Scream 1996 Ending Explained: Original Ghostface Identity & Killer Twists


Scream 1996 Ending Explained: Original Ghostface Identity & Killer Twists

In a classic conclusion that would launch a decades-long franchise, Ghostface’s identity & motivations involve numerous twists in Scream’s ending.


  • Wes Craven’s Scream (1996) has an iconic ending filled with twists, revealing the identity of Ghostface and the motivations behind the murders.
  • Billy and Stu are the masterminds behind the Ghostface killings, framing others and continuing their revenge plots by attacking their classmates.
  • Despite fan theories, Stu Macher did not survive Scream‘s ending, and only a select few characters, including Sidney Prescott, Randy Meeks, Gale Weathers, and Dewey Riley, survive the massacre.



Wes Craven’s Scream (1996) boasts one of the most iconic twist-filled endings in movie history, with the Ghostface identity reveal and final twists launching one of the horror’s greatest franchises. The Kevin Williamson-created Scream movie franchise continues to be remembered for its wild third acts, which all began with the twists and turns faced by Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) when the knife-donning masked Ghostface killer conducted an attack at a high school house party. Scream’s clever ending is filled with satire aimed at horror movies and cultural commentary, with the unmasking of Ghostface and Sidney’s fate still being unmatched decades later.

After being taunted by the killer and seeing several others die by Ghostface’s knife, Sidney finds herself face-to-face with Ghostface in Scream’s ending. With many gathered for a party at Stu’s house, Gale Weathers and Dewey Riley stand guard at the home in case the killer strikes again, which turns out to be the case when Ghostface attacks several party-goers. After Sidney and her boyfriend Billy finally sleep together, Billy is seemingly stabbed by Ghostface, but a sinister twist reveals her prior suspicions were correct. Scream (1996)’s thrilling and satisfying ending reveals Ghostface’s shocking identity and motivations for the massacres, with only a few survivors remaining alongside Sidney as dawn finally breaks.

Billy & Stu’s Ghostface Reveal & Plans Explained

Shortly after Sidney watches Ghostface stab Billy, her boyfriend reveals that the wound is fake, simply using fake blood and cornstarch to evade suspicion. Billy reveals his true role as Ghostface, with Stu Macher having been his accomplice the entire time. The two Ghostfaces then launch into their famous monologue confessing their crimes and motivations for the murders, including the fact that they were the ones who killed Sidney’s mother Maureen Prescott a year prior. Ultimately, Billy and Stu were two sadistic individuals who, after killing Maureen, decided to continue taking their revenge plots further by attacking their classmates. While Billy was primarily motivated by his anger at being abandoned, Stu’s reason for helping Billy kill people was the sadistic thrill.

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Considering the pair had already framed Cotton Weary for Maureen’s murder, Billy Loomis and Stu Macher found another individual to frame for their new killings. The teens had planned to frame Sidney’s father Neil Prescott for the crimes, suggesting he would have “snapped” on the anniversary of Maureen’s death and gone on his own killing spree. With Neil tied up and Sidney being their next target, Billy and Stu enact the next phase in their plan by stabbing each other in order to appear as the “sole survivors” and cover up their identities as Ghostface. By the end of the night, there was no rhyme or reason to who Billy and Stu killed, as the movie-inspired killers simply wanted to be the only survivors to return in the “sequel.”

However, while Billy and Stu are stabbing one another a bit too deeply, Gale Weathers arrives and Sidney is able to escape. Sidney then kills Stu by dropping a TV on his head, with an incapacitated Billy soon awakening before Sidney fatally shoots him. After both Ghostfaces are dead, Scream’s ending sees Sidney get help as Gale Weathers reports on the fateful night, revealing Billy and Stu as the Ghostface killers while explaining their twisted “motivations” in the 1996 Woodsboro massacre.

