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Top 10 Films Where the Villains Win

Joe Hincks . . . Comments

As Hollywood continuously churns out innumerable copies of films, but with different names, actors and cast, it can be difficult to find an original film where the normally, more interesting and charismatic villain succeeds in his goals, and evil triumphs over good. Here is a look at ten films where this occurs. WARNING: Spoilers. This list is essentially a list of spoilers so if you haven’t seen the films but plan on doing so, don’t read the description.


Matchstick Men

A phobic con artist, Roy Walker, and his accomplice, Frank, are about to pull of their next job when Roy’s estranged teenage daughter, Angela, arrives. Roy is an obsessive-compulsive agoraphobic, who is at first disrupted in his carefully ordered routine, but soon begins to enjoy the relationship that is developing with the daughter he never knew he had as she grows fascinated with his career.

Later on in the film, the mark of the con, Chuck, is waiting outside Roy’s house alongside a badly beaten Frank, Angela shoots Chuck and Roy sends her off with Frank into hiding until the matter has calmed down. Roy begins to take care of Chuck’s body who suddenly springs to life and knocks Roy unconscious. Roy awakes in hospital to find Frank and Angela missing. He slowly realizes that Frank has pulled a con on him, and after talking to his divorced wife, it is revealed that Roy’s actual daughter was a miscarriage and Angela was just Frank’s accomplice.



In this endlessly bizarre, dystopian, sci-fi from the mind of Terry Gilliam, Sam Lowry is an ordinary (well, ordinary compared to the rest of the characters) bureaucrat living in this not-so-distant future country, who is employed to investigate a rather serious mix up, and becomes a public enemy.

Sam is captured by his old friend Jack Lint as he is now assumed to be a terrorist. He is taken to be tortured, but then Tuttle and members of the resistance against the government storm the chamber and rescue Sam. They flee in a hail of gunfire, and Sam and his love interest Jill, leave happily ever after and settle in the countryside. Except they don’t. It is revealed that this is all happening inside Sam’s head, who is actually sitting in the torture room now catatonic and a lost cause.


The Wicker Man

Speaking of course about the original here, this 1973 horror stars Edward Woodward as police sergeant Neil Howie. He receives an anonymous letter requesting him to journey to the Hebrides and investigate the disappearance of a young girl. Upon arriving at the island Summerilse, the devout Christian Howie is rather unnerved, to say the least, at the locals choice of a Celtic pagan religion.

Near the end of the film it is revealed that Howie was lured to the Isle by the islanders, who were successful in leading him to believe that a missing girl was being held captive against her will. Because of the dreadful harvest in the previous year, their religion calls for a sacrifice to be made, and Howie is just the right man for it. He is stripped naked, dressed in ceremonial robes, then dragged into a giant wicker statue which is then set ablaze.


Rosemary’s Baby

This classic horror from Roman Polanski revolves around a young couple who move into a new apartment with a sinister reputation. It was supposedly once possessed by cannibal murderers, witches, Satanists and a lot of other outstanding members of society. An array of strange things and creepy neighbors arise, and as Rosemary becomes pregnant she suspects that they may have plans for the baby.

As it happens, it turns out that Rosemary’s baby is actually the spawn of the Devil and all of her neighbors begin to scream “Hail Satan.” Then persuaded by one of her neighbors, Roman, Rosemary reluctantly decides to give in to her maternal instincts and is seen cradling the baby, “He has his Father’s eyes…”


One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Randle Patrick McMurphy has once again got himself in trouble with the law, and now to escape prison he pleads insanity. He then ends up in a mental hospital, where he meets a range of colorful and of course, insane characters, as well as the oppressive and degrading Nurse Ratched. Together, the inmates led by McMurphy go on a rebellious streak in protest of her.

After a night of drinking and women smuggled in by McMurphy, Nurse Ratched arrives to discover the mess the next morning. Billy, a stuttering and socially awkward man-child, at risk of suicide is discovered with a lady, the Nurse threatens to tell his mother. Left alone in the room for a few seconds, Billy consequently kills himself with a piece of glass. Horrified by this, McMurphy assaults and strangles Ratchet nearly to death. He is knocked out then taken away. Later, the chief, a giant, seemingly mute Red Indian discovers McMurphy with lobotomy scars, so he escapes in the way that McMurphy said he would.


The Silence of the Lambs

A young FBI cadet, Clarice Starling, is tasked with collaborating with a manipulative and genius serial killer Hannibal Lecter. They are to try and catch another killer, Buffalo Bill, a man who captures then skins his victims to form a selection of coats made from women’s skin.

After Lecter’s escape from a “secure” cell in Tennessee, Clarice investigates the hometown of the first victim of Bill. She winds up inside Bill’s home while a SWAT team enter the wrong house. She draws her weapon as Bill escapes to the basement and then pursues him carefully. The lights go out leaving Clarice in complete darkness but she eventually kills Bill. Days later, she receives a call from Lecter in the Bahamas, now at large. He puts down the phone remarking “I’m having a friend for dinner” then pursues the prison doctor along the road.


