Ranking Every Jurassic Park Dino-Death, from Lamest to Coolest

Movies Lists
Share Tweet Submit Pin

For about 14 years now, every time I’ve heard any reference to a rumored (and eventually impending) Jurassic Park sequel, my mind has flashed back to a Penny Arcade webcomic from way back in 2001. As one of the characters sagely observes, there comes a point when “there’s no good God-damned reason to go back to that island.” To which the other replies with an even more valid truth: “Well, if you want to get eaten by dinosaurs, there’s really no other place to go.” Pretty hard to dispute that one.

That is, after all, pretty much the reason why we watch Jurassic Park movies in the end, or at least why we watch Jurassic Park sequels. The original 1993 film is one of the greatest, populist crowd-pleasing blockbusters of all time, a movie that succeeded in both making its dino stars awe-inspiring and frightening in equal measure, while mixing in some creative kills along the way. The sequels, on the other hand, are subject to some inevitably diminishing returns—still some good, and occasionally great, kills there for fans of dinosaur-inflicted violence, but also some cases where the body count becomes less inspired or simply lazy.

Now, as we gear up for the Friday release of Jurassic World, we have to wonder how that 14-year gap since the much-maligned Jurassic Park III will affect the dinosaur kills that are surely headed our way. How will raptor and Indominus Rex murder look in high-resolution video? How visceral will the gore be, given that the PG-13 rating seems to be increasingly neutered in its depictions of violence? We’ll have to wait and see. But as our way of welcoming the series back, let’s first take a look at every dinosaur-related death in the entire Jurassic Park series to date, ranked from lamest to coolest.


18. “Dino-Soar” boat crew”


Film: Jurassic Park III
Culprit: Unknown dinosaur-related calamity

dino_soar (Custom).png

Unsurprisingly, the worst film of the series contains most of the worst dinosaur deaths—this is no coincidence. Here, in JP III’s opening scene, the crew of the “Dino Soar” parasailing boat meets some kind of terrible end … but what it is, we never find out. When the audience (and paragliders’) view is obstructed by cloud cover for roughly 10 seconds, the line starts to shake, and the clouds pass to reveal a torn up and blood-soaked deck. What picked off the boat crew so quickly? A flock of flying Pteranodons? Perhaps one of the aquatic Mosasaurs that we didn’t actually get a look at until the Jurassic World trailer? It’s never touched on again, so who knows?


17. S.S. Venture ship crew


Film: The Lost World: Jurassic Park
Culprit: Killer plot holes

Two inexplicably dead ship crews on the same list, one right after another? Yep. Turns out that ships and Jurassic Park movies just don’t mix, when it comes to satisfying deaths. This one is particularly frustrating, because when the large cargo ship bearing tranquilized T-Rex and infant arrives in San Diego, it’s a charnel house and the crew is all dead … and yet the T-Rex is still locked securely in the hold, only breaking free after the ship has run aground. So the obvious question is, what the hell killed all of the crew members? Turns out that the original plan for the film was to also include a group of raptors boarding the ship as stowaways, which would have resulted in a cat-and-mouse of game of sailors being hunted, Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan-style. These portions were cut, however, which introduced one of the bigger plot holes ever allowed to exist in a big-budget summer blockbuster.


16. Ben Hildebrand


Film: Jurassic Park III
Culprit Unknown

Ben (Custom).jpg

A soap opera-looking dude in a Hawaiian shirt, Ben only appears in the opening moments of JP III to parasail near Isla Sorna with the young Eric. Watching the film I was never quite sure of his role—is he like a Bigger Brother figure, or the boyfriend of Tea Leoni? Regardless, he and Eric plummet into the Isla Sorna forest after the aforementioned Dino Soars boat is wrecked, and what happens from that point on is a mystery. Eric somehow gets away, but despite the fact that they were strapped together, Ben remains hanging in a tree, to be discovered as a corpse later. Why didn’t Eric help untangle/cut him down? Were they somehow attacked while in a tree? Why was Eric able to escape if the bigger, stronger adult was not? Why does nobody bother to ask Eric what happened to Ben once his parents are able to track him down? Who knows? The untimely death of Ben Hildebrand is shrouded in mystery and possibly foul play.


