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Please help me find movies that end with the main character dying.
November 11, 2006 10:41 PM   Subscribe

Please help me find movies that end with the main character dying. WARNING: Question and answers may contain spoilers, in case it's not obvious.

My fiancee and I watched a movie tonight that is about the main character dying, but in the end he's unexpectedly saved. That got us trying to come up with movies that ended with the main character dying. As a rule of thumb, the ones that jumped to mind quickly were documentary, historical, war, and period pieces. Can you think of movies outside of these genres that end with the main character dying? Characters should also not come back to life in a sequel. Lastly, being undead does not count as being alive for the sake of this question. (Sorry Astro Zombie.)

Movies that work:
  1. The Butterfly Effect (1 & 2)
  2. Pi
  3. Ghost Dog
  4. Ladder 49
  5. Philadelphia
  6. The Wicker Man
Movies that don't work:
  1. Romeo and Juliet (period piece)
  2. Boys Don't Cry (based on true events)
  3. Sixth Sense (character does not die at the end)
  4. Run Lola Run (character dies in two sequences, lives in the final)
  5. 28 Days Later (only dies in alternate endings)
  6. The Crow (undead is not Newspeak for alive)
posted by sequential to Media & Arts (135 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Death of a Salesman
Cat On A Hot Tin Roof

posted by fandango_matt at 10:54 PM on November 11, 2006


Two off the top of my head:
1. American Beauty
2. I'm not sure if this counts, but Bruce Willis' character in Sin City dies at the end of his story. He's one of the main characters of the three separate stories that make up the film
posted by kosher_jenny at 10:54 PM on November 11, 2006


Saving Private Ryan
The Departed
and seven John Wayne movies
posted by BradNelson at 10:58 PM on November 11, 2006


There are a lot; here are the first that come to mind:

Thinkier action movies with antiheroes
Get Carter w/Michael Caine
Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid
lot of latter-day westerns
12 Monkeys
Blade Runner/director's cut

Oh, and the chick tearjerkers!
Terms of Endearment (I think; haven't seen it all the way through)
Love Story (I think; haven't seen it)
Beaches (I think; haven't seen it)
Fried Green Tomatoes
Dying Young
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:59 PM on November 11, 2006


Let me get this straight; so you want movies about someone dying but in the end, they don't?

...about the main character dying, but in the end he's unexpectedly saved.

vs.

...movies that end with the main character dying

Well, in Dead Man Depp's character dies, but doesn't, ... and depending on your interpretation, gets "saved."

iirc Casino starts out with a scene with a carbomb, details the prior events, then ends with showing how the intended assasinee survives.
posted by porpoise at 11:00 PM on November 11, 2006


And Star Wars! Star Wars!!
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:01 PM on November 11, 2006


Pi

The guy in Pi died at the end? This Pi? I remembered he was sitting in a park or playground watching the neighbor girl play or something.

Maybe:
Big Fish
The Champ
The Fan
Phenomenon
House of Flying Daggers
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
posted by weston at 11:03 PM on November 11, 2006


12 Monkeys? Although the ending is a bit dubious for your criteria.
posted by edgeways at 11:04 PM on November 11, 2006


Layer Cake
posted by smallerdemon at 11:05 PM on November 11, 2006


Easy Rider
Mulholland Drive
Pulp Fiction (Vincent, sort of)
Sin City (Marv and Hartigan)

Also many horror movies. Romero's Living Dead movies are not kind to their main characters, for instance.
posted by Khalad at 11:05 PM on November 11, 2006


LĂ©on the Professional
posted by roomwithaview at 11:06 PM on November 11, 2006


Let me get this straight; so you want movies about someone dying but in the end, they don't?
No, the movie we watched tonight was about someone dying from start to finish, but right at the end the protagonist unexpectedly lives. That got us to thinking about movies where the main character dies.
posted by sequential at 11:06 PM on November 11, 2006


Max does not die in Pi.
posted by phrontist at 11:07 PM on November 11, 2006


The guy in Pi died at the end? This Pi?
The scene before he's sitting in the park is of him drilling a hole in his head. I think this one can be argued a number of ways and may not the best example, but it is one that came to mind.
posted by sequential at 11:08 PM on November 11, 2006


The Man Who Wasn't There
The Shining
Donnie Darko
Big Fish
Plus all those movies that end with the self-sacrifice/viking funeral routine (e.g. Armageddon, V for Vendetta)

Reservoir Dogs has all the main characters but one die at the end.

