The best endings from film and TV


Grab some popcorn and get comfy as we are about to start at the end and award some top gongs for the most memorable endings from film and TV. From the shocking to the plot-twisting, the audience dividers to the cliff-hangers – these are endings that the team here at AA Life Insurance feel stay with them – long after the credits have rolled up.


The Sixth Sense

Goosebumps prick as soon as we think about this masterpiece that placed director M. Night Shyamalan on the cinematic map. The ending left viewers simultaneously picking their jaws up off the ground and rewinding the movie as they asked themselves – how could I miss that? It transpires that the young Cole (Haley Joel Osment) can in fact ‘see dead people’ (cementing one of cinema’s greatest catchphrases) and lead character Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) just so happens to be one of those dead people. Wait – what? With sharp, sophisticated directing and editing, this film certainly deserves its spot on the list.


Bonnie and Clyde

The controversial Bonnie and Clyde was one of the first European-inspired American films that represented the “New Hollywood” movement. American audiences were initially shocked by the high level of graphic violence, which had never been depicted like this before. The ending is a brutal, front row seat viewing of Bonnie and Clyde’s final moments as they are taken down by the police in a shocking hail of gunfire.


The Shawshank Redemption

The Shawshank Redemption scooped our top gong for films that ‘Celebrate Life’ a couple of years ago, and it is this ‘emotional washing machine’ ending that earns it a place on this list.  After Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) successfully escapes Shawshank, he sends a message back to "Red" Redding (Morgan Freeman) on where to find him once he is out. It culminates in an immensely powerful reunion of the two on a beach and a new level of emotional highs reached for the viewer.


The Graduate

After managing to successfully break-up Elaine Robinson's (Katharine Ross) wedding, Ben Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) and her are seen running off onto a bus.  In this iconic ‘back of the bus’ scene, we see them catch their breath, pause and then begin to contemplate what they have just done, leading to a bit of an ‘oh crap’ moment.


Thelma and Louise

Out of options and at the end of their own personal journeys, main characters Thelma (Geena Davis) and Louise (Susan Sarandon), who are by now fully surrounded by the FBI, decide to ‘keep going’. They embrace before driving off the edge of the Grand Canyon and into cinematic history with one of the most iconic endings of all time - a shot of the car in mid-air.



Six Feet Under

For the team here, the series finale of Six Feet Under is a masterclass in small screen endings. It lovingly honours the plot, themes and character arcs they had so beautifully crafted during its five-season run. It is the hauntingly (excuse the pun) beautiful final montage of scenes, set to Sia’s “Breathe Me’ that depicts how the characters’ lives play out and how they arrive at their own deaths.



Even though Lost’s ending divided viewers, it can still stake its claim as being one of the most important moments in TV history. Over the course of its six seasons, Lost allowed for stories to be told differently on TV, with directors delivering both flash-backs and flash-forwards and in the final series a flash sideways – where we see the characters lives if they had never been in the plane crash. It culminates in Lost’s final scenes where the characters meet to be taken through a portal to the afterlife.



Cheer's fittingly titled finale ‘One for the Road’ delivered the beautiful mixture of comedy and sweetness that the series had based itself on for its 11-season run. Even though it came in at 70mins long, it aligned itself beautifully with the rest of the series. One for the Road became one of the most-viewed TV series finales of all time as bar-owner Sam Malone yells “Sorry, we are closed” in the closing scene, signalling the end of this epic show.


Mash (Goodbye, Farewell and Amen)

Also, after an impressive 11-season run, M*A*S*H’s end came via a 2-hour-long TV film that served as the series final episode. This final episode showcased the marriage of comedy and drama that the show had exquisitely blended, and the compelling characters it had created along the way.  Set against the backdrop of the end of the Korean War, the finale felt like both a farewell to the characters of this hit show and the audience of 121.6 million that tuned into watch.


The Sopranos

Like Lost, the last episode of The Soprano’s “Made in America” was controversial and divisive.  Undoubtedly, the Sopranos was one of the greatest TV shows ever made, but audiences were left shocked and confused as it seems to (prematurely) cut to black (many viewers believed the TV had cut out) to represent Tony Soprano’s departure from earth. Creator David Chase explained to The Hollywood Reporter: “Tony was dealing in mortality every day. He was dishing out life and death. And he was not happy. All I wanted to do was present the idea of how short life is and how precious it is. The only way I felt I could do that was to rip it away.”

Sopranos final scene

The Soprano's final scene (yes, it's black)