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Top 10 Heartbreaking Mentor Deaths in Movies

VO: Rebecca Brayton

Written by Arschel Morell

Mentors to the protagonist whose deaths had us in tears in these movies. WatchMojo presents the Top 10 Deaths of Mentors in Movies. But what will take the number 1 spot? Will it be Albus Dumbledore's death in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the Death of Obi-Wan Kenobi at the hands of Darth Vader in Star Wars: Episode 4 - A New Hope, or the demise of Ricky Goldmill Rocky's trainer? Watch to find out!

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Big thanks to Gio Estocado for suggesting this idea, and to see how WatchMojo users voted, check out the suggest page here: http://WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Mentors+in+Film+that+died

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Transcript
They may’ve been struck down, but their knowledge and legacies live on! Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 movie mentor deaths.

For this list, we’re looking at teachers in films who met untimely ends, more often than not helping their protégés reach a pivotal point in their journeys before meeting their makers. It kind of goes without saying, but a SPOILER ALERT is in effect for this one.

#10: Antonius Proximo
“Gladiator” (2000)

Nothing motivates a man more than losing it all. Driven to rebuild after his life is ruined, Maximus Decimus Meridius is given that chance by a man named Proximo. After purchasing him as a slave, Proximo takes Maximus under his wing, aiming to put him in the gladiatorial ring and even giving him his old gladiator armor. Steadfast and loyal to his pupil, Proximo sacrifices himself to give Maximus time to escape Rome. This is yet another tragic loss for our hero; but even so, in the original script, Proximo was supposed to live to see the end of the film. When actor Oliver Reed suddenly passed away during filming, this slightly more uplifting outcome became impossible, making his character’s death even more poignant.

#9: Don Diego de la Vega
“The Mask of Zorro” (1998)

Diego de la Vega was the original Zorro, masked hero of the people – until he was captured by his arch nemesis, Rafael Montero, and spent two decades imprisoned. After de la Vega eventually escapes, he comes across a man named Alejandro Murrieta who, as a young boy, had helped de la Vega at a crucial moment. With fate as his guide, de la Vega decides to groom Murrieta to become the new Zorro, while also plotting revenge against his archenemy Montero. Ultimately, the elder swordsman gets his chance at retribution. But vengeance comes at a steep price, as de la Vega is mortally wounded, dying in the arms of his protégé and his daughter, Elena. You couldn’t ask for a better hero’s farewell.

#8: Abbé Faria
“The Count of Monte Cristo” (2002)

Six years into his incarceration for a crime he didn’t commit, Edmond Dantés meets would-be escapee Priest Abbé Faria, who tutors him in academia and combat in return for assistance digging a new escape tunnel. Unfortunately, the passage collapses, and mortally injures the soft-spoken Faria. Revealing to him the map he ‘d kept secret, Faria gives Dantés one last lesson. Despite the fact that Dantés has endured hardships that would disillusion most, Faria implores him to keep the faith. Ironically, his death actually gives Dantés an unexpected advantage, as the younger man secretly takes the priest’s place in his body bag, ensuring his escape from prison. It goes to show that even in death, the Priest managed to help his friend.

#7: Harry Hart
“Kingsman: The Secret Service” (2015)

To everyone, especially Eggsy, Harry Hart seems like the prototypical English gentleman… but you certainly shouldn’t underestimate him. Harry helps the delinquent Eggsy in the right direction, bringing him into a world of espionage and sharp dressing to help him become an agent of Kingsman. Harry is not exactly ready for retirement himself, however, as he heads out on a mission to stop Valentine, a demented and charming businessman intent on controlling the world through cellphones. After a veritable bloodbath and one of the best uses of “Free Bird” ever, Valentine proves he’s not your average spy film villain who tries to kill the hero by elaborate means. The audience – and Eggsy watching from a computer screen – are shocked at the sudden loss.

