Top 20 Movie Reveals No One Saw Coming
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
WRITTEN BY: Sarah Knight
Bet you didn't see that coming! For this list, we're looking at the Top 20 Movie Reveals No One Saw Coming. Our countdown includes "Spider-man: Homecoming", "Identity", "The Prestige", "Shutter Island" and more!
Script Written by Sarah Knight
Top 20 Movie Reveals No One Saw Coming
We didn’t see these ones coming! Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 20 Movie Reveals No One Saw Coming.
For this list, we’ll be looking at the biggest big screen plot twists that made everyone’s jaws drop. That includes unexpected developments in plot as well as shocking identity reveals. Needless to say, a major spoiler alert is in order!
#20: The Invisible Man Becomes Visible
“The Invisible Man” (2020)
The most recent entry on this list is the 2020 film adaptation of “The Invisible Man”, based on the 1897 H.G. Wells novel of the same name. Starring Elisabeth Moss as Cecilia, the title of the film is pretty explanatory of the premise -- a scientist concocts a way to become invisible, then terrorizes Moss’ character in violent and unpredictable ways. The catch here is that, for the entire film, the titular character is presumed to be Cecilia’s abusive ex-husband, who apparently committed suicide shortly after their breakup. But, that is proven false when, after gaining the upper hand and fatally shooting the invisible man, Moss’ character realizes that the invisible man was... her ex-husband’s brother.
#19: Meeting the Parents
“Spider-Man: Homecoming” (2017)
Meeting your date’s parents is awkward enough -- especially when her father is the weapons mastermind that tried to kill you. Yeesh. Adrian Toomes, also known as Vulture, tried multiple times to disrupt the status quo and squander Spider-Man’s feeble attempts at retaliation. So, we guess you could say they knew each other...kind of? After Peter arrives at his homecoming date’s house, he is left absolutely speechless when Vulture opens the door to welcome him. Clueless to Spidey’s real identity, Toomes tries to ease the palpable tension with cheesy dad jokes that only make things more awkward. Vulture catches onto Peter after a while though, but when the family relation is initially revealed, it was certainly a jaw-dropping moment no one could have predicted.
#18: Malcolm Rivers’ Multiple Personalities
The main plot of the 2003 film “Identity” revolves around dissociative identity disorder, previously known as multiple personality disorder, which is a condition where an individual harbors 2 or more different personalities that are empirically distinct from one another. Malcolm Rivers suffers from this mental illness, having created 11 separate identities within himself to cope with childhood trauma. However, he is unaware of the situation, and unable to recognize the mugshot of convicted murderer Malcolm Rivers, the original man that contains all of his identities. So, it’s particularly shocking when his psychiatrist shows him a mirror and the image of himself that’s reflected back is Malcolm Rivers as played by Pruitt Taylor Vince. Subsequently, he has a bit of a freak out, flashing between Malcolm Rivers and Ed Dakota, played by John Cusack, and everything is gradually explained.
#17: Red Is Adelaide Is Red
With his debut feature film, “Get Out”, Jordan Peele announced himself as a potentially game changing filmmaker - one who knows how to keep audiences on their toes. His follow-up, “Us”, is a thrilling horror movie starring Lupita Nyong’o that pushed the boundaries within the genre to new psychological heights. The story Red tells the Wilsons about the girl and her shadow is seriously haunting, but also the key foreshadowing for the final twist. In the film’s final moments, Adelaide again recalls the incident from her childhood at the funhouse, this time revealing the full picture: Red attacked Adelaide and left her trapped in the funhouse with the tethered. Meaning that for the entire movie, Red was Adelaide and Adelaide was Red.
#16: People Food
“Soylent Green” (1973)
The best type of plot twist is one that involves cannibalism! Unfortunately, that just so happens to be the reveal in “Soylent Green”. In a dystopian world ravaged by overpopulation and a mass shortage of essential resources like food and water, Soylent Industries provide wafers as a food source. One in particular, the film’s namesake “Soylent Green” is tasty and nutritious, allegedly made from ocean plankton. However, oceanographic reports proved the oceans had no plankton, and upon further investigation, it is revealed that Soylent Green is actually made out of human remains. Meaning, anyone who ate the wafer was unintentionally partaking in cannibalism. The film is set in the year 2022...so, we can only hope that it was not a prediction of the near future.
#15: Ghostface Unmasked
The biggest twist in this movie was that Drew Barrymore, who was marketed as the main lead in the film, was only in it for, like, 2 seconds! Just kidding. Though that was quite the bait-and-switch! The Scream franchise, which began in 1996 and continued for over a decade until 2011, distinguished itself by holding up a mirror to the genre as well as calling out and toying with common horror tropes. Main character Sidney Prescott is stalked by the mask-wearing killer Ghostface and he is seriously creepy. Well… more like they are creepy. The huge plot twist comes near the end of the movie, when it’s revealed that Ghostface is actually two killers, not just one, and it made for a killer reveal.
