The 15 Best Death Scenes in Movies

The new horror anthology "The ABCs of Death" wants to give gorehounds what they want in alphabetical order by representing each of their 26 segments with a letter. That's fine with us, since we always have plenty of death scenes organized with the Dewey Decimal System, and here are 15 of the most memorable, bloody, and enjoyable ones in the bunch.

Oh yeah, um, spoilers.

Taketoki Washizu in 'Throne of Blood' (1957)

'A' is for 'Arrows'

In one of Akira Kurosawa's many samurai epics with star/badass supreme Toshiro Mifune, the two of them created the kind of arrow-related death that "Lord of the Rings" elf Legolas must dream about at night. By the time this Macbeth stand-in is done for he's got more wood in him than Jenna Jameson and resembles a stoned porcupine. Sayonara, sucker!

High Treason

Throne of Blood at

Jaws in 'Jaws' (1975)

'B' is for 'Blown the f**k up!'

This movie and "Star Wars" made it a standard in Hollywood that something or someone has to be destroyed in a MASSIVE explosion at the end of every summer blockbuster. That's understandable, considering how bloody satisfying it is when Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) lands that one-in-a-million shot right at the pressurized scuba tank in that punk ass's gaping maw.

Brody Kills the Beast



Hitler in 'Inglourious Basterds' (2009)

'D' is for 'Dictatorcide!'

Quentin Tarantino made the movie all Jews wanted to see but just didn't know it: The fantasy murder of Adolph Hitler. By allowing "Hostel" director Eli Roth the pleasure of "plantin' ole Uncle Adolf" (as Brad Pitt so eloquently puts it), this movie finally gives us the closure we were robbed of when der fuhrer punched his own ticket in that bunker so long ago. He also gets machine-gunned in the face, then blown up for good measure.

Revenge of the Giant Face

Inglourious Basterds at

First Scanner in 'Scanners' (1981)

'E' is for 'Exploding head!'

David Cronenberg is a big weirdo, of that we are certain. He's let his freak flag fly in movies as diverse as "Videodrome," "The Fly," and "Cosmopolis," but "Scanners" was the flick that brought the Canadian body horror auteur into the mainstream. It's basically about a telekinetic mutant (not Magneto) waging a one-man war on humans. That mutant Darryl Revok (Michael Ironside) uses his psychic powers to blow up some poor guy's melon, and man is it nasty! The effect was accomplished by firing a shotgun at a fake head.

Mind Blowing

Scanners at

Roy Batty in 'Blade Runner' (1982)

'F' is for 'Four-year lifespan!'

Hells yeah! Now that is how you die! Runaway android Batty has caused nothing but havoc and murder the whole film, but at the end finally grasps the fragility of life and saves Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) before delivering the most beautiful elegy in all of science fiction. And, yes, actor Rutger Hauer coined the "tears in rain" line himself on the spot. Damn! Still gets us every time.

Tears in the Rain

Blade Runner at

Jill Masterson in 'Goldfinger' (1964)


At age 76, singer Shirley Bassie showed she could still knock 'em dead when she sang the title song from this James Bond entry at this year's Academy Awards. She didn't need to cover every inch of the audience in gold paint to do it, either. Funny henchman Oddjob (Harold Sakata) is even funnier if you imagine him very daintily painting Shirley Eaton's Jill to death, like a deadly Japanese version of Bob Ross.

Waring Hudsucker in 'The Hudsucker Proxy' (1994)

'H' is for 'Hudsucker!'

The Coen Brothers have concocted many memorable deaths in movies like "Raising Arizona" (grenade) and "Fargo" (wood chipper), but none as delightfully whimsical as the CEO of Hudsucker industries. The late, great Charles Durning has just the right amount of ironic detachment, and the sequence later inspired Eminem's "The Way I Am" video. It also inspired the elevator operator within the film, Buzz, to joke, "When is the sidewalk fully dressed? When it's wearing Hudsucker! You get it? It's a pun, a knee-slapper."

Russell Franklin in 'Deep Blue Sea' (1999)

'I' is for 'Irony!'

