Ten Movies Where the Bad Guys Win


Does anyone else get sick of generic Hollywood endings?  You know, where the good guy, against all odds, defeats the bad guy and gets the pretty girl?  Real life doesn’t usually work like that, so I’ve always enjoyed movies where the bad guy wins in the end.  I’m also quite the misanthrope, so your taste may differ.  Keep in mind, though, that “protagonist” doesn’t always equate to “good guy,” and likewise for “antagonist” and “bad guy.”  After the jump, take a look ten movies where it’s the bad guy who comes out on top when it’s all said and done (major spoilers)

The Usual Suspects


The bad guy: The infamous Keyser Soze is one of the baddest men on the planet, and the mere mention of his name strikes fear into the hearts of men, especially those in the criminal world.

How he wins: By pretending to be a dim, crippled man named Verbal Kint, Soze is able to simply walk out of the police station despite the fact that he’s murdered many people, including children.  As Verbal tells Special Agent Kujan, “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn’t exist.”

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest


The bad guy: Well, it’s a bad girl in this case – Nurse Ratched, who runs a mental institution and rules over her patients with an iron fist.  Even though the patients clearly have mental problems, Nurse Ratched treats them all like crap, never once showing an ounce of sympathy.

How she wins: McMurphy made significant progress in galvanizing the patients to stand up to Nurse Ratched, but it just wasn’t enough.  Sure, Chief Bromdem escapes, but not before McMurphy is labotomized and Ratched presumably regains control over the institution.



The bad guy: Leonard Shelby, the film’s likeable protagonist who suffers from a condition that renders him unable to form new memories.  So why’s he bad?  He uses his condition to his advantage, creating a “game” for himself in which he can feel the satisfaction of destroying the man he believes is responsible for his wife’s murder.

How he wins: He “frames” his friend Teddy, knowing full well that Teddy was not responsible for his wife’s death.  Leonard knows he will soon forget that he framed Teddy, and the demented cycle of murderous revenge takes its toll on an innocent man.



The bad guy: Notorious serial killer Hannibal Lecter, hiding out ten years after the events in Silence of the Lambs.

How he wins: After cooking parts of Paul Krendler’s brain and feeding it to him, Hannibal is momentarily captured by Agent Starling, forced to chop off his own hand in order to escape before reinforcements arrive.  Yeah, he lost a hand, but when you cook a a dude’s brain, feed it to him, get away from the feds and then feed more brain to a little kid on an airplane, you SO win.

Rosemary’s Baby


The bad guy: While Rosemary’s neighbor Roman Castevet (a.k.a. Steven Marcato) is a manipulative Satan worshipper, the real bad guy is Satan himself.

How he wins: Rosemary gives birth to her child and is coaxed out of killing it, meaning that the spawn of Satan has entered our world.

Arlington Road


The bad guys: In this case, it’s the suburban couple Oliver and Cheryl Lang.  Their neighbor, Michael Faraday, believes that the Langs are maniacal terrorists.

How they win: Well, the Langs are terrorists, and after planting a bomb in the trunk of Faraday’s care that kills almost 200 people, they get away, having framed Faraday for the explosion.



The bad guy: Serial killer “John Doe,” a man who claims to be murdering people to carry out the will of a higher power.

How he wins: After murdering people in such ways as to symbolize the sins of gluttony, pride, lust, greed, and sloth, Doe brilliantly sets up Detective David Mills to complete his project.  Guilty of envy, Doe decapitates Mills’ wife and has a package containing her head delivered to a remote location where only Doe, Mills, and Detective Somerset are found.  Mills learns what Doe has done and realizes that if he kills Doe, he will have carried out the sin of wrath, completing Doe’s endeavor.  Mills shoots Doe, which is exactly what Doe wanted.  I get the chills just thinking about it.

Primal Fear


The bad guy: Aaron Stampler, a stuttering, shy boy accused of murdering an archbishop.  Aaron apparently suffers from multiple personality disorder and, when agitated, transforms to the violent, aggressive Roy.

How he wins: Aaron transforms into Roy in the courtroom, leading the judge to dismiss the jury and order Aaron into a mental hospital, from where he will be released shortly.  Aaron’s attorney, Martin Vail, is smart enough to realize that Aaron had been faking his disorder the entire time and used it as a ploy to appear insane.  Vail remarks, “So there never was a Roy,” to which Aaron replies, “There never was an Aaron, counselor,” revealing the fact that Aaron/Roy is always violent and aggressive.



The bad guy: Jigsaw, a deranged killer who puts people in situations where they must make life-or-death decisions.  Only the “life” part of those decisions usually results in the loss of a body part or some type of disfigurement.

How he wins: Pretending to be a corpse, Jigsaw (who is actually a terminally ill brain cancer patient) uses Zep as a pawn and only reveals himself after his plan had been carried out.  I included Saw in this article because it’s a pretty blatant example of a bad guy winning, but the ending to this movie left me feeling kind of meh.  It doesn’t suck, but it also doesn’t compare very favorably to movies like Se7en and The Usual Suspects and…

The Empire Strikes Back


The bad guys: Emperor Palpatine, Darth Vader, and the rest of the Galactic Empire.

How they win: Yeah, I know that in the end of the trilogy the good guys come out on top, but at the end of The Empire Strikes Back, Luke gets his hand cut off by Vader, and Han Solo – frozen in carbonite – is being transported to Jabba the Hutt by bounty hunter Boba Fett.  The Empire simply owns the Rebel Alliance throughout this one, clearly pissed off after their Death Star was destroyed.

Any other movies where the bad guys win?  Hit me up and let me know.

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  1. As much as I like the Empire, I’d still have to take Empire off the list because it was deliberately written as the middle section of a trilogy and can’t really count as having the ‘bad guys’ get away with it.

    I would put the Inside Man from Spike Lee on the list. The bank robbers may be good-hearted…but they are the thieves throughout the movie and do get away with their crime. Just because the person they stole from is also a thief, doesn’t mean they didn’t beat the cops, etc. (You could argue Ocean’s Eleven also).

    Also, that Nicolas Cage movie where his partner scams him into believing he has a daughter and steals his money.

  2. Match Point is a movie where the bad guy wins…it follows a poor social climber who uses his job teaching tennis at a country club to befriend a wealthy client. Upon meeting his wealthy sister, he woos her…well they end up married, but he falls for his client’s fiance. He begins an affair with her and she stops seeing his client because she is in love with him. Well she gets increasingly upset he wont leave his wife to be with her, he avoids her, she says she will tell the wife everything and she is also pregnant. Well he goes into her building, breaks into the older ladies apartment across the hallway, shoots her…makes it look like she is robbed…then he waits. The girl comes up and starts to open her door, he opens the old ladies door, says her named, and blows her away with a shotgun. Well he took the jewelry he stole from the lady and threw it in the river…but it didn’t go over the railing and landed in the park. You think he’d get caught now right? One cop does…until the ring turns up in the park. Now they think drug addicts who frequent the park broke in and stole the jewelry and killed the witnesses. He goes back to his wife and child.


  3. Another one to add…

    Unforgiven where we believe initially that William ‘Bill’ Munny (Clint Eastwood) is out to revenge a wrong, but in the end you just have a really bad individual just kill many people. Eventually he scared everyone in town including the women that hired him.

  4. Hmm Fallen with denzel washington it’s an awesome movie about a fallen murderous angel, the best part is that from the beginning they tell you that the bad guy wins but by the end it still comes as a surprise. Pretty cool.

  5. How about Swordfish, Wolverine knows John Travolta is still alive, but the authorities dont and him and Halle Berry get all the money and sail off into the sunset.

  6. How about The Talented Mr. Ripley? He not only gets away with a few murders, but he gets PAID by the father of one of the victims. And the one person that suspects he did it, is brushed off and considered crazy & distraught just because she is a woman.

  7. I disagree with ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ The empire is the only strong form of government throughout the series. They employ thousands upon thousands of industry workers on countless worlds. They are in no way the bad guys of the series. Your so called ‘Good guys’ openly admit to being rebels. They attack and kill all Imperial peace keepers, just imagine how many union workers were killed when they destroyed the Death Star not to mention the myriad support staff required to keep Star Destroyers running. Also these events take place long after the founding of the Clone Army, so lots of Storm Troopers are not even clones, there are individual Humans who volunteered to fight for their Empire in many of those suits.

    Long Live the Empire!

  8. Jurassic Park!
    They all get eaten; only a few escape on a chopper, clearly having been owned by the dino’s, who go on to live happily on the island.

  9. What about The Player??? Tim Robbins murders a writer, takes the writer’s story and his girlfriend Greta Scacchi, and ends up making millions from the movie and marrying and having kids with her while living in a lovely home with a white picket fence and roses everywhere? Meanwhile, he ditches the loyal girlfriend who protected him and gets her fired, and convinces the blackmailer who knows about his crime to be bought off by making a movie with the same plot?

  10. I’ve got a couple additions:

    Clockwork Orange-While Alex is the main character in the story, there’s no disputing that he is one bad motherfucker. After the doctors reverse his brainwashing, it becomes frighteningly obvious that he’d be returning to his life of violence, rape, and terror.

    American History X-The bad guy isn’t necessarily a “guy,” per say, more the idea of bigotry and racism. Danny had finally been convinced by his brother to leave the Aryans and turn over a new leaf, and what does he get for his troubles? A bullet in his chest from a black kid who hated Danny for no reason other than the color of his skin. The cycle of hate continues, and ultimately the bad guys win.

    Carlito’s Way- Just when we think Carlito’s going to get away with his bride and lead a normal and honest life, Bennie Blanco from the Bronx takes him out not 3 steps from the train doors.

  11. What about The Player??? Tim Robbins murders a writer, takes the writer’s girlfriend Greta Scacchi, sets up a competitor to fail with a bad movie, and ends up making millions by “saving” the movie at the last minute, getting a giant promotion, and marrying and having kids with Greta while living in a lovely home with a white picket fence and roses everywhere? Meanwhile, he ditches the loyal girlfriend who protected him and gets her fired, and convinces the blackmailer who knows about his crime to be bought off by making a movie with the plot of his actions?

  12. Whoever submitted :
    “I disagree with ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ The empire is the only strong form of government throughout the series. They employ thousands upon thousands of industry workers on countless worlds. They are in no way the bad guys of the series. Your so called ‘Good guys’ openly admit to being rebels. They attack and kill all Imperial peace keepers, just imagine how many union workers were killed when they destroyed the Death Star not to mention the myriad support staff required to keep Star Destroyers running. Also these events take place long after the founding of the Clone Army, so lots of Storm Troopers are not even clones, there are individual Humans who volunteered to fight for their Empire in many of those suits.

    Long Live the Empire!”

    Clearly watched Clerks one too many times. I bet his uncle is also a private contractor too!

  13. What?!? No, Chinatown. It should be number one on the list.

    Memento doesn’t really belong on the list. Leonard made a decision to stop being a pawn for Teddy.

  14. Ah, but Caedus, the Empire is headed by evil Palpatine, who ordered the slaughter of the Jedi, as well as Darth Vader, who largely assisted in this slaughter, including the murder of children. Also, if you have played Star Wars Battlefront II, it explains that the Storm Troopers are clones, just not all made from Jango Fett.

  15. How about would-have-been amazing movies had they not been spoiled by the good guys winning? I’m talking about films like Training Day, 3:10 to Yuma (kind of) and most blatently Traffic, a brilliantly shot and directed film which would have said about a million times more about the war drugs had every one of the multiple story lines not ended with the “goodies” winning -destroying any message it may have carried up until the last 10 minutes. You can just imagine the execs saying “Great picture…we’ve just got a few suggestions before we sign off the cut”

  16. For all of you mentioning Swordfish, it doesn’t really work depending on how you look at it.

    From a certain point of view, Travolta’s character could be seen as a good guy. He states that his actions are a means to an end, which is to protect America’s freedoms. Given the choice between killing one person to save 99, or letting all 100 die, which would you choose? For the sake of argument let’s add that if you refuse to make the choice, you and the remaining 100 people are killed anyway.

    Granted he takes the concept to its radical extreme. He’s killing the same Americans whose rights he is claiming to protect. And he manages to make a pretty penny on the side.

    Just wanted to offer that up. Most movies on this list clearly draw the line between “good guy” and “bad guy”. But I think in the case of Swordfish the line is bit more blurred if you’re willing to entertain the reasoning of Travolta’s character.

  17. I can think of few:
    ” Identity” where the boy in the end is still the murderer .. nice:)
    “Fight Club” Tyler Durden kicks ass !
    Oh yeah “Twin peaks” massive shit !
    PEACE ;]

  18. @Caedus: “they are individual humans who volunteered to fight for their empire.”

    volunteered? empire? i appreciate your skillful deconstruction of the truth in star wars, but empires don’t have many volunteers.

    great list.

  19. Unfaithful -Richard Gere kills his wife’s lover and gets away with it.

    Presumed Innocent – Opposite of above, Harrison Ford’s wife kills her husband lover and gets away with it.

  20. Don’t forget Carlito’s Way….

    great movie where the good guy just can’t beat the world he’s stuck in, he is an ex-hitman who gets out of prison determined to reform and save enough money to work a car dealership in florida, but gets caught up in bad things

  21. Probably the best illustration of your article: The Vanishing. In the original European version, the killer wins. In the American remake, the protagonist triumphs.

    One of them is an excellent movie. One is complete crap. I can imagine you can guess which one is which.

  22. Man, I can’t believe you forgot the ultimate “bad guy wins” movie, Chinatown, a movie whose thoroughly bleak ending is made all the more deflating by it’s sudden departure from the conventions of both the detective genre, and from the production-code-era Noirs it revises.

  23. @ Jame Gum

    You’re right – Chinatown is incredible. I’m especially frustrated because I watched it pretty recently. Your analysis is spot on.

    Thanks for reading.

  24. “Eisenheim, I don’t want to arrest you. I’m a cynical man, God knows… but if your manifestations are somehow real… then even I’m willing to admit, you’re a very special person. And if it’s a trick, then it’s equally impressive. Either way, you have a gift. So don’t make me put you in jail!” Edward Norton is a mysteriously commanding magician who crafts a series of illusions to expose the murderer of the woman he loves, a malevolent Prince who killed her rather than set her free. You root for the Magician, whose suffering and intensity are painfully real as he works step-by-step to strip away all the Prince’s imperious psyche, bringing the law to his door with evidence of his guilt. Terrified and knowing he will find no sympathy among his subjects, he breaks down and commits suicide. Except that he didn’t kill his fiancee. Nobody did. She conspired with the Magician to destroy the Prince to expose his heartlessness Which they do. They frame him for a murder that never happened an “illusion” leading to his death. Okay, he was not a nice guy but he was innocent of the crime. The good guys turn out to be the bad guys responsible for a real murder.

