32 Of The Most Mind-Blowing Plot Twists In Movie And TV History

Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense
(Image credit: Disney)

A good plot twist can send shivers down your spine and give you a nice hit of dopamine as it changes everything you thought about a movie or TV show. Here is our list of some of favorite mind-blowing plot twists that shook us to our core. 

WARNING: MAJOR Spoilers ahead!! 

Darth Vader in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

(Image credit: Disney / Lucasfilm)

Vader Is Luke’s Dad - Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back

Darth Vader telling Luke that he is Luke’s father is maybe the #1 most mind-blowing plot twist in film history. It seems quaint to many of us now because it’s always been a part of our lives, but think back to what it was like when you first saw the revelation. It was crazy, no one saw it coming. The Empire Strikes Back had a few surprises, including the bad guy winning in the end, but this moment tops them all. 

Matthew Fox on Lost

(Image credit: ABC)

The First Flashforward - Lost

The final two episodes of Season 3 of Lost were intense, and when they got to the end, audiences were treated to one of the most “what the!” moments in TV history when they realized what they thought was one of Jack’s flashbacks was actually a flashforward when he tells Kate they “have to go back” to the island. It changed the show forever and it's hands down the best episode of Lost.

Charlton Heston falling to the ground in Planet of the Apes

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

It Was Earth All Along - Planet Of The Apes

The original Planet of the Apes from 1968 started with Charlton Heston’s character, George Taylor awakening from hibernation after a long space journey when he and his fellow astronauts crashed into an unknown planet. Apes of different kinds rule the planet and humans are treated more or less like animals. The shock comes in the last show when Taylor discovers he traveled through time, not space, and awoke on Earth many years in the future. 

Sean Bean on Game of Thrones

(Image credit: HBO)

Off With The Main Character’s Head - Game of Thrones

For fans of Game of Thrones, the penultimate episode of Season 1 proved anything in the show was possible and it would be smart not to get too attached to any one character. In the episode, the hero of the story, Ned Stark (Sean Bean) is executed and nothing would be the same for the rest of the show’s epic run. 

The Usual Suspects cast

(Image credit: Gramercy)

The Greatest Trick The Devil Ever Pulled - The Usual Suspects

It’s true that some viewers latched on to the idea that Verbal Kint (Keven Spacey) is an unreliable narrator, but very few anticipated the twist at the end revealing Verbal to be the mysterious Keyser Soze. Just when everyone puts it together, poof…he’s gone. Brilliant. 

Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense

(Image credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution)

He’s Been Dead This Whole TIme - The Sixth Sense

Director M. Night Shyamalan has made an entire career out of twists and turns and last-minute revelations. It’s a formula that goes way back in his filmography, most notably with the film that established him as a big-time director, The Sixth Sense. The twist, of course, is learning Bruce Willis’ character, Malcolm Crowe, is one of the dead people who Cole (Haley Joel Osment) sees. 

Sarah Clarke on 24

(Image credit: Fox)

The Unexpected Mole - 24

Nina (Sarah Clarke) was a fan favorite in the first season of 24. She helped Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) get out of a lot of tight spots as his eyes and ears at CSU’s headquarters. A fan favorite, that is, until it turns out she’s been a mole along. It only gets worse when she kills Teri Bauer, Jack’s wife. Nina goes from a hero to a villain in a matter of minutes. 

Ben Affleck in Gone Gil

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

She’s Safe! - Gone Girl

Gone Girl smartly hides its first twist, that Amy (Rosamund Pike) was not kidnapped or killed, but set the whole thing up herself. That’s not the only turn the movie takes though. Later, Amy also framed Desi (Neil Patrick Harris) for her kidnapping, clearing Nick of suspicion. The twists don’t end there, either. As Nick prepared to expose Amy’s crime, she told him she was pregnant with their first child. Nick changes his mind, keeping Amy’s secret, and staying in their marriage. It’s dark, but it’s a heck of a ride. 

Chrissy Metz, Sterling K. Brown and Justin Hartley for This Is Us.

(Image credit: NBC)

Surprise, They Are Triplets - This Is Us

The pilot episode of This Is Us sets up its twist brilliantly with an interstitial explaining how many people are born on the same day, right before meeting Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) when Rebecca goes into labor with triplets on Jack’s birthday in 1980. In the present day, audiences meet Randall (Sterling K. Brown), Kate (Chrissy Metz), and Kevin (Justin Hartley), but it’s not until the final scene of the episode that it all comes together that Rebecca lost one of the triplets, but she and Jack adopted Randall the same day after he was abandoned at a fire station. 

