10 Movies That Totally Surprised You When They Ended

When a movie doesn't end where you expect.

Pulp Fiction Ending

Generally speaking, the overwhelming majority of movies follow a strict three-act structure and rarely deviate from it, because unless you really know what you're doing as an artist, it's a majorly risky thing to do.

But sometimes enterprising filmmakers decide to toy with audience expectations of narrative structure in playful, entertaining, weird, and just overall unexpected ways.

And so, for better or worse, we were all left genuinely surprised when the movies in question came to an end, whether earlier than we all thought or much, much later.

Inspired by a terrific recent Reddit thread on the subject, these 10 movies all bamboozled audiences with endings that eschewed the typical, expected structure in favour of something a little different.

Perhaps the entire movie was presented out-of-sequence and the final scene was actually in the middle of the story, it offered up an extended action climax nobody expected (or arguably needed), or just kept dishing out additional extended endings like its life depended on it.

In some cases the subversion worked brilliantly and was most certainly a pleasant surprise, while in others it remains hugely divisive to this very day. Either way, nobody saw these endings coming...

10. Pulp Fiction

Pulp Fiction Ending

Pulp Fiction is a textbook example of a movie where, unless you're clock-watching on an initial viewing, you probably have no damn idea when it's going to wrap up.

The narrative is presented as something of a jigsaw puzzle with sequences playing out of order: the diner scene which famously bookends the movie actually unfolds in the story's chronological middle.

And so, when the film abruptly cuts to black after Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) and Vincent (John Travolta) leave the diner with Marsellus Wallace's (Ving Rhames) briefcase, it provides a genuine jolt to the unsuspecting viewer.

Given that Vincent hasn't died at this point in time yet, we're expecting some sort of wraparound epilogue to tie everything together, but Tarantino instead leaves it all jumbled for the viewer to figure out for themselves.

It's a brilliant flourish, of course, and one of the film's most distinctive elements, as was so shamelessly ripped off by a glut of Tarantino imitators in the years that followed.


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.