  25. I think you should re-visit One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. McMurphy’s actions completely strip Ratched of her power. Many of the men previously under her domination simply leave the hospital. Only Bromden remains and where he was once completely emasculated to the point he couldn’t speak, he now realizes he is actually almost super-human and throws a sink through the window to escape.
    So the bad guy did not win at all- she lost her power and the men she once controlled.

  26. You got the plot to Memento wrong. I think the bad guys are Natalie and Teddy. They manipulate Leonard. Leonard figures out that Teddy is not the man he is looking for but because he knows what Teddy is doing with him he chooses to believe that Teddy is the person he’s looking for.

  27. @ Jacob

    There’s a lot of bad or shady guys in Memento, but what Leonard does at the end (or beginning) is a conscious act and he KNOWS that he will end up killing someone solely to feel good about avenging his wife. That’s a bad thing to do, and that’s a bad guy. There’s really no way around it.

    Teddy wasn’t a saint, but he didn’t deserve to be hunted and killed, either, which is exactly what Leonard did.

  28. 28 days/weeks later are both good examples of the good guys getting humped. christ by the end of the second one the zombies were taking over europe

  29. thank you Madison, for clearing up the memento thing. those that thought that you were not right about what you wrote aggrivated me until i got down to this last reply from you.

  30. As to your first question in the article…Uh, no, I don’t get sick of seeing the generic Hollywood endings. I don’t mind an alternative occasionally, but after I’ve finished watching a movie where the bad guy wins, I usually end up feeling like crap. I was so pissed off at the end of Empire that I coulda spit nails!

  31. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Kaufman) would be a great one to tack on to this list. I have never felt so shocked and hopeless at the end of a movie.

  32. What if the bad guys lose and but the good guy doesnt win a la Casablanca….that isnt the typical hollywood ending.

    Chinatown should be in there as well…

    Requiem for a Dream…nobody wins in that movie; its all effed up.

    I am sure there are some more if I thought about it long enough…but it is a good list Kudos for Arlington Road.

  33. I know of one but due to being a foreign film Im not sure it can be added to the list.

    OLDBOY (Korean film) a tale of revenge that takes it to a WHOLE new level of plain downright deranged planning of exacting the circle of hatred with evil wrapped around it.

  34. While it’s a pretty shitty movie, Jeepers Creepers is a solid example of the bad guy winning.

    Heck you could argue a case for the original Night of the Living Dead.

    Same goes for X-Men 3. The horrible folks that made that POS clearly won, while anyone that saw it lost horribly.

  35. Lord of War is a classic example.. bad guy steals guns from soviet union sells to African children gets caught by the feds and then released so he can cut a deal with them. Did you know it was cheaper for them to buy real AK-47’s in Africa then to get props for that movie?? Yea… crazy.

  36. I’d throw fight club into the mix. Yeah, sure, Tyler Durden is “killed” at the end of the movie, but the bad guys, Project Mayhem, still get exactly what they wanted. The end of the movie is of all of the credit card buildings but one blowing up. I’d still call 9/10 a win.


  38. Memento does not belong on this list. The write up shows that the reviewer needs to watch this movie again. The story summary is quite glaringly wrong.

    Leonard did not revenge his wife’s killer as he believed (in fact Leonard may have been his wife’s killer, but they leave that cleverly undefined), the summary has that part right. However, Leonard did kill somebody that had been grossly taking advantage of him and using him as a serial hit man. Leonard did in fact kill the bad guy at the end of the film.

  39. you forgot Bandits and what about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid for that matter. it seems that you forgot a while genre of movies about people getting away with stealing…..

  40. @ nick

    I actually thought about including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but it didn’t really work. They were not good guys, but they weren’t horrible, either. They stole and tried to avoid killing people. At the end, they get killed, but they weren’t the good guys (as likeable as they were) and I don’t think any “bad” guys won in the end. There’s too much grey. GREAT flick, though.

    @ Francis

    Lighten up.

  41. Also, I love when people comment “you forgot…” No, most of the time, I didn’t. It either wasn’t a better example of a film in which the bad guys win than the ones I included on this list, or you’re really stretching the definition of “bad guy.” Apollo Creed was a “bad guy?” Really? Just seemed like a professional boxer to me.

  42. Mr. Frost, with Jeff Goldblum as a serial killer who claims he is Satan. He has a battle of wills with his therapist where his goal is to get her to believe he is not sick, but evil, Satan himself, and kill him because of it, thus proving that passion and mystery and fear win out over logic and science.

    Very, very good movie and highly underrated.

  43. “Irréversible”

    A pretty crazy french film i saw a while ago. Dont remember the details 100% but its played out from back to front like Memento. Starts with a man walking into a nightclub and destroying a mans head with a fire extinguisher (one of the most violent scenes ive ever seen in a movie). The movie then goes back scene by scene showing why he did what he did. In the end he got the wrong guy.

  44. Almost every villain listed here is a bad “guy” which is understandable. Let’s try some bad “girls” who win in the end!

    The Last Seduction has been already been mentioned, Linda Florentino character is as bad ass as they come male or female!

    The REMAKE of “Postman Always Rings Twice” the femme fatale played by Kathleen Turner wins in the end.

    I don’t remember, in “Romeo is Bleeding” does Lena Olin’s character get away in the end?

    So how bout some more villainesses?

  45. I agree with Empire (I was hoping it would be on there). At the same time, as far as SW movies go, it almost seems as though Revenge of the Sith had a more bleak, evil-encompassing-all ending. Or maybe it just seemed that way because it wasn’t quite as good…

  46. I know it’s not people’s favorite but what about Terminator 3. The end of the movie is basically the machines taking over and wiping out much of the human population. Sure, John was safe but I think that “prevent judgment day” mission was an epic fail.

  47. Author totally missed the point of Momento. Shelby doesn’t frame Teddy for fun, Teddy has been using him as an assassin by repeatedly framing people he want’s killed. Teddy _originally_ helped Shelby kill the real bad guy, but when Shelby consequently forgot, as he must, Teddy didn’t take him to get his “I did it” tattoo, he started pointing him at different guys.

    So when Teddy comes clean and taunts him with the fact that hes gonna make him kill someone else _again_, Shelby knows he will not be able to remember and prevent the injustice.

    So Shelby turns the one weapon he knows he has, his own self, on Teddy, who is nowhere near innocent of anything.

    Presumably, now that Shelby has his tattoo that identifies Teddies car, he will repeatedly discover Teddy is dead and will get his “I Did It” tattoo on his chest to shut himself off. I think there may even have been an I Did It note at the beginning of the movie (its been a while).

    So Momento needs to come off the list.

    Sorry dude…

  48. The Descent, at least the English version before the washy alternate ending to allow for the sequel was stitched onto the American release of the flick. The English version is far superior and in it the bad guys would certainly seem to win.

  49. @bob- Wild Things was about an emotionally abused girl taking it out on a few suckers. Good, especially for the pool scene but i’m not sure it fits the mold.

    @Maddison- Nice list, great responses to jackasses.

  50. I know its cheesy because it tops the perenial lists of greatest movies of all time but what about King Ralph, John Goodman (Ralph) makes a mockery of the aristocracy of the greatest nation on earth, refuses to adopt the honours of his new office and yet still ends up with the girl, country estate and the dukettes! But maybe I’m a sucker, falling for the subtle subversity of a director and leading man at the top of their game.

  51. I wonder if you or your readers have ever heard of ‘The Abominable Dr Phibes’, or the sequel, ‘Dr Phibes Rises Again’. Perhaps they didn’t make your list because they were as much camp as horror. Vincent Price kills a slew of good guys and still sails off into the dark in the end.

  52. -House of 1000 corpses

    Very disturbing movie, directed by Rob Zombie

    A family of cereal killers tortures and kills a bunch of kids, cops, chearleeders, etc. and they all live and get away with it.

    Infact I believe “Devils Rejects”(the sequal to this mvoie) is the only sequal to contain only bad guys from the 1st movie…

  53. I got to put a vote in for chinatown and irreversible (if you haven’t seen it and your not sick, don’t)

    Also, you probably didn’t include these since they technically don’t fit but: Requiem for a Dream, the Descent and House of Sand and Fog, Revolutionary Road = nobody wins.

  54. “Crimes and Misdemeanors” definitely belongs on the list. So does “Match Point,” because it was essentially the same movie, only set in England. Woody stealing from himself – priceless.

    P.S. – Martin Landau is a great actor, but if you ever meet him, you’ll find he’s also a cranky old fart.

  55. Gotta agree with Robert White’s post. Leonard sets himself up to kill Teddy because he wants to put an end to the endless cycle of vengeance. How does that make him the bad guy?

  56. Infernal Affairs (the movie The Departed is a remake of.)

    The original ending has the bad guy winning (although it could be argued that he’s turning into a good guy.) A new ending was made for the film’s release in China, since “good guys must win.” And the American version also has a “good guys win” ending.

  57. In the movie Fallen, the protagonist of the story, Denzel Washington’s character commits suicide thinking that the demon, Azazel, who is inside him will die together with him but it turns out there was a cat nearby where Azazel was able to escape to. Leaving Denzel dead while Azazel continues to exist.

  58. Burnt Offerings – The whole family dies (including the kid!) except for mom, who becomes the crazy old lady upstairs.

    The Four Musketeers – Yes, the Cardinal didn’t exactly win, but he’s still a powerful asshole at the end (minus an eyepatched henchman), so it’s a bit of a draw.

    The Mangler – You think the good guys won…until the evil laundry folding machine is right back where it started and now another girl is possessed by it. Yeah, dumb movie, but dumb in a fun way.

    Nightmare on Elm St – Several of them had endings where Freddy basically comes back at the very end. He never really dies anyway.

    Slaughterhouse – Yeah, another dumb one, but Buddy does pop out of the back seat in the final shot to kill the last teenager.

  59. David Lynch’s “Lost Highway”

    Watch it, you’ll totally get completely and utterly mind-fucked, and when you realize the creepy old bald bastard is Robert Blake….you’ll REALLY understand why I say the bad guy won in this one.

    Do yourself a HUGE favor……lots of drugs before watching.

  60. How could you forget the Mist. Sure in the book everything isn’t as bad, but in the movie, the main characters wife gets killed my the monsters, and then he has to shoot the other survivors that were with him because they all thought they were doomed. The survivors included his own son! And after all that he didn’t have enough bullets to kill himself, and when he tried to get a monster to kill him, it turned out the army had defeated them and he had to suffer the pain for the rest of his life. The most deppressing but un-generic movie ending ever. period.

  61. “Night Watch”, a Russian fantasy film about wizards, witches and vampires.

    In the story, there are two camps of superhumans called “Others”, belonging to the Light or the Dark. They have been at odds for centuries while trying to maintain a fragile truce, to keep a balance, while still waging war in their own subtle ways.

    Throughout the ages, normal humans have discovered their “Other” powers, and at that point, they have to choose whether they’ll follow the Light or the Dark.

    The Light believes in protecting humanity, while the Dark only sets after their own interests.

    An old legend amongst the Others proclaims that a Great Other will appear one day. If he chooses the Light, then the Dark will lose the war. But wiser folks know that he’ll choose the Dark.

    In the end, after years of manipulation on the parts of both the Light and the Dark, using their own kind and ordinary people as pawns, the Great Other (a young boy) agrees to follow the Dark Others. And the way that they lay it out really pisses you off…


    Seriously, how could you leave that out, but include SAW?

    Also, Match Point. Great movie with a twisted ending.

  63. Here’s a couple more for the list:

    -Funny Games
    -Blair Witch Project
    -Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire
    -The Perfect Storm (if the storm is the bad guy)
    -Pirates of the Caribeean: Dead Man’s Chest
    -Texas Chainsaw Massacre
    -Jurassic Park (the people got away but the dinosaurs definitely “won”)

  64. Please – stop it with the in-browser image resizes. It makes those pictures look like jaggy crap. Take the five minutes to resize all your pics BEFORE putting up a post.

  65. The other commenters have it right re: Memento — it doesn’t really belong in this list. Kudos to the guy who suggested Dr. Phibes. As a kid, that was the first movie I ever saw where the villain won, and that really messed with my head! Also Crimes and Misdemeanors — the whole theme of the movie is the spiritual consequences (or lack thereof) of getting away with a heinous crime.

    No Way Out is also an interesting choice in this topic, since not only does the bad guy win, but the bad guy is also the good guy. I know there’s another movie with a similar twist, but I can’t think of it right now.

  66. A Clockwork Orange!

    “I was cured, alright!”

    Bag the mamby-pamby ending of the book that wasn’t printed in the US for decades. Kubrick threw out the ‘give em a few years and they’ll grow out of it’ ending.

  67. Hey,

    Memento was a great film. You DO need to watch it again, Leonard was being USED by Teddy to kill people, Teddy was a crooked cop, who was using Leonard to murder, so Leonard planted evidence (pictures, tattoos) so that he would think Teddy was the killer.

    After he killed Teddy, his quest for justice ended, he was no longer being used. It was over.

  68. I didnt have the time to scroll through all the replies but “payback” with Mel Gibson had zero good guys in it. Mel was a criminal from the beginning and he won. All bad guys all the time

  69. I think you were right about momento. I just watched it then, I mean i think it showed that by the end, no one was the good guy whatever the outcome, everyone was using someone else, so no matter what the bad guy would have won in the end.

    Also just to throw it in the mix, at the end of the film when Leonard was driving away after making the decision to kill Teddy, there was a flash of him and his wife laying together, with “I did it” written on his chest, did anyone else notice that?

    amazing film, good job on the list.

  70. Madison,

    I saw that you posted a comment on your surprise at the posters’ ability to form sentences. Fair enough. Still, your readers’ writing ability dwarfs your ability to understand a film. I know it has been said already, but you totally missed the point of Memento. The protagonist was innocent. He really thought he was going to find his wife’s killer every time. In the beginning (the end chronologically), Guy’s character kills Joe Pantalino’s when he figures out he has been used.

    Basically, you got it all wrong, and it is not that complicated. So next time you make a snide comments to the people who justly call you out, make sure that you can actually write a blog. I’ve seen better blogs from my little sister’s myspace page, although, it looks like two have similar taste in movies. I read this article because it was on fark. Expected better.

  71. @ jon

    Thanks for the comment. It’s rational, well-thought-out comments like yours that are a pleasure to read. However, I don’t recall attacking anyone who has attempted to correct me, especially if they do it in a reasonable, intelligent manner. I don’t know everything, and everyone makes mistakes, so I welcome corrections. Unfortunately, a lot of the comments we receive look like they’ve been typed by 12-year olds. Like I said, I welcome corrections, so any snide remarks are not aimed at those trying to help. When someone tells me I have forgotten to include Seven in the article, I can only wonder if they’re even a real person.

