10 Movie Character Deaths That Completely Ripped Our Guts Out

Movie character deaths can be very unsettling. When a film is great, it’s easy to get attached to the people who make it that way. Unfortunately, that makes it rather difficult saying goodbye. This difficulty really doesn’t matter to the filmmakers on our list. The harder we take it, the more they seem to like it. Keeping that in mind, the following list is very spoiler-heavy. If you haven’t seen any of these movies, then you’ll probably want to stop here and just let us know in the comments section which movie character deaths really bothered you.

Million Dollar Baby

Director-star Clint Eastwood had contempt for us in this Oscar-winner about a promising young female boxer (Hilary Swink), who spends about the last half of the film dying one agonizing, prolonged death in a hospital bed.

Road To Perdition

Jude Law’s lecherous hit-man villain made us uncomfortable for the entire film, and then in the last few moments, we understood why. Tom Hanks and son have just about blasted their way to freedom. Hanks looks out on his son with an expression like, “We made it,” and then he takes one in the back. Screw you, Jude Law. Screw. You.

The Cowboys

To date, this has been the only movie to bring yours truly to tears — Beaches doesn’t count — and it happened because director Mark Rydell did the unthinkable in killing off the Duke. That’s just something you should never do, especially in the manner it happened here. Bruce Dern, after getting his butt kicked in a fistfight, takes out a pistol and shoots Wayne in the back a bunch of times as his adopted sons look on. It was a good call, because what happens in the final five minutes is must-see stuff, but it still hurt.

Leon: The Professional

Yes, Leon (Jean Reno) gets the final word on Gary Oldman’s villain, but not before taking one in the back of the head. After the relationship director Luc Besson forged between Leon and his protege Matilda (Natalie Portman), it was almost too much to bear.

The Departed

Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) almost had his man, but fate had other plans. When he stepped off the elevator only to have it painted in his brain matter a split second later, we didn’t know what to think.

American Beauty

This Best Picture winner definitely had some dark elements, but nothing prepared us for what happened to Kevin Spacey while he was sitting at the kitchen table in the film’s final moments.

Where The Red Fern Grows

Not all great characters are human. Such was the case with the dogs in Where the Red Fern Grows. To this day, I hate the sight of the movie for the cheap way it milks the agony and suffering of these poor little critters in committing emotional battery on the audience.

Carlito’s Way

The worst way to kill a character is by having him fight his way to freedom and then get offed at the last moment by a nobody. With Carlito’s Way, director Brian De Palma is guilty of doing just that.


Murphy’s death scene is one of the roughest ever put on film. He takes an armory of bullets to the torso, gets his hand blown off, and then, mercifully, takes one in the head. While a recent piece on Total Film pointed to the toxic waste hit-and-run as the worst death scene in the film, that had nothing on this.

The Shawshank Redemption

Shawshank Prison is one of the worst prisons in the country, and for the better part of two hours, we are forced to suffer through it alongside some really likable characters, including our protagonist who is not guilty of the crime for which he was convicted. A young, brash inmate has the information that can free Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), and he plans on sharing it with the warden. Unfortunately, the warden knows the truth and doesn’t want it revealed. Bad news for the youngster. What made this one so harsh is that we really didn’t expect the warden would have ordered a prison hit. Up until that point, he seemed to be on Andy’s side. Luckily, Andy had a contingency plan.

So which movie character deaths did we leave off the list? Share your thoughts below.