12 Documentaries With Twist Endings, From ‘Catfish’ To ‘Dear, Zachary’

Magnolia Pictures

When watching a documentary, you generally expect to have a pretty good idea of what you're getting into. If you sit down to watch An Inconvenient Truth, for instance, you can be pretty sure that the film is going to document the horrors of climate change. You know there's not going to be a twist at the end where Al Gore suddenly claims that global warming is a hoax invented by the Chinese. But not all documentary films are so straight forward, and there are actually many documentaries with twist endings.

I'd say there are generally three categories for documentaries with twist endings. Sometimes, the twist is known by the filmmaker ahead of time, and is always planned for the audience. Other times, the twist happens during filming, and changes the course of the documentary completely. And sometimes, the reason for the twist isn't clear and leads to accusations that the entire documentary was faked. You'll find all three types on the following list of documentaries, several of which you can find online at places like YouTube and Netflix. But despite the differences in their production, one thing all of these 12 documentaries have in common is they all end up in a radically different place from where they begin.

1'Dear Zachary'

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Perhaps the most heartbreaking twist of all.

2'The Imposter'

Movieclips Trailers on YouTube

If you think the premise is weird, just wait until the end.

3'Catfish'

Universal Pictures on YouTube

A twist so famous it became a verb — but is it real?

4'The Queen Of Versailles'

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What starts out as a documentary on the most opulent house ever built takes a satisfying turn when the 2008 housing crisis hits.

5'Exit Through The Gift Shop'

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Anonymous artist Banksy directs this doc, but is he actually in it?

6'My Kid Could Paint That'

SonyPicturesClassics on YouTube

This 4-year-old girl is an amazing artist... or is she?

7'The Woman Who Wasn't There'

Cinedigm on YouTube

Why would someone pretend to be a 9/11 survivor?

8'The Wild Parrots Of Telegraph Hill'

IndependentLens on YouTube

This doc's surprising ending will produce tears that are both happy and sad.

9'Crazy Love'

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To describe this love story's outcome as bizarre would be a massive understatement.

10'Thin Blue Line'

Andrew Sayre on YouTube

I'll just say that justice was not served in this case.

11'Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles'

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Who created the strange Toynbee Tiles? The answer is someone you won't expect.

12'Talhotblond'

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Like Catfish, but with murder.