Top 10 Movies Where the Protagonist Dies

Script written by Richard Bush. Wait, they can’t kill that guy… In this video, WatchMojo.com counts down our picks for the top 10 movies where the protagonist dies. Just so there’s no confusion, we’re only focusing on the deaths of those characters who are central to the films’ plots and are considered the main characters or were marketed as such. Also, they have to be human, so sorry Old Yeller, some other time. And, while this might seem obvious, there are some spoilers ahead so SPOILER ALERT. Special thanks to our users Daniel John, Daniel Costain, R Neuner, zomsty, Audrey Hendricks, Nelson Rivera Villavizar, scanman45, Ethan Daniel, Nathan074, Ben Woodard, polony9024, theemoraven666, Jeremiah Betito and Brady for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Richard Bush.

Top 10 Movies Where the Protagonist Dies


Wait, they can’t kill that guy… Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 movies where the protagonist dies.

Just so there’s no confusion, we’re only focusing on the deaths of those characters who are central to the films’ plots and are considered the main characters or were marketed as such. Also, they have to be human, so sorry Old Yeller, some other time. And, while this might seem obvious, there are some spoilers ahead so spoiler alert.

#10: “Armageddon” (1998)

An asteroid is on its way to obliterate Earth and a team of oil drillers, headed up by Bruce Willis’ Harry Stamper, is tasked to blow it up with a nuclear bomb. Sounds dramatic enough, but it’s the movie’s finale that really tugs at the heartstrings: Harry stays behind to detonate the bomb manually, killing himself but saving the world and allowing his daughter’s boyfriend to get home to her. Cue the Aerosmith and grab the tissues.

#9: “American Beauty” (1999)

It’s the story of a suburban man whose wife’s cheating on him, who hates his job and whose daughter hates him, who finally says “to hell with it” and decides to live life to the fullest. Lester Burnham starts smoking pot, working out in the nude and flirting with a teenager, all to feel alive again. But, just as we start to connect with him, and just as he has an epiphany, Lester’s journey abruptly comes to an end.

#8: “Psycho” (1960)

Inspiring many other film murders, Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” was marketed on the star power of Janet Leigh, who portrays the classic Hitchcock leading lady – only, not for very long. Less than halfway through the film, Leigh’s Marion Crane becomes the victim of one of the most famous murders in cinema history – not because she stole money from her boss; just cause she’s in the wrong place at the wrong time. We still check behind the curtain for Norman Bates.

#7: “Scarface” (1983)

Climbing to the top of the drug world with cutthroat antics and no-nonsense violence, Al Pacino is Tony Montana, aka Scarface. However, getting tangled in the web of hard narcotics, lust and betrayal takes its toll on this drug entrepreneur. After being barricaded in his mansion, Tony goes down in a hail of bullets – but manages to put up one helluva fight first. Say hello to one of the memorable scenes in cinema history. Seriously though, he gets his comeuppance.

#6: “Titanic” (1997)

When young aristocrat Rose falls for charismatic artist Jack, we embark on an unlikely and doomed love story aboard the RMS Titanic. However, danger strikes when the ship hits an iceberg, and their story spirals into chaos. After escaping the sinking ship, Jack and Rose find themselves floating in the freezing ocean. When Jack can’t hold on any longer he sadly slips away. At least this Leo death is a little more delicate that his demise in the “Departed.”

#5: “Gran Torino” (2008)

Although he starts the film with great prejudice towards his Hmong neighbors, Korean War vet Walt Kowalski soon learns not to paint everyone with the same brush. Walt comes to care for his neighbor’s family, and when they’re attacked he takes it personally, deciding to confront the local oppressors. Standing tall with several guns aimed at him, Walt allows the gang to take his life so the people of his neighborhood can live in peace while the gang rots in prison for his murder.

#4: “Thelma & Louise” (1991)

Deciding to get away from their mediocre lives, Thelma and Louise hit the road for some fun. However, these ladies are forced to go on the run when a would-be rapist gets in their way. The pair gets into many adventurous shenanigans along the way, and their story ends in dramatic fashion: chased down by the cops to the Grand Canyon, Thelma and Louise decide to “keep going.”

#3: “Saving Private Ryan” (1998)

When a group of soldiers, led by Tom Hanks’ Captain Miller, is sent to find one Private Ryan, they battle the odds to reach him. After locating this needle in a haystack, Miller and his men help defend a strategically important bridge. However, as a result of the mercy he showed a Nazi soldier earlier, Miller takes a bullet in the crossfire, and bleeds out after the skirmish, but not before offering Private Ryan some words of advice.

#2: “Braveheart” (1995)

After almost everyone he loves is killed at the hands of the English, William Wallace sets out to free Scotland from oppression. Wallace then becomes the much-needed symbol and leader of his countrymen as he drives them into battle against the British. Though he fights valiantly, Wallace is captured and publicly tortured for his treason, but is given the opportunity to beg for mercy. Instead of granting himself a quick death, Wallace uses his last breath to confirm what he believes in.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few of our honorable mentions:
- “300” (2007)
- “The Matrix Revolutions” (2003)
- “Black Swan” (2010)
- “Donnie Darko” (2001)
- “Million Dollar Baby” (2004)
- “Alien 3” (1992)

#1: “Gladiator” (2000)

When Roman General Maximus Decimus Meridius is betrayed and his family is slaughtered, he becomes a slave to the gladiatorial world of the Colosseum. With nothing left to lose, he fights for his humanity, and we follow as he becomes a symbol of freedom. Maximus does manage to exact his revenge in the arena and become the ultimate representation of liberty – unfortunately; the cost is his life, as he eventually succumbs to a knife wound inflicted by the villainous Commodus.

Do you agree with our list? Which protagonist’s death left you gob smacked? For more hair-raising Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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