10 Movies Where the Protagonist Realizes He’s Not the Good Guy at the End

Through legitimate or illegitimate means, the main character doesn’t always end the film as a good person. Whether through deception or a mistake, it does not change the result. Several of the most thrilling and astonishing events reveal that the protagonist is mistaken or definitely a villain. Here are some of the best films that demonstrate that.

1. Falling Down (1993)

Scene from Falling Down
Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment.

Numerous cinema enthusiasts cite “Falling Down” as a prime example of an individual thinking they’re virtuous, only to realize that they are not. In the lead role, Michael Douglas portrays William, a man who experiences a sudden and intense breakdown, leading him to embark on a violent rampage. While his job loss and marital separation fuel his growing bitterness and resentment, both he and the audience come to the realization that he is far from the virtuous person he perceives himself to be.

2. Shutter Island (2010)

Scene from Shutter Island
Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Shutter Island ends with a wild twist by the end. U.S. Marshal Teddy, portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio, and his recently teamed partner, Chuck, played by Mark Ruffalo, disembark from a ferry at a mental institution. Their objective is to locate a fugitive murderer who has managed to escape. As reality blurs and Teddy’s psyche unravels, the end reveals how far Teddy’s delusion stretched rather than face the truth of his past.

3. Primal Fear (1996)

Scene from Primal Fear
Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Several people included this 90s flick on their lists. Primal Fear’s plot revolves around Martin (Richard Gere), a defense lawyer who represents Aaron (Edward Norton), an altar boy accused of killing his archbishop. Through windy twists, Martin believes he’s the story’s hero but soon learns he’s otherwise. This was shocking the first time I saw it.

4. Fight Club (1999)

Scene from Fight Club
Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox.

Even if you’ve never seen this movie, you know the phrase “first rule of fight club.” While the first film had a young Edward Norton, Fight Club stars adult Norton narrating a story about him and his off-kilter friend Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt). After forming an underground fight club, more people join their ranks, and chaos ensues as their club becomes much more. If you haven’t seen the film, check it out for the surprise twist.

5. Memento (2000)

Scene from Memento
Photo Credit: Newmarket Capital Group.

Memento is a film where people debate whether the lead is good or bad. It all depends on how you classify good. If it’s by a person’s actions, even if accidental, can they be called “good?” Also, because of the order, the end is the beginning, as Leonard (Guy Pearce) has short-term memory loss. His goal is to discover who killed his wife; however, he forgets info which lays the groundwork for monumental mistakes.

6. The Others (2001)

Scene from The Others
Photo Credit: Cruise/Wagner Productions.

It’s no surprise The Others is on most folks’ lists. The twist was so shocking that I was angry because I did not expect that ending. Grace has it rough living in shadows in her dark home because her two children have severe skin reactions to sunlight. Soon she suspects ghosts haunt her home and fights to protect her children while not unraveling herself. This film reminds me of how upset I felt playing Silent Hill 2.

7. Pumpkinhead (1988)

Scene from Pumpkinhead
Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox.

Justice for a loss is understandable. But there is a fine line between justice and vengeance which Pumpkinhead crosses. Following the tragic loss of his young son in a motorcycle crash, Ed (Lance Henriksen) searches for an eerie elderly woman to invoke Pumpkinhead. Naturally, fewer individuals would pursue revenge if they were required to endure the same terror and agony that their victims went through. The final twist is the icing on the cake.

8. Identity (2003)

Scene from Identity
Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures.

Identity delivers a lot of surprises, but it’s only near the very end that you realize what’s happening. Ian (John Cusack) and nine other strangers wind up stranded at a motel during a storm when people die one by one. A poem’s opening, “as I was going up the stair, I met a man who wasn’t there,” never sounded more chilling.

9. Us (2019)

Scene from Us
Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.

Jordan Peele’s Us is another one where the “good person” turns out to be anything but. When Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) returns to the home she grew up in as a child with her husband and two kids, masked strangers arrive who resemble them. Whether you agree with the twist, “good” does not factor in. You can understand, but that’s it.

10. Frailty (2001)

Scene from Frailty
Photo Credit: David Kirschner Productions.

Frailty, which a few people name, is about people thinking they’re good when they’re not. An unknown man (Matthew McConaughey) visits an FBI agent, Wesley (Powers Boothe), and recounts his childhood when his father believed he got a vision from God to kill people who were demons. This is still one of my favorite films because of the reveal at the end. I won’t spoil it here, but give this a view!

Source: Reddit.

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