10 Movie Characters That Suffered Unnecessarily Cruel Fates

Not even murderers deserve that!

The Green Mile Eduard Delacroix
Warner Bros.

It’s never anything less than gratifying to watch a film baddie meet an end they’d had coming to them big time. Thanos tasted his own dusty medicine as he crumbled to ash; we watched with gleeful repulsion as Walter Donovan chose poorly; and the look of astonishment on Hans Gruber’s face as he slo-mo plummeted from the top of Nakatomi Plaza is as cathartic as they come.

Necessary demises aren’t just the remit of villains, though. Innocent characters are often horribly mistreated in order to drive the action forward. The shooting of Kathy, the little girl at the ice-cream truck, is the catalyst for the titular Assault on Precinct 13 in John Carpenter’s 1976 classic and, though awful to watch, is vital to the plot. The deaths of Apollo Creed, Jack Twist, Bambi’s mother, and Albus Dumbledore also serve to spur on our protagonists, and heroic sacrifices in the Tony Stark vein always bring us to tears, despite us knowing that there is simply no other way this bad boy can play out.

But sometimes a character is allotted a destiny they just didn’t deserve. It's sometimes effective, sometimes bewildering. Whether it’s a death from out of left field with or without dramatic purpose, or a needlessly convoluted death scene (number 2 still gets me riled), some characters’ curtain calls are as head-scratching as they are tear-jerking.

Setting aside the torture porn genre, where every character’s departure is cruel and unusual, here are a few film fates for thought...

10. Hoban Washburne - Serenity (2005)

Right then, if we're going to start now, we're going to start big.

A full fifteen years on and there is still no movie death that gets sci-fi fans clucking in disbelief half as much than that of Alan Tudyk’s Hoban “Wash” Washburne.

In the climactic final act of the film the crew of the eponymous ship try their darndest to evade a battle between the Alliance and the Reavers. Wash – like an absolute boss – pilots Serenity out of harm’s way and crash lands, saving all our friends’ lives in the process. And then he gets impaled by a bloody big spear. And he dies instantly. And all of that in front of his wife. His wife, dammit!

And that’s that. Firefly’s most affable and warm-hearted mainstay gone in an instant. If the death had come at a different point in the film it could have been used as a crutch to spur our heroes on to great things, but sadly that’s not what we were given. He just…went. A pitiless reminder that life is a precious gift that can be snatched away at any given moment, no matter how popular you are.


Mancunian man in London. Film statto. Music geek. Football lover. Quiz maker. Liam Gallagher once told me to fuck off.