#14: The Real Jigsaw Killer
The dead body is not dead, we repeat, the dead body is not dead! This hugely successful franchise has racked up more than its fair share of twists and turns over the course of numerous sequels. But the twist ending in the first film remains arguably the property’s greatest to date. As the main characters attempt to navigate the cruel game of life and death into which they’ve been thrust against their will, it quickly becomes clear that death is far more likely than escape. In “Saw”’s final scene, after all the tension and bloodshed, the “dead body” in the middle of the room slowly rises up. The villainous Jigsaw Killer was hiding in plain sight the whole time.
#13: The Bunker
This genre-bending film is a wild ride from start to finish. Directed by Bong Joon-ho, who won four Academy Awards for the film, “Parasite” can be described as cerebral, funny, and thrilling. The title, “Parasite”, is quite telling as something that lives off of another is essentially the boiled down premise of this movie. The Kim family secretly infiltrates the wealthy Park family, but they aren’t the only ones; the Park’s former housekeeper and her husband were keeping secrets too. The hidden underground bunker definitely makes for an unexpected twist - one that added just the right amount of excitement and tension. Though as to the question of who the real parasites are? That remains up for debate.
“The Prestige” (2006)
Following the lives of two rival magicians Angier and Borden, the psychological thriller sees each of them creating performances where they were apparently able to transport themselves to different spots on the stage. However, when Angier seemingly drowns in an act gone wrong, Borden is found at the scene and sentenced to death for the magician’s murder. But, Angier didn’t really die: moments after Borden’s execution, the executed man shoots Angier, revealing that he was a twin!. The grim final twist comes when Borden realizes just how Angier pulled off his own act -- he would clone himself, while the original would fall through a trap door and drown under the stage. A magician never reveals their secret, but it would seem that it was actually lies and deception from the start.
#11: “What’s in the box?!”
What’s in the box? Gwyneth Paltrow’s decapitated head, of course! Uhh...no seriously. This classic David Fincher crime thriller had an unforgettably chilling twist. Detectives Somerset and Mills finally apprehend a murderer they were hunting, who happens to be a serial killer whose heinous crimes were based on the seven deadly sins: Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Lust, Pride, Envy, and Wrath. Known only as John Doe, he gives himself up to the police, convincing the detectives to follow his terms of surrender in return for the last 2 victims. John Doe directs them to a remote location, and this is where he reveals he’d murdered Mills’ pregnant wife because of his Envy of their normal life, which incites Mills to kill John Doe in a blind rage, becoming the last of the seven deadly sins, Wrath.
#10: Snape’s True Intentions
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2” (2011)
The eighth and final film adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series was the anticipated emotional ending over a decade in the making. Those who read the books knew the twist before the film was released, but those who didn’t were in for a big shock. Throughout the series, Professor Severus Snape, played by the late great Alan Rickman, was a clear antagonist, with a seething hatred for both Harry and his deceased father. However, in the battle between Voldemort and Hogwarts, Voldemort orders Snape to be killed. Before he dies, Snape is able to pass on his memories to Harry, which reveals in a poignantly heart-wrenching portrayal that he had been protecting Harry all along. Let’s just say now we can’t hear the word “Always” without sobbing.
#9: Who Is Andrew Laeddis?
“Shutter Island” (2010)
This Scorsese thriller follows Edward ‘Teddy’ Daniels, a US Marshal investigating a missing patient of the titular island’s psychiatric facility. Suffering migraines and hallucinations, Daniels becomes increasingly paranoid, and believes something is definitely off about the whole thing. The plot comes to a head when the staff reveals that Daniels himself is the arsonist he has ultimately been chasing after; they were performing an experiment to see if he would recall the events that led him to the facility. Teddy Daniels’ real name is Andrew Laeddis; he killed his wife after she drowned their children. The experiment is ultimately deemed a failure, but DiCaprio’s statement at the end of the film implies he does in fact remember; knowing the truth, he’d simply rather be lobotomized.
#8: A Telling Handshake
A horrific train crash that killed 130 people in the blink of an eye leaves one man, David Dunn, as the sole survivor, and shockingly without a single scratch on him. Elijah, a comic book art dealer, tells him about his theory of real superheroes. David realizes he’s walked away from more than a few near-death experiences and that he can see people’s crimes through physical contact with them. Unfortunately, the twist comes at David’s expense when a later handshake with Elijah reveals that he was the mastermind behind various “accidents”, including David’s train crash, because he was seeking a superhero counterpart to his villain. Many years later, we get a bonus reveal in the film “Split”, which is a sneaky sequel that sees Dunn making an appearance at the very end.
