If you like your movies hazily ambiguous, then you’d better turn back now.
Even when they’re done well, ambiguous or cliffhanger endings are maddening. We’ve been sitting watching your movie for two hours, the least you could do is end your movie in a satisfying way. So in an effort to goose future filmmakers into using more periods and fewer ellipses, we’ve gone ahead and written some endings for movies that need them. Oh, and spoiler alert.
THELMA AND LOUISE
“ENDING” YOU SAW: Faced with cops behind them and a ravine in front of them, besties on the run Thelma and Louise (Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon) decide to gun it for the gaping earth maw. We see their car hurtle into the abyss…then they hang in mid-air while the screen fades to white.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT: An unbelted Thelma is thrown from the car and lands on an outcropping a few yards away. Before she drifts into unconsciousness, the last thing she sees is Louise – still clutching the steering wheel – consumed in a fiery death as the car crashes into the ravine. Presuming Thelma died alongside Louise, the cops leave. A battered, barely alive, Thelma is then discovered by passing Native Americans several hours later. They amputate her severely crushed hand, replace it with a tomahawk, and tell her the police killed Louise. A new Thelma rises as a single-minded force for Native American justice. Her rescuers dub her Anaai Diyogi, which roughly translates into “White One Who Could Have Just Explained Everything Right Away with a Phone Call and Avoided Great Mess.”
Photo Courtesy of Open Road Films | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012
“ENDING” YOU SAW: Alone, standing in the wolves’ den, stricken with encroaching hypothermia, and staring down the alpha male, Ottway (Liam Neeson) decides to go out like the badass we’d expect Liam Neeson to go out as. Strapping broken bottles and a knife to his hands, he launches himself at the wolf as the screen cuts to black JUST WHEN SOMETHING IMPOSSIBLY COOL WAS ABOUT TO FUCKING HAPPEN FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE MOVIE. We then get a brief post-credit snippet showing a still-breathing wolf laying on the ground with Ottway’s head resting on it. His breathing status is unknown.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT: Ottway awakens with a start. He feels the heat of the fur under his head and braces for the worst. Lifting up, he discovers that the alpha male is mortally wounded, with half a Stoli bottle lodged in its left eye. Ottway realizes that the wolf deliberately stayed alive just long enough to give Ottway props. After exchanging “bro” nods, the wolf dies. Ottway is then anointed the new pack leader, and he lives out his remaining days hunting and gathering in the wilderness with his new family. He and his mate produce a litter of Ottwolves that become legendary for their incredible strength and impassioned, pre-battle speeches.
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
“ENDING” YOU SAW: Rather than witnessing a final showdown between Sheriff Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) and hitman Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), we see a retired Bell sitting down for breakfast with his wife and talking about some dreams he had involving his dead father.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT: Bell’s wife continues to nod and smile politely as he drones on. When he finishes, Bell looks up at her and smiles – a smile that quickly fades when he notices a tiny bead of sweat dripping down her temple and her unusually clenched jaw. Bell flips the kitchen table to reveal Chigurh, who has been underneath the whole time with his bolt pistol trained on Mrs. Bell. The two struggle, and Bell’s wife gets a hold of the bolt pistol. She doesn’t hesitate an instant, and blows out Chigurh’s forehead before muttering, “Hasta la vista, hairdo.” A disgruntled Bell slumps back down in his chair and we end on his wife rubbing his back and telling him that he can tell his former colleagues that he’s the one who actually got Chigurh. She doesn’t mind at all. More coffee?
CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON
“ENDING” YOU SAW: After spending the night on Wudang Mountain, Jen (Zhang Ziyi) and Lo (Chang Chen) decide to test the veracity of the legend Lo had told Jen earlier in the movie about a man who made a wish and jumped off a cliff but did not die because his heart was pure. Jen asks Lo to make a wish, then jumps. End movie.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT: Kersplat. Yeah, it’s a shock to Lo, too, seeing as Jen spent the better part of the previous two hours dancing on Bamboo trees like a cicada. A distraught Lo returns to the 36 Chambers of Wudang Mountain, and laments all the time he wasted letting cash rule everything around him. Meanwhile, Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh) emerges from the mist just in time to deliver a satisfying Nelson Muntz-style “Ha Ha” over Jen’s body. The audience applauds.
