Top 5 best and worst ways to die in an action movie

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So you’re a minor character in a generic action movie. The bad news is, your chances of survival are slim to nil. The good news? Okay, so there isn’t really good news, it’s more of a silver lining; you get your choice of spectacular exit. So what’ll it be?

Top 5 Best Ways to Die in an Action Movie

5. Bad Orders

Leadership makes mistakes. Whether it’s faulty intel, a traitorous officer, or simply gross incompetence, sometimes you get orders that just straight up suck. Although it’s unfortunate that your death could have easily been avoided by simple insubordination, nobody can fault you for dutifully following orders until the very end.

Last words: “YAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!”

4. Taking One for the Team

Whether it means catching a bullet in the chest for the President or jumping on an unexpected grenade, you pretty much guarantee yourself hero status by sacrificing yourself for someone more important. Of course, if you were any good at your job in the first place the whole situation could have been avoided, but hey, bonus points for improvisation.

Last words: “Look out!”

3. Lighting the Fuse

The bomb has been planted, the team has escaped, and everything is going according to plan until… the detonator breaks down. Now someone has to fight their way all the way back through to the blast zone and manually detonate the explosive, which according to the Action Movie laws of engineering involves connecting two exposed wires. Unfortunately, whoever that person is will be instantly vaporized upon success, but as far as deaths go there’s very little that’s cooler than being the center of a massive fireball of destruction.

Last words: “See you in hell!”

2. Volunteering for the Suicide Mission

It’s crazy. It’s improbable. But it just might be the only chance the good guys have of surviving, and someone with titanium balls needs to step up to the plate and do what needs to be done. Besides, there’s always a chance something unexpected could happen and you survive, right? …Right?

Last words: “It’s been an honor serving with you.”

1. Buying Time for the Escape

The bad guys are right behind you, and they’re gaining fast. The problem is compounded by the fact that you’ve suffered a leg wound, and are slowing the whole team down. You have no choice: if any of you are going to make it out of this alive, you’ll have to stay behind and delay your pursuers. “There’s no way we’re leaving you,” your friends will say. “I’m done for,” you’ll reply, “if we stay here we’re all going to die.” “But I love you,” the extremely attractive heroine, played by Scarlett Johansson, will say. “Just go,” you’ll respond, choking back tears of badassery.

Last words: “You want me? Come and get me.”

Top 5 Worst Ways to Die in an Action Movie

5. The Coal Mine Canary

You know the guy: the one who sticks his head out of cover, does a quick look around, and then turns to his buddies and says something along the lines of “I think it’s clear”. Without exception, the next thing that happens is that guy’s head explodes. Don’t be that guy. Not only are you dead, but it is painfully clear that in life your powers of observation were seriously lacking.

Last words: “I think it’s cleBOOOOOOOOM!!!”

4. Grenade Shenanigans

Grenades are effective small-scale explosives designed to be used by infantry on the battlefield. The charge is primed by pulling a small pin out of the grenade. Now common sense would suggest that removing the pin while the grenade is still on your belt would be a very, very bad idea. Unfortunately, common sense is not standard issue in action movies.

Last words: “This avocado just gave me a wedding ring!”

3. The Public Example

Just saying the bad guys are bad just isn’t good enough. The audience needs to know exactly how bad they are just in case it was unclear who we were supposed to be rooting for. The quick and dirty way to identify a character as a villain is to walk up casually and kill some poor, unsuspecting sap for no clear reason. If you happen to be said sap, there is little you can do to prevent your demise, even worse, the plot will move past your death absurdly quickly.

Last words: “Hi, can I helBOOOOOOOOOM!!!!”

2. Friendly Fire

Accidents happen, but being mistaken for the enemy and gunned down by your trigger-happy allies is downright pathetic. So much for semper fi.

Last words: “Here comes the cavBOOOOOOOOM!!!!”

1. Death by Exposition

By far the worst way to die in any action movie is offscreen. If your final moments are swiftly glossed over with some contrived dialog, character narration, or even (heaven forbid) a scrolling title sequence. I mean, you’re not even in the list of characters at the beginning of the screenplay. Did you leave behind a family? Were your affairs in order? Did you have a proper burial, which included all the significant people in your life coming together in somber ceremony to express their grief over your passing, comfort one another and reflect on the things you accomplished in your life? We have no way of knowing. There wasn’t even an actor hired to play you.

Last words: “Although this transient curtain we call life is slipping away from me, I still hold out hope for humanity’s ability to reconcile its differences and live in harmony, whBOOOOOM!!!!”

Ethan Giles
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