    As far as Memento goes, I haven’t seen the movie in years, and that was my understanding of it at the time. I nowhere implied that Teddy was totally innocent, but I did think that Leonard marked Teddy not to stop his manipulation, but to seek out the thrill of exacting revenge. I’ll have to watch it again soon and see if and where I went wrong.

    I’d love to see your sister’s myspace page blogs if you want to send me a link. Especially if we have similar taste in movies.

    Thanks for reading, jon; hope you come back.

  72. One of the things that’s bothered me about the Matrix trilogy is that the bad guy (the AI computer) wins.

    [Spoilers ahead.]

    Sure, the end is a brokered peace … but it comes as Zion is invaded, the defenses are destroyed, and what’s left of humanity is completely at the mercy of the machines. Neo’s sacrifice buys some time for humanity, but there is no guarantee that the AI won’t change its mind and finish off the pitiful remnants. Humanity survives; but it is a meager existence and, instead of the victorious triumph we viewers expected and deserved, we got … meh.

    I’m glad the Wachowskis got the box office they deserved for that ending.

  73. Arlington Road was what I thought of when I read the title of this list. Great ending.
    Reservoir Dogs Anyone? Sure, they’re all dogs but I was cheering for Buscemi to weasle his way out.
    How about Carpenter’s The Thing? Even if the 2 guys that are left destroyed the creature (and that’s left up in the air). There’s no doubt that they’ll both be popsicles in a few hours.

  74. Why dont more people mention Terry Gilliam’s Brazil? It’s one of the best sci-fi films ever, which also just happens to have the bad guys win at the end. I’m talking about the original version, mind you – not the treacly, fairy tale edit seen in the American version (which Gilliam despised, incidentally). You guys should definitely see the original.

  75. “Grave of the Fireflies” should definitely be on this list, though I know it’s not exactly wide-release like Empire Strikes Back. Fireflies is a Japanese anime drama and is recognized as one of the finest anime films ever. It’s a war film about a little boy and his four year old sister as they try, alone, to survive the firebombings of Tokyo in WWII, and then the post-war aftermath. No one good in this film “wins.” Everyone simply suffers more and more with each passing frame, though hope and humanity shines through in so many parts. Perhaps the most effective anti-war film I’ve ever seen (and I’ve pretty well seen them all). Four stars. No other film has affected me as deeply.

  76. What about Fight Club? I would think that a terrorist that destroys a plethora of buildings in order to completely cripple the credit infrastructure and overall well-being of an orderly society would be indicative of a “bad guy”. Otherwise, you could look at it as Tyler Durden being the “bad guy” (Brad Pitt) who ultimately overcomes the Ed Norton personality at the end.

  77. Here’s one I haven’t seen on the list. This is quite old though (early 70’s). Does anybody remember “The Other” about twin boys (about 10 years old). One of the boys dies and it turns out that the “other” takes on his identity and proceeds to kill several members of the family. When the grandmother finally figures it out, he arranges an accident for her as well. He even kills his own mother and baby brother. In the end the “good” brother is seen looking out from the upstairs window with nobody suspecting a thing. (Reminiscent of “The Good Son” and “The Bad Seed”).

  78. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Memento, and The Empire Strikes Back should all be removed from the list. You really should watch Memento again. As for the others, you’ve either interpreted them wrong, I believe, (as is the case in Cuckoo’s Nest) or you have taken something that’s intended to be part of a much larger story and “spliced” it. If Empire goes on the list, so should Revenge of the Sith, for the same reason.

    Arlington Road, btw, is a great addition. Albeit, I hated the ending (not that it wasn’t effective) but because it was so effective. I didn’t enjoy that, “Why did it have to end like that? feeling.

    Interestingly, we could also take “bad guy” and apply it to non-characters. For instance, House of Sand and Fog (2003), Days of Wine and Roses (1962), A Place in the Sun (1951), or Atonement (2007) are a few examples of films where there is no bad “guy” per say, but in which the film works against the protagonists (and in the sense that they are the ‘good guys’).

    Mystic River (2003) is a good example of a film where you can have someone be innocently framed. Sean Penn is clearly not an antagonist. There is no antagonist, and if there has to be, then it’s the two boys (who are the real killers). Yet, he kills Tim Robbins’ character, and Kevin Bacon suspects this (well, that’s open to interpretation of the looks they exchange) at the end.

    But we need films then where it’s clear that the intended bad guy wins. As mentioned, Brazil is a good example that could be on the list. I don’t agree with Chinatown as a suggestion. If anything, it’s close to my examples of “depressing” endings, but it’s not really a “bad guy” winning. Think of it this way: who would he enact revenge upon?

    No Country For Old Men should clearly be on the list. Ironically though, we can hardly call him a bad guy. It’s in his nature to kill. He IS Death, at least he represents Death. He chooses who to kill, where to kill, when to kill. When it’s not someone’s time, he lets them live. This is clearly demonstrated throughout. Thus, if you add that film, you may as well add The Seventh Seal (1957), as Death wins in that film as well.

    Another one mentioned that I must reiterate is The Vanishing (1988). Take a look at The Getaway (1972), The Conversation (1974), The Great Escape (1963) (mentioned already as well). Although, in The Great Escape, it should be noted that he does, in fact, escape… so it’s questionable as to whether or not the bad guy wins, even though he dies.

    Natural Born Killers (1994) is a two-for-one deal — no matter which ending you choose, either the bad guy wins, or the badder guy wins.

    People I Know (2002) is an excellent candidate as well (points if you’ve actually seen it!) Arguably A Perfect World (1993) leads us to sympathize with Kevin Costner’s character, who ultimately has become an anti-hero of sorts. Phone Booth (2004) is an excellent choice too, as mentioned by others.

    Road to Perdition (2002), Unbreakable (2000), Cold Mountain (2003), Identity (2003), The One (2001), Sword of Doom (1966), The Devil’s Advocate (1997), Matchstick Men (2003) (despite people saying he’s “better off,” the “real” bad guys still end up having scammed him and gotten away with it, and he is the protagonist), Oldboy (2003) (as mentioned), The Sum of All Fears (2002) (easy addition).

    Borderline: The Dreamers (2003), The Thirteenth Floor (1999), Mad City (1997), True Romance (1993) (only alternate ending), The Salton Sea (2002).

    Oh, and I must make one final addition, which is hands down the most definitive “bad guy wins” movie. It’s called Versus (2000), http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0275773/

  79. https://unrealitymag.com/index.php/2009/01/16/ten-movies-where-the-bad-guys-win/#comment-2936

    One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Memento, and The Empire Strikes Back should all be removed from the list. You really should watch Memento again. As for the others, you’ve either interpreted them wrong, I believe, (as is the case in Cuckoo’s Nest) or you have taken something that’s intended to be part of a much larger story and “spliced” it. If Empire goes on the list, so should Revenge of the Sith, for the same reason.
    No Country For Old Men should clearly be on the list. Ironically though, we can hardly call him a bad guy, as it’s in his nature to kill. He is Death, at least he represents Death. He chooses who to kill, where to kill, when to kill. When it’s not someone’s time, he lets them live. This is clearly demonstrated throughout. Thus, if you add that film, you may as well add The Seventh Seal (1957), as Death wins in that film as well.

    Natural Born Killers (1994) is a two-for-one deal — no matter which ending you choose, either the bad guy wins, or the badder guy wins.

    People I Know (2002), The Vanishing (1988), The Getaway (1972), The Conversation (1974), Road to Perdition (2002), Unbreakable (2000), Cold Mountain (2003), Identity (2003), The One (2001), Sword of Doom (1966), The Devil’s Advocate (1997), Matchstick Men (2003) (despite people saying he’s “better off,” the “real” bad guys still end up having scammed him and gotten away with it, and he is the protagonist), Oldboy (2003) (as mentioned), The Sum of All Fears (2002) (easy addition), Phone Booth (2004)

    Borderline: The Dreamers (2003), The Thirteenth Floor (1999), Mad City (1997), True Romance (1993) (only alternate ending), The Salton Sea (2002), House of Sand and Fog (2003), Days of Wine and Roses (1962), A Place in the Sun (1951), Atonement (2007), Mystic River (2003), A Perfect World (1993)

    Oh, and I must make one final addition, which is hands down the most definitive “bad guy wins” movie. It’s called Versus (2000), http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0275773/

  80. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Memento, and The Empire Strikes Back should all be removed from the list. You really should watch Memento again. As for the others, you’ve either interpreted them wrong, I believe, (as is the case in Cuckoo’s Nest) or you have taken something that’s intended to be part of a much larger story and “spliced” it. If Empire goes on the list, so should Revenge of the Sith, for the same reason.

    No Country For Old Men should clearly be on the list. Ironically though, we can hardly call him a bad guy, as it’s in his nature to kill. He is Death, at least he represents Death. He chooses who to kill, where to kill, when to kill. When it’s not someone’s time, he lets them live. This is clearly demonstrated throughout. Thus, if you add that film, you may as well add The Seventh Seal (1957), as Death wins in that film as well.

  81. This is a different Jon than the one in the above post…

    @avaquizzer – Thanks for mentioning that Fight Club doesn’t necessarily mean the bad guy won in the end. Your second interpretation, how it appears he overcame his alter-ego, sort of suggests that his little reign of terrorism will end and that he’s made peace and overcame the evil second personality, which was the bad guy all along.

    @aizen – No, it’s A Clockwork Orange.

    @mike – You beat me to it! Wanted to be the first to mention Grave of the Fireflies. In that one I guess war in general is the bad guy.

  82. Madison,

    I appreciate your response. Apparently, I misjudged you. You see, so many film and music bloggers make outrageous claims and then ridicule anybody that questions what the blogger writes. Having not read any of your stuff before, I unfairly linked you with those types. So I am sorry. I was making a petty comment to who I thought was a petty blogger. And yeah, that “you forgot Seven,” comment was choice.

    Im looking forward to the next lists. I do enjoy them.

  83. Chinatown with Jack Nicholson called. It wants it’s place on this list back.

    Seriously, the bad guys don’t just win in Chinatown, they just about destroy the protagonist’s faith in humanity before gutting him and pushing his pregnant wife down the stairs. And when it happens, you don’t expect a damned thing. You’re sitting there, expecting Hollywood business as usual and waiting for your happy ending. Then BAM! The movie rips your heart right out and rolls the credits over your pet dog before you can even take in what happened.

    And while we’re at it, I think No Country for Old Men and Inside Man deserve a spot on the list.

  84. I guess you are talking only about “guys” literally but what about my two favorite bad “girls that get away with murder? Kathleen Turner in “Body Heat” and Linda Fiorentina in “The Last Seduction” are unforgettable.

  85. Come on now, Boondock Saints for sure! I mean the entire movie is executed to purposefully blur the line between what is “good” and “evil”, “right” and “wrong.”

    But even though they are stopping evil men, they are doing it with amazing direction and of course capital punishment.


    At the end of the movie, the Three (both brothers and the father) break into a courtroom and publicly execute a known Don of the Italian mafia and get away way it to continue on.

  86. I’d like to throw in the two Aliens v Predator movies.
    The first has the Aliens win and the second has the soulless Yutani corporation, who sent the original crew of the Nostromo back to the planetoid, winning.
    I personallay would have chosen Silence of the Lambs over Hannibal. Hannibal was really a draw (the book was a major win for Lecter)…

  87. Funny Games. Perfect example of bad guys winning. The kids get away with killing the nice family and go one to the next family in no time. Awesome. Not sure if anyone else mentioned it but read most of the reply’s and didnt see it.

  88. The entire Star Wars saga is the bad guys winning, maybe with the exception of Empire. At least in the original three it’s the rebel alliance vs the empire. It’s written as the “evil empire”, but in most cases of news today someone acting as a “rebel” or causing a rebellion would be considered a bad guy. What if it had been written as Darth Vader as the misunderstood good guy all along and the rebels trying to take over his rule?

  89. How Zabout: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

    You’re James Bond, and you just got married to a woman you love. As you’re on the road talking about your future plan, Blofeld, who you thought you got rid of days before in the Swiss Alps, does a drive-by shooting on your ass. You get back in the car, hoping to pursue him, but discover that your wife had recieved a head shot and is slumped over dead in the passenger’s seat.

    Final result:

    Blofeld Wins!
    Bond LOSES!!!!!!!

  90. My favorite bad guy wins movie has always been “12 Monkeys”. After all that effort on Bruce Willis’ part to convince the girl he’s the real deal, the mental institution, the mistake with Brad Pitts organization, the jerk who unleashes the virus still gets on the plane and reeks havoc. Awesome.

  91. Funny Games was fucking brutal. Good call Ruby.

    I would also submit that every in every Star Wars film AFTER Empire, the bad guy wins. Fucking George Lucas is the ultimate villain.

  92. Decent list, interesting comments. I LOL’d at the people who said “You forgot se7en!”
    Kudos to the people who mentioned Quick Change, Fallen, and Frailty. Good stuff.
    I don’t think anybody has yet mentioned Phone Booth. Although both the protagonist and the antagonist are bad guys, the antagonist is the worst of the two (he kills people), and he gets away with it.
    There’s also a lot of anime where the bad guy wins. There’s one in particular that I would mention if only I could remember the name of it. I know later on it’ll come to me, as soon as I’m busy doing something else.

  93. I’d put Boondock Saints and Payback in the ‘not-as-bad-as-the-other-guys-wins’ category, which isn’t quite the same thing. Porter and the Saints might be villains in any other movie, but the guys they’re fighting are far worse than they are so they’re really just hardcore antiheroes.

    I would definitely also include No Country for Old Men, as Chigurh ‘wins’ by killing an insane number of people and then just walking off into the sunset.

  94. Matt, Clockwork Orange as a film could be included in the list, but the book makes it really obvious that Alex is not going back to his raping, mugging ways. At the end of the book he actually meets George in a coffee shop and decides to find himself a wife.

  95. #


    This is an excellent list. Well done.
    Although, I think you forgot to mention “Fight Club.” Just kidding…

    To Jon (the different Jon),

    Thanks for correcting the Burgess/Kubrick blasphemer. It’s been “A Clockwork Orange” since Anthony Burgess first had it published in ’62 and stayed the same in ’71 when Stanley Kubrick made it into a film…the audacity of such an action is still beyond me.

  96. suicide club – japanese cult flick where everybody kills themselves

    the return of the living dead- in the only zombie movie where the army nukes the zombies, the infection is spread through acid rain and the zombies are immortal

  97. Funny Games anyone? There’s no disputing it. The two main characters kill a family and get away with it and attempt to kill the next door neighbor (you don’t see the result).

  98. in Primal Fear the attorney is not aware that aaron is faking it. The quote that he uses is at the end of the movie after the trial in the last 5 minutes of the film.

