10 most depressing movie endings ever

News Martin Anderson 7 Apr 2008 - 09:57
The Descent

Be warned: spoilers a-plenty lie within, as Martin reveals the movies that leave you feeling completely depressed once the final reel has finished.

One famously mistranslated sign in a Swiss restaurant reads: 'Our wines leave you nothing to hope for'. You'll know how the patrons feel if you walk out of Blockbuster with this little lot....

THERE ARE SO MANY SPOILERS IN THIS ARTICLE THAT IT HURTS. BE WARNED!

10: Soylent Green (1973)
Future cop Chuck Heston has been through hell trying to find out what the big secret at the core of his overcrowded society is, only to find that the Soylent Company that provides food for the starving earth has been processing human bodies and feeding it to the populace. Dragged off by the authorities, the last shot is of desperate Heston's hand crying out for justice as he cries: 'Soylent Green is people!'.

9: The Elephant Man (1980)
David Lynch's classic telling of the fortunes of the deformed but transcendent John Merrick could actually have had a relatively happy ending, with Merrick loved and cared for. Instead Lynch shoots right past this hard-won contentment to create a bittersweet montage of images that pre-figure the beginning of his next film, Dune (1984), showing the ghostly visage of Merrick's possibly imaginary mother floating through space as Merrick peacefully takes his own life. "Nothing will die..."

8: The Descent (2005)
Exactly how depressing you find the ending of Neil Marshall's tale of pot-holing horror depends on how involved you are able to become with his abrasive set of female characters. The re-cuts in the U.S. release leave the film with two possible endings, the bleaker of which finds the surviving character awaking from a psychotic dream of an improbably easy escape, to find herself buried alive in the goblin-strewn labyrinth.

7: Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978)
Jittery Veronica Cartwright approaches fellow refugee Donald Sutherland, having lost him in the flight from the pod-people Sutherland is standing by some trees looking confused. He spies Cartwright. They've been through hell together. He raises his arm and points at her accusingly, and lets out a ululating cry that will alert all the other pod-people to her presence!

6: The Fly (1986)
Brundlefly, in a last ditch effort to reverse the genetic collision between himself and a house fly, takes one last, unwise trip in his teleportation devise, to emerge as a ghastly fusion of teleporter metal and monster. A horrified Geena Davis watches the thing approach with a shot gun in her hand. Brundlefly's had enough - he gets hold of the end of the barrel and positions it between his own fly eyes. Davies pulls the trigger and breaks out in tears.

5: Dead Ringers (1988)
More vein-opening from David Cronenberg. This bizarre and affecting tale of twin gynaecologist brothers concludes with a touching but miserable suicide pact between the insane siblings.

4: Spider (2002)
Yet more Canadian grimness from Cronenberg, as Ralph Fiennes' oedipal protagonist decides to end the drudgery of his impoverished and schizophrenic life by taking it.

3: Nineteen-Eighty Four (1984)
Dissident Winston Smith realises there's a limit to the power of love, as a nasty run-in with rats in Room 101 turns him into a model Oceanian citizen who renounces his rebel girlfriend and embraces Big Brother.

2: A.I. - Artificial Intelligence (2001)
Having been abandoned by his mum in one of the most disturbing and misery-inducing scenes in contemporary cinema, robot boy Haley Joel Osment stares depressed into space at the bottom of the Hudson River for 2000 years, only to be rescued by itinerant aliens who use science/magic to give him the long lost mum he always wanted - and then take her away from him just before he expires forever.

1: The Mist (2007)
After driving desperately through the blasted, monster-strewn landscape of Frank Darabont's 2007 Stephen King adaptation, Thomas Jane finally runs out of fuel. With only four bullets left, Jane gallantly spares his son, his new love interest and two close friends the horror of being eaten by the nasties, and nobly goes out to face his fate - only to find that the Military have finally come and are mopping up the debris. Another two minutes and everyone in the car would have been saved!

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Obviously you know very little about movies, or have been watching too many of the wrong ones. Because this list is just plain wrong to any one with a taste of movies. For example your idea that A.I. is the second most depressing film ever could only be true if you mean they ruined a brilliant idea Stanley Kubrick. The movie should have ended with the boy going down into the water. Nothing more. Period. So it depresses me that they couldn't stand it and kept filming crap. Because Spielberg is losing his touch. While I haven't seen The Mist... I know of how it ends... STUPIDLY. They had an idea to venture out on a touch of hope only to end it when things looked like they might just get rough. No way. No one does what that person does that fast. The only two on the list that I would even consider are 1984 and The Elephant Man. To not even mention films like Graveyard of Fireflies, American History X, Of Mice and Men, and many more with better illustrated points included in their "depressing movie endings" makes ME depressed that you are trying to say ever, when you don't even what there is. You need to start watching movies more than writing about them.
I could have written an essay on how I disagree with you... so to cut it short I wrote this.
I hate your choices.