Orson Welles in Citizen Kane

(Image credit: RKO Radio Pictures)

Rosebud - Citizen Kane

One of the most famous twists in cinema history is also one of the earliest. In 1941, Citizen Kane tricked audiences into wondering for the entire movie what Charles Foster Kane’s (Orson Welles) final word, “Rosebud,” meant. At the end of the movie, they learn it was a beloved sled from his innocent youth, things he had lost a long time ago. 

bernard in Westworld

(Image credit: HBO)

Bernard Is A Host - Westworld

Jeffery Wright’s performance as Bernard in Westworld was one of the brightest spots on an uneven show. Audiences loved him and when it turned out he was a “host”, it was mindblowing for many. As is the nature of shows like Westworld plenty of people “called it” in online discussions, and there were clues to Bernard’s true nature, but for the rest of us, it was a real “wow” moment. 

Norman Bates at the end of Psycho.

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Who Exactly Is Norman Bates? - Psycho

Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho created a template for modern horror movies that directors are still following today, to great success. One of the most influential moments in the movie is the reveal at the end just who is Norman Bates’ (Anthony Perkins) mother. Before the end, we just see glimpses of her in windows, and comments by Norman. It’s not until the final scenes that we learn she’s been dead for years and Norman has been dressing like her, or even becoming her? 

Kathryn Hahn as Agatha Harkness in costume in WandaVision

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Agatha All Along - WandaVision

Another TV show that drops plenty of hints for the big twist is Marvel’s WandaVision. As audiences were left wondering who was behind all the weird things happening in Westview. It turns out, it was Wanda’s neighbor Agnes – or Agnes (Kathryn Hahn) all along. It’s one of the most fun reveals on this list as well. 

The Wizard of Oz cast

(Image credit: Loew's, Inc)

The Wizard Is A Conman - ​​The Wizard Of Oz

When Dorothy (Judy Garland) finds herself transported to Oz in The Wizard Of Oz, the only way home, as she understands it, is to visit the Wizard, who can help. Along the way, she meets some friends who all need something from the power Wizard. Of course, when they arrive in the Emerald City, they learn the truth, the Wizard is just a conman. What a nightmare! 

Tahani, Jason, Eleanor and Chidi on The Good Place

(Image credit: NBC)

The Bad Place - The Good Place

The reveal at the end of Season 1 of The Good Place is just a lot of fun. It’s not so much of a “holy cow” moment as it is an “I love it! moment. Instead of being in the “good” place, aka Heaven, it turns out Eleanor (Kristen Bell) is in the other place, the “bad” place. 

Jaye Davidson in The Crying Game

(Image credit: Palace Pictures)

The Big Reveal - The Crying Game

The Crying Game is an emotional movie that takes place during The Troubles in Northern Ireland, but it’s the reveal that Dil (Jaye Davidson) is transgender. Davidson, who retired after only acting in two movies, won all kinds of awards for the role that shocked audiences everywhere, but in retrospect, opened up a new, better, more honest understanding of transgender people. 

Margot Robbie in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

(Image credit: Sony Pictures Releasing)

Sharon Lives - Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

It’s pure Quentin Tarantino to reveal a twist that not only changes the movie, but history itself. He did in Inglourious Basterds with the death of Hitler and he does it again, perhaps to better effect, in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. Instead of Charlie Manson and his crazy followers killing Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie), Dalton, and Booth unwittingly save her by distracting the family. 

Bob Newhart on Newhart

(Image credit: CBS)

Waking Up In A Different Show - Newhart

Newhart in the ‘80s was Bob Newhart’s second sitcom that hit big, after The Bob Newhart Show in the ‘70s. Although neither show was connected at all, with Newhart playing completely different characters, in a different place, they both came together in the final episode when Bob Newhart awakens in bed, on his old show, revealing the second show was all just a dream of his first character. People talked about it for weeks. 

Kevin Spacey in Seven

(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

John Doe’s Plan Is Revealed - Se7en

Se7en is a movie that sticks with you long after the credits roll. Kevin Spacey’s performance as the serial killer John Doe is perfect, and it all comes together in the end when he finally reveals his grand plan. Audiences never expected David’s (Brad Pitt) wife, Tracy (Gwenyth Paltrow) to be as involved as she was and what a tragedy it is, setting in motion the end of Doe’s plan, to make David “wrath” and himself as “envy.”

Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams in Get Out

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

The Whole Family Is In On It - Get Out

Jordan Peele got everyone talking about his directorial debut Get Out when it was revealed to the audience that not only were Rose’s (Allison Williams) parents performing twisted experiments on African-Americans, but Rose herself was involved, tricking her boyfriend Chis (Daniel Kaluuya) into going home with her to be a victim. Always question things when they seem off.

A scene from Severance

(Image credit: AppleTV+)

Helly’s Outie Is An Insider - Severance

One of the most talked about shows of 2022 was Apple TV+’s Severance. Questions abound throughout the first season, but what makes the twist so good is that it’s a huge reveal, that viewers didn’t even know they needed to know. Helly’s (Britt Lower) “outie” is in fact part of the family that is responsible for the twisted company’s project in the basement. 

