Times The Halloween Franchise Should Have Ended, Ranked From Worst To First
The Halloween franchise concluded with Halloween Ends, at least that’s what the title would have us believe. Do I believe it’s over forever? Of course I don’t, this is horror. But I do believe the timeline (or timelines, technically) that we know and love (or tolerate, your mileage may vary) is probably over for good after this October’s entry in the franchise.
The release of Halloween Ends has led to horror fans around the internet jumping to rank the quality of the films in the franchise, but after I watched Halloween Ends I had a different question in my mind: Is this really the best ending the franchise could have had? And if not, when should it have ended? That’s what we’re here to consider today.
Before we look at the films and their endings, we need to set a few ground rules:
- We’re not rewriting any of the films here. I’m not gonna go into logic errors and character choices and be one of those seemingly unhappy people who say things like “Why didn’t she just run the other way and call Rambo?” The movies that exist are the movies we’re discussing, and therefore the endings that exist are the endings we’re discussing.
- For the purpose of this list, we’re talking about films that follow the lead of John Carpenter’s Halloween. That means we will not be talking about the films Rob Zombie directed (which is nice, because I hate them), nor will we give a ranking to Halloween III. More on that in a minute.
- We’re not considering box office and the profits the studio would make, because no one should care about that unless they’re the studio. We’re just interested in what combination of films makes the best, most satisfying, story (which is something the studios really SHOULD care about.)
- Obviously, as this is a list ranking the endings of 10 movies and how they relate to the total story told by the franchise, there will be spoilers.
With that said, let’s look at this franchise one more time and decide what really should have happened.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch
I said we’re not ranking the ending of Halloween III as a moment when the franchise should have ended, but I do want to briefly discuss the film. Halloween III went from being one of the most hated sequels of all time a generation ago to one of the most viciously defended cult favorites today. Many will tell you John Carpenter’s “original plan” was an anthology series of different tales set on Halloween, but we’ve also heard his original plan was a movie called “The Babysitter Murders.” Everything we know now only came to pass once the world had their fingers on the Halloween brand that was born from the 1978 film’s popularity, so I’m not gonna play the “what if?” game related to the anthology franchise idea.
As for the question we’re asking today: would it have made sense to end the Halloween franchise after Season of the Witch? Well, the people who made Season of the Witch thought the franchise we are talking about today was already over. In fact, the film Halloween is shown on TV in Halloween III. Halloween III isn’t even in the same universe.
So…obviously it wouldn’t have made sense to end there. It’s like dividing by zero; it does not compute. Why am I still typing this?
The Tenth Best Time to End the Halloween Franchise
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers
Michael Myers, caught up in a cult’s plan to sacrifice his niece’s baby, faces off with a woman who lives in his old house, a kid from the original movie (Hi Paul Rudd!) and an aging Dr. Loomis. Our heroes escape the tunnels under a hospital with the baby, and Dr. Loomis returns to face Michael one last time.
What It Means:
I’m not going to go into the Theatrical Cut vs. Producer’s Cut thing here, even though I’m old enough to remember when that was a Golden Ticket that Halloween fans were all looking for. Neither ending is very fulfilling, as Donald Pleasance – who anchored the first five films featuring Myers – was dead by the time the film was released. The Producer’s Cut is a little more clear – showing Loomis cursed to join the infamous Thorn Cult, while the theatrical version just lets us hear Loomis screaming – off screen! – as the credits roll.
The Curse of Michael Myers has more of a definitive ending than the next few films I’m going to discuss, I just don’t think it’s an interesting moment and it answers no questions. The film has become a cult favorite in the franchise, and I like the Thorn Cult explanation for Myers to an extent, but the final scene(s) as presented give us nothing to work with. There’s a good reason producers walked away from this movie knowing they had to go in a completely different direction. If the franchise had ended here I think public perception would mostly consist of disappointment in how disjointed the jump from each sequel to the next was.
The timeline if the franchise had ended here: Halloween, Halloween II, Halloween 4, Halloween 5, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers.
The Ninth Best Time to End the Halloween Franchise
During a showdown with a reality show cast and crew spending the night in his childhood home, Michael is surprised by some kung fu from a character played by Busta Rhymes and electrocuted/burnt alive right after Busta spits some Bloodhound Gang lyrics at him. After his corpse is sent to the morgue, Myers’ eyes open as the movie fades to black.
What it Means:
The biggest problem with the ending of Halloween: Resurrection is not, as many would tell you, the inclusion of Busta Rhymes. The problem, as I see it, is that this is an ending that belongs in a Friday the 13th movie.
Halloween: Resurrection is probably the least liked film in the franchise – it has an IMDb score of 3.9 that is the lowest of the bunch, by a large margin – and it was the franchise, not Myers, that seemed dead upon its release. More importantly for our discussion, the ending is a very standard “He’s definitely dead, yep he’s so dead, yep he’s…SURPRISE! HIS EYES ARE OPEN” ending. Halloween: Resurrection occasionally feels like a fun byproduct of the post-Scream slasher boom – it’s not as bad as many say, I think – but the ending feels completely ridiculous considering all the Halloween lore that came before it.
