23 Best Plot Twists of 2019, from House of X to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Looking back at the year that was, some of the biggest plot twists in pop culture — in everything from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker to Avengers: Endgame to Game of Thrones — are among the most divisive.In the spirit of reflecting back on 2019, we asked the IGN staff to pull out not the biggest plot twists of the year in games, movies, TV shows and comics, but the ones that stood out to us as the best. Not every plot twist of the year is on this list, but these are ones that made the jaw drop of the person who nominated. We want to hear from you as well, so be sure to sound off in the comments about what your favorites were!

The Best Video Game Characters of 2019

As the headline suggests, this article contains loads of spoilers! Specifically, you’ll find spoilers for these properties (in alphabetical order):

Arrow, Avengers: Endgame, Carnival Row, Control, Critical Role, Detective Pikachu, Fantastic Four #13, Game of Thrones, House of X, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Parasite, Pokemon: The Animated Series, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Spider-Man: Far From Home, Star Trek Discovery, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, Succession, The Walking Dead comic, Watchmen and What We Do in the Shadows.

Read on at your own risk!

How Arrow Connected Its Flash-Forwards to the Main Timeline

Although Arrow’s final season seemingly spent most of its first-half setting up the spin-off show featuring Oliver’s adult children in a separate future timeline, the show (or the Monitor) shook things up and sent Mia, her brother William, and Diggle’s adoptive son Connor to Oliver’s present timeline. For all Queen members involved, this was shocking, as both father and children never expected to see the other ever again when Oliver left to fight in Crisis. This moment started the Queens, especially Mia and Oliver, down the road to recovery of healing their broken relationship, lifting a weight off both archers’ shoulders. Beyond the emotional impact of bringing these families together, bringing just these three from the future to fight alongside their parents implies that the future is not cemented and that there could be a chance to change things around for the whole universe. – Francesca Rivera

Thanos’s Early Death in Avengers: Endgame

Who Died and Who Lives in Avengers: Endgame and Infinity War

After the universe-shaking ending to Avengers: Infinity War, we were pretty confident the Avengers were going to find a way to fix everything and defeat Thanos by the end of its sequel, Avengers: Endgame. What we didn’t expect was for the Avengers to find and defeat Thanos… at the beginning of the movie. This was a great shake-up because it kicked things off by subverting expectations, first with that death and then with a time jump to show things hadn’t progressed too well in the time since. While Endgame ended just the way we imagined it would — with the Avengers finding a way to save the day and defeating a Thanos, if not the one we expected — this twist was both surprising and welcome. – Terri Schwartz

Philo Is Half-Fae on Carnival Row

Assuming that Philo (played by Orlando Bloom) and Vignette (played by Cara Delevingne) had some type of deep connection when I started watching Carnival Row, was obvious due to all of the promotion for the new series. Philo, a detective living in the Burgue, being kind to the fantasy creatures who are not human – a rarity among the rest of the humans who live there – was interesting, but not surprising either. I assumed it was because of a past he had with Vignette. However, what I never imagined was that Philo himself was half-fae. When that plot started to slowly unfold and there were hints as to his relation to the creatures, I was stunned! But in the best way possible. – Jessie Wade

Where Is Jesse Faden’s Brother in Control?

Control doesn’t give players a lot of details to go on at the start of the game. Protagonist Jesse Faden’s past is intentionally shrouded in mystery and good luck trying to figure out what the Federal Bureau of Control’s whole deal is (the engrossing mystery is part of the reason why we awarded Control our Game of the Year). But as players venture deeper into the Oldest House and uncover more about Jesse’s past, the more it becomes clear her connection to the FBC.

It turns out that following a paranormal event in her childhood home of Ordinary, the FBC took away her brother and tracked Jesse throughout her life. The two were deemed candidates to become “Directors” of the FBC. And while Jesse was allowed to roam free (albeit monitored constantly), her brother was kept in captivity for testing. Years of human testing will mess anyone up, which is probably why it’s actually not a huge surprise that Jesse’s brother was the one behind unleashing a malevolent evil force called the “Hiss” on the FBC, killing the former director, and paving the way for Jesse to save the day and become the new boss. – Matt Kim