Related: Scream Movies In Order: How To Watch The Horror Franchise Chronologically

Why Billy & Stu Killed Sidney’s Mother

Neve Campbell as Sidney Prescott and Skeet Ulrich as Billy Loomis in Scream

One of the biggest twists in Scream’s ending involves the reveal that Cotton Weary was framed for Maureen’s murder by Billy and Stu. In reality, Billy and Stu had killed her the year before after discovering that she had been having an affair with Billy’s father. The affair caused Billy’s mother to abandon their family, leaving him angry and out for revenge. Billy blamed Sidney’s mother – but seemingly not his father – for ruining his family and forcing his own mother to leave him, leading him to kill Maureen. Similar to the Ghostface murders in 1996, Stu had no motivation to help Billy kill Maureen other than his twisted interest in murder and desire to go along with Billy’s ideas.

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Did Stu Really Die In Scream’s Ending?

Stu Macher smiling and holding up a gun in Scream

Despite the fact that Stu Macher has a TV smashed on his head and is electrocuted by the device, many theories have speculated that Matthew Lillard’s character survives Scream’s ending. These theories were later supported by reports of an early draft of Scream 3 that included Stu’s return as well as a theory posed by the character Mindy in Scream 6, though the 2023 sequel and Kevin Williamson himself confirm that Stu Macher is dead. While it’s still possible that Lillard could reprise his role as Stu Macher’s ghost in future Scream movies, similar to Skeet Ulrich reprising his role as the deceased Billy Loomis, it’s highly unlikely that Stu survived his TV-smashing death in the original film’s ending.

Who Survives Scream’s Ending

Scream original trio favorite lines sidney gale dewey

Only a select few prominent characters actually survive Scream’s ending, including the movie’s iconic Final Girl, Sidney Prescott. While each character receives near-fatal wounds, the ultimate survivors in Scream are Sidney, Randy Meeks, Gale Weathers, Dewey Riley, and Neil Prescott. The remaining characters of note are killed by Scream‘s Ghostfaces Billy and Stu, which includes Tatum Riley, Casey Becker, Steve Orth, Kenny, and Principal Himbry. Of course, Billy and Stu themselves are then killed by Sidney. Additionally, some minor characters such as Cotton Weary, Dewey and Tatum’s parents, and Sheriff Burke also manage to survive Ghostface’s original Woodsboro massacre.

Why Sidney Wears Ghostface’s Costume In Scream’s Ending

Sidney sneers down at Billy while wearing Ghostface's costume in Scream's ending

Sidney Prescott has been the most prominent character stalked and targeted by Ghostface throughout the Scream franchise, but she does briefly wear the mask herself in the original movie. After escaping from the killers at the house party, Sidney hides in a closet and puts on the Ghostface costume before killing Stu and Billy. There are a few meanings behind Sidney donning the outfit, with one being that wearing the Ghostface costume was a way to mess with Billy and Stu. The person who wore Ghostface’s costume had the greatest fearlessness and power, so Sidney wearing it was a form of psychological warfare that also proved she would take down Billy and Stu.

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Another meaning of the scene is that the costume allows its wearer to become more comfortable as a vindictive killer, with Sidney finally wearing it when able to remorselessly and brutally – even if just for a moment – take fatal revenge on Billy. Sidney could have found a way to subdue Billy and await his arrest, but she also had that urge to take revenge on him and kill him just as brutally as he had killed her family and friends. Sidney is ultimately the franchise’s hero, but she’s so much more compelling with this dark moment in Scream’s ending. Wearing Ghostface’s costume doesn’t make Sidney as sadistic or vile as the real killers, but proves that anyone, herself included, can tap into that vindictive power.

How Scream’s Ending Set Up Ghostface’s Scream 2 Return

Courteney Cox Jamie Kennedy and Neve Campbell in Scream

Scream 2 would arrive only one year after Wes Craven’s original movie, with the 1997 sequel seeing Sidney leave Scream‘s Woodsboro location to contend with Ghostface at college. Scream’s ending left some loose ends untied, such as Cotton Weary’s exoneration, Gale and Dewey’s romance, and what happened to some briefly mentioned characters. Additionally, Stu Macher had teased the potential of such a film when telling Sidney that he and Billy needed to be the only two people whose stories continued “in the sequel.” Billy and Stu were obsessed with movies, so setting up a sequel with themselves as the survivors was part of their plans. Ultimately, however, it’s Sidney, Randy, Dewey, and Gale whose stories continue in the sequel, with a new Ghostface taking Billy and Stu’s places in Scream 2.

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