Top 20 Worst Movie Plot Twists of All Time

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Luke Terry and Telly Vlachakis
Shocking, but not in a good way. For this list we will be looking at movies that tried to shock and surprise us with a narrative left turn, but failed to achieve the desired effect. Our countdown includes "Iron Man 3", “The Girl on the Train”, "Savages", “Now You See Me”, “Planet of the Apes”, and more!
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 20 Worst Movie Plot twists.

For this list we will be looking at movies that tried to shock and surprise us with a narrative left turn, but failed to achieve the desired effect.

What do you think is the worst movie plot twist of all time? Let us know in the comments below!

#20: Killer Ex

“The Girl on the Train” (2016)
Marketed as the next “Gone Girl”, “The Girl on the Train” was a whodunit thriller masquerading as a psychological drama, but unfortunately, it did not live up to the hype generated by the novel it was based on. It is a story about addiction, obsession, and an untrustworthy narrator mixed up with a murder mystery. While that worked great on the page, the film adaptation does woefully little with these juicy themes. What it DID do however, was fail to make the telegraphed big reveal of the killer’s identity either surprising or satisfying for viewers. The only shocking twist was a literal one involving a corkscrew.

#19: The Good Guy is the Bad Guy

“A Good Day to Die Hard” (2013)
Die Hard films are always good for a twist, usually in the villain’s plans. A solid twist is a surprise that you savor, something that adds to the plot. It should NOT however, leave you feeling duped - which is surely what both cinemagoers AND John McClane felt when it came time for this big reveal. Apparently the Russian whistleblower that he and his CIA agent son have been trying to protect is in fact the bad guy. It’s a convoluted plot, in which everyone seems to be corrupt, so it lacks any real weight to it. You can’t help but feel frustrated that McClane has been wasting his time, and by extension, so have you.

#18: Ghost Wife

“Safe Haven” (2013)
When Katie arrives in North Carolina, it seems she has big secrets. As she starts to fall for a widower named Alex and becomes friends with her neighbor Jo, we learn more and more about her, even suspecting that Katie is a murderer. But it turns out that she isn’t and her abusive drunk husband is just claiming that so he can have an excuse to look for her. So, is that this romance movie’s twist? NOPE. The twist is that Jo is actually the ghost of Alex’s dead wife and she has been making sure Katie is right for Alex throughout the whole film.

#17: It was… Aliens?

“The Forgotten” (2004)
“The Forgotten” is a bizarre little sci-fi psychological thriller about a woman who is accused of making up her memories about her deceased son. She’s told she’s delusional, but ends up finding another victim whose memories of his daughter were erased. Learning that this is part of an experiment conducted by a mysterious group known only as “them”, they rush to escape mysterious agents, lights in the sky that blow roofs off, and imagery that is clearly UFO-related. We are dying to find out who is responsible, and the big twist is that this was an experiment to see if a parent-child bond can be broken. But by WHOM exactly and WHY? “Them”. Just… “Them”. The mystery is left unanswered and audience... underwhelmed.

#16: Mandarin / Trevor Slattery

“Iron Man 3” (2013)
After he sanctions several terrorist attacks and blows up Iron Man’s house, audiences were really excited to see the Mandarin in the flesh. Until they actually did. You see, it turns out the evil Mandarin is just a drunk British actor named Trevor Slattery. And this actor is as surprised to find out about his terrorist persona as audiences were; since he had no idea such things were occurring in his name. As is later revealed, the Mandarin was a lie invented by Aldrich Killian to cover up the fact that his disability cure was kinda…blowing up veterans...and that he was the real terrorist.

#15: Ravings of a Castaway

“Life of Pi” (2012)
“Life of Pi” has another somewhat open-ended twist ending that had a better execution in novel-form than on screen. After his rescue, Pi recounts his unbelievable story of survival, which includes spending many months on a boat with a tiger and other exotic animals. He then hints that he may have invented all the fantastical elements and animals because the truth was too gruesome and depressing. We get the theme about storytelling and trusting your narrator, but after sitting through a beautiful visual spectacle, no one wants to be told it might’ve been imaginary.

