Sunday, July 21, 2013

Reader Results: The Top Ten Greatest Science Fiction Film Endings

The votes have been tabulated and the results are in.

Here are the readership's "top ten" Greatest Science Fiction Film Endings of All Time.

Three-Way Tie for 11, 10 and 9: The Emprie Strikes Back (1980),  Blade Runner (1982) and E.T. (1982)

Four-Way Tie for 5, 6, 7, and 8: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), The Thing (1982), Escape from L.A. (1996) and Donnie Darko (2002)

4. Star Wars (1977)

3. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

2. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

and in first place...

1. Planet of the Apes (1968)

I think what's so fun about this list is that the endings really run the gamut in terms of narrative.  

We have a traditional "happy" ending (Star Wars), a surprise and shock (Planet of the Apes), transcendence (2001) and death (Wrath of Khan, Donnie Darko), anti-authority triumphant (Escape from L.A.), scintillating ambiguity (The Thing, Blade Runner), a cliffhanger (The Empire Strikes Back), a tender goodbye (E.T.) and even Evil Triumphant (Invasion of the Body Snatchers).  Very well done, everyone.

Join me again Monday August 26 at 3:00 pm for the next "Reader Results" Top Ten List!   If you have any thoughts on what the question should be, e-mail 'em to me.

Finally, I want to thank everyone who contributed to this tally, and wrote such impassioned and detailed descriptions of their favorite s.f. movie endings.


  1. Awesome compilation, John.

    1. I agree, Le0pard13. The readers made a great list here! Thank you so much for contributing!

  2. Thank you as well John for hosting, your work and for kick-starting these great collaborations.

    1. SFF: Thank you so much for contributing to the list. It wouldn't be the same without you. I really love seeing what readers and other bloggers like in terms of the sci-fi genre.

  3. I think the list is extensive and definitely deserving.


    1. I agree, SGB! Great movies all the way around. I hope all the readers love it...

  4. Oh, come on, let’s get real here. We all know the actual best ending to any sci-fi film is Flash Gordon.

    Floating Ming Probe: "Long live Flash. You've saved your Earth. Have a nice day."

    Flash: "YEAH!!"

    He's for every one of us
    Stand for every one of us
    He save with a mighty haand
    Every man, every woman
    Every child, with a mighty Flaash!

  5. I have to get this off my chest - every time somebody listed it, I got rapped upside the head. I have never seen the '78 Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Due diligence: I just put it at the top of my Netflix queue. Please forgive me.

  6. Lots of good stuff in the lists but for me, the greatest Science Fiction (sorta) film ending had to be Armageddon. Why? Because it meant the movie Armageddon was finally over. Seriously I would rather watch The Beast Of Yucca Flats multiple times (and actually have - halfway through the first viewing I found myself wondering if any of the narration formed a haiku so I re-watched it right after it ended to count some syllables) than put myself through watching Armageddon again.

    I like the fact that The Empire Strikes back made it, but I've always wondered if one scene in that film struck anyone else the way it did me. I was ten when I saw it and when Vader somehow deflected Han's blaster fire with, what? a magic glove, a glove whose technology is advanced to the point that it seems like magic, the force? (yeah, I know there are multiple in universe explanations easily available now but back then all I had to go on was the current movie and my memories of the first one) I just thought oh COME ON! It wouldn't have bothered me if Vader had sensibly arranged some sort of dampening field which prevented the blaster from firing or if we had seen some sort of force field to protect him or even if he had simply used telekinesis to take the blaster out of Han's hand before he could fire but even at the age of ten I thought the scene as shot just looked ridiculous. I'm probably well in the minority on this but one of the things that always bothered me about the Star Wars universe as it evolved over the years was how over-powered the Jedi's became. The way Obi-Wan was in the first movie was damn near perfection and I though Yoda's powers in Empire stretched things a bit I still thought it worked well (and he WAS supposed to be a very powerful Jedi). Later on it got to the point where they made Superman look like a feeble schmuck and I had trouble believing in the characters enough to care about them and the story anymore. Being a badass can be cool, being an extreme badass can be very cool but if it's pushed too far can just look silly.

    1. I kind of see where you're coming from with the Jedi. That particular scene never bothered me. I just assumed that Vader had some combination of super armor and force abilities that protected him momentarily from the blaster bolts. It did answer the question, how come no one just shoots Vader down. But, yeah it does seem a bit odd that he can do that, and no other Jedi appears to have that ability (especially in "Attack of the Clones" where they are getting mowed down by blaster bolts left and right in the arena). So chalk it up to his heavily armored palms!

      I do think that the prequels did super-power the Jedi a bit too much. I see what Lucas was going for, to create a truly legendary order of knights (like the table round) so that their fall is much more dramatic. But it has the side effect of making Luke and Vader look feeble in the original trilogy. I kind of wonder if people who grew up with all six films even notice that issue though.

  7. Another great list, and a real interesting spread of films. I see that the 1980s is heavily represented on this list. Not sure if that says more about that decade or more about the voters (maybe a little bit of both).

    All the votes for "Escape from L.A." have made me want to revisit that film. I haven't seen it since it came out on VHS.

    Thanks again John for hosting these lists. They are a lot of fun to participate in, and read.

  8. Very late to the show here, and if this has been raised before, I apologize, but do you guys have any idea how many people Snake Plissken flat out murders when he flips that switch? People on heart machines, lung machines, life support, in planes, using pace makers, insulin pumps, etc. I understand the overarching idea of sticking it to the man, but it's hard to root for him while there are undoubtedly babies on jetliners screaming as their dead plane plunges to the earth.

    Don't mean to be a stickler though.

  9. Great results! The only addition I am disappointed in is Escape from L.A. I always felt the movie was a ridiculous and very uninspired remake of the first movie and that Kurt Russell was doing an impersonation of himself impersonating Snake.


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