50 Genius Movie Foreshadowing Moments

Goodfellas (1990)

The Foreshadowing: Sonny complains to Paulie about Tommy’s dangerous temper. “Tommy's a bad kid,” agrees Paulie. “He's a bad seed. What am I supposed to do, shoot him?”

How It Pays Off: Tommy pushes everybody just that little bit too far, and ends up with a bullet in the back of his head. Hey, what where they supposed to do?

The Sixth Sense (1999)

The Foreshadowing: Dr. Crowe sits down to a frosty dinner with his wife, who refuses to exchange so much as a word with him. Things must be rough at home...

How It Pays Off: Turns out that Malcolm Crowe has been dead for some time. The twist is now one of the most famous in movie history, but going in cold, it’s still easy to miss the job-lot of foreshadowing pointing to the truth.

Alien 3 (1992)

The Foreshadowing: As a fire rages through a passage shaft, a scorched bucket contracting and snapping snaps as soon as the sprinklers come on.

How It Pays Off: The Xenomorph is actually defeated using the same technique, as it ends up covered in molten lead and then freezing cold water. The subsequent contraction causes it to explode.

The Prestige (2006)

The Foreshadowing: Borden is notably enchanted with the discipline and total dedication required to pull off the fishbowl trick. You can almost see the cogs turning in his brain...

How It Pays Off: Borden goes on to perform an even more extreme version of the fishbowl trick, sharing one life and one public persona with his identical twin, all for the sake of his act. That’s dedication.

The Godfather (1971)

The Foreshadowing: Michael has a blazing row with Kay, ordering her never to ask him about his business again. Cowed, she watches warily as the family capos pay their respects to the new Don.

How It Pays Off: This scene foreshadows the horror to come in Part 2, hinting at Michael’s change in outlook, and the monster he will soon become.

The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

The Foreshadowing: Luke slices off Vader's head while on Dagobah, only to discover his own face under the mask. "Much anger in him," remarks Yoda. "Like his father."

How It Pays Off: Luke's father turns out to be none other than Vader himself. Don't try to process it all at once, Luke...

The Machinist (2004)

The Foreshadowing: Trevor takes his new ladyfriend’s son on a ghost train that takes a rather dramatic turn for the macabre, passing a mourning woman, a man hanged for his guilt and eventually hitting a cut-out child with their car.

How It Pays Off: The ride is a hallucination, brought on by Trevor’s guilt over his involvement in a hit and run incident, as revealed at the end of the film. Bloody terrifying it is too!

X-Men: First Class (2011)

The Foreshadowing: An angry Erik Lensherr uses his powers to embed a coin in the forehead of Sebastian Shaw's photograph.

How It Pays Off: This is exactly the same way Lensherr finally takes his revenge upon Shaw at the film's climax. This time however, it's much, much slower…

Gran Torino (2008)

The Foreshadowing: As he sits reading the paper on his birthday, Walt's horoscope promises a sudden life change that will come to a dramatic but seemingly anticlimactic ending.

How It Pays Off: The very next moment, the Hmong girl invites Walt to her family dinner, a course of action that leads to the film's violent but anticlimactic ending.

The Shining (1980)

The Foreshadowing: Having succumbed to the temptation of his first drink of alcohol after, “five miserable months on the wagon,” Jack Torrance reacts with a grimace, his eyes rolling up as the drink hits his throat.

How It Pays Off: Quite a subtle one this, but the expression on Jack’s face is the mirror image of the one we see on his frozen corpse at the end. A pointer that his return to drink will ultimately be his undoing.

George Wales

George was once GamesRadar's resident movie news person, based out of London. He understands that all men must die, but he'd rather not think about it. But now he's working at Stylist Magazine.