I'm sorry you didn't like my choices, hermitzero. Might be worth taking both the title and the piece in the context of this site, which is mostly concerned with horror, sci-fi and cult TV and movies. My choices were always going to favour 'geekier' films. - Martin

I'm with Martin on lots of these (and can assure you that Mr Anderson has watched more films that he'd ever care to admit!), to be fair.


I thought the ending to The Mist was horribly bleak and depressing, and had real balls about it. Certainly in the modern context, when did you last see a Hollywood movie pull an ending like that?

Still, if we all agreed, it'd make for a very dull life - and if you have 10 choices of your own, by all means send them in. Be interested to see them, and happy to debate them. Although would prefer it if we could assume that we're all movie fans, but simply have different opinions from one another.

Of Mice and Men is a book, not a movie.

Ron - last time I looked, 1984 was a book too....

I always find the end of Night Of The Living Dead to be pretty depressing, especially when put in context of the racial climate of America at the time it was filmed. The Crazies has a great downer ending too, although not really "depressing".

I think Takeshi Kitano's Hana-bi wins hands down for me.

I found this an interesting read, because these days most film companies can't handle a less than upbeat ending even if the original script includes one. I actually get depressed when they're tacked on an implausibly nice ending when the events don't really support that. My fav dark endings would include 'The Long Good Friday', 'Dr. Strangelove', 'Silent Running' and 'The Black Hole' (that one needs the stupid last two minutes hacking off for good measure, and it ending with the 'hell' sequence). Fluffing the ending, by shooting at least three alternatives and then picking the worst one seems to be a common problem for directors/producers these days.

Incidentally, one of the most depressing movie endings I've ever seen that didn't make this list (due to lack of general geekiness) is Robin Williams' Moscow On The Hudson (1984).

Thank you to whoever it is that pointed out Hana-Bi!

Hermitzero, I know you're a cineaste and everything, but lighten up. Isn't it too short in life to hate someone's choices in a list on a website? Seriously?

Eeeeeexactly. - Daniel

Requiem for a goddamn Dream. The end of that movie makes my brain sad.

One that was missed out, and is very very depressing is Brazil. Not the nice lovely fun ending the americans got but the depressing and very British ending that Gillian first produced. In another simmilar vein Life of Brian isnt all fun and joy either

The Mist is the number one EVER?

You fail so hard. Have you only ever seen 11 movies?

Not really a geeky one, but I find the end to Germany Year Zero quite depressing. No, scratch that - traumatising. (Sure, it doesn't get that bad due to that awful use of a puppet for a person - watch the movie to find out - but still, in theory...)

-daniel.

How did the movies "Dancer in the Dark" and "Brazil" not make the list? Or how about "Seven"?

Unfortunately one of the pitfalls on being featured on sites like IMDB means you have to put up with hateful comments for tools like 'hermitzero' - it's a film website dude, quell the rage!

Although obviously you missed Dancer In The Dark, Happiness and United 93, which is the oddest mix of joy/pleasure I've ever experienced in the cinema. A rousing ending that ends in complete and total destruction... still makes me feel funny to this day.

Oh yeah, and whoever suggested Requiem For A Dream is spot on. That movie made me feel dirty for weeks. Best anti-drugs advert ever.

Write your comment here...

**spoiler**

How about James Woods' sucide at the end of Videodrome?

Just for the record, the "aliens" at the end of A.I. are not aliens at all, they are advanced forms of robotic life. Gigolo Joe makes a statement earlier in the film that suggests robots will be all that is left once humans are gone.

For the record, what is wrong with an ending that leaves its main character finally capable of dreaming for the first time and forevermore with hapiness of his one true love, the love of his mother?

Get it off the list.

Individual opinion is just that isnt it and we are all entitled to have it!
I agree with AI being on the list - the pinoccio child given emotions , having his mother taken from him and knowing his own fate is to die along with his hopes, dreams and wishes. Its heart wrenching!
The movies spawned by the 9/11 disaster were predictably going to end in total destruction, because of their predictability neither of them came close to the feelings I got from watching the actual events unfold on my TV screen ... or a documentary called 'The Falling Man' that I watched recently.

How can you leave out Arlington Road, probably the most depressing ending I've ever seen in a movie and of course American History X. Both great movies, both complete downers.