It makes many lists for "most ridiculous death scenes," but Samuel L. Jackson's swan song in this silly sharkscapade must have been his main reason for doing the movie. He must have known, deep down, that this ridiculous moment of unexpected chompitude would be remembered long after the last mother**kin' snake was off the mother**kin' plane. Sammy J, we salute you for your sacrifice.

Marion Crane in 'Psycho' (1960)

'K' is for 'Knife!' (it's a silent 'K')

No list would be complete without the scene that literally inaugurated the slasher genre. Alfred Hitchcock and artist Saul Bass storyboarded out every shot of this sequence for maximum suggestive effect, and the "choppy" style worked to horrifying effect as Janet Leigh gets the business end of Norman Bates' maternal hangups. This was pretty damn risque for the sixties, and still potent today.

The Shower



Obi-Wan Kenobi in 'Star Wars' (1977)

'L' is for 'Light Saber!'

Yeah yeah, the force will be with him, but did he have to take that lame brown cloak with him to the spirit realm? After getting struck down by Darth Vader, an admittedly feeble Obi-Wan came back to give Luke Yoda's address and stuff, which softened the blow of losing our favorite old hermit Jedi. Alec Guiness gets extra points for being the only one on this list who came back for several sequels… besides Jaws.

Salim Abu Aziz in 'True Lies' (1994)

'M' is for 'Missile!'

"You're fired." There it is. With two little words and about 10-glorious-seconds, Arnold Schwarzenegger's superspy Harry Tasker literally saves his life, his daughters, and the world's with the flick of a switch and timing of a GOD. Arnold deserves a place in the halls of Valhalla for this fantastic terrorist kill.

Charles Foster Kane in 'Citizen Kane' (1941)

'R' is for 'Rosebud!'

With that last word spoken at his character's deathbed, young debut actor/director Orson Welles created an enigma for the ages. What could it mean? Is it a long lost lover? His ATM password? What Bill Murray whispered to Scarlett Johansson in "Lost in Translation?" Nope, it's his sled. "Kane" was, of course, loosely based on the life of then-living media magnate William Randolph Hearst, whose smear campaign against the film may have been motivated by the little-known fact that "Rosebud" was actually Hearst's nickname for mistress Marion Davies' clitoris.

Thelma and Louise in 'Thelma & Louise' (1990)

'S' is for 'Suicide!'

Our favorite "female empowerment through carnage" movie carved its place into the Grand Canyon, rather Mount Rushmore-like, with Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis' tearful last hurrah. We're still not sure what driving off a mountain is supposed to teach the patriarchy, but it sure was a cool way to die.

The Cliff

Thelma & Louise at

H.A.L. 9000 in '2001: A Space Odyssey' (1968)

'U' is for 'Unplugged!'

Is it still a death scene if the character being killed was never alive in the first place? Sure, why not? HAL was a pal, a space buddy to play a good game of chess with, and even though he's a sentient artificial intelligence gone bats**t homicidal doesn't mean he doesn't have feelings. Something tells us that "Daisy" has to be the #1 song for computers to sing at karaoke bars when they get too drunk.

Kane in 'Alien' (1979)

'X' is for 'Xenomorph!'

Poor John Hurt. First, he had to live through the pain of being impregnated in the face by an acid-bleeding facehugger, then the humiliation of giving birth without a proper epidural. Ouch! After that he had to go through it all over again when he spoofed the role in Mel Brooks' "Spaceballs," but hey, that's showbusiness for ya. Always with the typecasting.

Honorable Mentions:

Spock in 'Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn'

Darth Vader in 'Return of the Jedi'

Alex Murphy in 'Robocop'

Dr. Copper in 'The Thing'

James Cole in '12 Monkeys'

Old Yeller in 'Old Yeller'

Bambi's Mom in 'Bambi'

The Joker in 'Batman'

Tony Montana in 'Scarface'

Sergeant Howie in 'The Wicker Man'

Kong in 'King Kong'

Katia Vajda in 'Black Sunday'

John Baxter in 'Don't Look Now'

Randle McMurphy in 'One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest'

Pat Hingle in 'Suspiria'