Fight Club

An unstable insomniac and a charismatic soap salesman named Tyler Durden team up, after the insomniac’s house is mysteriously destroyed. Together they create a secret fight club and the insomniac is now able to get some sleep. As the club expands, so to does the philosophy behind it until the insomniac begins to believe it is out of control.

While tracing Tyler’s steps around the other fight clubs he has set up, the insomniac gets an eerie feeling of déjà vu. He remembers everywhere he is going until one of the participants in the club identifies him as Tyler Durden. He and Tyler are the same person. Durden has set up plans to bring down headquarters of several major credit companies to cripple finance networks. The insomniac attempts to disarm bombs set up to destroy the buildings when he is knocked out by Tyler after an imaginary and awesome fight. After destroying the illusion of Tyler by shooting himself, the insomniac is unable to stop the bombs and Tyler’s plans are fulfilled.



In what could be the most unchronological film ever, an ex-insurance investigator, Leonard Shelby, can no longer create new memories after an assault where his wife was killed and he took a hard knock to the head giving him this bizarre defect. Memento shows two storylines, one in color going backwards from the moment Leonard kills his friend Teddy and the other showing a phone conversation Leonard has with a mystery person in normal time.

When the two stories collide, Leonard has killed the man who he believes is John G, his wife’s killer, in an abandoned building. After muttering the word “Sammy” (a man with a similar condition, who Leonard only talks about to people he’s met), Leonard realizes he must have killed the wrong man. Under pressure, Teddy reveals that Leonard’s wife actually survived but died of an insulin overdose described in the Sammy story and that Leonard deliberately created an unsolvable puzzle to give himself purpose. So Leonard uses the license of Teddy’s car as a clue to find the “killer” which will eventually lead to Teddy’s death.



Two homicide detectives pursue a serial killer who targets people who have committed one of the seven deadly sins, using inventive and often genius ways to kill them. First comes the sin of Gluttony as Mills and Sommerset discover the body of a morbidly obese man who has been forced to eat spaghetti hoops to death.

Near the conclusion, all but two murders have been committed, Mills and Sommerset await for news on the next but the killer, John Doe, then hands himself into the police covered in blood. If the detectives take him to the next two bodies he says he will confess to the killings. At the outskirts of town a van arrives with a mysterious package to be delivered to this location at this time. Sommerset opens the box and recoils in horror at what he sees. Straight away he rushes to Mills shouting at him to put his gun away. Doe reveals that he has killed Mills’ wife and the child inside her. Stricken with grief, Mills executes him. Doe himself was envy and in killing him, Mills was wrath, thus completing Doe’s “masterpiece.”


The Usual Suspects

After a truck hijacking, five men are arrested and brought to be investigated. All of them are not guilty and are released but then decide to plan a revenge operation against the police. The job is pulled off, but then the five discover that the legendary master criminal Keyser Soze believes each of them have wronged him and desires something back. The “payback job” doesn’t go well as 27 men are left dead on a destroyed ship.

We learn all of this by the testimony of one of the conmen, a quiet man with cerebral palsy named Verbal Kint, who is one of two survivors on the boat. After telling his story, agent Kujan, the man Verbal is talking to, concludes that Dean Keaton, another one of the five criminals, is Keyser Soze and lets Verbal go. As he leaves, Kujan discover to his horror that the story relayed to him was actually made up from things Verbal saw on the wall behind him, and as he runs around looking for Verbal a fax come through with the artists impression of what Soze looks like from the other survivor. It is a drawing of Verbal. Now clear of the station Verbal begins to walk normally and gets into a car with his associate and drives off.

Notable Omissions: Primal Fear, Chinatown and a few others. These were not included as I have not yet seen these films.

  • diablo135

    Memento rocks. I have friends who still haven’t seen it. I keep telling them to watch it.

    • Notimpressed

      Another American list. Why not rename it ‘top 10 AMERICAN movies where the villain wins’.

      Think of all the movies created in the world, in all the languages. The author clearly has no perspective on the world.

      All we need now is a ‘Special Bonus- New Zealand Film!’ to top it off.

      • Imallsquintyeyedhere

        God forbid that an American watch an American movie!

        OH THE HORRORS!!!!! THE HORRORS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • Flippant

          Lol speaking of horrors.. I usually steer well clear of Australian films, but a good (unAmerican :D ) notable omission for this list would be Wolf Creek. The villain, Mick Taylor, “wins” in the end. Not overly gory as far as horror movies go, but a terrifyingly good movie all the same.

          • Pauly

            Okay, you aussies want a foreign film where the bad guy wins by the end? Here’s one; Triumph Of The Will. Beat that!

          • Flippant

            Lol Pauly, I hope that you’re not gonna go on to say that Adolf also should’ve been on the ‘Male Oscar Snubs’ list. :lol:

      • LuvsHorror

        Write your own list.

