The Screening Room Blog
Friday, September 21, 2007
Top 10 Movie Deaths
Hello everyone,

From the heartbreaking to the gory, this month, we're picking our favorite movie deaths.

Our only criteria was that the character didn't come back to life later. Sorry, E.T., but that's just the way it goes.

The Screening Room's Top 10 Movie Deaths >>

Some of our choices: *that* shower scene from 'Psycho,' Bambi's mother's tragic demise and John Hurt's stomach-buster in 'Alien.' But what are your favorite movie deaths? Which classic exits have we missed? Tell us, and we'll publish the best comments here.

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Bridget Fonda is shot by Robert Deniro in Jackie Brown. This was shocking in spite of Deniro's warning to Fonda.
You forgot Susan Hayward in "I want to Live"
Scarface
(Brian DePalma, 1983)

I remember very little about this film besides the overwrought finale on the balcony of Tony Montana's (Al Pacino) mansion. Tony yells, "Say hello to my leetle friend!" and takes out a dozen hitmen with his M16 while being machine-gunned into Swiss cheese himself. Because he's coked to the gills and feeling no pain, it takes a sneak attack from behind to finally send him crashing 30 feet into the pool below. Cue creepy music, roll credits ... shudder!
I can't believe you didn't have "Ole Yeller" on this list. Probably the most tearful exit on any character on film. Also, it's hard to believe that Leonardo Caprio's death scene in "Titanic" was not in the Top 10.
As a guy not many death scenes truly got my attention and pulled at the old heart strings as much as the death of Jon Voight in the movie "The Champ". Ricky Schroeder's pathetic cries for his father made this one of the most memorable death scenes in movie history as far as I am concerned
Still think that Robert Shaw in "JAWS" went out in a spectacular finish!
Samuel L. Jackson getting chomped by the huge shark in "Deep Blue Sea" is a pretty shocking, classic death scene. He's in the middle of a corny speech about how they're all going to make it out alive... and then wham, just seaspray left where he was standing.
I think John Abrahams death scene in "Dhoom" should have definitely a place on your list. Playing the cool villain to the end he jumps off a cilff with his motorcycle just not to be caught by the two heros
What about "Bonnie and Clyde"? That slo-mo bullet ballet has stayed with me since I first saw the movie.
THUY THU LE in Casualties of War (1989)
Not my "favourite" on-screen death, but this Viet Namese girl playing the part of Tran Thi Oanh
carries out one of the most realistic and appallingly horrifying roles leading up to her death. Definitely not for the faint-hearted: we are all casualties of any war.
How can a team of alleged movie experts have left off JAWS?!?! It had the most haunting (the woman skinny-dipping at night), most fearsome / graphic (Robert Shaw being bite-sized by the shark) and most heroic (Scheider's "smile you son of a...") killings in any single film.

Alien may be a close second.
Bonnie & Clyde: Warren Beatty & Faye Dunaway both machine gunned hundreds of times

Scarface: The chain saw in the shower.
I have two favorites. The first doesn't show the actual death it is merely implied by the little girls red coat on a trash heap in a black and white scene in "Schindler's List". The second is just silly indulgence. Paul Reuben's extended death scene in the movie "Buffy the Vampire Slayer".
Chris Walken in The Deer Hunter
Shocking, Startling, Chilling... My definite number one

Others to mention:
The Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz, Peter Finch in Network, Mel Gibson in Braveheart and of course Grandma in Vacation (the funniest and most gruesome of them all...)
I believe that John Coffey's death in the Green Mile should be added to this list. His death is the most impactful for me. He is an innocent miricle from God and Tom Hanks "must give the order" - gut-wrenching!! (also one of my favorite movies)
Various death scenes from The Godfather Trilogy... from the Don's assasination until Michael Corleone's death. Would you like to be sleeping with the fish or do you want me to make you an offer which you can't refuse? Classic!!
Willem Dafoe in Platoon
Rutger Hauer's death as a "replicant" just after saving Harrison Ford's life (because he valued life so much) in "Blade Runner".
In terms of horror movies, the "Dr. Phibes" series starring Vincent Price provided the most elaborate, "black comedy" deaths.
Great screen death: Al Pacino as virtually un-killable Tony Montana in "Scarface." Best screen suicides: a tie, Vincent D´Onofrio as Pvt. Pyle in "Full Metal Jacket" and Bob Gunton as Warden Norton in "The Shwashank Redenption." Finally, greatest TV death: Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Denny Duquette in "Grey's Anatomy," (Season 2, espisode 27, "Losing My Religion.").
Ali McGraw dying from leukemia in "Love Story" was probably the most extended tear-jerker of all time.
The villain's death inflicted by Jet Li at the end of "Kiss of the Dragon". Li describes in gory detail what is about to happen to his victim as he applies the "kiss of the dragon" to him.
Jim Brown being machine-gunned at the end of a "football sprint" in the climax scene of "Dirty Dozen". The whole audience is cheering him on, and his death is a schocking disappointment.
French films: Michel Piccoli's death in "Choses de la Vie". He has a car accident and the camera goes into a long "first person" perspective, showing us what he sees as he is taken to an ambulance, to a hospital, and dies on the operating table as the doctors try to save him. We see it all through his eyes as the victim of the car accident.
Rather than Leo DiCaprio's death in Titanic, I find more striking the suicide of the ship's "second-in-command". He fails to control the passengers who are mobbing the life-boats, shoots at the crowd, then realizes that this is not actually helping an already desperate situation; looks at the captain who is overlooking the scene, salutes and shoots himself in the head and overboard. That scene has stayed with me as a symbolic example of quitting when you are no longer adding value.
Sam Peckinpah made cinema history by inventing "slow-motion killing" in "The Wild Bunch". But the most striking death among the one hundred or more in that film is when the chief of the mexican bandits slits the throat of the young Mexican who had joined the American "wild bunch".
German films: Klaus Kinski gets his head chopped off in "Aguirre", and sputters a word or two even after being severed from its body. This scene has been subsequently imitated in other films.
Sgt. Elias Grodin's (Willem Dafoe) death in PLATOON left a lasting impression on our minds. The scene of him being mowed down as he is trying to make his way out of the jungle ending on his knees with his arms raised in the air should be high on the list of movie death scenes.