Worst of all, Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode was killed off in the opening sequence on our way to this ending. That should have never been discussed and we don’t want that in our timeline.
The timeline if the franchise had ended here: Halloween, Halloween II, Halloween H20, Halloween: Resurrection.
The Eighth Best Time to End the Halloween Franchise
Michael Myers is surrounded by an angry mob and beaten badly – until he rises up and mutilates them all, including Halloween (1978) survivors Tommy Doyle and Sheriff Brackett. Michael returns to his childhood home, where he kills Laurie Strode’s daughter, then waits for what happens next.
What It Means:
The ending of Halloween Kills isn’t really an ending – we all knew Halloween Ends was coming, this film was made entirely to be a bridge – yet I think it’s a better place for the franchise to end than two films from the Dimension Films era of the franchise. That’s more of a statement against those films than an endorsement of Halloween Kills.
From a chaotic standpoint, it’s hilarious to think of the franchise ending with Michael Myers happy to have his old house back, a bunch of bodies in the streets being the price one has to pay to have a home in the time of capitalism. Laurie Strode didn’t get her revenge, which is bad, but she was dead in the two films we already talked about so this is an improvement there. It’s a surprise to me, but (because other endings were so bad) Halloween Kills wouldn’t have been the worst time for the franchise to end.
The timeline if the franchise had ended here: Halloween, Halloween (2018), Halloween Kills
The Seventh Best Time to End the Halloween Franchise
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
Caught using a tranquilizer gun and wood pillars, Michael Myers is locked up in a jail cell. Then, a mysterious man in black – no, not Johnny Cash – shows up, kills a ton of cops, and frees him. (Yes, this is still the chaotic section of the list.)
What It Means:
This ending feels like it should have been supported by a whole movie on its own. I’d rather watch a prequel that shows the Man in Black – revealed in The Curse of Michael Myers to be Dr. Wynn, a colleague of Dr. Loomis who is part of the Thorn Cult – setting up his plan to get Michael Myers in the group than anything else involved in this timeline.
As is, we’re in the same spot we were with Halloween Kills. This would be a confusing non-ending to the franchise. There’s no closure, but Michael is free and now accompanied by a terrorist. I’d rather have that hanging over our heads than whatever happened at the end of Halloween 6.
The timeline if the franchise had ended here: Halloween, Halloween II, Halloween 4, Halloween 5
The Sixth Best Time to End the Halloween Franchise
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
How it ends:
Here, Myers is dispatched by a redneck firing squad that sends him down a well he presumably can’t get out of. (Why anyone thought that would hold him, I don’t know.)
The bigger twist comes in the epilogue, when Michael’s niece – who spent the movie in a clown costume that matches the one he wore for his first kill in 1963 – inherits “the evil” and kills a family member as a distraught Dr. Loomis screams.
What it means:
Writers would immediately undo both of these developments with the following year’s Halloween 5, so in retrospect the ending of Halloween 4 feels like it didn’t matter at all. Which is a shame! The idea of little Jamie Lloyd becoming the new embodiment of evil implies she’d go away for fifteen years, like young Michael did. And when we consider that, the idea of Halloween 5 featuring a 23-year old female Shape stalking babysitters in 2003 sounds like a blast.
This is the first moment on the list where it feels like the franchise legitimately could have ended and been somewhat satisfactory, but the cliffhanger is too intriguing and it’s unfortunate we didn’t get a better timeline after this one. Two movies later, it was deleted from the timeline thanks to the failures that followed.
The timeline if the franchise had ended here: Halloween, Halloween II, Halloween 4
The Fifth Best Time to End the Halloween Franchise
After a totally normal Halloween movie that shouldn’t provide any internet backlash (For the record: In this house we stan Corey & Allyson), Laurie Strode fights off Michael Myers, traps him under a fridge with her granddaughter, then slits his wrist and lets him bleed out. The town of Haddonfield parades the corpse through the streets and feeds it to The Mangler from that Tobe Hooper movie, basically.
What It Means:
When I first considered whether or not Halloween Ends was a satisfactory end to the franchise, I didn’t expect it would rank this highly on this list. Despite my concerns, it gains points because it’s definitely an ending with closure. The final shots call back to the final shots of Carpenter’s original, and the addition of “Don’t Fear the Reaper” over the end credits is fan service that made me pump my fist like the kind of dork who would write this list.
The biggest problem I have with this ending – other than the fact it doesn’t connect with the first 90 minutes of the film – is it feels inconsistent with the larger than life Michael Myers we’ve come to know in films in this timeline. Halloween Ends seems to hinge on the idea that Myers – once thought to be THE Boogeyman and the personification of capital e Evil – got old and weak. As the kind of dork who would write this list, I don’t love that.
