100 of the Most Memorable Movie Deaths

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100 of the Most Memorable Movie Deaths

This year, Paste celebrates the Día de los Muertos with a tour of some of the most memorable deaths ever seen on film. To make this list, the deaths needed to be onscreen, which means some classic delivery devices of childhood trauma—oh, Bambi!—will not be here. They needed to be memorable, whether due to how much they scarred the viewer, how central they were to the movie in which they occur, or how imaginative the offing. That said, we did not delve too deeply into horror films or b-movies, many of which butter their bread with horrible/inventive deaths. (We have sprinkled a few throughout.) Finally, while we considered actually ranking these deaths, it is ultimately so dependent on the individual moviegoer’s preferred genre, formative childhood moments/parenting miscues, etc. So we’re going to just lay these 100 out there and ask, instead, what big ones have we missed?

1. Hans Gruber – Die Hard (1988)

Death by…: Gunshot and fall from the Nakatomi Building #HappyTrailsHans

2. Darth Vader/The Emperor – Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)

Death by…: Force Lightning and lack of oxygen (and eyebrows?)

3. Sonny Corleone – The Godfather (1972)

Death by…: Tommygun—never leave without your bodyguards when you’re in the mob

4. Li Mu Bai – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

Death by…: Poisonous dart or friendzone level 100

5. Russell Franklin – Deep Blue Sea (1999)

Death by…: Shark attack—sounds like his plan to escape could have been helpful

6. Dr. René Belloq – Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Death by…: Power of the Ark / Face melting / Head explosion / Being a Nazi / Not listening to Indiana Jones

7. Gilbert Kane – Alien (1986)

Death by…: Chest-popping baby alien

8. Roy Batty – Blade Runner (1982)

Death by…: Methuselah Syndrome

9. Radio Raheem – Do the Right Thing (1989)

Death by…: Police chokehold

10. Boromir – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Death by…: Way too many arrows

11. Sergeant Elias Gordon – Platoon (1986)

Death by…: Gunshot / Brutal betrayal

12. Sugar Watkins – Starship Troopers (1997)

Death by…: Detonating a bomb to save fellow comrades from the creepiest arachnid alien bug of all time

13. Ellie Fredricksen – Up (2009)

Death by…: Illness / Old age (showing us that death does not have to be traumatic to be emotionally eviscerating)

14. Léon Montana/Norman Stansfield – Léon: The Professional (1994)

Death by…: Epic grenade explosion

15. Private Silas Trip – Glory (1989)

Death by…: Confederate fusillade (No worries: Denzel went to a better place…the Academy Awards, where he took home a Best Supporting Actor Oscar)

16. Spock – Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

Death by…: Radiation poisoning, but logically so

17. HAL 9000 – 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Death by…: Disconnected

18. Hoban “Wash” Washburne – Serenity (2005)

Death by…: Impaled by harpoon—leaf on the wind, not so much

19. Marvin – Pulp Fiction (1994)

Death by…:

Gunshot (“Aw man, I shot Marvin in the face.”)

20. Paul Allen – American Psycho (2000)

Death by…: Ax—Paul Allen: Definitely not getting a reservation at Dorsia

21. Gomer Pyle/Gunnery Sergeant Hartman – Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Death by…: Suicide


22. Leonard Smalls / Biker of the Apocalypse – Raising Arizona (1987)

Death by…: Grenade—sneaky pull of the pin by Nicolas Cage’s character (Herbert “H.I.” McDunnough)

23. Aslan – The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)

Death by…: Stabbing by the White Witch (Hello again, childhood literary trauma)

24. Marion Crane – Psycho (1960)

Death by…: Stabbed in the shower, as Hitchcock leaves a mark on filmgoers (and film) for generations

25. Jack Torrance – The Shining (1980)

Death by…: Maze-enabled freezing

26. Donald Gennaro – Jurassic Park (1993)

Death by…: T-Rex, while on the toilet

27. Quint – Jaws (1975)

Death by…: Shark consumption (Vitamin Q?)

