Death scenes are just… one of those things. A good death scene is totally subjective, but these are a few that really stand out. We’re going to take a look at some of the craziest and best movie death scenes from the past decade. These are scenes that are memorable either because of their impact on the story, they were presented in a particularly interesting way, or were just plain shocking for the audience.
Movie Death Scenes
What makes a 'great' death scene?
This list of death scenes was created with filmmakers in mind—to use them as inspiration for crafting their own movie deaths. We provide a brief scene study for each so you can see what makes them powerful.
We’ve decided to save truly horrific death scenes for a different list, so this list features scenes that either:
- Surprised the audience
- Changed the dynamic of the story
- Where filmed in visually stunning ways
If you have any suggestions for the list, make sure to leave a comment below so you can make the case for your favorite death scene. You can tell us what you think are the best death scenes in film or even pitch the worst movie death scene of all time.
If you make a compelling enough case, we may even add it to this list.
— MOVIE SPOILERS AHEAD —
FAMOUS DEATH SCENES
10. Mad Max: Fury Road death scene
There were a lot of death scenes in Mad Max: Fury Road, each with their own element of visual spectacle, but we’ll focus on Immortan Joe. What works so well about this death isn’t so much the narrative payoff, or the gore (admittedly these are present) but rather the method with which Furiosa sacrifices her mech-arm to bring down the main villain.
Whenever there is an element of sacrifice in an action scene, I personally become more attached because I’m able to better understand the stakes, desire, and intense character motivation driving the decision.
Mad Max: Fury Road
Best movie deaths
9. Watchmen death scene
Like many movies on this list, Watchmen has more than one good death scene, but the one that leaves a lasting impression is Rorschach.
This is one of the best movie deaths due to the build-up and an effective payoff. There is always something compelling about watching someone kill their friend, especially when the motivation is complicated.
This death scene is almost obligatory rather than a form of betrayal or malice. The music, the visual effects, the performances, Patrick Wilson’s reaction—all of this combines to make one of the best death scenes.
Famous Movie Deaths
8. Gone Girl death scene
This famous movie death scene in David Fincher’s Gone Girl that has a strong surprise factor, filmmaking style, and story shift.
Notice the use of music and sound design in this death scene. If you’ve seen the film, you’ll remember how Amy uses this moment to return home. This is one of the best movie death scenes from a filmmaking perspective, including how the knife hits the end table just perfectly.
Deaths in Film
7. The Hurt Locker death scene
This scene is the opening scene from The Hurt Locker. One great thing about this famous movie death scene is that it sets the tone for the film, and really puts the viewer on edge so that the rest of the film is stressful.
That’s exactly what you want when creating a film like this. You want the viewer to be concerned that someone else could die at any moment. Stress will help you create the best death scenes in your movie.
The other great thing about this famous movie death scene is how it was filmed, which might be the thing that puts it over the top for me. Kathryn Bigelow won the Academy Award for best director with this film.
THE HURT LOCKER
Best Death Scenes In A Film
6. Inglourious Basterds death scene
This scene is great for many reasons, one of which is Christophe Waltz’s performance. This movie death scene is also oddly fun, with lots of suspense and drama, but also a bit of comedy as well.
The way Landa decides to kill Von Hammersmark makes this one fo the best movie deaths, because it's gruesome and it says something about Hans as a character. He could have called in the troops to take her away, but he decides to do the dirty work.
This famous movie death also gives you some insight into the plot as well because Landa can’t risk allowing the Nazis finding out about the bombs in the theatre. This is the epitome of a famous death scene.
Awesome Movie Deaths
5. Killing Them Softly death scene
This death scene from Killing Them Softly is a really fun one to watch. The scene wasn’t particularly surprising in the film, and I doubt many in the theatre were too concerned about Markie as a character.
What makes this death scene fun to watch is the way it was filmed, and the heavy layer of style applied to the scene. The music, the slow motion, the sound design—all of it adds up to one of the best death scenes.
Killing Them Softly
Greatest Movie Deaths of All Time
4. Silence death scene
If you’ve seen Silence you’ll know that there are many more death scenes in the film, but this is one of the most memorable in the film.
This scene works really well because you get to see Rodrigues witness what he would have experienced had he not apostatized earlier in the film. It’s also a really important scene that allows the viewer to explore their own feelings, and to consider their own level of commitment.
This is easily one of the saddest death scenes in a modern movie, and one of ranks with one of the worst movie death of all time as far as realism and the method in which that farmers are eliminated.
Top Ten Movie Deaths
3. Hacksaw Ridge death scene
Hacksaw Ridge is a crazy movie that is almost entirely made up of death scenes, but this one, in particular, stands out.
The screaming soldier not only startles most who watch the film, but it also supports a very basic theme of chaos and horror intertwined. Hacksaw Ridge has a bunch of the best death scenes in film.
- The battlefield sequence, overseen by Mel Gibson's longtime stunt double Mic Rodgers, was filmed on a small dairy farm (about one hundred square meters) near Sydney, Australia. Smoke trucks circled the perimeter to make sure any scenery that didn't look like World War II Okinawa was effectively blocked out.
- Tomatometer: 85%
- Watch Now
Iconic Death Scenes
2. Get Out death scene
Get Out has a few really great death scenes but the one that stands out the most is where Chris uses a stuffed stag’s head to stab Dean Armitage.
Because it’s a Jordan Peele film, you can be sure there is some subtext attached to this decision, like lives on display coming back to bite you, but it’s also a fun killing tool to use for a movie death scene like this one.
Technically, Get Out could be considered a horror film which might have disqualified it as one of the best death scenes in film, but this particular death was against the antagonist, so... we included it.
Memorable Death Scenes
1. Drive death scene
Drive has a few really memorable violent moments, but this death scene stands out partly due to the sheer brutality and juxtaposition you get when you share a first kiss, and then a brutal shift into killer instincts.
The sound design helps to sell the moment despite the carnage playing off screen, and Gosling’s performance matched with Carey Mulligan’s reaction helps to make this movie death have even more weight.
Best dark comedies
Make sure to check out another list we’ve made on the Best Dark Comedy Movies of All Time. See where your favorite lands on our list, and watch our video on the elements of dark comedy in Yorgos Lanthimos' movie The Lobster.
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