7 Short Stories with a Twist Ending

We usually want our stories to be impressive and memorable, and, given this, there is nothing like a story with a twist ending. Below are 7 short stories with unexpected or “twist” endings where the author may seem to lead their readers in one direction, only for them to realise later that they have ended up in a completely different place.

I. The Lottery [1948] by Shirley Jackson

In this story, a local community holds an annual “lottery” procedure whereby its residents draw pieces of paper from a black box. There is only one “winning” ticket amidst more than three hundred. Jackson maintains the uncertainty and suspense well, and her readers will not even realise what they are in for until it is too late.

II. The Last Leaf [1907] by O. Henry

O. Henry was not only the master of short stories, but also of surprising endings. The Last Leaf is one of his stories with the most unexpected of endings that tells of artists Sue and Johnsy and their friendship with neighbour Behrman. The twist ending is as unexpected as it is deeply moving.

III. The Story of an Hour [1894] by Kate Chopin

In this short tale, a woman receives sad news that her husband is killed in a railroad accident. However, very soon, the woman’s reaction to the news takes an unexpected turn, with the story culminating in one twist ending. Chopin weaved an evocative, progressively disturbing tale that is also less than some eighteen small paragraphs’ long.

IV. The Chinese Apple [1949] by Joseph Shearing

Since I read this short story in a Christmas mysteries anthology Silent Nights compiled by Martin Edwards, I could not possibly forget it. Joseph Shearing was a pseudonym of author Margaret Gabrielle Vere Long, who also went by the name “Marjorie Bowen”, and she wrote quite a short story. One rich old lady is finally returning to her home in England after a prolonged stay in Italy and meets her orphaned niece for the first time. It turns out that the two have a number of surprises for each other. I found the story’s twist unexpected and thought-provoking, even if slightly far-fetched.

V. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge [1890] by Ambrose Bierce

Strange things end up happening in this story about the hanging of planter Peyton Farquhar at a railroad bridge in Alabama. As the execution gets underway, nothing goes according to plan, or does it? The story’s strangeness is now as well-known as the mysterious fate of its author who disappeared in Mexico in 1914. The story also contains one of the earliest examples of a stream of consciousness narrative.

VI. Taste [1951] by Roald Dahl

As seen from recent films out (The Menu (2022), Hunger (2023)), stories about food and cooking are again “in vogue”, so this little tale may just be to everyone’s liking. Taste concerns six people who gather to sample the cuisine of Mike Schofield’s household. Among this group of people is wine and food connoisseur Richard Pratt, who has a bet with Mike that he can name any fine wine (both its vintage and its breed) that his host can offer him. Soon into their conversation, however, their respective bets have reached enormous proportions. Who will win? It is not too difficult to guess the twist here, but this is still a well-crafted, highly enjoyable story that remains suspenseful throughout.

VII. The Impossible Planet [1953] by Philip K. Dick

In addition to his books (Dr Bloodmoney, A Maze of Death), Philip K. Dick also wrote many short stories, and this one appeared in magazine Imagination in 1953. In a very distant future, a crew of space officers agree to take on a tour a three hundred and fifty year-old woman who wants to see planet Earth as her dying wish. The crew know that there is no such planet in existence, it is a myth, or is it? The crew end up offering the lady an experience regardless. The story is ironic and thought-provoking, and the ending can be interpreted as a bit of a twist, too, depending on the reader.


10 thoughts on “7 Short Stories with a Twist Ending

  1. Excellent post, Diana, with great descriptions of all seven stories! I’ve read four (the ones by Shirley Jackson, O. Henry, Kate Chopin, and Ambrose Bierce), and agree that they’re all ultra-memorable and have “wow” endings.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Not read any of these, but as I’m intending after a gap of many months to dig deep into my selection of short story collections in the next few months I may well be able to come up with some examples myself!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great list!

    I found The Art of the Twist by Nana on Amazon. It is easy for the reader to connect to many of the storylines since they take place in our current social era.

    Easy read and ideal for commuting.

    Liked by 1 person

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