ByTrevor Norkey, writer at
Writer, filmmaker, actor and film enthusiast.
Trevor Norkey

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is filled with an assortment of characters that we grow to love and care about. Unfortunately, Marvel loves taking advantage of our love of their characters by killing them off one at a time. Sometimes these deaths are temporary or fake (often times resurrecting the character after the credits or during a sequel), and other times the characters stay dead. It's hard to really tell who is actually dead and who is just faking it.

Nevertheless, the MCU has quite a selection of different death scenes, many of which tend to poke at our emotions in ways we wish they wouldn't. Here are the top 10 saddest deaths (or "deaths") in the MCU so far, most of which I have cried during.

Oh, and of course...


10. Nick Fury - Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

One of the biggest shocks of The Winter Soldier was the sudden "death" of Nick Fury after he was assassinated. Of course, in order to pick at our emotions more, Fury was not killed off as soon as he was shot. Instead, there was a long waiting period to see if he would survive or not. The suspense grew more and more, and then resulted in a painful stab in the heart when the doctors could not manage to keep the hero alive.

Below is the scene where Fury is shot, followed the scene where he actually dies:

Of course, we all received a slap in the face when we realized his death was faked. But really, it's practically impossible for Nick Fury to die in the first place.

9. Ant-tony- Ant-Man (2015)

Ant-Man's trusty companion who became Scott Lang's go-to ant met his maker in a brief, yet heartbreaking, scene in Marvel's most recent film Ant-Man. Sure, he may not have been a human, but he did become a character we learned to love just as much as the rest of the cast, making his sudden death agonize us even more. The music, Scott's reaction and, of course, Ant-tony's wing hitting the ground in slow motion all worked together to make the ant's death quite possibly the saddest scene in the entire movie.

8. Bucky Barnes - Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

"I'm with you til' the end of the line"
"I'm with you til' the end of the line"

Bucky didn't just know Captain America during the war, but also during their childhoods. Steve and Bucky were friends for practically their entire lives and were always there for each other. When Steve's parents died, Bucky was the one who was always there for him. When Bucky was captured, Steve risked everything to save his friend. Knowing this, one can feel the agony that Captain America went through when he failed to rescue his best friend who plummeted to his death. The reason this death scene is not further down my list is because Bucky did not become a beloved character to the audience. The depressing factor of Bucky's death was resonated more in Captain America's reaction than in the death itself.

Below is the entire train scene, with Bucky's death at the end:

Bucky did return in The Winter Soldier as, well, the Winter Soldier, so I guess he may one day become a beloved character after all.

7. Pietro Maximoff / Quicksilver - Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

"You didn't see that coming?"
"You didn't see that coming?"

Though he was often overlooked during Age of Ultron, Quicksilver endured a lot of character development. When we first met Pietro, he hated Tony Stark with a burning passion. But by the climax of the film, he was working alongside his sworn enemy. Finally, once we see Pietro at his full potential, we see him fall as his final sacrifice. After a lot of build up and foreshadowing towards Hawkeye's death, it came as a shock to see someone else die instead.

One of the other key factors that makes Quicksilver's death so shocking and emotional is that he is the first superhero in the MCU to permanently die. Others had died and come back, but Pietro was the first one to truly give his life. It begins to break the idea of superheroes being invincible and prepares us for what we will see in Phase 3.

6. Phil Coulson - The Avengers (2012)

"So that's what it does."
"So that's what it does."

Whether you knew about Phil Coulson before The Avengers or not, the death of this agent really struck home to everyone. First off, there was the shock of him being impaled when it seemed like he was winning the fight against Loki. Second, there were his final words to Fury as he passed, saying that his death was what the Avengers needed the whole time. And then there was the response to his death. It was slow. It was sad. But at the same time, everyone knew that it was necessary.

Below is that dramatic death scene:

Phil Coulson ended up surviving, somehow, and returned in Agents of SHIELD. It is controversial whether or not that is technically part of the MCU, especially since there is no way to explain how Phil survived being impaled, but nevertheless, it happened.

5. Pepper Potts - Iron Man 3 (2013)

One of the most forgotten, and yet most heartbreaking, death scenes in the MCU is the death of Pepper Potts, Tony Stark's love interest throughout the series. After arguing during the entire film, Tony and Pepper made amends with each other towards the end. Then right when their relationship finally seemed to be back to normal, Pepper falls to her death, and Tony is unable to save her. That's not what made it sad, though. What truly stabbed at our hearts was Tony's response to her death. He does not quit moving, but instead keeps fighting. It is clear that his heart is shattered, but he uses that to his advantage. The one line that always 'hits me in the feels' about Pepper is Tony's line:

You're right... I don't deserve her. But here's where you're wrong. She was already perfect.

