Who doesn’t love a satisfying ending to a movie? Cliffhangers, a final twist, or leaving it ambiguous are all fine, but there’s just something about when a movie ties up all loose ends that feels so rewarding. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a “happy” ending, but it perfectly brings the entire story full circle.
From major blockbusters and indie films to Hollywood classics and modern masterpieces, a satisfying ending can be found in all types of films. It can be hard to pull off, but when done right, a great ending can actually elevate the entire movie. Not every great movie ending is satisfying, but every satisfying movie ending is great.
10/10 Marvel Ended Its First Three Phases On A High Note
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Ending a trilogy is hard enough, but Avengers: Endgame had to conclude storylines that have been building for twenty-two films. The amount of pressure riding on this movie to have a satisfying ending was unprecedented. so it’s truly remarkable that Endgame not only lived up to the hype but exceeded all expectations and delivered one of the most iconic endings in recent memory.
Endgame closes out Marvel’s first three phases with Tony Stark sacrificing himself to defeat Thanos and restore the universe, and Steve retiring as Captain America and returning to the 40s to live out his life with Peggy. While it was sad to see these iconic characters go, their send-offs couldn’t have been more perfect.
9/10 Will Hunting Went To See About A Girl
Good Will Hunting (1997)
In Good Will Hunting, Matt Damon stars as Will Hunting, a genius with a troubled past who is arrested and sentenced to undergo therapy. Will initially rejects these therapy sessions, as he is afraid of being vulnerable, which holds him back in life. His best friend, Chuckie, played by Ben Affleck tells Will he hopes one day to knock on his door, and he isn’t there because he finally realized his potential and left.
In the end, that’s exactly what happens. Will is able to forgive himself and finally pursue what he wants in life. It’s a heartwarming moment that’s completely earned and brings the movie full circle. Like Chuckie, the audience can’t help but grin and be happy for Will.
8/10 Django Goes Out With A Blast
Django Unchained (2012)
Quentin Tarantino is a filmmaker who has perfected the art of how to end a movie. Pulp Fiction, Inglorious Bastards, and Once Upon A Time In Hollywood all have extremely satisfying endings, but the one that stands above the rest is Django Unchained.
After being given his freedom, Django, a former slave turned bounty hunter, sets out on a journey to free his wife from an evil plantation owner. After things go wrong, Django is forced to blast his way out and there’s nothing more satisfying than watching him unload on a bunch of racist slavers. Django saves his wife and destroys the plantation with sticks of dynamite before they ride off together. The movie literally goes out with a bang.
7/10 Blisters Never Felt So Good
Whiplash follows Andrew Nieman, a young obsessive drummer, and his psychological battle with his abusive musical instructor, Terence Fletcher, who believes pushing his students to their absolute limit is the only way for them to be great. It’s a movie that puts its audience through an immense amount of stress, but it’s a;; worth it in the final moments.
After Fletcher sabotages Andrew at the final concert, he leaves the stage humiliated, only to return a few moments later and deliver an epic drum solo. Andrew takes control and proves he has what it takes, winning over Fletcher’s approval. It’s not a warm and fuzzy ending, but the moment is completely earned and so satisfying to watch.
6/10 Rocky Goes The Distance
Rocky is the quintessential underdog story. Sylvester Stallone stars as the titular low-level boxer who is given the opportunity to fight the heavyweight champion, Apollo Creed. Although Rocky doesn’t think he can win, his goal is to at least go the distance and prove to everyone that he is a worthy opponent, and that’s exactly what he does.
Rocky lasts 15 grueling rounds with the much more experienced fighter, and though he loses the fight, it doesn’t matter because he wins the respect of everyone who ever doubted him. Plus, who could forget the iconic “Adriiiiiaaaaann” Rocky belts out to his girlfriend before the two declare their love for each other? It’s simply incredible.
5/10 The TSA Saves The Day
Get Out (2017)
Similar to Whiplash, the ending of Get Out comes as a much-needed sigh of relief after keeping the audience on the edge of their seat. The film follows an interracial couple, Chris and Rose, visiting Rose’s parents for the first time, and it’s revealed that they are part of a cult that kidnaps young black men to be used in a brain transplant procedure.
Chris is able to escape but is stopped by a squad car with flashing lights. He fears it’s the police since they racially profiled him earlier and likely won’t believe him. But it’s revealed to be his friend, and TSA agent Rod, there to save him. The audience can’t help but erupt in applause.
4/10 Truman Cancels His Show
The Truman Show (1998)
What does one do when they learn that their entire life has been one long fabricated lie for others’ amusement? That’s the question lingering at the end of the 1998 psychological satire, The Truman Show. Truman, played by Jim Carrey, is a man who is unknowingly the star of a TV show; he lives in an artificial town and everyone he’s ever known is just an actor.
In the end, Truman learns the truth and tries to escape, but not before his “creator” Christoff tries convincing him to stay. Though initially hesitant, Truman rejects Christoff and the only life he’s known. He delivers his catchphrase, takes a bow, and exits to the real world. It’s a cathartic and well-deserved happy ending.
3/10 Fans Were Glad To Be There At The End Of All Things
The Return Of The King (2003)
While there have been countless jokes over the fact that The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King has “too many endings,” it doesn’t take away from the fact it perfectly concluded one of the greatest trilogies of all time. Frodo destroys the ring, Sauron is defeated, and Aragorn takes his place as the rightful king.
Director Peter Jackson made sure that every loose end was tied up and that every central character from this 9-hour epic adventure got a proper send-off. It’s not often that the last film in a trilogy is also the best, but Return of the King is the rare exception. It gave fans everything they could’ve asked for, and more.
2/10 An Angel Gets Its Wings
It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)
It’s a Wonderful Life is a holiday season classic that follows George Bailey, a man on the verge of financial ruin and contemplating suicide on Christmas Eve. Clarence, a guardian angel, then shows George what the world would look like if he was never born.
In the end, George realizes the positive impact he has had on everyone and begs for his life to return to the way it was. Clarence grants him this wish and, elated, George rushes home, embraces his wife and kids, and learns the townspeople have donated enough money to solve his financial situation. It’s so incredibly wholesome and heartwarming, one can’t help crying tears of joy every time.
1/10 Get Busy Living Or Get Busy Dying
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
If it’s not the greatest movie ending of all time, The Shawshank Redemption is certainly the most rewarding. Based on a Stephen King novella, the story follows Andy Dufresne, a man who is wrongfully imprisoned at the corrupt Shawshank State Penitentiary. There, he befriends fellow inmate Red and becomes involved in a money laundering scheme led by the prison’s warden.
The Shawshank Redemption spans twenty years in which Andy faces many hardships and beatings, but it’s revealed at the end that Andy spent those years digging a tunnel to freedom. The cherry on top comes when Red reunites with Andy on the beach in Mexico he told him about earlier in the movie. It’s the perfect ending to a perfect film.