What do you all think of twist endings?

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We've all seen them, the ending where suddenly something out of the blue pops up and makes you think about what the hell just happened. They could be say the classic one where it's all a dream or the mindfuck ones where you need to think for yourself to figure out what everything means.

So Escapist, what is your favorite twist ending, what is the worst twist ending you've seen (No Mass Effect 3 please, otherwise all of you would say it) and what do you think of twist endings in general. Also please put all ending details in spoilers.

Personally my favorite twist ending is from the movie of "The Woman in Black"

My worst is probably every single movie/tv show that ends with "It was all a dream!". It's just so unoriginal now, it also basically means that nothing actually happened in the story, there were no stakes and no real life consequences. I reckon it's fine if you don't just say it was a dream, but use "it was a dream" as one of the ways the audience can see the ending.

I love twist endings! Well, as long as they are pulled off intelligently, i.e., don't suck and aren't the ultra cheap "it was all a dream" (though, it could be good).

As for favourite one...the movie Basic might count if it didn't consist of only plot twists every 10 minutes. Sixth Sense was good. Also Fight Club. I liked American Psycho, too.

I've read a lot short stories with amazing twist endings, too. Robert Sheckley's stories do that fairly frequently and pull it off good. Although, it's frequently just a plot twist (i.e., not at the very end) such as with Protection - what would it be if a supernatural creature wanted to protect you from danger.

But I loved another story called...Weapon, I believe.

But I'd say that the best twist is in the movie Primer. Go watch that movie and have some aspirin handy for the headache you'll receive. The plot is that good.

DoPo:

But I'd say that the best twist is in the movie Primer. Go watch that movie and have some aspirin handy for the headache you'll receive. The plot is that good.

I honestly didn't thunk it was that good. Yes, a nice twist, but...

You know, The Usual Suspects takes the cake.

Oh and my opinion on twist endings? If done good, they can really be well, but if executed poorly they're just terrible.

I like twist endings but only if I don't know there will be a twist. If I know there's a twist I'll sit there trying to work it out and ruin the surprise. Like the film A Perfect Getaway I guessed the twist in that within 25 minutes. Then again I do like working it out, it appeals to the inner Sherlock Holmes.

I often find that if I know a movie has a twist in it, I'm more likely to not be surprised as I spend the entire movie trying to work out what the twist is. Going in unprepared and then getting hit by a twist is a great experience though.

I love twist endings because so many stories are predictable. For me, a good twist should completely evade me until it hits, and then I want to be able to look back in hindsight and see the very subtle clues.

Any bad twists are predictable or just come so far out of left field that even my hindsight bias, is like, 'yeah, that was just stupid.' because there was no real set up or subtle hints.

I do like them but if I can see it coming... Meh. And a lot of movies and games out there get twist endings wrong.

I feel like they are overdone at this point. Every movie or game wants to have a twist. As a result of that, it takes a truly great writer to make one that does not feel overdone or cliche.

I find them interesting, like the Usual Suspects.

One thing I want to ask. I'm currently writing a fanfiction and at the end of the fic the main character is climbing up a mountain to get an ingredient for a cure that will help her daughter. But she is buried under an avalanche with the ingredient in hand. I'm putting in a scene where a mysterious black figure helps her out of the snow then the next chapter starts with the character in a hospital. Everything is fine, the daughter's illness is cured and everyone is happy. But then the daughter's dead blood parents walk in.
May I ask, is this a good twist?

Twist endings, when done right, are absolutely brilliant. Done poorly... well, there's a reason for some people to not like them in general. Doing it right requires an appropriate amount of foreshadowing, which generally allows for the more attentive members of the audience to predict the twist to an extent; the shocking revelation/event is hinted at but remains on the fence until it actually happens. For some good (and bad) examples of twist endings...

So yes, twist endings simply can't come out of nowhere; if anything, that's the sign of a bad one which was jammed in there for the sake of having a twist ending. Proper and adequate foreshadowing is absolutely required, and it's only when the twist actually happens does anything become definite. The twist could be exactly what the foreshadowing was implying or the opposite, but the key detail is that didn't come from nothing.

