sudden burst of director creativity, inspired improvisation from actors, or post-production edits that concluded the story in the best way.

From superhero blockbusters to beloved romantic epics, sci-fi thrillers and coming-of-age tearjerkers, the following 10 movies all came to an end on the fly, and as time has proven were all effortlessly improved by their sparks of behind-the-scenes magic.

With that in mind - and a warning about spoilers for each film discussed - here are 10 phenomenal movie endings that were totally unscripted. Shout out to the recent Reddit discussion that inspired this list too, which brings us nicely to our first entry...

10. You're Okay - Captain Phillips (2013)

Captain Phillips
Sony Pictures

Paul Greengrass's re-telling of the 2009 Maersk Alabama hijacking comes to a head when the eponymous Captain Rich Phillips (Tom Hanks) is saved from the Somali pirates holding him for ransom and ushered aboard the USS Bainbridge to receive medical attention.

Though this scene seems well planned and rehearsed, especially when you notice the brilliance of Hanks's harrowing performance as Phillips breaks down, the truth is the whole thing was filmed as an improvisation, complete with real life medics who were thrown into the scene at the last minute. According to Hanks:

"We went down there — and we had the actual crew of the ship that we were shooting on — and said, 'What would you do to someone that came in here?' And they said, 'Well, we'd lay them down here, and we'd do this and this and this.' Paul said, 'Well, shall we give a try?' We shot it — I don't know, four or five times, I guess. We had, literally, the crew of the infirmary. They didn't know they were going to be in a movie that day."

Considering the raw emotion of the scene, its origins really are something to marvel over.

Contributor
Contributor

I get to write about what I love, so that's pretty cool. Be excellent to each other.