Claudia & Remco
Adam Goldberg's finale in "Saving Private Ryan" is the most riveting moment of death in combat ever to go down on the screen. Pulling empty pistols, knuckle biting (literally) hand to hand combat, and having his own stiletto plunged through his heart to the sounds of "shhh shhh" while Henry Thomas loaded with rifle and shouldering hundreds of rounds cowers in the stairs. To cap it off the Nazi soldier strolls past his useless figure without raising a finger
Sonny in The Godfather. How'd you miss that one?
I think that one of the most chilling, upsetting, and well choreographed is the massacre of Bonnie and Clyde, in the movie Bonnie and Clyde
Two death finales that had tremendous impact: "Bonnie and Clyde," and "Easy Rider."

...and while you didn't actually see him breathe his last onscreen, Kirk Doulas's dying Spartacus still moves me to tears.

..and who can forget Ernest Borgnine's Ragnor being refused a sword before leaping to his death in "The Vikings?"

,,.and I won't spoil "3:10 to Yuma" for those who haven't seen it yet, but the heartbreaking ending is sure to become a classic.
James Caan in the Godfather II.
I would have to add the character "GOOSE" from TOP GUN.
He was such a huge part of the movie and Anthony Edwards played such a lovable character. I will never forget Maverick & Goose!

Aimee, Charlotte N.C.
Denzel Washington in 'Training Day'. Denzel in 'Man on Fire'. Queen Latifah in 'Set it Off'.
Pee Wee Herman's death scene in the Buffy the Vampire movie is my favorite death scene.
Marlon Brando in Apocolypse Now
Brian Piccolo
Sonny Corleone

3 very classic, but very different, movie deaths
I have had this discussion quite a lot, and two deaths always come up: Apollo Creed in Rocky IV and Mufasa in The Lion King. When Creed goes down, Drago drops the, "If he dies, he dies," line then Rocky stares him down, it is priceless. And Mufasa, I know he was animated, but come on.
peter fonda in easy rider
jack nickalson in one flew over the coukoo's nest
Two of my favorite death scenes belong to Debra Winger in Terms of Endearment and Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias. Two beautiful, brave women who stayed strong until the end. And how do you forget the moment when Shirley Maclain runs to the nurses station screaming to give her daughter the shot.
I agree w/ Cyn...Paul Reuben's death scene in "Buffy" is such a howl, it's worth watching just for those fleeting moments. I also nominate Henry Fonda's death in "Once Upon A Time in the West". Just seeing him realize who Charles Bronson's character really was before he bites it is awesome. But my FAVORITE death scene is Sean Connery in "The Untouchables". Won him an Oscar. 'Nuff said.
Definitely John Coffey in The Green Mile!! Absolutely heart-wrenching. I balled like a baby!
The hari kari scene in "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence". Unbelievable realistic and painfull to watch.
What? No Old Yeller? I can't watch that movie! Also, Skip in "My Dog Skip" never actually dies onscreen, but the implication by his difficulty to get on the bed makes that a real tearjerker.

And what about the girl letting go of Sylvester Stallone's hand and falling thousands of feet to her death at the beginning of "Cliffhanger"? Whadda way to open a movie!!!!
King Theoden (Bernard Hill) in Lord of the Rings: Return of the king. That scene is always very moving for me. (Perhaps even more being Eomer discovering his sister among the dead afterward, thinking her dead. The look of pain on his face is unforgettable).
Have to agree with "Bonnie and Clyde" Add, Edward G. Robinson's death in "Little Caesar" and Kane's death in "Citizen Kane" - Rosebud; these two are not gory but heartbreaking.
There are several from "The Asphyx", especially the decapitation scene that will stand out in my memory forever.
Boromir in "Lord of the Rings, Fellowship of the Ring."

Dying with the full knowledge that his death was being ignored by those around him.
The greatest off-screen death of all time is Michael ordering Fredo's in the Godfather Part II, it still stays with me to this day.

