Top 10 Unsatisfying Teen Movie Endings

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Top 10 Unsatisfying Teen Movie Endings

VOICE OVER: Sophia Franklin WRITTEN BY: B Stevenson
Most of these teen movies are great, but the endings are so unsatisfying. For this list, we'll be looking at the most notable teen films that conclude with unresolved plotlines or a frustrating outcome. Our countdown includes "Thirteen," "Before I Fall," "Donnie Darko," and more!
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Top 10 Unsatifying Teen Movie Endings


Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Unsatisfying Teen Movie Endings.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the most notable teen films that conclude with unresolved plotlines or a frustrating outcome. Since we’ll be revealing how these movies play out, we’re also issuing a SPOILER ALERT.

Which of these endings left you annoyed? Let us know in the comments below!

#10: John “Plato” Crawford’s Death
“Rebel Without a Cause” (1955)


This drama stars James Dean as Jim Stark, a disillusioned teen who meets two peers also struggling with family issues. Sadly, his friendship with John “Plato” Crawford comes to a tragic end. After a confrontation with classmates that turns violent, Plato hides out in a planetarium. Although Jim disarms him and gets him to exit the building, the boy doesn’t survive his interaction with the police. As he copes with the sudden loss of his friend, Stark quietly introduces his love interest Judy to his mom and dad. While he finally lets his parents in, he only does so in the wake of an incredibly traumatic experience. The film ends on a grim note, and it doesn’t feel like the protagonist actually gets much closure.

#9: Merry-Go-Round
“Thirteen” (2003)


This film follows Tracy Freeland, an intellectual middle-school student who befriends the popular and rebellious Evie. Feeling neglected by her well-intentioned mother, Melanie, the protagonist embarks on a path of self-destructive behavior with her new pal. In the end, the girls and their guardians have an emotional confrontation at Tracy’s home. Once they’re left alone, Melanie embraces her sobbing daughter and they eventually fall asleep. Although she’s certainly better off without Evie, questions surrounding Tracy’s future and her tenuous bond with her mother remain. And the cryptic final scene - a surreal sequence where the main character is screaming on a playground - doesn’t make things any clearer.

#8: Samantha Kingston’s Sacrifice
“Before I Fall” (2017)


In this teen drama, popular girl Samantha Kingston ends the night of February 12th with a dramatic car crash. However, she wakes up on the same day, and soon figures out that she’s trapped in a time loop. She discovers that the accident was the result of an attempt by Juliet — an outcast who’s been relentlessly teased — to take her own life. At the film’s conclusion, Sam saves Juliet from incoming traffic, but passes away in the process. Although the protagonist is at peace with her sacrifice, it’s hard to see a character we’ve been rooting for meet such a tragic end. On top of that, we can’t help but wonder if she could’ve saved Juliet while keeping herself out of harm’s way.

#7: Mack & Brady’s Reintroduction
“Teen Beach 2” (2015)


2013’s “Teen Beach Movie” sees surfing couple Mack and Brady transported into their favorite flick “Wet Side Story”. They eventually make it back home, but not before developing a beautiful friendship with two movie characters named Lela and Tanner. In the sequel, the fictional pair cross over to the real world. In their absence, the world of “Wet Side Story” begins to crumble, threatening to erase Mack and Brady’s first meeting. In the end, the film characters return home, but make such drastic changes to their universe that our real-life surfing duo cease to know each other. Granted, the couple reconnect as strangers. But it’s disappointing that their relationship-building and characterization is totally wiped out.

#6: Sutter Keely Surprises Aimee Finecky
“The Spectacular Now” (2013)


Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley star as high school seniors who meet under unusual circumstances in this coming-of-age romantic drama. Sutter and Aimee strike up a relationship, but his issues with family and sobriety drive them apart. Towards the end of the film, she waits at a bus station for their planned move to Philadelphia. But he leaves her hanging. In the final scene, a regretful Sutter tracks Aimee down at college. It’s a frustrating last shot, and we’re left trying to decipher her facial expression with no idea of the couple’s fate. We have to say, though, she doesn’t exactly look thrilled to see him.

#5: Fortune-Telling
“American Graffiti” (1973)


This iconic coming-of-age comedy from George Lucas documents teen cruising culture in 1962 Modesto, California. Protagonist Curt Henderson, conflicted about his impending departure to college, spends one summer night with his friends and tries to track down an alluring stranger. After he leaves the next day, we’re treated to a surprising epilogue that lists the fates of Curt and his friends. Notably, John dies in a tragic accident two years after the events of the film, while Terry goes missing in 1965. Revealing the fictional characters’ futures in such plain terms is certainly a unique plot device. However, it does feel jarring to be told - but not shown - these tragic events.

#4: The Phone Call
“Call Me by Your Name” (2017)


While it’s a swoon-worthy story, this 2017 film’s ending leaves much to be desired. 17-year-old Elio Perlman develops feelings for Oliver, a grad student staying with his family during an Italian summer. The couple has chemistry in spades, and Elio’s parents are seemingly aware of the affair. Yet it comes to an end when Oliver returns to the U.S. In the film’s final scene, Elio learns through a phone call that his ex-lover is now engaged. It’s a fundamentally unsatisfying conclusion, not to mention heartbreaking. Oliver’s choice to move on with little notice is almost as disappointing for us as it is for Elio.

#3: A Suburban Mystery
“The Virgin Suicides” (1999)


This psychological drama follows a group of men who reflect on their childhood fascination with the Lisbon sisters. After the youngest tragically takes her own life, the other girls are put on close watch, with the family becoming increasingly secluded. In the final scenes, the four remaining siblings all meet their end, shocking the neighborhood boys and driving their parents to move away. The true motivations behind the sisters’ depression remains a mystery, although their eventual isolation couldn’t have helped matters. We know that enigmatic endings can sometimes be poetic. But the total lack of explanation for this film’s rattling events is bound to leave viewers scratching their heads.

#2: The Rewind
“Donnie Darko” (2001)


As this sci-fi psychological thriller begins, Virginia teen Donnie Darko just barely avoids airplane parts crashing into his bedroom. It turns out that he has a spectral figure in a bunny suit - dubbed Frank - to thank. As Donnie attends school and explores the idea of time travel, he’s haunted by numerous visions of his creepy companion. At the end of the movie, though, everything we’ve witnessed rewinds before our eyes. We then observe an alternate outcome of the initial accident, where Darko doesn’t make it. It’s shocking to see the story we’ve grown invested in be totally erased. What’s more, it’s disheartening to lose the one-of-a-kind protagonist we've gotten to know.

#1: Andie & Duckie Remain Just Friends
“Pretty in Pink” (1986)


“Pretty in Pink” is a cult classic for good reason. However, its ending is questionable — and controversial, no matter which side you’re on — to say the least. Working-class high schooler Andie isn’t exactly appreciated by her peers, but BFF Duckie proves to be a loyal friend. In the end, though, she goes after the popular Blane, a former friend to the people who teased her. The film was originally written with Molly Ringwald and Jon Cryer’s outcast characters ending up together. Suffice it to say, we wish John Hughes would’ve kept it that way. Sure, Duckie got his own happy ending. But he and Andie had fantastic chemistry, and it’s a shame we never saw it come to fruition.
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