Alright…the 20 WORST endings of all time from The Times

Posted by · 1:10 am · July 17th, 2008

Olivia Newton John and John Travolta in GreaseSo The Times has followed up last week’s collective assessment of the 20 greatest movie endings of all time today with a list of the worst, and there are some reasonable choices here and there.

Like “Grease” for starters, probably my favorite movie musical but with an undeniably wretched denouement. And then there’s the cheeky mirror of the “Planet of the Apes” saga (the original made the best list, while Tim Burton’s remake lands here), not to mention “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” which would definitely be near the top of my own list (ballsy to go so recent, too).

I also like the shout out to the never ending ending of “The Lord of the Ring: The Return of the King.”

But beyond those and perhaps a few others, the rest of the list is populated with terrible choices (many of which landed on my own best list). “There Will Be Blood” (which was deemed the #2 film of all time by The Times’ film critic James Christopher)? “Psycho?” “2001?” Fucking “Citizen Kane” at #1???

Lots of eyebrow raisers. And from what I can gather, merely an attempt at being controversial.

Their choices:

1. “Citizen Kane”
2. “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”
3. “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”
4. “2001: A Space Odyssey”
5. “The Maltese Falcon”
6. “Grease”
7. “Brief Encounter”
8. “The Great Dictator”
9. “Saving Private Ryan”
10. “The Great Escape”
11. “Apocalypse Now”
12. “Psycho”
13. “There Will Be Blood”
14. “Magnolia”
15. “Blade Runner” (original release)
16. “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”
17. “Star Wars – Episode VI: Return of the Jedi”
18. “Planet of the Apes” (2001)
19. “Cast Away” (totally disagree here…I think it’s a beautiful ending)
20. “Velvet Goldmine”

→ 21 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

21 responses so far

  • 1 7-17-2008 at 2:03 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Too much stupid contrarianism to get into on this list (the inclusion of Apocalypse Now really rankles too), but they aren’t even remembering the endings correctly in some cases.

    “Magnolia” (jeez, they have it in for PTA, don’t they?) doesn’t end with the frogs, it ends with the aftermath, new possibilities of human contact, and that beautiful split-second Melora Walters half-smile that damn near cracked my top 10 endings.

    No argument with LOTR though. Even the fans that I know accepted the ending was a train wreck.

  • 2 7-17-2008 at 3:42 am

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    What an idiotic list. My god.

    Anyhow, I still love the ROTK ending. I believe Peter Jackson is absolutely on the money when he says that people tend to forget it’s a 10-hour movie, so a 20 minute ending is only natural. It checks out in every way and in no way a “train wreck”. That is ridiculous. Perhaps a bit long, but never that.

  • 3 7-17-2008 at 3:53 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Respectfully disagree, Jonathan.

    Ten hours or not, one movie only needs one ending!

  • 4 7-17-2008 at 3:57 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    By the way, I just noticed The Times’ caveat at the top of the list: these are the 20 worst endings “that ruined memorable films.” So not quite the worst EVER, then.

    Still think the list’s bullshit, though.

  • 5 7-17-2008 at 5:31 am

    Matt said...

    I agree with Saving Private Ryan… enough sap to drench my waffles

  • 6 7-17-2008 at 5:31 am

    John Foote said...

    Apocalypse Now ends as it should. Bear in mind Dennis Hopper’s character foreshadows the ending when he states to Sheen while Brando is reading, ‘This is the way the fucking world ends, not with a bang but a whimper man”…(paraphrasing…Brando whsipering “the horror…the horror…” is perfection….
    This is hardly among the worst endings of all time.

  • 7 7-17-2008 at 5:35 am

    John Foote said...

    And about The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the Kind ending…though it does go on and on, I think I understand why Jackson did that. We have invested so much time with these characters, we have come to love them and care about them (I did anyway) and to move away from the story wondering what would become of them would have agonized me. To stop at the crowning of the King, I would have wondered how the little hobbits would go home and exist after such a grand adventure…and what would become of poor Frodo, forever marked by this ring…I had no issue with the endings…and in fact would have sat longer. And let’s be clear here, Jackson obviously believed there to one ending, which is where the films ends, not where we think the ending should…his intent is clear. End it with Frodo and Gandalf having left and Sam home again with his family to live in peace. Perfect.

    For a terrible ending why is The Godfather Part III not on the list? Though in my world it does not exist…

  • 8 7-17-2008 at 5:40 am

    Ryan Adams said...


    There were 20 movies in the past 12 months with endings worse than those on this list.

    There’ll be 20 movies on Showtime between now and Monday with worse endings.

  • 9 7-17-2008 at 9:01 am

    The Angry Czeck said...

