10 Movie Deaths That Completely Ruined You


The sharp sting of death has to come for us all at some point. It’s no different for creations on the big screen, with beloved characters that we’ve put hours into caring about getting stolen away to the other side.

Sometimes it’s ceremonious, sometimes there’s not even enough time to say goodbye, and sometimes it’s enough to completely ruin you and swear to never trust again. Such is the power of cinema.

Choke back your sobs, prepare the tissues, and get ready for some heartbreak, as these are the most upsetting movie losses that have defined our screens over the years. It will always be too soon.

10. Castaway – Wilson

20th Century Fox

Not technically a person and not technically a death, this is the most emotionally distraught you will ever feel about a lost volleyball. Seriously.

After finding himself washed up on a desert island, Chuck Noland (a slowly more and more bedraggled Tom Hanks) discovers he’s the only one alive after a plane crash over the pacific – and has to figure out a means to survive on his own. With a ‘Wilson’ branded volleyball the only link to civilisation he has, Chuck paints him, sticks some leafy hair on him, and has plenty of profound conversation. They even orchestrate Chuck’s escape together (or as much as a Volleyball can help make up a raft considering he’s very round and has no limbs).

That is, until Chuck falls asleep, Wilson rolls away, and bobs slowly out in the ocean just out of Chuck’s reach. Watching Tom Hanks mentally break in response is one of the most distressing moments imaginable. WILLLSSOONN!

9. Marley & Me – Marley

20th Century Fox

Of course, this is the death that would inevitably end up on this list. The story we all know and have tragically lived at some point in our lives, Marley & Me is the story of a pet that becomes a member of the family, but is bound by a lifespan that sees him pass away before his owner. If you needed filmic evidence that dogs are man’s best friend, this is the saying brought into a big old cinematic realisation, with Owen Wilson thrown in for good measure.

It’s such a stinger because it’s so painfully relatable. We’ve all had that one animal companion that finds a special place in our hearts, and had to say goodbye as they’ve lived out a long and full life that has to come to its inevitably early end. We can do everything and go everywhere with our pets, but not on this final journey. At least, not yet.

This is all far too philosophical for a film about a dog that isn’t actually that great. But the final moments are something indisputably upsetting.


8. Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix – Sirius Black

Warner Bros. Pictures

After three films of building up Harry’s one familial relationship left in the world with the ultimate of cool uncles, Sirius Black, his death is one of the biggest gut punches in the series. Especially as it comes completely out of nowhere.

During a battle between the Order of the Phoenix and a bunch of angry goths (aka the Death Eaters), Sirius and his pals quite literally swoop in to save the day, saving Harry and the gang from certain destruction in the process. Only, when all seems well and done, a rogue killing curse hits Sirius and sends his mortal flesh through the Veil, leaving not even a body behind to mourn. Then Bellatrix has the cheek to sing about it.

Whilst a certain pillowcase-wearing elf passing on certainly tops the list for painful childhood memories, it’s this loss that served as the first – bringing about a much more real darkness to the franchise that only got worse as it went on.

7. Star Trek: The Wrath Of Khan – Spock

Paramount Pictures

Spock, a man (or rather, a Vulcan) that has defined generations of science fictions fans and coined a phrase that has long been parodied across film and tv for decades, would seem invincible; especially in a franchise as long running and beloved as Star Trek. Turns out that was all one big set up to make one of the most heart-wrenching death scenes of all time, where a man made up of logic does the only thing he can to save his friends, and where we all weep in the process.

Sacrificing himself to save the needs of the many in a radiation chamber, Spock reinstates the ships warp drive and allows the Enterprise to escape, though commanding officer Kirk only finds out once it’s too late to help or stop him. Their communication through the glass and Spock’s slow succumbing to the radiation around him milks the mood for all its worth, though looking back – losing such a character was a risky move, and one that was rectified in the next film in the series.

Looks like Spock really did live long and prosper after all.

6. The Shawshank Redemption – Brooks

Colombia Pictures

The Shawshank Redemption has long been lauded as one of the best, if not THE best, film of all time, sitting comfortably at the top of IMDb’s top 250 for as long as anyone can be bothered to remember. As such, it’s no surprise that there’s one big fat death scene that will render you a blubbering mess: and of course, it’s that of Brooks that takes the honour.

The librarian and soft soul of Shawshank State Prison, Brooks Hatlen’s 50 year-long rehabilitation has seen the now-elderly man become used to his institutionalised way of life. So when a parole is granted and he’s let free into a world he no longer recognises, he takes his fate into his own hands.

Watching a man play out his own suicide through a penned letter to the inmates is deeply upsetting, even more so when he carves ‘Brooks was here’ onto the beam he then hangs himself from. He was nothing but good, despite whatever his crime may have been – watching him suffer from a system that failed him is a terrible reflection of our actual societal inadequacies.

