10 Sci-Fi Movies Ruined By Terrible Twists

Sometimes the last second twist turns a five star review into a one star reject...

Terminator Salvation
Warner Bros.

We all know that terrible feeling, late in a sci-fi flick which until now has been a pretty solid watch. The frown, the glance to whoever is sitting next to you, and the deep inhale as you reach into your popcorn and cringe, realizing that “god, they’re actually going for this twist”.

Blame Rod Serling, blame M Night Shyamalan, blame whoever you want—As a genre sci-fi is a minefield for dumb last-second reversals and ambitious, often-embarrassingly misjudged twist endings. The protagonist is almost always actually an alien, a robot in disguise, or her own clone, surprising the audience almost as much as it seems to surprise the filmmakers, given that these twists often render the preceding movies completely pointless.

In some cases, the flicks on this list weren’t too bad until their closing reels, and could have been salvaged by the intervention of a braver editor—where are the infamous meddling executives when their powers could be used for good?

In other cases, the twists added to these films were just the last in a long line of bad decisions, and the movies were struggling long before they shot themselves in the foot as they crossed the finish line.

In any case, here’s our run down of ten sci-fi movies which were rendered rubbish by their odious twist endings.

10. Ex Machina

Terminator Salvation
Universal Studios

Okay so this is probably one of the most loved entries on this list, but we here at WhatCulture stand by Ex Machina’s inclusion on here, so let us explain.

Yes, Alex Garland’s chilling sci fi mystery is a tense morality play for much of its runtime, and it’s a thrill to see such skilful work from Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, and Oscar Isaacs alike. The triumvirate run the gambit from naïve but likeable Caleb, to sleazy but strangely enigmatic Nathan, to doe-eyed and innocent but undeniably unsettling Ava, and the movie is often almost unwatchable as it ratchets up the tension whilst also taking time to discuss the philosophical implications of its not-too-inconceivable conceit.

So what’s it doing on this list?

Well, the film makes it clear that Nathan’s downfall comes from his lack of respect for the humanity of his creations. Fast forward to the ending where, in a bit of effective karma, he’s offed by his own robots.

And Caleb meanwhile is left to slowly die, because he—did respect in their humanity? Viewed robots as human, or worthy of freedom? The film is unclear on exactly why this would be a bad thing, and the ending leaves a frustrating feeling of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” which renders all that deep meaningful conversation pointless.


Cathal Gunning hasn't written a bio just yet, but if they had... it would appear here.