I was about to say Fight Club, then realised I was thinking of the book, not the film version.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 11:09 PM on November 11, 2006


Oh, I missed a shelf in my bookcase. Add to the list:

The Shining
Moulin Rouge

Also I'm not sure if Chinatown qualifies. Jack Nicholson survives, but Faye Dunaway doesn't.
posted by Khalad at 11:10 PM on November 11, 2006


An American Werewolf in London
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:11 PM on November 11, 2006


Sleuth
Deathtrap
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:13 PM on November 11, 2006


Dirty Mary and Crazy Larry.

The ending is a real deux ex machina... although the movie is nothing special, it always stuck in my mind as the one movie I remember where suddenly, at the very end, all the protagonists are snatched into rather than from the jaws of death.

A real WTF ending.
posted by Brave New Meatbomb at 11:14 PM on November 11, 2006


The 1982 version of "The Thing".
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:15 PM on November 11, 2006


Damn, S.C.D.B., you beat me to the punch on Sleuth (one of the best films ever made). Here are a few others:

Fallen
Alien 3
Scarface
The Killer
posted by duffell at 11:15 PM on November 11, 2006


He doesn't drill all the way into his head; just far enough to get rid of his weirdo tumor. After that, his math stuff goes away. La la, happy ending.
posted by Deathalicious at 11:15 PM on November 11, 2006


Bollywood fave Kul Ho Na Ho, starring Shah Rukh Khan.
posted by katemonster at 11:21 PM on November 11, 2006


The latest Jason Statham movie, Crank. He's dying from the start (by poison) and ends up dead at the end.
posted by kisch mokusch at 11:23 PM on November 11, 2006


Citizen Kane.
Thelma and Louise [hey, it's two-fer night at AskMe!]
A Farewell to Arms
posted by paulsc at 11:24 PM on November 11, 2006


- Does Sunset Boulevard not count for the same reason as The Sixth Sense?
- I'd say Wadsworth is the main character in Clue and he dies in one of the endings.
- Mrs Muir in The Ghost and Mrs Muir (old age).
- Cyrano de Bergerac (old age).

I don't know if you'll accept any of these - they may also be too period.

I bet you're going to get spoiled on the ends of lots of movies you haven't seen yet!
posted by srah at 11:30 PM on November 11, 2006


The Usual Suspects
posted by psergio at 11:31 PM on November 11, 2006


I just finished watching Electra Glide in Blue
posted by jessenoonan at 11:33 PM on November 11, 2006


Citizen Kane begins with the main character dying, interestingly enough.

(So do Gandhi and Lawrence of Arabia, but those are historical films.)
posted by neckro23 at 11:42 PM on November 11, 2006


Reservoir Dogs. Hell, they all die.
posted by chrisamiller at 11:44 PM on November 11, 2006


Million Dollar Baby, Rory O'Shea Was Here, Theory of Flight... many movies with disabled main characters end with them dying on cue.
posted by Soliloquy at 11:46 PM on November 11, 2006


I don't know if you'll accept any of these - they may also be too period.
Period is fine. The only reason I mentioned it was because we found it relatively easy to remember period pieces, for whatever reason.
I bet you're going to get spoiled on the ends of lots of movies you haven't seen yet!
That's one of the dangers in asking this question, but I've seen all but five of the movies listed thus far. My fiancee, on the other hand, has seen less than half of the movies listed so far.
posted by sequential at 11:47 PM on November 11, 2006


Gladiator
posted by chrisch at 11:49 PM on November 11, 2006


The Matrix (specifically Matrix Revolutions).
posted by Effigy2000 at 11:53 PM on November 11, 2006


To Live and Die in LA. Breakout roles for both William Petersen (the CSI guy) and Willem Dafoe. John Turturro and Dean Stockwell do a lot with small parts.

