A really good movie can become a great movie when it has a final scene that really sticks with you. An idea or image that captures your imagination and makes you think about what would come next in the story or look back at the story you just saw in a new context. Here are our picks for the absolute best final scenes in science fiction films. Obviously, this list will contain spoilers.
Sarah Connor looks out to the desert and its bleak emptiness with a massive storm rolling in looks so apocalyptic. But she’s beaten the apocalypse… right?
BACK TO THE FUTURE
Can you imagine if this film had never had sequels? It still would have been a perfect ending! Marty’s improved his family’s life but there are still adventures to be had!
A CLOCKWORK ORANGE
After Alex has spent two hours going through radical therapy he comes out having learned nothing. His dreams (cut out of the video above, sorry) are right back to his criminal endeavors.
CABIN IN THE WOODS
The movie builds and builds, adding more monsters and craziness. Then, just when it the survivors should be able to turn the tables on their captors, they go nihilistic and humanity itself is doomed in a gloriously over the top way.
THE THING (1982)
The last two researchers have survived the alien only to be left in the middle of Antarctica with no resources. And then we start wondering. DID they really defeat the alien?
Sam appears to have a happy ending thanks to the Resistance freeing him and finding his way to Jill, who appeared to be dead. The confusion makes sense as we learn Sam is locked in prison and has recently gone insane.
THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
It’s not often you see the heroes end the movie having lost so much, escaping with their lives but not much else. Luke is missing a hand and Leia’s Rebellion is scattered to the winds. They look out a shuttle window to the galaxy as their friends Lando and Chewbecca leave to try to rescue Han who has been frozen and captured by the enemy forces. John Williams’ score soars high.
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD
Ben survives the night against zombies outside the farm house and people who can’t cope with the stress inside. The only survivor, he wanders outside, amazed to have survived and then he’s instantly shot by a police officer who assumes he’s a zombie. The fact that Ben was black and the officer white is not lost on us.
PLANET OF THE APES
So iconic that it’s been parodied countless times. But when Charlton Heston realizes that the planet of the apes he’s landed on is actually Earth in the far future, it’s devastating. He can’t go home because it’s gone.
2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY
You have to be patient with Kubrick’s epic sci-fi movie but if you make it to the end, Dr. Bowman finally makes contact with the unseen observers of humanity, evolving into the star child and returning to Earth with his new, enlightened consciousness.