Unless it's meant to be random and funny, but even that requires plenty of implied (if not explicit) weirdness established over the course of the story beforehand.

I typically prefer good old-fashioned straight-forward endings, and I do feel like there's too much of a trend in movies and video games today, where they throw in a half-assed twist ending, just because they think that a twist ending is a necessary thing.

I think a twist ending is a storytelling tool that should only be employed if it's the best possible option. One example that stick out in my head is the 2010 movie Repo Men. I won't spoil the twist, but if you've seen the movie, you know how tacked-on and random the twist seemed. I think there was only one line of throw-away dialogue earlier in the movie that hinted towards the twist. I'd have a much fonder memory of the movie if they had just played the ending straight.

I love twist-endings. They make you think twice about the film and give you a new perspective.

If done right, they can leave the audience in a complete sense of awe, thus raising the profit of the item as they refer others to it.

If done wrong, they can end up feeling cheated *cough cough ME3* and the whole thing can seem as a waste of money.

Please don't quote me just over the ME3 reference. It was an example.

Nyaoku:
If done right, they can leave the audience in a complete sense of awe, thus raising the profit of the item as they refer others to it.

If done wrong, they can end up feeling cheated *cough cough ME3* and the whole thing can seem as a waste of money.

Please don't quote me just over the ME3 reference. It was an example.

Could you maybe give me an example of a good twist ending? I haven't really seen many in this thread so far.

I just love twist's when they're done well, and actually make sense and aren't entirely predictable. Otherwise... meh. My all time favorite twist was in Silent Hill 2, where pretty much everything in the Lakeview Hotel was surprising, yet fitting. The worst twist, however, was in Heavy Rain. The killer actually killed someone while we were playing as him, so I guess the camera just kind of broke for a couple of seconds?

ToastiestZombie:

Nyaoku:
If done right, they can leave the audience in a complete sense of awe, thus raising the profit of the item as they refer others to it.

If done wrong, they can end up feeling cheated *cough cough ME3* and the whole thing can seem as a waste of money.

Please don't quote me just over the ME3 reference. It was an example.

Could you maybe give me an example of a good twist ending? I haven't really seen many in this thread so far.

Well I don't know the name of the movie but the whole time it looked like he was being framed as some guy who owed these two drug lords money, and was being ordered to work by both of them against one another. At the end, you find out that he actually planned it out and killed the guy who did owe the money in order to take his place to get revenge on the guys, killing them both at the same time with a plastic bag. I don't remember the name of it but it started out with some old guy in a wheelchair at the airport who at the end, says something about a 'Kansas Shuffle' before snapping the guy-who-really-owed-the-money's neck. Good luck finding it.

ToastiestZombie:
One thing I want to ask. I'm currently writing a fanfiction and at the end of the fic the main character is climbing up a mountain to get an ingredient for a cure that will help her daughter. But she is buried under an avalanche with the ingredient in hand. I'm putting in a scene where a mysterious black figure helps her out of the snow then the next chapter starts with the character in a hospital. Everything is fine, the daughter's illness is cured and everyone is happy. But then the daughter's dead blood parents walk in.
May I ask, is this a good twist?

I don't know, the way you describe it it sounds really like a shocking swerve where you have nonsensical (in the context of what has happened so far) thing happen for the sake of it being nonsensical and twisty.

Nyaoku:

ToastiestZombie:

Nyaoku:
If done right, they can leave the audience in a complete sense of awe, thus raising the profit of the item as they refer others to it.

If done wrong, they can end up feeling cheated *cough cough ME3* and the whole thing can seem as a waste of money.

Please don't quote me just over the ME3 reference. It was an example.

Could you maybe give me an example of a good twist ending? I haven't really seen many in this thread so far.