Spoorloos (1988) i.e. The Vanishing, 1988. A woman disappears, and her lover becomes obsessed with understanding what happened to her. He tracks down the kidnapper who agrees to reveal the details of the disappearance, but only by showing the man first-hand what happened. I won't ruin the final scene, but you probably won't sleep afterwards.
Steel Magnolias

When Julia Robert's character, Shelby, dies. The scene between her and Sally Fields gets me everytime.
Spock in Star Trek II: the Wrath oF Khan. Who didn't cry in that movie theatre?
Shelley Winters in the original "Poseidon Adventure."
The Emperor in "Return of the Jedi." Few were expecting the Dark Side turned Darth Vader to pick up the lightning-sparking archvillain and save his son. The surprise and shock, no pun intended, were so real. The final, gasping farewell in the shuttle packed so many emotions into a brief scene.
You forgot the most significant and tragic deaths ever recorded in film history, Spock's death in Wrath of Khan. Never has such a core character died in such a heroic and tragic manner.
Golem from Lord of the Rings falling into the lava ... clutching his "Precious" ...
Slim Pickens riding the H-Bomb in "Dr. Strangelove"
how about the kid who gets sniped in apocolypse now listening the tape his mom sent him from home. choked me up pretty good.
Glen Close in "Fatal Attraction," easily one of the most memorable and sustained endings to a film. And, of course, Bonnie and Clyde.
William Wallace in Braveheart has to be up there.
The most shocking has to be John Cusack in The Grifters.
How can everyone forget Jenny at the end of Forrest Gump? Also, Obi Wan Kenobi from Star Wars.
Merle Oberon in "Wuthering Heights"

Elizabeth Taylor in "Cleopatra"
Kevin Spacey in American Beauty
Roberto Benigni in Life is Beautiful.
How about in Full Metal Jacket when R. Lee Ermey (the gunnery/drill seargent) is shot by Private Pyle? That's a classic! Or when the boys shoot the Viet cong female they find dying who was the sniper? That's horrific and memorable.
The horrifying death scenes of the airplane crashes in Alive and Final Destination rank up there on my list.

The exploding fat guy in the Meaning of Life after he eats the wafer-thin mint is by far the most disgusting and funny.

The opening battle scene in Saving Private Ryan is by far the most realistic re-creation of the horrors of war I have seen on the big screen.

The opening scene of the skinny dipper in Jaws certainly made me feel afraid to go into the water.

I cheered the death of McCauly Caulkin's character in The Good Son.

The simultaneous killings in GodFather I and II are cool, and I always think of the finding of the dead bodies in GoodFellas whenever I hear the ending to Eric Clapton's Layla.

The whacking of Joe Pesci's characters in GoodFellas and Casino also deserve acknowledgment.

I also can not believe you did not include Old Yeller. The one death scene that can make any guy cry.
Maximus' death in "Gladiator" left me in tears but possibly the most devastating movie I have ever seen is "Testament". Jane Alexander, one of the most brilliant and under rated actresses of the last millennium, gives a stunning performance as one by one her children die. This movie packs as much if not more emotional punch than "Schindler's List".
The exploding fat guy for eating the wafer thin mint from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life is by far the most disgusting and funniest death scene.
John Wayne in "Sands of Iwo Jima. The Duke fights all the way from the beach to Mount Suribachi without a scratch with men dying all around him. His platoon watches the Marines raise the now-famous flag, then he sits down, lights a smoke, then says to one of his Marines, "I never felt better in my life", then "POW", gets shot in the back by a Japanese sniper.
one of the most classiest deaths -- Bill (David Carradine) in Kill Bill, Vol. II
I'm glad someone mentioned Samuel L. Jackson's character in Deep Blue Sea. The laughter in the theater was immense. It definitely earned a WTF tag.
Greta Garbo in Camille, James Caan in The Godfather, and Yul Brynner in The King & I. I am glad you listed the various deaths in Raiders of the Lost Ark - certainly quite memorable.
From the classic Spielberg film...JAWS


"Mom, can I get my raft and go back in the water?"

"Let me see your fingers...Alex Kintner, they're beginning to prune!"

"Just let me go out a little longer?"

"Just ten more minutes."

"Fine."

Dum, Dum...Dum, Dum...Dum, Dum, Dum, Dum, Dum, Dum...

"Did you see that?"

"Everybody outta the water!!"

"Micheal, get out of the water!"

"Alex? Alex??"


As a twelve-year-old in 75 watching JAWS for the first time on the big screen, it gave me nightmares for weeks...no, make that months, after watching a fellow twelve-year-old suffer such a bloody, gruesome death at a spot where I had always considered it to be the greatest playground during the summer, the beach. Well, not after the summer of 75 and seeing JAWS!

Goodbye beach, hello pool.
How could you possibly not include Mel Gibson's gory demise amidst the heart wrenching screams of "freedom" from Brave Heart?
Two memorable movie deaths - Slim Pickens in 'Dr Strangelove', and who could forget the sight of Darth Vader's cremation?
"...and shepards we shall be, for thee my lord for thee. Power hath forth from thy hand, Our feet may swiftly carry out they commands. So we shall flow a river forth to thee, and teeming with souls shall it ever be. In Nemeni Patri Et Fili Spriritus Sancti."