#14: David is Charlie

“Hide And Seek” (2005)

Seeing Robert De Niro in a horror movie is a rare occurrence, but unfortunately this next twist is all too common in the genre. In “Hide and Seek”, DeNiro plays a psychologist who is concerned about his daughter’s mental health and the influence of her imaginary and homicidal friend “Charlie”. You might be able to see where this is going. It turns out Charlie never existed, and instead, the protagonist David is suffering from Dissociative identity disorder, making him the killer after all. It’s difficult to make this twist work when it’s already been done to perfection in iconic films like “Psycho” and “Fight Club”.

#13: Just a Vision

“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2” (2012)
After four arguably dismal movies, plenty of people were more than ready to see all the characters in “Twilight” brutally murdered. And that’s exactly what they got. Jasper, Jane, Caius, Marcus, Aro and others all get the chop in the final instalment of this romantic fantasy saga. Except, gotcha! Because the battle sequence was just a vision being shown to Aro of what would have happened if there was an epic and awesome battle. Since Aro decides not to wage war, the coolest scene in the franchise is made irrelevant.

#12: Doris Ain’t So Innocent

“Ouija” (2014)
Not to be confused with it’s infinitely superior prequel, “Ouija: Origin of Evil,” this 2014 film is pretty weak, even by modern horror standards - and the indifferent twist ending does not help. Trying to solve the mystery surrounding her house’s past, which involves a Ouija board, our heroine Laine attempts to free the spirit of a girl and stop the madness. Only at the end of the film however, after Laine has succeeded. do we find out that the seemingly friendly ghost, Doris, was in fact the demonic one, and that the terrifying mother was trying to warn them. Okay… but substituting one creepy spirit for another doesn’t exactly make for a memorable ending.

#11: Mark Ruffalo’s Scheming

“Now You See Me” (2013)
For a film about tricks, this caper thriller sure didn’t know how to pull one off. A group of magicians is assembled by a secret leader. The plan? To rob insurance magnate Arthur Tressler. The only man who can stop them is FBI agent Dylan Rhodes, played Mark Ruffalo. You know, the less angry half of the Hulk. Luckily for the magicians, though, he’s a bit of a moron. Except in reality, Dylan doesn’t want to stop the Four Horsemen. Why? Because he’s the guy that brought them together! So, we’re supposed to believe that this guy has been able to make his way up the FBI, all while acting like a moron?

#10:Mary Saves the Day

“Hancock” (2008)
While it starts out as an entertaining riff on the superhero genre, showing the consequences of the destruction so often left behind by caped crusaders, this film devolves into a weird origin story after the reveal that Mary is also a superhero. A twist that nobody really asked for, the audience is expected to believe that the wife of the random person Hancock saved and invited into his home is not only another superhero, but the only other remaining immortal of Hancock’s species. Oh, and she also used to be Hancock’s wife before he lost his memory. Talk about convenient storytelling.

#9: It Was Jim Carrey All Along

“The Number 23” (2007)
In this psychological thriller, Walter Sparrow is given a book called “The Number 23”. Played by everyone’s favorite Grinch and least favorite Scrooge, the animal control officer slowly becomes obsessed with the book, especially when he finds out that the last chapter, Chapter 23, is missing. As the movie wears on, Jim Carrey’s character slowly discovers that he wrote the book, and that the murder described in it is something he did in real life. Really?! Can’t Jim Carrey go back to being the funny kind of mentally unstable, like in “Me, Myself and Irene”?

#8:A Member of The Eye

“Now You See Me 2” (2016)
Although a hit at the box office, moviegoers were not too pleased with the ridiculous twist at the end of the first film in this series. Planning to top its predecessor, “Now You See Me 2” reveals at the end that Morgan Freeman, among numerous other characters, was also a part of the secret magicians’ organization, The Eye, all along. Not only does this feel like a rehash of the surprise twist from the previous film, it also complicates Mark Ruffalo’s plans, as another surprise member of The Eye, to frame Freeman and put him in jail. Doesn’t this organization know who their members are? If they did, it’d probably be eaiser to avoid all that wrongful imprisonment.

