Science fiction thrives on suspension of disbelief. When you watch a movie or read a book about space battles and time travel, you're actively cooperating with the story to make it hold up. But when the story takes a sudden, nonsensical swerve, your suspsension of disbelief can turn into a savage retaliation. Here's our guide to the weirdest and least sensible plot twists (Ape Lincoln?!) from scifi books, movies, TV and comics. Major spoilers ahead, naturally.
Planet Of The Apes (Tim Burton version): Wait, what now? Abraham Lincoln is an ape? This ending sort of follows the original Pierre Boulle novel, but sadly makes no sense whatsoever because nothing in the preceding film sets it up.
Screamers: So the nice girl turns out to be a killer cyborg as well, but she's a good killer cyborg, sort of. And then there's a killer cyborg teddy bear on board Peter Weller's spaceship. Oh noes! The end.
The Thirteenth Floor. Whoah dude. What is reality? How did that guy who died in the 1990s suddenly turn up in 2024? Is anything really real, or is it all just a simulation within a simulation within a simulation?
Titan AE. The captain of the ship is our friend. No, wait, he's an evil traitor. No wait, he's actually changed sides again and now he's sacrificing his life to save our heroes. Plus, the good guy knows all about dolphins despite having been raised among aliens.
Android. Klaus Kinski is working to create androids on a hidden space station.... but then it turns out he's actually an android himself! Whoah!
Every M. Night Shyamalan movie ever. That guy is dead, hey? And the aliens are allergic to water, so they decided to invade a planet that's mostly water. And the village is now. Whoah!
Battlestar Galactica, "Epiphanies." And then it turns out the half-Cylon hybrid fetus blood is magically the cure for the president's cancer. Wha? Why?
The 27th Day. Aliens show up and give five capsules that will destroy the world to five humans. All the humans have to do is avoid opening the capsules of mass destruction for 27 days and the world is saved. But oh noes! The Soviet Premier gets control over one of the boxes and wants to use it to hold the world to ransom and attack the United States. Good thing it turns out at the very last minute that you can modify the capsules to slay "only the enemies of freedom." All WMDs should be that discriminating.
The Mist. The army shows up... just a moment too late!
I am Legend. The cured plague victim's blood is actually a vaccine! (This makes sense in the Heston version, but isn't really explained or fleshed out in the Smith version.) And Alice Braga and her kid can survive a huge explosion, as long as they're locked in an airtight vault. Plus, the village is now! I mean, the village is real!
Mission To Mars. Not only is there life on Mars, but it's incredibly goofy. And it turns out they seeded Earth with life. And now they want to meet Gary Sinise, so they can tell him how much they loved Forrest Gump.
Vanilla Sky. OMG, what is reality? Tom Cruise's tragic girlfriends keep merging into one woman, and he can't keep them straight, but then it turns out he's in suspended animation having a 100-year-shroom dream. But then he wakes up, and he's still shrooming. Or is he? He jumps off a building, and into a big eye. Whoah. What just happened? The end.
Family Tree by Sheri S. Tepper. It turns out they're all animals!
Dark Star Rising by Frederick Pohl. The alien Erks promise to help restore America's lost superpower status... but it turns out every race they've "helped" before has died off!
Soylent Green. Up with people!
Superman Returns. Superman and Lois have a love child!
The Astronaut's Wife. Johnny Depp's astronaut is really possessed by a goopy alien... but electrocuting him just causes the alien to leap into his wife, Charlize Theron.
Highlander 2. No, wait — the Immortals are actually aliens from the planet Zeist! And Sean Connery and Chrisopher Lambert were friends there. They just... forgot about it when they came to Earth. It all makes total sense.
Andromeda, the final season. But wait, Trance the purple girl is actually a sun. No, really! And she gave birth to some kind of ultimate evil thingy.
New X-Men. Xorn, the wise masked mutant, is acutally Magneto, the misguided (also masked) mutant separatist. Oh noes! Except that he isn't. Never mind.
Iron Man/Avengers. Tony Stark/Iron Man has really been working for the time-traveling maniac Kang all along. Since the beginning! But never mind, here's his teenage self, carreid forward in time to take his place.
Amazing Spider-Man. Spider-man's longtime girlfriend Gwen Stacy had a baby — with the Green Goblin!
Captain America. The Nazi Red Skull transfers his mind into a clone of Captain America, and then becomes the U.S. Secretary of Defence. You go to war with the Red Skull you have, not the Red Skull you wish you had. Or something.
Amazing Spider-Man (again.) Spider-Man was his own clone all along! Oh wait — no, he wasn't.
The Clone Republic by Steven Kent. According to the author himself, there's a "stupid plot twist" involving guns that are way way too easy to sabotage. By pinching them. Which does seem a tad weird.
Quantum Leap, the final season. Suddenly Sam is jumping into famous historical figures. He's Lee Harvey Oswald! He's Elvis! But wait, there's also an evil leaper who's breaking everything Sam's fixed! And maybe Sam's a vampire! But maybe not!
Independence Day. The aliens turn out to be vulnerable to a virus on an Apple Mac. Steve Jobs, alien killer!
JLA. Amazo the killer android has all the powers of the Justice League — so he loses all his powers if the League disbands!
And of course:
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Luke and Leia are really siblings! OMG narrow incest escape!