15. Cooper


Film: Jurassic Park III
Culprit: Spinosaurus

Cooper, one of the mercenaries hired by Eric’s parents to help track him down on Isla Sorna, is the first person killed by the film’s Big Bad, the Spinosaurus. However, it’s a quick shot, mostly notable for the fact that the Spinosaurus also causes the Dr. Alan Grant’s getaway plane to crash, stranding them on the island as well. There’s just really nothing to this one—the dinosaur appears in the blink of an eye, chomps down on Cooper, and that’s all we see of it. Nondescript.


14. Robert Burke


Film: The Lost World: Jurassic Park
Culprit: Tyrannosaurus Rex

An 11-year-old Jim, seeing The Lost World in theaters for the first time, was definitely a big enough dinosaur geek to immediately recognize that the character of InGen paleontologist Robert Burke was clearly meant to be a parody of well-known real-life paleontologist Robert Bakker, right down to the beard and cowboy hat. After theorizing about the T-Rex as a scavenger, Burke gets a doubly ironic death, being both hunted by the T-Rex and eventually chased into its jaws when he’s spooked by a lesser reptile—a snake slithering down into his shirt. His death feels very PG-13—the way that he’s dragged out to die off-screen, with his blood coming down the waterfall in a shower of red food coloring, is a little bit contrived. But still a fun way to pad the T-Rex’s kill count.


13. M.B. Nash


Film: Jurassic Park III
Culprit: Spinosaurus

Another victim of the Spinosaurus’ initial appearance as the filmmakers attempted to establish its badass-itude right off the bat (shortly before it literally kills a T-Rex to prove that it’s the top dog in the yard), M.B. Nash is another mercenary without time to establish any particular character. Still, his death is somewhat cooler than Cooper’s. After surviving the initial plane crash, he’s plucked out of the plane by the jaws of Spinosaurus and then dropped on the ground. One would probably think that would be enough to kill him outright, but he tries to crawl off before being pinned to the ground by the alpha predator and eaten. The audience knows from the first time that they see him that this guy is dino fodder, and he proves to be just that.


12. “Unlucky Bastard”


Film: The Lost World: Jurassic Park
Culprit: Tyrannosaurus Rex

“Unlucky bastard” seems to be the given name for an extra who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time during the T-Rex’s rampage through San Diego at the end of The Lost World, at around 45 seconds into the above clip. He does what he can to get out of the monster’s way, but he’s just a hair too slow in reaching the relative safety of a building. This death is mostly notable for his memorable, wavering scream, which teeters on the edge of inadvertent comedy. In reality, the “unlucky bastard” was a cameo performance by David Koepp, the film’s screenwriter, who presumably always wondered what it would be like to kill himself via T-Rex.


11. Carter


Film: The Lost World: Jurassic Park
Culprit: Tyrannosaurus Rex

Carter is a fairly random member of the InGen team in The Lost World, but he still gets a gruesomely memorable death at around 2:15 in the above clip. In the panic to escape from the InGen camp when the T-Rex’s show up looking for their offspring, he flees down a muddy path with many others, but trips and falls, getting trampled by everyone else. He revives just in time to see the massive, descending foot of the T-Rex, which crushes him flat like he’s Wile E. Coyote. Adding insult to injury, he then sticks to the T-Rex’s foot for several more strides like a human piece of gum. In a weird way, this death almost echoes the experience of every audience member who saw The Lost World in a cheap theater with gross, sticky floors. I know I did.

Next page: The top 10 Jurassic Park franchise deaths


10. Dieter Stark


Film: The Lost World: Jurassic Park
Culprit: Compsognathus

dieterstark (Custom).jpg

Dieter’s death is at least partially the fault of Carter, who’s too busy listening to his headphones to notice a supremely creepy Peter Stormare wandering away to piss (hundreds of yards away from camp, for some reason). It’s hard to rank Dieter, because on some level it’s difficult to buy getting taken down by the “compies,” even in a pack—their necks are so reedy and slender that he really should be able to snap them effortlessly. Still, thematically it’s a great, karmic death, given that Dieter has previously tormented one of the compies with his cattle prod—all you need is Muldoon from the first film sagely nodding and saying “They remember…” The repeated compy attacks that slowly wear Dieter down are also enjoyably gross thanks to some cool, visceral practical effects—it’s fun to watch them wear him down through the death of a thousand cuts.