I got a different idea of the ending of this movie. She doesn't really escape from the cave she ends up living there. She owns the place, she is now the king lion of the jungle. I assume she will eat these creatures for food as she pleases. It's not that depressing since in a way she conquers her own fear but loses her humanity. She could escape if she wants but she wont.

Some great suggestions in the comments, although they probably miss the list as not being geeky enough. Agree with Arlington Road as having a depressing ending though - very close to Parallax View if memory serves.

Also: for anyone else who loves the film of 1984, its director is interviewed here:
http://www.denofgeek.com/movie...

Good choices, all, and there are a few I would add to the list, including a number of post-nuclear world films of the 1980s: "Threads," "The Day After," "Testament," and "Miracle Mile". I would also tack on "Eraserhead," "Mulholland Drive" ... OK, just about everything by David Lynch except "The Straight Story".

medrosa1: I was going to say Threads, as I think it's probably the most depressing thing I've ever seen, but it's not really just the ending of Threads that's depressing. It's the whole thing! :)

Requiem for a Dream is a strong contender, but my #1 for most depressing is "Johnny got his Gun"
Long story short, Johnny goes off to war, and while fighting he saves the laves of his fellow soldiers by jumping on an explosive. He doesn't die tho, they have him in the hospital-he has no legs, arms, eyes, mouth, nose, etc.
It ends with Johnny in a hospital bed tapping his head in Morse code "SOS...kill me" over and over...ugh, so depressing!

I commend your inclusion of AI. I've been championing this film from the get go and wait for the day when it will join the ranks of Schindler's List and Jaws as one of Spielberg's best. The ending IS hopelessly depressing if only the viewer takes his/her time to think about the drastic implications of what these advanced robots, not aliens, are doing/have done.

I have various reasons why a number of strong contenders in these comments didn't make it into my list - but I have to admit that Threads should probably have been in there. When The Wind Blows sneaks in on a very similar ticket as well.

Morant? did you just make a new word there!
I agree about the original The Fly but would put it at around number 15 out of 20 rather than in my personal top ten... but hey lets celebrate diversity of opinion yeah.

This has got to be the worst top ten movie list I have ever seen.

Ten better movies with depressing endings.
1. The Bicycle Thief
2. Million Dollar Baby
3. Requiem For a Dream
4. Paths of Glory
5. They Shoot Horses, Don't They?
6. The Ox-Box Incident
7. Johnny Got His Gun
8. The Parallex View
9. Gallolipi
10. Breaker Morant

Martin Anderson needs to see more movies.
The ending of the orignal Fly where the fly-man is eaten by the spider, which is then crushed by the rock is better than the remake.

House of Shadows and Fog is another excellent film with a very depressing ending

Responding to Robmac:

Actually, the "happy" ending to BRAZIL was only ever shown on television. The US theatrical cut contains the downer ending, albeit with some clouds superimposed and a more upbeat "samba" version of the song.

It's a weird thing but I don't actually recall a suicide at the end of SPIDER- it's a downer ending in other ways, of course, but doesn't he just get carted off again?

My choice would be The Virgin Suicides.

I watched it on a nice warm sunny summer afternoon---but it still made the rest of my day gloomy and depressing after viewing.

But yes, I agree that The Mist would be in my top 10 too.

Not sci-fi or geeky but it borders on horror - how about "Sophie's Choice"? OH MY GOD I can get depressed just thinking about it and I only saw it one time about 20 years ago!

EvanWaters - Spider's closing scene after finding out he had killed his own mother and transferred his affections to a curious psychological jumble of his mother, the woman who replaced her and (finally) his low-rent landlady, reads as imminent suicide to me, and Cronenberg agrees, as that is the ending in the Patrick McGrath novel, as well as Cronenberg's avowed intention. - Martin

To Soupie:
The number 10 film on my list is Breaker Morant. It's a 1980 film, based on a true incident that occured during the Boer War in which 3 Austrailian soldiers are put on trial on trumped up charges in order to make political gain. 2 of the soldiers are shot, and the 3rd goes to prison.
Other excellent depressing ending films are:
All Quiet on the Western Front
Match Point
A Farewell to Arms
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
On the Beach
Tucker, the Man and His Dream
Ace in the Hole

I totally agree with other posters that Threads is an excellent WWIII nuclear war film with a very depressing ending and it's even more depressing that it's almost impossible to find on video.

As other posters have also mentioned, let's not forget about the ending of Requiem for a Dream (2000). Great film, but a TOTAL downer!! (No drug pun intended here!)