Boondock Saints, coutroom execution at the end of the movie
:D
1. The Godfather & The Godfather Part II
No end of great death scenes! How could these be left out?? Vito Corleone gunned down in the street (the oranges falling to the ground), Sonny killed at the toll booth in a hail of bullets, the list goes on and on!!

2. Jaws
The swimmer at the beginning, Robert Shaw chopped in half and the shark with the tank in his mouth! Need I say more? (Shaw most of all, though - just such a great character and ends up with a great death).

3. Jules et Jim
The drive off the bridge. Blew me away the first time and it still just rips my heart out.

4. Toshiro Mifune in Seven Samurai
He just won't die and ends up taking out the bandit before dying an honourable death. This part gets me every time I watch the movie.

5. Peter Finch in Network
I love this movie and this death scene is like a punch in the gut. Fantastic.

6. Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove
Riding the bomb like a bronco - now THAT's an iconic moment.

6. Scanners
The head blowing up. 'Nuff said.

8. Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
This depresses the heck out of me but it's so powerful.

9. Full Metal Jacket
The murder/suicide in the bathroom at the end of the first half as Joker watches. Inspired and chilling.

10. Jim Brown in Dirty Dozen
The most shocking death in a really great movie.

11. Groundhog Day
Bill Murray again...and again...and again. And they're all hilarious.

12. The Hudsucker Proxy
The executive taking the giant leap out of the window after running across that really long table.

13. Suspiria
The coloured glass slicing and dicing, the hanging, the dog attack, the razor wire - it's gruesome and visually stunning.

14. Joe Pesci in Goodfellas
Sure he's a mean guy but you can't help but love him in this movie. Plus, he's so bad ass that when he's killed like he is...it's pretty shocking.

15. Bonnie & Clyde
Maybe not quite as iconic as Butch & Sundance but up there.
I would say that the death of Josey's family in the Outlaw Josey Wales was deep. The stabbing which lead to the death of Maximus in Gladiator, Luca Brasi's hit in the Godfather, The little Ewok in the battle scene in Return of the Jedi was a tear jerker, The death of Jax in the Chronicles of Riddick and lastly the death of Claudia in Interview with a Vampire. A child, immortal killed by vampires for being made into what she was made to be by another vampire....Deep Stuff
James Cagney's trip to the electric chair in "Angels With Dirty Faces" Cagney is the wise-guy of the neighborhood that all the poor kids look up to until he is captured. Pat O'Brien as the priest,pleads with Cagney to go out as a coward to save the kids. The final scene leaves you wondering?
Allan Rickman in Die Hard should have been on that list. Hans Gruber getting dropped off a building - classic.
Björk in Dancing in the Dark
How about Jean Reno & Gary Oldman's death in Leon (or the Professional if you are from the USA)?

LEON 'This is from .... maaatillldaaa'.
STANSFIELD looks at a grenade pin in his hand
BOOOOOM!!!!
There are literally hundreds if not thousands of famous death scenes, some gory, some shocking and some honorable.

1) Darth Vader-Return of the Jedi
Come on..Darth Vader sacrifice for his son
2) John Wayne-TIE-The Shootist or Sands of Iwo Jima
The Duke's last movie...goes out with style or getting sniped just when he seems at peace....you could also add John Wayne in the Cowboys
3) Kevin Spacey-Seven
Brad Pitt snaps, just like Spacey wants
4) Leonardo DiCaprio-Departed
Serious think Titanic was better? The ship was going to sink, 1500+ deaths..
5) Ken Watanabe-Last Samurai
Folows the "war of the Warrior" commits Sepekku
6) Sean Connery-Untouchables
Crawling on his belly....reaching...reaching
7)Robert Shaw- JAWS
Surivives the USS Indianapolis...to be killed off Amity Island
8)Mel Gibson-Braveheart
You don't even want to know what they are cutting off and out of him!
9) Slim Pickens-Dr Strangelove
Ride Em Cowboy...Rides a nuke out of a plane
10) Alan Ladd-Shane
He's definately riding off into the sunset dying or dead
What about Alan Rickman in Robin Hood? He was great!
The gremlin in the microwave in Gremlins. Ugh.
Debra Winger in "Terms of Endearment".
The girl in Pan's labyrinth. I was tramatized for days after she was shot and killed.
Queen Latifah in "Set It Off"
Two come to mind, both of them from years and years past:

Olivia DeHavilland as Miss Mellie in "Gone with the Wind" and "Imitation of Life" with Lana Turner, Sandra Dee and Susan Kohner. Scene where Susan Kohner arrives at funeral of her mother and throws herself on hearse as it's placed in casket.

