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50 Movies Where The Main Character Dies

Pay It Forward (2000)

The Movie: Seventh grader Trevor McKinney (Haley Joel Osment) comes up with a ridiculously smart way to make the world a better place - one person does a favour for three people, who then do the same.

The Death: Trevor takes on a gang of bullies as part of his plan for change, but ends up inadvertently stabbed and dying in hospital.

How Shocking Is It? Shocking. Distressing. Unexpected. Upsetting. Yep, all of those.

Leaving Las Vegas (1995)

The Movie: Alcoholic screenwriter Ben Sanderson (Nicolas Cage) heads to Las Vegas, where he's decided to drink himself to death. Could Sera (Elisabeth Shue) be his salvation?

The Death: "Wow." On the brink of death, Ben sleeps with Sera one last time and dies as he watches her sleep.

How Shocking Is It?
As much as you hoped Ben would find redemption, it becomes pretty clear he never will, so his death isn't as shocking as you'd expect.

Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

The Movie: Set during the Spanish Civil War, Guillermo del Toro's beautifully dark fairytale follows our heroine Ofelia (Ivana Baquero), who escapes into a fantasy wonderland to get away from the horrors of war.

The Death: Ofelia is shot by evil Captain Vidal (Sergi López), who's easily one of the most terrifying (and bloodthirsty) movie villains ever.

How Shocking Is It? It's shocking but also weirdly beautiful as Ofelia's death transports her to her fantasy realm, where she's queen.

Boys Don't Cry (1999)

The Movie: Pre-op transgender man Brandon Teena (Hilary Swank) battles prejudice in Nebraska, where he finally meets somebody who accepts him for who he is in the form of Lana Tisdel (Chloe Sevigny)

The Death:
Ex-cons John (Peter Sarsgaard) and Tom (Brendan Sexton III) hatch a plan to kill Brandon, and succeed by shooting him in the neck right in front of Lana.

How Shocking Is It?
Shocking and violent at the same time. Brandon deserved better.

Cool Hand Luke (1967)

The Movie: Oscar-nabbing prison drama with Paul Newman playing the titular Luke, an inmate at a Florida chain gang prison who refuses to be cowed by evil warden 'The Captain' (Strother Martin).

The Death:
"What we've got here is a failure to communicate." Luke's final attempt to bust out of prison is foiled and he ends up shot in the neck by a police officer.

How Shocking Is It?
It's just unfair, is what it is. Still, at least he went out smiling.

Sunset Boulevard (1950)

The Movie: Screenwriter Joe Gillis (William Holden) recounts how he met faded screen star Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson), whose dreams of making a big-screen comeback could be the end of him.

The Death: In something of a twist, Billy Wilder's film opens with Gillis floating dead in a pool. The circumstances of his death, however, remain a mystery until the film's close.

How Shocking Is It? It's definitely a fun approach, telling us straight up that Gillis is going to wind up dead. The even more fun part is finding out how.

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

The Movie: Found footage horror in which three teenagers head to the Black Hills, which are said to be haunted by the Blair Witch.

The Deaths:
All three meet an uncertain demise in an abandoned house, where Heather discovers Mike standing in the corner, just like the victims of serial killer Rustin Parr. Then we hear Heather scream and the camera falls to the floor.

How Shocking Is It?
The final image of Mike standing in the corner is seared into our minds as one of the most chilling found footage shots ever.

Scarface (1983)

The Movie : Epic crime saga following Tony Montana (Al Pacino), a Cuban refugee who becomes a drug kingpin in eighties Miami.

The Death:
Cornered in his mansion by the hitmen of Alejandro Sosa (Paul Shenar), Montana snorts an Everest-sized mound of cocaine and comes out guns blazing, only to wind up face down in his indoor fountain. Mmm, blood cocktail.

How Shocking Is It?
The most shocking thing is that Montana didn't die earlier than this - he's been asking for trouble for over two hours by this point.

Thelma & Louise (1991)

The Movie: Thelma (Geena Davis) and Louise (Susan Sarandon) set out on a road trip that turns into a nightmare when Louise shoots a man dead for attacking Thelma. On the run from the cops, their situation becomes direr with every mile they unravel.

The Deaths : With nowhere left to drive, Thelma and Louise decide to just keep driving - right into the cavernous waste of the Grand Canyon.

How Shocking Is It?
It would be more shocking if Ridley Scott had shown us the girls' car crashing and burning on the rocks below instead of freeze-framing that final shot.

The Shining (1980)

The Movie: Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Stephen King's disturbing novel. Jack (Jack Nicholson) and his wife and son stay at the remote Overlook Hotel during the off season, where Jack slowly loses his mind.

The Death: After going on a murderous rampage, Jack ends up lost in the hotel's outdoor maze and frozen to death wearing a mask of horror.

How Shocking Is It? It's a pretty grim demise, to be sure, though we sort of knew Jack wouldn't come out good in the end.