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50 Movies Where The Main Character Dies

American Beauty (1999)

The Movie: Oscar-winning drama written by Alan Ball. Lester (Kevin Spacey) is going through a mid-life crisis that's exacerbated by his crush on his daughter's friend Angela (Mena Suvari).

The Death: When Lester's neighbour Frank (Chris Cooper) mistakenly comes to the conclusion that Lester's having a relationship with his son (Wes Bentley), he shoots Lester dead.

How Shocking Is It? Lester's already hinted in his narration that he won't have a happy ending, but the nature of his death is definitely shocking.

Alien 3 (1992)

The Movie: Troubled threequel in which survivor Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) crash-lands on a prison planet populated with shaven-headed men - and she's brought an alien with her.

The Death: Having discovered that she's carrying the Alien Queen in her chest, Ripley hurls herself, Christ-like, into the massive furnace at the heart of the prison. Bye-bye, Ellen…

How Shocking Is It? As dark as Fincher's film is, we were still pretty shocked that it ended with Ripley sacrificing herself for the good of the universe.

At least until Alien: Resurrection found a way to bring her back…

The Departed (2006)

The Movie: Martin Scorsese's remake of Hong Kong flick Infernal Affairs.

Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) uses Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) to spy on the Massachusetts State Police, unaware that there's also a mole in his mob in the form of Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio).

The Death : Having apprehended Sullivan, Costigan escorts him from a building via a lift. When the lift doors open, though, Costigan is unexpectedly shot in the head by Tooper Brown (Anthony Anderson).

How Shocking Is It?
Hugely, if you haven't seen Infernal Affairs . It feels like the movie's wrapping things up, then BLAM, bye-bye Leo. Poor Leo just can't catch a break…

Gladiator (2000)

The Movie: Ridley Scott's sumptuous historical epic following Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridius (Russell Crowe), who's betrayed and forced to become a gladiator.

The Death: Having defeated evil emperor Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), Maximus succumbs to his wounds and dies in the gladiatorial arena, joining his family in the afterlife.

How Shocking Is It?
The shocking stuff comes just before, when Commodus stabs Maximus in the side so that he won't be able to fight him properly. Rotter.

Donnie Darko (2001)

The Movie: Jake Gyllenhaal is the titular Donnie, a moody teenager who has visions of the end of the world. Oh, and he also sees a guy in a scary bunny costume called Frank.

The Death: In a time-twisting, er, twist, Donnie is crushed by the very airplane engine that crashed into his empty bedroom 28 days ago, bringing the movie full circle.

How Shocking Is It? It's more head-scratchy than shocking. Richard Kelly's original edit doesn't exactly molly-coddle audiences, and the result is a nightmarish oddity with a tragic (if confuzzling) ending.

Atonement (2007)

The Movie: James McAvoy and Keira Knightley play star-crossed lovers whose lives are turned upside-down by the lie of a young girl (Soirse Ronan) during World War Two.

The Deaths: We discover that McAvoy and Knightley's characters never reunite - he dies from septicaemia at Dunkirk and she is drowned during the flood at Balham underground station.

How Shocking Is It?
Director Joe Wright cleverly wrong-foots us with this one as our narrator attempts to give the pair a happy ending before revealing the truth of their sad deaths - which only serves to increase the final revelation's shock factor. Get the hankies ready…

The Boy In The Striped Pajamas (2008)

The Movie: Bruno (Asa Butterfield) is the son of a concentration camp commander who strikes up an unexpected friendship with one of the young Jewish inmates that could prove deadly.

The Death: Bruno disguises himself as a Jewish boy and sneaks into the camp. His disguise is so convincing, however, that he's hustled into a shower with the rest of the inmates for a rinsing…

How Shocking Is It?
If you've not read the book, this one's like a bullet to the head. Just really, really upsetting.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

The Movie: James Cameron's stellar sequel to The Terminator, in which a teenage John Connor (Edward Furlong) is targeted by the deadly future assassin T-1000 (Robert Patrick).

The Death: Though it depends on your definition of death, the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) has become so human in our eyes by the end of T2 that it's really upsetting when he's reduced to a globby blob of liquid metal.

How Shocking Is It?
It's sort of clear this has to happen - the T-800 was never going to stick around as John's surrogate dad - but it still has serious emotional heft.

Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid (1969)

The Movie: Classic, achingly cool Western following outlaw Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman) and his train-robbing Hole in the Wall Gang. Cassidy goes on the run with Sundance Kid (Robert Redford) after a botched raid.

The Deaths: Hiding out in Bolivia, Butch and Sundance are surrounded in a barn by Bolivian soldiers who aren't going to let them out alive. True to their character, the duo break out of their hiding place with guns blazing, fearlessly facing their demise.

How Shocking Is It?
We don't actually see the titular team die, which dampens the shock factor, but it's still pretty distressing that they don’t make it out alive.

Bonnie & Clyde (1967)

The Movie: Arthur Penn directs Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway as the titular crims, who embark on a bank-robbing spree during the Great Depression.

The Deaths: Finally cornered by the cops, Bonnie and Clyde are subjected to a firing squad-style death as they're pumped fill of led.

How Shocking Is It? If you know the story of Bonnie and Clyde at all, the ending won't shock you. What IS shocking is the explicit nature of their deaths - the hugely visual portrayal caused quite a scandal in the sixties and remains unsettling today.