Great soundtrack from Wang Chung, of all people.
posted by bruceo at 11:54 PM on November 11, 2006


Let's add Dr. Strangelove to the list. Armageddon for all!
Oh, and Thelma and Louise.
posted by Khalad at 11:55 PM on November 11, 2006


The Virgin Suicides
2001: A Space Odyssey
posted by travosaurus at 12:00 AM on November 12, 2006


Serial Killer Slumber Party:
I was about to say Fight Club, then realised I was thinking of the book, not the film version.
I haven't read the book in years, but I'm sure he didn't die. He was in an asylum. He thought he was dead, but he wasn't. The people he thought were angels were either nurses or security, can't remember which. I mean, angels don't bring you pills in cups and say "We're going to get you out of here, Mr. Durden."
posted by Katravax at 12:02 AM on November 12, 2006


The Terminator
Heat
12 Monkeys
Donnie Brasco (implied)
The Royal Tenenbaums
The Professional
posted by Jeff Howard at 12:03 AM on November 12, 2006


"Citizen Kane begins with the main character dying, interestingly enough. ..."
posted by neckro23 at 11:42 PM PST on November 11


Nah.

[Spoiler Alert*****Spoiler Alert*******Spoiler Alert]










Rosebud only gets pitched into the fire in the last frames.

What? You're going to argue that Rosebud isn't the main character???
posted by paulsc at 12:05 AM on November 12, 2006


The Shootist
Vanishing Point
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
posted by equalpants at 12:07 AM on November 12, 2006


You're quite right Katravax. Apologies.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 12:10 AM on November 12, 2006


The original version of The Vanishing.
The Wild Bunch
Dead Ringers (I think)
Mona Lisa (I think, can't remember)
Blood Simple
The Death of Mr. Lazarescu
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
21 Grams (maybe, I can't remember)
Laws of Gravity (depends what you mean by "main" character)
Ashes & Diamonds
M
Funny Games
posted by dobbs at 12:12 AM on November 12, 2006


My Life
Untamed Heart
Steel Magnolias
A Walk to Remember
Message in a Bottle
Sweet November
Beaches
Man on Fire
Of Mice and Men

(Not sure if all of them count, or have been mentioned already because I didn't want spoilers!)
posted by Ugh at 12:14 AM on November 12, 2006


Terms of Endearment and Lovers of the Arctic Circle (although, these both sort-of have two main characters with one dying).
posted by thisjax at 12:19 AM on November 12, 2006


It's a tv series, and anime, but Cowboy Bebop.
The Prestige (man, this is the spoilers thread, isn't it?)
posted by KirTakat at 12:19 AM on November 12, 2006


Steel Magnolias
posted by cholly at 12:22 AM on November 12, 2006


should have previewed
posted by cholly at 12:23 AM on November 12, 2006


Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead
Bliss (The Autralian flick about Harry Joy)
Slaughterhouse Five (Movie, yes. Book, not so much.)
Bridge on the River Kwai
Jacob's Ladder
The Wild Bunch (period piece?)
Scarface
Dr. Strangelove (Does it count if everybody dies?)
Death of a Salesman
Reservoir Dogs (depending on how you define "main" character)
Saw?
Jeepers Creepers
Blair Witch Project
posted by Crosius at 12:25 AM on November 12, 2006


Reuben, Reuben.
posted by Sonny Jim at 12:26 AM on November 12, 2006


2001
Aliens 3
Virgin Suicides
Seven Samurai, Magnifient Seven
Once Upon a Time in the West
Titanic
Million Dollar Baby
Perfect World
Psycho
Stepmom
Pride of the Yankees
La Bamba
Serenity
Leaving Las Vegas
Kill Bill
Heathers (I'm pretty sure? can't remember)
Grave of the Fireflies
Brazil
Amadeus (ok, period piece)
Dead Poets Society
Bubba Ho-Tep
Midnight Cowboy
Brokeback Mountain
The Fly (?)
King Kong
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
The English Patient
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:28 AM on November 12, 2006


Bonnie and Clyde
posted by Khalad at 12:30 AM on November 12, 2006


carlito's way
posted by londongeezer at 12:33 AM on November 12, 2006


More Al Pacino: Carlito's Way.
posted by aberrant at 12:34 AM on November 12, 2006


I'm not sure if American History X meets all your tests but I'm throwing it out there.