Fjord’s Broken Pact on Critical Role

As a live Dungeons & Dragons game with no “scripts” (despite the plentiful jokes to the contrary), Critical Role may stand out in this list, but it still plays host to some of the best storytelling moments you can find in any show or game alike – and none of its 2019 moments shined brighter than Travis Willingham’s Fjord playing a deadly game of chicken with his own Warlock patron. It’s a surprising and tense encounter that forever changed the path the character was walking, coupled with some fantastic acting on not just Willingham and DM Matthew Mercer’s parts, but the rest of The Mighty Nein pitching in to comfort Fjord after his harrowing choice. The way his lowest moment and the redemption that followed were handled after, including a genuinely touching conversation with Taliesin Jaffe’s Caduceus, further elevated this already important twist, and the whole arc is a prime example of how Critical Role’s off-the-cuff D&D storytelling can offer all the same drama and intrigue as other mediums. – Tom Marks

Ryan Reynolds IS Detective Pikachu

We all knew Ryan Reynolds was voicing Detective Pikachu — it’s half the reason you went to the theater to see the movie. But the real twist at the end of the first live-action Pokemon movie is that Ryan Reynolds was actually Detective Pikachu. With Tim’s father trapped inside Detective Pikachu’s body, we find out at the end of the film that his father is also played by Reynolds, a heartwarmingly charming reason that Detective Pikachu spoke the way he did. – Terri Schwartz

Marvel Settles Who Would Win in a Fight: Hulk or Thing?

Marvel Comics fans have long debated who would win in a fight: the Incredible Hulk or the Blue-Eyed, Ever-Lovin’ Thing? And in Fantastic Four #13 by writer Dan Slott and artist Sean Izaakse we were finally given the definitive answer. Obviously the Hulk is stronger, but as the issue demonstrates, that’s different from being a good fighter. Thanks to Ben’s determination and an emotional pep talk from his wife Alicia Masters, he was able to land a punch so devastating that it shattered the rocky skin along his arm and knocked the Hulk out cold. As Alicia points out, winning a fight isn’t about brains or brawn — it’s about heart. And in the Marvel Universe, no one has more heart than Ben Grimm. – Joshua Yehl

Daenerys Finally Goes Full Targaryen on Game of Thrones

At this point, most of the discourse surrounding Game of Thrones’ final season involves fan disappointment and the show’s failure to stick the landing. But whether or not you feel the series earned its big moment in “The Bells,” there’s little denying that Daenerys’ tragic downfall from heroic liberator to bloodthirsty tyrant hit like a ton of bricks falling from the Red Keep. After spending the better part of a decade waiting for Dany to save Westeros, she instead became the greatest threat to its survival. – Jesse Schedeen

House of X’s Game-Changing X-Men Reveal

In the buildup to the twin X-Men comics House of X and Powers of X, Marvel Comics teased a scene between Charles Xavier and Moira MacTaggert, one they dubbed, “the most important scene in the history of the X-Men.” House of X #2’s big reveal actually lived up that hype. By revealing Moira to be a mutant with the power to reincarnate and relive her life over and over, Marvel laid the groundwork for a fundamental overhaul of X-Men continuity. We’re still learning what exactly has changed with X-Men history, but this twist set in motion a much grander and more unpredictable future for the franchise. – Jesse Schedeen

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Changes the Past

Going into Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, many knew Tarantino’s trip down memory lane to the “Golden Age of Hollywood” would involve the infamous Manson murders, especially since Margot Robbie was playing real-life Manson murder victim Sharon Tate. That made it quite the surprise when the movie ended with a history-changing twist in the spirit of Inglourious Basterds: Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) actually prevent all the murders, in doing so stopping the horrible event that changed Hollywood as we know it. In this case, it was very nice to have a happy ending. – Terri Schwartz

What Is in the Basement in Parasite?

