What Are Some Good Movies Where The GOOD GUY Fails?*

 Pages 1 2 3 4 5 NEXT

I can't think of a lot of 'downer movies' where, in the end, the good guy dies/fails to stop the nuke/whatever.

I was just wondering if ya'll knew any...

*Movies that end in a cliffhanger don't count.

Does The Devil's Rejects count? I mean, the cop trying to stop the Firefly family went off the rocker and Tiny killed him.

Fight Club
God damnit keep it together Keoul, rule 1, rule 1!

Frodo failed. However, The Return of the King still had a happy ending, so that might not count. But the ring was destroyed by accident, really (in the movie version anyway. In the book I had interpreted it that the ring had told Gollum to piss off, and it was so enraged that Gollum dared disobey it that it destroyed him....forgetting that he was holding it at the time).

There was a sci-fi show I remember watch as a kid (80s) called Blake's 7. It was set in the future about a bunch of rogues/smugglers taking on the evil federation.

Does Looper count?

I think it does. YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.

Fight Club
God damnit keep it together Keoul, rule 1, rule 1!


Kind of an old one, but Chinatown. Holy fuck, Chinatown.

Also, Godard isn't for everyone, but Breathless and My Life to Life are pretty big downers as well.

Edit: And if anime is your thing, anything by Niitsu Makoto (though it's kinda only "downer" by Western standards... his films bleed "mono no aware," a sort of wistfulness or soft sadness toward the impermanence of things, recognizing that loss can be depressing but also beautiful.) Voices of a Distant Star, The Place Promised in Our Early Days, and 5 Centimeters Per Second. All three are great; if I had to pick a fave, prolly the third one.

Edit2: Aaaand for a literal "fails to stop the nuke," Dr. Strangelove! One of the most hilarious movies I've ever seen.


The good guy most certainly fails there, and how, and the bad guy wins.

Also, Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Fly.

The Mist.

But I'd like an example of an epic story/adventure and then the bad guys win.

the original ending to Dodgeball had this. when test audiences complained they put in a deus ex machina (literally called the deus ex machina lottery) to satisfy the plebs

****Spoilers ahead. Don't read this if you don't want to be spoiled****

Aside from the ones everyone else posted, here's a couple:
On The Beach - Based off the book of the same name, it's set in Southern Australia after the world is ravaged by nuclear explosions. The fallout is washing over Northern Australia and is moving further down. The story accounts the lives of the people knowing full well these are their final moments, and that they will die.

Right At Your Door - This is another nuclear movie. Set in Los Angeles, a dirty bomb is set off and a man tries to get his wife. Unfortunately the cops stop him and he is forced to return home, only hoping his wife wasn't in the blast. He ends up barracading his entire home. Unfortunately for our protagonist, it turns out by barracading his home so well, and unfortunately having left a hole in that let the toxic air in but not out, he in essence irradiated himself beyond repair. Gov't comes in and induces a heart attack on him, as he's too contaminated to be let out. It's kind of stupid, but kind of awesome.

Rampage - Probably the only semi-decent Uwe Boll movie. This is about a kid who goes on a rampage in his town, killing many people. He ends up framing his best friend for the crimes and makes it look like his friend committed suicide. Technically the protagonist lives, the guy on the rampage, but seeing as he's also the antagonist of the film/the most evil, evil has won in the case of this film.

Twelve Monkeys - Movie about time travel. Bruce Willis is a convict sent back in time as part of a deal to earn his freedom. The job is to figure out how to stop a viral outbreak that caused the earth's population to be forced underground to survive. Willis finds the source of the outbreak, but just as he's about to kill the man, he is fatally shot. At the same time, a younger version of him watches his future self die.

Buried - Ryan Reynolds plays a man locked in a coffin, buried six feet under. He manages to get contact to the outside and the cops listen to the man who buried Reynolds to find his location. By the end of the movie, the cops find a coffin...Without Reynolds in it. They realize they'll never be able to get to him in time, and he's last seen screaming as dirt caves in on the coffin, burying Reynolds alive.

Knowing - Nicolas Cage finds a bizarre piece of paper written with random numbers. He find out these correspond to previous and upcoming dates. Cage deciphers these events, but is always too late. By the end of the movie, it turns out a massive solar flare is going to hit the Earth, killing everyone. Cage spends his last minutes with his family, waiting for the end.