Nothing beats the depression after the ending of Vittorio De Sica's "The bicycle thieves", when Dad and Son are left poor and afoot in the streets of post war Rome

It seems I'm not the only one who was inspired by THE MIST to create a list like this. I did my own Top 15 Bleakest Film Endings list (http://thereeladdict.com/reel-..., though the only overlap here is THE DESCENT and THE MIST. The thing is, as depressing as THE MIST is, to declare it the most depressing ever? Then again, my choice was CHINATOWN, which I imagine would get a fair amount of flak too.

theREELaddict

How about Seven, To Live and Die in LA and Will Penny.

Didnt see Requim all the way to the end, I found it depressing enough half an hour in when the obvious drug dependence kicked in ! Chapter 27 (another Leto film) is depressing from beginning to predictible end, very slow and dark... I struggled to the end purely through being a staunch die hard Lennon fan! Full credit to Jared though , his whole body frame alters between the two movies that hes almost unrecognisable as Mark Chapman. The twist to this was they got an actor called Mark Chapman to play the part of Lennon! begorrah

THE BICYCLE THIEF. Jeez, what is it with Italian neo-realism?

Thanks Benst . I did google it afters as I hadnt heard of Breaker Morant, though I cant find it on any catalogue listings to purchase either! Another bleak ending has passed me by then......

Probably the most depressing film I've ever seen would be graveyard of the fireflies, nothing good happens throughout the whole movie and it's an anime which is so contradictory to the feelgoodness of the animation itself

I'm surprised no one mentioned the ending of "The Last American Virgin" What i went to see many years ago was what I thought was your typical teen aged hiigh school T&A comedy. The ending with the main character driving away and the credits seriosly depressed me for days afterwards.

The Vanishing. (original, foreign version)

A woman is abducted from a gas station which leads her husband on a manhunt for over a year. He then meets the man who abducted her and is told to take a pill to discover her fate. The man takes the pill and awakes to find himself in a coffin buried below the abductor's country home.

How's that for depressing?

What about Requiem for a dream?
every single major character in that movie has had his/her lives completely destroyed by the end of the film. There's nothing even coming close to a happy ending, it's by far one of the most depressing movies i've ever seen (but still one of the best!).

i know it's corny now but "Easy Rider" is a real downer. The end just comes outta nowehere and lingers for a while in silence as you try to take it in.

The country in 1984 is Oceania, not Eurasia. Eurasia is the one the Party is fighting against.

@Benst1: I think you mean "House of Sand and Fog"

@RonHogan: Of Mice and Men was adapted into a movie. Twice, I believe.

@hermitzero: Chill out.

Spielberg decided against ending A.I. with the boat landing in the water as he felt it would have been an intellectually satisfying ending but not an emotionally satisfying one. Personally, I think he was right.
PS - Bicycle Thieves is an amazing film & is showing at Brighton's Duke of York (oldest cinema in Britain)from Boxing Day.

UMMMMM....how can you forget Se7en. I was nailed to my seat when that movie ended.

How about "Seconds" (1966) with Rock Hudson, directed by John Frankenheimer.

Good lord - has nobody seen "Dancer In the Dark?"

Oh, and hermitzero - Kubrick's vision of "A.I." also included the alien return that everyone assumes to be a purely Spielbergian conceit. Just so's you know.

There were no "aliens" in A.I. There were only super-advanced future androids, foreshadowed all throughout the story. Do people seriously keep making this mistake JUST because they're spindly humanoids?

"Chinatown" - evil John Houston shoots his daughter and takes his granddaughter (who happens to be the child of him and his daughter).

"Testament" - a whole California town dies slowly of radiation poisoning after nuclear war.

"Grave of the Fireflies" - if you can qualify anime. Described above.

"The Vanishing" - described above.
"Glengarry Glenross" - because of what happens to Jack Lemmon's character. Implicit is that his daughter will now die in the hospital.

check out the French version of "The Vanishing"

Dancer in the Dark is way more depressing than anything on that list, although The Mist definately deserves to be on the list. Wow, what a downer.

'boys don't cry' was incredibly depressing, but again it's probably not 'geekie' enough

I'd add House of Sand and Fog and Tess to the list and remove A.I and Spider (didn't he gas his mother in the end)?

I can't believe nobody has mentioned "Das Boot". Deeeeeepressing.

depressing adj causing low spirits. depressingly adverb.


I suspect the author of this list does not recognise the difference between "sad" and "depressing". In the days of Shakespeare's theatre, plays came in two forms. Comedies, which had a happy ending, or tragedies, that, yes clever person, had sad endings.

Films such as Elephant Man and AI are heartbreaking, yet can be ultimately uplifting.
I'm afraid the American moviegoer is to blame for this, a typical example being "Blade Runner" that ended on a low note, only for the producers to change it to a happy ending and a crap voice-over for people to stupid to understand the story. Not everyone lives happily ever after. Get over it, Art imitates life.

