10 Famous Movie Endings That Were Total Accidents

Forgetting to call "cut!" gave The Graduate one of cinema's most iconic endings.

The Graduate Ending Katharine Ross Dustin Hoffman
United Artists

There's no denying that an ending can either make or break a movie - get it right and it's a fitting cherry on top, but screw it up and it can torpedo the audience's entire perception of the film.

Writers, directors, and actors labour over their endings to ensure that viewers are left feeling exact the emotion they intended, whether joy, despair, or befuddlement.

And so, it's quite inconceivable to consider that some of the most famous, iconic, and instantly recognisable endings throughout the history of cinema were actually complete accidents.

Sometimes a technical issue, an intrusion from nature, or life itself simply happening results in a planned ending being changed on-the-fly.

While this has the potential to create massive headaches for filmmakers just trying to hit their planned markers, canny directors are able to roll with the punches and see what fate gives them.

In the case of these 10 movies, unforgettable endings were realised thanks to sheer dumb luck, though the directors at least had the good sense to see the cinematic value in what they captured, rather than simply scrapping the take and stubbornly trying again...

10. The Trippy Final Shot Was Due To A Faulty Camera - The Last Temptation Of Christ

The Graduate Ending Katharine Ross Dustin Hoffman

Martin Scorsese's biblical drama The Last Temptation Of Christ concludes with Jesus (Willem Dafoe) dying on the cross, the film abruptly ending as the frame is enveloped by a strange array of ethereal lighting patterns before transitioning to the end credits.

Though audiences quite reasonably assume this final lighting trick was an entirely intentional flourish from a master filmmaker to symbolise Jesus' journey off the mortal plane, it was actually a total accident.

During shooting, there was a technical issue with the camera used to film the scene, and upon reviewing the footage Scorsese discovered that the colour integrity of the image had been compromised.

But Scorsese ultimately liked the effect enough that he decided to keep it as the movie's mesmerising final image. And yet, looking at the film in all of its haunting ambition, it never seems anything less than completely intentional.

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Stay at home dad who spends as much time teaching his kids the merits of Martin Scorsese as possible (against the missus' wishes). General video game, TV and film nut. Occasional sports fan. Full time loon.