Movie buffs will often tell you that they saw an ending coming from a mile away, and it’s true, there are plenty of films out there that are formulaic. Take, for example, one of those “inspirational inner city sports coach” films—you pretty much know how they’re going to end almost before they get started. But every once in a while, we get a movie that surprises us and blows us away with its ending. Many of these twist endings are now the stuff of parody or homage, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t exciting when they first appeared on the big screen. Here are 10 of them. (Spoilers ahead, naturally.)
10. The Terminator (1984)
When Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese were making their first of many escapes from the T-800, all audiences knew was that “the Terminator is an infiltration unit, part man, part machine. Underneath, it’s a hyperalloy combat chassis. Microprocessor controlled, fully armored, very tough. But outside, it’s living human tissue: flesh, skin, hair, blood, grown for the cyborgs.” Towards the end of the film, the T-800 is caught in an explosion and then falls to the ground, burning. Audiences figured if the flesh is destroyed, the machine won’t survive, and the movie is over, right? Nope. The endoskeleton rises from the flames and continues its pursuit for another 12 minutes or so of screen time before finally being crushed in a hydraulic press. But what a crazy 12 minutes.