Well I don't know the name of the movie but the whole time it looked like he was being framed as some guy who owed these two drug lords money, and was being ordered to work by both of them against one another. At the end, you find out that he actually planned it out and killed the guy who did owe the money in order to take his place to get revenge on the guys, killing them both at the same time with a plastic bag. I don't remember the name of it but it started out with some old guy in a wheelchair at the airport who at the end, says something about a 'Kansas Shuffle' before snapping the guy-who-really-owed-the-money's neck. Good luck finding it.

Sounds a bit like Lucky Number Slevin, which I enjoyed massively.

DoPo:

ToastiestZombie:
One thing I want to ask. I'm currently writing a fanfiction and at the end of the fic the main character is climbing up a mountain to get an ingredient for a cure that will help her daughter. But she is buried under an avalanche with the ingredient in hand. I'm putting in a scene where a mysterious black figure helps her out of the snow then the next chapter starts with the character in a hospital. Everything is fine, the daughter's illness is cured and everyone is happy. But then the daughter's dead blood parents walk in.
May I ask, is this a good twist?

I don't know, the way you describe it it sounds really like a shocking swerve where you have nonsensical (in the context of what has happened so far) thing happen for the sake of it being nonsensical and twisty.

I'm gonna not do the scene with the mysterious dark figure, and add a chapter before the hero goes to the mountain where she and her daughter have their final conversation. I'm also gonna be making the scene in the hospital have none of the actual alive characters in, further inferring that the main character and her daughter had died and gone to heaven.

snappydog:

Nyaoku:

ToastiestZombie:

Could you maybe give me an example of a good twist ending? I haven't really seen many in this thread so far.

Well I don't know the name of the movie but the whole time it looked like he was being framed as some guy who owed these two drug lords money, and was being ordered to work by both of them against one another. At the end, you find out that he actually planned it out and killed the guy who did owe the money in order to take his place to get revenge on the guys, killing them both at the same time with a plastic bag. I don't remember the name of it but it started out with some old guy in a wheelchair at the airport who at the end, says something about a 'Kansas Shuffle' before snapping the guy-who-really-owed-the-money's neck. Good luck finding it.

Sounds a bit like Lucky Number Slevin, which I enjoyed massively.

Yea, that's it.

I think they're done far too often in certain genres to the point where it'd be more unexpected for there NOT to be some sort of twist ending. You all know which ones I mean.

DoPo:

ToastiestZombie:
One thing I want to ask. I'm currently writing a fanfiction and at the end of the fic the main character is climbing up a mountain to get an ingredient for a cure that will help her daughter. But she is buried under an avalanche with the ingredient in hand. I'm putting in a scene where a mysterious black figure helps her out of the snow then the next chapter starts with the character in a hospital. Everything is fine, the daughter's illness is cured and everyone is happy. But then the daughter's dead blood parents walk in.
May I ask, is this a good twist?

I don't know, the way you describe it it sounds really like a shocking swerve where you have nonsensical (in the context of what has happened so far) thing happen for the sake of it being nonsensical and twisty.

I'm more trying to make the ending an, everythings fine until a sudden realization hits ending. The two main characters are dead, the reader just doesn't know it until the final line.

ToastiestZombie:

DoPo:

ToastiestZombie:
One thing I want to ask. I'm currently writing a fanfiction and at the end of the fic the main character is climbing up a mountain to get an ingredient for a cure that will help her daughter. But she is buried under an avalanche with the ingredient in hand. I'm putting in a scene where a mysterious black figure helps her out of the snow then the next chapter starts with the character in a hospital. Everything is fine, the daughter's illness is cured and everyone is happy. But then the daughter's dead blood parents walk in.
May I ask, is this a good twist?

I don't know, the way you describe it it sounds really like a shocking swerve where you have nonsensical (in the context of what has happened so far) thing happen for the sake of it being nonsensical and twisty.

I'm more trying to make the ending an, everythings fine until a sudden realization hits ending. The two main characters are dead, the reader just doesn't know it until the final line.

Ah, that's better. I just didn't get that from the short description. That would be better.

