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Top 10 Movies Where the Villain Kills the Hero

VO: Matthew Wende

Written by Robert Loubier

Movies and films where the hero is ultimately killed by the villain, but between movies like Léon: The Professional, Pan's Labyrinth and Gladiator, which will take the top spot on our list? WatchMojo presents the Top 10 Movies where the Hero is Killed by the Villain. Watch to see how we ranked it!

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Transcript
Not everyone can have a Hollywood ending. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 movies where the villain kills the hero.

For this list, we’re taking a look at those films that flip the script and have the protagonist die at the hands of the antagonist – either directly or indirectly. As you can probably guess, we’re gonna slap a great big SPOILER ALERT on this one.

#10: “The Wicker Man” (1973)

A policeman named Sergeant Howie follows clues to an isolated island, hoping to find out what happened to young Rowan Morrison – and things get weird pretty quickly. The people on the island – and even the girl’s own mother – seem to want to prevent him from solving the mystery. It’s only when Howie discovers a photograph of Rowan that he determines she’s to be sacrificed for the good of the island’s crops. Unfortunately, though Howie manages to free Rowan, his troubles are not over: turns out he’s actually the one earmarked for sacrifice by the Pagans of Summerisle. A shot of him, burning alive inside a huge wicker man statue, is the last we see of Sergeant Howie.

#9: “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” (2016)

Despite the film’s title, the climax here actually sees Batman and Superman teamin up, and with the help of Wonder Woman they take on Lex Luthor’s malevolent creation. In his quest to bring down the most powerful being on Earth, Luthor brings Doomsday to life using a combination of Kryptonite, Kryptonian DNA and Human DNA. With every step of the battle, Doomsday evolves, becoming more and more powerful. Finally, Superman is forced to use Batman’s kryptonite spear in a last-ditch effort to end the fight before it can spill into a populated area. Sadly, staying true to the comic books, Doomsday and The Man of Steel simultaneously kill each other in what looks like a really painful exchange.

#8: “The Departed” (2006)

You go into a Martin Scorsese gangster flick expecting two things: lotsa violence and lotsa death. But little did we know that this time, he’d be killing Leonardo DiCaprio. To catch a mole in the Boston Police Department, Leo’s Billy Costigan is goes undercover in Frank Costello’s mob to live a life of crime. We see many horrific things throughout the film, like beachfront executions, people going splat and random severed hands, but nothing matches the split-second in which Costigan is shot in the head by one of Costello’s moles, Trooper Barrigan. It’s the suddenness of this murder that lands it on this list; we barely have time to process it because it happens in the blink of an eye.

#7: “Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens” (2015)

It was pretty obvious that Kylo Ren was going to be related to at least one beloved original trilogy character – that’s “Star Wars”’ M.O. What wasn’t so obvious was that he’d kill his own father. After being sent by his parents, Han and Leia, to learn the ways of the force from his uncle Luke Skywalker, Ben Solo is drawn to the dark side, just like his grandfather Darth Vader. During an emotional father-son reunion, it looks as if Ben/Kylo has seen the error of his ways. Will we ever learn?

#6: “Saving Private Ryan” (1998)

Not many directors the guts to kill off Tom Hanks, but Stephen Spielberg did it. In this epic war flick, Hanks plays Captain John Miller, the commander in charge of a mission to save Private James Ryan, the last survivor of the four Ryan brothers sent to fight in WWII. By the film’s climax, Miller’s lost several men, but decides to help Private Ryan’s company defend a bridge from German infantrymen. Unfortunately, in a case of tragic irony, Miller is shot by the same Nazi soldier to whom he’d previously shown mercy. But even as he faces certain death, Miller will do whatever it takes to accomplish his mission and offer some advice to young Private Ryan.

#5: “Boys Don’t Cry” (1999)

Boys might not cry, but we sure did during this gritty and emotional drama. Hilary Swank gives an Oscar-winning performance here as the young transgender Brandon Teena. After Brandon’s so-called friends, ex-cons John and Tom, discover Brandon’s secret, they viciously attack and rape him, then hold him hostage. But Brandon will not stay down, and he ultimately escapes and reunites with his girlfriend Lana. This – plus a healthy dose of alcohol – just fuels John and Tom’s anger further, so the two criminals track Brandon down, intent on killing him. Depicting real-life events, this pulls on the heartstrings a little more than many movie deaths.

#4: “Braveheart” (1995)

Scotsman William Wallace finds himself facing a powerful enemy after King Edward “Longshanks” violently occupies Scotland. Tragically, Wallace’s defiance leads to the deaths of his loved ones, but it also spurs him to lead his countrymen into battle against tyrannical English rule. Unfortunately, despite his heroics, the Scot is apprehended, to be tried for treason and eventually executed publicly for his so-called crimes. His accusers do afford him the opportunity to plead for clemency, but instead of using his last seconds on Earth to beg, our hero confirms where his faith lies. It’s this defiance and refusal to surrender that make William Wallace one brave heart.

#3: “Léon: The Professional” (1994)

One minute, Léon’s a hitman with nothing to worry about except his plant; the next he’s a mentor to 12-year-old girl whose family was slaughtered by the brilliantly psychotic and crooked DEA agent Norman Stansfield. As her guide, Léon teaches Mathilda his “cleaner” ways, shows her how to use a gun and shares his love of milk. Unfortunately, when Mathilda reveals herself and her revenge plan to Stansfield, it leads the police right to Léon’s doorstep. While Léon is wounded in the ensuing action, he does escape – only to be shot in the back by Stansfield. Knowing that the only way Mathilda would be safe is with the crooked cop dead, Léon makes sure to bring Stansfield down with him.

#2: “Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006)

Set in post-civil war Spain, Guillermo del Toro's beautifully dark fairytale follows a young girl named Ofelia. Escaping the horrors of war, the young heroine travels through a fantasy wonderland in an attempt to gain immortality. Encountering such terrifying villains as the Pale Man and Captain Vidal, she makes her way through a plethora of trials and tribulations. However, Vidal finally catches up with Ofelia, and sadly shoots her in a shocking yet beautiful moment. Don’t worry, though: our heroine gets the last laugh. Upon her death, she’s transported to her fantasy realm where she’s named Queen, once and for all escaping her brutal reality.

Before we unveil our number one dastardly pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “300” (2006)
- “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors” (1987)

#1: “Gladiator” (2000)

When Maximus Decimus Meridius is betrayed and his family slaughtered, he vows revenge on the man responsible. So, as a slave who’s forced to entertain the masses as a gladiator in the Colosseum, he fights for his humanity, waiting for the day he can finally kill Commodus. He gets the chance when he’s invited to battle the evil emperor; unfortunately, to give himself the upper hand, Commodus surreptitiously stabs Maximus before their duel. Despite being injured and eventually disarmed, our hero manages to thrust a knife into the throat of his opponent. Having lost everything and given all that he had, Maximus can is finally free to be with his family. What he did in life echoes in eternity.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite movie in which the baddy kills the good guy? For more villainous top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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