Brad Pitt and Edward Norton in Fight Club

(Image credit: Disney/Fox)

The Narrator Is Tyler Durden - Fight Club

David Fincher is a master of late reveals and his movie Fight Club, based on the book by Chuck Palahniuk, is no exception. Though the movie was a box office disappointment it’s since become a quintessential cult film. It’s a mindblowing moment when you put together that Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) is just an alter-ego of The Narrator (Edward Norton).

Penn Badgley in Gossip Girl.

(Image credit: The CW)

Dan Is Blogger - Gossip Girl

For six seasons, fans wondered who was behind the Gossip Girl blog in Gossip Girl. Finally, after years of speculation, it’s revealed that Dan (Penn Badgley) is actually the voice behind the screen, despite being voiced by Kristen Bell throughout the show. Of course, other characters filled the role of the Gossip Girl, but Dan was the man, it turned out. 

Ray Wise on Twin Peaks

(Image credit: ABC)

Leland Palmer Killed Laura - Twin Peaks

The central mystery of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks is the murder of Laura Palmer. For one and a half seasons, it’s all the fans talked about it. When it was finally revealed in Season 2 that it was Laura’s father, Leland who did the deed. David Lynch wasn't happy with Season 2, but audiences loved it. 

Michael Douglas in The Game

(Image credit: PolyGram Films)

It’s All In The Title - The Game

The Game is not one of David Fincher’s most talked about movies, but it should be. It has a fantastic, mindblowing reveal at the end when Nicholas (Michael Douglas) learns that all the craziness that he’s been through is all part of an elaborate game set up by his brother (Sean Penn). The rush for the characters and fans of the movies is intense when we learn the truth together. 

Charlton Heston in Soylent Green

(Image credit: MGM)

It’s People - Soylent Green

Soylent Green is a movie that is almost exclusively known for its plot twist. In a dystopian future, people subsist on a food called Soylent Green. It’s a mysterious food that in the end, is revealed to be human. Soylent Green is people! It’s become part of pop culture, but it’s a movie few people have actually watched. 

Moon-gwang’s husband in Parasite.

(Image credit: CJ Entertainment)


The South Korean drama Parasite took the world by storm upon its release and a big reason why is the fantastic twist. On its surface (literally) the movie is a comment on the class struggle in South Korea, but below, it's a wild story about a poor family literally living in the basement of a wealthy family's house. The reveal is truly mindblowing and what sets it apart from other films dealing with the struggle. 

Katee Sackhoff in screenshot from Battlestar Galactica

(Image credit: Syfy)

Earth Isn’t All That - Battlestar Galactica

For the first three seasons of Battlestar Galactica, the last remaining humans searched for their home Earth while battling the Cylons along the way. In the final episode of the penultimate season, they finally arrive home, ending their journey. When a group from the Galactica travel down, however, they find the planet in ruins, and uninhabitable due to nuclear radiation from a war centuries earlier. It’s a devastating moment, but in the end, they do find a home

Guy Pearce in Memento

(Image credit: Sony)

The Deed Was Done - Memento

Director Christopher Nolan’s Momento has a lot of twists and turns, given the nature of the film, as Leonard (Guy Pearce) searches for his wife’s killer and the structure of the film's forward and backward timeline. When Leonard finally puts the pieces together, he finds that he got vengeance a year early and had been manipulated by Teddy (Joe Pantoliano) to do dirty work for him. Teddy becomes Leonard’s next target. 

Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes in Elementary

(Image credit: CBS)

Irene Is Moriarty - Elementary

In Elementary, Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) has an ongoing battle with Jane Moriarty (Natalie Dormer) and often feels the pain of his lost love with Irene Adler. The twist is that Irene and Jane are, in fact, the same person. The relationship between them is very complicated and continues through the run of the show to present problems for Sherlock. 

Bryce Dallas Howard in The Village.

(Image credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution)

Modern Times - The Village

M. Night Shyamalan's The Village has one of the better twists in the director’s filmography. The movie is set in 19th-century America, or so we think. The elders of the titular village do everything they can to keep the people in the village because only they know that it’s actually the 21st Century.

Betsy Palmer as Pamela Voorhees in Friday the 13th

(Image credit: Paramount)

Jason’s Mom - Friday The 13th

In one of the all-time great plot twists in horror movie history, Jason Vorhees, the killer of summer campers is not actually Jason, but his mother. She is bent on murdering the campers to avenge her son’s death years earlier. 

Hugh Scott
Syndication Editor

Hugh Scott is the Syndication Editor for CinemaBlend. Before CinemaBlend, he was the managing editor for Suggest.com and Gossipcop.com, covering celebrity news and debunking false gossip. He has been in the publishing industry for almost two decades, covering pop culture – movies and TV shows, especially – with a keen interest and love for Gen X culture, the older influences on it, and what it has since inspired. He graduated from Boston University with a degree in Political Science but cured himself of the desire to be a politician almost immediately after graduation.