Every ‘Scream’ Movie Finale, Ranked

Debuting in 1996, the Scream franchise has earned a place in the horror Hall of Fame. Working as a parody of the tropes that feature in the genre, the slasher series now stands side by side with the movies it lovingly mocks as one of the greatest horror franchises of all time. Each Scream movie follows the same simple yet entertaining formula: someone has taken their love of horror movies too far and is stalking and slaying members of their community.



While the series mainly revolves around Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), she is always joined by a large cast of familiar faces. Famous actors such as Drew Barrymore, Patrick Dempsey, and Sarah Michelle Gellar have starred in the series, helping to create a suite of great supporting characters. With so many major players, the Scream movies take delight in keeping audiences guessing when it comes to the killer’s identity, resulting in thrilling finales that see the hero coming face to face with their tormentor.

6 ‘Scream 3’ (2000)

Courteney Cox, Parker Posey, and David Arquette in Scream 3
Image Via Dimension Films

Most fans agree that Scream 3 is the weakest entry in the series, though it is far from being a bad movie. Part 3 moves the action to Hollywood, where production is underway on “Stab 3,” the movie franchise within the franchise that is based on Sidney’s battles with Ghostface. A new villain has infiltrated the set and is picking off the cast and crew one by one, ultimately forcing Sidney to come out of hiding for another showdown.

RELATED: All of Ghostface’s Kills in the ‘Scream’ Franchise, Ranked

In the end, it is revealed that Stab 3’s director Roman Bridger (Scott Foley) is the killer and that he is actually Sidney’s long-lost half-brother. This reveal falls flat due to it feeling like a cheap twist that had never been hinted at before, and the fact that Sidney and Roman never even met before this. It earns points for Roman being the franchise’s only sole killer, and the dialogue exchange between Sidney and Roman is entertaining, but the whole reveal feels like the writers were running out of ideas for ways to tie the killer to Sidney.

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5 ‘Scream’ (2022)

Neve Campbell holding a gun in Scream (2022)
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Arriving after a second decade-long hiatus for the series, 2022’s Scream, the fifth entry in the franchise, was a welcome return for Ghostface. Moving the focus from Sidney to the new protagonist Sam Carpenter (Melissa Barrera), Scream revolves around a new cast of characters while still paying homage to what came before. Scream in the 2020s is again a breath of fresh air for the horror genre, even while it keeps one eye focused on the past.

Scream‘s commitment to the franchise’s beginnings is prevalent in the finale, which takes place at Stu Macher’s (Matthew Lillard) house from the original. With Sam’s boyfriend, Richie (Jack Quaid), and his partner Amber (Mikey Madison) revealed as the killers, they treat Sam, Sidney, and Gale (Courtney Cox) to a night of terror that is eerily similar to the first. It loses points for creativity as it is clearly a homage to the original finale, but it is still an entertaining ending that sees Sam come into her own as a character and one that is deserving of taking the torch from Sidney. Richie and Amber also make for memorable villains as they become delightfully unhinged once unmasked.

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4 ‘Scream 4’ (2011)

Neve Campbell and Emma Roberts in Scream 4
Image Via Dimension

While Scream 3 appeared to be the end of Sidney, Gale, and Dewey’s (David Arquette) journey, Scream 4 ripped the franchise into modern times. Having turned her life story into a best-selling novel, Sidney comes back to Woodsboro as the last stop for her book tour. One can’t come to the murder capital without having a chat with Ghostface, however, and soon enough Sidney finds herself fighting to stay alive once again, while this time also having to protect her teenage cousin, Jill (Emma Roberts).

Nothing cuts deeper than family though, and Sidney is shattered to discover that Jill is in fact the killer. Working alongside horror nerd Charlie (Rory Culkin), Jill stages the massacre so that she is the sole survivor, so she can attain the same notoriety as Sidney. After her plans for a house party gone wrong fall through, Jill unleashes her inner Michael Myers as she hunts Sidney through a hospital. It makes for a nice fakeout ending as most Scream movies end at a party, and Roberts is committed to the role as she brings to life one of the Scream franchise’s best killers.

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3 ‘Scream VI’ (2023)

Melissa Barrera in Scream VI
Image via Paramount

Moving the carnage to the Big Apple, Scream VI sees the survivors of the previous entry living in New York for college. When a new Ghostface emerges and begins stalking the alleyways and the subways of the city, Sam and her friends must call on some old faces to stay alive. With no one safe and everyone a suspect, Scream VI delivers the biggest body count of the series as it builds to a satisfying conclusion.

RELATED: Life Lessons Sidney Prescott Learns in the ‘Scream’ Movies

If 2022’s Scream felt like a throwback to the original, then Scream VI works as a homage to Scream 2. Family and revenge are the two main motives for the Bailey family as they reveal themselves as this entry’s killers. Seeking to avenge the death of their son/brother Richie, the Baileys represent the first time the series has had three killers. It makes for an entertaining sequence as Sam and her sister Tara (Jenna Ortega) fight the family, with both sisters revealing they are just as violent as their tormentors, ultimately becoming even more savage as they mutilate their would-be attackers. It is rare to see a final girl as dangerous as Sam, and it makes for a breath of fresh air as the badass taunts each of the family members as they die.

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2 ‘Scream 2’ (1997)

Neve Campbell and Courtney Cox in Scream 2
Image Via Dimension

Picking up two years after the original, Scream 2 sees Sidney attending college as she tries to put her traumatic past behind her. Joined by a group of new friends, Sidney’s peace is interrupted by the news of a new string of murders, seemingly connected to her past. Now unable to trust those around her, Sidney must combat both paranoia and this new killer as she tries to stay alive long enough to graduate.

One of the key ways that Scream 2 ties into the original is through the reveal that the killer is Debbie Salt (Laurie Metcalf), aka Nancy Loomis, the mother of the first movie’s killer. Using psychotic student Mickey (Timothy Olyphant) to do her bidding, Nancy is seeking revenge against Sidney for the death of her son. Metcalf’s unhinged performance goes a long way to selling Nancy’s cold-blooded commitment to vengeance, and it is hard to not get emotionally invested as she and Sidney fight atop a university theater stage. It makes for a thrilling final sequence, and the best finale in the series behind the original.

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1 ‘Scream’ (1996)

Courtney Cox, Jamie Kennedy, and Neve Campbell in Scream (1996)
Image via Dimension Films

The one that started it all, Scream takes place in the small town of Woodsboro as a masked killer begins slicing up the neighborhood. Still reeling from the murder of her mother a year ago, Sidney finds herself the prime target of the killer as her friends begin dying around her. Deciding that a large get-together is a great way to employ safety in numbers, Sidney and her classmates soon find themselves trying to stay alive at a killer house party.

Setting the template that all future Scream movies would follow, the film ends with Sidney’s boyfriend Billy (Skeet Ulrich) and his best friend Stu (Matthew Lillard) unmasking themselves as the killers. As they reveal their motive and master plan to Sidney, she soon gets the upper hand and turns the tables on her attackers, unleashing her own killer instinct as she etches her place as one of the best-ever final girls. Scream‘s finale is simple, but it is unforgettable and helped create a trope that fans eagerly look forward to as each new entry inches closer to its iconic unmasking.

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NEXT: All the ‘Scream’ Movies, Ranked from Worst to Best

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