        • Pauly

          If I did, the remake of Wicker Man starring Nicholas Cage would be there. If you hate that film, ma and the ladies will track you down and pour bees on your head. Either that, or steal your bicycle at gunpoint.



      • diablo135

        Seriously NOTIMPRESSE? Is this just a trolling attempt? Because if it is, you fail.

        I’m so tired of the ‘Too (fill in the blank, typically with a country)” complaints. How immature and worthless is that? It’s akin to yelling “FIRST” on a blog when you post.

        I can’t even put into words how stupid of a complaint that is. It’s a list about some movie villans. Who gives a sh*t what country the movies came from?

      • JHincks95

        American films dominate the movie industry. There are many other films from around the world I love, like Pan’s Labyrinth, La Haine and City of God to name a few. I couldn’t remember any foreign film that I saw where the villain won in the end.

      • Jimbo

        The whole “too American” thing has become equally as lame as “First!”

        • Jimbo

          And I’m British.

          • Flippant

            You poor thing. *pats your back* :D

          • JamesD

            So am I, it’s nothing special really now is it.

      • Marianne

        It’s not like American films are hard to see in other countries though. Fair enough if they’re talking about places in America that no one from outside has heard of, but when it comes to famous international movies, you can’t really complain.

        Sincerely, a person from the UK : P

      • tealc

        not impressed, you slimy wart, rather than just whinge why not suggest some non-american movie we can consider?

        im thinking of all the movies in the world right now, theres a few gudduns but holywood still holds 90% of my blessing (i’m not american btw)

        so please just name one film for us to google then laugh at, before i can send some more insults your way, you insignificant little pr*ck

      • Bogo

        This is an American website, asswhipe. I hate it when non-Americans come to American websites and complain about the AMERICAN-NESS of it. Go to a website native of YOUR country if you don’t like what we offer.


        • p1t1o

          60 seconds of clicking resulted in me finding out that Jamie Frater (owner of this website) was born in New Zealand and currently lives in London, UK.

          So exactly how American is this website?

        • segues

          It’s NOT an American website! The site owner is a New Zealander! Many of the commenters are American but commenters come from all over the world, Europe, Asia, Asia-Pacific, South as well as North America.

        • You should be aware that the internet is one big global community. Nationality does not – or at least should not – play that big a role on the internet – especially not on websites written in the English Language, since English has become the common languages of the late modern world.

          Besides, how weird would it be only to visit webpages, that confirmes how great your own country is, or have a nationalistic and nationally glorifying POV. As you suggests one should do. I’m sorry to say this, but what an ignorant statement.

      • SmokeyJoeWood

        BTW, Notimpressed, Brazil is a British film. Just thought I’d bring that up.

        • Maggot

          Well so is Wicker Man (the 1973 version featured on the list) for that matter. But who’s counting…?

      • aced

        Oh no, a true travesty to humankind! Good thing you pointed that out, how terrible of a crime! Here, let me whine and cry about it on every single other list that includes something American. WAAAAAH!

        • fact

          your an idiot

          • dizit

            your an idiot

            You’re an idiot ;)

      • You need some crackers and cheese with that wine?

      • katyana

        well, i’ll be on the veranda since you’re already on the cross.

    • a


  • Pugzly101

    Arlington Road, I think, should definately have made this list.

    • Woodchuck Chuck

      Yes. Also I feel Chinatown is missing on this list bigtime.

      • JHincks95

        I’m going to make a sequel to this list so I’ll be sure to watch those films before doing so.

        • Woodchuck Chuck

          I only saw the comment about Chinatown after making the comment, sorry for that..

    • Meredith

      I agree. That’s always the movie I think of when the bad guy wins. And it’s somehow even more fun when the bad guys are Tim Robbins and Joan Cusack.

  • Flippant

    Just letting you know that the “Notable Ommisions” part can’t be seen on phone screen. It starts half way across the page and reads like…

    “Notable Omissions: Primal
    others. These were not include

    Even flicking screen sideways, for longview, doesn’t capture it all.

    • Anony

      Deal with it.

      • Flippant

        Lol wut? Deal with it? :?:

        Anony, do my words there sound, to you, like I’m throwing a tantrum about it? That I’m having a hissy-fit with angry tears rolling down my cheeks? Do you think I’m gonna be so stressed-out about it that I’ll be losing sleep until the error is rectified? My text was scathing as I went on a rant about it? Really?

        Even when I started my post with the words “Just letting you know…” it didn’t occur to you that I was just saying to the powers that be that their text is outta wack for phone users? You don’t think that that’s something they might wanna be made aware of?
        Deal with it, huh? Ya fkn knob! :D

        • Frank

          OMG you’re so f*ken self absorbed. Go do everyone a favour and shit yourself out of your own arse and go end your pathetic life.

          • Flippant

            LoL! Frank, did you just climb off your boyfriend in a bad mood and decide to b*tch at a stranger on Listverse? Use more KY next time.. you’ll find it chafes less, and the rest of us won’t have to put up with your fairy tantrums just because your sph1ncter burns.

