Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Biggest Twists In The Scream Franchise

Few franchises have perfected the bait and switch quite like the "Scream" movies — but fans aren't typically mad about it. It's not always easy to shock horror fans, but "Scream" manages this goal in every film. And rather than the twists becoming an annoying habit, fans watch new "Scream" movies with anticipation for one thing: What will they surprise us with next?

As a satire, "Scream" can operate outside the parameters of a typical slasher movie. Not only does it have characters from the debut film that are still alive and kicking (for now), but the franchise does a great job of making us care enough about those characters to mourn their deaths (or get bummed out if they're the killer).

From the very first moment of the original film, when Drew Barrymore's character dies in the opening 15 minutes, to the 2022 requel when we learn the new characters' family trees, the "Scream" movies are pieces of a wild rollercoaster that fans can't stop taking. Sidney's battle to survive Woodsboro is a neverending journey that we'll stick with until the bitter end. Of course, there are dozens of twists to choose from in each movie alone, but these are some of the most epic and impactful twists the "Scream" franchise has to offer.

The Drew Barrymore twist

"Scream" wouldn't be the same if Drew Barrymore didn't make one genius demand. In a Hot Ones interview, Barrymore explained the origins of her "Scream" character: "In the horror film genre, my biggest pet peeve was that I always knew the main character was gonna be like slugging through at the end but was gonna like creak by and make it. [...] What I wanted to do is to take that comfort zone away." She added, "I asked if I could be Casey Becker so that we would establish that that rule does not apply in this film." Without that choice or that opening scene, "Scream" may not have reached the iconic status that the franchise has achieved throughout the decades.

The movie still heavily leans into Barrymore's role, which laid the groundwork for the opening formula for multiple "Scream" movies to come. Barrymore was a cornerstone of the debut movie's publicity, snagging a central spot on posters and promos. Naturally, fans were shocked when they watched the film, and Ghostface fillets Casey in the opening scene. This one choice changed the horror genre forever. Without it, Neve Campbell wouldn't have become Sidney Prescott, and a few of the series' sequels might not exist. Fans have Barrymore to thank for that — at least, in part.

The OG tag-team killers

Long before "Scream" established its partners in crime pattern, fans were shocked to find out that Billy (Skeet Ulrich) and Stu (Matthew Lillard) were tag-team killers in the first movie. Billy is seemingly exonerated early in the film when Ghostface calls Sidney when Billy's in jail. Despite this, Billy acts the shadiest of anyone in the movie. He oozes serial killer energy, and even Sidney doesn't completely buy his innocence. Yet with an alibi for that call, Sidney and the audience eventually let their guard down a bit for the twist at the end. 

The breadcrumbs are there: The sheer number of times that Billy brings up his abandonment issues about his mom leaving when Sidney discusses her grief over losing her mom is telling. As it turns out, Billy's father had an affair with Sidney's mom, and he and Stu took it upon themselves to exact deadly revenge. 

Stu tries to play off his killer tendencies as peer pressure gone wrong, but "Scream" screenwriter Kevin Williamson, who is openly gay, told Pride Source that Billy and Stu are loosely based on real-life killers Leopold and Loeb, who were rumored to be in a relationship. Williamson explained, "If you Google 'Leopold and Loeb,' you will see. And you'll read about it, and you'll get, okay, that's Billy and Stu." Of course, the implication that being forced to stay in the closet would lead LGBTQ+ individuals on a murderous rampage isn't the best representation. However, the shocking revelation of Stu and Billy working together makes much more sense in this light — and there's no denying that their relationship is queer-coded. 

Annoying reporter or Mrs. Loomis?

Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) has no time for brown-nosing reporters who want to follow in her footsteps — and neither do fans. Debbie Salt (Laurie Metcalf) enters the scene in "Scream 2" as an overzealous reporter who claims to have attended an event Gale spoke at. She's just irritating enough to avoid suspicion.

When it comes to unsuspecting disguises, it's a rather brilliant one. As a reporter, she can be around the crime scenes without causing suspicion. And for such a revenge-driven woman, she puts on a convincing act. In fact, the reveal that she's Nacy Loomis — Billy Loomis' mom — is one of the biggest shocks of the franchise. 

By the second film, fans are already well-versed in expecting the unexpected. Yet, when someone menacing takes on the persona of someone so pathetically pitiable, it's a convincing mask for their villainy. The ruse is only up in "Scream 2" when Nancy walks into the theater with a gun, and Sidney immediately clocks her. In hindsight, Nancy's avoidance of Sidney makes sense and should have been the first clue, given that she's reporting on the Ghostface killings. Instead of being an annoyingly intrepid reporter, Nancy is actually out for revenge in the name of the homicidal son she abandoned.

Randy speaks from beyond the grave (sort of)

If you were rooting for a happy ending between Randy (Jamie Kennedy) and Sidney after the first "Scream," you're not alone. They're two of the only people who can truly understand what they've gone through, and they both trust and have each other's backs without question. Though Sidney doesn't fully trust Derek in "Scream 2," she never doubts Randy.

