Some science-fiction films such Everything Everywhere All at Once earn praise for their overall quality, but other sci-fi movies couldn’t quite stick the landing. The history of film is littered with great science-fiction movies that dropped the ball when it came to their endings.
Whether big-budget remakes such as War of the Worlds or epic franchise installments such as Alien: Covenant, many sci-fi movies had fans on the hook until it came time to wrap things up. While a lot of sci-fi suffers from bad endings, users on Reddit took to the site to discuss the ending so terrible that they ruined the whole movie.
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In order to enjoy science fiction, viewers must suspend their disbelief to accept certain fantastical concepts. However, user gvondra thought a movie’s ending pushed things too far, writing “Lucy. The whole movie requires maximum suspension of disbelief. But the shallow sophomoric ending trashes it all”.
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The Scarlett Johansson vehicle was silly and fun, but many viewers felt that the finale asked too much of the audience when it came to suspending disbelief. Basing the film on the “10% of the brain” myth meant that things weren’t going to necessarily represent reality, but the film’s ending about supposed transcendence cheapened the exciting action that the movie had provided up to that point.
Star Trek: Generations (1994)
Making any significant moves in a beloved franchise like Star Trek is risky, and Star Trek: Generations featured a pivotal turning point in the canon. User Theinspector3000 was downright disgusted with the movie, writing about the movie, “What it did to Kirk after a respectable bow out in … The Undiscovered Country makes me despise it”.
Killing off the beloved Captain Kirk could have been handled with finesse and an appropriate gravity for the character. However, Generations did nothing of the sort and left viewers enraged by its lackluster ending. Though the film was never going to be counted among the best Star Trek movies of all time, its ending helped solidify it as one of the worst.
War Of The Worlds (2005)
Though overly cynical endings can often be panned for being too dark, some movies have endings that are so sappy that they leave a bad taste in viewer’s mouths. User mattXIX mentioned one such flick when they wrote “War of the Worlds. The movie was enjoyable and even fun in parts. The sappy ending that reunited characters completely ruined the movie for me though”.
When a movie pushes its scope to a worldwide level, it is necessary to make tough decisions regarding the fate of characters. When every person in his immediate family survives despite it appearing to the contrary, the movie seems disingenuous and removes some of the emotional weight of the events of the film.
Science fiction is usually a bold and ambitious genre, but occasionally the bold choices can alienate audiences as the film goes on. User richterfrollo watched an enjoyable movie fall apart when they said “Passengers was so good in the first third … then the second half started ruining it and the ending put the nail in the coffin”.
Passengers is essentially an otherwise good movie ruined by its third act, but if it hadn’t tacked on its strange ending, it would have had a better reputation. Though surprises are good, viewers can feel betrayed when a movie is pointing towards one thing and it suddenly switches in the end.
Pandorum was a flop when it was initially released in theaters, but it has since garnered a cult following for its interesting blend of interstellar horror. Despite this, user Aqualung1 was disappointed with the movie, commenting, “Such a complex, multilayered and visionary sci-fi film, ruined by a typical, feel good Hollywood ending”.
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Hollywood filmmaking is about compromise, and unfortunately for Pandorum the film’s Lovecraftian sci-fi horror was compromised by its cheesy twist ending. The last act of the film was obviously written into a corner, but by having everything simply work out in the end was not the twist that fans were looking for.
Alien: Covenant (2017)
By the latter half of the 2010s, the Alien franchise was a beleaguered shell of what it once was, but Alien: Covenant hoped to change all of that. User Lance20000 found much of the same, though, writing, “The last 20 minutes must have been tacked on by the studio. … It certainly made a decent alien movie into something I’d rather not watch again”.
The original Alien is one of the greatest sci-fi horror films of all time, and living up to that standard was nearly impossible. Though fans weren’t expecting Covenant to rival its predecessor, the film promised to be a return to the franchise’s roots. Instead it suffered from much the same problems as Prometheus and its ending was tangled up with sequel bait.
Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets (2017)
Bringing the enormously popular French comic book to life was a tall order, and Valerian invested much of its resources into the stunning visuals of the world. User Aethelete couldn’t get past the film’s lackluster ending, writing succinctly, “Absolutely beautiful but the end killed it”.
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All throughout the film, the clever and interesting world of the story unfolded as a visual spectacle for the audience, but the plot was somewhat lacking. The film’s story weaknesses were easily covered by its visuals, but the cliche ending was too much to ignore. Reflecting the stock-standard action film endings that viewers were tired of seeing, Valerian squanders its sci-fi set up with its generic finale.
Mission To Mars (2000)
The late ’90s and early 2000s was a landmark time in the world of the epic blockbuster, but Mission to Mars failed to leave an impression like its contemporaries did. User mece66 saw the ending as the worst part of an otherwise lackluster movie, saying the movie is “so bad that I couldn’t imagine that the ending could still ruin it. But it did”.
In a film like Mission to Mars, an inspiring twist ending was totally unnecessary. The idea of a space mission to Mars going awry is exciting enough, and it really didn’t need the punctuation of martian life seeding earth. If the film had focused on making an exciting action climax, it might have saved what was an overall forgettable movie.
Book Of Eli (2010)
Building a film around one big reveal can be amazing, or it can be terribly disastrous. User CleverZerg saw Book of Eli fall into the latter category, saying “I remember being incredibly pleasantly surprised by the Book of Eli until they revealed what the Book was. … A great movie turned into quite the disappointment by the end”.
Throughout most of the running time, the film was a refreshing piece of dystopian sci-fi with a stellar cast and impressive effects for the time. However, the setup required a payoff and it was bound to leave the audience divided. Some fans were able to look past the end and focus on the rest of the film, but others couldn’t ignore the strange and preachy reveal that reframes the entire movie.
10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
Originally devised as a standalone film, 10 Cloverfield Lane was slightly changed to make it a quasi-sequel the 2008 film Cloverfield, which only served to flummox audiences. User morehumblethanyou summarized the audience consensus when they wrote, “The ending came out of absolutely nowhere and confused me so much at the time. I walked out of the movie thinking it was a joke or something”.
The beauty of the film was that it left viewers guessing as to whether it was a sci-fi film at all, and that was most likely the intention of the original script. However, the ham-fisted shoehorning of the Cloverfield monsters into the ending took all of the suspense and threw it out the window. What was a subtle and incredibly claustrophobic character drama turned into a bloated monster movie with no warning.
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About The Author
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Dalton Norman is a senior writer at Screenrant who authors lists on a variety of topics from movies and TV, to comic books, and pretty much anything that strikes his fancy. He is an avid lover of film history, and enjoys imparting as much trivia onto his readers as possible. He has also contributed several essays to various online publications that pertain to film theory and criticism, and he brings his filmmaking experience to the table as a writer for the site.
A graduate of the exclusive BFA Film Production program at the University of Central Florida, Dalton specialized in screenwriting and producing with an eye towards low budget filmmaking. In his free time, Dalton writes novels which he independently publishes online. His influences include the works of authors like John D. MacDonald and Tom Wolfe, and he tries to channel a bit of their unique energy whenever he writes.
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