They Live
Stroszek
posted by Opposite George at 12:35 AM on November 12, 2006


DAMNIT! missed by a minute.
posted by aberrant at 12:35 AM on November 12, 2006


Adaptation?
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:35 AM on November 12, 2006


Luc Besson's "Le Grand Bleu" - shown in the US under the name "The Big Blue". Funny thing about this is that if you watch the US version, the character lives at the end. If you watch the European version, he dies. I watched the EU version first; it was really heartbreaking to see that they changed the ending based on their target audience.
posted by eebs at 12:36 AM on November 12, 2006


Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance
Silmido
posted by kkokkodalk at 12:42 AM on November 12, 2006


Surprised nobody's mentioned it already: D.O.A. does what it says on the tin.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 12:42 AM on November 12, 2006


Oh, duh: Le Salaire de le Peur/Wages of Fear
posted by Opposite George at 12:46 AM on November 12, 2006


Uh, de la Peur, even.
posted by Opposite George at 12:47 AM on November 12, 2006


Harold and Maude. My Girl. Robin and Marian.
posted by cgc373 at 1:00 AM on November 12, 2006


No one has mentioned Harold & Maude yet.
posted by emelenjr at 1:00 AM on November 12, 2006


Gah!
posted by emelenjr at 1:04 AM on November 12, 2006


1. The Butterfly Effect (1 & 2)

So theres no point in me seeing these movies anymore right? *sigh*
posted by a. at 1:30 AM on November 12, 2006


Doom Generation
posted by utsutsu at 1:33 AM on November 12, 2006


House of Sand and Fog
City of Angels
Simon Birch
Constant Gardener
Dancer in the Dark
Sophie's Choice
posted by anjamu at 1:38 AM on November 12, 2006


It's a tv series, and anime, but Cowboy Bebop.

Actually, Watanabe has gone on record as saying the ending is ambiguous, but I guess if Pi counts then Bebop does too.

Takeshi Kitano kills himself in a few of the ones where he both stars & directs. My memory is pretty fuzzy so I'm not totally sure, but I'm guessing at least 3 of Brother/Sonatine/Hanabi/Boiling Point/Violent Cop have his character dying.
posted by juv3nal at 1:39 AM on November 12, 2006


Oh and everyone dies in Iishi's Gonin.
off topic: anyone see that and get reminded of Midnight Cowboy?
posted by juv3nal at 1:41 AM on November 12, 2006




Oh sorry, I guess its just the RSS feed that includes the 'more inside' section. dangit. *eyes mathowie*
posted by a. at 1:42 AM on November 12, 2006


How could it get this far without mentioning Brazil ?
posted by dangerousdan at 1:57 AM on November 12, 2006


How could it get this far without mentioning Brazil ?
Probably the same way the find command in your browser failed you?
posted by juv3nal at 2:03 AM on November 12, 2006


A couple not mentioned yet that happen to be on my favorites list are -

1) Bulworth
2) Arlington Road
posted by sipher at 2:38 AM on November 12, 2006


The Thin Red Line (fantastic, too).
posted by The God Complex at 3:14 AM on November 12, 2006


Penn And Teller Get Killed - it isn't just a catchy title.
posted by vagabond at 3:15 AM on November 12, 2006


(Sorry, didn't see the "war" part of your more inside since it wasn't one of your examples. Still a great movie though.)
posted by The God Complex at 3:15 AM on November 12, 2006


Examples in different genres:
Love and Death
Dracula, Frankenstein, etc.
The Garden of the Finzi-Continis
Anna Karenina
posted by rob511 at 3:19 AM on November 12, 2006


And Million Dollar Hotel is bookmarked with the death at the beginning and the end.
posted by vagabond at 3:20 AM on November 12, 2006


Cool Hand Luke

Janis Joplin (okay, The Rose, whatever..)

