The Young Adult genre has provided some wonderful movie moments over the years. Sometimes a film takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where heroes fight to survive. Other times it is in an ordinary place with extraordinary characters. No matter the setting, there is a great opportunity to tell a wonderful story. On the contrary to all appearances, young adult films do not focus solely on romantic stories. While films like Love, Simon and The Fault in our Stars focuses on relationships, there are others like The Hunger Games and Harry Potter which focus on a battle between good and evil.
Regardless of their content, there is one thing that most young adult stories have in common – they can pack one hell of a plot twist into the story.
A good film draws the audience into its story, but a great film leaves the audience surprised. When a plot twist is done properly, it smacks the viewer directly in the face and leaves them shocked. Sometimes this twist is a happy one, but other times it leaves them sad. However, if it is done properly, it does not matter about the emotion – just as long as it was done appropriately. On the other hand, sometimes a twist can hurt a film. If a twist is executed poorly or done just for shock value, then it can hurt an otherwise great film.
A great twist is difficult to execute most of the time, but some of these films did it wonderfully. Unfortunately, for every good one, there are also some which should have been left on the cutting room floor.
Here are 13 Plot Twists That Saved Young Adult Movies (And 7 That Hurt Them).
20 Saved: The Fault In Our Stars – Gus Is Still Sick
The relationship between Augustus Waters and Hazel Grace Lancaster is one of the best in young adult cinema. Though they meet during a time of awful circumstances, their love lifts them up.
While viewers known from the onset of meeting the characters that Hazel has terminal thyroid cancer, Augustus claims that he is cancer-free. Knowing this, the two teenagers go on a love-filled adventure which takes them through Amsterdam. Unfortunately, this is where Augustus drops the bomb that his cancer has returned more furious than before, and he has only days to live.
The thought that their love is going to be torn apart just after beginning is heart-breaking. However, it is also the best part of the film.
Both Hazel and Augustus love each other so much that it transcends sickness, and their strength helps viewers believe in love.
19 Saved: The Hunger Games – Prim Doesn’t Make It
When the catalyst for the entire movie series doesn’t make it, it is normally a sad moment. However, this case is a special exception.
The only reason that Katniss Everdeen volunteered to be a part of The Hunger Games was to spare her sister Primrose from competing. Ultimately, this would lead to Katniss becoming the face of a revolution to take down The Capitol.
While her demise is sad, it certainly saved the series.
Prim’s passing was also the catalyst for Katniss to fully commit to ending the revolution by taking out President Coin. Without her sister passing away, Katniss would never have found the strength to complete her mission.
18 Hurt: Breaking Dawn Part I – Jacob Imprints On Renesmee
When an entry begins with a teenage werewolf declaring undying devotion to a newborn baby, things are not going to turn out well.
When Renesmee Cullen is born, she is instantly thrust into a world of vampires and werewolves. If growing up alongside the supernatural wasn’t strange enough, now Renesmee has to deal with a werewolf professing his devotion to her.
The process of imprinting may not be necessarily romantic in nature, it certainly was uncomfortable for viewers of the film. Jacob laying claim to “Nessie” only minutes after her being born is just an odd thought, and fully took away from the rest of the film. It’s a very cringe-worthy situation that really hurt the overall product.
17 Saved: Harry Potter – Snape Loves Lily
“Always.” This simple word strikes a chord with any Harry Potter fan.
Throughout the series there is one truth that most fans agreed upon – that Severus Snape was a jerk. Snape’s character is constantly rude to Harry, he has ties to being a Death Eater, and ultimately even terminates Dumbledore.
However, a look inside Snape’s memories in The Deathly Hallows reveals an entirely different side to Snape. Snape has been holding on to an unrequited love for Harry’s mother, Lily. Having loved her since they were children, Snape’s ire for Harry – and ultimately his secret protection of him – drew from his love for Lily.
This realization is heartbreaking, but also very moving.
It transforms Snape from a one-dimensional villain in to an antihero that fans never knew they wanted.
16 Saved: Love, Simon – Blue Is Bram
The journey to find Simon’s first true love after coming out is a crazy one. Unfortunately, “Blue” does not want to reveal his identity.
Throughout Love, Simon, Simon is trying to determine who his e-secret admirer is. During their e-mails, Blue reveals multiple clues about himself which tip off his identity. However, each one leads to a wrong turn for Simon.
Thankfully, Blue finally reveals himself as Simon’s friend Bram, who Simon had initially suspected. It is a great storybook ending for Simon, particularly since Bram was already considered a possibility, and everyone was led to believe he was straight. Thankfully, Simon learned the truth and was able to start a relationship.
15 Hurt: The Mortal Instruments – Jace And Clary Think They Are Siblings
Some young adult franchises are destined to fail. As mentioned in other articles, the relationship between Jace and Clary is problematic on a couple levels. While the relationship itself is lukewarm at best, it also suffers from an awful plot twist. As revealed in City of Bones, both Jace and Clary are led to believe that they are siblings.
