Top 10 Most Unexpected Brutal Deaths in Teen Movies
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
WRITTEN BY: Catherine Neal
These teen movie deathers were as brutal as they were unexpected. For this list, we're looking at some shocking deaths from films aimed at teenagers that come out of nowhere and really pack a punch. Our countdown includes "Cruel Intentions," "Heathers," "Remember Me," and more!
Top 10 Most Unexpected Brutal Deaths in Teen Movies
Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Unexpected Brutal Deaths in Teen Movies.
For this list, we’re looking at some shocking deaths from films aimed at teenagers that come out of nowhere and really pack a punch. One thing you can expect, however? Spoilers.
Which teen movie death shocked you the most? Let us know in the comments!
#10: Neil Perry
“Dead Poets Society” (1989)
In this moving boarding school drama, Robin Williams stars as Mr. Keating, an inspirational teacher whose influence changes his students’ lives for the better. But not all of his protégés get a happy ending. Despite his attempts to follow his teacher’s advice and “seize the day,” Neil Perry finds himself unable to break free from the expectations of his father. Feeling trapped and helpless, he comes to the heartbreaking decision to end his life. Throughout the movie, Neil is portrayed as passionate, extroverted and high-achieving, with dreams of becoming an actor. From the outside, the future ahead of him looks bright, which makes his passing all the more shocking.
#9: Sebastian Valmont
“Cruel Intentions” (1999)
Based on the classic novel “Les Liaisons dangereuses,” “Cruel Intentions” follows scheming step-siblings Kathryn Merteuil and Sebastian Valmont. At first, Sebastian has very few redeeming qualities, but when he falls for Reese Witherspoon’s innocent Annette, we begin to see a softer side to him. In the final act of the movie, Sebastian finds himself caught up in a fist fight, brought about by Kathryn’s vengeful lies. When Annette is caught in the crossfire and thrown into the road, Sebastian dives in front of a moving car and saves her life, sacrificing himself in the process. His death is sudden and unexpected - the car came from nowhere. But the biggest surprise is that he dies a hero’s death as a changed man.
#8: Casey Becker
Drew Barrymore was already a star when she was cast in Kevin Williamson’s genre-defining satirical horror. Killing off your biggest name in the opening scene of your movie is risky, but it definitely makes a statement. Barrymore’s character, Casey Becker, is home alone when she receives a sinister phone call from the anonymous masked killer. The thirteen-minute opening sequence, which concludes with Casey’s brutal murder, is unbearably tense, however many times you’ve seen it before. But on first watch it’s truly shocking. The dramatic opener and memorable first deaths came to define the movie and secured its place in the classic horror canon.
#7: Skinny Carter
“Step Up” (2006)
With a horror movie, you can reasonably expect a few deaths, but dance films are meant to be feel-good, right? “Step Up” throws us a wild card, however, with the passing of Skinny Carter. From the very beginning, Skinny captures our hearts as the kid brother of Mac, best friend of Channing Tatum’s Tyler. He’s a confident, endearing presence, but trying to act big ultimately leads to his downfall. In an attempt to show off to the older kids, he steals a car from a local car thief. It’s a tense sequence that ends in tragedy. The aftermath is particularly heartbreaking, as Mac blames himself. He resolves to try and do something with his life and urges Tyler to do the same.
#6: Khalil Harris
“The Hate U Give” (2018)
If you already know the premise of “The Hate U Give,” you’ll know this one is coming. But for the characters and the unprepared viewer, Khalil’s death comes as a real gut punch. Starr and Khalil were kids together but have grown apart since they went to separate high schools. From the moment the pair are together on-screen, their chemistry is palpable. Khalil is sweet and charming and clearly besotted with his childhood friend. She tells him she’s got a boyfriend but he says he can wait. You get the sense that one day, they’re meant to be. But then the unthinkable happens. Khalil’s life is cut tragically short during a traffic stop, and with it, any future the teens might’ve had together.
#5: Heather Chandler
“Heathers” begins as your standard teen high school movie. Veronica Sawyer hangs with the school’s mean girls, hating life, until she meets the mysterious new kid, J.D. But J.D.’s more than a tortured artist - he’s a psychopathic killer. The film takes a dark turn when, thanks to her new friend’s twisted sense of humor, Veronica delivers a poisonous concoction to queen bee Heather Chandler. We thought Heather was the villain of the piece, but now she’s dead - accidentally murdered with the help of our heroine. It’s the most memorable scene of the movie and provides a brutal twist that sends the story careering down a disturbing new path.
#4: Jamie Sullivan
“A Walk to Remember” (2002)
Nicholas Sparks is an author who knows exactly how to pull on the heartstrings. In the movie adaptation of “A Walk to Remember,” we’re lured in with the promise of an odd-couple teen romance. Then, just like unsuspecting lead protagonist, Landon Carter, we’re hit with Jamie’s devastating secret. She’s got leukemia and she’s not going to make it to the end of the movie. The revelation that the female protagonist is going to die is a shocking blow. As a viewer, you can’t help but wish for a miracle, but it doesn’t come. At least not in the way we hoped. Although Jamie’s life is cut tragically short, her dad assures a grieving Landon that his love did make a difference.
#3: Cedric Diggory
“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” (2005)
The fourth installment in the “Harry Potter” series is the real turning point of the franchise. The stories have been getting gradually darker and the characters are growing up. Then at the end of “Goblet of Fire,” He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named makes his return. The most shocking moment, however, is the death of Robert Pattinson’s Cedric Diggory. Cedric is the first casualty of the second war against Voldemort - he’s also the first good guy to die on-screen (not counting flashbacks). When Voldemort orders Peter Pettigrew to “kill the spare,” it signals the end of Harry’s innocence and the beginning of a higher-stakes chapter of his life.
#2: Tyler Hawkins
“Remember Me” (2010)
There are some movies where the sudden death of a main character feels like a brave but necessary twist. We’re not entirely sure that “Remember Me” is one of those movies. Killing off the protagonist in the September 11th attacks is extremely shocking and pretty brutal, and maybe not in the best of taste. The rest of the movie is a likable-enough indie love story about college kids, broken families and working through grief. Toward the end, Tyler - also played by Robert Pattinson - is visiting his dad’s office in the World Trade Center. As he stares out the window, we transition to a blackboard scrawled with the infamous date and it becomes clear how this movie is about to end. The real question is, why?
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
Bree Tanner, “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” (2010)
The Volturi Show the Newborn No Mercy
Liz Purr, “Jawbreaker” (1999)
A Prank Gone Wrong Has Tragic Consequences
Gwen Stacy, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” (2014)
Peter Catches His Girl Too Late
Bailey Graffman, “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” (2005)
Tibby Finds & Loses a True Friend
Ricky Baker, “Boyz n the Hood” (1991)
Ricky Gets Caught in the Crossfire
#1: Primrose Everdeen
“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2” (2015)
“The Hunger Games” series begins with Katniss, the teenage protagonist, sacrificing herself to save her sister’s life. Katniss survives two visits to the arena and becomes a vital part of the revolution to overthrow the government of Panem. But in the final movie, her sister, Prim, is killed in a bomb explosion in the third act. So what was the point? Prim’s death hammers home the senselessness and unpredictability of war, but it also deprives us of what could’ve been a reasonably happy ending. The series has its share of brutal deaths, including Rue, who becomes a sister figure to Katniss in her first games. But coming at the end of a long fight for freedom, Prim’s death is the hardest to take.