Below is the video of her falling to her 'death'.

Of course, it was revealed a few minutes later that Pepper had survived after all. Still, though, that was one depressing scene.

4. Frigga - Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Who would have thought that one of the most overlooked characters in the Thor series would end up having one of the most depressing death scenes? After having very few moments on screen during the first movie, Frigga returned with a more prominent part to play in the sequel. She served as a strong mother figure to both Thor and Loki, and was even kind to Jane Foster, who everyone else pretty much hated. By the time she was killed off, her character had been shown enough to have an enormous impact on the audience and the other characters. I don't know what was sadder, seeing Frigga actually die, the funeral scene, or Loki's emotional response to the death of his mother.

Below I have Frigga's death scene, her funeral scene and Loki's reaction. Yes, I know, it's not in English, but they only talk for the first 10 seconds. After that, nothing is spoken.

Frigga was another one of those few characters that stayed dead.

3. Loki Laufeyson - Thor: The Dark World (2013)

"I didn't do it for him [Odin]"
"I didn't do it for him [Odin]"

That's right, two death scenes from Thor: The Dark World in a row. It was a really depressing movie. I remember crying my eyes out during Loki's apparent death before the climax of the film. He had come so far during the series, starting as an emotionally troubled prince learning he was a Frost Giant, then moving to a servant of Thanos just so he could find his place, and then ending his life on a high note trying to avenge the death of the only person who had showed him kindness in the world. He had truly become a tragic hero in my book. Thor's screams of sadness made Loki's death scene even more depressing. It shows that Thor would always love his brother and was heartbroken when Loki died in his arms.

Below is Loki's full death scene:

Of course, that whole "ending his life on a high note" thing ended up being fake just so he could steal the throne of Asgard. But hey, it's the thought that counts.

2. Groot - Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

"We are Groot"
"We are Groot"

This was almost my number one on the list. Groot was easily the most lovable character in Guardians of the Galaxy. He always showed kindness and an overall sense of justice for the world, which is saying a lot for a walking, talking tree. His sacrifice towards the end of the film was very emotionally powerful. He sacrificed himself for his friends, and ended his life with the words "We are Groot". Then, after the crash, the Guardians find themselves in the remains of their companion and savior. And if that wasn't enough to get tears welled up in your eyes, seeing Rocket pick up the twig-remains of his life-long friend will definitely do the trick.

Watch the video below and try not to cry:

Towards the end of the film, we see that the twig Rocket had taken with him had started to come to life to give birth to a new Groot. It's unknown if this Groot will be the same Groot as before or an entirely new one.

1. Steve Rogers / Captain America - Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

"I'm gonna need a rain check on that dance."
"I'm gonna need a rain check on that dance."

The one thing that makes the first Captain America movie stand out more than the others is how the day is saved. In most of the other Marvel movies, the main character does some courageous act to save the day and narrowly escapes certain doom. In The First Avenger, we see the main character do this courageous act to save the day but is unable to escape that certain doom. It's not just the act of sacrifice that makes Cap's 'death' the most powerful, though. It is also the scene itself with his death. He talks to Peggy, his sort-of girlfriend, as he falls, trying to distract them both about the fact that he is about to die. Crazy depressing music plays during it all, and then goes quiet just as Steve's voice disappears. And if that's not enough, the rest of the movie after that is a tribute to Steve. The final scene (before showing Cap wake up) is of children in the street playing as Captain America to show the effect Cap had on the world and that his spirit will still live on in the hearts of thousands of Americans even when his heart cannot.

Get some tissues out if you're going to watch the scene below:

Then, we figure out he survived. Put your tissues away, you wimps!

Honorable Mentions:

  • Ho Yinsen - Iron Man (2008)
  • Loki Laufeyson - Thor (2011)
  • Peter Quill's Mom - Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
  • The Nova Corps Squadron - Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
  • Ben Urich - Daredevil Season 1 (2015)
  • Janet van Dyne / Wasp - Ant-Man (2015)

What do you think is the saddest death scene in the MCU? How many of these made you cry the first time you saw them? Are there any others that you feel were just as sad? Let me know in the comments. And thanks for reading!

Note: Characters like Gwen Stacey, Uncle Ben, Storm, Professor X, Jean Grey, etc. are not on this list because they are not part of the Cinematic Universe.


Which character's death do you think was the saddest?


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