#6: Katsumoto
“The Last Samurai” (2003)

Living in a turbulent era where the old is giving way to the new, Katsumoto embodies more traditional Japanese ideals. He ends up taking on a pupil: enemy combatant and American soldier Nathan Algren, teaching him Japanese and the ways of the Samurai. As a team, they engage in an all-out assault against the Imperial Army, an advanced military force. And through it all, Algren stays by Katsumoto’s side despite certain death. In a true demonstration of his honor and Japanese heritage, the noble warrior Katsumoto commits ritual suicide after losing in battle. Such an act ensured Katsumoto and his Samurai code would endure for centuries to come.

#5: Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez
“Highlander” (1986)

An old and charming Immortal, Ramírez was born in Egypt more than 2,000 years before he met Connor MacLeod. He uses the considerable knowledge he’s amassed in that time to teach the Highlander the ways of the immortals and how to swordfight, using a pretty kickass Japanese Katana. In the process, a strong brotherhood is formed, but sadly that bond is severed by Connor’s rival, the Kurgan. Ramírez must face the warrior alone, and though he lands a few good hits, he dies the only way an immortal can: by decapitation. We’d been hoping that there could be more than one, but rules are rules.

#4: Gandalf the Grey
“The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” (2001)

Gandalf possessed a wealth of wisdom and a reassuring presence, making him a worthy companion to the young Hobbit Frodo Baggins in his quest to destroy the ring of power. Unfortunately, such a mission leads to a great many dangers, such as the Balrog, an ancient creature of darkness, who resides in the Mines of Moria. To save his friends, Gandalf makes a grand stand against the monster. However, once Gandalf sends the creature into the abyss, it becomes clear that the Balrog’s a sore loser, as it drags the old wizard into the depths with him. Such a loss left viewers everywhere wondering what the Fellowship would do without him. Fortunately, his business helping our heroes wasn’t quite finished.

#3: Mickey Goldmill
“Rocky III” (1982)

Had Mickey never pushed the unfulfilled Rocky to realize his true potential, he may never have gone the distance and become the Italian Stallion that beat Apollo Creed. Through two more films, their successes continue, until Clubber Lang – a cocksure boxer – provokes Rocky to engage in a truly challenging face-off. At odds even before the match, the two fighters throw down backstage, with Mickey tossed aside in the fray, suffering a heart attack as a result. Unfocused, Rocky loses the fight, but his coach goes to his grave thinking Balboa had claimed victory. In a heartbreaking final exchange, Mickey tells Rocky how he feels. The sound of Rocky’s whimpering is like a punch in the gut.

#2: Albus Dumbledore
“Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince” (2009)

Throughout the series, Albus Dumbledore has been a father figure to the boy who lived, offering advice, guidance and support to the orphaned boy whenever necessary. In a moment that forever changed the tone of the series, we – and Harry – watch helplessly as Draco Malfoy aims to kill the Hogwarts Headmaster. But ultimately, it’s Severus Snape that has to aim the Killing Curse at the respected wizard. In a brief exchange between two friends, Dumbledore tells the Potions master what he has to do. As Snape utters the unforgivable curse, our spirits fall along with Dumbledore. The shock and sting of this death lingered with all of us for the rest of the “Harry Potter” saga.

Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Jimmy Malone
“The Untouchables” (1987)

- Tadashi Hamada
“Big Hero 6” (2014)

- Frank Costello
“The Departed” (2006)

- Dr. King Schultz
“Django Unchained” (2012)

#1: Obi-Wan Kenobi
“Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” (1977)

Though the demise of Han Solo at the hands of his son Kylo Ren was a tearjerker, the top spot has to go to this classic death. As one of the last Jedi, Obi-Wan ensures that Luke Skywalker grows up to become the first in a next generation of galactic guardians. In an attempt to give Luke a fighting chance to survive to complete his training, Kenobi engages in a climactic lightsaber battle on the Death Star against the man who was once his student: Darth Vader. This final showdown makes us scream just as loudly as Luke, but our spirits rise as we hear Old Ben offer his student one last piece of advice.

Do you agree with our list? Which mentor death leaves a deep hole in your heart? For more honorable Top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com!
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