  99. Pingback: “Got Jewelry?”
  100. What about Funny Games? The bad guys get away with it, it’s revealed they’ve been doing this to people for a while now, and at the end it’s obvious they’re going off to do it to someone else too!

    And check out an Aussie movie called ‘The Interview’. Pretty much everyone is a bad guy in that one with a (slightly ambiguous) ending that hits you where you live. But don’t watch the version released in the US. They added another scene at the end which totally gutted it! Watch the original.

  101. What about The Departed? Excluding Mark Wahlberg killing Matt Damon, the ‘good guy’ Leonardo Di Caprio gets shot in the head and his FBI boss gets thrown off of a building.

  102. Teddy in Memento was hardly “an innocent man.” He used Leonards condition to manipulate him and steal thousands of dollars from a drug dealer. Leonard only decides to kill Teddy because he realizes what a dick he is.

  103. If comedies are acceptable, you could include Duplex. Sweet little couple buy a duplex, half is rented to a little Irish lady. After an hour of solid torture at her hands, they finally abandon the house, selling it back to the original owner. They end up penniless and miserable, at which point it’s revealed to us the owner is one of her sons and this is a recurring scam.

    A Simple Plan might fit the list, but there’s no discernable bad guy unless you want to count “greed”. It’s certainly a movie that leaves you feeling like shit.

  104. Funny Games absolutely had to be included. It’s the ultimate “bad guy wins” movie, because at absolutely no point do the protagonists have the upper hand

  105. Well, it’s a work in progress, so to speak, but it is a movie where the bad guy (apparently) gets away; ‘W’ – Cheney gets his own death squad and a retirement package . . .

  106. Also Mr. Brooks, American Psycho, American Beauty, and any horror movie that has had a sequel. Even if the bad guy was defeated in the end he’s the one who’s back in the next one not the protagonists.

  107. What about “No Country for Old Men”? The really scary guy walks off into the sunset (albeit with a broken arm) to commit evil again and again. Truly one of the most disturbing characters I have ever seen in cinema.

  108. About women that get away with it…

    In both Cruel Intentions and Dangerous Liasions (which are almost the same movie), the horrible uber bitch who destroys the lives of several innocents/and not so innocents around her is exposed. (Sarah Michelle Gellar as a cocaine addict and Glenn Close is also exposed at the opera)…

    However, in the third version with this plot they changed the ending. In Valmont, Annette Benning gets away with everything and the widow weeps at his grave alone.

    I also recall a Christopher Reeves movie where he kills his wife and practices so he can beat a lie detector test.

  109. “Yeah, he lost a hand, but when you cook a a dude’s brain, feed it to him, get away from the feds and then feed more brain to a little kid on an airplane, you SO win.”

    i’m going to assume Hannibal is mentioned because you’ve never seen Silence of the Lambs. If you have then that would be listed because Hannibal Lecter had the BEST ESCAPE PLAN EVER IN ANY MOVIE.

    Also, Escape From Alcatraz & Shawshank Redemption – technically they were “bad guys” to begin with which was why they were incarcerated in the first place.

  110. I agree with The Mist. The ending made me ill.

    How about Murder in the First, Cool Hand Luke and Storm of the Century?

    And while I loved Secret Window, I don’t consider Depp to be a bad guy. The same with Hannibal Lector. Both were victims of circumstances uncontrolled.

  111. The Patriot (Mel Gibson survives, which in opposite form is why Braveheart shouldn’t be included)
    The Matrix
    Reservoir Dogs
    Easy Rider

  112. “American Psycho”

    Christian Bale goes around killing people and even after he confesses to his crime, the guy assumes it to be a practical joke and is mistaken for somebody else at the same time so it was all pointless and he is free to go out and kill more people

  113. Suggesting “Rocky” kind of misses the point of the whole movie. Apollo wasn’t the bad guy because Rocky was not really fighting against him. He was fighting against being a loser and trying to prove himself. Which is why the film and Rocky himself all but ignore the outcome of the fight. Rocky proved he could go the distance, so he won.

  114. jeepers creepers 2, whilst being rather shit, leads to the bad guys winning

    not in the conventional sense, as it ends with the monster nailed to a wall, but the sense of inevitability that no actions can stop it coming back after whatever time period it does, and then killing and eating as many people as possible

    then wash, rinse, repeat.

  115. I’ve got to say Taxi Driver is one where a bad guy wins. Sure Bickle takes out other bad guys, but he is a violent sociopath with a mental disorder. He is even hailed as a hero by the senator he intended to assassinate.

    Really, a lot of Scorsese movies have the bad guys getting away with murder, or at least the good guys lose along with them.

  116. Payback ??? – Mel Gibson….. “Get ready to root for the bad guy ?”

    Definetely agree with Memento…. those who didn’t did NOT get the movie. Just the idea of them saying Teddy was the bad guy….. ha ha ha… he was just a guy using Leonard as a “weapon”. That’s it, and of course he needed to die, but Leonard was pure evil. To all who disagree, watch it again, and if you still don’t agree WATCH IT AGAIN.

    I would also have to agree with the guy who said ” How do you have saw in there and not No Country for Old Men.

    Also loved Lord of War.

    Sometimes I feel i’m only happy when a movie has a bad guy win. I almost feel it’s more realistic.

    Just my opinion.

  117. “Colossus: The Forbin Project” is one that springs immediately to mind. The movie ends with the supercomputer laying out its plans for mankind after completely foiling the last attempt to defeat it.

    “Demon Seed” is another one, although Proteus becomes more sympathetic as the movie proceeds. It becomes kind of morally ambiguous, and the ending could almost be called happy. Maybe not right for this list.

    Or how about “Seconds?” Hamilton/Wilson gets manipulated by the mysterious company throughout, then after he learns his lesson and thinks he’s heading for his second chance at a second chance, he finds out the hard way just where they get the cadaver to fake someone’s death.

  118. Madison:
    Would “Rich mans wife” fall on to this list?
    Because of a prenept. the wife’s boyfriend hires someone to kill her husband. The kidnapper, the boyfriend, the husband are all killed. The boyfriends ex-wife, and the rich mans wife drive away at the end of the movie…

  119. What about “Black Christmas” a madman hides in the attic of a dorm, and one by one kills all but one. Who is left drugged in the bed. While the nut job is still in the attic ???
    There was another one, if anyone can help.
    It was another OLD movie. At the end the killer is shown walking into a dark barn after he has killed everyone in the movie.
    Anyone remerber????

  120. To anyone mentioning Dark Knight, you’re wrong. The Joker would have won if Batman killed him, but he never did (and thus never broke his one rule). Considering that Batman was the lead protagonist, its impossible to say the bad guy won.

  121. How about King Kong vs Godzilla (japanese version)? After the battle, it is godzilla who comes out on top, stupid americans re-made the ending so that dumb monkey wins.

  122. For all who asked for “Funny games”, u must check out “Benny’s video”(1992), Haneke again. “Devils on the doorstep”(2000), and “To die for”(1995).

    PD: maybe some readers write like a 12 old year boy because their english isn’t good enought, like mine. There are some fans of this blog that are not americans/british ok?

    Un saludo desde España

  123. I’m thinking The Dark Knight because The Joker succeeded in three of his four master plans. He manipulated the underworld of Gotham to his whims, he created series of chaotic situation that not only shook the police department to its core (literally), but also brought turned an entire city against its Dark Knight, and he transformed the city’s “white knight” into a calculated, cold-blooded, morally unbalanced criminal. Only The Joker’s morality plot (the public vs. inmates) didn’t work to his advantage, but considering in the end, The Joker was the only one still smiling at the end.

  124. @ Jeff Harris

    I can’t agree. The destruction and chaos the Joker desired never came to fruition, althogh he was on the right path. The simple fact that he couldn’t make Batman abandon his own code and kill the Joker left the Joker a loser.

  125. This is a long list of comments so if this one has been mentioned I’m sorry. “Payback” with Mel Gibson. Not a great movie but there are no good guys in the whole film. Mel plays a thief/hired muscle with a druggie wife trying to recover money stolen from him after a heist. The crooks,The lead,The cops. everyone is a scumbag in this film.

  126. Interesting.

    But to echo some of the other comments, I disagree with One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.

    It was a period film set in an institution that relied on strict order and routine. Just because Nurse Ratched doesn’t show sympathy doesn’t make her the bad guy (in some circles sympathy is considered pointless and empathy is favoured, but…). On a couple of occasions we’re given glimpses of how much she cares, but has to retain distance in order to retain respect.

    Couldn’t McMurphy be construed as the bad guy? Does Nurse Ratched actually win anything? Is the institution a bad guy, or a necessary – but albeit naive or misplaced – evil?

    I don’t see it as a movie where anything triumphs over anything; it’s full of the small wins, and the enduring struggle to try and lose as little as possible.

  127. @ nathaniel

    You’re right. Mel Gibson’s character is likeable, but he’s definitely bad. Just about every single character in Payback is a “bad guy.” Good call.

    @ Simon

    I don’t agree. Ratched goes beyond her duties as Head Nurse to suppress the patients. She authorizes (I will presume it was her) a friggin labotomy, for Pete’s sake. McMurphy on the other hand is pretty obnoxious and wild, but he’s a good dude – he showed his fellow patients the time of their lives; they accepted him because he also accepted them.

    If you want to say it’s the institution and not Nurse Ratched that’s the bad guy, sure, I can see that, too.

    Thanks for reading.

  128. Thanks for getting back to me

    It was never mentioned in Cuckoo’s nest who sanctioned the procedures. Maybe the nurse (doubt it), maybe the institution, maybe the system. Hence why I wrote that the institution may be naive or misplaced, and that it’s a period piece.

    Sure, McMurphy gave them the time of their lives. He was also there from prison, and you’re never treated to whether he is actually sane or not, or just dodging his own future. Besides, what seemed a good thing to him, could have been seen dangerous or detrimental to a treatment regime of the time. Sure, he got away with it, but a loveable rogue is still a rogue.

    Yes, they gave him a lobotomy (we’re led to assume that), but he jeopardises so much by so many people before getting there. His actions led Billy to kill himself. Granted, the nurse used emotional blackmail on him as a form of punishment.

    Don’t get me wrong, I have a great deal of respect for the piece, and I am always mesmerised by R P McMurphy’s character, but I feel that tarnishing it with a good guy/bad guy brush is over-simplifying it a little. I don’t personally see McMurphy as all good, in the same way that I don’t see Ratched or institution as all bad – there was much corruption all round, and I can’t help thinking that story-telling has taken a step backward.

    There was more, but hey…

  129. The bad guys absolutely did NOT win in Black Hawk Down. The mission was a complete success. And that is what war movies are all about.

    I’d put Body Heat at #1. Maddy doesn’t “escape” or “get away with it” or “get lucky.” She’s in control from start to finish and achieves everything she set out to do.

    I’ve seen Memento six times and I still don’t think I really get it.

  130. Afraid I haven’t read all the comments, so this may have been posted, but…

    Being John Malkovich. The guys trying to get inside Malkovich’s brain do so at the end, with poor psychotic Craig trapped in there with them. It’s an incredibly dark, but somehow very satisfying finale.

  131. Thank God people finally started giving props to Funny Games. I was worried I would be the first. It deserves to be added to the list. That movie left me feeling so irritated, probably because I thought it would be a film about this family fighting back. It was so brutal, I honestly said that I hated it at first. However, after taking a few days to realize the brilliant message behind it all, I now own it.

    Obviously… Chinatown.

    And I was thinking about HEAT. Of course De Niro goes down… but remember, Val Kilmer drives away. He’s a sad man, but he’s also a sad FREE man. (Not sure if anyone mentioned this yet… but something to consider.)

  132. @ Boru

    Funny Games is on cable all the time; I really should sit and watch it some time, huh?

    Chinatown deserves to be on this list for sure. That’s one of the most disturbing and shocking endings I’ve ever seen in a movie.

    By the way, you know the really weird-looking guy who sits next to Jack Nicholson at all the Lakers games, who looks like Donald Sutherland but clearly isn’t Donald Sutherland? That’s the guy who wrote Chinatown. Pretty cool, I think.

    Thanks for reading.

  133. A case can be made for Apollo Creed being the bad guy. He is the main antagonist in the movie and he is a big cocky jerk, maybe not evil exactly. However a close secondary antagonist in the movie was Rocky himself. More exactly, Rocky’s self-doubt. That antagonist lost.
    Good call leaving Rocky out, but it’s a tough one.

    A case could also be made for Catch Me if You Can. Frank Abagnale Jr. (Leonardo) was the bad guy, got caught and ended up winning by switching to being a good guy. It’s a win, sorta…

    I second Chinatown, definitely. “Soul-sucking” was the best description I’ve heard for that ending. I still flinch at the part where they cut Jack’s nostril.

  134. @ Uberhack

    As I began to read your comment re: Apollo, I was going to suggest that the film’s main antagonist was Rocky’s self-doubt and fear, but you arrived at almost the same conclusion. I definitely agree. Apollo is a GREAT character, don’t get me wrong, but I believe he’s more symbolic than anything; he’s everything that Rocky wasn’t.

    I’ll give you Catch Me if You Can. Frank pulled all those schemes and avoided the slammer. That’s gotta be a win.

  135. Don’t know if this one counts because the person who gets away with it is a woman, but what about “Body Heat?” The Kathleen Turner character totally manipulates everyone (especially William Hurt) and ends up on a beautiful tropic island with all the money and a hot stud to satisfy her.

  136. Madison: From June 15th.
    You never answered me about “Black Christmas, and Rich Man’s wife??? Killer is still in the attic after cops assume the boyfriend was the killer.
    The wife (Played by Halley Berry) drives off with the lovers wife.
    To collect the $$$$ after they spin a web of murder, and a rather
    calculated scheme…..eb

  137. “Swimming With Sharks” – Another great Kevin Spacey movie. Spacey is a Hollywood producer who goes out of his way to make his new intern’s life a living hell. After pushing the intern to the edge and making him think that he’s slept with his girlfriend the intern kidnaps Spacey and tortures him. Spacey talks the kid into killing the girlfriend by promising him success and at the end of the flick they are both heroes and collaberating on a new film.

  138. @ Brendan

    That seems pretty evil to me. I need to see “Swimming with Sharks.” For some reason – probably Spacey – I always confuse it with “The Big Kahuna.”

  139. Time Bandits. At the end, Kevin’s parents explode when they touch a piece of concentrated Evil left smoldering in their microwave.

  140. a little late here, but I’m backing up the person who said “The Great Escape.”

    and, though based on reality: “Zodiac.” Even though we go into the movie KNOWING we won’t find out his identity, it’s still one of the most gut-busting”wins” for a bad guy – especially with the last scene with one of Zodiac’s victim’s identifying Arthur Leigh Allen, who was taken off the suspect list after a DNA test years later.