Blue Thunder, by paulsc's logic.
posted by Chuckles at 3:56 AM on November 12, 2006


Braveheart.
posted by Doofus Magoo at 4:06 AM on November 12, 2006


Gallipoli
posted by Tixylix at 4:14 AM on November 12, 2006


Michelangelo Antonioni's The Passenger
posted by strawberryviagra at 4:36 AM on November 12, 2006


Passion of the Christ.

(I kill me.)
posted by genghis at 4:39 AM on November 12, 2006


The Mission

Soylent Green

The Omega Man

Beneath the Planet of the Apes
(hmmm, Hollywood likes to kills Mr. NRA!)

Escape From Planet of the Apes
(hmmmm, Hollywood hates Apes!!)

And in the version I saw of Brazil, the main character doesn't die, he goes insane as a way to survive.
posted by Dagobert at 5:01 AM on November 12, 2006


Straight Story? I can't remember if he was dying or just very old.
posted by any major dude at 6:08 AM on November 12, 2006


Sidehackers!
posted by MegoSteve at 6:19 AM on November 12, 2006


Mask
posted by 10ch at 6:23 AM on November 12, 2006


Beg to differ. In Psycho! The main character does not die in the end. A big star happens to get killed in the shower, but I don't think Hitchcock meant her to be the star of the film.
Films where the main character dies at the end:
Philadelphia
Hell is for Heroes, (Yeah I know a war movie, but an underrated one)
Night of the Living Dead
Female Trouble
The Fly
posted by Gungho at 6:44 AM on November 12, 2006


Dark Victory, of course.
posted by Robert Angelo at 6:51 AM on November 12, 2006


or any movie about terminal illness...
posted by Robert Angelo at 6:51 AM on November 12, 2006


For anyone that's worried this is a spoiler thread...relax, a great many of these answers are wrong. The fact that someone important to the plot dies can't possibly count...after all, that happens in the majority of movies. Here are some movies listed above in which the main character absolutely, positively does not by any rationale die in the end:

Jacob's Ladder (he's been dead the whole time)
Dr. Strangelove (everybody does not die, and it's implied that the characters still alive at the end are going to survive in 'mineshafts')
Dead Poets Society (a character dies, but he is not the main character)
Terminator (the villain and an important supporting character die - and so do a lot of other people - the main character survives)
Psycho (the main character is Bates, even though he's introduced late)
Heathers (the villain dies, the main character survives)
2001 ('dies' would have to be used very liberally here...Bowman goes through a transformation that has never happened to a human before...it could also be argued that he's born at the end of the movie)
Once Upon A Time In The West (if there's a main character, other than the town itself, it's Claudia Cardinale, and she survives)
The Life Aquatic (a supporting character dies, but the main character survives)
The Usual Suspects (the main character surviving is the whole point)
Blade Runner, director's cut (I don't see how this can possibly be rationalized as the main character dying. The closest you can get is to say it's revealed that he was never alive.)
Pi (the guy absolutely dies at the end. the scene where he's sitting there watching the girl is a sort of 'heaven' scene)
Dead Man (the main character absolutely, positively, and with no doubt whatsoever dies (or is going to die any minute) at the end. There is an idea that maybe he's going on to an afterlife, or will be reincarnated, or something, but he's dying).
Bullworth (there is a contract out on the main character's life, but he doesn't die)
Midnight Cowboy (again, the main character survives, a supporting character dies)
Harold and Maude (Harold is the main character. He doesn't die.)

One of the most interesting thing about To Live and Die In L.A. is that the main character dies before the end of the movie.

