We Deciphered 32 Movies With Confusing Endings So You Don’t Have To

Leonardo DiCaprio in Inception

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Sometimes a movie leaves us with a finale so head scratching, we need to run out and talk about it. That concern is always going to be valid, and that’s why we felt it was time to decipher 32 of the most confusing movie endings, so that you don’t have to. Brace yourselves, as some of these finales are all-time stumpers.

Leonardo DiCaprio in Inception

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)


Is Dom (Leonardo DiCaprio) still in the dream world, or is he back home with his kids? It’s been over a decade since Inception planted that question in our minds, and as far as Christopher Nolan’s thoughts on Dom’s ending are concerned, it doesn’t matter because the character doesn’t care. Though if you ask us, Leo’s still dreaming in the end.

Bruce Willis in Looper

(Image credit: TriStar Pictures)


Because of how Looper’s time travel works in Rian Johnson’s story, one could say that it’s safe to assume that young Cid (Pierce Gagnon) doesn’t become the criminal overlord known as The Rainmaker. However, our own interpretation of the ending is that the death of both Joes (Joseph Gordon-Levitt/Bruce Willis)  probably had no effect on Cid’s future, and the kid’s still destined for darkness.

Leonardo DiCaprio in Shutter Island

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Shutter Island

This one’s a pretty cut-and-dry affair, as the finale of director Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of Shutter Island is actually clearer than the book when it comes to the final fate of Andrew Laeddis (Leonardo DiCaprio). In author Dennis Lehane’s novel, we’re not sure if Andrew or his Teddy Daniels persona is in control; but in Shutter Island’s movie ending, it’s plainly clear that Andrew wants that lobotomy, and pretends he still thinks he’s his US Marshall alter ego.

Jennifer Lawrence looks up with a questioning face while standing in a house in mother!

(Image credit: Paramount)


The ending to mother! is a literally Biblical finale, with Jennifer Lawrence’s titular matron unleashing apocalyptic ruin against her lover, Him (Javier Bardem). As we saw Darren Aronofsky’s film start with a woman burning in some hellfire of her own, we’re led to believe that the cycle of creation and destruction is about to start again, thanks to Him waking up his new companion the same way he roused mother.

Michael Keaton in Birdman

(Image credit: Disney / Fox)

Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Alejandro González Iñárritu’s film Birdman, Or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance is a rare case where a seemingly impenetrable ending fits along with the story that came before it. While we debate whether Riggan (Michael Keaton) jumped to his death or soared with the birds, the blurred lines of reality never let up even in the finale, causing us to question everything we’ve seen come to pass.

Jack Nicholson somehow in this picture in The Shining

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The Shining

Stephen King’s notorious dislike of The Shining, at least as a movie, certainly has its points. While Stanley Kubrick’s iconic adaptation is definitely a different beast from its literary source, as the film seemingly depicts the soul of Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) now caught in the purgatory of The Overlook. For years the mystery of that ominous photo kept people guessing, but thanks to Mike Flanagan’s Doctor Sleep, that seems to be the best answer available.

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