The timeline if the franchise had ended here: Halloween, Halloween (2018), Halloween Kills, Halloween Ends
The Fourth Best Time to End the Halloween Franchise
Michael Myers tracks his sister Laurie to Haddonfield Memorial Hospital, and after a pretty strong rampage that brings the franchise into 1980s body count territory, is shot in the eyes by Laurie. While Michael wildly swings a scalpel trying to find her, Dr. Loomis uses oxygen tanks to set up an explosion, sacrificing himself to burn up Michael as Laurie runs to freedom.
What It Means:
Halloween II is perfectly serviceable as an excessive Reagan era sequel, but I’m one of those people who has always been irked by the reveal that Laurie is Michael’s sister. Moreover, Jamie Lee Curtis is given little to do in the film, as most of it is Myers just finding ways to get kills with things that aren’t a kitchen knife.
Halloween II certainly closes the book on the story – I remember wondering how the other sequels existed when I first saw the film in the mid 1990s – but if it was the only Myers-centric sequel public opinion would probably just remember Halloween and occasionally mention that it had a sequel that wasn’t as good. It would be an afterthought of a sequel like Jaws 2 or The Lost World: Jurassic Park, at best.
The timeline if the franchise had ended here: Halloween, Halloween II
The Third Best Time to End the Halloween Franchise
Michael Myers kills his way to the home of Laurie Strode – no longer his sister, as this film is a direct sequel to the original film – where she works with her daughter and granddaughter (the immensely talented Judy Greer and breakout star Andi Matichak, respectively) to cage Myers in the basement before burning the whole house to the ground and escaping in the back of a passing truck.
What It Means:
The reboot takes some random turns in dialogue – perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised when Kills and Ends were eccentric sequels – but the final showdown between Laurie and Michael feels right. It’s epic in scale for a slasher, it’s fully committed to the vision set by the original film, and it knows that the one thing fans want from Halloween – which most of the ten other films in the franchise failed to deliver – is a showdown between Michael and Jamie Lee Curtis.
I remember already feeling like the ending wasn’t final when I saw this film – in the 21st century you have to expect a franchise will go on – but if you weren’t jaded by Hollywood you could probably watch David Gordon Green’s film and assume it’s a definitive ending. More importantly I think it’s probably the best sequel in any of these timelines, so I wouldn’t have been opposed to it being the final entry in the saga.
The timeline if the franchise had ended here: Halloween, Halloween (2018)
The Second Best Time to End the Halloween Franchise
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later
Michael Myers appears dead after being stabbed multiple times and falling off a balcony, but that’s not enough for Laurie Strode this time. Michael is loaded into an ambulance and Laurie commandeers the vehicle, flinging Michael through the windshield, pinning him against a tree, then chopping off his head with an ax.
What it Means:
Halloween H20 is one of the most tame entries in the franchise in terms of bloodshed, a product of Scream teaching studios they could bring back the slasher formula without the nudity and excess of the 1980s. In 1998, horror films just needed a catchy script, hot young talent, and a dab of video store horror history. H20 hits all those bases, bringing back Curtis – who had been called out as the one scream queen to rule them all in Scream – and surrounding her with youngsters like Josh Hartnett, Michelle Williams, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
The film works, despite how tame it is, mostly because Curtis knows how much her scream queen presence meant to fans this time. She saves her strongest work for the ending, which is the “girl power”, “stick it to the man”, “sisters are doing it for themselves” moment everyone wanted to see.
This timeline keeps the middling Halloween II in the franchise, but it improves on it so that’s not a big concern. I still don’t love the timeline where Laurie was Michael’s sister, but we can set that aside here. If there had to be Halloween sequels, this is the completely satisfying moment that should have ended them all.
The timeline if the franchise had ended here: Halloween, Halloween II, Halloween H20.
The Best Time to End the Halloween Franchise
Formality is out the window at this point in the list and, yes, I realize that this final answer to asking when the franchise should have ended doesn’t even meet the definition of the word franchise.
For my money, Halloween is the greatest horror movie ever made, and more importantly it has one of the greatest endings ever put on film. A young Laurie Strode survives her encounter with Michael Myers and realizes he actually was The Boogeyman she didn’t believe was real. When Dr. Loomis checks to see if Myers is really dead, we find out he’s gone, and are treated to a montage of the places we’ve seen him lurking throughout the film as the music crescendos and his ominous breathing begins to fill our ears.
Like Psycho a generation before it or The Blair Witch Project a generation after, this is the kind of ending that brings the audience directly into the film’s horror. It’s a cliche to bring up the old “abyss stares back into you” quote that every horror fan loves – but that’s what a great horror ending should leave you feeling. When a movie does that perfectly and leaves you wondering about that evil when the nights get dark in your own life…why would you add a “well, actually” to that via sequel?
If the stars aligned and we were looking at a universe where the most satisfying and artistic horror story was the goal – the Halloween franchise wouldn’t exist. ★