Movies

32 Movies That End In A Cliffhanger

The following contains spoilers for 32 movies with great cliffhanger endings. 

One of the things that usually defines the cinematic experience is that movies, unlike an episode of TV,  tell a complete story. They have a beginning middle and end. While sequels are always possible, that only means more adventures with our favorite characters. However, not all movies end quite so cleanly.

Many movies end on cliffhangers, with heroes either not completing the story by the end of the movie and finding themselves in jeopardy, or some new threat looming its head as the credits roll. This is often done when movie sequels are already planned, or at least expected. Other times it seems to happen just because filmmakers think it will be cool. Here are 32 times movies ended in cliffhangers, whether we eventually got a resolution or not.

Crispin Glover hands Michael J Fox a book in front of Lea Thompson in Back To The Future.

(Image credit: Universal/Amblin)

 Back to the Future 

Back to the Future appears to have a happy ending. Marty has, however accidentally, changed his family life for the better. Or at least so he thinks. In the final moments, Doc Brown returns from the future to tell Marty that something is wrong with his kids. A big “To Be Continued…” promised us more to the story, which came after a very long four years. 

Jada Pinkett Smith gives a briefing while wearing sunglasses in The Matrix Reloaded.

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

 The Matrix Reloaded 

While not technically called Part One, The Matrix: Reloaded was filmed alongside its sequel, so it’s little surprise that the movie ended on a big cliffhanger. Agent Smith makes the jump from the Matrix to the real world somehow. Neo has shown some ability to use his abilities outside of The Matrix, and Zion is in danger. What is going on and what will happen next?

Cap after The Snap

(Image credit: Disney)

Avengers: Infinity War 

There has been no movie franchise in the last two decades as big as the Marvel Cinematic Universe and so it’s not surprising that the biggest cliffhanger in recent memory was the end of Avengers: Infinity War. Half of our heroes were erased from existence and fans had to wait a year to find out what happened to everybody. 

The Italian Job (1969)

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

The Italian Job (1969)

If we’re talking cliffhangers, then it’s impossible to leave out discussion of the original The Italian Job, a movie that ends with the cast hanging from a literal cliff. The thieves are on one side of the bus handing off a ledge, the loot is on the other, and Michael Caine is in between, trying to figure out how to get the goods without killing everybody.

Kurt Russell in The Thing

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

The Thing 

One of the most talked about endings of all time. John Carpenter‘s The Thing sees an Antarctic research team battling an alien threat that can take the form of anybody. In the end, only two men remain and the alien might be dead, or one of the two survivors might not be a man at all. While some have suggested The Thing ending has a clear answer we never saw a true resolution.

Johnny Depp in Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

(Image credit: Disney)

 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest 

There are currently five films in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise starring Johnny Depp‘s Captain Jack Sparrow, but the character’s fate was in question after only the second movie. Dead Man’s Chest ended with Jack Sparrow taken to Davy Jones’ Locker. His crew has plans to rescue him however, with help from an unlikely source, Geoffrey Rush’s Captain Barbossa, who up until the final shot of the film, had been dead himself.

Miles Morales as The Prowler

(Image credit: Sony Pictures Animation)

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse 

Sony’s animated Spider-Verse movies are viewed by many as the best cinematic version of Spider-Man we’ve ever seen. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse‘s ending gave fans an incredible story that left all our favorite heroes in a difficult position. Miles is in a universe other than the one he knows, the prisoner of an alternate version of himself. Gwen Stacy is mounting a rescue mission that hasn’t even begun when the credits roll. 

Jamie Lee Curtis and Nick Castle in Halloween

(Image credit: Compass International Pictures)

 Halloween 

Considering just how many Halloween movies there have been over the years where Michael Myers wreaks havoc it’s easy to forget that the original Halloween left fans wondering just what would happen next following its ending. Michael Myers is shot multiple times and falls off a balcony for good measure. He appears motionless at the bottom, seemingly dead. But when we look again his body is gone, leading the audience to wonder if the fight was really over.

Keanu Reeves and Common in in John Wick: Chapter 2

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

John Wick: Chapter 2 

The first John Wick movie was a self-contained story that saw our hero set a particular goal, and achieve that goal. However, by doing so, he set in motion the events of John Wick: Chapter 2, which in turn, left viewers with a major cliffhanger at the end of that film. The entire assassin world is out to get John Wick, and all John can do is start to run. 

Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in The Force Awakens

(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens 

During all of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the audience has one question. What happened to Luke Skywalker? The final moments of the film only partially answer the question. Luke has been found, but why he is where he is, and how he’ll respond to being found is not revealed until the opening moments of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Uma Thurman in Kill Bill driving

(Image credit: Miramax Films)

Kill Bill: Volume 1 

Kill Bill makes it clear from its title that Vol 1 is only going to give us part of the story, but beyond the fact that The Bride has yet to get revenge on all the Deadly Vipers at the end, the first movie teases the audience with a piece of news the main character doesn’t yet know, that he daughter is still alive. 

Hayley Atwell hangs onto Tom Cruise as he hangs onto a railing in Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning - Part One.

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures / Skydance)

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, Part One

By the end of a Mission: Impossible movie you can usually count on Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt saving the day. Unfortunately, by the end of Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, the day is not yet saved. While Ethan has the key that is needed to help stop the rogue AI, the location of that AI, is still a big mystery. 

Alita posed at the starting line in Motorball gear in Alita: Battle Angel.

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Alita: Battle Angel 

James Cameron worked for years to turn Alita: Battle Angel into a film, and in true Cameron fashion, the movie didn’t do anything by half measures. The film didn’t simply tease a sequel, but demanded one, revealing a villain, played by Edward Norton, in the final moments who was meant to be part of sequels that have yet to materialize. Fans have wanted to see Alita sequels for years, but a follow-up to this cliffhanger is increasingly unlikely. 

Miles Teller as Peter in the Divergent Series: Allegiant

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

The Divergent Series: Allegiant 

Following successful franchises like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games it became common for franchises to split their final stories in half. Unfortunately, this was bad news for The Divergent Series as it left its characters in the middle of their final adventure with a cliffhanger ending, before deciding to end the series without making the last Divergent movie, so the cliffhanger would never be resolved.

Godzilla walking the streets of New York City in Godzilla

(Image credit: TriStar Pictures)

Godzilla (1998) 

Roland Emmerich’s attempt at a Godzilla movie in the late ’90s was not well received by critics or audiences. It’s not the best Godzilla movie by a long shot. The movie would never get the chance to improve with a sequel, which is too bad considering the film had a solid cliffhanger. The movie would reveal that this version of Godzilla was female, and had laid eggs before dying. More of the creatures were going to be born, and who knows what they would have done.

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug

(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug 

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit is one of the most popular novels of all time, so it seems unlikely that anybody watching The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug didn’t know what was going to happen after the second movie of the trilogy ended. However, for those few, the movie did conclude with a very angry Smaug flying to Laketown to destroy everything, and that’s a pretty good cliffhanger. 

Bahar Soomekh in Saw III

(Image credit: Liongate)

Saw III 

While the entire Saw franchise is a sort of bizarre horror soap opera, Saw III saw the greatest cliffhanger ending where Angus Macfayden’s Jeff would fight his way through a series of traps only to lose his wife, and learn that Jigsaw had also captured his young daughter. What’s worse, as the majority of Saw IV would actually be set prior to the events of Saw III, we wouldn’t actually see this cliffhanger resolved until the opening of Saw V.

Darth Vader in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

(Image credit: Disney / Lucasfilm)

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back 

One of the all-time great cliffhanger endings. Han Solo has been captured and frozen in carbonite. Luke Skywalker has lost a hand and learned that Darth Vader is his father. What’s been lost to the decades however is that it wasn’t until Return of the Jedi that we learned for sure Vader was telling the truth. At the time fans had to simply wait to see how the trilogy would resolve.

Necronomicons in Evil Dead II, Evil Dead, and Evil Dead Rise

(Image credit: Renaissance Pictures / Film District / Warner Bros,)

Evil Dead II 

The first Evil Dead movie ends on a sort of cliffhanger when it is implied that the evil was not, in fact, dead. However, the sequel goes even harder when Ash vanquishes the evil by using the Necronomicon to open a portal to suck in the monsters. Unfortunately, he is also pulled through and the movie ends with him having traveled back in time to the past. How will he get out of this?

John Leguizamo and Bob Hoskins sharing a high five

(Image credit: Buena Vista Pictures)

Super Mario Bros. 

While many people have worked hard to forget the live-action Super Mario Bros. movie, anybody who was a fan is very disappointed the movie wasn’t a bigger hit. The film ends with Samantha Mathis’ Daisy busting down Mario and Luigi’s door to ask them for help. She doesn’t say why, and we’ll never know since a sequel never happened.

Tippi Hedren in The Birds.

