Admit it: you were fooled by the big plot twist in "The Sixth Sense" the first time you saw it. There's no shame in that; when the movie was released 15 years ago this week (on August 6, 1999), most viewers were fooled, too. What's more, they enjoyed being fooled.
That's what a good plot twist does -- it makes you appreciate the pleasure of being deceived by a master storyteller. We all like diving into a good mystery, trying to match wits not just with the characters but with the writer and director as well. But even non-mystery stories can surprise us with shocking twists, reminding us that life itself is unpredictable, that the people we meet are often not who they seem to be, and that even our own innermost desires and fears can be an enigma to us.
The trick with a good plot twist is to make it seem organic to the story and yet still surprising enough that we didn't see it coming. A good twist will make you reevaluate all that came before in light of the new information; a bad one will feel cheap and forced.
Here, movie screenwriters have an advantage over their TV counterparts. A movie can get by with just one good plot twist, or none at all. But some TV dramas, to keep viewers coming back week after week, have to come up with a plot twist every episode. (Some shows, like "Scandal," are nothing but shocking plot twists.) Viewers may not know what the twist will be, but they know to expect one.
Not that it's easy for TV or movie writers to keep good plot twists secret these days, with spoiler culture and social media. So let's pay homage in the gallery below to those TV shows and movies whose plot twists have managed to shock and surprise us -- even for years after they first played. (Obviously, spoilers abound.)