The best movie endings

40 all-time greats that managed to end on a bang, not a whimper.

23. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

cuckoos nest ending

The battle of wits between Jack Nicholson’s Randle Patrick McMurphy and Louise Fletcher’s Nurse Ratched drives the story of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, but it’s Will Sampson’s Chief who gets to take center stage when the credits role.

After the rest of the patients at the mental institution get drawn into the conflict, Ratched decides to tighten her iron grip over the facility even further, with McMurphy inevitably her main target.

Chief discovers McMurphy with lobotomy scars on his forehead, with Ratched having finally managed to subdue him. Tearful, Chief smothers his friend to death, launches a fountain through the window and escapes to his freedom in about as uplifting an ending as you could hope from such a grim film.