            I have no idea why you went all pansy slapper at me, but please feel free to crawl back under whatever festering pile of sh*t you were feeding on before you attempted to perturb someone of obvious intellectual superiority, you d*ckless pr1ck. :D

          • Meatloaf

            You’re both pathetic and annoying….

        • Flippant

          Says you, Meatloaf.. says you. Lol I’ll wear “annoying”, but Frankie-boy gets “pathetic.” :D

          • dizit

            Wow, I read that totally differently, Flip!

            I thought he meant that you were pathetic and you were annoying rather than, either, both you and Frank were equally pathetic and annoying or, as you read it, one of you is pathetic and the other annoying :)

            I dunno, that was just on a quick scan though.

          • Flippant

            Lol nooooo, Dizz! I know full well that I can be “annoying”.. sometimes I mean to be, sometimes it’s unintentional. But, either way, I seem to have an innate ability to annoy the sh*t out of complete strangers. :lol:

            And Frank is Frank.. just pathetic. *shrugs* ;)

          • Flippant

            Lol and look at you showing off your bold text, twirling around like it’s a new dress. Nice! :D

          • dizit

            Yeah, I quite like this new ability! Thanks to you and Maggot I am now abole to perform super powers without leaving the comfort of my keyboard ;)

  • diablo135

    Also, is it just me or is The Usual Suspects a little over rated? I mean, I liked it and all but it’s not the mind blowing movie everyone thinks it is.

    • A bit. It was a good movie, but not quite as “great” as everyone around me seemed to make it out to be.

      • Ernest J. King

        This is ridiculous. Are you God or some other high authority with the power to determine that something isn’t “as great as it’s made out to be”?

        If there’s anything overrated is the word “overrated” itself. Just because you don’t share someone’s enthusiasm for something with other people doesn’t mean that they are wrong in thinking that something merely good is great and you are right in saying that it is merely good and not great.

        So, no, diablo, The Usual Suspects is not overrated. You’re free to not like it as much as others do, but if THEY say that it is mind-blowing, it’s not that they THINK it’s mind-blowing–it’s actually mind-blowing to them, and their opinion is as valid as yours. I think Apocalypse Now is soporific, but that doesn’t mean that the world’s most respected critics are wrong in calling it a masterpiece.

        God, I hate it when people use that word. It’s so selfish and pretentious.

    • Ernest J. King

      And sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude or arrogant. Really, I didn’t. I know it’s not out of malice that the word “overrated” is used. But I do think it’s a bit disrespectful. Sorry if my rant seemed to be a bit excessive.

      • Blinkytheox

        Dude. Usual suspects was totally, 100%, without a doubt, OVERRATED. I got so tired of all those lame-o hipsters droning on and on about how great it was… Uggghhhh

        • Sven

          Yeah, well that’s just like, your opinion, man

      • You shouldn’t apologize. You’re dead on. Too often calling something “overrated” is a way of invalidating any opinion but your own.

  • dizit

    Extremely cool list.

    These are some of the strangest movies I’ve ever seen. Strange doesn’t mean bad, just different, odd, even.

    • JHincks95

      Thanks! And I’ll definitely watch Chinatown before I make a sequel.

  • dizit

    Joe Hincks, you have to see Chinatown!

  • TJ

    The Usual Suspects FTW!!!

  • dan

    italian job ? it is criminals stealing gold and they do suceed

    • OmegaMan

      Actually Edward Norton is the villain in ‘The Italian Job’. And he didn’t win in the end. Yes they were all criminals as it is generally the case if it is a heist movie. But you are confusing yourself because of the wrong interpretation of the meaning of ‘villain’ and ‘criminal’ in a movie or novel. In a movie, if you are a criminal, that does not necessarily make you a villain. :)

      • p1t1o

        Watch the original and forget the one with Ed Norton.

        • OmegaMan

          Thanks, I will try to watch the old one. :)

  • matthew

    good god spoilers should never be accepted for such classic.

  • I shot Ja Ja

    Good list but none are particularly surprising, maybe more obscure films if you ever make a sequel?

    • JHincks95

      I will be sure to, could you suggest some?

      • fendabenda

        Il Grande Silenzio (The Great Silence, 1968). Directed by Sergio Corbucci, starring Klaus Kinski and Jean-Louis Trintignant.

  • Arnaud

    In lots of horror films actually the villains win (often because they have to be there for the sequel).

    Carrie wins for example (but is she really a villain ?)

    In The Omen, the devil wins… of course…

    • selunesmom

      Carrie doesn’t live until the sequel, though. I’d have to put the villains of that story as a combination of the students (of whom the only known survivor of Prom Night is Sue Snell) and Carrie’s parents.

