We all love to root for the villain every now and then! On that subject, we rounded up some of the best movies where the bad guys won instead of the heroes. I can’t believe how many great answers there were to this question from movie buffs!
In all these movies, the bad guys did win, albeit to various degrees. How you define winning and losing also matters here. While there are plenty of films where the villains technically come out on top, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve won in the grand scheme of things.
Spoiler warning: since we’re talking about movie endings here, there’s definitely going to be some spoilers! Proceed with caution.
Anyway, here are some of the most popular answers to “What is a movie where the bad guys won?”
Se7en is a crime thriller starring a detective investigating a series of murders. He soon discovers they’re the work of a serial killer who is targeting victims based on the seven deadly sins. Just when you think the hero is getting close to catching John Doe (the killer), it turns out to be a trap.
Yes, the bad guy dies, but not before carrying out exactly what he’s planned and ruining the hero’s life.
This is another great example of the bad guys winning at the end of the movie. The main character, Louis, runs a news agency and profits off increasingly sensational media and tragic events. In the end, he manages to achieve most of his goals, including having the business partner that he disagreed with killed.
The police also try to arrest him but aren’t successful due to lack of evidence. In short, the bad guy gets away. Not only that, they actually show him hiring new staff and becoming more successful after the movie’s tragic events.
3. Planet of the Apes
This is talking about the original movies, not the new ones. Technically no one wins at the end of Planet of the Apes, but they definitely end in tragedy each time for the heroes. You could also argue the bad guys (apes) have already won at the start of the first film.
If you haven’t seen Hereditary, you may be forgiven if you’re not into horror movies – it’s intense. Long story short, all the bad stuff that you’re hoping won’t happen throughout the movie comes to pass right at the end.
5. The Empire Strikes Back
We often watch the Star Wars movies in succession, so it’s easy to forget how much of a cliffhanger The Empire Strikes Back ends on. Han Solo is frozen in carbonite, and Luke finds out Vader is his father before losing his hand. While it’s still hopeful at the very end, there are definitely several bad-guy victories that happen in this movie.
6. The Usual Suspects
I don’t want to give away the twist for The Usual Suspects, so just know that at the end, the real killer gets away with pretty much everything (he’s convicted of a much smaller crime).
Another serial killer movie, Fallen, is chilling to the bone. Made even better by the talented stars (Denzel Washington and John Goodman), this psychological thriller certainly doesn’t leave you with a happy ending.
8. No Country for Old Men
This one is a bit of a stretch, but I still think it’s worth mentioning, given that the protagonists definitely aren’t the winners in No Country for Old Men. Yes, they take the villain down, and he doesn’t get what he wants, but he technically walks away (although may or may not be fatally injured). Even if the villain is defeated, it can feel like they won when the hero hasn’t, and that’s definitely how we feel at the end of this film.
9. Avengers: Infinity War
I was actually surprised this one wasn’t the most popular answer! I think we’re all still reeling from Endgame that we forget what Infinity War left us with. If you haven’t seen it or have forgotten: Thanos, the bad guy, successfully collects all six infinity stones – granting him the power to control reality.
Before the heroes can stop him, Thanos snaps half of humanity out of existence. We don’t see any resolution for a whole year until Endgame came out.
10. Despicable Me
This is such a cute answer. Since Despicable Me stars a bad guy as the protagonist, it’s technically the bad guy winning. While you could argue that some of Gru’s actions are “good” in the movie (rescuing the girls and adopting them) and that he’s unsuccessful in his attempt to steal the moon, he’s happy in the end, and that makes Despicable Me a movie where the bad guys won in my opinion.
I’ll spare the gory details and just tell you in simple terms: everybody dies. Of course, this isn’t common for torture-porn-style horror movies, but the twist ending definitely keeps Saw in the forefront of our minds in terms of movies where everything goes according to the bad guys’ plans.
12. The Bad Guys
This was my first thought, so I’m happy folks suggested it too. Now, I wouldn’t say the bad guys technically win in this movie because they kind of become good guys, but they also manage to escape their crimes without consequences. Seems close enough to the bad guys winning to me!
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