EDIT: Hint, it's a Joss Whedon movie.

...has a pretty famous downer ending.

Generally speaking, every crime film made from the '30s into the late '60s that focused on the criminal/s (i.e. as a protagonist, and because the audience might root for the guy, the "good guy") could be considered to have a downer ending, since it was Hollywood's policy to show that crime never paid. It was bound by the Hays Code to either kill every criminal or send him to jail by the end of the movie, hence Bonnie and Clyde were doomed by the production code (and historical accuracy, fair enough) from the get-go.

Funny Games - the "good guys" mom, dad and son are killed by home invaders.

Unthinkable - depending on the cut you're watching, either the heroes deactivate every nuclear bomb or miss one. That's just ridiculous.

The alternate ending to Natural Born Killers. Watch it here. Although one might argue that it's a "good" ending, depending on your opinion of Mickey and Mallory.

Another one would be Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Jaws... When Quint gets eaten by the 25footer.

"The Great Escape" only a few actually escaped, more were captured & killed than got away.

1984 is the ultimate downer ending, though I'm only familiar with the book.

Johnny Novgorod:

...has a pretty famous downer ending.

Funny choice, considering they are the bad guys.

- The Usual Suspects
- Hannibal
- Seven
- Wild Things
- Ton of slashers

I would guess the SAW series has that whole, good guy loses thing going for it

No one has mentioned Gallipoli yet. This saddens me.

No one has mentioned Gallipoli yet. This saddens me.

One of the best Australian movies ever made,makes me tear up every time :(

As a few have mentioned before me: 1984, one of my personal favorite movies.
Saw series may count but I personally only recommend watching the first one.

Edit: I could be wrong but some short films from the Animatrix may count 2.

Since 1984 has already been mentioned several times, I'll go with The Great Gatsby.

Best of the Best.

Martial arts movie in which the all star American team underdog loses to the 'evil bad guy' Koreans.


The only three I can think of are-
Ju-on: The Grudge (The Japanese version as I don't know if the US remaked ended the same way)
Kingpin (Ok granted it was still a happy ending but not the way most of us was going to expect for him to win the tournament.)
The Departed

No Country For Old Men comes to mind for me. It's also based on a book but the movie was epic

A lot of horror films end badly for the protagonists; some recent ones:

Last Exorcism

most of the Paranormal Activities


Cabin in the Woods (sort of?)

Woman in Black (Some what of a silver lining but still)


I think there are plenty of "mainstream" movies where the good guys don't exactly get away clean. Almost all of mine are horror though. I love horror movies, except I wasn't too crazy about Cabin in the Woods.

30 Days of Night
The Road
The Descent
The Cabin in the Woods
John Carpenter's The Thing

Anoni Mus:
The Mist.

But I'd like an example of an epic story/adventure and then the bad guys win.

Hell yeah, The Mist. Bad CGI but the plot is almost entirely faithful to the original short story, which I loved.

Boys Don't Cry
The Last Seduction (woooooo! Featuring a young, hot Linda Fiorentino)

I am shocked to see that no one has mentioned the Denzel Washington film "Fallen"

If you have not seen it then shame on you!

OP, please, go and watch a film called Memories of Matsuko. Please! I keep telling people to watch it. It's a bit of a downer but trust me, it's such a wonderful film.

Falling Down



I'm using the term "good guy" for Falling Down and Memento broadly, but these are three great classic movies with non-traditional endings.

The first one that comes to mind is Black Hawk Down, but I'm not so sure if it counts for you.

Either way, go see Black Hawk Down. It's a very excellent movie.

I am shocked to see that no one has mentioned the Denzel Washington film "Fallen"

If you have not seen it then shame on you!

I swear I first read the short story it was based on in an issue of Playboy. No, seriously, I read an article in Playboy.

I am shocked to see that no one has mentioned the Denzel Washington film "Fallen"

If you have not seen it then shame on you!

Time is on my side.

Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog

that's a really good one. Mostly because all the other movies (That haven't been mentioned already) don't really have characters that can divided into "good guys" and "bad guys"

I can think of a ton of movies where the protagonist is "bad" but there is no "good guy" who fails.

 Pages 1 2 3 4 5 NEXT

Reply to Thread

This thread is locked