(Image credit: Universal-International Pictures)

The Birds 

Alfred Hitchcock was one of the greatest film directors ever and his movies frequently ended with a twist or with some sort of finale that had people talking as they left the theater. The Birds sees every winged creature on Earth attacking humanity. There’s no explanation for it, nor is there an explanation for why the birds stop attacking at the end of the film. Will they attack again? It’s far from clear, but the movie certainly implies the story is not over.

Bruce Willis in Split

(Image credit: Universal)

Split 

M. Night Shyamalan is known for twists, but not necessarily cliffhangers. His multiple-personality monster movie Split appears to be just another of the director’s mysterious films until the final scene reveals that Split is taking place in the same universe as the superhero film Unbreakable, and it’s clear that a clash between The Beast and David Dunn is coming. 

Maika Monroe and Keir Gilchrist holding hands in It Follows

(Image credit: Radius-TWC)

It Follows 

Horror movies often have cliffhanger endings, as it’s the perfect way for the horror to last all the way to the end. It Follows sees a monster transmitted via sex murder a number of teenagers, and while the evil appears to have been defeated by the end, in the final shot, something is following our characters. It’s probably nothing…probably. An It Follows sequel has been discussed. That’s all I’m saying.

Imogen Poots in 28 Weeks Later

(Image credit: Disney / Fox)

28 Weeks Later 

28 Weeks Later was not a direct sequel to the original 28 Days Later, but it did continue the story of the world where the rage virus has ravaged The U.K. By the end of the film, however, we learn that the virus has made the jump to France, and potentially all of Europe. Whether there’s any hope of survival at all is the only question left to ask.

Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The Dark Knight 

The first of Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies teased us with the inclusion of The Joker, but that’s not quite the same thing as a cliffhanger. The Dark Knight, however, ends with Batman on the run, with the city he protects believing he’s the enemy. Now that is a cliffhanger.

Zendaya and Timothee Chalamet

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Dune 

We knew Denis Villeneuve’s Dune: Part One wouldn’t tell the entire story of Frank Herbert’s novel. The only question was where would it end. While the movie doesn’t leave any characters in jeopardy at the moment, it is still sure to give us a flash forward of one possible future for Paul Atraides, making us wonder just what would happen to him.

Dom drives through an explosion on a dam in Fast X

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Fast X 

While Fast X wasn’t given a title that implied it would be a “part one” we knew that another movie was planned after this one, so it wasn’t exactly a shock when the movie ended on a cliffhanger. However, the Fast X ending saw half the team seemingly die in a plane crash while everybody else was looking to drown under the water of an exploding dam. That’s a pretty furious ending.

Blue the raptor in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom 

While there have been several Jurassic Park movies, most of them end with the major threat, whatever it may be, having been dealt with. This made Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom a bit different as the film ended with dinosaurs having escaped into the continental United States. We knew this would change everything in the world but we’d have to wait for the next movie to see how. 

mark wahlberg in planet of the apes

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Planet of the Apes (2001) 

The original Planet of the Apes had one of the all-time great twist endings, and so it’s little surprise that 2001’s remake tried to do something to top it. Astronaut Mark Wahlberg believes he’s made it home, only to find a version of his reality that Apes have taken over. What did it all mean? The movie’s lackluster box office meant we would never find out.

Spider-Man: Far From Home

(Image credit: Sony Pictures Entertainment)

Spider-Man: Far From Home 

Additional scenes during the credits of Marvel movies are commonplace now, but they usually tease the future of the wider franchise. Spider-Man: Far From Home, however, did something a little bit different by taking this moment to actually reveal Spider-Man’s identity as Peter Parker to the world. What would happen next would be a major question for fans until Spider-Man: No Way Home answered it.

Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) in X2: X-Men United

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

X2: X-Men United

For some the ending of X2: X-Men United might not have actually seemed like a cliffhanger. While Jean Gray dies saving the X-Men, that’s a downer ending, not a cliffhanger. However, the movie’s final moments give us an image of a phoenix, a reference to the Phoenix Saga from the X-Men comics, and a note for knowing fans that more was to come. 

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 

The second of the three live-action Spider-Man franchises was clearly planning for a big finale to its trilogy. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ended with a man, cloaked in shadows walking through a collection of gear that belonged to Spider-Man’s greatest comic book enemies. The movie teased the creation of the Sinister 6, but we never saw them, and exactly who this character was supposed to be was never revealed. 

Many of these movies eventually saw their cliffhangers resolve. For others, it seems no answer was ever planned. But who knows lots of movies in recent years have seen sequels decades after their original installments, so maybe seeing how these cliffhangers play out is still possible. 

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