      Other addenda for the list:
      Identity – the director’s cut
      The Watchmen – Veidt wins since nobody will believe Rorshak’s (sp?) journal
      The original version of The Haunting of Hill House

  • james

    I agree

  • Name

    awesome list. questionable winner but i dig the effory. keep good topics coming…

  • Justin V.

    Arlington Road and Primal Fear should be at the top of this list! Get out there and see them!

  • Invisible Apple

    So you haven’t seen Primal Fear…that must be rectified.

    Also, Fight Club & Cuckoo’s Nest, while they kinda belonged here & I liked that they were, they didn’t have a straight-up villain victory.

    • Marianne

      Cuckoos Nest definitely had a villian – the mental institution. They won by taking away, essentially, his personality, his life. Nurse Ratched was sort of the embodiment of the whole villian institution for most of it.

      • Maggot

        Cuckoos Nest definitely had a villian – the mental institution.

        I agree, but I would argue that the villain did NOT win, because Chief took that “victory” away by snuffing the lobotomized McMurphy (effectively releasing him from his captivity) and then escaping himself. Freedom from the tyranny and oppression of the villainous institution was achieved and embodied by those actions, and thus, the villain lost in the end.

      • Invisible Apple

        What I meant, with both, was that the endings weren’t entirely positive or negative, they were both. (which is awesome).

  • Todesbringer

    What about Dr. Strangelove? The doomsday device does go off, the bombs falls from the sky, Jack Ripper wins, right? You could say that the bad guy wins.

  • sketchead07

    what about No Country for Old Men?

    • vanowensbody

      Yes. That evil SOB wins in the end. Though he does get pretty messed up in that car crash. I still get angry when he blows away Woody Harrelson.

      • DiscHuker

        No Country was the first one that popped into my head. Yes, Chigurh gets away in the end but it had to end that way. The whole point of the movie is that the evil in the world is ever encroaching on the good and normal parts of life. This is the Sherrif’s (Tommy Lee Jones was amazing) struggle. He even says as much when he speaks about not understanding the world anymore.

        If Chigurh had been captured, it would have neatly tied together that evil is always punished, which obviously isn’t the case (atleast in this life).

  • Mikerodz

    Here we are again, another movie list!!!

    • Marianne

      Your point…?

  • AussieNik

    No The Empire Strikes Back? No Wrath Of Kahn? This site sucks! Aussie Aussie Aussie, oi oi oi!

    • coocoocuchoo

      good one. get your shit stars of our flag!

  • Dan

    Empire Strikes Back? Revenge of the Sith? Han Solo in carbonite and Luke with no hand? Sounds like the empire won that round.
    And Anakin turning into Vader, Palpatine succeeding in taking over the galaxies, only 2 Jedi (not including expanded universe) survive, Yoda in exile in a swamp? I’d chalk that one up for the empire

  • Ni99a

    Thanks for not putting a spoiler alert at the title. Now everyone knows the ending of those movies.

    This is the day when the author of a list trolled harder than me.

    For those of you who want to play the game HEAVY RAIN:


    • Laura

      Legend has it that if you look at the introduction of a list you’ll find enough info on what is to follow, like the fact that the spoilers are present all over the list.

      • Ni99a

        A better place would be in the title.

        The title says “where the villain wins”. Therefore just the name of the movie alone is already a spoiler itself. The fact that villain don’t always win also make the spoiler worse.

        • Marcus

          If you read the title, why did you read the list?
          You must have known there could be movies you haven’t watched.

          and if you didn’t think about that, why didn’t you stop reading after the intro

      • Laura…reading the introduction! For shame!

    • JHincks

      You hypocritical dipshit, first you complain about thier being no spoiler warning when there is a huge WARNING in the description that anyone who actually reads the lists can see, and then you go and spoil heavy rain. Can’t see the logic there inbred.

  • RustyJames

    And where is Saw? – the ultimate didn’t-see-that-coming villan win!

    • Ni99a

      This site contains wannabe artists who only grace stupid avantgarde, slow pace and meaningless movie. Cheap thrills like SAW are too mainstream for them.

      • mom424

        Hahahaha – I like Armageddon, Die Hard, anything with Bruce. I even have room for the odd Adam Sandler vehicle. Movie snobs? You’re barking up the wrong tree.

  • aziwal

    Why is Fallen not on this list?

  • Will Trame

    Not a bad list. I haven’t seen any of these movies, but now I plan to. Happy Leap Day.

  • Tim

    Buffalo Bill was the villain in “Silence Of the Lambs”. He lost. Hannibal Lecter, although the most memorable performance in the film, was a supporting character.

    • I was about to say the same thing. Lecter’s not really the villain in any of them. He was a supporting character in Red Dragon / Manhunter and Silence of the Lambs. In Hannibal and Hannibal Rising, he was the antihero, but not really the villain.

  • Fernando Lozano

    What about 1984?

    • A much better inclusion than Matchstick Men.

      • Bears

        I haven’t seen matchstick men but certainly nothing is much worse than 1984? Great book though.