Can't believe no-one's yet mentioned 'The Wicker Man'.

Obviously you know very little about movies, or have been watching too many of the wrong ones. Because this list is just plain wrong to any one with a taste of movies. For example your idea that A.I. is the second most depressing film ever could only be true if you mean they ruined a brilliant idea Stanley Kubrick. The movie should have ended with the boy going down into the water. Nothing more. Period. So it depresses me that they couldn't stand it and kept filming crap. Because Spielberg is losing his touch. While I haven't seen The Mist... I know of how it ends... STUPIDLY. They had an idea to venture out on a touch of hope only to end it when things looked like they might just get rough. No way. No one does what that person does that fast. The only two on the list that I would even consider are 1984 and The Elephant Man. To not even mention films like Graveyard of Fireflies, American History X, Of Mice and Men, and many more with better illustrated points included in their "depressing movie endings" makes ME depressed that you are trying to say ever, when you don't even what there is. You need to start watching movies more than writing about them.
I could have written an essay on how I disagree with you... so to cut it short I wrote this.
I hate your choices.

I'm sorry you didn't like my choices, hermitzero. Might be worth taking both the title and the piece in the context of this site, which is mostly concerned with horror, sci-fi and cult TV and movies. My choices were always going to favour 'geekier' films. - Martin

I'm with Martin on lots of these (and can assure you that Mr Anderson has watched more films that he'd ever care to admit!), to be fair.


I thought the ending to The Mist was horribly bleak and depressing, and had real balls about it. Certainly in the modern context, when did you last see a Hollywood movie pull an ending like that?

Still, if we all agreed, it'd make for a very dull life - and if you have 10 choices of your own, by all means send them in. Be interested to see them, and happy to debate them. Although would prefer it if we could assume that we're all movie fans, but simply have different opinions from one another.

Of Mice and Men is a book, not a movie.

I always find the end of Night Of The Living Dead to be pretty depressing, especially when put in context of the racial climate of America at the time it was filmed. The Crazies has a great downer ending too, although not really "depressing".

Ron - last time I looked, 1984 was a book too....

I think Takeshi Kitano's Hana-bi wins hands down for me.

I found this an interesting read, because these days most film companies can't handle a less than upbeat ending even if the original script includes one. I actually get depressed when they're tacked on an implausibly nice ending when the events don't really support that. My fav dark endings would include 'The Long Good Friday', 'Dr. Strangelove', 'Silent Running' and 'The Black Hole' (that one needs the stupid last two minutes hacking off for good measure, and it ending with the 'hell' sequence). Fluffing the ending, by shooting at least three alternatives and then picking the worst one seems to be a common problem for directors/producers these days.

Thank you to whoever it is that pointed out Hana-Bi!

Hermitzero, I know you're a cineaste and everything, but lighten up. Isn't it too short in life to hate someone's choices in a list on a website? Seriously?

Eeeeeexactly. - Daniel

Incidentally, one of the most depressing movie endings I've ever seen that didn't make this list (due to lack of general geekiness) is Robin Williams' Moscow On The Hudson (1984).

Requiem for a goddamn Dream. The end of that movie makes my brain sad.

One that was missed out, and is very very depressing is Brazil. Not the nice lovely fun ending the americans got but the depressing and very British ending that Gillian first produced. In another simmilar vein Life of Brian isnt all fun and joy either

Not really a geeky one, but I find the end to Germany Year Zero quite depressing. No, scratch that - traumatising. (Sure, it doesn't get that bad due to that awful use of a puppet for a person - watch the movie to find out - but still, in theory...)

-daniel.

The Mist is the number one EVER?

You fail so hard. Have you only ever seen 11 movies?

How did the movies "Dancer in the Dark" and "Brazil" not make the list? Or how about "Seven"?

Unfortunately one of the pitfalls on being featured on sites like IMDB means you have to put up with hateful comments for tools like 'hermitzero' - it's a film website dude, quell the rage!

Although obviously you missed Dancer In The Dark, Happiness and United 93, which is the oddest mix of joy/pleasure I've ever experienced in the cinema. A rousing ending that ends in complete and total destruction... still makes me feel funny to this day.

Oh yeah, and whoever suggested Requiem For A Dream is spot on. That movie made me feel dirty for weeks. Best anti-drugs advert ever.

Write your comment here...

**spoiler**

How about James Woods' sucide at the end of Videodrome?

Just for the record, the "aliens" at the end of A.I. are not aliens at all, they are advanced forms of robotic life. Gigolo Joe makes a statement earlier in the film that suggests robots will be all that is left once humans are gone.