#7: Just a Fear

“Savages” (2012)
After 90 minutes of gritty realism, it looked like this crime thriller’s climax would be realistic. After their shared girlfriend is kidnapped by a cartel, pot dealers Ben and Chon capture the cartel leader’s daughter. An exchange is organized but a shootout erupts. Several characters die. Ben is wounded and he, Chon and the girlfriend Ophelia all overdose to die together. Except that all this was just Ophelia’s fearful thoughts of what might happen. In actuality, the good guys live happily ever after. And for some reason, so does Lado… the cartel enforcer who’s also a rapist and a decapitator.

#6: The Origin of the Skulls

“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” (2008)
Fans were eagerly awaiting the return of the great adventurer Indiana Jones for years, but sadly, some felt that his comeback fell flat. The film was a huge box office hit, but many audience members and longtime fans balked at the twist ending. Although the Indiana Jones series never shied away from supernatural elements, the reveal that the mysterious psychic skull belonged to interdimensional alien archeologists left audiences more bemused than thrilled. Were aliens and UFOs too much for Indy? Or was everyone just annoyed at the atomic fridge sequence?

#5: Plant Attack

“The Happening” (2008)
This list wouldn’t be complete without a bit of M. Night Shyamalan. Although meant to be a purposefully over-the-top B-movie idea, the explanation behind “The Happening” was still beyond laughable. After Mark Wahlberg hams it up as a science professor, we are introduced to a world where normal people are suddenly killing themselves in violent ways. This is Shyamalan we’re talking about, so a twist was to be expected, but the bizarre and ultra-violent set pieces did not prepare us for this odd reveal: the Earth’s plants are rebelling against man and making us go crazy and suicidal. Thanks Global Warming.

#4:Double Identity

“High Tension” (2005)
The aforementioned trend of split-personality twist-endings was nearing its end by 2005 and had overstayed its welcome. Great for thrillers when used properly, it’s not quite as effective in a slasher setting. Praised for its acting, design, and relentless pace, “High Tension” was beloved by many, however most audiences flipped out over the final reveal - and not in a good way. We are meant to believe that the big brutal hulking killer chasing little frail Marie is….Marie herself? Raising more questions than it answers, this confusing twist requires way too much suspension of disbelief to accept.

#3 Water, Water Everywhere

“Signs” (2002)
From Shyamalan to Shyamalan, we return to the king of the god-awful twist. In “Signs”, Mel Gibson and his family slowly realize aliens have landed. The tension is slowly, and masterfully, built up until one weakness is found. Water. Yes, water. You know, that thing that’s spattered all over the planet. That liquid that comes out of taps in everyone’s house. That naturally existing phenomenon that literally falls out of the sky. Are you kidding us? The aliens are supposed to have superior intelligence, right? Guess not…

#2: Tyler’s Fate

“Remember Me” (2010)

“Remember Me” is a film that, ironically, will be forgotten by history. It was billed as a romantic drama, which is partially why its twist ending felt so wrong. Near the very end of the movie, we find out Robert Pattinson’s character Tyler was actually the victim of a terrorist attack. In a ridiculous exposition shot, we see the character standing inside an office building shortly before it becomes the scene of an attack. Yes, apparently if you’re stuck trying to end a terrible romance film, throwing in an international tragedy will do. Lazy writing at its most emotionally manipulative peak.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few dishonorable mentions.

- Julian Assange Denounces the Movie
“The Fifth Estate” (2013)
- Not the Publisher’s Daughter
“Swimming Pool” (2003)
- Bacteria vs. Aliens
“War of the Worlds” (2005)

#1: Ape-raham Lincoln

“Planet of the Apes” (2001)
The original “Planet of the Apes” flick is considered a classic and one of the greatest films of the late ‘60s. So when Tim Burton took the reins for a reboot, he already had the foundation of a great film ready for him to slap his name on. Instead, the director took out what’s arguably the greatest twist in movie history and replaced it with… this. Needless to say, it pissed off fans, critics and pretty much everyone with eyes. If this is the best twist humanity can think of, we deserve to be overrun by apes. Seriously, how does this make any sense?
So basically, Are they saying Lincoln was an ape?