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I recently learned about a twist ending, a twist in a plot that happens near the end of a film.

If a twist ending happens near the end of a series of films, is it still called a twist ending?

The plot the led to this question was Harry Potter where we find out Snape is actually a 'good guy. If this isn't a twist ending what could we call it?

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That is just a simple plot twist, or character development. The Harry Potter series is a pretty straight forward tale of good vs evil, and does not deviate much from that. A twist ending would be Harry becoming a worse villain than Voldy, or Voldy winning and everybody dying. Or that it was all a dream of Harry, who's still living under the crawlspace.

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Small but important distinction - a twist ending doesn't happen near the end of a film, it happens near the end of a story. As per Google;

A surprise ending is a plot twist occurring near or at the conclusion of a story: an unexpected conclusion to a work of fiction that causes the audience to reevaluate the narrative or characters.

Being as the reveal about Snape comes towards the end of the overall story (that is, the over-arching story of the franchise rather than the individual stories of each film/book), we can safely say that yes, it does count as a "twist ending", as it is a reveal that causes us (the audience) to reevaluate the character.

However, it should be noted that as far as "twist endings" go, it's a rather tame one in comparison to other famous twist endings, such as The Sixth Sense or Planet of the Apes, each of which contain much bigger "twists" and in some way came to redefine what we consider "real" twist endings.

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    Something that does not affect the overall plot is not a twist ending by any standard. – cde Jan 9 '17 at 14:57
  • @cde That's simply not true. Each of the films I mentioned as famous twist endings have twist ending that do not change the plot of the film, instead simply revealing new information that changes how characters perceive the world around them. The plot still happened as it happened. – Dr R Dizzle Jan 9 '17 at 15:22
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    How does being a ghost or your on earth not affect the whole plot? – cde Jan 9 '17 at 15:34
  • Sixth sense especially since him being a ghost means the plot didn't happen as we see it, as we see it through the unreliable narrators eyes. – cde Jan 9 '17 at 15:54
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    It is a twist at the end of Snape's story even if you don't want to count it as being at the end of the overall story. – Mr.Mindor Jan 9 '17 at 16:14

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