End with a twist no reader could reasonably have foreseen

(With thanks to Tim Clare)

‘So, you discovered the secret behind...’ The General paused, a strangely blank look in his eyes. ‘Behind... Behi... Behi... Behi...’ Now the whole room was flickering. I looked down at my hands and saw my fingers blurring in and out of reality. Then, with a snap, it was all gone.
As my eyes adjusted to the light, I smelled electrical burning.
‘Neural simulator offline,’ said a voice. I blinked.
‘Puh... Peter?’ I said. ‘Is that you?’
‘Not exactly,’ said Peter. ‘My real name is Doctor Hadrian. I inserted myself into your neural simulation as Peter in order to guide you.’
‘But.. why?’ I asked. He smiled and peeled an electrode off my temple.
‘Because I’m your father, Jake. I’m not dead after all – I was kept alive by aliens. And the aliens are God. And this is the year 8500 and we’re in space.’
‘Ah,’ I said. ‘That explains everything.’ Doctor Hadrian nodded.
‘And you’re a robot,’ he said.


  1. Awesome! The best thing is, little more than a few pronoun and name tweaks, this could be inserted as the twist ending to any novel ever written:

    'Ah... Ahab?' I said. 'Is that you?'

    'Not exactly,' said the Captain.


  2. This would be especially frustrating in a mystery novel.

  3. So much for the deus ex machinas in Greek tragedies.

  4. Oh, God, I HATE it when writers do this! Good show! ;) I can think of a few examples in various media from books to movies to videogames...

  5. Ahaha, this is wonderful. I'm writing a somewhat absurdist novel right now, reminds me of my own writing.

  6. The thing that makes this sort of "twist" ending annoying for me is if it really comes out of nowhere - if I can look back and see that clues have been dropped along the way so that if I had been more clever I might have predicted the twist, I actually enjoy this sort of thing (though I'll take one or two twists at a time, not the insane pileup at the end of this example).

    Also, the particular twists used in this example have mostly become cliches. I like my twist endings to be more original, because isn't that the point of a twist ending?

  7. AAAAHH! Your posts always cause some serious brain hurtage. I like it. :D
    -Rachel G. :D

  8. So what are the primary offenses of this passage? In my view: Annoying post exposition, deus ex machina, cliches, the main villain is shares the name of a famous Roman emperor (although he wasn't Doctor Claudius--oh the possible villainies of Doctor Claudius!), and the ad hoc twists reduce the credibility of the passage as a part of a greater work.

    Good show.

  9. I am now wiping a splutter of hot chocolate off my monitor.


  10. Interesting, though very opinionated, blog. I admire a man who will stand up and be counted. You've rather overlooked poetry. Address this, will you?

    Regards, Steve

  11. No, I'm not Peter. I'm just a man who has tired of writing the same ol same ol day after day and has given myself an out with a big, stupid twist ending that no one will enjoy. Hear that banging sound? It's all the readers who paid for my stupid novel dumping in the trashcan.

    Good call. I hate that.

  12. "How to compensate for the fact that you have no idea how to resolve your super awesome climax"

  13. Oh my gosh. THIS.

    Books that end like this make me want to throw things.

  14. This sounds a bit like the plot twist used to end the American version of the TV series "Life On Mars". No wonder it was cancelled.

  15. I've read one book where a secretive scientist is actually the protagonist's mother, who faked her own death. It would have been more believable if the protagonist had mentioned having a dead mother earlier in the plot.