The first act of Bong Joon-ho’s 2019 opus is already tense enough, but in a way that you can’t quite put your finger on. Maybe you’re worried about the family of lovable grifters getting caught in their scheming? No, that’s not it. Perhaps you’re concerned about the mother’s mental health? No… she seems fine? It isn’t until the housekeeper makes an unexpected return and reveals an absolutely bonkers plot involving her secret husband and bunker beneath the familial home that your sense of dread is dialed all the way up. What exactly is happening in this house? Just how much trouble is our new favorite family in? Suddenly, your heart is racing as fast as your mind as you struggle to keep up the breakneck pace of twists and turns that Parasite throws at you over the remaining hour or so. I can’t say for certain, but I’m fairly positive I held my breath for at least 45 minutes. What an absolute banger of a twist in what wound up being my favorite movie of the year. – Zach Ryan

Ash Ketchum Finally Becomes Pokemon League Champion

Ash Ketchum seemed like he was forever trapped in a state of arrested development where he never aged or improved enough to actually win a Pokemon League Championship, but after 22 years he finally pulled it off in the 139th episode of the Pokemon Sun and Moon anime series and earned the coveted title of Pokemon Master. More specifically, Ash won the Alola League’s Manalo Conference by using his Dusk-Form Lycanroc to beat his rival Gladion’s Midnight-Form Lycanroc. It was a long time coming but it showed that perseverance and dedication truly do pay off, and a whole generation of kids who grew up watching Pokemon erupted in celebration for the kid from Pallet Town. – Joshua Yehl

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Reveals the Owl’s True Fate

For the first half of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, the story seems fairly straightforward — at least compared to From Software’s Souls games. The lone samurai called the Wolf must retake the castle for his lord after an enemy nation invades. The Wolf’s master, known as the Owl, was also killed in the siege, setting the stage for the Wolf’s quest for vengeance. However, it’s revealed halfway that not only is the Owl alive, but he’s the one who orchestrated the hostile takeover of the young lord’s estate. The midway twist sets the stage for Sekiro’s true ending and can unlock several secret boss fights depending on the player’s actions. Not a bad way to set up a twist. – Matt Kim

There’s No Going Back for Spider-Man After Far From Home

As much as Far From Home is tasked with closing the door on the first three phases of the MCU, it’s also a movie that looks ahead and opens brand new doors for this shared universe. Nowhere is that more obvious than at the very end, when Spidey finds his moment of triumph turned to bitter defeat when his secret identity is leaked to the world. It’s a foreboding sign of things to come for our hero. And the fact that this knife wound comes courtesy of none other than J. Jonah Jameson (played by JK Simmons, no less) makes it all the more thrilling. – Jesse Schedeen

Star Trek: Discovery Reboots Itself 950 Years in the Future

While Season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery was based around the mystery of the time-traveling “Red Angel,” not even Mr. Spock could’ve predicted where it was all heading. In the season finale, “Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2,” Michael Burnham and the core crew of the Discovery were forced to use the Red Angel’s tech to jump almost 1,000 years into the future, with no hope of returning home. This surprising turn of events placed the Disco at the furthest future point in the known Trek timeline, while simultaneously removing the show’s constant bumping-up against established canon in the era of Captain Pike (and soon to be Captain Kirk’s) Enterprise. The showrunners are committed to the time jump as well, with Season 3 set in this far future… where it looks like the Federation and Starfleet are in tatters! – Scott Collura

Second Sister’s Identity Is Revealed in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

The primary antagonist to hero Cal Kestis in Jedi: Fallen Order is at first known only as the Second Sister, one of the Inquisitors sent throughout the galaxy to hunt any Jedi that survived Order 66. Unsurprisingly, she was a former member of the Jedi Order, corrupted by Darth Vader and turned in an Inquisitor. The real twist comes when you find out exactly who she is, or rather, was: the former Padawan apprentice of Cere Junda, Cal’s new master in Fallen Order. Formerly known as Trilla Suduri, she was given up by Cere under torture and was herself tortured until her hatred for her former master turned her into the Second Sister. – Jobert Atenzia

Succession’s Season 2 Finale Betrayal

All season long, Kendall Roy had his tail between his legs when it came to working for his father in Succession. After the death at the end of Season 1 that Logan helped Kendell cover up, it seemed like Kendall had completely subjugated himself to execute every injustice his father would make him do, regardless of what he believed in. He had no fight left in him, and certainly had taken himself out of the running to run the company; at many times, he even seemed suicidal or sought to intentionally destroy his life — until he finally blew everything up, figuratively speaking.

At the end of Season 2, Logan decides that Kendall should be the one to take the fall for the cruise division scandal. Before leaving to take the blame for the many charges, Kendall asks his father why he never really considered him to run the company. Logan’s answer: “You’re not a killer.” This seems to be the final straw that snaps Kendall out of his drug, alcohol and depression-induced funk: when he takes the stand at the end of the season, he completely throws his father under the bus, coming clean about Logan’s complicity in all of the underhanded deeds Waystar Royco was being held accountable for. It was a mic drop moment in one heck of a season, setting up a bloodbath for Season 3. No wonder Logan smiled. – Terri Schwartz

Where’s John Connor in Terminator: Dark Fate?

