I recently watched Saw 7 that had the ending totally different from what I thought as expected from its story line which I really didn't like.

Is there a term for such an ending where it doesn't happen what we were expecting and it's unsatisfying?

  • 16
    Er, twist ending? Seriously, this is extremely common. Shyamalan basically makes a living off it.
    – Walt
    Jan 8, 2017 at 16:08
  • 3
    An anti-climax is a specific, often subjective variation of an unexpected ending, though.
    – Walt
    Jan 8, 2017 at 16:14
  • I know that it is often referred as twist ending, but still looking for more specific term. I posted what I just found.
    – A J
    Jan 8, 2017 at 16:17
  • Maybe I wasn't clear enough for what I was meant to ask. Hope the edited question now does.
    – A J
    Jan 8, 2017 at 17:00
  • 1
    What do you think was the purpose of the different ending? To surprise? That's a twist ending. To deliberately be tragic despite the lead up? That's a downer ending. To annoy with the lack of resolution? That's an anti-climactic ending. To just mess with the viewer? That's what TV tropes calls a Gainax ending. Without knowing what you were expecting, and what you think the intended reaction to the ending was, it's tough to say. It may help to describe the ending in a spoiler tag and then elaborate with why it didn't match your expectations and what your reaction was. Jan 8, 2017 at 19:01

6 Answers 6


Specifically, it's a sub trope of Plot Twists called a "Twist Ending".

A plot twist can happen at any time in the film. When it happens near the end to change the meaning of the entire film, it is a twist ending. The idea is to lead the audience on throughout the film then when they least expect it, flip the script on them only at the end.

An anti-climax is exactly what it says, the lack of a climax as traditionally seen. In this case, the plot goes unresolved or is unsatisfying in its resolution. For example, the main villain escapes, no action scene, or the hero's denied emotional closure. It is not what you think. It's basically a failure in literary scope.

  • Actually, I posted what I found, but your answer seems quite good. So +1.
    – A J
    Jan 9, 2017 at 1:18
  • "It's basically a failure in literary scope." ... or it's a European film, where everyone goes home empty-handed. Jan 9, 2017 at 9:47
  • Is a plot twist that happens to change the way we think about multiple films still a plot twist/twist ending? See: Harry Potter Jan 9, 2017 at 14:17
  • @theleathal how is potter a plot twist
    – cde
    Jan 9, 2017 at 14:19
  • @cde When we find out that snape was a good guy all along, I posted a question on it... movies.stackexchange.com/questions/66517/… Jan 9, 2017 at 14:21

I guess you're referring to a plot twist. From the wiki:

A plot twist is a radical change in the expected direction or outcome of the plot of a novel, film, television series, comic, video game, or other work of narrative. It is a common practice in narration used to keep the interest of an audience, usually surprising them with a revelation. Some "twists" are foreshadowed.


As mentioned on this site, it is called anti-climax.

anything in a film, usually following the film's high point, zenith, apex, crescendo, or climax, in which there is an unsatisfying and disappointing let-down of emotion, or what is expected doesn't occur.

  • 3
    As stated in other comments, an anti-climax is a very specific type of ending. It's pretty much always negative. Based on your original question, this answer doesn't fit. Just because something doesn't end as expected doesn't mean it's anti-climactic. It's just a twist ending. Sometimes the twist is even better/more exciting than what's expected. In that case, it's pretty much the opposite of an anti-climax.
    – miltonaut
    Jan 8, 2017 at 16:53
  • From your same site, a film with a twist ending is "a film that is marketed as having a surprise ending that shouldn't be revealed (as a spoiler) to those who haven't seen the picture."
    – miltonaut
    Jan 8, 2017 at 16:55
  • 1
    Maybe I wasn't clear enough for what I was meant to ask.
    – A J
    Jan 8, 2017 at 17:01

Another type of ending that fits the more 'out of the blue' nature of your question is the Gainax Ending

A Gainax Ending is an ending that doesn't make any sense, or does make sense but is hidden under enough Mind Screw to not have an easy explanation. This is usually a deliberate form of Mind Screw or intended as a Sequel Hook to a sequel that was never made. If it's not done intentionally, it's often the result of the creators rushing to meet a Cosmic Deadline.

Gainax endings are usually unsatisfying because they come from left field and usually result from lazy writing (see also: Deux Ex Machina). However, they can be done quite well, especially in comedy. See: Monty Python and the Holy Grail.


Twist is a good answer, but also you have an Asspull.

An Asspull is a moment when the writers pull something out of thin air in a less-than-graceful narrative development, violating the Law of Conservation of Detail by dropping a plot-critical detail in the middle, or near the end of their narrative without Foreshadowing or dropping a Chekhov's Gun earlier on.

Asspull on TV Tropes


Because you mentioned 'unsatisfying' I'm just going to going throw in the term 'Deus ex machina' out here as well.


"An unexpected power or event saving a seemingly hopeless situation, especially as a contrived plot device in a play or novel."

In Greek plays, it's often (and literally) referring to when an all powerful god steps in and saves the day.

Modern film examples could be the bacteria that suddenly saves the day in War of the Worlds, or the giant eagles who swoop Frodo away at the end of the Lord of the Rings, or Superman simply reversing time in one of those movies.

They're just easy and unsatisfactory ways of ending the film in one scene.

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