  141. @ adrienne

    One of the things I loved so much about Fincher’s “Zodiac” is that you KNOW the guy gets away with it, and yet the movie was still suspenseful and pretty scary.

  142. Watchmen is a fairly new one(movie) in which the villain indeed succeeds in his plan to wipe out 15 million people and blame a superhero else for it. That is pretty fucking successful.

  143. @ Jimmy

    I think the whole point is that it wasn’t necessarily “evil,” and that there were a lot of shades of grey, so I respectfully disagree.

  144. Black Christmas
    Rich man’s wife
    Skeleton Key
    See June 15th, July 15th. and July 22 replys. Thanks Madison this has been fun.. I read all you comments and replys..

  145. Hi Madison..Let’s just call this the ultimate pay back movie..
    Could fall into this catagory of bad guy wins??
    Cousin Bette (Starring Jessica Lange, Ellizabeth Shue and Greg Laury (House)…eb

  146. i always thought identity was a “bad guy wins film” but even if its not its still a good film, i jope you at least considered it, loving the site, unbelievable how many stupid people comment on it though

    “You forgot seven”- dumbass

  147. These two films have been submitted already. It might take you a few minuets to read, if you go back and read all the way through, you’ll find many people have suggested the same.
    Just thought I’d let ya know.

  148. Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer
    Salo: The 120 Days of Sodom
    Night of the Living Dead
    Brazil, 1984, others similar
    most anti-nuclear war movies, like Testament and Threads
    The China Syndrome
    other anti-war movies like The Boys in Company C, Apocalypse Now, All Quiet on the Western Front, etc.
    King Kong — I’m surprised, I don’t think anyone’s mentioned that yet.
    Dancer in the Dark, other anti-capital punishment movies

    Though one could make a case with the nuclear war movies that it is more a case of everyone losing, instead of the bad guys winning. I’d say the same for Reservoir Dogs. Nobody wins, everyone loses.

    Requiem for a Dream is an interesting case: does everyone lose, or do the bad guys win? I guess it depends on who you think the bad guy is.

    One could even make a case for Gone with the Wind, if one sees the bad guy as Scarlett and doesn’t feel that she gets her proper come-uppance in the end.

  149. Oh, and ignite had a great, great call on The Conversation.

    That film, along with Night of the Living Dead, probably inspired more than their share of endings where the bad guys win.

  150. Can’t believe only one person mentioned All Quiet on the Western Front (the original version). It’s an undeniable classic with about as pessimistic of an ending as you can get.

  151. Other notable films where the bad guy(s) win:

    – The Dark Knight
    – No Country for Old Men
    – The Talented Mr. Ripley
    – Chinatown
    – There Will Be Blood

  152. @ Slashbeast

    The Dark Knight – no
    No Country for Old Men – no
    The Talented Mr. Ripley – yes
    Chinatown – absolultely
    There Will Be Blood – yes

    Thanks for reading.

  153. on reply to your comment on 27 Jul 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Which zodiac movie do you’ll have in mind? I can think of two; one which is short and straight to the point and the other which is quite a long movie and fairly drawn out.

  154. i would have to disagree with those who said in Training day the bad guy didnt win… in the extended ending ethan hawk took the money into his house and lied to the wise men about turning it in to evidence.

    other than that i have no problem with the list, and to all the people who said the is no se7en on the liist you should look again. oh and yes there are other movies where the bad guy wins that could have been mentioned but if they were this would be an extremely long list.

    i dont like the Saw movies at all but it deserves its place cause people remember it.

  155. There Will be Blood;
    the protagonist is portrayed as a devil throughout the movie and finishes by killing a priest and revealing his materialistic view on his “bastard” son. In conventional terms the bad guy came out on top, however, anyone who watched the movie will know that the story is a lot more layered and complex.

  156. The bad guy wins in the end of Mr. Brooks. I went into this movie expecting it to be complete garbage because of Kevin Costiner, but was actually surprised on how good of a film this was.

  157. Maybe I can help with the Momento thing, and maybe I cannot. Since this article is based on spoilers, I feel comfortable sharing this information. I’m sorry, but I just had to debunk the people saying Madison is not accurate as if he/she has not seen the movie…those people obviously did not see the movie all the way to the end, or just didn’t understand it.

    I agree with your perspective on Momento, Madison, which makes for a lot of “technically’s” in this movie. Technically, Natalie wasn’t a ‘good guy’. Technically, Teddy was both a good and a bad guy. Technically, Leonard was both the victim and the perpetrator…it’s technically a matter of perspective.

    So, the reason Leonard would be the bad guy in the film and ‘win’ at the end is because of the actions he took to ‘make’ Teddy the target for the person who killed his wife.

    When Teddy tells Leonard the story of what happened to Sammy the audience discovers that he is actually talking about ‘Leonard’. Leonard realizes Teddy is talking about him and even remembers giving his wife insulin shots. There are a really quick couple of seconds during Sammy’s story where Guy Pearce is interposed onto the actor that played Sammy’s character, thus adding to the validity of the story.

    Technically, Leonard’s wife’s death wasn’t his fault because his wife didn’t believe that he really had anterograde amnesia, but he WAS the one who ultimately stuck the needle into her and made her overdose. Technically, it was Leonard’s wife that killed herself by allowing him to ‘overdose’ her with her medication to test him to see if he was faking his disease. He wasn’t and so she died. Leonard was unable to remember that he had just given his wife her insulin, and that was part of her test.

    Well, since Leonard did not like hearing that he had caused the death of his wife, he decided to write a future ‘clue’ to himself that implicated Teddy as the person Leonard was looking for. He, at the time, fully and coherently does so, even knowing that in a few minutes time he will not have remembered doing so, thus morphing himself into the ‘bad guy’ and finalizing his transformation when he shoots Teddy.

    Part of the twist of the movie is that we are lead to believe that Teddy has been the bad guy the whole time, then we discover that this was never the case and Teddy ends up becoming the victim. Should he have played around with Leonard’s disability? No. But he didn’t deserve to be killed for something he didn’t do.

    Whether or not this movie should be on the list against other ‘bad guy wins’ movies is the debate, not whether or not it is able to be.

  158. @ Visage

    Great, great comment. Thanks for reassuring me that my interpretation was correct all along. “Good” and “bad” can be grey sometimes, like in Memento, but I was sure I understood the twists and turns of that movie.

    And for the record, I’m a “he.”

  159. I think that in terms of bad guys winning, then Oldboy should have made the list (apologies if this has been mentioned, but there’s a lot of comments) Of course it depends on your view on what constitutes winning…

    I won’t go into any further details for fear of spoiling it for anyone. As Speilberg is remaking it, I’ll save it for him to spoil it instead.

  160. I may have misread it, but in your description of Se7en it sounds as though it was Mills’ wife who was guilty of envy, when it was Doe who was envious of Mills.
    (although that part of the movie bothered me, because then Mills’ wife wasn’t guilty of anything, which doesn’t seem to fit with Doe’s profile).

    In regards to Momento, I thought Natalie was the ‘bad guy’, as she gets Leonard to kill Teddy in revenge for Teddy (also a ‘bad guy’) getting him to kill her brother…

  161. Prophesy: Satan kills the Arch-Angel Gabriel (although the morality is certainly fuzzy).

    Definitely 12 Monkeys.

    Doctor Strangelove: for so many reasons!

    All three Evil Dead movies.

    House on Haunted Hill (the old Vincent Price version)

    Almost any David Cronenberg movie, esp. Videodrome, Shivers, etc.

    A Scanner Darkly

  162. Drag me to hell= terrible movie but the demon wins.
    Dont put the wicker man on the list by killing Nicolas cage carrier the good guys won.

    put seven on the list

  163. That’s a lot of replies. I disagree with the why on Memento, but not its inclusion. Leonard is a very bad guy, and does win.

    I would whole heartedly agree to the previous commentors’ views to include A Shock to the System and Funny Games. In both very bad people completely win, although Funny Games is significantly more disturbing.

    I was going to mention Billy Jack, but thinking on it, I would have to say that it was more a case of the good guy losing, and not the bad guy winning.

    Previously mentioned but still gets my vote : The Talented Mr. Ripley.

    Worth mentioning : American Psycho, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Valkyrie

    But for the ultimate bad guy win : Spartacus.

  164. In a Scanner Darkly, the good guys win.
    They manage to put a less than able bodies keuna reeves, with a little bit of his memory still in tact, where they’re growing the drugs–which was their plan all along to stop this whole fiasco. Good guys totally win.

    Seven is on the list, retards.

    Here’s a few other ones

    The Signal (perspective!) At the end, it is rather unclear as to whether or not Ben was able to save Mya from the signal, and in the end the signal succedded in screwing up everyone’s heads.

    The Diary of Anne Frank–Seriously? The Nazi’s find the family hiding out and all but the father die in concentration camps.

    Ladder 49–The bad guy being the fire, Phoenix is eventually trapped and killed inside of the burning building.

    The Orphanage- She killed her son, and now she’s dead too. Woah.

  165. Mabey a bit of stretch, but I would consider Braveheart. William Wallace dies, at the end we know that all his fellow Scottsmen who followed him die. All to the hand of a tyrannical England.

  166. 5 star for this artical because you put saw in the list movies that badguys win i’m getting tired of how goodguys win even in naruto even if a million of ninja surrounded naruto he somehow get out alive

  167. any scorsese movie deserves to be on that list, almost all of his movies involve the bad guy winning in one way or another, because all his characters are bad guys-whether it’s the protagonist or antagonist. you can give exceptions to this, but it’s still a pretty good generalization to go by

  168. Usual Suspects: not valid because the whole reason he caused the events at the beginning was to kill a witness. He left behind a whole new witness who knows who he is, and what he looks like. The police know to. So since the whole point of his crime was technically undone, I wouldn’t call it a victory.

    One flew over the cuckoo’s nest: Again, Ratched looses her voice, which is what was used to keep control over the inmates. Even if she regained control, she couldn’t wield the same influence that she used to. It’s more of a pyhrriac victory.

    Empire Strikes Back: Only the second half of the whole story, so it’s not quite valid as a whole

  169. @ Ryan

    Soze (the bad guy) set out to do something and made it happen. He walked out of a police station for goodness sake. He’s bad and he won. So what if someone knows what he looks like now? He’s disappeared, and nobody is going to believe agent Coulian (sp?) anyway. “The greates trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”

    As far as Cuckoo, you could say the institution of which Nurse Racthed was a part had one…after all, McMurphy was labotomized.

    As for Empire, well, yeah, but I didn’t include the whole story.

    Thanks for reading.

  170. Yes, but the patients are more defiant, and Nuse Ratched will never again wield the same level of control. I mean the only one who knew mercy killed him so that the others would continue to hold on to hope. Chinatown’s more appropriate. Cross walks away with custody of his granddaughter who can look forward to abuse and molestation and the hero can’t do jack shit.

  171. @ Ryan

    Fair enough. If you look at this as McMurphy vs. Ratched/institution, the bad guys win, for sure. But if it’s the patients vs. Ratched/institution, you have a very good point.

    No argument from me on Chinatown.

  172. @ Matt

    Agree on There Will Be Blood. Not sure about No Country (I think I made the argument above – Chigruh’s code is turned upside down at the end), and I agree on Clockwork (althrough the government was equally bad).

    Thanks for reading.

  173. the only reason i disagree with suspects is because Soze’s whole purpose in blowing up the boat was to kill a witness, showing that he was afraid of being identified. He left a new one behind, thus rendering the whole thing completely pointless. He did walk out, but it wasn’t a total win, since his original goal failed.

  174. Yeah Anton Chigurh from no country for Old Men would be a good addition

    Also what about the French Connection the French drug dealer ends up getting away in the end.

  175. “House on Haunted Hill” it’s not a brilliant film but it’s a great film where the bad guys (people making a snuff film out of unsuspecting housemates) win by fucking everybody up and carrying on to make the next snuff film

  176. if you think about Rocky Balboa
    technically Mason Dixon isn’t really a bad guy but he is the Antagonist
    Also Sparticus and 300
    and V for vendetta doesn’t count V is ultimately a good guy he hopes to bring down a corrupt evil system and rebuild from the wreckage and he succeeds

  177. in my opinion hannibal isnt really an antagonist he is more a middle… where he does some things good (like refuses to cut off starlings hand and most of those he kills are bad people) and killing the other detective wasnt neccisarily bad because though he doesnt murder anyone one or anything he is concidered to be more in the wrong because of his personailty and actions…. plus the disfigured man is more of an antagonist where he used to molest children PLUS he put a contract out to capture hannibal for giving him his just deserts

  178. oh… and also point break… where bohdi isnt really a bad guy at heart but he is the antagonist… though it implies that hes dead he gets to live his dream and (maybe die by) surfing the once in a lifetime wave

  179. I didn’t go over the comments because I’m simply too much of a lazy shit head to do so over all the feedback.

    Watchmen. By far the best movie where the bad guy wins. Not only does he win, his ideals are justified with logic, reason and the notion of choosing a lesser of two evils. Epic win.

  180. “The Mist” was a shitty movie that turned out to be an awesome movie because of a spectacular ending.
    When government testing goes awry, monsters from an alien planet are unleashed in a ‘mist’ on earth. 5 characters escape from a grocery store where most of the movie took place. The 5 include the main character, the hot chick, two old people, and the main characters son. They are driving in the mist and come to the conclusion that there is no way they are going to escape. Rather than get eaten alive by the aliens they decide to kill themselves. There is only four bullets in the gun. The dad shoots everyone in the car, including his own son, and proceeds to try to get eaten by the aliens. He’s standing outside of his car in the mist when all of the sudden a bunch of army vehicles go by and it looks like they have the situation under control. The bad guy wins.

  181. Ever seen funny games?

    Bad guy: two brothers, Paul and Peter, who reak havoc on a family vacationing on their summer cabin.

    How they win: The two brothers begin to pick off the family one by one in a torturous and deadly game. In the end only the mother is left standing but the boys take her for a boat ride (tied up of course, how else!) and drop her in the lake, leaving her helpless and to drowned. The movie ends with the two brothers knocking on the neighbors house and asking for eggs. ( how they got themselves into the first family’s house.)

    that was a good movie =-)

  182. Memento should not be on the list. In a movie where almost everyone is an unlikeable, manipulative, bottom feeder, it would be missing the point to try and identify a singular “bad guy.” If I had to pick out of three main characters, Teddy is the most reprehensible. Leonard and Natalie were both acting out of vengeance whereas Teddy was simply capitalizing on another man’s illness. I think the reason this movie ended up on the list was because the ending, or the middle rather, of the movie turned out to be a huge downer in and of itself. The audience and Leonard are made wise as to what little perception Leonard actually has of the world around him and the movie leaves its audience off with Leonard actually denying this and becoming one of his many manipulators. He consciously loses his free will. If anything, Leonard lost at the end of Memento.

