10 Most Heart-Stopping Movie Cliffhangers
Sometimes, they set up a sequel. Sometimes, they’re intentionally ambiguous. And sometimes, they’re maddeningly unclear. But what the best cliffhanger movie endings always do is leave audiences talking up a storm. And this doesn’t only happen in movies—it happens on TV as well. Consider Scandal, arguably the greatest cliffhanger show since Lost. Find out how series creator Shonda Rhimes and company create these high-stakes endings in THE WRITERS’ ROOM, Fri., Apr. 18 at 9PM/8c then vote on your favorite big screen example of a cliffhanger in the list below, ranked from serious palpitations to cardiac arrest.
10. Kill Bill: Vol. 1
Final Moment: While the Bride (Uma Thurman) makes her “kill list” elsewhere, Bill (David Carradine) — Number 1 on said list — asks whether the Bride knows that her daughter is still alive.
Final Questions: Wait, the Bride’s daughter is alive? How is that possible? Can you really deliver a baby when you’re in a coma? Where is this daughter? Who is she? And what exactly is the Bride going to do when she finds out?
9. The Wrestler [View Schedule]
Final Moment: Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Mickey Rourke) leaves his girlfriend (Marissa Tomei) in the wings for an epic rematch. He mounts the ropes of the wrestling ring, his heart beating erratically then jumps for his signature “Ram Slam” move. Blackout.
Final Questions: Is The Ram’s life literally or metaphorically over? Is he leaving the past behind? Is he having a heart attack?
8. Before Sunset
Final Moment: Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy), who spent a romantic day together in Vienna nine years earlier in Before Sunrise, meet again — this time in Paris. As Jesse sits listening to Nina Simone and watching Celine dance, the seconds tick away… and he has a plane to catch.
Final Questions: Will he miss his flight and stay with her? Will he leave his life and his wife and his kid? Does the existence of the threequel Before Midnight invalidate such questions?
7. Lost in Translation
Final Moment: Their intense yet platonic Tokyo tryst at an end, Bob (Bill Murray) stops Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) on a busy street before he’s being driven away. He whispers something in her ear then gives her a not-entirely–chaste kiss. They part.
Final Questions: Will they see each other again? Will they find happiness with their respective spouses? What the hell did he say?
6. The Matrix Reloaded
Final Moment: Neo (Keanu Reeves) has collapsed after defending the Nebuchadnezzar, and is laid out in the sick bay and inches away from Bane, who is now inhabited by Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving).
Final Questions: Whose ass is getting kicked when one or both of them wakes up? And sure, Smith has gone rogue, but how exactly does a computer program leave the Matrix?
5. The Thing
Final Moment: As the Antarctic, alien-attacked camp burns around them, R.J. MacReady (Kurt Russell) and Childs (Keith David) pass a bottle back and forth as they wait and “see what happens.”
Final Questions: Where exactly is the Thing? Is one of them the Thing? And if so, which one?
4. Blade Runner
Final Moment: Replicant hunter Deckard (Harrison Ford) — exhausted, bloody and lying in the rain — stares at the origami unicorn that Gaff (Edward James Olmos) left for him–an object which references Deckard’s earlier dream.
Final Questions: What does that unicorn mean? Is Deckard really a replicant? Since director Ridley Scott and actor Ford have different opinions, who should you believe?
Final Moment: Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) awakes on a plane, picks up his bags, meets his father-in-law, returns to his beautiful home and kids and spins a top on the table.
Final Questions: Is this reality? Is he still dreaming? Will the top continue to spin or will it fall? Can the top be trusted?
2. Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Final Moment: Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) awakens on a ship, where Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) and Plutarch (Philip Seymour Hoffman) reveal that this is the revolution before sedating her again. When she comes to again, Gale (Liam Hemsworth) tells her that their home, District 12, is gone. Zoom in on her devastated face.
Final Questions: Is Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) going to survive? What’s happening in the supposedly extinct District 13? What happened to District 12?
1. American Psycho
Final Moment: Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) joins his yuppie buddies for Scotch and a convo about Reagan and the Iran-Contra affair. His colleague Paul Allen is apparently still alive.
Final Questions: Did any of the violence that preceded the ending really happen? Was Bateman’s serial killer madness all just a drug-addled dream? Have we just witnessed the sick thoughts in someone’s head?