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VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Jonathan Alexander
Instant karma's gonna get you! For this list, we'll be looking at the most satisfying times characters in scary movies got their comeuppance exactly when they deserved it, even if the punishment doesn't necessarily fit the crime. Along the way, expect a few spoilers. Our countdown includes moments from "Alien Resurrection", "Scream 3", "Shaun of the Dead" and more!

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 20 Instant Karma Moments in Horror Movies.For this list, we’ll be looking at the most satisfying times characters in scary movies got their comeuppance exactly when they deserved it, even if the punishment doesn’t necessarily fit the crime. Along the way, expect a few spoilers. Which of these films doled out the best karmic justice? Let us know in the comments below!

#20: Pop Goes the Xenomorph

“Alien Resurrection” (1997)
After three movies of extraterrestrial terror, you’d think humanity would’ve learned that the Xenomorphs are better off dead. Ripley certainly thought so, but the conniving Dr. Wren decides to nullify her sacrifice by making a clone of her and the alien queen. Then, when his research not-so-surprisingly puts everyone in peril, Wren has the gall to betray everyone again in the name of science. Since he played a significant role in reviving the Xenomorph threat, it’s particularly poetic that he meets his end through an up-close and personal look at a Chestburster. Given that he put the entire galaxy at risk, he should consider this quick death a real mercy.

#19: Smash, Crackle & Pop

“Final Destination 2” (2003)
After avoiding a fatal car crash, Tim decides to spend his new lease on life being your typical careless teenager. While leaving the dentist’s office and still under the influence of some laughing gas, he dumbfoundedly decides to run through a flock of birds.The act ends up putting him right in the way of a falling windowpane. Let’s just say he ends up a rather messy pancake, and that’s putting it lightly. Sure, he was marked for death no matter what, but he didn't exactly help his own cause.

#18: Tiger Food

“Army of the Dead” (2021)
If Martin’s fate is any indication, revenge is a dish best served as, well, a dish. After leaving his entire team of operatives for dead, it’s only fitting that he ends up with an even worse fate. Martin’s getaway attempt only puts him face to face with a very hungry zombified tiger. Without getting into the bloody details, let’s just say the film definitely earns its R rating during this scene. It’s not quick, it’s not pretty, and based on Martin’s screams, it’s not painless, either. But, since he’s the one who put himself in this situation, it’s hard to feel too bad for him.

#17: Not-So Urban Legend

“Trick ‘r Treat” (2007)
Whether they like it or not, these teens were held to the golden rule. Or, at least, an excessive version of it. They weren’t content taunting Rhonda with an urban legend about killer kids, they went all the way to make her experience it. But, irony was apparently on the agenda for the night, since the pranksters soon found themselves on the other end of the hunting knife. Except, their assailants aren’t in costumes, they’re the real deal. It’s no treat, and it’s no trick - it’s just a bloodbath soaked in satire. That’s why, as a general rule of thumb, messing with undead children is usually frowned upon. The carnage even makes their principal’s death-by-werewolf look tame, which is really saying something.

#16: A Killer Role

“Scream 3” (2000)
Angelina may not technically be the final girl, but she does play one in the in-universe “Stab 3.” Unfortunately, her role ends up on the cutting room floor - literally. She’s definitely no Sidney, and proves as much when she admits to sleeping with the producer to get the part. Then, somehow, Angelina thinks it’s everyone else’s fault that she’s now in a mansion with a bloodthirsty killer. When she goes off on her own, she ends up running right into the arms of a certain masked assailant. Evidently, Ghostface is quite the strict director - once he “cut,” Angelina never got a second take.

#15: Spa Day

“Final Destination 5” (2011)
When a bridge collapse nearly wipes out his entire department, Isaac decides to mourn his colleagues by rifling through their belongings. Except, the spa coupon he finds isn’t for a massage, it’s for acupuncture. Once he’s all poked up, a wobbly table and gravity turn him into a very unhappy shish-kebab. The worst part, though, is that the needles aren’t even what kill him. Although, given the pain, he probably wishes they had. Instead, Isaac spends his final moments desperately crawling to safety, only for his old friend gravity to flatten his head via a falling Buddha statue. If that’s not divine retribution, we don’t know what is.