Both of these scenes still bring tears to the eyes.
Cliffhangers with Stallone. The girl who gets dropped. That scream still haunts my dreams at times.
Hey, how about the preacher's wife from Signs. That was a horrific, memorable death.
Shelby (Julia Roberts) in the movie, Steel Magnolias. Bruce Willis's character in the movie, The Sixth Sense.
Licence to Kill- the drug lord tosses one of his lieutenants into a hyperbaric chamber and explodes his head. I cringe every time!
My personal favorite is in "V for Vendetta" where V gets shot at by about 100 bullets, survives long enough to take down Creedy and a dozen fingermen (police types) with 6 daggers, and makes it back to Evey before finally expiring, with his corpse going out in a blaze of explosive glory while taking down the Parliament building with it.
All these mentioned were great deaths but 2 stand out in my mind. Jude Law in Gattaca. At the end when he is sitting in the furnace and quietly closes the door. He knows he has no ther choice and he gave his life to help someone else. It was a tragic and sad ending. The look on his face, the resigned but peaceful look was so heartwrenching.

Also, most of the death scenes in American Psycho...death by electric stapler!
In no particular order...
--Bonnie & Clyde getting pummeled with lead
--James Caan in Godfather II, getting pumped full of lead
--Darth Vader in "Return of the Jedi"
--Leo DiCaprio in "The Departed". Bullet to the head
--Mel Gibson in 'Braveheart' was one of the most powerful deaths ever committed to film.
--Alan Rickman in 'Die Hard' was one of the best action-film villan deaths ever.
--John Cusack in "The Grifters" was a shocker
--William L. Peterson in "To Live and Die in LA" was totally unexpected.
How can we forget Tony Montana in Scarface? I'm stupefied that it wasn't on the top 10 list.
How about Samuel L. Jackson's exit in 'Deep Blue Sea'.....incredibly abrupt demise to, arguably, the film's biggest star.
Piggy in the Lord of the Flies.
Russel Crowe in Gladiator, already dealt the mortal wound fights on to kill the emperor in front of all Rome then set the Republic back in place with a few final words before accepting the death he desired throughout the movie.
Best movie death ever is the photographer in the Omen. His beheading is classic!
Although it has already been said, Sonny Corleone's death in the first Godfather movie is the best and most well shot death scene in cinema. Not only is the build-up and release of this death scene that makes it the best, but also the symbolism of the broken glass of the toll booths during this scene. It is only just for such a violent and emotional character to end his life in such a violent way.
Ben-Hur: Messala, having just been run over by Judah Ben-Hur’s chariot, is a wreck, but manages to keep from dying just long enough to destroy his enemy’s life by uttering just the right words as he expires. It goes on, Judah… it goes on! Creepy.

Also, this one is more obscure, but really gets me: Henry Fonda in The Fugitive (1947). He spends the whole film running from bounty hunters and in the end calmly faces execution. That long shadow, the noise of the footsteps as he walks into the harsh sunlight, the pause before the unseen shot… wow.
The guy that dies in the bathroom in Clerks. The dead body in the bathroom leads to one of the nastiest off screen acts ever.

And also the placement of the hat while he's laying in the ambulance afterward is a nice touch.
DARTH VADER!
Mel Gibson in Braveheart - I still cry every time.

Bruce Willis in Armagedon... ditto.

Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias - ok, I admit, I cry at everything.
Enemy at the Gates: Ed Harris shot in the head
The guy in Texas Chainsaw Massacre (the original of course) who gets whacked in the head with the sledgehammer.
The Elephant Man praying as he's dying chokes me up just thinking about it.
Sonny in The Godfather, getting blown away at the tollbooth. Classic.
Steven Segal in Executive Decision.

We went into the movie theater not even knowing steven segal was in it, we thought it was a kurt russell flick, then we find out steven segal is in it... we're like "OMG, WHY WHY??" then before you know it he's gone and everyone in the theater is cheering. All throughout the film we're waiting for segal to come back but he didn't WOOHOO!!!
I scrolled through the list of omissions, and there were quite a few "goodies" (bad choice of wording, I know) in there, but how could anyone forget Ronee Blakley's lilting, beautiful anthem "My Idaho Home" in the last scene of Robert Altman's "Nashville" just before she is assassinated onstage by David Hayward? It definitely jolted me. Not to mention Christopher Walken's crazed Russian Roulette-style suicide in "The Deer Hunter" and Jack Lemmon's bullet-riddled finale in "The China Syndrome". These are scenes that can definitely chill and avid moviegoer. They certainly did me.
"Dark Victory". Bette Davis does the terminally ill spoiled bitch so well through 2/3 of the film, then by the end accepts her impending doom with serene grace. It was another showcase as to why she was one of the screen's finest.
Man on Fire's Denzel Washington: in his quest to avenge his new friend's kidnapping and apparent death (Dakota Fanning), he tracks down the policia's president, ties him to the outside of a car and denoates a bomb that was "stuck" inside his body. Washington walks away as you see an explosion. Just the thought hurts.
After looking through the list, it surprises me that Ronee Blakley's assassination scene from "Nashville" and Jack Lemmon's bullet-riddled finale from "The China Syndrome" were absent. Also, the creep in the beginning of "A History of Violence" who shoots the little girl in the motel, clutching her doll, is heartrending (even though we don't ACTUALLY see it).
Josh Hartnet in Pearl Harbor.
***SPOILERS***
I would have to say that the most shocking death was Leonardo DiCaprio in the Departed. You think he finally got the rat (Matt Damon) and is taking him downstairs to be arrested, when the elevator door opens and BAM! The contents of DiCaprio's head are plastered onto the wall.
When I first saw the question, I immediately thought "Willem Dafoe in Platoon." Supposedly his mom (?) called him after watching it to make sure he was ok.

