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Top 10 Movies with Ambiguous Endings

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Max Lett. Was it all a dream and if not, what really happened? Some movies end things by definitively tying things up into a nice bow. Some don’t. These are in the latter camp. In this video, counts down the top 10 movies with ambiguous endings. For this list, we’re focusing on those films whose conclusions are open to interpretation. And, as you can expect, this list contains major spoilers, so SPOILER ALERT. Special thanks to our users KHNumber1FanPlease, Thomas Lowater, MJdawg10,, Nafeo Nihal, and Margaret Rd for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Script written by Max Lett.

Top 10 Movies with Ambiguous Endings

Was it all a dream and if not, what really happened? Welcome to, and today we’re counting down the top 10 movies with ambiguous endings.

For this list, we’re focusing on those films whose conclusions are open to interpretation. And, as you can expect, this list contains major spoilers, so spoiler alert. And, just so you know, we’re excluding straight-up cliffhangers, because we’ve got another list of the Top 10 Unresolved Movie Cliffhangers.

#10: “The Wrestler” (2008)

Mickey Rourke plays a washed-up professional wrestler who longs to romance the ring once more. After initial attempts result in a heart attack, he decides to give up his dream of a heroic return when his doctor says it’ll kill him. Heedless of his doctor’s advice, Randy “The Ram” Robinson makes his epic comeback in front of throngs of screaming fans. Sadly, the audience is left wondering whether the doctor was right and if “The Ram” survives his triumphant leap back into the ring.

#9: “Total Recall” (1990)

It’s not just the ending of this movie that’s ambiguous: it’s the entire film. When he visits a special facility to have fake memories of his non-existent mission to Mars implanted into his brain, Douglas Quaid finds out those memories may already exist. Quaid and the audience then spend the movie wondering whether that means he really was a secret agent on the red planet whose memories were wiped, or whether Rekall messed with his mind. By the end, Arnie’s as unsure as we are

#8: “The Wizard of Oz” (1939)

Dorothy and her dog Toto are whisked away to the magical Land of Oz where they meet a brainless scarecrow, a cowardly lion and a heartless tin man. Oz is also chock full of witches, fairies and flying apes. Because nothing that goes on in Oz is particularly natural or even explainable, we’re left wondering if Dorothy really did travel to Oz or whether she was concussed by a passing tornado.

#7: “Shutter Island” (2010)

In order to solve a missing persons report, U.S. Marshal Edward Daniels and his partner visit a remote island populated with all manner of crazy cooks. But here’s the twist: turns out agent Daniels is a patient himself, committed for the murder of his wife. After she murdered their children, Daniels killed her and now he’s reliving the past. Is he still crazy or is it all an act to get a free lobotomy?

#6: “The Road” (2009)

It’s post-apocalypse now and things are pretty bleak. If people aren’t committing suicide outright, they’re eating those who haven’t. A man and his boy travel across the microwaved landscape just trying to survive long enough to find a safe haven. Due a distinct lack of medical professionals, the father dies of an arrow wound, and his boy’s fate is left uncertain when a new family invites him to travel with them. Who can you trust in a world this desperate?

#5: “The Thing” (1982)

A shape shifting alien creature is on the loose in a remote arctic base. The trouble is it can take human form, which means no one is safe. After a series of increasingly violent confrontations, the beast is seemingly destroyed in a decisive explosion. There’s only one problem; either two of the surviving team members could now be the monster.

#4: “American Psycho” (2000)

Patrick Bateman is your typical Wall Street yuppie: he dresses well, he takes care of his appearance and he occasionally commits acts of heinous violence. The police soon notice Patrick’s behavior as his grizzly crimes become increasingly brutal. It turns out Bateman may or may not have imagined the whole thing and might just be your garden-variety crazy person and not a psychotic killer.

#3: “Blade Runner” (1982)

Rick Deckard is in charge of retiring Replicants. To put it more bluntly; he shoots robots until they’re dead. The problem is that these robots look and act just like humans, only more murderous. In the end he tracks them all down and retires them peacefully. But why is he so good at his job? Could it be that he’s a Replicant too? Does it matter?

#2: “Inception” (2010)

It’s a dream within a dream within a dream. Or is it? Cobb is hired to use state-of-the-art technology to plant an idea in a target’s mind. Tragic female figures are a common trope in Christopher Nolan films; but in “Inception,” Cobb’s dead wife Mal keeps popping up in his subconscious – and in this world, that can spell disaster. By the end, everyone’s had a good rest and Cobb is reunited with his kids. Or is he? Only the spinning top knows for sure.

Before we unambiguously reveal our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “Life of Pi” (2012)
- “Mulholland Drive” (2001)

#1: “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968)

Dr. David Bowman and friends are on a space mission to Jupiter to investigate a strange object. Because of a slight computer malfunction, the onboard A.I. brutally murders the entire crew except for Bowman. Alone except for the murderous machine, he confronts the mysterious monolith and is thrown through time and space, only to become an omnipotent space baby. Is he a God now or did he just take really a good hallucinogen? The interpretation is entirely up to you.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite ambiguous ending? For more epic Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to

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