#14: Human Sushi

“Piranha 3D” (2010)
Nothing sinks empathy quicker than a stereotypical horror movie jock’s will to live. Todd seemingly has no qualms motorboating through a soup of human remains as long as he gets to safety. But, because of his lack of humanity, it’s not the piranhas that end up sealing his fate. When a girl’s hair gets stuck in the propeller, the frenzied swimmers end up capsizing the boat. Now, no one gets to live, least of all Todd. The piranhas gobble him up faster than fish food. But the blood of everyone else is partially on his hands - or, at least, what’s left of them.

#13: Runaway Train

“Train to Busan” (2016)
The only thing scarier than the zombies are these selfish passengers. They outright refuse to help Seok-woo and the others, even though their group includes women, children, and the elderly. When Seok-woo breaks into the front train car, the passengers sheltered there quarantine him and the others in a completely different car. But, by locking the door so tightly, the rude train-goers are left with nowhere to go when one of their own decides they’re better off dead. And, honestly, it’s hard to blame her. As bad as it sounds, there is some sweet vindication in watching those who denied Seok-woo help now begging for it themselves.

#12: A Midsummer’s Nightmare

“Midsommar” (2019)
You’d think that a person studying cultural festivals would, above all else, respect the boundaries of what they’re researching. Not Josh, though. He’s expressly told on multiple occasions that he can’t take photos of the commune’s sacred texts. So, naturally, he waits until it’s nighttime, and then does just that. The cult doesn’t take his infringement well, and before Josh can even admire his work, they confiscate both his camera and his life. While their methods are certainly cruel and unusual, it’s a tad vindicating to see Josh almost immediately face the consequences of his actions. After all, in this case, curiosity totally killed the cameraman.

#11: Mother Knows Best

“Barbarian” (2022)
From his very first scene, it’s clear that AJ Gilbride is not a very good guy. Then, after Mother nearly bludgeons his head off, hopes are high he’s seen the error of his ways. But, in what could’ve been his true moment of redemption, he tosses Tess off a water tower just to save himself. After such a despicable act, it’s hard not to cheer as Mother finally gets her claws in him. She starts with the eyes, but rest assured, there’s not much left of AJ at all by the time she’s finished. All his last-minute charade did was prove that Tess really is Mother’s favorite.

#10: Brandon Plays With Dolls

“M3GAN” (2022)
They say boys will be boys, but the antagonistic Brandon takes it a couple steps too far. Unfortunately for him, his latest victim, Cady, has a certain toy backing her up. In fact, M3GAN says it best herself: Brandon needs to learn some manners. So, she gives him a real earful of knowledge. So much so that his entire ear comes clean off. That’s just the start of his problems, since the sentient toy then chases him through the woods and right into oncoming traffic. Following that spectacle, M3GAN’s message is loud and clear. It’s safe to say no one will be picking on Cady any time soon.

#9: And Then There Were None

“Cabin Fever” (2002)
If this were a different kind of film, Jeff’s survivability would almost be impressive. When the bodies start rising, he peaces out with a couple of beers, and isn’t seen again until the end of the film. By then, most of his friends are six feet deep, or wish they were. So, naturally, he celebrates his own survival by dancing on their graves. His glee doesn’t last long, though. Jeff soon becomes intimately acquainted with a policeman’s bullets, fired by local cops under strict orders to shoot any who are infected. It seems that hiding out didn’t buy him that much more time, after all.

#8: Dawn of David’s End

“Shaun of the Dead” (2004)
Rule number one to surviving a horror movie is to never, ever open the door. Rule number two is to make sure you’re locked inside with smart, self-preserving people. Somehow, David in “Shaun of the Dead” breaks both of those in one fell swoop. He’s irritable, petty, and worst of all, bone-headedly decides to start dismantling their barricade. Then, even after he’s told to get away from the windows, he stubbornly refuses to move. Suddenly, surprise surprise, the zombies break the glass and end up devouring him for dinner. It’s a brutal end for sure, but honestly, David had this coming for so many reasons.