Then, I remembered Queen Latifah in "Set it Off" Not a typical movie for me to enjoy, but I managed movie theaters when it came out. She was on her way to stardom.

Sean Connery in "The Untouchables" makes me sob- the dedication, combined with the opera- WOW!

Heather in "Highlander" For years I wept when I watched that one.

All of the 300 in "300" Kinda made me want to be a Spartan there for a bit. Just a bit. ;)

Boromir. A good man, I believe his death, out of all, shows the true evil of The Ring and why it had to be destroyed.

Ben Sanderson's death in "Leaving Las Vegas" I've seen it once. That's plenty for me thanks!

General Armistead in "Gettysburg" To see such a great performance, and know that it actually happened (maybe not in that exact manner, but it did happen) is all the more wrenching.

And- what about all the drummers in "Spinal Tap" Spontaneous combustion anyone?
Sean Connery in "The Untouchables"

Al Pacino in "Scarface"

Jabba The Hutt in "Return Of the Jedi"

David Warner in "The Omen"

The opening scene of "Ghost Ship"

The opening scene of "Cube"
What about the classic, unforgettable death in The Omen where the guy is decapitated by a sheet of glass. I can still remember the fascinatingly horrifying sight of the head rolling on top of the glass as it passed through his neck!
For one of the worst ways to die, I would like to submit "The Bone Collector". Especially the scene where one of the victims is restrained in a warehouse. The killer makes a small cut on the victim's thigh and leaves....then the rats come.
Arnold in Terminator (actually the Stan Winston animated skeleton) or in T2.

Oddjob blowing a fuse in Goldfinger

Norman Lloyd falling from the Statue Of Liberty in Saboteur.

The wicked Witch of the West melting in The Wizard Of Oz.

The truck driver and his truck in "Duel".

Carl (Steve Buscemi) in "Fargo" - though more in the disposal than the actual killing.

John Amos being sucked into a jet engine in Die Hard 2

The 54th Regiment in "Glory"

Lt. Boyle in Silence of the Lambs

The Death Star in Star Wars (not really a person but a spectacular end)
How about the penguin lady from Faceoff? Sucked into a dishwasher...
How about Matthew Broderick's character's horse running riderless on the beach at the end of "Glory"?
The death of either main character in the 1950 (Edmond O'Brien) or the 1988 (Dennis Quaid) versions of the movie D.O.A. movie has got to be the worst way to go - to know and feel you are slowly dying soon and not know why or by who!
Jesus Christ in "The Passion of the Christ"

..the most gut and heart-wrenching death scene in cinematic history, besides being a true story...
Animated death scenes. Alright I do tear up at animated death scenes! So what?!

Optimus Prime from the Animated “Transformers” Movie
A respected and beloved leader falls.

Nemo’s mother, brothers and sisters from “Finding Nemo”
In mere moments, Nemo lost almost all of his family and was crippled for life.

Mufasa from “The Lion King”
A father sacrificing his life to save his son.

The Iron Giant from “the Iron Giant”
A dysfunctional robot learning about life & emotions sacrifices itself to save an entire town.
Macaculey Culkin in "My Girl", Brooks in "Shawshank Redemption" (the old man who hangs himself upon being released from prison) Both were simply heartbreaking.
Biggest death on television was the NY Mets losing to the Florida Marlins on Sunday
Most of all the killing of the entire samurai clan in the last samurai.

I agree with Goose and Apollo Creed

Would also like to mention Brad Pitt in Fight Club
Thomas J. in "My Girl" -- for people in my generation, the first really sad movie we saw
If I thought about it a lot I could come up with some more. But the ones that jump to mind are Gus (Robert Duvall) in Lonesome Dove - also Deats (Danny Glover) in the same movie.
Then there is Richard Gere in Sommersby.
Rightly deserved is the Bishop in Ladyhawk.
Then of course, the one that brought so many to tears - Charlotte in Charlottes Web.
I love "King Kong"
It's sad.
But it's so good!!!
How can you guyz forget about SAW III. when the guys skull was been cut. OOOH that hurts.... ouch... wewew w ewe wewee...
TOP 20 MOVIE DEATH SCENES

20. IT
An off screen death but nevertheless a classic. Georgie is playing with his toy boat in the street when it flows down a drain. As he is about to leave someone says “Hiya Georgie”. This turns out to be Pennywise the clown in the drain. After coaxing Georgie into a conversation he reveals the boat and tells Georgie to take it. When Georgie’s hand goes into the drain Pennywise grabs it and according to Eddie “Rips it off” you also get a good scary shot of Pennywise with those sharp teeth. Shows the naivety of small children.