5. Boromir – Lord Of The Rings

New Line Cinema

The most heroic death scene of all time, Boromir’s fate is one that’s wholly human, coming shortly after succumbing to the corruption of the ring and wanting to take it for his own. Realising the error of his ways and throwing himself wholeheartedly into an ill-timed attacked from the Uruk-hai, Boromir’s valiant attempt to protect his friends is his redemption story: as well as the last one he ever tells.

You will never feel hatred as potently as looking into the chieftain Uruk-hai’s eyes as he lines up his last shot into Boromir’s fate, and never feel hope as hotly as when Aragorn leaps into action to take him out. Unfortunately, there really isn’t a lot you can do about three arrows to the chest. At the very least, they’re an apt metaphor for how it feels to lose the Gondor golden child.

You deserved so much better, sweet prince.

4. Serenity – Hoban Washburne

Universal Pictures

After an unjustly short series of 14 episodes building up a world that brilliantly embodied the space western in all its whacky, techy glory, fans were so hooked that they demanded more. Setting up adverts in an attempt to find another network, funding the DVD release, and then raising money for it to be implemented across U.S. Navy ships – the Browncoats are a serious bunch, but without them, Serenity would have never been born. A crime the consequences of we would never know.

It’s important to realise just how attached the fandom had become to Firefly and its characters upon release of the follow up movie, and how entirely horrific it was, and still is, to watch one of the most beloved get impaled on screen. After safely landing the Serenity spaceship amidst an air attack that saw them about to crash, pilot Hoban Washburne doesn’t even get to finish his gosh dang sentence before Joss Whedon drives a giant Reaver spear through his chest. It’s the only way he should go – in a blaze of glory flying through impossible odds – whilst simultaneously the worst thing ever.

Watch it and tell me you don’t want to cry watching his badass wife break down trying to wake him.

3. Up – Ellie


For an opening sequence less than 10 minutes long, Up manages to emotionally devastate just about anyone that watches it. Portrayed in montage form as Carl and Ellie live out their married life, we watch as their time together evolves with age. Ellie is an adventurer, she wants a life of exploration and excitement, and Carl is her adoring partner with her every step of the way.

Only, the biggest adventure the two want to undertake turns out to be impossible. We learn Ellie, much to the couple’s dismay, can’t have children.

Nevertheless, they live out their days with each other until they’re old and grey, until Ellie slips away before Carl can take her on the trip of a lifetime they’d always hoped for. It’s the consistently cruel hand of fate that dictates the lives of the pair, and it’s borderline traumatising in its execution. That Carl then lives out the rest of his life, and the rest of the film, in dedication to her only makes it all the more touching.

2. The Bridge To Terabithia – Leslie Burke

Summit Entertainment

What starts out as a heartfelt family adventure of two outcast children finding solace in their friendship soon becomes a traumatising portrayal of just how cruel fate can be. Seriously, if you haven’t seen this film, then just save yourself the pain.

12 year old boy Jess and new girl Leslie create their own fantasy world where they can be heroes, kings, queens – anything they so desire, and defeat their everyday demons from school bullies to neglect in their own fantasy realm in the forest. All it takes is a rope swing across a creek to get there, and some imagination to take part.

And, terribly, that’s all it takes for Leslie to die. The one day Jess doesn’t invite Leslie to come with him on an art trip is the one day she attempts to cross the creek on her own. We only find out when Jess does from his parents, returning home to learn she’s gone forever without so much as a goodbye as the rope swing has snapped and sent her to her death in the waters below.

Terabithia goes on, however, with Jess learning love and acceptance in the wake of Leslie’s lost life. You might as well rub a raw onion on your eyeball and get it over with.

1. The Green Mile – John Coffey

Warner Bros

The Green Mile is one special film. Slowly unfolding over the course of three hours, it’s a careful breakdown of one man’s life and consequent death, condemned to death row for a crime it turns out he never committed. It’s a beautiful challenge to preconceptions, to what life means, and to how we treat others. And it will break you apart like wet tissue paper in the process.

John Coffey has the gift of being able to ‘take the bad things back’. Seeing two young girls massacred in their home, he simply wants to help – but it’s too late. He’s found, convicted, and left to spend the rest of his days waiting his punishment. But his desire to help is never dimmed.

Coffey is goodness in its truest, purest form, holding a supernatural power that can cure brain tumours and resurrect the dying, but in a world as cruel and harsh as ours, he’s forced to suffer humanity’s worst actions. That he’s too scared of the dark to have the customary hood put on at his execution is as symbolic as it is truly, heartbreakingly sad.

If The Shawshank Redemption is the best film of our time, that this one was written and directed by the very same Frank Darabont and Stephen King should be enough to prove The Green Mile is up there at the very top.


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