  183. Watchmen, the movie, sucked ass by the way and is definitely not the best movie where a bad guy wins in the end, an opinion that i’ve seen expressed in one of the previous comments. The guy who played Veidt made everything way too fucking obvious. Even if i had not already read the book three times, i would not at all have been let down or surprised by that reveal because of how fucking obvious that guy was.

  184. Seeing The first two Godfathers or Goodfellas on this list would have been a nice little surprise. Because we end up sympathizing with the protagonists’ struggles over the course of these films we fail to acknowledge that in the end, their the bad guys for fucking over their friends and relatives.

  185. @ Someguy9834

    I’ve articulated my reasons for including Memento above, so I won’t repeat myself. But I do believe it belongs on this list.

    Anyway, good point about the Godfathers and Goodfellas. I guess it’s really tough to call Henry Hill or the Corleone Family “good guys.”

  186. It’s pretty crazy how this list list was created almost a full year ago and people are still commenting on it. Anyway…

    The Getaway with Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger was actually the 1st movie I ever saw where the “bad guys win”.

  187. I agree with anyone who said The Thing, either version, the Thing pretty much wins. And Invasion of the Body Snatchers, never seen a version of that yet where the body snatchers don’t end up on top. As for Saw, Tobin Bell wins out in the end as there are currently 6 of them, he died in 3 and he’s still in them. He must have one heck of an agent. Loved Identity, completely forgot about the little kid till I saw the room key. Anyone every see The Legacy? It had Roger Daughtry from the Who. Evil so ends up taking over the lone good girl at the end.

  188. Lol. You really believe memento belongs on this list?

    Now leonard crossed a boundary by killing people. But everyone he killed was someone he had assumed MURDERED his wife.

    He “frames” his friend Teddy, knowing full well that Teddy was not responsible for his wife’s death. Leonard knows he will soon forget that he framed Teddy, and the demented cycle of murderous revenge takes its toll on an innocent man.

    An innocent man? He set Leonard up to kill people for money. Oh maybe you forgot that. You’re saying that’s better then checking him into a hospital where he might get help? lmao Okay. Teddy was as bad as the guy who originally murdered Leonards wife.
    And how does he win at the end? He’s now got no meaning for his existence literally. Your views on the movies are pretty twisted.

  189. What about “Glory” with Broderick, Freeman, Washington, etc. EVERYONE dies, except the confederates they spent the entire movie training to kill. (Yeas, I realize that they “Won” by proving that blacks can fight as well as anyone)

    Or what about “Das Boot”? Yeah, the main characters where German in a WWII flick, but they weren’t Nazi’s and; like in glory, EVERYBODY dies.

    And any version of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” should be on this list.

  190. Halloween 2: Season of the Witch,

    (not sure if its part 2 yet its the one that has nothing to do with Michael Myers).

    Angel Heart
    (at least one person mentioned it! thanks!)

    Empire Strikes Back
    (when it came out, i was a kid and believed it was the last of the star wars movies…i was shocked and full of questions at the end… at the time I had no idea there was gonna be Return of Jedi.)

  191. @ horrorfan: You’re close, it’s Halloween 3 you’re thinking of.

    @ Gary: I wouldn’t include The Caine Mutiny. True, Fred MacMurry’s actions leave his hands clean and cast a permanent shadow over Van Hefner’s loyal officer, but Fred is revealed and disgraced in the end by Jose Ferrer. Maybe this doesn’t scrub Van Hefner in the eyes of the Navy, but MacMurry is shattered as a man.

  192. Phone Booth (2002) Perfect example of the bad guy winning. Although he does sort of make the good guy confess to doing all those bad things… kind of making the bad guy the good guy i guess. Now i’m confused.

  193. First: I agree with you completely about Memento. I would elaborate, but as I have read every comment on this page I see that you have defended yourself with everything I could think of, and that others will just disagree anyway. (I knew a lot of people had different opinions of the movie before I even watched it; the confusion was the whole reason I decided to watch it in the first place.)

    Second: Se7en is on the list guys. Of course it is, it should be! Best example ever! (Definitely one of my favorite movies.)

    Third and Last (stop counting guys): A lot of the people commenting on this need to calm down; someone makes a list and everyone decides to attack him because they disagree with it instead of, say, making their own list? (I know; the exclusion of some movies in a list you’ll probably only read once is unjust!)
    I personally wouldn’t leave a comment telling an author what they should do instead of doing it myself because it seems like a waste of time but perhaps that is just because I’m a do-it-yourself-or-don’t-do-it-at-all type of person? (It has landed me in a lot of trouble, but hey, I can only blame myself.)

    Anyway, I wanted to thank Madison for the awesome list, and all the people who replied *with* a description of the movies they would’ve gone with because I used it to find some movies I will watch! ^_^

  194. @ Pheonix F

    I’m really glad you enjoyed my list. I have no doubt that I fully understand Memento; it’s not my problem if others don’t.

    Thanks for reading.

  195. I have to say these movies are kind of terrible “bad Guy” movies. Dont you think? When i think bad guy its the gangster, or bank robber. not a man with a light saber, no memory, or a man with a taste for flesh. oh and horror movies dont really count either.

  196. i believe jigsaw was a good guy since he’s telling people to live their life at the fullest then ending it but amanda is actually the bad guy since she made sure her victims have no escape

  197. ” but amanda is actually the bad guy since she made sure her victims have no escape”

    go watch Saw 5 & 6 and you will found out that is not necessarily Amanda the real bad guy 😉

  198. If not mentioned before, “Chucky”, kind of wins even though he and his family are trapped in dollbodies…
    And not to mention the very frustrating The Skeleton Key starring Kate Hudson…
    Also, the little bitch-girl who lies in Atonement kinda wins by separating the lovers until they die and then writes a play based on their tragic life not being together…

  199. You forgot Michael Cimino’s “Heaven’s Gate” starring Kris Kristofferson, Christopher Walken and Mickey Rourke in his first important role. Some Cattle barons decide that they’ve had enough with cattle robbers and with the benediction of the US president decide to hire some mercenaries to massacre an entire town. The villagers decide to stand up and fight, encouraged by the sheriff. Most of the major characters die in the attack, except the sheriff and his lover who are saved when the cavalry intervenes. At the end the sheriff and the lady ( a prostitute really ) are on their way to get married when one of the bad guys comes back to have his revenge, shoots the lady before he is shot by the sheriff. Very powerful film, even more gripping is the fact that it was inspired by a true event. Except in real life, the mercenaries fled and hid in a barn because the villagers were too many and were saved by the cavalry!

    Oh and you forgot American beauty.. but you didnt want to give Spacey another award!

  200. Another recommendation for The Last Seduction.

    Linda Fiorentino is smokin’ as the heartless femme fatale. Neo-noir doesn’t get any better!

  201. Fallen…starring Denzel Washington. the bad guy is an eviol spirit that can jump from one person to anthoer. at the end of the movie denzel is all alone in the woods after killing his possessed partner and kills himself as to not be possessed himself, therefore, the spirt cant jump and will die. but the spirit finds a cat in the woods and lives on…hahaha

  202. Some people need to learn Bad Guys win actually means.
    Win means out smarted or defeated.
    Was they a key character in the movie 1 step behind at all times?
    Were the losers; innocent victim or a good guy?
    Who were the heroic characters?
    It doesn’t necessarily mean just, because they got away they needed to defeat a competitor.

    They defeated the Good Guy in most cases killed him. Animals don’t have motives or criminal intent and most importantly aliens/spirits/ghosts/weather are not people. Evil or evil forces winning would be a different list

    No Fight Club, Jurassic Park, Exorcist, The Perfect Storm, Pirates of the Caribeean: Dead Man’s Chest, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, body snatchers
    –there was no clear good guy
    –we followed story of innocent but not an active hero
    –The good guy Dr Neil with kids (good guys) escaped Jurassic park
    –Culturally a Little Girl is determined innocent and more important than the life of any adult. She was freed evil loses.
    –A storm/dinosaurs isnt a guy
    –A split personality, neither of which were a good guy.

  203. I think several people on here need to rewatch Momento.

    Leonard kills his wife, then goes into such extreme denial that it causes his mental condition.

    Teddy is investigating the murder of Leonard’s wife, realizes that he is suffering from a denial induced mental condition, and then uses said condition to manipulate Leonard into murdering fellons that he cannot make a concrete case against.

    So, Leonard and Teddy are both bad guys. The only question is: Is it worse to murder your wife, or to manipulate someone with a mental condition to dish out justice?

    However, the movie is fitting for the list as the protagonist turns out to be the actual murderer and does get away with it.

    Good post Madison, and kudos on continuing to get comments a year after the post!

  204. another I would add-“The Astronauts wife” Charlize Theron and Johnny Depp. The evil alien wins, both good guys lose.and the good guys children are also possessed.

  205. how about Phone Booth?

    while the “good guy’s” skeletons all come out due to the “bad guy,” he is still a “bad guy.” he is a terrorist that kills innocent people (the pizza guy) and some not-so-innocent people. murder is still worse than the manipulation the “good guy” is responsible for…

  206. I think “good guys” and “bad guys” should be cleared up by describing them as protagonists and antagonists. There are many movies where you are rooting for the bad guys, Lock Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels, Oceans 11, The Italian job. I think what is implied here is that the person you were rooting for turns out to be a shit, or bites the big one. In Memento, as cruel as his last act was, he was the guy you were rooting for and you realize he won in the end. I wouldn’t even count Butch and Sundance in this category as their glorious deaths are a type of defiance and a victory. Even Spartacus died and yet the you can’t really call the Romans victorious sense he lived on in legend. But take a look at Swimming With Sharks, Brazil, 28 Weeks Later (or most zombie movies for that matter), Brokedown Palace (borderline since she sacrifices herself to save her friend), Irreversible, Fat Girl (she sort of comes out on top in the end but not in the way the viewer had hoped), Planet of the Apes (the original), Y Tu Mama Tambien, Cool Hand Luke. I’m sure there are plenty I’m missing.

  207. I agree with Rafael

    My addidtion Although Not a human good guy

    Godzilla (crappy 1998 remake)

    They stuffed up that movie, I felt that Godzilla was the victim just trying to make a life and put food on the table for his partner and offspring.

    The spoilt brat humans hunted him down and tortured him and latter his partner because they didn’t like them.

    But hey that’s just IMHO

    It’s just as accurate as some of the tripe suggestions served in these comments

  208. First one on my list was Basic Instinct, where the innocent woman was not only killed, but framed as being the murderer of the others.

    One not mentioned: The Hot Spot, where Virginia Madsen’s character gets everything she wants, where Jennifer’s Connelly’s innocent character gets the shaft (although at least she’s not killed).

  209. #5 The Strangers
    #4 Wolf Creek
    #3 Mr. Brooks
    #2 Fallen
    #1 Angel: Last episode
    It’s kind of like… Sure. We can’t beat you. You’ll kill us all. But for one brief shining moment. We owned your eternal asses.

  210. Welcome To The Dollhouse-Dawn, who should run away and find a different family that loves her along with a town of people that don’t want to kill her, stays, and eventually commits suicide (in Pallindromes).

  211. In the original movie called Willard from 1971, the evil Ben kills Willard at the end…once all of the rats have overrun his house.

    The funny part is, that the 2003 remake with Crispin Glover, they changed the ending so that Willard defeats Ben, but in the Special Features there is an “alternate ending” which portrays the original silhouette of Ben overtaking Willard.

    Nice way to ruin the movie, huh?

  212. No Country for Old Men is a good one.

    The protagonist dies, his wife (presumably) dies, and the antagonist gets away with his freedom, and his money. Also, the ease at which the protagonist is killed at the very end is also a bit of a smack in the face for anyone who was rooting for him.

    Some of the ones listed in the list and comments:


    You can’t really say the “bad guy wins” for it. The protagonist, Leonard, is being used by his friend, teddy, who we later find out is the antagonist. He is using Leonard’s disability to make money. Had Leonard not acted the way he did, the cycle could have continued indefinitely until one of them died.

    American Psycho:

    It is hard to say if there is a victory at all. In the end when Bateman finally fesses up to killing Paul Allen but then he finds out it was actually impossible for him to do so seeing as the person he was confessing to had lunch with Allen after-the-fact. This leads us to call in question if any of his other murders actually happened as well. However, in American Psycho 2 they are quite adamant that Bateman was a murderer so I guess if you were to use the second movie to justify that he got away with it you could make a point. However, he is killed within the first 5 minutes, so he gets his.

    The Dark Knight:

    Contrary to what some posted might think, The Joker doesn’t win. He doesn’t prove people value someone’s life less than theirs, he also couldn’t get batman to kill him which would have broke his “one rule”. He gets locked up which, though it may leave him open to breakout later, is by no means how he wanted it to end.


    The protagonist (the group of 300 spartans) may end up dieing; however, justice is served swiftly by thousands more spartans. It doesn’t give you the feeling of getting the wind knocked out you. I consider movies where the bad guy wins to be movies where the injustice still remains.

  213. I’m not sure this is the right response? But I’m pretty sure everyone… And yes, i mean EVERYONE! Even you… Lost out on ‘Donnie Darko’. Interesting movie… But no real point…

  214. You should read hannibal the book, the ending is much better. hannibal and starling run off to south america together and live a wonderful life with each other

  215. glad so many people understand Memento =D

    Danial Plainsview- There Will be Blood

    soooo evil
    soooo powerful
    sooo…. drunk

    and yeah glad someone named Angel Heart

  216. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

    Those hobbits, along with that eco-terrorist Tree Beard, got away with killing Sauron the Great. He was the only guy with the courage to stand up for Ork rights.

    Remember, “history is written by those who have hanged heroes!” – Braveheart.


    Dude rapes/murders/robs. Sure he gets some messed up therapy that makes him nice but then they undo it and his back to his old (rape/muder/robbing) tricks!!!

    Alex DeLarge. Epic win of a bad guy pwning the good.

  218. The author of the article just asked for movies where the bad guys win, not for movies that have to be brutal or gory. One that comes to mind is the original “Italian Job”. The guys were bad, but not necessarily evil.

  219. Not sure if someone mentioned this, but there is a great psychological thriller called Session 9.

    The bad guy definitely wins because the end gives you a sense that he is everywhere. You’ll know what I mean if you watch it.

    Oh, and I wish you had done tv shows: Twin Peaks. Bad guy totally won!

  220. You’ve got heroes who may be Greek-comedic (win in the end) or Greek-tragic (fail in the end because of an unresolved internal flaw). Both of those are good endings that leave you with your “Just World Fallacy” intact.

    You’ve got heroes (John Wayne) and you’ve got anti-heroes (the Man with No Name), who may also be comedic or tragic. But whether hero or anti-hero, the author shows you enough goodness in him to allow you to root for his win (in a comedy) or sympathize with his failure (in a tragedy). Understand, by the way, that the good guy need not survive in order to win.