For the record, what is wrong with an ending that leaves its main character finally capable of dreaming for the first time and forevermore with hapiness of his one true love, the love of his mother?

Get it off the list.

Individual opinion is just that isnt it and we are all entitled to have it!
I agree with AI being on the list - the pinoccio child given emotions , having his mother taken from him and knowing his own fate is to die along with his hopes, dreams and wishes. Its heart wrenching!
The movies spawned by the 9/11 disaster were predictably going to end in total destruction, because of their predictability neither of them came close to the feelings I got from watching the actual events unfold on my TV screen ... or a documentary called 'The Falling Man' that I watched recently.

How can you leave out Arlington Road, probably the most depressing ending I've ever seen in a movie and of course American History X. Both great movies, both complete downers.

I got a different idea of the ending of this movie. She doesn't really escape from the cave she ends up living there. She owns the place, she is now the king lion of the jungle. I assume she will eat these creatures for food as she pleases. It's not that depressing since in a way she conquers her own fear but loses her humanity. She could escape if she wants but she wont.

Some great suggestions in the comments, although they probably miss the list as not being geeky enough. Agree with Arlington Road as having a depressing ending though - very close to Parallax View if memory serves.

Also: for anyone else who loves the film of 1984, its director is interviewed here:
http://www.denofgeek.com/movie...

Good choices, all, and there are a few I would add to the list, including a number of post-nuclear world films of the 1980s: "Threads," "The Day After," "Testament," and "Miracle Mile". I would also tack on "Eraserhead," "Mulholland Drive" ... OK, just about everything by David Lynch except "The Straight Story".

I commend your inclusion of AI. I've been championing this film from the get go and wait for the day when it will join the ranks of Schindler's List and Jaws as one of Spielberg's best. The ending IS hopelessly depressing if only the viewer takes his/her time to think about the drastic implications of what these advanced robots, not aliens, are doing/have done.

Requiem for a Dream is a strong contender, but my #1 for most depressing is "Johnny got his Gun"
Long story short, Johnny goes off to war, and while fighting he saves the laves of his fellow soldiers by jumping on an explosive. He doesn't die tho, they have him in the hospital-he has no legs, arms, eyes, mouth, nose, etc.
It ends with Johnny in a hospital bed tapping his head in Morse code "SOS...kill me" over and over...ugh, so depressing!

medrosa1: I was going to say Threads, as I think it's probably the most depressing thing I've ever seen, but it's not really just the ending of Threads that's depressing. It's the whole thing! :)

I have various reasons why a number of strong contenders in these comments didn't make it into my list - but I have to admit that Threads should probably have been in there. When The Wind Blows sneaks in on a very similar ticket as well.

This has got to be the worst top ten movie list I have ever seen.

Ten better movies with depressing endings.
1. The Bicycle Thief
2. Million Dollar Baby
3. Requiem For a Dream
4. Paths of Glory
5. They Shoot Horses, Don't They?
6. The Ox-Box Incident
7. Johnny Got His Gun
8. The Parallex View
9. Gallolipi
10. Breaker Morant

Martin Anderson needs to see more movies.
The ending of the orignal Fly where the fly-man is eaten by the spider, which is then crushed by the rock is better than the remake.

House of Shadows and Fog is another excellent film with a very depressing ending

Morant? did you just make a new word there!
I agree about the original The Fly but would put it at around number 15 out of 20 rather than in my personal top ten... but hey lets celebrate diversity of opinion yeah.

Responding to Robmac:

Actually, the "happy" ending to BRAZIL was only ever shown on television. The US theatrical cut contains the downer ending, albeit with some clouds superimposed and a more upbeat "samba" version of the song.

It's a weird thing but I don't actually recall a suicide at the end of SPIDER- it's a downer ending in other ways, of course, but doesn't he just get carted off again?

My choice would be The Virgin Suicides.

I watched it on a nice warm sunny summer afternoon---but it still made the rest of my day gloomy and depressing after viewing.

But yes, I agree that The Mist would be in my top 10 too.

Not sci-fi or geeky but it borders on horror - how about "Sophie's Choice"? OH MY GOD I can get depressed just thinking about it and I only saw it one time about 20 years ago!