      • Call me nutty, but I liked the movie. Then again, I also think Hudson Hawk is an underrated comedy classic, so…

        • selunesmom

          Hudson Hawk is a great movie. Horribly under appreciated, though

  • interesting list, havn’t seen many of the movies listed, but they are ones I keep meaning to watch. I have the book Rosemarys Baby and I want to read that before I see the film.

    Also, love the film Se7en, I wrote a movie review of it when I was 16/17 for class and my teacher wasn’t too impressed.

  • Marlena

    Good list. I’d add A Shock to the System to it.

  • youdontmatter

    Hey…..shut up! It’s getting really old and annoying. We get it. American’s watch American movies. Go to a different site if you don’t like it.

    • fendabenda

      Drop the unnecessary apostrophe. “American’s” is a genitive, “Americans” would be the plural that you’re probably looking for. Yes, Americans watch American movies. Some Americans even watch European or Asian movies. Shock! Horror!! Europeans may even watch American movies!

  • Baldguy

    The end of Cuckoo’s Nest, the film, was a monstrous disservice to the novel. Kesey’s original band of loonies learned courage and defiance from McMurphy, and stood up to Ratched. The movie’s ending was pure sadness.

    • Invisible Apple

      I find it’s best to think of them as two different things that share a base. In this case, the book was brilliant, but the movie, I thought, was pretty good too.

  • vanowensbody

    Good list.

  • Sbtier

    Intersting list. Like someone else said, the ‘motable omissions’ part is cut off on my phone.

    • Flippant

      That “someone else” was Flippant, Sbtier.. *sinister eye twitch*.. Remember the name. ;)

  • oouchan

    Se7en was the first one I thought of when I saw the title of this list. Glad it was included. Also I love Rosemary’s Baby. Excellent film.

    Nice list.

  • ericvg16

    Both There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men should be on the list, or in the honorable mentions. Both Plainview and Chigurh walk away.

    • sega

      Daniel Plainview wasn’t the evil character, Eli was..
      There Will Be Blood is a masterpiece!

  • mitch

    Missing some obvious ones (that haven’t already been posted)
    The Empire Strikes Back
    John Carpenter’s The Thing (maybe…)

  • Jakeryder

    Brazil is completely misplaced here. It ends with the protagonist escaping into his dream world where here wanted to be in the first place. The goal was to control his mind which the Orwellean establishment failed at. You could replace it with the obscure Kirk Douglas movie “The Villain” or “the Player.”

    • I’m not feeling you on Brazil. I haven’t seen it in years but I remember the ending feeling more like a loss. Buuuut…I haven’t seen it in years.

  • Jojo

    Reservoir Dogs.

    • mom424

      One guy getting away while everybody else is dead, bloodily so even, does not constitute a win in my books.

      • Cody

        Nobody got away in Reservoir. Watch the last scene again with the sound turned way up.

        • mom424

          I heard the shot – I do believe it’s intentionally ambiguous. Mr. Pink may or may not have gotten away.

          • Maggot

            Meh, he’s not really the “villain” in the movie anyway. There really isn’t one, except maybe Mr. Blonde.

          • Oscar

            AT LAST!!! the park has started, dgegir is on site breaking hard ground. 16 weeks from now we should be ready to open. So beginning of APRIL2011 you can skate it.EDIT: at the time of digging April 2011 was the target for opening. More like end of May 2011 now.

  • Notanignoramus

    How about “Fallen” with Denzel Washington.

  • mom424

    Not too shabby – no real surprises, although as others have mentioned, Silence of the Lambs doesn’t really fit. The main villain does get caught. Haven’t seen Wicker Man, either incarnation, and don’t plan to either. Hate investing all that time, 2+ hours, to have the good guy die. I remember when my kids watched it – they were actually offended by it; stupid was the adjective, I do believe. Took me 3 years to even bother with Titanic – for the same reason.

  • diablo135

    I’m so tired of the ‘Too (fill in the blank, typically with a country)” complaints. How immature and worthless is that? It’s akin to yelling “FIRST” on a blog when you post.

    I can’t even put into words how stupid of a complaint that is. It’s a list about some movie villans. Who gives a sh*t what country the movies came from?

    • p1t1o

      Too complainy.

      lol jk ;) I agree with you.

    • fendabenda

      Too Ukrainian.

      • Invisible Apple

        To Vulcan/Martian/Quantum Particalish/Micro-organismic.
        Take your pic.
        that was fun

  • Cardinal-Richelieu

    Nice idea for a list. Although some I would argue the “villains” aren’t really true villains, more victims of circumstance (e.g. Leonard Shelby in Memento or Keyser Soze in Usual Suspects)…

    A few films where the villain is an out-and-out villain…

    The Vanishing (the original Dutch version – possibly the scariest end to a film ever)

    1984 (based on the book of course)

    Arlington Road (the film that first sprang to mind when I saw this topic)

    • D

      Good call on The Vanishing.

    • I agree, good call on The Vanishing, but I don’t get how Keyser Soze is not the bad guy in your mind.