Some correct answers that haven't been mentioned:
D.O.A. (understood)
Little Odessa
State of Grace
Bad Lieutenant
The Doors (unless the 70s is a historical period by your standards)
Angel Baby
White Heat ('historical' in the sense that the movie itself is now quite old)
posted by bingo at 6:54 AM on November 12, 2006


Serial Killer - if Pi can be on the list, I'd say even the movie version of Fight Club can be, as one of the main characters still dies, and in a more literal way than Max Cohen dies in Pi (he only destroys a part of himself).
posted by opsin at 6:56 AM on November 12, 2006


Does Palin's character really die at the end of Brazil? I'd interpreted the ending as him escaping into his fantasy world. He's alive but incurably insane.
posted by bonehead at 7:22 AM on November 12, 2006


Point Break? (He's not going to paddle all the way to New Zealand!)

And yeah, have to agree with bingo's appraisal of many of these. And if 2001 qualifies, then so does Solaris.
posted by dreamsign at 7:26 AM on November 12, 2006


Hmm... "the" main character. Then I retract Point Break. A main character, then sure.
posted by dreamsign at 7:27 AM on November 12, 2006


Movies that work:

1. The Butterfly Effect (1 & 2)


I don't know about 2, but in the director's edition of 1, the main character does indeed die.
posted by jesirose at 7:35 AM on November 12, 2006


Blood and Sand
Captains Courageous
The Man who Would be King
posted by brujita at 7:37 AM on November 12, 2006


bingo, In Bulworth he certainly does die.

It's one of my all time favorites. You don't remember he tries to cancel the contract but can't? He ends up dead. (Think very end with a guy looking down from the rooftop.. not photos)
posted by sipher at 8:19 AM on November 12, 2006


"The Last Castle", although admittedly it's a war movie of a sort.
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:39 AM on November 12, 2006


sipher, I'll take your word for it. I've only seen it once. The last thing I remember is Hallie Berry saying 'you're my n--' and kissing him with a fade to white.
posted by bingo at 8:41 AM on November 12, 2006


The Perfect Storm
posted by iconomy at 8:59 AM on November 12, 2006


Oh nevermind - missed the part about not being based on real events.
posted by iconomy at 9:00 AM on November 12, 2006


Infernal Affairs, though someone else mentioned The Departed pretty early on, which is a remake of the former.
posted by DoctorFedora at 9:07 AM on November 12, 2006


I'm not sure about what the definition of "period piece" is here. But any version of Othello fits the bill.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:30 AM on November 12, 2006


Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978 version)
posted by Bort at 10:32 AM on November 12, 2006


Final Cut
posted by digital-dragonfly at 11:13 AM on November 12, 2006


You don't remember he tries to cancel the contract but can't?
It's pretty clear that Sen. Jay Billington Bulworth is fatally shot in final scene of Bulworth. However, he did not die by the contract he took out on himself. Nina, played by Halle Berry, is the assassin charged with killing him - and she clearly is not the shooter. Instead, I believe he was shot by one of the special interests that he turned his back. You're right though - Bulworth can't cancel his contract, Nina does not to kill him, and the contractor hired to off him is incapacitated.
posted by sequential at 11:27 AM on November 12, 2006


Angels with Dirty Faces.
posted by Opposite George at 11:58 AM on November 12, 2006


Whoops, I thought I'd deleted "Silmido" before I hit post comment last night. But do scratch that since it doesn't fit the criteria.
posted by kkokkodalk at 12:41 PM on November 12, 2006


The remake of "Poseidon."
posted by drstein at 12:56 PM on November 12, 2006


The Barbarian Invasions. I sobbed for about two hours after it ended.
posted by avocet at 3:25 PM on November 12, 2006


The Stranger, but it's a book by Camus
posted by Tixylix at 4:07 PM on November 12, 2006


"Falling Down"
posted by mph at 4:36 PM on November 12, 2006


The World According to Garp
posted by concrete at 6:54 PM on November 12, 2006


Heat.