19. REEKER
In this scene the Reeker attacks Nelson in the half way motel whilst under his bed. In an attempt to escape he covers himself with his sheets and tries to jump out of the window only to bounce off it in comical fashion. He tries a second time but leaves his head uncovered. This proves successful as he goes flying through the window in a shower of glass. He lies under the sheets and gets up slowly but it is soon evident he is dying. A large segment of glass is lodged in his neck. He dies seconds later. Very effective because you think he is ok but he isn’t.

18. KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE
In this scene a security guard is on patrol when a car pulls up. Five clowns exit. There are cut shots between the clowns and the security guard before the clowns pull out cream pies and throw a seemingly endless barrage of them at the security guard. It becomes apparent that these pies had a highly acidic quality and the security guard melts into a pile of mush. To top it off one of the clowns adds a novelty-sized cherry. It’s good because the premise is so ridiculous.

17. HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL
After things start to get hectic the professor goes to check on his security cameraman but when he turns him around he finds that the guys face has been carved out. Pretty gruesome even though you don’t see it happen.

16. SCREAM
After being taunted on the phone. Seeing her boyfriend ripped open, Casey Becker is running from Ghostface when she is stabbed in the breast then near the throat. Ghostface is momentarily immobilised and her parents are at this moment walking up the porch steps. She is feet away but when she shouts her voice is only a whisper. Ghostface then puts her insides on the outside and hangs her from a tree. When she whispers and they cant hear her really conveys how helpless she is.

15. 13 GHOSTS
The lawyer just stole a bundle of money from the old glass house but in doing so he has freed the ghost he was taunting minutes before. Now she wants revenge. She forces him to back away from her and then slice. A door closes suddenly and the lawyer is sliced in two. At first you don’t know whats happened but then his tie and glasses fall off and his front half slides down the glass revealing the innards of the back half. You really want him to die and boy, does he get it.

14. FINAL DESTINATION
This is neither gory nor horrific but still is an effective death scene. Tod slips on some leaking toilet water onto his retractable clothesline that pulls itself out of the wall and tangles round his neck. The bathtub becomes slippery as shampoo falls into it and the cord tightens around Tods throat as he slips around. Eventually the blood vessels in his eyes burst turning them red and a few seconds later he is dead. Good because it shows how impossible it is to escape and his strangled hisses are acted very well.

13. HELLRAISER
In the beginning the coenobites, including pinhead torture a guy by hooking chains into his body everywhere. His face is so stretched he can barely speak then he says in a creepy voice “JESUS WEPT!” and the hooks all pull making his body explode. This scene is creepy and sets the tone for the rest of the movie

12. HOLLOW MAN
Here Sebastian (Kevin Bacon) attacks fat guy Carter by using superhuman strength to lift him up into the air and try to choke him. Unfortunately Matt intervenes and shoots at Sebastian forcing him to wildly throw carter to the floor. He throws him in such a way that his body arks right and his head collides with an iron bar that rips a huge gash down the side of his head and neck. He dies of loss of blood. Nothing fancy. Just old fashion fell in the wrong place. Could happen to anyone.

11. PET SEMATARY
Gage laughs at Jud from an unseen location in a creepy old house. Perfect. In the bedroom Jud sees movement under the bed so he bends down, knife ready but Church (the possessed cat) distracts him and he looks up giving Gage enough time to whip out his daddy’s scalpel and slice into Jud’s Achilles tendon. In agony Jud looks up to see Gage standing over him with the scalpel. Gage proceeds to slice the mans mouth, leaving clean cuts at the corners of his lips. He goes down and Gage bites into his neck. Really sick. Doesn’t encourage putting your bare feet down in front of a bed.

10. FINAL DESTINATION 2
Timmy (a real mommas boy) just got out of the dentist with none other than his mom. He runs into a cordoned off area to scare some pigeons but they fly into the crane operators face and he accidentally hits a lever that drops a plate of glass onto Timmy. You see his head just explode then his body fold in half to be finished with a huge blood explosion and glass flying everywhere. Much simpler than some of the elaborate deaths in the series but still brilliant to watch.

9. HOUSE OF WAX
Wade has it pretty bad in this movie. His curiosity gets the better of him and he checks out a room full of surgical equipment. Suddenly the lights go out and whilst he is trying to get the door open a pair of huge shears appear from a trapdoor behind him and slice his Achilles tendon. He fumbles around in the darkness waiting for the attacker to strike again. Out of nowhere he appears and stabs Wade with the shears below the shoulder. Then Wade’s wounds are stitched up by the attacker and he is sealed in wax ALIVE! Later Dalton finds him and tries to peel the wax off his face but pulls the skin off as well. Then finally the attacker slices of half of his jaw with a knife when he tries to kill Dalton. You can see tears welling in Wade’s eyes as his skin is being pulled off. It’s quite emotional.