EvanWaters - Spider's closing scene after finding out he had killed his own mother and transferred his affections to a curious psychological jumble of his mother, the woman who replaced her and (finally) his low-rent landlady, reads as imminent suicide to me, and Cronenberg agrees, as that is the ending in the Patrick McGrath novel, as well as Cronenberg's avowed intention. - Martin

To Soupie:
The number 10 film on my list is Breaker Morant. It's a 1980 film, based on a true incident that occured during the Boer War in which 3 Austrailian soldiers are put on trial on trumped up charges in order to make political gain. 2 of the soldiers are shot, and the 3rd goes to prison.
Other excellent depressing ending films are:
All Quiet on the Western Front
Match Point
A Farewell to Arms
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
On the Beach
Tucker, the Man and His Dream
Ace in the Hole

I totally agree with other posters that Threads is an excellent WWIII nuclear war film with a very depressing ending and it's even more depressing that it's almost impossible to find on video.

Nothing beats the depression after the ending of Vittorio De Sica's "The bicycle thieves", when Dad and Son are left poor and afoot in the streets of post war Rome

It seems I'm not the only one who was inspired by THE MIST to create a list like this. I did my own Top 15 Bleakest Film Endings list (http://thereeladdict.com/reel-..., though the only overlap here is THE DESCENT and THE MIST. The thing is, as depressing as THE MIST is, to declare it the most depressing ever? Then again, my choice was CHINATOWN, which I imagine would get a fair amount of flak too.

theREELaddict

As other posters have also mentioned, let's not forget about the ending of Requiem for a Dream (2000). Great film, but a TOTAL downer!! (No drug pun intended here!)

How about Seven, To Live and Die in LA and Will Penny.

Thanks Benst . I did google it afters as I hadnt heard of Breaker Morant, though I cant find it on any catalogue listings to purchase either! Another bleak ending has passed me by then......

Didnt see Requim all the way to the end, I found it depressing enough half an hour in when the obvious drug dependence kicked in ! Chapter 27 (another Leto film) is depressing from beginning to predictible end, very slow and dark... I struggled to the end purely through being a staunch die hard Lennon fan! Full credit to Jared though , his whole body frame alters between the two movies that hes almost unrecognisable as Mark Chapman. The twist to this was they got an actor called Mark Chapman to play the part of Lennon! begorrah

THE BICYCLE THIEF. Jeez, what is it with Italian neo-realism?

Probably the most depressing film I've ever seen would be graveyard of the fireflies, nothing good happens throughout the whole movie and it's an anime which is so contradictory to the feelgoodness of the animation itself

What about Requiem for a dream?
every single major character in that movie has had his/her lives completely destroyed by the end of the film. There's nothing even coming close to a happy ending, it's by far one of the most depressing movies i've ever seen (but still one of the best!).

I'm surprised no one mentioned the ending of "The Last American Virgin" What i went to see many years ago was what I thought was your typical teen aged hiigh school T&A comedy. The ending with the main character driving away and the credits seriosly depressed me for days afterwards.

The Vanishing. (original, foreign version)

A woman is abducted from a gas station which leads her husband on a manhunt for over a year. He then meets the man who abducted her and is told to take a pill to discover her fate. The man takes the pill and awakes to find himself in a coffin buried below the abductor's country home.

How's that for depressing?

The country in 1984 is Oceania, not Eurasia. Eurasia is the one the Party is fighting against.

@Benst1: I think you mean "House of Sand and Fog"

@RonHogan: Of Mice and Men was adapted into a movie. Twice, I believe.

@hermitzero: Chill out.

i know it's corny now but "Easy Rider" is a real downer. The end just comes outta nowehere and lingers for a while in silence as you try to take it in.

Spielberg decided against ending A.I. with the boat landing in the water as he felt it would have been an intellectually satisfying ending but not an emotionally satisfying one. Personally, I think he was right.
PS - Bicycle Thieves is an amazing film & is showing at Brighton's Duke of York (oldest cinema in Britain)from Boxing Day.

UMMMMM....how can you forget Se7en. I was nailed to my seat when that movie ended.

Good lord - has nobody seen "Dancer In the Dark?"

Oh, and hermitzero - Kubrick's vision of "A.I." also included the alien return that everyone assumes to be a purely Spielbergian conceit. Just so's you know.

How about "Seconds" (1966) with Rock Hudson, directed by John Frankenheimer.

There were no "aliens" in A.I. There were only super-advanced future androids, foreshadowed all throughout the story. Do people seriously keep making this mistake JUST because they're spindly humanoids?

"Chinatown" - evil John Houston shoots his daughter and takes his granddaughter (who happens to be the child of him and his daughter).

"Testament" - a whole California town dies slowly of radiation poisoning after nuclear war.

"Grave of the Fireflies" - if you can qualify anime. Described above.

"The Vanishing" - described above.
"Glengarry Glenross" - because of what happens to Jack Lemmon's character. Implicit is that his daughter will now die in the hospital.

check out the French version of "The Vanishing"

Dancer in the Dark is way more depressing than anything on that list, although The Mist definately deserves to be on the list. Wow, what a downer.

