Top 10 Movies Where The Lead Character is Dead
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Top 10 Movies Where The Lead Character is Dead

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Shane Fraser

This is a list of the best dead movie characters. Main characters who are deceased. This can include ghosts, zombies, angels, and other undead featuring Carnival of Souls, The Sixth Sense, Warm Bodies, The Lovely Bones, Heaven Can Wait, Ghost, The Others, The Crow, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Beetlejuice. Starring actors such as Bruce Willis, Brandon Lee, Michael Keaton, Winona Ryder, Nicole Kidman.

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Script written by Shane Fraser

Top 10 Movies Where The Lead Character is Dead

They may lack a beating heart, but it doesn’t mean they’re heartless. Welcome to and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 movies where the lead character is dead.
For this list, we’ve chosen the best movies where the main character is deceased. These characters—which can include ghosts, zombies, angels, and other undead phenomena—have to be dead for the majority of their movies to be eligible. Vampires, no matter how great the movie may be, are not included, as we already covered them in another list. Also, since the fact that some of these characters are dead is a climactic point in their respective movies, a SPOILER ALERT isdefinitely in order!

#10: “Heaven Can Wait” (1978)

Hey, even angels make mistakes. When a star quarterback is seriously injured before the Super Bowl, an overzealous agent of heaven takes Joe Pendleton’s spirit anyway – even though it’s not his time. Realizing his mistake, the angel sends Joe back to Earth in another man’s body – since his was already cremated. Hijinks obviously ensue when he tries to win the big game and convince people that he is indeed Pendleton in the body of a wealthy industrialist. While 1941’s “Here Comes Mr. Jordan” and 2001’s “Down to Earth” starring Chris Rock were also based on the same Harry Segall stageplay, it's 1978's  “Heaven Can Wait” that's our pick fo rthe madcap comedy with heart – and by the end, you’re not even bothered that the main character is dead!

#9: “Warm Bodies” (2013)

Adapted from Isaac Marion’s novel, and loosely based on Romeo and Juliet, “Warm Bodies” is an innovative spin on the overwrought zombie genre. It tells the story of “R,” a zombie in the aftermath of an apocalypse who has somehow retained some human emotions. Though he can’t speak and still appears undead, his inner voice narrates the movie, describing his existential predicament. He wanders around the wasteland, eating brains that impart memories to him, until he meets Julie, an unaffected human he becomes drawn to. In what you could call a complete zombie 180, it turns out that love WILL keep us alive – or, in this case, bring you back to life – as Julie’s interest in “R” ultimately helps him rediscover his humanity.

#8: “The Lovely Bones” (2009)

This Peter Jackson-directed drama could not be further from “The Lord of the Rings” when it comes to its subject matter. “The Lovely Bones” is about a young teen that is lured into an underground shelter by her neighbor, who intends to kill her. Luckily, she escapes before anything bad can happen… or does she? Yes, the movie tricks us, as Susie actually does die in the shelter; it’s only her spirit that escapes to a bridged world, where she watches her family deal with the outcome of her death. “The Lovely Bones” is a deeply melancholic and visually stunning film that merges themes of loss with fantasy in a way that leaves us satisfied.

#7: “Carnival of Souls” (1962)

“Carnival of Souls” is the original “dead all along” movie, which is a twist that’s become a horror staple. The film opens with a drag race in which a group of women lose control of a car and plunge into a river. One woman— Mary—survives, though we’re not shown how, and this is the first clue. Mary is then plagued by supernatural phenomena: she becomes invisible for periods of time, she sees no reflection, and creepy people follow her around. The explanation is revealed in the final scene when the car is pulled out of the river, and her body is among the dead, a moment which set the stage for generations of movies to follow a similar, exhilarating formula.

#6: “The Others” (2001)

Helmed by a stunning Nicole Kidman performance, “The Others” is about a heavily religious mother who lives in a house with her sunlight-sensitive children. She soon fears that the house is haunted after noticing clichéd paranormal occurrences. It is revealed in the climactic séance scene, however, that she and her children are the actual ghosts, while the presumed ghosts are the new and very alive residents of the house. She also learns the truth: that she killed her children and herself in a fit of mania after her husband died, and they are now doomed to haunt the house forever. 

#5: “Ghost” (1990)

What would you do if you were senselessly murdered in the street, and in the afterlife discovered that your fiancée was in danger? Would you seek out a psychic to help you communicate with your loved one? That’s what Sam Wheat does in this romantic fantasy thriller, only the psychic he finds is more con artist than medium – or so she thinks. Although Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore are not even on the same plane of existence for the majority of this movie, their chemistry transcends life and death, making this not only an exciting murder mystery but also one of the most romantic movies ever. Above all else, this beautiful film demonstrates that love never dies.

#4: “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993)

This Tim Burton-conceived film, about a skeleton that discovers Christmas, is renowned for its visual effects, music, and eclectic cast of characters, and especially the nightmare himself, Jack Skellington. As his name cleverly suggests, the Pumpkin King is a skeleton. He’s also head of Halloween celebrations in Halloween Town, which is a pretty important job when you live in a city populated by the likes of monsters, ghosts, ghouls, goblins, vampires, werewolves and witches. And he’s perfect for the role, as he’s just as macabre a figure you’d ever like to meet, what with his ability to remove his own limbs and all. And let’s not forget, he’s got a pet ghost dog too!

#3: “The Crow” (1994)

“The Crow” is one of the darkest comic book adaptations ever made. Based on the series by James O’Barr, the film is about Eric Draven: a young man who is murdered by thugs in a vicious attack, with said attack also leaving his soon-to-be wife raped and killed. A year later, a supernatural crow resurrects Eric, who then uses his undead powers and immortality to avenge his fiancée’s death. The revenge is swift, extravagant, and brutal, as Eric murders every member of the group, and becomes the definitive antihero. In bitter irony, Brandon Lee—The Crow’s main actor and the son of Bruce Lee—was accidentally killed during filming, making this a melancholy entry on our list.

#2: “Beetlejuice” (1988)

“Beetlejuice” doesn’t stop at one dead main character. No, this Tim Burton-vehicle is crawling with paranormal creatures, including the lead couple—played by Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin—and Betelgeuse himself. After the couple dies in an accident, their spirits become bound to their house. The subsequent intrusion by the new living owners compels them to summon Betelgeuse; a “bio-exorcist” ghost they hope will drive the living out. With a genius blend of horror, fantasy, and humor, chaos unsurprisingly ensues – and the result is a film that only Tim Burton could have directed.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
“Weekend at Bernie’s” (1989)
“Casper” (1995)
“Wristcutters: A Love Story” (2006)
“What Dreams May Come” (1998)
“Always” (1989)

#1: “The Sixth Sense” (1999)

This supernatural horror-thriller contains one of the greatest twists in cinematic history. Back when M. Night Shyamalan’s storytelling abilities matched the quality of his stories, “The Sixth Sense” affected viewers like few movies had before. Following a child psychologist who’s assigned a patient that can see ghosts, the film builds suspense and intrigue masterfully, then levels a bomb of a revelation: the psychologist was a ghost all along, and the child patient was his key to understanding this. After reconciling with his grieving wife, the psychologist crosses over to the other side, while Shyamalan crossed over to mediocrity.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite dead all along movie? For more haunting Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to
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