  • Peter Suciu

    What about some war movies:

    The Zulus win in Zulu Dawn

    The Mexicans win in all the versions of The Alamo

    The Nazis win in Valkyrie

    The Germans sort of win in A Bridge Too Far

    • Maggot

      Without getting into who really are the “villains” in those examples (sure, Nazis are a no-brainer), it seems like films about, or based on, historic events such as wars, aren’t really in keeping with the intended idea of this list. While not explicitly stated, the list is examining a particular plot device, which infers that it’s limited to fictional storytelling. Recorded history on the other hand, doesn’t have “plot devices” creatively inserted with the intent to manipulate or surprise an unsuspecting viewer. It just is what it is.

  • Elmanana

    The Dark Knight. Evil certainly wins there.

  • segues

    Some pretty creepy movies on this list. Good creepy, that is :) .

  • DoTheFutterwhacken

    I like movies where the villan wins, it’s refreshing to see because almost every single movie i see the good wins. Another is The Haunting of Molly Hartley

  • Cracker

    The book fight club actually doesn’t and with the bombs going off because the mix he uses for the explosives never works for him. It ends with Tyler Durden in a mental hospital. The movie ending was a good twist though for those who had read the book first.

  • OddJobb
  • ShakaZulu

    How about Arlington Road?

  • Art Vandelay

    Nice list, there are any number of movies you could include on this list, but one that sticks out in my head would be Arlington Road

    • Art Vandelay

      …and I just realized the person above me put that too. Oops

  • Metalwrath

    Good list although I wouldn’t call the main character in Memento the “villain”, although surely his actions are condemnable. Primal Fear, from the notable omissions, should have replaced it.

    Also, “death” in Final Destination is a villain who wins. There are actually many horror films in which the bad guy pops out right at the end. Isn’t that the case in Nightmare on Elm Street? Also Saw. But sure, those top films, but they could have been mentioned in the notable omissions.

  • Vangelis

    Fight Club? I think that “good” guys won big time! Think about it…

  • John Doe

    Law Abiding Citizen?

  • Mathieu Leveille

    What… No Rocky ????

    • segues

      Oh, merci! J’ai toujours aimé Nutella jusqu’à ce que je regardé votre vidéo.

      • Flippant

        Lol Segues, something about smearing yourself with Nutella the last time you watched that video? :D

        • segues

          hahahaha! Not even close :)

  • Christian

    What, no Wild Things?

  • Chandler


    • segues

      There’s no need to shout, it’s already been suggested 5 times.

      The number of people who don’t read the comments before posting has become ridiculous!

  • Bear

    What about the empire strikes back?

  • tealc

    if you think about it, most movies have negative endings in that the situation at the start of the film is usually more pleasant than the end…. most action / thrillers are where the movie starts off peaceful & happy, then all hell breaks loose. after X number of people are killed, the villan is also killed and the movie ends, but in real terms, you’re left with a situation where many people have been killed at the expense of 1 villan, who is also killed at the end of the movie. sigh :(

  • D


    end shot
    wouldn’t hurt a fly
    crazy skull smile
    eyes at you
    they can’t get to norman
    norman wins

  • Notmybacon

    No country for old men..????

  • Listfreak

    What about The Empire Strikes Back?

    • I thought about that one. But does the Empire actually win?

  • Dray

    How is A Clockwork Orange not on this list? At the end of the movie, people end up sympathizing with DeLarge and reverse his conditioning so he can go back to being as evil as he was before.

  • pooglyboots

    One of my favorites is “No Country for Old Men.” I love when the bad guy wins, always makes for a killer ending.

  • Brian

    what about OldBoy

  • Vinson


  • mitzi

    what about the skeleton key? i thought that was a good movie :)

  • Hilah

    wolf creek is horrible. it’s the only movie I’ve walked out of.

    • I love horror movies and I didn’t walk out of Wolf Creek but I reeeaaally didn’t like it. It just seemed sadistic and pointless. I didn’t walk out of it, but I should have.

  • egon

    The Ususal suspects: the most overrated movie ever (besides The 6th Sense).

  • Trent

    Actually in Matchstick Men Nicholas Cage wins because by being conned he’s forced to give up conning and get a normal job, and by doing that his OCD goes away and he finds a nice ladyfriend. So it’s a win win.

  • Handrejka

    If you’re looking for European films, Veronika Voss is good one, although none of the characters are particularly likeable, its the most evil ones who triumph and get away, quite literarly, with murder

  • chris

    usual suspects was FRIGGIN AWESOME.

  • Takenbytaco

    No A Clockwork Orange… Im disappointed

  • copperdragon

    Was expecting Empire Strikes Back to be here. Even though its a sequel and part of a trilogy, it is the ONE Star Wars film that truly stands on its own AND the villians win!!

  • Cam

    What about Cool Hand Luke?

  • CCFM

    What about the Saw series? The bad guy wins in all of those!