Well, of the 2 major characters, one of them dies. And it is a wonderful scene that always makes me cry like a little bitch.
posted by sperose at 10:20 PM on November 12, 2006


Charlotte's Web.
posted by itchie at 11:29 PM on November 12, 2006


The Prestige.
Brazil: depends on which version/how you interpret.
The Fly (Cronenberg): Definitely.
Dead Ringers: Yes.
AI
Alien series
Terminator
Lorenzo's Oil
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 11:13 AM on November 13, 2006


"Harsh Times," currently in theaters.
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 7:08 PM on November 13, 2006


The kid in Lorenzo's Oil doesn't die. And neither do either of his parents.
posted by bingo at 9:35 PM on November 13, 2006


"I was about to say Fight Club, then realised I was thinking of the book, not the film version."

I was always under the impression that he is in a mental institute...
posted by aschulak at 11:32 AM on November 14, 2006 [1 favorite]


The Boy In The Bubble (John Travolta flick)
Brian's Song
posted by scottythebody at 12:18 PM on November 14, 2006


I'd say Heat qualifies, as De Niro is more the star than Pacino. Not so with Point Break, as mentioned above, nor Kill Bill. Similar examples would be The Last Samurai and Top Gun, although in both cases I would have liked to have seen Tom Cruise's character die.

paulsc's analysis of Citizen Kane is spot on too.

sequential - just out of curiosity, what was the movie you were watching where the character didn't die?
posted by rorycberger at 1:59 PM on November 14, 2006


Children of Men
Hero
Adrift
Silent Hill
Perfume, the story of a murderer
posted by Timeless at 2:21 PM on November 14, 2006


In Brazil, Sam (Jonathon Pryce) does not die in either Gilliam's intended ending or in the horrid studio edit that almost got released in its stead. In the studio ending, Sam wins free and seems to live happily ever after; in Gilliam's, it is revealed that Sam's rescue and escape has all been a fantasy, and he is physically still in the torturers chair, but has gone catatonic and beyond the reach of his tormentors.

It is true that Michael Palin's torturer character does die in the studio ending, which leaves the rescue scenario as the "real" ending.
posted by John Smallberries at 6:59 PM on November 14, 2006


re: Fight Club, katravax has it right. Jack/Tyler narrates his residency in 'heaven' but it's clear he's describing an institution/hospital.

Marvelous chapter, too. Cutting it strengthened the film (cf. A Clockwork Orange for a similar maneuver) but reading the book afterward I was chilled by that last line.
posted by waxbanks at 7:51 PM on November 14, 2006


Please help me find movies that end with the main character dying.

Groundhog Day.

He dies multiple times, but doesn't.
posted by mkn at 6:55 AM on November 15, 2006


Also, Videodrome.
posted by mkn at 6:56 AM on November 15, 2006


At the end of Pitch Black, Vin Diesel survives but the cute girl who is the film's #2 is very suddenly snatched away by the moon monsters or whatever they were.
posted by GilloD at 8:24 AM on November 15, 2006


The Notebook.

Red Dawn(almost all, including what I'd argue is "the main character" die).
posted by ElfWord at 9:02 AM on November 15, 2006


Equalpants... I don't think MacMurphy actually dies, at least not physically.

The Shining is one but someone suggested that. Both Jack Nicholson: interesting; and that leads on to Easy Rider where two main characters die: Peter Fonda (Capt America) and Nicholson again.

Le Samourai (Alain Delon) in Melville's classic.

And what about Bambi?

The Terminator, the first one?

Braveheart? Or is that supposedly based on real events?

Don't Look Now. Doesn't Donald Sutherland's character die?
posted by kevon45uk at 9:51 AM on November 15, 2006


I don't think MacMurphy actually dies, at least not physically.

Sure he does; the Chief smothers him with a pillow!
posted by equalpants at 10:00 AM on November 15, 2006


10 Thing to Do in Denver When You're Dead.
posted by wah at 1:54 PM on November 15, 2006


It's all about seventies paranoia, man.

The Exorcist
The Parallax View
The Stepford Wives
posted by condour75 at 7:50 AM on November 16, 2006


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