Every actor secretly dreams of one day getting the chance to die valiantly on screen. That moment where they get to turn their performance up to eleven, make the ultimate sacrifice, and hopefully be celebrated for doing so. When handled incorrectly, these moments can easily come as off cheesy or try hard (I’m looking at you Bruce Willis in Armageddon) but when they hit the sweet spot of raw emotion and genuine heroics, they solidify themselves both in audiences memories and film legend.

So lets take a look at some of film’s most heroic on screen character deaths shall we?

Honorable Mentions

Miles Dyson – Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1996)

William Wallace – Braveheart (1995)

Grandma Ruth – Dante’s Peak (1997)

George T. Kirk – Star Trek (2009)


Obi-Wan Kenobi – Star Wars (1977)

It might not be as drawn out or dramatic as some of the other examples in our list, but if you can think back to the first time you saw Star Wars, Obi-Wan’s selfless sacrifice is a huge loss for both Luke and the audience. Part of this has to do with Alec Guiness’ memorable performance, and the other is the brilliant use of silence in the scene. The film becomes eerily quiet in the moments before Vader’s killing blow, an effective way to build tension and also a way for the moment to hit home even stronger when Williams’ score does eventually kick in, coupled with Luke’s screams of disbelief. Never mind the fact that Luke has only really known Obi-Wan for what amounts to about a day or so, such factors are of no importance; the dude just made instant impression alright, yeesh!


Russell Casse – Independence Day (1996)

You’d be hard pressed to find a more perfect example of nineties blockbuster patriotism than this death scene, which sees recovering alcoholic and rubbish father Russell Casse redeem himself by covering the President’s ass while saving the whole god damned US of A in the process. Fuck yeah Russell! Whilst the scene (much like the film around it) may be high on cheese, the sacrifice still makes a genuine impact, especially when Russell delivers a heartwarming speech to his loved ones moments before his fiery death. If a humble crop duster can save the world from intergalactic annihilation, imagine what the rest of us could accomplish? Sadly, the death of Randy Quaid’s career would be nowhere near as heroic.


The Iron Giant (1999)

Otherwise known as the “Superman!” scene, this moment (together with the film Rudy) is responsible for a large portion of the worlds man-tears. The Iron Giant is a film that follows the tried and true E.T. formula: boy meets giant, boy befriends giant, humankind fears giant and tries to exploit its power, giant sacrifices itself to save boys life. Much like Spielberg’s family classic, the relationship between Hogarth and The Iron Giant is more touching than most human relationships in regular films.


Boromir – The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

For the majority of the Fellowship of the Ring’s running time, Boromir is a bit of a dick, it must be said. But after throwing his weight around at the Council of Elrond, and demonstrating all round weakness on several occasions by trying to steal the One ring from Frodo, the favourite son of Gondor redeems himself in the ultimate act of redemption: A slow motion death by arrows, complete with an emotional goodbye to Aragorn, all soundtrack by Howard Shore’s swelling score. And who better to expire valiantly than the king of on screen deaths: Mr. Sean Bean.


Spock – Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

You can’t have a discussion using the words ‘Heroic’ and ‘Death’ without mentioning the big daddy of them all. Not only does the death carry immense emotional weight for the audience, it remains to this day one of cinema’s most memorable cliffhangers, almost surpassing the middle chapter of a certain other space-set franchise that didn’t have the balls to kill off its main character, instead freezing them in Carbonite. Its because the relationship between Jim and Kirk is set up so well, that we care so much when one of cinema’s great bromances comes (temporarily) to an end, hitting home with Spock’s immortal words…

“I have been, and always shall be, your friend. Live long and prosper”

And although we in no way endorse it, we can’t not mention J.J. Abrams mirrored version of the scene from 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness, which essentially flipped the scene so Kirk kicked the bucket (only to return five minutes later). Non-Trekkies might be mildly affected by the moment, but anyone whose seen the Wrath of Khan will see the scene for exactly what it is: a pointless retread of a classic moment in cinema that really should’ve been left alone.

That’s all folks! What death scenes had you screaming “Noooooooo!” in the cinema when you first saw them? Be a hero and let us know in the comments section below.