#7: Ride or Die

“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” (1986)
On their way to a college football game, friends Buzz and Rick keep themselves entertained by causing all sorts of havoc on the Texas highway. That is, until they make an enemy of the wrong pickup truck. From there, Leatherface puts an end to their hijinks by giving their car a new sunroof. But, much to their surprise, he keeps sawing until both Buzz and Rick get some very close haircuts. Except, it doesn’t stop there, either, and by the time Leatherface is done, Buzz doesn’t have a head left at all. With this bloody detour, odds are they didn’t quite make the game in time for kickoff.

#6: Death-Stroke

“Let Me In” (2010)
With Owen moments away from getting drowned by his tormentors, the water was just right for some good, old fashioned payback. But, Owen didn’t have to hold his breath very long before Abby doled out the bloody retribution. We only see parts of the kid’s bodies getting tossed around, but their muffled cries are horrifying enough to convince us it was plenty gruesome. Especially since most of it happens before Owen even comes up for air. The jerks’ dismemberment sends a loud and clear message: before picking on a kid, make sure they don’t have a vampire best friend.

#5: Cleanup on Aisle Carmody

“The Mist” (2007)
All things considered, a supermarket is a pretty good place to hole up against monsters. The only issue is that Mrs. Carmody is there, too. The religious zealot manipulates her way into being the group’s judge, jury, and executioner. Later, her vile ways come to a head when she tries to sacrifice David’s young son. Alas, Carmody’s misguided attempts at atonement only earn her a quick death by gunshots - one to the gut, and another to the forehead. After all the blood she spilled, seeing Carmody finally cut down is practically worth a standing ovation. The fact her followers immediately back down without her is just the sweet vindication on top.

#4: More Bite Than Bark

“Snakes on a Plane” (2006)
All’s fair in love, war, and snakes, but even so, animals are totally off-limits. At least, the furry kind. After the slimy titular reptiles start slithering down the aisles of a plane, the despicable Paul decides to use a dog as a diversion. It isn’t even his own! He just rips it out of a woman's hand and chucks it without hesitation. The only mercy is that the chihuahua’s death was quick. So quick, in fact, that the boa constrictor still had time to catch up with Paul. The snake pins him down, takes a bite of his head, and delivers worthy justice for man’s best friend.

#3: A Marital Squabble

“Saw III” (2006)
Jigsaw has a penchant for terrifying games of morality, but it’s still a shock to see his own protégé put to the test in this twist ending. Amanda denies her master’s philosophies by shooting Lynn. But, she fails to realize that the doctor’s husband, Jeff, is right behind her. Before Amanda can even apologize, Jeff ensures she meets the exact same fate as his wife. Apparently, bullets do fly faster than words. In a way, the immediate comeuppance fits Jigsaw’s warped sense of justice perfectly. Although, given everything else Amanda did, death by bullet wound might be getting off easy.

#2: A Night to Remember

“Carrie” (1976)
As anyone who’s ever crossed her will attest, you really don’t want to get on Carrie White’s bad side. But, apparently, Chris and Billy never got the memo. So, after they cruelly ruin her prom night, Carrie proceeds to stain her dress red with more than just pig’s blood. There’s no way to sugarcoat it; her psychic rampage is nothing short of a bonafide bloodbath. And all those kids did was laugh. Justifiably, the real culprits suffer a much more explosive fate, and that’s no hyperbole. In the end, only one thing is for certain: no one’s going to forget this prom night any time soon.

#1: No Space For Greed

“Aliens” (1986)
There’s something deeply poetic about the fact that Carter Burke died by the same creatures he tried to profit off of. Despite the constant warnings, he refused to allow the extermination of the aliens. Naturally, it leads to a full-on attack by the Xenomorphs - not that Burke shows any remorse for it, though. The final straw comes when he locks the others in the operations center, presumably signing their death warrant in order to fatten his wallet. But, in a moment that’s worth a round of applause, he then finds himself face-to-face with the very Xenomorphs he let live. The death isn’t pretty, but it sure is a joy to behold.