10 Movie Villains Who Get a Little Too Happy an Ending
You wish things were that easy in real life.
Who doesn't love a happy ending? When heroes get everything they ever wanted and villains typically meet a grim fate. However, some movies can deviate from the traditional formula, leaving the bad guys with an unexpected sense of satisfaction.
Here are 10 movie antagonists who found solace, or even happiness, in their final on-screen moments.
10. John Doe — Se7en (1995)
In David Fincher's gripping thriller Se7en, John Doe, masterfully portrayed by Kevin Spacey, goes on a gruesome killing spree that shakes viewers to the core. However, in a climactic twist, Doe is shot in the head, but finds an eerie satisfaction in the realization that his sinister mission has succeeded, leaving Detectives Mills and Somerset emotionally devastated as it marks the success of his plan.
9. Anton Chigurh — No Country for Old Men (2007)
Brought to life by Javier Bardem in the Coen Brothers' neo-western crime thriller, Anton Chigurh is a cold-blooded killer and psychopath working for a drug cartel. Enforcing his own twisted moral code, Chigurh relies on a coin toss to decide the fate of his victims, and in a surprising twist, his open-ended fate leaves room for him to continue his menacing path.
8. Amanda Waller — The Suicide Squad (2021)
Amanda Waller, portrayed by the formidable Viola Davis, is a relentless government agent in the DC Comics universe. In The Suicide Squad, her cold-blooded determination and ruthless methods with no regard for human life put her at odds with her own team.
When the Suicide Squad attempted to intervene and save the day, Waller even threatened to terminate her own team, a decision that was narrowly averted. But when the dust settles, Waller emerges victorious and remains a part of the team, as she never intended to wipe them all out.
7. Hannibal Lecter — Hannibal (2001)
Immortalized by Anthony Hopkins, Hannibal Lecter is one of cinema's most iconic and chilling villains. In The Silence of the Lambs, Lecter assists FBI trainee Clarice Starling and eventually escapes custody, only to resurface a few years later to play his games again.
Though the ending of Thomas Harris' novel Hannibal took an unexpected and controversial turn, as it depicted Clarice and Hannibal running away together and becoming lovers, Ridley Scott's film adaptation took a different path. In this version, Lecter chops off his own hand to escape Clarice's handcuffs, and the movie ends with him aboard a plane, leaving the possibility of another sequel wide open.
6. Lucius Malfoy — Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011)
Lucius Malfoy, portrayed by Jason Isaacs, is a prominent antagonist in the Harry Potter saga and a loyal follower of Lord Voldemort, whose cruelty knows no limits. At the Battle of Hogwarts, however, Lucius flees with his family, leaving his long career as a Death Eater in the shadow of uncertainty.
While the film leaves his fate open, The Cursed Child provides some insight into his character's development by revealing that Lucius and his son, Draco Malfoy, are no longer on the same page, as Draco has disavowed his family's ideology of pure-blood supremacy.
5. Dr. Evil — Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002)
Dr. Evil, played by the versatile Mike Myers, serves as the comically over-the-top villain in the Austin Powers comedy series. However, in a surprising twist, Goldmember reveals that Dr. Evil is Austin's long-lost brother who was kidnapped by gypsies in their youth.
This twist takes place during the climax, causing Dr. Evil to turn away from a life of crime in favor of a reunion with his biological family and a fresh start.
4. Catwoman — The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Anne Hathaway's Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, undergoes a significant transformation in Christopher Nolan 's Dark Knight sequel. Initially a cunning thief, her character evolves as the story unfolds, forming a closer bond with Bruce Wayne.
As they join forces to defeat Bane, Selina makes the life-changing decision to leave her criminal past behind. The movie ends with a retired Bruce and a reformed Selina starting a new chapter together in a foreign land.
3. Thanos — Avengers: Infinity War ( 2018)
Josh Brolin's Thanos' quest to collect the Infinity Stones and restore balance to the universe leads to intense confrontations and emotional turmoil as Thanos achieves his goal of wiping out half of all life in the universe in Infinity War.
Despite the collective power of the MCU 's heroes arrayed against him, Infinity War ended with Thanos achieving his goal and retiring to a tranquil farm, where he lived for a great number of years until the Avengers visited him again in the Endgame.
2. Nurse Ratched — One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
Nurse Ratched, brought to life by Louise Fletcher, is the embodiment of authoritarianism and tyranny in a mental institution, Salem State Hospital. Her battle of wills with the rebellious Randle McMurphy takes an unexpected turn, ultimately leaving Nurse Ratched with a bittersweet sense of control and triumph.
After McMurphy's lobotomy effectively silences him, Nurse Ratched emerges seemingly victorious, retaining her position of power at the cost of her opponent's sanity.
1. Darth Vader — Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983)
Darth Vader, aka Anakin Skywalker, is one of the most iconic villains in cinematic history, as his transformation from Jedi Knight to Sith Lord is central to the Star Wars saga. Having undergone a remarkable transformation in Return of the Jedi, Anakin's redemption and selfless sacrifice on behalf of his son, Luke Skywalker, brings closure and fortune to his character arc and fulfills his destiny in an unexpected act of heroism.
In his final moments, he embraces redemption and departs in contentment, securing his place as a Force Ghost watching over the living.