In the opening scene of the movie Nobody (2021), an injured Hutch is being investigated by two officials. The plot then begins, but at the end of the movie, the investigation scene is continued.

What is the purpose of putting the last scene first?

  • I like how in Rogue One you get to the end and realize you already saw the last scene... 39 years earlier Commented Jul 18, 2023 at 1:22

2 Answers 2


What is the purpose of putting the last scene first?

It's about showing the "how" (did we get there?) instead of the "why" (did we get there?). The story isn't about a chronological structure of the events, a beginning, middle and end, it's more about the "asynchronous" effect, like mixing flashbacks and fastforwards for instance.

Offer an instant hook: screenwriters are instructed that they need to hook the reader or audience within the opening pages of the screenplay. But that provides a conundrum for many writers because they also need to introduce their characters — often in their Ordinary World — and set up the upcoming conflict. So how can you serve the story in that fashion while also offering an engaging hook? Beginning with the ending is an effective way to hook the audience.

For example, the film 'Citizen Kane' starts with the death of the main character, and then tells his life through flashbacks interspersed with a journalist's present-time investigation of Kane's life. The fabula of the film is the actual story of Kane's life the way it happened in chronological order, while the syuzhet is the way the story is told throughout the movie, including flashbacks. From Fabula and syuzhet

The story is about the journey and focuses on the how as opposed to the what. Screencraft - 15 movies that start with the ending

Some writers started this style of writing because they wanted to get rid of the "greek narrative plots" and explore new ways of telling a story.

Traditionally we digest stories linearly and in chronological order. What happens first we find out about first, the second thing comes second, and so on. As storytelling becomes more complex and nuanced, however, storytellers mess with traditional formulas and present more challenging structures: unreliable narrators, genre-hopping, and the one we're checking in on here, time distortion. Screenrant - movies that start with the ending

Who did watch "The Usual Suspects" a second time in a row right after the credits? Just to watch and understand the scenes with a whole new point of view? Or catch something we missed. We did, like many.

IMDB - Movies that Begin with the Ending

  • This is a reasonable description of writers' justification for this choice. But in my opinion, it's a lazy choice that tends to indicate that the writer couldn't figure out how to make the beginning of their work interesting. Commented Jul 14, 2023 at 15:15
  • Maybe not that lazy. Compare these 2 options of a loooong scene: 1. people doing things, it's kind of boring, nothing much to see... Then a bomb explodes and you have a sudden moment of thrill. 2. You show the bomb first. Then you shoot the scene the same way. (I'm pretty sure Sir Alfred would pick #2 ^^)
    – OldPadawan
    Commented Jul 14, 2023 at 15:36
  • Most of this answer focuses on what this does to the beginning of the movie. But it also makes for a satisfying ending. Things coming full circle. Commented Jul 18, 2023 at 1:21

This trope is often considered "overdone" today and thought of as uncreative... but it has a legitimate place given viewer tendencies.

Media is often ignored if the very beginning isn't interesting. Think of how often a song is skipped if the first two seconds aren't immediately captivating.

Consumers today desire constant stimulation... and so many stories will start "in media res," or in the middle of it.

Producers know that first impressions matter. Thus, the heart of the movie is shown very first to compensate for the fact that modern viewers judge from the first second.

Not many want to wait to find out the plot or general direction of a film. That's why franchises are often repetitive or based on well known series from other forms of media. People want to be familiar. So bridging some familiarity in the beginning helps audiences.

There are other reasons, but that's the one I wanted to address.

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