The Marvel Cinematic Universe may have popularized the use of post-credits scenes, but they’ve been around for decades. One of the earliest appearances of the post-credit scene, also referred to as a stinger, is from Night of the Living Dead. Its use picked up speed in the ‘80s and continued to gain momentum until the unstoppable freight train of superhero movies employed them to tease future entries. In truth, the stinger serves many purposes; some filmmakers use it to set up sequels, others as a wry fourth wall wink to the viewer, a punchline to an inside joke, or as a means of wrapping up loose plot threads. No matter the intent behind it, the post-credit scene delivers one final treat to those that stayed in their seats while the end credits played.
In a genre where evil rarely dies, it’d no surprise that horror has always remained at the forefront when it comes to applying the post-credit stinger. Here are 10 of the all-time best.
Pour one out for the sequel we never got, teased by this stinger. At the end of Slither, Grant is blown to smithereens, and the three survivors walk off into the sunrise. Earth is free from the immediate threat of the alien parasite, and cue the happily ever after for our plucky protagonists. A post-credit scene reveals that curiosity killed the cat, though. Literally. A cat wanders into the frame to inspect a pulsating glob of alien-Grant flesh. As it begins to lick the rattling mass, the screen cuts to black, and it howls. The implication is clear; the parasite just found a new host.
Sadako vs. Kayako
Freddy vs. Jason concluded with neither one truly winning or losing; Freddy’s severed head winks at the viewer. The battle between J-horror ghosts Sadako and Kayako took a very different approach. The third act confrontation between cursed spirits saw the two collide to create something deadlier. Called Sadakaya, this new spirit captured the best of both worlds, taking on Sadako’s appearance and Kayako’s infamous death rattle. Worse, the merging of the two might make them completely unstoppable. The abrupt ending left fates unknown, but the post-credit scene reveals that Sadako’s cursed tape now contains Sadakaya.
Paranormal Activity 4
No matter how you feel about this sequel, its post-credit scene makes for a fantastic example of how to tease the next entry. This quick 30-minute scene, through handheld POV, sees someone enter into a convenience store of sorts featuring shelves lined with occultist objects. Out of nowhere, a strange woman pops out and warns, in Spanish, that this is only the beginning. They flee quickly. This seemingly out of left field clip, having nothing whatsoever to do with the previous film, hinted at Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones in the most intriguing way.
Trick or Treat
A rock concert should always end with a good encore, and this heavy metal horror film honors that tradition with a humorous stinger. The movie about a teen obsessed with metal forced to thwart the demonic plans of his undead idol boasts a few cameos by notable rock gods, including Ozzy Osborne. Playing television evangelical Rev. Aaron Gilstrom, Osborne’s brief appearances are relegated to TV spots in which the Reverend goes on anti-metal, Satanic Panic style tirades apropos of the era. After the credits, he appears once more to proclaim about the film, “this could kick you off into becoming an absolute pervert!” It’s an early example of the meta wink to the audience.
Urban Legends: Final Cut
This sequel took the concept of its predecessor and placed in a different setting with a whole new set of unrelated characters. Film students at a prestigious film school find themselves getting offed in urban legend inspired ways. The killer isn’t out for revenge this time, but to claim a student’s feature as his own while hiding all traces of the truth through murder. Meaning that the villain in part two isn’t nearly as over the top unhinged as Rebecca Gayheart’s Brenda Bates was. Luckily, she makes an appearance in the stinger. Now a nurse in an asylum, she leans over a patient’s shoulder – Final Cut’s killer – and declares they have much in common… before wheeling him away.
Cult of Chucky
The post-credit scene of Curse of Chucky brought original protagonist Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) back into the fold. For much of its sequel, Cult of Chucky, Andy works to save Nica (Fiona Douriff) from Chucky and the asylum where she’s incarcerated. It doesn’t end on a positive note for our heroes, so this stinger works both as fan service and an offering of hope. Returning to the tortured Chucky head in Andy’s home, he looks on as a mysterious figure appears at the back door. It’s Kyle (Christine Elise), Andy’s foster sister from Child’s Play 2, promising the doll that the torture fun will continue.
Happy Death Day 2U
This hook technically comes mid-credits, not post, but it’s a substantial setup for a continuation for a third entry, so we’re counting it. With the time loops closed and the lives of the gang back to normal, this scene sees government officials arrive to bring the group into the DARPA lab, where the time device has been relocated. The agents view it as a powerful weapon, and they want Tree (Jessica Rothe) and friends to show them how to use it. When Tree says she knows the perfect test subject, the camera cuts to mean girl Danielle (Rachel Matthews), who sits up in bed screaming. It’s a robust scene that lays out the direction this ever-evolving series is headed; if and when greenlit, of course.
Constantine (Keanu Reeves) considers himself a loner; his job ridding the world of demons is a dangerous one. Throughout the film, he’s hesitant to let his young driver Chas Kramer (Shia LeBeouf) tag along, no matter how eager the young protégé gets. Reluctantly, he allows Chas to accompany him to the hospital where the final confrontation occurs, and Chas tragically dies in his quest to help his mentor. This stinger sees Constantine paying respects to his ward’s grave, setting his lighter down as an offering before leaving. While his back is turned, his fallen ally lets him know that he’s doing just fine in the afterlife.
This end-credit scene gives a brief glimpse of Arkin’s fate after the film’s ending, which sees the Collector seek vengeance upon Arkin by ambushing the ambulance and capturing him. It’s an eerie scene; the masked killer calmly watches home videos while sitting on a trunk, with a screaming Arkin locked inside. More than a brief hint that this battle is far from over, it’s an effectively moody moment that shows things are starting to get very personal between the Collector and Arkin.
House on Haunted Hill
Evelyn Price (Famke Janssen) and Steven H. Price (Geoffrey Rush) present one of horror’s most unhealthy marriages of all time. The deep-seated malice between them gave the ghosts of the Vannacutt Psychiatric Institute for the Criminally Insane a way to finish off the descendants of the sadistic staff once and for all. The evil Darkness consumed Evelyn and Steven in the climax of the film, but not even death can dissolve this toxic marriage. The post-credit scene reveals the Prices’ spirits are doomed to be tortured by Vannacutt’s patients for eternity; an appropriately dark ending for this deadly duo.