The Spoiled Spoilers: What Plot Twists Do We Take For Granted?
This is literally about SPOILERS for famous plot twists. So proceed with caution…
I know, I know. Spoilers are bad. Sometimes. Or not. We can debate the finer points of spoilers, like how much time should elapse before it’s safe to discuss plot twists and how much heads up to give when doing so, but that’s not what I’m interested in today. What I wanna talk about are the huge plot twists that are so mainstream, we take them for granted. I’m talking “Leia is Luke’s sister” level reveals. The ones we’d all assume everyone simply must know by now.
And what do you do when you find out someone DOESN’T know them?
Recently I discovered that my husband, who admittedly isn’t a big fan of horror movies, hasn’t seen Friday the 13th. He landed on the original film while flipping through channels, and asked me which one it was. Specifically: “Oh, is this the one with Freddy?”
…”No. Freddy’s in the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. Jason’s the killer in these. Well, mostly.”
“Oh, is he the one with the knife?”
…”No, that’s Michael Myers. Jason has a machete, mostly.”
“What’s Michael Myers in?”
…(goddammit, dude)”He’s the killer in Halloween.”
“Oh! Then who wears the hockey mask?”
“Then what does Michael wear?”
“Um, a weird white mask?”
Anyway, after our brief tutorial on the Big Bads of the Slasher genre, I realized that I may have misled him… because while Jason IS the killer for most of the Friday the 13th movies, he ISN’T the killer in the first one. His mother, Mrs. Voorhees, is. But here’s the thing — even just asking a clarifying question like “Wait, so do you know who the real killer is in the first film?” essentially spoils the twist. Sure, the movie came out in 1980, before either of us were born, so it’s not really my fault if he hasn’t seen it. But that’s the kind of plot twist that has become so mainstream it’s possible to know about without seeing the movie anyway. In this case, considering he didn’t even realize Friday the 13th didn’t star Freddy fucking Krueger, I felt safe assuming he wouldn’t be aware of the Mrs. Voorhees reveal and I made him watch the whole movie.
So while my husband experienced the joy of watching Baby Kevin Bacon awkwardly clutch his lover’s breast in post-coital satisfaction before dying with an arrow in his throat, I started contemplating the other ubiquitous plot twists I’ve always assumed everyone just knew by osmosis at this point. I then took it to the Overlords, and these are a few of the big ones we came up with:
- In Se7en, we all know exactly “what’s in the fucking box” right?
- We know who really was Keyser Soze all along.
- Everybody HAS to realize Ned Stark bites it, right? And his wife and son follow him during the Red Wedding? Also, dragons happen?
- Rosebud was a fucking sled.
- The killer was actually two people in Scream… but nobody knows what Matthew Lillard’s damage was.
- Bruce Willis was dead the whole time.
- Tyler Durden wasn’t real or whatever.
- Norman Bates was Mother. Split personalities are practically a wellspring of plot twists.
- Daddy Darth Vader.
- Jigsaw was in the room the whole movie.
- Al Pacino was really the Devil. So was Robert De Niro. So was Jack Nicholson. All in different movies, but whatever - I love a good Devil plot twist.
- Um, Soylent Green is made out of people, dammit.
- The Wizard of Oz isn’t a real wizard at all.
What famous twists that everyone should already know have I missed? What would you do if you encountered someone who was in the dark on these and other mainstream “spoilers”? And what twists did you discover long after everyone else already knew? I’ll confess one of my own: turns out Training Day is NOT a football movie. Color me surprised!