  • jigsaw

    SAW , the first is great, not the other 5 movies just the first. It´s a great list

  • John

    What movie is on the “cover” of this list?

  • boingboing

    Red Indian? You British/Australian/Kiwi/Scottish/Irish/Welsh list writers are incredibly racially insensitive. Oh and this website is just like, but worse in every conceivable way.

  • Mudassir

    Great list, I love Matchstick Men, Se7en, Usual Suspects, Memento and FIGHT CLUB.. .!!

  • George

    What about A Clockwork Orange?

  • jon

    arlington road

  • Anna

    DANCER IN THE DARK!! Everyone should see this film just for the most unfair, depressing ending to a movie ever… Also because Björk is adorable:)

  • carimbo

    mmm youre missing, inside men, pretty much the entire saw series & shattered

    • Maybe he’s not missing them. Maybe he didn’t think they were as good.

  • carimbo

    also Fracture with anthony hopkins

  • Canadianguy

    The Usual Suspects was a bit of a disappointment. Great movie, but I hoped I hadn’t solved in the first couple of minutes while watching it (there were enough red herrings to make me doubt my initial conclusion). But, in the end, it turns out that I was correct. If you pay close attention during the first few minutes of the movie, you’ll see that Keyser Soze switches his handgun from one hand to another before shooting someone. To me, it was clear that Keyser wanted to to throw off the crime scene investigators, to give them the impression that this was his dominant hand…And which suspect is unable to use that hand? Verbal.

  • Lifeschool

    Rather poor list I thought.

  • Bo

    invasion of the body snatchers

  • Lifeschool

    A few others:

    Smokey and the Bandit

    The Gauntlet

    Thunderbolt and Lightfoot

    The Great Train Robbery


    Gone in 60 seconds

    Any texas chainsaw/halloween/jason/freddie movie

    Anything where the cowboys win over the indians

    Gran Turino / Unforgiven



    Any pink panther movie

    Mutiny on the Bounty

    Apocalipse Now

  • Jose G.

    another special mention could be Jacob’s ladder

  • What is it about the bad guy winning that makes for such a great movie? Or are there lots of bad-guy-winning movies that suck that I don’t know about? Or can’t remember?

  • May I suggest that you watch “The Grifters” if you haven’t already?

    Anjelica Huston and John Cusack as mother and son con artists.

    One of the bleakest movies you will ever watch, and an ending you will NEVER see coming…

  • Mindy McIndy

    No Country for Old Men.

  • Juri Han

    Depends who you were rooting for in The Wicker Man… XD

    Personally, I was on the side of the creepy villagers.

  • Madeline McCann

    Remeber when you raped me Joe? Do you remember? You told me to suck your canoe, but I’ve nver seen a canoe like that before.

  • Dominic Kelly

    I was the girl you raped, just to confirm it was anal

  • Dommy Kelly-Poo

    I was the girl to rape, just to confirm it was anal, I bled for months.

  • Dan

    No Country for Old Men

    How could this not be there? Even a Car wreck doesn’t kill evil, it marches on, while the good men need to be replaced as they age out of the fight.

  • Sam Lawry

    Fight Club? Srsly? It’s if the bombs didn’t go of that you should have included it.

  • Josh

    a decent list but you forgot “No Country for Old Men”. It definitly deserves to be on there

  • JB

    Arlington Road (1999) Terrorists win

  • Audrey

    Sophie Scholl: The Final Days is another good one.

  • When you do an Addendum, don’t forget “Chinatown”.

  • Ehh – The Empire Strikes Back.
    May have been mentioned previously but I can’t be arsed reading all 200 comments.

  • Sheena Rogers

    How about “The Secret Window” the one with Johnny Depp in it. He “wins” in the end.

  • Mocapaump


  • mooneycle


  • Erik

    Ooops, haven’t seen darkest of darkest of ‘neo’ film noir pics Chinatown? Please rent it asap and reconsider your #1 by replacing it by this stylish classic and incredibly well-structured milestone with much imitated score by Jerry Goldsmith … Thanks anyhow for your witty list, grtz. Erik

  • Jordan

    Beautiful list, sir. I’m not an American, but I’m not going to sit here and bitch about how no European movies didn’t make the list. There’s just one notable mention I would suggest: No Country for Old Men.

  • AlphaRookie

    o.O no “Funny Games”?

    • Nick

      I agree with that

  • JR

    How about Saw. Jigsaw always wins in the end.. even after his death

  • Nick

    How about Edward Norton in Primal Fear? One of the best bad guy wins movies ever!

  • adrenaline2011

    how bout dead silence..the ending is not really happy..They all got turned into puppets….

  • Calvin R.

    Check out Storm Of The Century (1999) Stephen King.

  • I just don’t get why people love “The Usual Suspects” so much. Saw that ending coming about halfway in.

  • POW

    Great list, but it’s a shame that Funny Games didn’t make it.

  • Lucas

    What about No Country for Old Men?