    A “bad guys win” movie is one that–regardless of other circumstances–shatters your “Just World Fallacy.” Evil was not punished, good was not rewarded.

    Thus, for instance, “The Exorcist” is not “bad guy wins.” Satan’s real target is the young priest who is on the verge of losing his belief and his eternal salvation. The young priest in the end manages both to rescue the girl and finally to rescue his own soul. Yes, he died, but in his Christian belief, it’s an acceptable trade-off with a “win” in the end.

    The point is that these movies leave you with your “Just World Fallacy” intact.

  221. “The Draughtsman’s Contract”

    The original “DOA” is an interesting twist on the idea. Bigelow gets the guy who poisoned him but Halliday’s motive for the killing is mundane. Majak and his gang of criminals set the whole plot in motion. Majak is not directly responsible for Bigelow’s death but he runs a professional criminal outfit. Halliday just wants to bump off his lover’s husband and Bigelow was a bystander.

    If you find the last paragraph a little convoluted, you should see the movie!

  222. This seems to be most prevalent in the late 60’s-70’s.

    Raphael brings up a good point in that it’s no so much good guy vs. bad guy, sometimes it’s the protagonist vs. antagonist. We root for Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid or Cool Hand Luke but there’s a lot of ambiguity whether they’re good or bad. They’re not evil characters but they’re not Lawfully-Good characters either, they’re more neutral/chaotic neutral/chaotic good characters. It’s good to refer to the old D & D character alignment when talking about these fictional characters.


    I can think of 3 Hitchcock movies: Vertigo, Psycho, and The Birds, where the bad guy/antagonist wins.

    Gavin Elster gets away with murder and destroys Jimmy Stewart’s mental state in Vertigo.

    The Mother ends up taking over Anthony Perkins mind in Psycho.

    The Birds win in the end of “The Birds” when the humans are forced to leave the town.

    Henry Fonda is eventually exonerated in Hitchcock’s “The Wrong Man” but his life/family is completely ruined by the experience.

    Klaatu is killed at the end of “The Day the Earth Stood Still”.

    A lot of people seem to forget that “Rocky” loses in the original film. Apollo Creed’s not really a “bad” guy, just the antagonist.

    “The Bad News Bears” lose to the Yankees at the end of that film. In a lot of these films maybe the antagonists loses a game or battle but gains a greater self-respect or insight like Rocky or Buttermaker or some of the Bears players.

    In “Death of a Salesmen” Willy Lowman loses to social/economic system.

    In “1984” Winston Smith loses his mind to the State Political System.

    In “The Grapes of Wrath” the whole family basically loses to an economic system.

    Then there are some films like “Carrie” or “West Side Story” where everybody loses.

    Then there are films that are kind of blurred as to who really won or lost.

    Jesus loses to Pilate and the Romans in every film about Christ but he eventually gains more power in his resurrection.

    Sam Lowry loses his battle with a completely dysfunctional system in “Brazil” but kind of wins because the state can never fully break his mind and take his soul like it did to Winston in 1984.

    McMurtry is McMurphy is lobotomized in “Cuckcoo’s Nest but his condition gave a re-birth to “The Chief” who literally broke that system by breaking a wall.

    Same thing for Cool Hand Luke, Butch & Sundance, and Mickey Rourke’s Wretler. The power structures may have killed them but they could never take control of their souls.

  223. You totally did miss one or two important points in your description of memento, but begeesus some of the people telling you too re-watch it totally need to re-watch it themselves if they think Leonard killed Teddy to `end the violence’… he totally, consciously, creates the position where, not only will he kill Teddy, but where he will continue looking for the next `person who killed his wife’, even after realising that he killed his wife himself. Its even implied that Leonard has discovered that he killed his own wife before, and choses to forget it and that he had started killing other people that he, temporarily, thought killed his wife before Teddy figured it out and started using him. Man.

  224. Just finished reading every comment on here…..Freaking great topic as usual…Don’t recall seeing:
    Cry Wolf
    The Nature Of The Beast ( Lance Henriksen and Eric Roberts) very underrated

    The Hole (Thora Birch in a great movie)


    My personal favorite was either Primal Fear or Saw

    Madison great as always I gotta side with you on Memento
    but I cant believe you left out SE7EN

  225. I would not qualify “The Empire Strikes Back” as a movie where the bad guys win. I saw at least one argument where it was claimed that the Empire should not be thought of as the bad guys. For argument’s sake, I’ll side-step that one, because the vast majority of people who are familiar with the Star Wars franchise take the side the Palpatine/Vader/the Empire are the bad guys, mostly because that’s how they were portrayed.

    That said, even if the Empire represents the bad guys, they still did not win at the end of “The Empire Strikes Back.” The Empire had two goals during that movie, capturing or destroying the Rebel Alliance, and capturing Luke Skywalker, neither of which were accomplished.

    In fact, the winner of “The Empire Stikes Back” is Boba Fett, or arguably Jabba the Hutt. Boba’s goal of capturing Han Solo to win the bounty, from Jabba, on his head was the only mission that was completed.

  226. For some reason, the first movie that popped into my mind was “My Fair Lady”. Eliza Doolittle gains the strength to face any challenge, and yet the film adaption has her marrying Prof. Henry Higgins… a totally bewildering ending considering he treats her like DIRT. In the original play, no such idiocy takes place.

  227. @Mcclane

    I suppose you could kind of consider the killing room to be such a movie, though it is hard to decide if the main “villain” in the movie is a villain at all.

  228. am i crazy or how has no one said PITCH BLACK? the Riddick character is a prisoner who has murdered people and escapes because he is the only one who can see in the dark. i wasn’t a huge COR fan but that character is so bad ass and those monsters were awesome. i can’t wait for the next one.

  229. Technically, in Star Wars, the REBEL alliance is the “Bad guy team,” as Luke, Han, and the rest of the alliance are fighting against the empire, AKA the government. Of course, The Empire is obviously considered evil and unjust, the emperor clearly abuses it’s power. The rebels -though technically acting against the law – Are committing their crimes for a just cause, to overthrow the tyranny of the “Evil empire”

  230. Also, Any movie that features a successful prison-break could be viewed as the bad guys (convicted criminals) winning, by escape the prison the good guys (police, judges, lawyers, etc) sent them to as punishment for their crimes. (though, some movies feature an escapee who is actually innocent, falsely convicted, but not all of them.) there’s kind of two ways to look at “good guys VS bad guys.” Either the technical route (I.E. the empire from Star Wars being the actual “good guys” as they are the government) or the Cinematic route; How each group or individual is portrayed in the film; which, using this route would change the empire from Star Wars as being the bad guys. Even though they are technically the government and the law, the film obviously portrays them as being the “Bad guys.” Here’s one to ponder, what would you call “The Departed?” obviously the line between “good guys” and “bad guys” is blurred from the get go, who would you say wins? The good guys? The bad guys? or, who exactly ARE the good/bad guys? There are quite afew instances of the (so called) good guys doing very bad things, (“Dirk Diggler’s” final action at the very end, is just one of the many examples.) and also has a lot of instances of the opposite; the (so called) “bad guys” doing good things… discuss…

  231. Just about every other Horror movie can be included to this list. But for a different approach, I would say It’s A Wonderful Life. Yeah, major WTF from people reading this I’m sure, but the bad guy didn’t die, didn’t get any justice served to him, nothing. Clearly a win because he was such an asshole.

  232. Oh and The Number 23. He was still the guy that killed, even though he couldn’t remember. Hitler could have amnesia abut he would still be Hitler

  233. Since I haven’t read through the entire thread, you have to forgive me (sic) if someone has already mentioned this: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is thick with Christian imagery (albeit the book more explicitly than the movie). When the Chief puts on McMurphy’s hat and throws the tub through the window, McMurphy is reborn, so in a Christian sense he hasn’t lost at all. The same dynamic can be seen at play in Cool Hand Luke where the Christian imagery is more explicit. When at the end Dragline (the George Kennedy character) steps into the role of Luke’s apostle, that marks Luke’s triumph over the Bosses. It’s interesting that in the great Western religion the good guy wins by dying, and it’s so at odds with Western culture otherwise.

  234. I’ve seen Memento years ago, several times, including seeing it with the scenes in proper order (DVD feature); and my take on it was, yes Teddy was using Leonard, and taking advantage of his memory loss. However, Leonard killing Teddy was not an act of revenge, but merely a case of mistaken identity (has anyone assumed this yet here?). Leonard simply believed, through his collection of clues, that Teddy WAS the killer of his wife. However, the ironic twist is that even after killing Teddy, Leonard will eventually forget about it, and continue onward looking for the killer.

    The paradox of this movie is the protagonist’s “ironic goal” to avenge his wife; ironic because he may have very-well avenged his wife already, but simply forgot he ever did and continues on his never-ending quest to find the killer. It’s like he’s been damned to his own personal hell-on-earth. Poor guy.

  235. French movie Dobermann is nice example. Both “sides” are bad, one a little more bad than other (and actors suppor this plot accurate, Tcheky Karyo and Cassel rulez). Ending is happy or “happy” in the eye of spectator only.

  236. I’m not sure if anybody mentioned this yet, but you forgot a great bad guy wins movie. Secret Window with Johnny Depp. He kills a large amount of people, including his ex wife, and gets away with it. The whole town knows it but cant prove anything. Such a good movie.

  237. Definitely agree with all the “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” comments. I can’t believe you did not include “The Last American Virgin,” the teen movie from 1982.

  238. I’d say terminator 3, cause although John connor survives, the whole plot of the film was him stopping Judgement Day; clearly he failed as it still happens. Therefore the bad guys win.

  239. also the other two terminator films can kinda be seen as the good guys not winning, cause although in the first one they manage to kill the terminator, kyle reese still dies and sarah connor gets sent to an insane asylum cause noone believes her. In the second terminator film, it ends with the good terminator (whos like a father to John and a husband to Sarah) kills himself to try and prevent Judgement Day, even though it still happens later on anyway.

  240. Memento is the best film I’ve ever watched. But I disagree he is a bad bay since he doesn’t know what he is doing exactly.

    This summary is crap, though. The story doesn’t go on like that.

  241. You rule man.. honestly this list is awesome. I can see it making two years or more!!

    There is a serious movie missing here though. It’s a horror….I can’t remember the name and it’s killling me because it was the only movie to ever give me a really good scare… for days. I need your help and anyone else who reads this.

    Ok. here goes….
    It starts off with a kid in the dark in bed screaming, when his mom comes, he tells her there is something under the bed. She does not belive him, but gives him a flash light and leaves. The kid goes under the covers with the light and when he hears the noise again he bends his head to take a look and the monster grabs him by the head and pulls him under. Awesome start!!!

    The plot is that boogymen are real and exists in every dark place. They grab children, scare the shit out of them and put them back so that they can grow up in fear of them, this makes them ripe!! so they can come back and grab them as adults to eat them A couple of the stars find out what the boogymen are up to and attempt to escape this fate.

    **Spoiler Alert**
    The girl ends up barlely escaping in a subway only to be taken to a mental institution because no one believes her crazy ass, and they lock her away…. The boogtmen end up getting her through a dark closet. The boogymen end up winning.

    I thought it was a great flick and would love to see it again, and show it to my girlfriend, who thinks Im making the whole thing up. Please help….

    1. I don’t know what movie that is, but it sounds pretty awesome. Is it called “Them?” by any chance?

      Anyway, thanks for the comment, and thanks for reading.

  242. ok. I found it. took me long enough. You were close man, it’s called ‘THEY’ you may not find it that scary but it hit a personal scary note with me, and the ” bad guy” does win.

    Thanx, and bravo for keeping us interested!!

  243. Flash Gordon anyone? Flash saves the Earth and makes Ming the Merciless disappear, but Ming still gets the last laugh.

    Inglorious Basterds (all the bad guy gets is a small scar which can be hidden/removed or won’t matter much on his private retreat on Nantucket Island).

    Then there are these:
    – Interview With The Vampire
    – Valkyrie
    – Bitch Slap (Usual Suspects ripoff, but with more eye candy)
    – Syriana
    – Idiocracy (the dumbing down didn’t stop)
    – Life of Brian (not sure who the bad guy was, but the good guy lost)
    – Basic Instinct

    “To anyone mentioning Dark Knight, you’re wrong. The Joker would have won if Batman killed him, but he never did (and thus never broke his one rule). Considering that Batman was the lead protagonist, its impossible to say the bad guy won.”

    “I can’t agree. The destruction and chaos the Joker desired never came to fruition, althogh he was on the right path. The simple fact that he couldn’t make Batman abandon his own code and kill the Joker left the Joker a loser.”

    To Josh & Madison-
    The Joker wins the battle, but Batman wins the War.
    You say that because Gotham didn’t shred itself to pieces, and because Batman didn’t kill Joker, that The Joker didn’t win?
    I (respectfully) disagree, The Joker wins because he kills Rachel Dawes, and disfigures Harvey Dent.
    This breaks Batman/Bruce’s sense of hope for the future, and destroys Dent’s spirit. The Joker realizes that Batman won’t kill him, so he convinces Harvey to “introduce a little anarchy…” which inevitably brings Dent down to Joker and Batman’s level.
    So after killing 5 people(“2 of them cops”), Comm. Gordon and Batman both agree that if the public knew about the crimes Dent committed it would put criminals back on streets, and the city would lose hope. So Batman takes the fall to save Gotham in the big picture. But ultimately, The Joker wins in The Dark Knight.

    Still not convinced? Direct proof comes from the film:

    Commissioner Gordon: “The Joker won.”

  245. The Player with Tim Robbins, directed by Altman. This is an auteur classic study in bad-guy/good-guy reversal. It’s also considered one of the greatest films of all time. I’m really shocked it isn’t on this list.

  246. Also, Taxi Driver with DeNiro, directed by Scorcese. Also considered one of the greatest films of all time. A thin line between heroism and madness. Perhaps DeNiro couldn’t be considered a bad guy, pers se, but he definitely NOT a good guy. In fact, one of the underlying concepts Scorcese was trying to explore with this movie is “what exactly makes some one good or bad?”

  247. Cry Wolf, how exactly the villain wins would require explaining the whole movie but basically through a complicated long con the new guy in school is tricked into killing a teacher but gets away wiht it because the teacher was framed for the murder of his Ex buy the villian.

    seriously underrated film probably cause it was marketed as a horror flick when it’s a thriller

    OH also Inside man the bad guy wins because…well you should just watch it for getting to see Jodie foster play a UBER bitch

  248. Good list that has spawned great comments. I have a lot of movies to watch that are new to me. I agree that movies with a dark ending (not necessarily the “bad guy” winning) are so much more gratifying. I can’t believe I read through all the comments and didn’t see Serial Mom. That bitch was crazy. Who wears white shoes after Labor Day?!

