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Top 10 Most Iconic Movie Endings

VO: Dan Paradis
Script Written by Nick Spake. They're the endings to end all other endings. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Most Iconic Movie Endings. For this list, we’re taking a look at the preeminent cinematic conclusions that stuck with us long after the credits rolled and we left the theatre. As with every list pertaining to endings, SPOILERS! Special thanks to our users manuelalanis99 and a25kaitlynrocks for submitting the idea on our Suggestion Tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Most Iconic Movie Endings


They’re the endings to end all other endings. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 most iconic movie endings.

For this list, we’re taking a look at the preeminent cinematic conclusions that stuck with us long after the credits rolled and we left the theater. As with every list pertaining to endings, SPOILERS!

#10: What’s in the Box?
“Se7en” (1995)

John Doe might not be God, but his master plan comes together like a bow tied around a package in the shocking final minutes of “Se7en.” Although we never see inside Pandora’s box, Detective Somerset’s reaction is enough to make our hearts sink. Once Doe reveals the box’s contents, the hotheaded Detective Mills is left at a crossroads. He ultimately takes Doe’s life, bringing the string of killings based on the deadly sins full circle. It’s a grim world, but the film’s final line leaves us with a glimmer of light at the tunnel’s end.

#9: The Sound of Silence
“The Graduate” (1967)

As iconic as the finale to “The Graduate” is, it’s also easy to misinterpret. Some people may view Benjamin and Elaine victoriously running away together as a happy final note. The scene’s last couple seconds change everything, however. Instead of love conquering all, reality dawns on the lovers as they realize their act of rebellion might have a negative effect in the long run. Rather than discussing their life-altering decision, Ben and Elaine just sit on the bus with uncertain expressions while the sound of silence eats away at them.

#8: Rosebud
“Citizen Kane” (1941)

“Citizen Kane” revolves around its main character’s dying word: “Rosebud.” The reporter researching Charles Foster Kane never uncovers the word’s meaning, but it’s believed to be something that even the richest man in the world couldn’t have. Kane’s entire character suddenly becomes clear as Rosebud is revealed to be his childhood sled. He might have filled his life with boundless treasures. Without this one key jigsaw, though, Kane felt like the smallest man the world. It poignantly demonstrates how precious childhood innocence is and how easily it can get discarded.

#7: I’m da Boss
“Raging Bull” (1980)

“Raging Bull” opens with Jake LaMotta lonely shadowboxing in a ring and ends with him shadowboxing in a dressing room. The biggest difference, aside from his significant weight gain, is that the isolated LaMotta is no longer at the topof his game. Yet, the former contender still believes he can go out with class. Just as Marlon Brando’s iconic speech from “On the Waterfront” resonates with LaMotta, the beaten boxer’s final words would inspire Dirk Diggler in “Boogie Nights,” another movie about a star’s rise and fall from glory.

#6: It’s Chinatown
“Chinatown” (1974)

Sometimes people never get the justice they deserve and we’re forced to just accept our world’s cruel nature. It’s a sad truth that “Chinatown” poetically sums up with one immortal final line. After Evelyn is shot dead, Jake naturally wants retribution. As his colleagues hold Jake back, however, one of them reminds the heated P.I. that there’s nothing he can do. As hard as Jake tries to forget, his ordeals in Chinatown will undoubtedly stay with him forever, just like this unsettling ending will always stay with us.

#5: Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship
“Casablanca” (1942)

Even if you’ve never seen what some consider the most iconic movie of all time, chances are you’re at least familiar with its iconic closing scene. “Casablanca” doesn’t have the happiest of endings, but it does leave our characters on the perfect final note as Rick courageously lets Ilsa go. Equally sad and inspiring, it’s additionally hard to think of an ending that’s given us more classic lines. From “we’ll always have Paris” to “round up the usual suspects,” all we can say is, “here’s looking at you, kid.”

#4: Don’t Ask Me About My Business
“The Godfather” (1972)

“The Godfather” trilogy is largely about a man trying to maintain his family life and his business life. The only way Michael Corleone’s two worlds can co-exist is if he keeps them as far away from each other as possible. Kay continues to repress the truth about her husband, but deep down she knows the monster inside Michael has been unleashed. Michael may shut the door on his wife at the end of Francis Ford Coppola’s original masterpiece, but soon enough both his words will collide with disastrous results.

#3: The Devil’s Greatest Trick
“The Usual Suspects” (1995)

Where Kevin Spacey’s character in “Se7en” views himself as a messenger of God, his character in “The Usual Suspects” views himself as the devil. Satan can take on many different faces, from a bumbling cripple like Roger ‘Verbal’ Kint to a mob boss like Keyser Söze. Customs Agent Kujan and the audience don’t comprehend this until the film’s final moments as it’s ingeniously exposed that the answers were right in front of us the entire time. By then, though, the devil has already slipped through the law’s fingers again.

#2: Wouldn’t Even Harm a Fly
“Psycho” (1960)

Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” is a film filled with so many twists and turns that you never know exactly where it’s going. The movie’s greatest enigma is Norman Bates, who’s either another victim caught in his malicious mother’s web or a manipulative mastermind. In a wicked twist of an ending, it turns out Norman is a bit of both. It’s hard to say whether we should pity this tormented soul or be disturbed by him. In either case, the final image of the two-faced Norman is forever scarred in our minds.


Before we close out with our top ending, here are a few honorable mentions:

Schindler’s Grave
“Schindler’s List” (1993)

Reunion
“The Shawshank Redemption” (1994)

Lovers Gunned Down
“Bonnie and Clyde” (1967)

Adrian!
“Rocky” (1976)


Riding Off
“The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” (1966)

#1: You Maniacs!
“Planet of the Apes” (1968)

Now here’s an endgame twist that’s nothing short of legendary. Throughout “Planet of the Apes,” the audience is led to believe these damn, dirty primates are mankind’s greatest oppressors. As Charlton Heston discovers the devastating sight of the Statue of Liberty, however, we realize that mankind is truly its own worst enemy. This alien planet is actually a post-apocalyptic earth where we’ve failed as a species and apes have risen. Meaningful, unexpected, and earthshattering, it’s an ending that should make humanity take a long, hard look in the mirror.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite movie ending? For more entertaining Top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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