There were dramatic scenes after the three-time world champion appeared to lose balance and crash into barriers after coming close to another competitor.
Christie, who was devastated after a triple disqualification at the Sochi Olympics four years ago, had been trying to force her way through to third place on the penultimate lap.
But the 27-year-old appeared to catch Canadian Kim Boudin before dropping to the ground, ending her latest attempt at a first Olympic medal.
Christie ended up fourth after Korea’s Choi Minjeong was disqualified after the end of the race.
It meant Boudin took bronze, the Netherlands’ Yara van Kerkhof silver, and Italy’s Arianna Fontana the gold.
Fighting back tears, Christie told BBC Sport: “I was knocked over, I didn’t fall on my own. When there are five people in a final it doesn’t give you any benefit when someone gets penalised.
“It is just tough. I have worked so hard for the 500m and it has been taken away from me.
“Even in the semi-final, I got crashed into then and ended up in lane four. I know it is short track and I am supposed to be prepared for this but it still hurts.”
The British competitor had eased through the quarter final but was forced to rely on a photo-finish in the semi-final, where she came second.
It meant she was placed in the difficult fourth lane for the final.
However, all is not lost for Christie – she will have another chance of grabbing a medal in the 1,000m and 1,500m events later in the week.