ToastiestZombie:
Snoppity snop

I have never liked that 'It was all just a dream' plot twist. It would simply ruin the entire film for me no matter how wonderful I found it. You know whenever you really get sucked into a film and really feel what's going on, how the characters feel and like you're really there with them? It's just ruined once they play that card. That's what irritated me about the film The Wizard of Oz and its sequel. In the book, it was real; in the film, it wasn't. Although that was technically the audience's fault, if I remember correctly, haha.

I think it was someone said it's better for a twist to be midway through the story than at right at the end, I forget who but I agree. I don't mind twist endings but unless it's warming up to a sequel it's better to be half way through.

They can definately make a movie interesting Not sure if it counts but fight club definately throws quite a twist in there that makes you "wait what?"

I dunno...I have never genuinely been surprised by a twist ending. I have never gone and said 'WHAT!' in an outraged and shocked manner. No twist has ever really surprised me.

The scene in TDK with Rachel and Dent was great though, I honestly did not see that coming.

i like twist endings if there is some build up to it, like some subtle hints or somthing

They rarely surprise me. But they can be necessary.

I hate it when they add a twist ending just for the sake of having one though.

I thought Arkham City's was very well-played. Too often I can see them coming though.

Darks63:
They can definately make a movie interesting Not sure if it counts but fight club definately throws quite a twist in there that makes you "wait what?"

I suppose that doesn't count because it's not at the very end, but it's still a great twist.

A good twist ending like The Sixth Sense can be amazing.

There are two kinds of twist ending I almost ALWAYS hate. It was all a Dream, and the related "hero's been in a madhouse the whole time".

This always just feels like a cop out to me. Like the writers wrote themselves into a corner and couldn't come up with anything better.

Trust me authors, ANYTHING is better.

Twist endings definitely have their place, but the story itself needs to suit that sort of ending, for the most part. If executed right, a twist ending can still leave a sense of awe and wonder in the viewer/reader/player time and time again. But, twist endings are tricky, and need at least a few things:

1: Foreshadowing. Yes, even if it can be a little obscure, there needs to be either events, facts, or something pointing to what the ending is going to be like. Without foreshadowing, the ending feels like it was pulled out of a dirty ass. But, with proper foreshadowing, a viewer/reader/player can go back, see the evidence and have that, "Oh wow! I can't believe I didn't see that coming! Thats amazingly clever!".

2: Proper execution. I cannot stress enough that it needs to be executed right. If you half-ass a twist ending, you not only cheat yourself, your story, but your audience as well. This much goes without saying. Not only that, but depending on the property, and the quality of the ending, you can end up with a massive uproar from those that loved the book/game/movie/series in general, like a recent video game that shall remain unnamed in this post.

3: Consistency. As well as the above point, consistency is key. Not just in storytelling, but in a lot of things, but storytelling most of all. You need to keep with the themes of your story, make sure the characters don't suddenly change their personality and do something out of character, and above all, keep true to the style of the story. Don't start with a lighter, more cheerful fantasy story, only to end it as a dark, horrifying sci-fi epic would. Extreme example, yes, but if you start the story one way, you ought to keep to it, unless the change is gradual and steady. You don't want to give your audience emotional and mental whiplash.

I hate twist endings. It seems to me like a cop-out where writers acknowledge that they can't make us really think about the ending unless they surprise us. Mid-story twists are nice, but if your ending is completely different from what I was thinking, I'm just going to think that your decisions were stupid and I won't waste me time thinking about them. You can change perspectives without having a twist, and endings should be thematically related to major themes in the earlier parts of the story. Foreshadowing through some throwaway line doesn't help.

Woodsey:
I thought Arkham City's was very well-played. Too often I can see them coming though.

Which one? The reveal of what Protocol 10 really is, or

'Cause I thought the later was weak as hell.

OT: Like everyone else said, they are perfectly fine when done well. When not done well, they can be incredibly lame. Just make sure it is forshadowed properly and fits in well with the themes of the story. Basically, it should feel like it should fit in the story and not come entirely out of left field.

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