'boys don't cry' was incredibly depressing, but again it's probably not 'geekie' enough

I'd add House of Sand and Fog and Tess to the list and remove A.I and Spider (didn't he gas his mother in the end)?

I can't believe nobody has mentioned "Das Boot". Deeeeeepressing.

depressing adj causing low spirits. depressingly adverb.


I suspect the author of this list does not recognise the difference between "sad" and "depressing". In the days of Shakespeare's theatre, plays came in two forms. Comedies, which had a happy ending, or tragedies, that, yes clever person, had sad endings.

Films such as Elephant Man and AI are heartbreaking, yet can be ultimately uplifting.
I'm afraid the American moviegoer is to blame for this, a typical example being "Blade Runner" that ended on a low note, only for the producers to change it to a happy ending and a crap voice-over for people to stupid to understand the story. Not everyone lives happily ever after. Get over it, Art imitates life.

Can't believe no-one's yet mentioned 'The Wicker Man'.

I agree with most of your choices, but I would have found a spot for "Brazil." ChrisH is correct about "The Wicker Man." I prefer the original version with Edward Woodward, whose horrible fate is made even more bizarre and poignant by the the merry music and singing which accompanies it.

What about Old Yeller? Everyone cries at Old Yeller!

The most just sucked. There's something unforgivingly brutal about the end.

How In The World Can The Champ And Marley & Me Not Be On This List.

Have you ever seen Testament?? Hands down most depressing movie/ ending ever.

missing "requiem for a dream." that's unacceptable.

Late to the thread, I know, but surely the multi-award winning ensemble piece (with Anthony Perkins of Psycho fame getting a best supporting actor Oscar) 'On the beach' should be included here. Set after a nuclear war has spread high-level radiation over everywhere but Australia, where the crew of a US submarine stationed in Australia have left their posts (as there's nothing left for them to do) and joined the Australian locals. News arrives that the nuclear fallout is slowly heading south towards Australia (now the last holdout of human life), and so much of the film has the cast living an idealic existence - with only 6 months left before the fallout arrives, they're finally living for today, in an paradise-like summer because there's no long-term left to care about. The government distributes cyanide pills to the population so that when the time comes they'll be spared an agonising death from radiation poisoning.

Then, halfway through the movie a ray of hope arrives. An Australian communications base picks up a radio communication that appears to be coming from a military base in New York. But it's odd - it's just a series of beeps repeated over and over again, and it doesn't seem to fit morse code. As the film goes on, the characters wonder what to do - perhaps it's a kid, perhaps there's civilians still alive but the radio is faulty - either way, maybe the fallout isn't as bad as previously thought. Perhaps New York is still inhabitable - great for both groups of characters, as it means the US characters can go home (and might have family left), and the fallout might be survivable when it hits Australia.

The US characters return to their posts and begin a mission to locate and travel to the source of the communication. They know it's a one-way trip - even if they had fuel to get back, the fallout would have already reached Australia - but they're hoping that if they find New York is still alive, they can then contact Australia and let them know that they've got a chance of surviving the fallout.

...the kicker? They find the source of the communication - in an empty military base, with the inhabitants long dead, they find a coca-cola bottle leaning against the radio console, intermittently rolling back and forth over the morse code button. The submarine crew decide to use their remaining fuel to get to their home port so they can die in familiar surroundings, while the characters left in Australia fondle their cyanide pills as the fallout-carrying clouds approach.

Brazil has a certain 'victory in defeat' aspect to it though. Sure, the physical escape is all in his mind, but it's an escape nonetheless: by retreating into his mind he's made it impossible for them to follow, and finally obtains a happiness that they can't touch. I actually find the final scene - where the main character is catatonic yet still whistling defiantly as he gets wheeled away (while the torturer and government folk complain that he's useless to them now) really uplifting.

Sorry but any movie list like this that DOESNT include "ON THE BEACH" is an instant fail. Why? The whole movie is literally about the whole world being enveloped by a radioactive cloud, spawned by nuclear war and the world committing suicide to avoid a slow, painful death. We literally watch as our heroes in the movie, inject drugs into themselves and slowly die... on the beach... in the end. Most nihilistic movie *ever*.

Hey DOG guys, clean the f**king spam from the comments.

Yep, looking through the comments on these older articles is a real chore

No mention for Mystic River? That film is a black hole of misery from beginning to end.

The mist was a great cover of the book just as i had pictured it after reading the short story - Skeleton Crew was the book if my mind serves me right - fantastic ending who wants the happy endings - one of the main reasons it tanked at the box office - the Yanks love their happy endings.

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