9. Ray Arnold


Film: Jurassic Park
Culprit: Velociraptor

Samuel L. Jackson’s chain-smoking chief engineer has most of the best one-liners in the original Jurassic Park, and also a great death, even though it does happen off screen. When he runs off to reset the power breakers and doesn’t return, we know that’s certainly not a good sign. When Muldoon and Satler discover that the raptors have broken free, that’s definitely cause for concern. We never do find out quite where the rest of Arnold went, but when a startled Satler backs around a corner and the severed arm of Samuel L. Jackson claps itself down onto her shoulder, it’s equally effective both as a scare and a wickedly funny moment of dark humor. (at 2:20 in the clip above) It’s pure Spielberg at his darkest, the same Spielberg whose occasionally twisted sense of humor helped bring forth Poltergeist a decade earlier. Arnold ultimately has the best entirely off-screen death in the series.


8. InGen Hunters


Film: The Lost World: Jurassic Park
Culprit: Velociraptors

Considering the important role they play in the first film, the velociraptors make sort of a belated entrance into The Lost World, but what they lack in timeliness they make up for in sheer body count. In the scene prefaced by the character of Ajay Sidhu (big game hunter Roland’s companion) screaming at the group “don’t go into the long grass!”, he’s soundly ignored, which leads to no fewer than nine on-screen deaths as members of the InGen team are picked off one by one by the wily raptors. Sidhu doesn’t make it through either, although his death isn’t explicitly shown. This is the most real “raptor-hunting” moment of the whole series, where we see the animals truly behaving in their natural predatory style. What stops it from being ranked even higher is that much of the action is obscured by the setting, and the fact that the characters being killed are little more than nameless cannon fodder. Still, it reinforced the role of the raptors as essentially the ninjas of the prehistoric world.


7. Udesky


Film: Jurassic Park III
Culprit: Velociraptor

The previous entry paints the raptors as savvy pack hunters, yes, but what they do with Udesky in Jurassic Park III more clearly illustrates just how intelligent the raptors of the Jurassic Park series really are. Forget opening doors—in this case the pack consciously chooses to maim the poor mercenary Udesky and then leave him alive to call out for help, while hiding themselves in the underbrush. As the other characters observe and nearly blunder into, the raptors set a sophisticated trap, waiting for the other members of the party to come to Udesky’s aid. When it’s clear that won’t be happening, they surgically kill Udesky—not because they’re going to eat him for sustenance, but specifically to send a message. This isn’t predation, it’s an outright grudge.


6. Peter Ludlow


Film: The Lost World: Jurassic Park
Culprit: Tyrannosaurus Rex, baby

The Lost World is the only film of the initial trilogy to have what one could reasonably identify as a human “villain” or antagonist in Peter Ludlow, a John Hammond nephew with no redeeming qualities or concern for lives, human or animal. Therefore, he was bound to suffer the most karmic death of the series, and he does, in a fitting conclusion to the series’ second film. After funding and organizing the whole expedition to bring dinosaurs back to the mainland, he’s directly responsible for the T-Rex’s eventual rampage at the end of the film, and he ultimately pays the price when he finds himself cornered by Tyrannosaurs both adult and juvenile. It’s eventually the baby T-Rex, used throughout the film as both a lure and a bargaining chip, that gets to take a lesson in Hunting 101 at Ludlow’s expense.


5. Jophery


Film: Jurassic Park
Culprit: Velociraptors

“Jophery” is apparently the name of the random InGen worker who we see victimized by velociraptors in the very first scene of the first Jurassic Park movie, and man, it’s an emotional doozy. There’s no gore, and we never even directly see the death, but for me this has always been the most disturbing, frightening scene of the entire trilogy. Watching this anonymous InGen employee slowly pulled into a raptor cage, despite the fact that an entire team is futilely trying to save him, is a perfect expression of the entire Jurassic Park theme—you can’t control nature, no matter how hard you try to rig the system. As a kid seeing Jurassic Park for the first time, I can assure you that this scene scared the shit out of me, especially the close-ups on the lips of Muldoon screaming “shoot her!” and the quick flashes of reptilian raptor eyes. It’s one of Spielberg’s most disorientingly shot sequences, and super effective.