The latest Terminator film smartly reboots the franchise ignoring everything that happens after T2. Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger return to their career-defining roles, however the character of John Connor does not. Connor is killed in a flashback that takes place a couple of years after the events of T2. Although some impressive deep-faking tech puts a young Edward Furlong’s face onto another actor’s body, many fans claim it was an unceremonious end to a major character, and basically renders Sarah Connor’s struggles over two films moot. – Jobert Atenzia

Who Is the Real Tethered in Jordan Peele’s Us?

The very premise of Jordan Peele’s Us was already pretty twisty, with the notion of “the Tethered” — an underground race of clones created by the government who finally emerge topside to wreak havoc on their “normal” human counterparts — but it’s in the final moments of the film where the real surprise comes, as we realize that the film’s main character, Lupita Nyong’o’s Adelaide, is actually the Tethered version of herself who escaped from captivity when she was just a child and replaced the “real” Adelaide. It was the “real” child who was left behind in the underground to fend for herself, and who became known as “Red,” the leader of the Tethered and ostensible villain of Us. The film ends with “Adelaide” having killed “Red,” and driving off with her family… though her son Jason stares at her as if he knows the truth. Just who was the bad guy in this movie anyway?! – Scott Collura

The Walking Dead Comic Surprises Us All By… Ending

The Walking Dead made its name on unpredictable plot twists that constantly reminded us that no one was safe, and that’s the way Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard played it right until the very end. The story seemed like business as usual until series protagonist Rick Grimes was shockingly shot to death in Issue #192, and then the series came to its grand, unannounced conclusion in Issue #193. Publisher Skybound at Image Comics even create fake ads for subsequent issues in order to hide the fact that the story was wrapping up. The bittersweet ending was emblematic of the series as a whole, as Rick died for his belief that society’s morality could be restored to the way it was before, and then his son Carl made the tough decision to spare the life of the man who killed his father, proving that Rick’s pain, suffering and untimely demise were all worth it in the end. – Joshua Yehl

Watchmen Finally Gives Hooded Justice a Backstory

While we were already hopelessly enthralled with HBO’s Watchmen series before Episode 6 rolled around, this particular chapter truly cemented the series as a worthy follow-up to the original graphic novel. This episode takes a minor, unresolved plot point from the comic and delivers a reveal that completely changes how we look at this dark superhero saga. The reveal that Angela Abarr’s grandfather Will was once Hooded Justice, the world’s first costumed hero, changes everything. It transforms this minor Watchmen character into a crucial linchpin and creates a powerful link between past and present. – Jesse Schedeen

Doctor Manhattan Is Finally Revealed on Watchmen

In a show absolutely filled to the brim with game-changing revelations, the whole episode of HBO’s Watchmen “A God Walks Into Abar” is perhaps the most profound. It tells the love story between Doctor Manhattan and Angela Abar in a way that simultaneously shows how the entire narrative comes together and how an all-seeing god fell for our protagonist. The unique and frustrating way Doctor Manhattan experiences time made for an intricately plotted and brilliantly executed piece of television that proves this series is not only a worthy sequel to the Watchmen graphic novel but a masterful piece of storytelling all by itself. – Joshua Yehl

What We Do in the Shadows Reveals Guillermo’s Secret Lineage

Going into FX’s What We Do in the Shadows, we weren’t expecting any ground-breaking twists and turns; the joy of watching this adaptation of Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi’s cult-favorite film is just watching the characters interact with each other and the comedians be hilarious. That’s why it was such a twist when the finale actually did deliver one heck of a surprise: Guillermo (Harvey Guillén), Nandor’s familiar who has been so desperate to be turned into a vampire from the start, is actually related to the Van Helsings. It’s a delightful twist that recontextualizes many comic events throughout the first season and sets up Season 2 to start with a very fun conflict. – Terri Schwartz

Those were IGN Staff’s favorite plot twists of 2019. What were yours? Share them in the comments below, but be mindful, spoilers likely lie ahead!


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