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Top Ten Character Deaths in Movies and TV- A Mexican Standoff

Chekhov’s Gunman is a film and television blog moderated by Kevin Lanigan, a future writer of awesome movies and TV and moderately successful modern day adaptations of Huckleberry Finn. Coming 2015.

Before you read this list, know that I have not seen everything. I have watched a lot of things, probably too many things, at the expense of having hobbies and what may have been true happiness but we can’t be sure. But I am far from seeing everything. So if you have something you think is missing from this list, comment below and let me know (to borrow a phrase from Jeremy Jahns). In either case, here’s the list…

Also, you know, spoilers… Duh…

Django Unchained Cast Poster

10) Pretty Much Everyone in Django Unchained

Boy howdy, does this one turn into a Tupac-soundtracked bloodbath. Towards the end there, the bodies start piling up like angry emails on Spike Lee’s Gmail account. And it all paid off. Christoph Waltz netted his second Oscar, which I’m sure will look great at his character’s funeral.

I SAID “SPOILERS,” PEOPLE!

Wild Bill Hickok Deadwood

9) Wild Bill Hickock on Deadwood

This one was so spectacular because of how unexpected it was. So, yeah, sorry about that, guys. Only a few episodes into the criminally cut-down western tale, the legendary Hickock (Keith Carradine) is gunned down in public, making hell for Timothy Olymphant, as life for Timothy Olymphant tends to be.

Damien Cockburn Tropic Thunder

8) Damien Cockburn in Tropic Thunder

Again, this one was a surprise, so, again, sorry. Up to his ears in troublesome actors, Cockburn (Steve Coogan) steps on a landmine right as he sends his cast, including director Ben Stiller and an extraordinarily black-faced Robert Downey, Jr. The boys think it’s all part of the movie and it starts off a string of surprisingly panda death-filled adventures.

Mags Bennett Justified

7) Mags Bennett on Justified

Justified is one of the most under-sung shows in television’s true golden age, and when it fits so well on one of these lists, there’s not a chance I’m going to leave it off. Margo Martindale’s Emmy-winning turn as the devious Mags Bennett ended with a sweet and unexpected scene where she was undone by “apple pie,” the most American of deaths.

Tim Messenger Hot Fuzz

6) Tim Messenger in Hot Fuzz

When I decided upon making this list, this was the first thing that came to mind. That must mean something. Undone for his inability to spell, Messenger is crushed by the spire of a church, memorably stumbling around a bit before falling, as if the spire has gained sentience. In a totally different film, that would be totally awesome.

Hans Gruber Die Hard

5) Hans Gruber in Die Hard

Nothing at Chekhov’s Gunman is complete without a Die Hard shout-out, but this death was also seriously redonk (forgive my use of common smut phrasing). Common smut phrasing aside, Gruber (Alan Rickman) almost takes John McClane’s wife with him, but instead spends the last lonely minute of his life falling thirty some-odd floors with a beautiful look on his face.

It wasn't.

It wasn’t.

4) Charlie Pace on Lost

Just thinking about this one brings on the tears. Besides the feels, Charlie’s (Dominic Monaghan) death injected a much-needed new vigor into Lost and sent it off into a new creative fervor that lasted pretty much until the church doors opened and the light flooded in. Predicted for an entire season, it lived up to every expectation. And included grenades, which is always a plus.

Bill Murray Groundhog Day

3) Bill Murray in Groundhog Day

Bill Murray’s Phil (they tried really hard on that one) ranks so high on this list because of just how many times he gets to die. Living the same day over and over again yields a man a great many ways to die. Jumping out of a bell tower, toaster in the bathtub, trainhicular manslaughter… When you choose how you die, there’s a good chance of you doing something creative with it. I pick going out via sexy skydive.

Gus Fring Breaking Bad

2) Gus Fring on Breaking Bad

“I won.” Those are the words of our man Walter White (Bryan Cranston) after his elaborate orchestrated plan to bring down dignified kingpin Gus (Giancarlo Esposito) is successful. Not only is the plan- involving explosive wheelchairs and poisoned children- cool in the most ridiculous of ways, but Gus’s last moment is straightening his tie. You only wish you were that classy.

Sonny Corleone The Godfather

1) Sonny Corleone in The Godfather

This is a big one. Sonny (James Caan) takes more shots than a duck at a carnival. Set up by his treacherous brother-in-law, the death of hot head Sonny is maybe the most important in a film simply littered with Italian burials.

Chekhov’s Gunman is updated often and would love to have you subscribe this, or like this, or, I don’t know, write it on a napkin? That would take a lot of napkins. And much more time than just subscribing. We do Topics Sections every other week and regular reviews of Community, Game of Thrones, and any films that look particularly interesting, plus weekly installments of these Mexican Standoffs.

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9 thoughts on “Top Ten Character Deaths in Movies and TV- A Mexican Standoff

  1. Maggie on said:

    I prefer ANY death in Kill Bill 1&2 over any death in Django Unchained. I think that I entered the movies knowing it was a Tarantino movie and almost everyone was going to die. But with Kill Bill I was still a noob about Tarantino, so I didn’t quite expect it to be that awesomely bloody.

    • That was certainly his biggest crescendo of plasma and also my introduction to him as a filmmaker. The only reason it’s not on here is that the deaths of the actual characters weren’t that spectacular. The guy whose head came off was pretty great, but he wasn’t exactly an interesting character. None of the Kill Bill downfalls were as intimate as King’s or as explosive as Samuel L. Jackson’s.

      • Maggie on said:

        I agree with the awesome explosiveness of Samuel L. Jackson’s death, but the fact that every death in the movie was predictable makes it lose kudos points in my book. Then again: opinion. I still prefer death by deadly kiss (Kiddo biting that rapist lips off) or having half a head with brain showing Lucy Liu death. Those were awesome.

      • They were, but I very much didn’t see King or Calvin’s deaths coming in Django. I really just didn’t predict what was going to happen. I wrote an article on this site about that kind of thing. I’m glad I just kind of let the movie wash over me. But I will always remember Oren’s death.

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