28. Bonnie and Clyde – Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

Death by…: Hail of bullets

29. Major T. J. “King” Kong – Dr. Strangelove (1964)

Death by…: Nuclear bomb, but what a ride?

30. King Kong – King Kong (1933)

Death by…: Really, really long fall from the Empire State Building

31. Greedo – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)

Death by…: Shot (first) by Han Solo

32. Jack Dawson – Titanic (1997)

Death by…: Pointlessly freezes to death when two people could have fit on that door! (Ask MythBusters)

33. LTJG Nick “Goose” Bradshaw – Top Gun (1986)

Death by…: Aircraft canopy (Sad Meg Ryan is the saddest)

34. Mufasa – Lion King (1994)

Death by…: Gorge plummet, courtesy of his scoundrel of a brother, Scar (“One day, Simba, the sun will set on my time here, and will rise with you as the new king.” ::sniffles::)

35. Bill Murray – Zombieland (2009)

Death by…: Bullet, after being mistaken for a real zombie (“Is that how you say hello where you come from?”)

36. Private Mellish – Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Death by…: Knife inserted oh so slowly by a comforting German commando

37. Hector – Troy (2004)

Death by…: Impaled and stabbed by Achilles

38. Joe Gillis – Sunset Boulevard (1950)

Death by…: Shot by Norma Desmond

39. Jack – Friday the 13th (1980)

Death by…: Post-coital penetration with an arrow through the neck

40. Drexl Spivey – True Romance (1993)

Death by…: Shot in the crotch

41. Tina – Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Death by…: Sliced, diced, spun and drug up the wall.

42. Palmer – The Thing (1982)

Death by…: Flamethrower / Explosion (Is there really ever a good time for your flamethrower to malfunction?)

43. Keith – The Omen (1976)

Death by…: A very close shave by a decapitating pane of glass

44. Tanaka – Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003)

Death by…: Decapitation by samurai sword, followed by epic blood spray and speech by O-Ren Ishii

45. ConSec Scanner – Scanners (1981)

Death by…: The head explosion that set the bar

46. Casey Becker – Scream (1996)

Death by…: Stabbing (lots of stabbing)

47. Apollo Creed – Rocky VI (1985)

Death by…: Drago. Ivan Drago.

48. Edward Malus – The Wicker Man (2006)

Death by…: “Not the bees!”—bee stings, for further clarification, followed by being ritualistically burned alive

49. Vizzini – Princess Bride (1987)

Death by…: Locaine powder, clearly not the smart man he thought he was

50. Commandos – Resident Evil (2002)

Death by…: Laser grid dicing

51. Vampire – The Lost Boys (1987)

Death by…: Stereo

52. Tommy – The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Death by…: Shot by guards

53. Billy Drayton – The Mist (2007)

Death by…: Ironically shot with help just moments away

54. Wicked Witch of the West – The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Death by…: Water (A basic life-giving element as a weakness seems like a bit of a raw deal compared to her sister’s flying house vulnerability)

55. Thelma & Louise – Thelma & Louise (1991)

Death by…: Epic plunge into the Grand Canyon

56. Church Goers – Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)

Death by…: Mind-controlled secret agent (bonus points for “Free Bird”)

57. Privates Vasquez and Gorman – Aliens (2014)

Death by…: Grenade explosion (“You always were an asshole, Gorman”)

58. Obi-Wan Kenobi – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)

Death by…: Lightsaber to the robe!

59. Emil Antonwsky – Robocop (1987)

Death by…: Toxic waste meltdown

60. Albus Dumbledore – Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (2009)

Death by…: Snape’s spell, though the curse of the Gaunt ring had already guaranteed it

61. Jimmy Malone – The Untouchables (1987)

Death by…: Shot, often; his “Bring a knife to a gun fight” quote lives on

62. Judge Doom – Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)

Death by…: Dipped to death

63. Ricky Baker – Boyz N The Hood (1991)

Death by…: Gunshots by Ferris’s gang hours before SAT scores would qualify him for a scholarship

