WARNING: Here be SPOILERS, obviously.
It's entirely possible — nay, likely — that M. Night Shyamalan conjures the endings of the movies he writes and directs before he does anything else. With M. (M. Night? Night? Shy-Shy? I like "M," it's fun), the ending makes the movie, even if it instantly renders what came before it completely implausible/ relatively asinine/ two hours of your life that you'll never get back.
And while M.'s done a fair-to-good job at coming up with the best endings to his movies — a solid B+, if you will — we at NextMovie thought we could do just a bit better. It's no offense to Shy-Shy, necessarily, and hindsight is always 20/20, but needless to say, we could have helped him out a bit at the time he first jotted down these endings on a napkin at Applebee's.
And now, as we prepare for the release of "After Earth" (the movie that Sony seems to not want you to know is an M. Night Shyamalan film), here are the alternate endings to M.'s seven mainstream movies.
1. 'The Sixth Sense' (1999)
Plot Summary: A troubled young boy (Haley Joel Osment) can see dead people (this is strongly hinted at with the line, "I see dead people") and a super-depressed child psychologist (Bruce Willis) is called in to help him.
Ending: Bruce Willis was dead the whole time and thus one of the dead people that HJO was seeing, OH MY GOD.
Suggested Alternate Ending: Though throughout the movie it's only Haley Joel Osment who can see the dead and others who remain skeptical of his supernatural abilities, HJO and Willis finally stumble upon something very dead that everyone, including HJO's mom Toni Collette and others, can see with their own eyes, which finally leads them to believe that HJO has been telling the truth this whole time: It's Haley Joel Osment's post-"Sixth Sense" career, bloodied to a pulp in a damp alley. The three of them recoil in horror. Oh, and Bruce Willis remains alive. Credits roll.
2. 'Unbreakable' (2000)
Plot Summary: On account of the fact that he has a rare disease that makes his bones break easily, Elijah (Samuel L. Jackson) attempts to find someone who is "unbreakable," i.e., someone at the other extreme of his situation. He finds David (Bruce Willis), a man who has miraculously survived a bad car accident and a horrific train crash, among other things. Elijah thinks that David is a superhero, and David develops ESP with Elijah's help.
Ending: Using his ESP abilities, David discovers that Elijah had orchestrated the horrific events in order to find David.
Suggested Alternate Ending: David changes his name and becomes a professional boxer in order to both easily release the stress caused by having extraordinary superpowers and to embark on a career that allows him to better utilize his freakish strength. With the police now after him following David's discovery, Elijah changes his name, moves to Los Angeles, and ends up becoming a feared hit-man. He hand-stitches an expletive-laden catchphrase into his wallet as a symbolic way to fully embrace his new lifestyle. Credits roll.
3. 'Signs' (2002)
Plot Summary: A family, lead by patriarch Graham (Mel Gibson), discovers mysterious crop circles in their cornfields. Turns out there are now mysterious crop circles in cornfields all around the world as well. Also turns out the crop circles were created by aliens, because the best way to indicate that you are a menacing species from space that wishes to destroy the human race is to make fun designs in various midwestern cornfields.
Ending: Turns out, those aliens are allergic to water, thus rendering them easily defeated.
Suggested Alternate Ending: With ten minutes left in the film, we cut to documentary-style camera footage of M. Night Shyamalan writing the last act of this movie at his kitchen table. His young daughter (having read the script) pleads to him that she just learned in first grade science that not only is planet Earth itself made up of 70% water (begging the question as to why the aliens would want to conquer Earth of all planets in the first place), but also its atmosphere is largely made up of moisture which would negatively affect the aliens as soon as they stepped off their ships. She cries, "Please change the ending to this movie, daddy, please! Your career!" M. Night doesn't listen, however, and he FedExes his finished script to the studio as his young daughter loudly and inconsolably cries whilst huddled in the corner of her bedroom. Credits roll.
4. 'The Village' (2004)
Plot Summary: A 19th century village sustains itself with no outside contact to anything. They are surrounded by woods inhabited by evil "creatures," though the villagers and the creatures seem to have a truce of sorts. Anyway, Bryce Dallas Howard falls in love with Joaquin Phoenix. Joaquin is stabbed and BDH must venture into the woods to find him medicine.
Ending: It's not the 19th century, actually, it's present day, and these people secretly live in seclusion in the woods.
Suggested Alternate Ending: BDH travels through the woods and actually discovers that not only is it present day but the villagers are living on a film lot in Los Angeles, specifically on the set of the DMX movie, "Cradle 2 the Grave." We watch her silently watch the scene where Jet Li fights the guy from "The Iron Chef" in a ring of fire. She's delighted. Credits roll.
5. 'Lady in the Water' (2006)
Plot Summary: A maintenance guy (Paul Giamatti) at a Philadelphia apartment complex finds and saves a young woman (Bryce Dallas Howard) in the complex's swimming pool. She is actually a mythical creature from another land (or water, rather), and the man vows to protect her from the various other mythical creatures that are trying to kill her. Or something.
Ending: "Lady" is the first Shyamalan movie that isn't capped with a crazy plot twist as Giamatti saves BDH with the help of his fellow tenants and she is able to return home.
Suggested Alternate Ending: The title flashes across the screen again after the triumphant final scene happens. "Lady in the Water." It stays there for three or four seconds. What the hell is happening right now, we wonder? Then, the graphic gradually starts to reverse. The words across the screen eventually rearrange to "Water in the Lady." We cut back to Bryce Dallas Howard standing motionless beside the pool. She suddenly explodes with water, and the explosion causes a giant tidal wave that overtakes all of earth and annihilates humanity. Credits roll.
6. 'The Happening' (2008)
Plot Summary: Out of nowhere, plants around the world begin to release a neurotoxin that makes people commit suicide on the spot. Philadelphia science teacher Mark Wahlberg and his wife Zooey Deschanel do their best to evade the neurotoxin. A lot of people die, but the neurotoxin eventually recedes and they're fine.
Ending: Uh-oh, the neurotoxin pops up again in Paris.
Suggested Alternate Ending: As the neurotoxin sweeps Paris, Wahlberg, fed up with having to run from the neurotoxin for much of the last ninety-ish minutes, gets off a plane at De Gaulle and walks outside. He rolls up his sleeves, cracks his neck and his knuckles and says "Come get some" while Kid Rock's "Bawitdaba" plays in the background. He proceeds to beat the s**t out of all of the plants and trees in France, wearing only a hospital mask for protection. The other plants around the world hear about Wahlberg and stop emanating the neurotoxin forever. Having wanted to personally beat up all of the plants and trees around the world, Wahlberg reacts accordingly:
7. 'The Last Airbender' (2010)
Plot Summary: Aang, a teenager who can control all of the elements, is discovered inside of an iceberg He's the only one who can really do that, apparently. There are four "nations" — the Fire nation, the Water nation, the Earth nation and the Air nation. He's trying to stop the fire nation from wreaking havoc, basically. If this three-sentence plot summary already seems disjointed, that's because the movie blows.
Ending: Aang stops the Fire nation momentarily, but the last scene features the Fire nation's king's daughter accepting the challenge to defeat him with a devilish look, setting up a sequel that will never actually happen.
Suggested Alternate Ending: Following the final scene of the movie, Rick Astley's video for "Never Gonna Give You Up" starts playing, signifying that, indeed, Shyamalan was "Rick-Rolling" everyone this whole time. This small change results in the movie being met with near-universal acclaim after it was previously panned by critics around the world, and Shyamalan wins his first Oscar.
And then the credits roll.