30 Greatest Final Shots

Avengers Assemble (2012)

The Final Shot: New York has been trashed, but the Avengers have prevailed.

In a gorgeous final shot, we're told that Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) has learned how to become a team player, and is possibly even more committed to the Avengers than ever.

How are we told that? Well, the STARK sign on the top of his building has been beaten up, just leaving a single 'A'...

If It Had Been The Opening Shot:
It would have had a different meaning - A for a-hole maybe, because that's what most of the Avengers think Stark is.

The Breakfast Club (1985)

The Final Shot: As Simple Minds' 'Don't You (Forget About Me)' blasts over the soundtrack, John Bender (Judd Nelson) strides across the football field, finally free from detention.

In one of '80s cinema's finest "hell yeah!" moments, he punches the air. And freeze frame...

If It Had Been The Opening Shot: It wouldn't have made any sense. John Hughes' film is all about the emotional journeys that this group of teens go on while in detention - and Bender's air-punch signifies they’ve all come out of it better people.

This Is England (2006)

The Final Shot: Milky (Andrew Shim) has been pulverised, and Shaun (Thomas Turgoose) has seen things that no child should see.

Brooding over it all, he throws his Saint George Flag into the sea, then looks into the camera, signalling he's no longer an innocent young thing...

If It Had Been The Opening Shot:
And rob us of that shot of Roland Rat? No thanks...

Rebecca (1940)

The Final Shot: Manderley is ablaze at the close of Hitchcock's dutiful adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's suspense thriller.

As the manor house goes up in flame, we enter the bedroom of dearly-departed Rebecca - which is being hungrily eaten by the fire - and zoom into her pillow, which is embroidered with the letter 'R'. The End.

If It Had Been The Opening Shot: Um, it would have given away the ending.

Romeo + Juliet (1996)

The Final Shot: A news reporter takes on the role of narrator. A TV set appears on our screens as the reporter tells us what just happened, closing out Baz Luhrmann's modern adap in serious style.

The TV set shrinks into the distance and the credits roll.

If It Had Been The Opening Shot:
It would have given away the ending somewhat.

Aliens (1986)

The Final Shot: Having defeated the Alien Queen - not to mention her own fear of going back into space to face killer xenomorphs - Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and little Newt (Carrie Henn) sleep aboard the spaceship Sulaco, which is heading back to Earth...

If It Had Been The Opening Shot: It sort of is - here, director James Cameron cleverly mirrors his opening shots of Ripley sleeping by this time having her sleeping with Newt.

What does that mirroring tell us? Things have changed for the better.

The Matrix (1999)

The Final Shot: Neo (Keanu Reeves) now has The Matrix so figured out that he can even bend the laws of gravity and fly.

Which is exactly how this modern sci-fi classic ends - with Neo shooting up into the air, leaving the city below, which sort of looks like the innards of a computer drive...

If It Had Been The Opening Shot:
We'd have missed out on the cool glowing green text.

Oldboy (2003)

The Final Shot: Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik) has been through hell as we leave him at the end of Park Chan-wook's indelible comic adap.

His memories have apparently been wiped via hypnosis, but the final shot of his pained expression suggests the memory wipe hasn't been as successful as you'd hope...

If It Had Been The Opening Shot:
We would see Oh Dae-su all broken and battered far too early - the whole point is that we go through hell with him.

Night Of The Living Dead (1968)

The Final Shot: Our hero Ben (Duane Jones) is about to be rescued, we assume, by deputies from the sheriff's department - except they mistake him for a zombie and shoot him dead.

The film's final shot shows him being burned on a pyre with other corpses... Who says zombie flicks should be happy, eh?

If It Had Been The Opening Shot: It would have been totally out of context, which means we wouldn't get the same emotional sucker-punch to the gut.

Up (2009)

The Final Shot: Carl (Edward Asner) has managed to fulfil his promise to dead wife Ellie by landing their house on the cliff next to Paradise Falls.

We all blow our noses into our hankies.

If It Had Been The Opening Shot: It wouldn't have quite the same emotional resonance - the whole reason this shot reduces us to sobs is because we know what it means for Carl and Ellie.

Josh Winning has worn a lot of hats over the years. Contributing Editor at Total Film, writer for SFX, and senior film writer at the Radio Times. Josh has also penned a novel about mysteries and monsters, is the co-host of a movie podcast, and has a library of pretty phenomenal stories from visiting some of the biggest TV and film sets in the world. He would also like you to know that he "lives for cat videos..." Don't we all, Josh. Don't we all.