The first scene of a film is the hook. It reels you in and convinces you to dedicate the next one, two, or even three hours of your life to going down the rabbit hole of the
movie director’s imagined world.
But arguably most memorable — even
more so than a sex scene — is the final scene of a movie. It’s the last impression you have and can leave you with a lingering feeling of wanting more. And it can completely change your viewing experience. It can also be the best scene of a movie for that very reason.
Whether it’s because of an iconic song or a total plot twist, all these movies left us both fully satisfied but also hungry for more. Each of these 17 films saved the best for last.
Warning: This slideshow contains spoilers. I mean, obviously, it’s the last scene of the film, guys. But they’re so good, you could honestly know the ending and still throughly enjoy the whole movie again and again. Trust me.
Call Me By Your Name (2017) I can never look at fireplaces, Timothée Chalamet, or Sufjan Stevens the same again after watching this scene.
(2000) Almost Famous A total “if you don’t love yourself, who will?” moment for Penny Lane (Kate Hudson) that the audience isn’t expecting.
(1999) Fight Club Edward Norton’s character finally faces his Brad Pitt-shaped personal demon, and ends the scene with a literal bang. A very strange time, indeed. Cue: the Pixies song that you will have on repeat the rest of the day.
(1999) American Beauty Kevin Spacey’s post-humorous narration of this film is equal parts sad and amusing. And does anyone ever get sick of that shot of the plastic bag floating in the wind?
(1993) Dazed & Confused As the sun rises after a night of partying, part of the crew is on the way to get Aerosmith tickets in one of the most realistic endings to a high school movie, ever. Alright, alright, alright.
(2006) The Departed The rat is finally exterminated from this all-star cast.
(1994) Pulp Fiction This frantic, dramatic, and neurotic exchange between four characters is prime Quentin Tarantino. Every scene is connected to another, and according to theories like this one, this scene could have technically appeared in a different part of the film. Nonetheless, it won’t shake your curiosity about what’s in the suitcase.
(1995) The Usual Suspects The most subtle but plot-shattering ending to a crime movie. Kint (Kevin Spacey) is an underdog conman for the books. “The greatest trick the devil pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”
(2014) Whiplash Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) tries to embarrass Andrew (Miles Teller) to teach him a lesson, but it backfires and becomes one of the sweatiest, bloodiest, and most intense drum solos ever.
(1999) Cruel Intentions The only thing sexier than Sebastian (Ryan Phillippe) is his vintage Jaguar convertible. And the only thing more evil than Katherine (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is Sebastian’s intimate journal of conquests. Add in a coke-vile necklace, a botched funeral speech, and the perfect soundtrack, and you get cinematic gold.
(1985) The Breakfast Club Who knew so much could happen in one Saturday detention? It’s all summed up when bad boy John Bender (Judd Nelson) does that triumphant punch to the sky in the final shot.
(2008) Wanted It’s a total bait and switch of a scene, and while it is a bit graphic, the last line uttered — “What the fuck have you done lately?” — is too perfect.
(1967) The Graduate After all the drama of getting the girl of his dreams, you see the precise moment the young couple realizes exactly what they just got themselves into. All to “The Sound of Silence.”
(1996) Trainspotting Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) rattling off how he is going to change his addict ways and become like all of us, with a job, a family, a fucking big television, directly contrasts the opening scene of this movie, making it a perfect ending.
(1978) Grease Sandra Dee (Olivia Newton-John) debuts herself as the new and improved Sandy, and then joins the whole school to sing one of the most epic musical finales of all time. The school year may be over, but these friends with always be together. Flying car and all.
(2001) Donnie Darko I’m not even going to attempt to summarize what is happening. If you haven’t seen the movie, you should. And then go down the wormhole and you’ll agree that this ending is indeed one of the most memorable.
(2020) Portrait of a Lady on Fire The amount of emotion packed in this scene is enough to leave you breathless.
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