*Warning: Spoilers, violence, and death await those who read.*
Death. It’s part of the circle of life; it’s only the beginning, and it’s a big part of cinema. Over the years, there have been many death scenes that were both memorable and iconic. Here are 10 of my favorites.
10. The Terminator from Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
After saving the world, preventing judgment day, and becoming a father figure to the future leader of the human resistance, it was time for the Terminator to say goodbye. While protecting the Connor family, the machine had learned many lessons along the way, which included understanding the value of human life.
Watching 10-year-old John begging the Terminator not to self-terminate and seeing Sarah and John say farewell to the machine as it’s lowered into the vat of metal is a tearjerker and one of the most memorable death scenes in film.
9. Paul Allen from American Psycho (2000)
Paul, who’s played by Suicide Squad’s Jared Leto, meets his unfortunate end all because he bested Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) and his coworkers in a business card duel. This enrages the Batman who later gets Paul drunk and takes him back to his place where he murders him with an axe. This scene is memorable and messed up because before Paul is hacked to death, Bateman plays "Hip to Be Square" on his stereo and dances all while giving a speech. All it took was a business card for the Dark Knight to finally break his one rule.
8. Frank Castle’s entire family from The Punisher (2008)
This scene is what created the Punisher, for if his family had not died, Frank Castle would still be alive and the Punisher would never have come into existence.
At the behest of his mourning wife, in order to avenge the death of their son, crime boss Howard Saint sends his men to massacre Frank Castle’s entire family. The ambush is well executed as the Castle clan doesn’t see what’s coming until they’re set upon by Saint’s thugs. Frank and his father (played by Roy Scheider) kill several, but it’s all in vain and Frank watches his father die. But it’s the visual of the deaths of Frank’s wife and son (who are run over by a truck driven by one of the attackers) that make this scene truly gut wrenching.
7. Chrissie Watkins from Jaws (1975)
The first of three deaths by sharks on my list, Chrissie’s death is terrifying. You don’t see what lurks beneath, all you see is the victim being jerked around in the ocean like a rag doll. Her screams and pleas for help from humans and God alike make it even more intense.
6. Kane from Alien (1979)
No one wants to be grossed out while eating, but that is just what happens to the crew of the commercial spacecraft Nostromo when Kane (played by John Hurt) begins to choke. Alas, the heimlich maneuver can’t save him and he doubles over onto the table in pain as the alien bursts from his chest, instantly killing him.
What makes this scene truly work was the real-life reaction of Hurt’s fellow cast mates to the scene itself. Though apparently they knew that the alien would burst out of Hurt’s chest, they had no knowledge of the fake blood that also spurted from his chest from high pressure pumps and squibs. The cast’s reaction to the surprise - particularly from Veronica Cartwright - made the scene frighteningly realistic and one of the most memorable scenes in film.
5. Bonnie and Clyde from Bonnie & Clyde (1967)
Lasting only 20 seconds, this death by ambush gunfire goes down as one of cinema’s best death scenes. Betrayed by their accomplice's father, this dynamic romantic duo are ambushed and gunned down on the side of the road while attempting to help their betrayer change a tire. When they discover that they’re right at death’s door, Bonnie and Clyde share one last look between each other before bullets from their unseen executioners riddle their bodies. It is that look that makes the scene.
4. Alex Murphy from Robocop (1987)
When you start a new job, the last thing on your mind is that you might die on the first day, but that’s exactly what happens to police officer Alex Murphy. The city of Detroit is a harsh environment, which means they have even harsher criminals. Murphy meets his end when he and his partner, Lewis, attempt to arrest crime lord Clarence Boddicker and his men.
Let’s face it, with no back-up coming and his partner unconscious, Murphy didn’t have a chance. He was taunted and brutally maimed before he was put out of his misery. The many gunshots, the spurts of Murphy’s blood, his screams and the tension make this scene memorable.
3. Marion Crane from Psycho (1960)
One minute she’s taking a shower, the next she’s being stabbed to death. One of the best known scenes in cinema, it runs for three minutes and features a number of extreme close ups. The scene’s soundtrack composed of screeching violins, violas, and cellos makes the death even more iconic.
2. Russell Franklin from Deep Blue Sea (1999)
What makes this one of my favorite death scenes is the surprise factor. Russell is trying to rally his troops, but they're stuck in an underwater facility with three super smart sharks. With their hope dimming, Russell makes an attempt to unify the group, only to be snatched and killed by one of the sharks, immediately snuffing out the group’s hope.
1. Quint from Jaws (1975)
After a bout of stubbornness regarding Amity’s mayor and a number of other shark killings, Quint is the town’s last chance of locating and killing the shark in order to salvage what’s left of the summer. With Chief Brody and consulting oceanographer Matt Hooper along for the ride on his boat 'The Orca,' Quint finds the shark, who proves to be smart, cunning and deadly.
As the shark rises out of the water and onto The Orca, dooming it to sink, Quint meets his end as he loses his grip and slides right into the jaws of the fish. He fights to the very end, kicking, squealing, and even stabbing the fish even as it chomps down on him. It’s a slow and painful death as Brody has no choice but to watch his friend die.