Yet, mouthing off against the son of Ghostface is basically a death sentence, and Randy never gets to see his college years through. There's usually one death in every "Scream" movie that breaks fans' hearts. In the first film, it's Tatum, and in the second, it's Randy.

In retrospect, the wholesome, nerdy film buff was never going to leave this world without some parting remarks. Much to fans' surprise, Jamie Kennedy shows up in "Scream 3" in post-mortem video form to let the group know that the third movie in a trilogy changes everything about the origin story — and that he'll probably see some of them soon (a little morbid even for Randy). He also reveals that he didn't die a virgin, which is probably the most unexpected reveal of the message.

There's a new Roberts in town

If everyone just listened to Randy more often, there would be a lot less death in the "Scream" franchise. (Of course, we'll have to just ignore the fact that Randy died because he goaded the killer here.) While audiences may have been surprised at Roman's (Scott Foley) killer plot twist, Randy would have seen it coming from a mile away. After all, he tried to warn Sidney by promising a twist that would change everything we knew about Sid's origin story, and Roman Bridger delivers on that promise — or should we say, Roman Roberts does?

Yup, Roman is Sidney's half-brother — and the reason that Ghostface has haunted Woodsboro for three decades. According to Roman, he coaxed Billy into becoming a killer and set his sights on Sidney's mother to kick off Ghostface's killer legacy. The sad part is that even though Sidney's mom rejected Roman, Sidney would have embraced him with open arms (and likely would have set her mother straight) if he had just come to her instead of turning into a serial killer to direct some twisted game. If a family is what he's really after, murdering them all doesn't exactly seem like a wise move to reach that end goal.

Even after Roman repeatedly tries to kill Sidney, she holds his hand during what she thinks is his death scene to give him some peace in his final moments. That doesn't last long, though, because the killer always comes back — another Randy prediction that proves right.

Two meta fakeouts

By "Scream 4," the franchise has already well established its opening pattern: The movies begin with Ghostface's first victim. However, the fourth film in the franchise is all about subverting expectations. It opens with a scene somewhat similar to Casey Becker's murder in the first movie, except two women are onscreen instead of one. After the first death, "Stab 6" flashes on the screen, and we see another two women on a couch watching the opening of "Stab 6" until Kristen Bell's character stabs her friend.

If you thought that the killer reveal was way too early, you were right. "Stab 7" flashes across the scene, only to showcase another two women watching that movie. Confused yet? It's meta laced with meta on top of meta, but then we finally get into the actual first two victims of the movie — one of whom gets crushed by a garage door a la Tatum style.

A "Scream" movie opening hasn't been this surprising since Drew Barrymore's character faced an untimely death in the first movie. It's good to see a fourth movie in a franchise sticking to its roots and continuing to surprise and delight viewers in a new yet familiar way. Usually, horror movie sequels feel like a cash grab long before they get to the fourth one, but "Scream" never seems to have this problem — likely because it doesn't take itself too seriously and leans into the absurdities of the genre (and, of course, the original characters and actors keep coming back for more to lend the franchise some continued credibility). 

A killer family tree

There's just something about the Roberts line that leads to killer consequences. After everything that Sidney's been through, it's a surprise she hasn't gone into killer mode (outside of necessary self-defense). Sid's homicidal family tree includes her half-brother Roman, and by the end of "Scream 4," her seemingly soft-spoken niece. At the beginning of the movie, Jill (Emma Roberts) seems a lot like Sidney from the first movie: She's largely quiet, appears to have a good heart, and seems like a loyal friend.

Yet, a dark thirst for notoriety looms underneath Jill's seemingly passive exterior. Fans start to get suspicious of Jill when she disappears from her hiding place under the bed and is nowhere to be found during the buildup to Ghostface's unmasking. However, stabbing Sidney and pulling off the Ghostface mask with a twisted smile is one of the best reveals in the franchise. Even if fans saw it coming, they still didn't see it coming like this.

All things considered, Jill is the most determined (and arguably the most fierce) Ghostface we've seen in the entire series. While most tag-team killers stab each other to look like victims, Jill takes out her incel partner in crime after literally shooting off her cheating ex-boyfriend's junk. Then, she stabs herself before knocking the daylights out of herself by smashing her body against every surface in the house, including glass. You're almost rooting for her to get away with it because that's some exceptional dedication.

A serial killer's daughter

Houston, we have a problem with teen pregnancy. The great thing about the "Scream" franchise stems from its ability to keep the OG characters alive long after their deaths without utilizing paranormal elements of the horror genre. Given that Billy dies at the end of the first movie, no one expected Skeet Ulrich to appear in the 2022 requel, but the writers found a brilliant way to make it happen. Tara and Sam seem to be co-final girls by the end of the requel, but Sam kicks off the movie with a secret: She's the daughter of Billy Loomis.

Pro tip: If you're lying to your entire family about the biological father of your kid, maybe don't leave a diary entry about it lying around. Ever since Sam discovered that she was the daughter of a serial killer, she found it challenging to fit in with her family and became somewhat of a pariah in Woodsboro, prompting her to leave.