8. 2001 MANIACS
After escaping the horrors of pleasant valley the teenage survivors are driving along on there motor bike when they pass a metal post and come to a stop a few paces in front of it. You then see a length of barbed wire strung across the road dripping with blood. Lines appear on the girl and boy and it quickly becomes apparent that the boy has been decapitated and the girl’s head has been cut in half. His head falls to the ground and to end it a hillbilly with a slingshot shoots the top half of the girls head off. Not a happy ending.

7. NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2
Freddie Krueger slashes some kids feet and wrists whilst he is in his bed then draws out there tendons and walks him like a puppet to the highest tower. You get great close up shots of the tendons attached to the feet the Freddie cut them causing the kid to fall to his doom. It tops anything before it. Even Glens blood bed scene.

6. CUBE
Alderson walks into a room then stops abruptly. All these lines appear on his body then he bleeds from them. A huge chunk of his head falls off then you see his hand and fingers fall to pieces. His whole body then collapses like a building under demolition. It is only then that a razor wire grid comes down and folds back up again. Suspense is awesome because you know something’s wrong then BAM! Instant sushi.

5. JASON X
Jason grabs a scientist and after a struggle dumps her head in some liquid nitrogen. She freezes instantly then he pulls her out and smashes her face against the science countertop. It’s original and hasn’t been done before or since.

4. SAW 3
Some dude is hooked up to this crucifix thingy and all his limb are in these turning compartments. They begin turning and his wrists break then you actually see his shins splinter out of his legs as they snap when the machine is turning. Finally the man neck is twisted so that his head is backwards. Quite disturbing and very graphic.

3. IRREVERSIBLE
Vincent Cassels friend goes to town on this guy. He smashes his face in with a fire extinguisher. Why is that so bad? Because it never cuts away. You see all the damage happen and its quite gruesome the way his features distort gradually with each hit.

2. HOSTEL
Kana is being tortured and I mean badly. Some American is taking a blowtorch to the right side of her face and her eyeball is hanging down on its optic nerve. So Paxton saves the day and shoots the guy. He then actually has to cut the optic nerve to put her out of the severe pain. Once he does it all this yellow gunge comes out. Then later on during their escape she sees herself in a mirror and commits suicide by jumping in front of a train and soaking passers by in hot gore.

1. CUBE ZERO
Well it’s hard to match Hostel but in my opinion this does. This movie is rated a 15 but I think it should be an 18 just for this scene. Ryjkin walks into a room only to be sprayed by an unknown liquid. He believes this to be water, as it does not taste of anything but his skin begins to become greasy. He scratches this substance off in a puzzled fashion only to realise that it is actually his skin. The bottom layer of skin on his arm peels off and blood drips everywhere. His toes begin to corrode as well. His face becomes melted and in desperation he tries to pull it off, revealing the muscle beneath. Suddenly all his internal organs spill out of the bottom of his trousers like soup and his blood-drenched skeleton is left to fall into the mush. Turns out he was sprayed with a slow acting acid. Some say it was a fast acting flesh eating virus but the director does say acid. It is pretty sick. You can find it on youtube just search cube zero.

Well that’s it. My top 20 movie deaths. Hope you enjoyed
Although the actual death isn't shown, the scene in Titanic of the Irish mother trapped in her cabin, making no attempt to escape, telling her two children that they are about to go to Tir Nan Og, the Celtic afterworld. My wife and I reflexively grabbed each other's hand at the pain of it. Maybe it's just a parent thing.
No, it has to be Ol'Yellar. My sister is a teacher and was letting her elementary school children watch it. Too late, she remembered the end. Funny, the VCR "broke" while Yellar is fighting the wild boars (?) to save the boy. You can't put another generation through the death of Ol'Yellar!
The death of Jeremiah Johnson's family when he returns from taking the military to look for the stranded settlers. That scene is heartbreaking.

One of the saddest movies I've ever seen (and evidently I'm the only one who has seen it) is Miracle in the Rain with Van Johnson and Jane Wyatt. When Jane's character finds out the only love in her life has been killed....well, it brings tears to my eyes every time.
Robert Shaw being bitten in half by the shark in "Jaws..."
William Peterson taking a shotgun blast to the face in "To Live and Die in L.A...."
Kevin Spacey's unexpected offing in "L.A. Confidential..."
James Caan's Sonny gunned-down in "The Godfather..."
Christopher Walken in "Deer Hunter."
I haved to throw these out there. They are from small, unknown movies with surprisingly big stars. The first would be the death of Joe Ben in the movie version of Sometimes a Great Notion, marketed both under that title and as "Never Give an Inch". The scene is a long one, at least five minutes it seems, where Paul Newman is trying to save his cousin/best friend (Richard Jaeckel)from drowning as a log rolls onto him in a river. No music, no dialogue, just the water and the birds until the end, when Paul comes up for air and yells out his name.

The next are the two execution scenes in "At Close Range", with Christopher Walken, Sean Penn, and Chris Penn. They are just too real, and chill the blood.

Nothing spectacular, no gore, no orchestras playing striking music. But you are dead sure they are dead. You just saw it. Takes the fun out of the other ones.
Robert de Niro in Cape Fear
The last scene in The Champ

Debra Winger in Terms of Endearment

Cher in Mask

All tear jerkers...
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