10 Sci-Fi Movie Endings No One Understands

The twists, time loops, and surreal head trips which left viewers wondering "What the..."

Beyond The Black Rainbow
Magnet Releasing

Some sci-fi movies are almost impossible to understand.

Sure, there are plenty of Star Wars and Star Treks to go around, and mainstream sci-fi will always be popular at the multiplex, but outside of the genre’s more approachable side, there are always more strange, thoughtful, and downright surreal offerings in sci-fi which defy all explanation.

This very site has done at least two run downs of the most hard-to-decipher sci-fi films of all time, and there are always new films to add to the likes of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Donnie Darko.

But whilst some sci-fi films are inscrutable from the first frame onwards, many start off relatively easy to follow and only begin to show their oddity and complexity later in the game. That’s how you end up with a list like this, a rundown of great sci-fi movies which began straightforward only to close on scenes so confusing they needed another movie’s worth of runtime to break them down.

With that in mind, here are the sci-fi film denouements which left film fans sitting, staring, and wondering “denoue-what?” (sorry).

Spoilers to follow, obviously.

10. 12 Monkeys - What Was The Point Of Time Travelling?

Beyond The Black Rainbow
Universal Pictures

Released in 1995, Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys may be one of the perpetually studio-stifled former Python’s most beloved films.

However, like his equally acclaimed earlier effort Brazil, it’s also one of the filmmaker’s bleakest hours. The film follows our potentially insane hero Cole after an epidemic wipes out much of the world. Sent too far back in time and ending up in an asylum, he attempts to inform himself of the danger in order to stop the tragedy ever occurring.

However, Cole is soon stuck being bounced back and forth between intersecting timelines in a story which becomes more bizarre and byzantine the further it progresses. By the end of the film our nominal hero is dying in front of his younger self, embodying a nightmare he’s had throughout the movie.

But… Why?

Why send him back if he was doomed to repeat this fate? What would have happened if he hadn’t gone back? What was the point?

This knotty, complex film posits that you can change what you take from the past, even if you can’t alter what happened back then through an uncompromisingly bleak and convoluted plot.


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