Considering that the audience has already seen them together, this twists comes as a surprise no one asked for.
The franchise itself was eventually canceled due to low earnings, which means casual fans never got this sorted out. Fans of the books series know that they are not related, but that doesn’t change how uncomfortable this twist was to begin with.
14 Saved: The Maze Runner – The First Maze Is An Experiment
The Maze Runner‘s concept of teenagers being locked inside of a post-apocalyptic society without any memories or explanation is very interesting.
While each fan is looking for an explanation, there is a much larger plot afoot. The group eventually enters a maze to try and escape and find answers, but only find more questions to be answered. They discover a video stating that their ordeal was an experiment in order to recover a cure for a disease that wiped out the entire population. Ultimately, this video ends with the scientists taking their own lives.
What the group does not know is that it was all staged and that they are about to enter another experiment. Not only does this eventually surprise the group, but none of the audience saw it coming either.
13 Saved: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before – Margot, Kitty, And Lara Jean Make-Up
It is about time that a young adult film broke the mold about how girls interact with each other.
In any other film which features three sisters vying over boys, it would have ended the same way: the girls would have been incredibly catty to each other and their relationship would be damaged. However, in the recent Netflix release of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, something incredible happens.
After some tension between the Covey sisters about their relationships with boys, they quickly end up forgiving each other.
Many teen films depict sisters as being mean and spiteful, but these three decided to forgive each other and not let boys come between them. Finally, a twist which portrays girls in a positive way!
12 Hurt: Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part II– It Was All A Vision
One of the cliché traps that movies and television shows fall in to most often is the “it was all a dream” trope. While this works out sometimes, Twilight’s ultimate ending did not.
The ending of Breaking Dawn Part II is a big departure from the book version, and seemingly adds in a big fight scene to raise the pace of the film. However, all of that hard work was undone when it is revealed to all be a vision from Alice.
Instead of raising the stakes by having multiple main characters lose their lives, fans are instead left with the lukewarm ending from the book.
As evidenced by its 48% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, there is not a lot of love lost for this Twilight entry. Especially after it jerks the audience around so much.
11 Saved: Paper Towns – Margot Rejects Quentin
It is important that when a character falls in love with someone, that they fall in love with everything about them. While Paper Towns presents Quentin thinking he was in love with Margot Roth Spiegelman, that wasn’t really the case.
Quentin’s feelings for Margot are not what they seem – he’s only in love with what she represents. Margot is carefree, while Quentin is very quiet and reserved. Unfortunately, Quentin mistakes this for romantic feelings and pursues Margot across the country. Ultimately, Margot reveals that she does not have feelings for him, and he is left broken-hearted.
While this realization is sad at first, it leaves Quentin in a better spot than before, and is the best part of the film.
He realizes that he should not be so uptight, and can finally live a carefree life.
10 Saved: Before I Fall – Sam Doesn’t Make It
Who would have expected a young adult version of Groundhog Day to be so dark?
When Sam Kingston begins her day on February 12th, she assumes it will be a normal day. However, when she gets into a fatal car crash and then wakes up again the following morning (which is February 12th again), something is clearly not right. While initially doomed to relive the same day over-and-over, she learns her purpose. Sam believes that she is meant to save the life of Juliet, who she was bullying.
Certainly due to her good deed, her life would be spared, right? Unfortunately, Sam ends up trading her life for Juliet’s. Given the young cast, this was a twist that no one saw coming and made the movie a “must-see.”
9 Hurt: Harry Potter – Sirius’ fate
Even though some of the most heart-breaking twists of the Harry Potter franchise are great movie moments, some of them did wind up hurting the films.
Sirius Black was one of the most popular characters to enter the Potter universe. Having only been a part of two films before The Order of the Phoenix, fans could not wait to see more from Harry’s Godfather.
Unfortunately, their wishes were tragically cut short.
Despite having so much more gas left in the tank as a character, Sirius does not survive a battle against Voldemort’s Death Eaters.
Harry losing his only chance at a family is incredibly sad, and left a lot of story left untold.
Keeping Sirius around for a little bit longer would have been a much better decision for the Potter universe.
8 Saved: Juno – Vanessa Leaves Mark
Juno’s story of a pregnant teenager who tries to give her baby up for adoption is one of the most unlikely hilarious stories in recent memory.
After finding out she is pregnant, Juno makes an advertisement to help her find a couple looking to adopt. Eventually an idyllic couple named Mark and Vanessa are poised to adopt Juno’s child. Mark and Vanessa seem to be incredibly well-matched, but there are emotions below the surface that are bubbling up.
The adults who Juno thought would take care of her child end up splitting up.