4. Eddie Carr


Film: The Lost World: Jurassic Park
Culprit: Tyrannosaurus Rexes

Eddie Carr is the bravest guy in the entire film series, and you probably won’t even recognize the name the first time you read it. He’s a supporting character in The Lost World, the hanger-on to Vince Vaughn’s Nick, an engineer or technician of some sort who tags along with Ian Malcom’s miniature expedition. He ends up saving pretty much all of the main characters at the same time when he uses his SUV to stop the trailer they’re in from plummeting over the edge of a cliff. What’s his reward? Oh, just being torn in twain by a pair of adult T-Rex. Even up to that moment, however, he still has his feet on the gas as he attempts to save his friends—even as two Tyrannosaurus Rex are currently tearing his SUV apart, he doesn’t even attempt to flee from them in earnest. Eddie Carr is the biggest hero in The Lost World or any other Jurassic Park movie, but despite that he has what is probably the single goriest demise. What can top being ripped in half in terms of sheer violence?


3. Dennis Nedry


Film: Jurassic Park
Culprit: Dilophosaurus

Of all their invention from the whole cloth, the Jurassic Park team took the most liberties in creating their version of Dilophosaurus, which really has nothing to do with the animal in the fossil record. Unsurprisingly, though, careful paleontology takes a backseat to entertainment factor when it comes to the making of a blockbuster film, and their poison-spitting dinosaur ends up providing one of the first film’s most iconic moments. Wayne Knight’s character of Nedry is a perfect comic foil antagonist in the original Jurassic Park, a rather bumbling (but technically brilliant) would-be corporate spy who bites off a bit more than he can chew. Confronted by the Dilophosaurus, he reveals a real lack of practical information—clearly, Nedry has not been studying up on the files for each of these dinosaurs and their capabilities. Treating the curious creature like an overgrown dog, he overlooks the danger until it’s far too late and he’s been blinded by its venom. The Dilophosaurus even displays raptor-like intelligence by somehow getting into Nedry’s Jeep (who knows how), where it pounces for the kill. It was probably the second most frightening moment of the series for a childhood Jim, coming in just after the slow, gruesomeness of Jophery.


2. Donald Gennaro


Film: Jurassic Park
Culprit: Tyrannosaurus Rex

Hammond’s “bloodsucking lawyer” really does get a perfectly framed, immaculate death in the original Jurassic Park. It’s the best visual of any character death—Malcom running toward the bathrooms trying to lead the T-Rex away from the children, the dinosaur bursting into the rickety little straw building, and all the walls falling down to reveal … a whimpering Gennaro, perched on the porcelain throne, which might as well be a dinner plate. The T-Rex looks at him quizzically for just a moment, perhaps confused like a dog by the transformation in appearance of the object he was chasing. He then presumably would have shrugged, if dinosaurs could shrug, and nonchalantly snaps down on poor Gennaro, head-first. What really makes it, of course, is the shake after the bite—the T-Rex just ragdolls the guy, whipping the body around in a display of brute, animal strength. It’s the first and best T-Rex kill of the series.


1. Robert Muldoon


Film: Jurassic Park
Culprit: Velociraptors

The death of game warden Muldoon in the original Jurassic Park is the culmination of every little bit of information that we, the audience, have absorbed about dinosaurs and especially velociraptors over the course of the film. Everyone has been talking up the raptors throughout, but Spielberg really tantalizes us with actually seeing them in action until this point. Rather, we soak in the exposition: Muldoon himself converses with Grant about their speed and “problem-solving” intelligence. When the attack finally goes down, it’s been wonderfully foreshadowed by Grant in the very beginning of the film, as he goes off on that weird little “six-foot turkey” kid who provokes his wrath. As Grant describes, the raptor is the consummate strategist and pack hunter—if you see them, it’s because they want you to see them.

Likewise, Muldoon is by no means easy prey—this isn’t like the bumbling Nedry. He’s fully armed and has been studying the raptors closely ever since they were bred and conceived. And yet they still get the best of him with their ambush, which he has to acknowledge with a mixture of respect and admiration: “Clever girl.” It’s the best case of the Jurassic Park attractions getting one-over on their so-called “masters,” which makes it the best kill of the series.


Jim Vorel is Paste’s news editor, and for a large chunk of his young adolescence, he wanted to be a paleontologist. Then he found out that we couldn’t actually revive dinosaurs. You can follow him on Twitter.

Also in Movies