    The only one with a measure of validity is Saving Private Ryan.

  • 10 7-17-2008 at 9:13 am

    head_wizard said...

    Wow this list sucks so many of these have great endings to them. What do these people not like films open to interpretation.

  • 11 7-17-2008 at 9:27 am

    Billyboy said...

    Totally disagree about PTA’s films. Magnolia has a perfect, touching ending. Claudia Gator looks at the camera and smiles.

    Agree with ROTK… it was really painful, I really couldn’t care less about the multiple endings that movie has.

  • 12 7-17-2008 at 9:31 am

    Proman said...

    “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” – it’s a conspiracy against Terry Gilliam, I tell ya ;) .

    No, but, seriously way to show a lack of sense of humor.

    This may actually beat this year’s AFI lists as being the worst list of any kind, ever (and that’s saying something). I won’t go into details but it’s shit from beginning to end.

    If you want to see a truly awful ending watch “The Life of David Gale”. This is a serious contender because perhaps like no other movie in history it works to completely against the point the filmmakers were trying to make.

    Now go and Earn This.

  • 13 7-17-2008 at 9:48 am

    Ivan said...

    i think the list consider the worst endings of great and regular films, because bad movies usually have crappy endings like Mystic River .
    I agree with Private Ryan, TLOTR, but totallydisagree that Magnolia and Apocalypse Now were included.

    So come to my mind some movies that final minutes don´t make justice to the rest of the film

    Marie Antoinette
    The Bridges of Madison County
    Moulin Rouge
    Good Will Hunting
    One Flew Over the Cuckoo´s Nest
    American Beauty
    9 1/2 weeks
    In the Bedroom
    Wall Street

  • 14 7-17-2008 at 11:08 am

    Joseph said...

    Terrible list! Half of those are excellent endings.

    And I am a MASSIVE fan of “The Lord of the Rings,” and there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with “The Return of the King”‘s ending. For such epic films nothing less than an epic ending will suffice, and Jackson here creates such a magnificent wrap-up in physical and emotional scope that it carries on the magic and ethereal power of the rest of the film. I’m sure I’m not the only one to weep all through those last, heartrending last 20 minutes. It’s like saying goodbye to a friend.

  • 15 7-17-2008 at 1:13 pm

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    I am glad to see there’s people that like the ROTK ending just like me. Let me make clear I do understand that people find it to be too long. But it is in no way disastrous or a trainwreck. No way.

  • 16 7-17-2008 at 1:16 pm

    Martin Edwards said...

    Besides the worthy inclusions of Grease, ROTK, and Planet of the Apes, this is possibly the worst list of anything I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

  • 17 7-17-2008 at 5:25 pm

    Craig said...

    Spielberg has completely forgotten how to end films as of late. Even movies I loved (Minority Report, Saving Private Ryan) have had horrible, horrible endings. To wit:

    – A.I.
    – Minority Report
    – Saving Private Ryan
    – War of the Worlds
    – Indy 4 and the Crystal Whatever Blah de Blah

  • 18 7-17-2008 at 5:35 pm

    Proman said...

    Clearly Spielberg is evolving faster than some of his viewers.

  • 19 7-19-2008 at 12:21 pm

    Adrianna said...

    “The Purple Rose of Cairo”

    We’re asked to suspend our disbelief a lot in the body of the film: to believe that characters can walk off the movie screen and into real life and that real people can walk into the screen and be part of it. And it works – its clever fun. But the suspension of disbelief doesn’t extend to either believing in a happy ending or an ending consistent with the body of the movie. There should have been a clever ending, using the plot reality that had been established, that made us gasp with delight and appreciation.

    Who believes that the perfect ending for a movie is to see the heroine trapped in an abusive relationship where she gets beaten up over and over again for the rest of her life? Why was it more important for the director to abandon the craftmanship of finding an end to the movie and give in to expressing his private spleen, where Mia Farrow must suffer and never think that she can escape the control of a violent male partner? Did he CHOOSE to be an a**hole rather than an artist, or is that just what sliding into mental illness looks like?

  • 20 7-19-2008 at 2:28 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Personally, Adrianna, I think that’s a bizarre (and rather externalised) interpretation of an ending that actually brings its heroine to the possibility of change. It’s always a mistake to use an artist’s creative choices as a judgment on their person.

    I actually had “Purple Rose” in my own BEST endings list, until I decided one Allen film was enough.

  • 21 8-03-2008 at 1:25 am

    Daniel said...

    Believe me the ROTK ending was perfect, followed the book and wouldn’t have truly minded that they would have put Scouring of the Shire, but that would literally put two movies into one, oh well I love it.