While this may seem tragic, it is actually the best thing that could have happened.
Mark would have been an awful father, and Vanessa is much happier without him.
7 Saved: Everything, Everything – Maddy Isn’t Sick
When viewers are introduced to Maddy Whittier in Everything, Everything, her diagnosis of severe combined immunodeficiency makes perfect sense. Her mother has crafted an environment to keep her safe from bacteria, as even the slightest encounter could be fatal. Maddy accepts this as her reality, and never leaves her home– until she meets her neighbor Olly.
Olly and Maddy have an instant attraction, and she eventually runs away to be with him, seemingly sacrificing her health in the process. However, it is revealed that Maddy was never sick, and her Mother was being over-protective of her. While cases of Munchausen by Proxy are no joke, it certainly led to a twist no one saw coming.
6 Hurt: Warm Bodies – Zombies can become human again
Enthusiasts of zombie culture are experts about what would happen if a zombie apocalypse were to occur. One thing is for sure – zombies are not able to become human again.
Warm Bodies suggests that after the zombie “R” falls for a human, he would begin to regain his humanity again. For any zombie-purists out there, this was a very upsetting twist to add to the zombie genre. Despite how charming Teresa Palmer is, there is nothing that she could do to end the zombie apocalypse.
There is no logical way that meeting a girl could make R’s heart begin beating again.
Despite retaining an 81% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the final twist of this movie revealing that zombies can turn into humans if they find love is just insulting to years of zombie pop culture.
5 Saved: The Space Between Us – Gardner’s Real Father
The Space Between Us is focused on the relationship between Gardner and Tulsa, which is what makes the revelations so surprising.
While Gardner’s journey of travelling from Mars to Earth to meet his online friend is wonderful, there are other aspects of Gardner’s life that he has questions about. Apart from knowing that he was conceived prior to his mother going to Mars, he knows nothing about his biological father. However, after piecing some more things together on Earth, he realizes the answer to his mystery.
Nathaniel Shepard, who is the CEO of the Mars expedition company, is his father. While he chased Gardner around Earth to return him to Mars, he was actually just trying to keep his son safe. Gardner eventually returns to Mars safely, knowing that he not only has Tulsa’s love, but his father’s as well.
4 Saved: My Sister’s Keeper – It Was All Kate’s Idea
Even the saddest twists can make a story even better.
My Sister’s Keeper actually tells the story of two young adults – Kate who is suffering from leukemia, and her sister Anna who is her “savior sibling.” Due to Kate’s illness, Anna is often looked at to donate blood and organs to help prolong her sister’s life. However once Kate requires a kidney, Anna refuses and sues her parents for medical emancipation. Readers can certainly empathize with Anna’s situation, but it turns out that Anna is not the one responsible.
Kate orchestrated the entire situation for one simple reason – she is ready for her family to let her go.
This twist opened up viewers’ eyes to how Kate was feeling, and did not leave a dry eye in the house.
3 Hurt: Me Before You – Will Goes Through With His Plan
If the cute couples stay together, then it makes the world of young adult films much happier. However, this is certainly not always the case, and fans are often left disappointed.
The relationship between Louisa and Will was never going to be like regular couples. Will is paralyzed from the neck down, and is not able to do everything on his own. However, they fall in love with each other despite the obstacles. Just when everything seems to be going well, Will reveals that he still plans to go through with his plans for assisted self-termination.
The film spent the entire time making the audience believe that Will would not go through with his plans, but he ends up doing so anyway. Why spend so much time buttering the audience up only to let them down? It’s just cruel!
2 Saved: Ender’s Game – the war games are real
Ender’s Game involves an International Fleet of students preparing for space warfare, who are trained through a series of simulations. Andrew “Ender” Wiggins shows promise as a student, and is placed into an advanced program. His new simulations prepare him for warfare, and test his leadership abilities.
Unfortunately it also involves deception, and Ender is soon placed in a very difficult situation.
While inside of his “final simulation”, Ender performs a daring move which wipes out his enemy. However, it is then revealed that it was not a simulation, and he actually caused the destruction of his enemy’s home planet. No one saw this coming at all, including Ender himself.
1 Hurt: Every Day – “A” Leaves
Watching a young adult couple overcome every obstacle in front of them is so satisfying. Even more so when the couple ends up together and can be together in peace.
Apparently Every Day did not get that memo.
After watching “A” and Rhiannon spend so much time together developing their relationship, the payoff is completely missed. The challenge that “A” provides is surely difficult, however the couple finds a solution. Just when the viewer thinks that they are destined to be together, Rhiannon decides that she is actually in love with someone else.
While Rhiannon ending up happy is a great ending, everyone watching felt cheated when she did not end up with “A.” Watching “A” leave her behind certainly ruined what could have been a great love story.
What your favorite twist in YA movie? Let us know in the comments!