#7: Tyler Durden [aka the Narrator]
“Fight Club” (1999)
Ever notice that Edward Norton’s character in Fight Club doesn’t have a name? Known only as The Narrator, his life becomes infinitely more exciting – and chaotic – after meeting Tyler Durden, played by Brad Pitt. They establish a fight club together that soon evolves into an anti-consumerism organization that condones violence and anarchy. The massive twist comes when The Narrator tracks down Durden to a different city, where he informs him that they are one and the same. The brilliant editing throughout the film, which included split second spliced frames of Durden in scenes with The Narrator, paired with this iconic twist, firmly established this movie as a cult classic.
#6: An Inappropriate Relationship
A neo-noir mystery film directed by Roman Polanski, “Chinatown” stars Jack Nicholson as private investigator J.J Jake Gittes. After a series of events, he looks into the murder of a Department of Water and Power chief engineer, leading him to the man’s wife, Evelyn Mulwray. Some fishy business is going down, but Gittes can’t figure it out. That is until he catches Evelyn with her dead husband’s mistress. After multiple attempts to deduce their relationship, the perverted truth comes out -- Evelyn was raped by her father and her sister is also her daughter. Also, it turns out that Evelyn’s father had her husband murdered. An incestuous relationship definitely qualifies as a plot twist -- albeit a disturbing one.
#5: Dead People
“The Sixth Sense” (1999)
Admittedly, M. Night Shyamalan has had a bit of a bumpy career, directing more than his fair share of flops. But when “The Sixth Sense” hit theaters in 1999, he was being heralded as one of the most promising young storytellers working in the medium. The major plot twist has inspired and appeared in many movies, including “The Others”, which was released just a few years after. All of the clues were spelled out plain as day. The kid literally tells us that he interacts with the dead! Looking back, it all makes sense, but the first viewing was a huge shock to everyone who watched. Stellar performances by both Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment made this plot twist an absolute jaw dropper.
#4: Home Sweet Home
“Planet of the Apes” (1968)
Imagine waking up on a strange planet almost 2,000 years after your space mission began. Well, that’s exactly how Planet of the Apes begins, and it only gets wilder from there. Shortly after landing, astronauts Taylor, Dodge and Landon are captured by primates who rule the planet. They realize humans are imprisoned and enslaved while the apes, chimpanzees, and orangutans are the masters of the society. A scary concept for sure, especially when the primates threaten to lobotomize, castrate, and kill Taylor. He escapes to a forbidden area where the plot twist, and truth, is finally revealed: he’s been on Earth all along. Upon seeing a half buried and demolished Statue of Liberty, the man breaks down, cursing those responsible for humanity’s fall.
#3: The Greatest Trick
“The Usual Suspects” (1995)
This classic crime film has one of the most thrilling and unpredictable twists to date. Con artist Verbal Kint, a survivor of a mass murder on a ship, is interrogated for his involvement in it. Telling Agent Kujan about the events that led to the massacre, Verbal narrates a convoluted yet compelling story about various criminals, including Redfoot, Kobayashi, and the infamous Keyser Söze. Eventually, Verbal confesses that one of his fellow criminals was behind it all, but he would not testify against him. However, this doesn’t sit right with Kujan -- and a few moments after Verbal leaves, he realizes the man was bluffing, weaving together elements of information from his surroundings in the room to tell his story. Verbal then disappears without a trace before Kujan can catch him.
#2: “I am your father.”
“Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back” (1980)
Not only is “Star Wars” among the most influential entertainment franchises in the world, but it also gave us one of the most quoted plot twists in cinematic history. In “The Empire Strikes Back”, Vader attempts to convince Luke to join him in the dark side while engaging the young would-be jedi in a lightsaber duel. After cutting off Luke’s hand, Vader reveals a shocking secret to the seemingly defeated young hero, uttering the now iconic words “I am your father.” If it wasn’t so devastating to Luke, it would actually be kind of heartwarming: “Join me and we can rule the galaxy together as father and son”! Either way, when the movie came out in 1980, it was one huge plot twist.
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
“The Mist” (2007)
Oh Dae-su & Mi-do’s REAL Relationship
The Alien’s Purpose
The Bride’s Daughter
“Kill Bill: Volume 1” (2003)
#1: Norman Bates Is the Psycho
Alfred Hitchcock’s legendary psychological horror film needs no introduction. The entire ending is one big twist - arguably the greatest and most memorable in cinematic history. First reveal: Mrs. Bates has been dead for the whole movie; Second reveal: Norman is the killer; Third reveal: Norman is Mrs. Bates in his mind. Setting a precedent for plot twists and identity reveals, “Psycho” paved the way for hundreds of films for decades to come. In the ending monologue, Norman’s inner voice – or rather the voice of his mother – saying that Norman’s innocence will become known because “she wouldn’t even harm a fly” is absolutely chilling.