“ENDING” YOU SAW: After Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman) dramatically breaks up Elaine’s (Katharine Ross) wedding and the pair escape in a school bus, their initial joy seems to dampen into something closer to, well, this.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT: Ben and Elaine catch their thoughts and decide they are meant to be together. They elope, and move into a small duplex apartment. Their life seems to be going really well, and their marriage, against all odds, is a loving partnership. The movie ends with Ben and Elaine settling down to dinner when suddenly, the doorbell rings. The couple answer the door to find…Elaine’s mother, Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), with several pieces of luggage. She cheerfully declares that she’s moving in with Elaine and Ben, giving Ben an uncomfortable pat on the ass as she enters. Ben looks at the camera and shrugs. That “Chick-chick-ahhh” song from Ferris Bueller accompanies the scene.
THE THING (1982)
Photo Courtesy of Universal Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012
“ENDING” YOU SAW: After dynamiting the base camp and burning the Blair Alien Monster, MacReady (Kurt Russell) learns he’s not the sole survivor when he runs into the previously missing Childs (Keith David). The pair of survivors, who have no idea if the other is an alien or not, sit down, share of bottle of Scotch, and await death by alien or hypothermia, whichever comes first.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT: The Scotch bottle empty, MacReady and Childs are now in that “total honesty” stage of drunkenness. Unable to bear the tension any longer, Childs blurts out, “OK, OK…I’m an alien. I was gonna wait until you passed out and then copy you. Alright?” MacReady looks at him and then goes, “Dude. I’m an alien, too!” Childs and MacReady high-five and have a good long chuckle at how silly they’d been acting. They decide to burrow into the ice and wait for more Norwegians to show up.
THE ITALIAN JOB (1969)
Photo Courtesy of Paramount Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012
“ENDING” YOU SAW: Charlie Croker (Michael Caine) and his gang are celebrating their successful gold heist as their escape bus navigates the twisty Alpine roads of Switzerland. The bus skids, and its rear end is left dangling precariously over the mountain. The gang has to move to the front of the bus to balance out the weight of the gold, and any attempt to move closer to the loot sends the bus teetering closer to disaster. Seemingly at an impasse, Croker says, “Hang on a minute, lads. I’ve got a great idea.” The camera pulls away and the movie ends.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT: Realizing (correctly) that gold bricks have a better chance of surviving a fall off a mountain than a group of men do, the gang orchestrates a synchronized evacuation, letting the bus and the loot fall. Croker then recovers the bricks from the wreckage, buys an Italian villa, and stores the gold in a vault. Years later, it’s stolen by Mark Wahlberg, Ed Norton, and Jason Statham – ZOMG! It was a prequel all this time!
2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY
Photo Courtesy of MGM | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012
“ENDING” YOU SAW: Pulled into some kind of space-time vortex by the black monolith, Dr. David Bowman (Keir Dullea) experiences himself at various ages, eventually being transformed into a floating “starchild” space fetus.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT: The space baby winks at the screen just as the camera cuts to a lone man hitchhiking on a highway. A truck picks him up and the driver asks, “You got a name?” The man replies, “They call me...Wolverine.” After the credits, the the camera cuts to Sam Jackson in a seedy bar talking to Thor while Spider-Man is in the background playing pool. Iron Man crashed through the door and says, “Here we go again!”
Photo Courtesy of TriStar Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012
“ENDING” YOU SAW: After Quaid/Hauser (Arnold Schwarzenegger) activates the reactor, he and Melina (Rachel Ticotin) are sucked into the harsh Mars atmosphere. Seconds away from asphyxiating, they are saved when the reactor suddenly makes the air breathable. Quaid looks at Melina and says “I just had a terrible thought. What if this is a dream?” Melina replies “Then kiss me quick before you wake up.” They kiss and the screen fades to white. The end.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT: Quaid awakes with a start. He’s in bed, on earth, millions of miles away from Mars. Dazed, he stumbles out of bed and into the bathroom. Giving his eyes a second to focus, he takes a good long look at his “real” self in the mirror. To his surprise, he’s been an overweight, red-headed woman this whole time.
Photo Courtesy of TriStar Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012
“Get ready for a surprise,” Quaid mutters to herself, shaking her head in disbelief.
Photo Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012
“ENDING” YOU SAW: Deckard (Harrison Ford) is about to make his escape with deluxe replicant Rachael (Sean Young) when he discovers an origami unicorn – the trademark of fellow Blade Runner Gaff (Edward James Olmos) – and isn’t sure if it’s a warning or not. (Some cuts of the film continue on after this, showing Deckard and Rachel happily driving through the countryside, but we’re ignoring that because it’s terrible).
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT: Gaff yells, “It’s a shame she won’t live. Then again...you’re a robot. Robots dream of unicorns. Duh.”