  249. Nice list, Madison! After reading the thread, and I had to comment on a few of these movies mentioned.

    Empire – Just taking the movie for what it’s worth, the Empire is still the bad guy, no matter how you look at it. They were cruel and unmerciful to the people. So just taking the one movie by itself, it fits.

    Dark Knight – The key phrase for this list is “Where it’s the bad guy who comes out on top when it’s all said and done”. The Joker didn’t end up on top. The Joker ended the movie in JAIL. Dark Knight qualifies more as a “good guy losing” than a “bad guy winning” movie. Sure, the Joker won some battles and proved his point on society dumping Batman, but as SRG said, he ultimately lost the war, and if you lose the war, guess what? You LOSE. At the end of the movie, no one wins, so it wouldn’t go on on here.

    Momento – Everyone in the movie is a bad guy in some shade. Teddy uses Leonard, and is a douche, but Leonard DID conciously set up Teddy, whether Teddy’s story was true or not. Teddy flat out lied to Leonard in the warehouse (about meeting him before, and Leonard knew it). If you watch the last three chapters with the commentary, regardless of Teddy’s legitimate claim or lack therof, Leonard knowingly burns memories and writes a clue to track Teddy. Leonard KNEW what he was doing when he burned those Polaroids and wrote the license plate. No offense, but the people saying the point of the movie was missed are the ones who need to watch it again.

  250. OK – Little-seen movie called the Last Valley with Michael Caine and Omar Shariff – great film about the Thirty Years’ War – no “bad guy” per se, but these two men are really, in some way, elevated above their times, but the era itself triumphs over them – brutality, superstition, greed and religious fervor defeat them by the end.

    In Dreams – psychic Thriller with Annette Bening

    Creepy little made-for-tv movie called “Don’t go to sleep” – vengeful ghost offs entire family.

  251. I think the whole debate as to wether Memento belongs in this list or not is pointless.

    I agree with Madison’s interpretation. Teddy was using Lenny not to kill people, but he was rather manipulating him in order to get the bag of money in his car (the Jaguar that used to belong to Jimmy). Yes, Teddy was a bad guy, but in the end it was Lenny who decided not to accept the truth about his wife and chose to get rid of the only person who knew what happened. In the end Lenny would keep killing people to avenge his wife.

    On the other hand, Lenny could’ve been crazy. (There’s a scene in the movie which shows Lenny in an asylum for a fraction of a second)

  252. I wanted to suggest the possibility of Bandits. Although they are criminals and escape from prison, they seem very likeable and you root for them and in the end, MAJOR win for them.

  253. A CLOCKWORK ORANGE !!!! ……. HELLO BEST MOVIE EVER WAKE TF UP!!!! See this is what happens when Communication Majors do a list and NOT a Filmmaker who went to FILM SCHOOL AND STUDIED MOVIES FOR 4 G -DAMN YEARS!!! C OF O DAMN IT RIGHTY RIGHT!!!!!

  254. I’m not sure including Usual Suspects or Hannibal are fine examples, as they the bad guy is also the main protagonist.

    The effective twist of the bad guy winning in a non-Hollywood style is when there is clear definition between good and bad, such as The Empire Strikes Back.
    When the audience is already rooting for the bad guy then the point is moot.

    Finer examples of the bad guy winning include –

    Chinatown – The female lead is shot and killed her daughter is taken away by her paedophile father (abd grandfather) an the hero is escorted away by the police.

    On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – While Bond defeats the Blofeld’s plan, the criminal has the last laugh, shooting Bond’s newly married wife before the honeymoon. This act condemns Bond to a life of solitude and service and leaves him an empty man. (See also Casino Royale)

    Blake’s 7 (not a film)
    The last series see the surviving members of the enegmatic crew really turn on each other. The lead character is probably insane, the rest of the crew are desperate and lost and stumble to a fatal conclusion…

  255. man i seriously think u need to rewatch momento. that is in no way the bad guy winning. i understand where your coming from about his friend teddy been a good guy but u really need to look at the other side of the coin
    spoiler alert now
    but the film never tells u who the person on the phone is! it also never explains why teddy is trying to get into leonards car so bad. and the reason he is tryig to get into the car is because he knows that there is a hell of alot of money in the booth. and since the director is the amazing christopher nolan, if u look at inception the film is directed in the same way. meaning that there is no simple explanation for the ending!! like inception it never tells u weather he is dreaming or asleep, but the film is directed in a way to basically completly mind fuck the shit out of u! and momento is the exact same thing. there is no right answer, its designed to have any possible answer. but u completly overlooked the fact that teddy cud very possibly be a bad guy who rang hiom on the phone, got all the information he needed just so he cud get the money out of the booth of the car

  256. I recently saw a film called Rampage. Not only does the guy rack up one of the highest body counts in movie history, he truly gets away with it. If you like rooting for the bad guy, or just dark movies in general ( yes very dark and graffic ) then watch Rampage, It’s on netflix.

  257. I always thought that exposing a Nazi war criminal (Inside Man), and taking his blood money made Owen’s character a good guy. For all we know he gave that money to the families of Holocaust survivers (keeping some for his trouble of course). Plus he helped Denzel’s character by giving him the ring. The real bad guy was the banker, and he got ssscccrrreeeewwwwed.

  258. I forget who mentioned American History X, but Danny was a vengeance killing, not a racial one. His killer was the brother of the guy Derek curb-stomped. At least that’s what I gathered.

  259. Salo’ or “120 days of Sodom” directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Based on the book written by the Marquis de Sade. By far the
    most offensive movie made and the bad guys definitely get away with it, no justice served. Watching this is very unsettling as you get a feeling that “God is not here.” Salo’ would definitely be my #1 on this list. If it isn’t you obviously have not seen it.

  260. I would say Frailty is an excellent example of the bad guy winning! Also, if you want to take the peta route, King Kong would be another good one b/c kong was killed simply b/c people tried to use him for their own personal gain without truly understanding the creature

  261. This may be superfluous since everyone else is saying it but screw it.

    You definitely missed the point of Memento and I think you should give it another viewing.

    Teddy wasn’t merely “not a saint” he was a corrupt cop/drug dealer who tricked Lenny into murdering his enemies. Sorry but no matter how you slice it, tricking a mentally disabled man into murdering people for personal gain is BAD.

    Further more Lenny is not continuing his cycle of killing by murdering Teddy, he’s ending it. After all he snaps the picture in the end. If he meant to go on killing you’d think he’d have conveniently neglected to do that.

  262. Memento: wrong.

    The plot is that Leonard Shelby is faking his condition and using how he learned about it from his client. He tattooed Remember on his hand so he remembers what hes doing, why he’s doing it, and not to forget that he has to keep his cool and keep acting like he is acting.

    Watch the movie again. They’re is a small clip near the end of the movie that shows him with his wife and the tattoo on his chest that says “I did It” meaning he caught guy. That’s why his friend, Teddy, turned around before he shot him and said No! bc he knew and thats when Teddy realized he was faking it

  263. What about NATURAL BORN KILLERS !!!! or Reservoir Dogs !!!
    i think they´re missing on ur list, although i cant really tell cuz
    u started this 2009
    btw tron legacy sucked ass

  264. Firstly

    “don’t look now” with donald sutherland, one of the best endings of any film and leaves you with a genuine sense of disquiet.

    “omen” with gregory peck. SPOLIER Seeing a man get to the point where he is about to stab a child in a church, in front of the cops, with 7 knives, AND you’re rooting for him to do it, AND he fails!!!

    Just to weigh in on the memento thing. I thought the whole point of the film is that you can interpret it in many ways, it’s never explicitly stated what the motivationbs of each character are and as such it’s up for you to say, the way the film is shot/the story unfolds not only exacerbates the confusion but is an allegory for lenny’s predicament and the general lack of firm dependable information in the story.

    As such I wouldn’t have included it as it becomes subjective to say that lenny was a bad guy as the lively debate on the subject here illustrates.

  265. A recent movie that many people haven’t seen where the bad guy wins is Mr. Brooks. Costner plays the title role, a serial killer.

    No spoilers given here… for those who haven’t seen it its worth a watch.

  266. Revenge of the Sith. All the Jedi die, Palpatine forms the empire, Darth Vader becomes that cyborg, Yoda goes into hiding, need I say more? Bad guys won.

  267. To Kill a Mockingbird.

    The bad guy: Back in the movie’s time, it wasn’t bad, but now we know it is: a really racist society.

    How it wins: Back then, a Black man could be arrested for smiling at a White woman. And in this case, A Black man was accused of raping a White woman. The guy’s White lawyer makes a lot of progress in the testimony that he’s innocent, and even actually proves it. However, the All-White jury finds him guilty anyway just because of his race. While being taken to jail, he escapes and his killed, and his White lawyer’s reputation is ruined.

  268. You said that real life doesn’t usually work like that, but there is something else you have to realize: real life isn’t usually black and white like that. In real life, each side usually think that there’s at least some good and some bad in what they do.

  269. I have a feeling that this movie that they’re about to makre about Casey Anthony is one of them.

    P.S. I disagree entirely about One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s nest. Ratched simply got schooled in that one. Rewatch it. I agree with Bob; To Kill a Mockingbird is the best example of the bad guy winning you can come by.

  270. The Lovely Bones

    Mr. Harvey killed and raped many a little girl. Yes, he was killed by an icicle in the end, but that was not comeuppance, only happenstance and fortuate serendipity.

    He was never caught, never even suspected except by one father, and continued to live in the same town years later.

    That is definately a bad guy winner.

  271. Requiem for a Dream.
    In the end, Sara is totally fucked up because of her addiction to drugs, Ty is stuck in jail because of Heroin, Marion is being used for sex shows for her craving of drugs, and Harry is all alone with only 1 arm.

    Drugs (bad guys) win, characters lose.

  272. In the original 1957 version of “Twelve Angry Men”, it is never stated whether the defendant is innocent or guilty, merely that reasonable doubt had been created in the minds of the other jury members by Henry Fonda’s character.

    If he was guilty, which is suspected but not proven, then he was the bad guy and gets away with murder. If he wasn’t guilty, then the lazy and lackadaisical judge was the bad guy, condemning people to injustices.

    1. Road to Rio How the Bad Guy wins Bob Hope wins the girl by hypnotizing Dorothy Lamour with a medallion and Bing ends off saying I thought she was in love with me after all theese pictures of course The Good Guy Bing Crosby wins Dorothy Lamour in the next picture Road to Bali but in Road to Rio Bob Hope gets the girl in the end
      Madhouse How the Bad Guy Wins Vincent Price remains Dr.Death after he kills Peter Cushing who tries to take over as Dr.Death

  273. The Joker did win in The Dark Knight. At the end, when he’s talking to Batman:

    The Joker: You didn’t think I’d risk losing the battle for Gotham’s soul in a fistfight with you? No. You need an ace in the hole. Mine’s Harvey.

    If the inmates had have blown up the citizens it wouldn’t have proven anything – they’re already considered scum. His goal was to bring the most model of citizens down to the level of a psychopath to prove that even the best can be turned. And he did it.

  274. I didn’t see this but what about The Secret Window with Johnny Depp? Depp’s role killed his ex, his dog, his neighbor, his agent, and burned down his ex’s place. In the end he got away with it.

  275. Ichi The Killer (Koroshiya 1) – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0296042/

    2001 Japanese film directed by Takashi Miike, based on Hideo Yamamoto’s manga series of the same name.
    The bad guy definitely win although the full meaning of the movie came to me only after I read the manga… 🙂

    It’s not a horror movie per se, but it’s not for squeamish people ether.

  276. I would of said the Sith lord/senator Palpatine from star wars episode 3 as opposed to the Empire strikes back. As a personal choice I’m going to have to say the Joker in Batman beyond: return of the Joker, even tho the Joker had died 40 years before the events taking place in Neo-Gotham his influence beyond the grave remained with Tim Drake (due to extreme torture driving him to the point of insanity) eventually turning Tim into the Joker himself and seriously fucking his Life up even to point that Tim Drake had to institutionalized, but at the end even tho the Bat-crew sorta won this battle joker had already won this war,,,,,, it just took 40 years to deliver the punch line 😉

  277. A curve ball here and no one’s said it yet… how about Election, with Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick? His purpose the entire movie was to bring her down. She comes unstuck by her own accord but he is far worse off!

  278. I can’t believe how many strange views there are on Memento.
    He wasn’t faking it.
    He got revenge, Teddy began to lie to get Lenny to kill again.
    Lenny wrote a lie, so he will get rid of Teddy.
    Or Lenny really was looking for Teddy.
    Or maybe the first tattoo was also a lie.
    The irony is he finally kills John G. but won’t remember it.
    And he gets revenge for Jimmy and Natalie, but she will never know. (All she knows is his name ‘Teddy’.)

    Simple solution for complex film.

  279. How about the movie IDENTITY with John Cusack where 10 strangers are being picked off and killed. They were trying to figure out who the killer was, in the end it was the little boy who killed the people and the film ended with the boy looking at the survivor!!

  280. Tyler Perry’s “Why did I get married too?”

    Janet Jackson basically turns into a bitch, pushes her loving husband into a divorce, denies that he helped further her career to avoid sharing money, and then sends a gay stripper to his office to humiliate him infront of everyone which prompts him to run out with her taunting him the whole time and as he pulls away in his car, he’s hit and killed…she feigns regret and the movie ends with her and The Rock getting together.

  281. Road to Rio How the Bad Guy wins Bob Hope wins the girl by hypnotizing
    Dorothy Lamour with a medallion and Bing ends off saying I thought she
    was in love with me after all theese pictures of course The Good Guy Bing
    Crosby wins Dorothy Lamour in the next picture Road to Bali but in Road to Rio Bob Hope gets the girl in the end
    Madhouse How the Bad Guy Wins Vincent Price remains Dr.Death after he kills Peter Cushing who tries to take over as Dr.Death

  282. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstien How the Bad Guy wins Even though Frankenstien,Dracula,and The Wolfman get defeated when Abbott and Costello take a boat ride they here The Invisible Man (Vincent Price) speak and they jump in the river and the story ends after that
    Martin and Lewis Scared Stiff How The Bad Guy Wins Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis think they have everything fixed in the ghost house but then
    they look in a mirror and see themselves as Bing Crosby and Bob Hope and scream there heads off and end up saying Well That’s the end

  283. The Hunchback of Notre Dame at least in the novel Frollo has Esmerelda Hanged and Quasimodo vanishes where a rumor was that Quasimodo
    had died and became a skeleton in Esmerelda’s grave.In theese times
    of Paris the disabled was forced to feel unloved and the Gypsy was blamed for a crime that the white man did.

  284. Let Us Prey- The man who comes to collect the main characters’ souls succeeds in the end and as a bonus gets the girl that he has been watching since she was very young.

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