And while, up until this movie, the "Scream" series hasn't treated mental health with much care, "Scream" (2022) rights this wrong. Mental illness doesn't make you a killer, and Sam is the first character in the franchise to work through her mental health struggles positively. We see her taking medication for her condition, but meds aren't a cure-all, so she still sees hallucinations of Billy. But by the movie's end, she uses her unavoidable hallucinations to empower her to rise above Billy's twisted legacy.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

A little piece of Randy lives on

Back in "Scream 3," Randy's previously unmentioned sister is the one who shows Sidney, Dewey (David Arquette), and Gale the tape Randy made before he died. But outside of that brief appearance, we never see or hear from her again — until "Scream" (2022). It doesn't matter how many movies come and go since Randy died in "Scream 2." He's at the very heart of the franchise, and his essence is woven into every film's DNA.

In the requel, Martha Meeks (Heather Matarazzo) shows up again — albeit briefly. Her role is mainly to be a goofy mom who embarrasses her kids, but she demonstrates the classic Meeks trait of failing to grasp the reality of her movie-like circumstances. She tells her children, "Oooh, suspects. My brother would be so proud." And the best part is that he would be proud.

Fans glimpse the "Randy Meeks Memorial Home Theater," which is basically a shrine to Randy in the Meeks household. It's good to know his niece and nephew keep Randy's spirit alive, and it has that patented goofy Meeks vibe. Despite his name, Randy's nephew Chad (Mason Gooding) emulates his uncle's sweet, wholesome vibe. Meanwhile, Mindy Meeks (Jasmin Savoy Brown) is a little Randy in the making — serving as the new generation's horror expert. She's even watching Randy's horror movie rules scene from "Stab" when her brother says, "You're just going to sit here and watch a movie about our uncle getting stabbed?" Mindy fires back, "It calms me down, okay?" The Randy adjacent combo of mildly suspicious behavior paired with quirky likability lives on, as surprising as it was to discover that the twins are related to him in the first place.

Anyone can die in a requel

Until the fifth movie, the "Scream" movies did something few horror franchises do: keep the core group of survivors alive. Sadly, we lost Randy along the way in "Scream 2," but up until "Scream" (2022), Sidney, Gale, and Dewey were going strong. Despite how many stab and bullet wounds the trio endured, they got through it together.

But as Amber (Mikey Madison) says, "Anyone can die in a requel." On some level, it makes sense that the franchise reboot would need to kill off a core character to keep the story believable and full of stakes. The movie was released over a decade after "Scream 4," after all. Yet, the knowledge that a core character will likely get killed off doesn't make Dewey's death any less startling or gut-wrenching.

Long gone is that timid, gawky, and awkward detective that we meet in the first movie. Dewey goes down like a badass in his quest to protect the next generation of Woodsboro teens. The worst part of Dewey's death, though, is the futility. He could have gotten away safely, but he decides to take on Ghostface alone, knowing that his chances of survival are low and his odds of taking Ghostie down are even more dismal. He does it anyway and pays the ultimate price. Once he gets off the elevator, his fate is sealed. However, Dewie's corpse splayed out like he's making a bloody snow angel as stuffed animals are strewn around him is a lot for fans to process.

Richie and Amber are partners

If there's one thing "Scream" (2022) instills in the characters and audience alike, it's that requels have significant ties to the original characters. Yet Charlie and Amber are two of the only characters who aren't related to the long-timers. Randy was the twins' uncle (even though they never met), Sam is Billy Loomis' daughter, and Wes (Dylan Minnette) is Sheriff Judy's (Marley Shelton) son. Sure, Amber lives in Stu's old house, which is a minor connection, but fans expected at least one of the killers to be tangibly related to someone of import.

On the one hand, Dewie basically tells us that Richie is the killer because it's "always the love interest." However, that throws fans off the scent — as does Richie's seemingly genuinely likable personality. But clearly, he's simply too nice. Alternatively, Amber seems off from the beginning, but it feels too obvious for her to be Ghostface. With Williamson's confirmation of a love angle between Billy and Stu, a lover's direction makes sense for the requel. 

That being said, Amber and Richie seem like an unrelated random choice for a duo, which is why it's so perfect. However, the meta-critique of toxic fandom is icing on the cake. Some astute fans may have seen this pairing coming, but it shocked more than a few fans. 

Kirby's back on the scene

There's a rule in the "Scream" franchise: The killers always come back. So, what does this mean? Usually, headshots. And no, not the kind that a photographer takes. While this rule typically applies to Ghostface, if there's no onscreen body, then there's no death.

Fans have been clamoring for Hayden Panettiere since Paramount announced "Scream" (2022), to no avail. Then, her return became imminent in the buildup to the sixth movie. Of course, the announcement sparked some of the most intense fan excitement in franchise history.

In case anyone needs some brushing up on "Scream 4," Kirby's incel love interest stabs her because she didn't express her feelings for him sooner. Sure, we see Kirby go down, but he only gets in one stab to the stomach. "Scream" characters have walked away with much worse injuries — even in that very same movie (remember how Jill manages to give herself more dire wounds when she attempts to throw everyone off her scent). And though it was always possible for Kirby's return, it's safe to say that many fans had given up on the film fulfilling this particular bucket list item when it was rumored to happen in "5" and never came to be.