64. Arthur “Cody” Jarrett – White Heat (1949)

Death by…: Hell of a tank explosion

65. Kaydee “Caine” Lawson – Menace II Society (1993)

Death by…: Gut-wrenching drive-by shooting

66. Nicky and Dominick Santoro – Casino (1995)

Death by…: Being buried alive in a cornfield

67. Capt. Oliver Charles Queenan – The Departed (2006)

Death by…: Assisted plummet from building

68. Agent Smith – The Matrix Revolutions (1999)

Death by…: The power of the “One”

69. Lee Woo-jin – Oldboy (2003)

Death by…: Suicide

70. The Assassin – The Raid 2 (2014)

Death by…: Knives—that small smirk before the final blow is fantastic

71. Colonel Walter E. Kurtz – Apocalypse Now (1979)

Death by…: Machete, during sacrifice of a water buffalo (FYI: IRL, the water buffalo was already marked for sacrifice by the local tribe)

72. James “Jem” Coughlin – The Town (2010)

Death by…: Suicide by cop (or Don Draper)

73. Russell Casse – Independence Day (1996)

Death by…: Kamikaze—the only time Cousin Eddie will save the day

74. Harry Stamper – Armageddon (1998)

Death by…: Asteroid-deflecting nuke—a fitting way to go for a rowdy oil man from Texas

75. Gabriel Edward Martin – The Patriot (2000)

Death by…: Gunshot—redcoat; that long dramatic pause gives us all the feels

76. Noah and Allie – The Notebook (2004)

Death by…: Old age—one of the saddest deaths of all time that leaves you crying alone in your apartment (or so I’ve heard)

77. Sarah – Cliffhanger (1993)

Death by…: Need to generate internal conflict for the protagonist (also, a fall)

78. Nina – Black Swan (2010)

Death by…: Falls to her death…or mirror shard—this death is open to interpretation, but is still epic

79. Eli Sunday – There Will Be Blood (2007)

Death by…: Bowling pin bludgeoning; main character being “finished”

80. Captain Henry Rhodes – Day of the Dead (1985)

Death by…: Shot by an unusually intelligent zombie, then eaten

81. Skateboard Assassin – Hard Ticket to Hawaii (1987)

Death by…: Car and bazooka blast, alongside a blow-up doll (obviously)

82. Goldfinger – Goldfinger (1964)

Death by…: Sucked out of plane

83. Dracula – Horror of Dracula (1958)

Death by…: Sunlight-triggered ashification

84. Cleo – Set It Off (1996)

Death by…: Police shootout

85. Russian Mobster – Boondock Saints (1999)

Death by…: Toilet (every deaths list needs at least two toilet-related expirations)

86. Stuntman Mike – Death Proof (2007)

Death by…: A much-deserved beating

87. Leslie – Chopping Mall (1986)

Death by…: Robot-delivered, head-exploding laser shot

88. Dr. King Schultz – Django Unchained (2012)

Death by…: Shootout

89. Ferruh – Karate Girl (Karateci K?z) (1973)

Death by…: Gunshots

90. Syndrome – The Incredibles (1998)

Death by…: Cape

91. Sonny – Monster’s Ball (2001)

Death by…: Suicide—gunshot to the chest after a standoff with father Hank, who admits he has always hated Sonny

92. Detective Alonzo Harris – Training Day (2001)

Death by…: Russian mafia hitmen

93. Raheem – Juice (1992)

Death by…: Death by Bishop

94. Eduard “Del” Delacroix – The Green Mile (1999)

Death by…: Botched electrocution

95. Trevor McKinney – Pay it Forward (2000)

Death by…: Knifed trying to pay it forward

96. Vito Corleone – The Godfather (1972)

Death by…: Heart attack in the garden—the perfect way to go if you’re the head of one of the most powerful criminal organizations in the country


97. Old Yeller – Old Yeller (1957)

Death by…: Rabies / gunshot


98. Ben – Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Death by…: Mistaken for the undead and shot through the forehead

99. Charles Foster Kane – Citizen Kane (1941)

Death by…: Old age; an iconic end


100. Vermithrax Perjorative – Dragonslayer (1981)

Death by…: Exploding wizard