The Saddest Movie Deaths of All Time
From kids' classics to doomed romances to superhero flicks, these movie deaths are devastating.
No matter what anyone else tells you, it's totally OK to mourn fictional characters. If the film you're watching has done its job, then it's pretty much impossible to impassively watch as a person—or persons or animal or animated imaginary friend—you've spent quality time with is killed off. The following heartbreaking movie deaths are tough to sit through and even more difficult to forget. Whether they take place in a classic children's movie, a big-budget superhero flick, or a doomed romance, they'll tug on your heartstrings and have you reaching for your tissues. Keep reading to relive the feels, but there are some serious spoilers ahead, so proceed with caution. And for more cinematic sadness, check out The Most Heartbreaking Movie Couples of All Time.
Emma Greenway, Terms of Endearment
This 1983 tearjerker revolves around a complex mother/daughter relationship that's only resolved after Emma Greenway (Debra Winger) is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Following years of being at odds, Emma makes peace with her mother (Shirley MacLaine) and says goodbye to her two young boys, the older of whom is already furious at her for leaving them. Emma's death scene itself is wordless. While her husband sleeps next to her, she exchanges a look with her mother from across the room, sharing a secret that belongs to them and them alone.
Tony Stark, Avengers: Endgame
It was Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark who launched the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, so it's fitting that the end of his story was epic. In Endgame, Tony is reluctant to try and change the past, fearing that he'll lose his daughter, Morgan (Lexi Rabe), but he eventually relents and joins the team in their mission to go back in time and undo the "snap" that wiped out half of the world's population. The gauntlet that holds the necessary Infinity Stones is too volatile for a normal human to wield, so Tony does so knowing that it'll mean his death in addition to the restoration of his world. But he doesn't go until his beloved Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow) tells him that he can rest. The film ends with all the people he touched mourning Iron Man, and a moving holographic message from the MCU's godfather himself. Love you 3000 too, pal.
Old Yeller, Old Yeller
Based on the novel of the same name, Old Yeller tells the story of a boy and his dog—but all anyone really remembers is the ending. Travis (Tommy Coates) is forced to put down his beloved Old Yeller, who has become rabid. It's a brutal representation of lost innocence, and that extends to all the kids who watched this movie and experienced Travis' heartbreak.
Beth March, Little Women
This fictional death is such a universal rite of passage that it became a joke on Friends. The saddest element of Louisa May Alcott's novel is also the saddest part of every single adaptation of the story, including Greta Gerwig's 2019 film. Beth (Eliza Scanlen), the kindest and most content March sister, is simply too pure for this world, and never fully recovers from a childhood bout with scarlet fever.
Bambi's Mother, Bambi
Chances are pretty good this is the first movie character death you can remember. Bambi has been scarring children for decades with its most traumatic scene: Bambi's mother is shot by a hunter, leaving the young deer all alone in the forest. That it happens offscreen doesn't make it any easier. The blast of the shotgun leaves the audience with no doubt of what just happened.
Noah Calhoun and Allie Hamilton, The Notebook
The love story about a working class boy (Ryan Gosling) and a wealthy girl (Rachel McAdams) that unfolds in The Notebook actually belongs to the two senior citizens in the movie's opening scene. The elder Noah (James Garner) is telling his wife, Allie (Gena Rowlands), about their past, as dementia has taken her memories from her. There's one bright moment when she remembers what they are to each other, but it's over quickly. At the end of the movie, it's discovered that the pair died in their sleep, still holding hands.
True, Héctor (Gael García Bernal) is already dead when the audience meets him, but this Pixar musical holds back some vital information about his death at first. Young Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) believes that Héctor is just his guide through the Land of the Dead, where he hopes to receive a blessing from the man he thinks was his great-great-grandfather, the famous musician Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt). But he learns that Ernesto poisoned his songwriting partner, Héctor—Miguel's actual ancestor—and stole his work. Héctor hadn't abandoned his wife and daughter as they assumed. Fortunately, with Miguel's help, the living and the dead are able to put his memory right.
Jackie Harrison, Stepmom
You know early on that Jackie (Susan Sarandon) isn't going to survive her cancer diagnosis, and she doesn't actually die onscreen, but these mitigating factors don't make the loss any less upsetting. What seems like a story about a woman's rivalry with her ex-husband's new wife—who happens to be Julia Roberts—turns out to be a story about making peace with death and learning to let go.
Bubba Blue, Forrest Gump
Benjamin Buford "Bubba" Blue's (Mykelti Williamson) isn't the only death our unlikely hero Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) witnesses over the course of his extraordinary life—but it's certainly the most violent. After convincing Forrest to get into the shrimping business, Bubba ends up fighting next to him in Vietnam, where he's killed in action. Forrest is able to carry Bubba out to relative safety for a final goodbye, and "I want to go home" are Bubba's last words to his "best good friend." Forrest pays tribute to him by becoming a shrimp boat captain and giving his company a name that would later be carried by a midrange novelty family restaurant chain, which is kind of tacky when you remember the origin of it.
Hillary Whitney, Beaches
It's a weeper classic for a reason. Beaches chronicles the friendship of C.C. Bloom (Bette Midler) and Hillary Whitney (Barbara Hershey), two women with very different strengths and very different dreams who part ways and come back to each other several times throughout their lives. Sadly, Hillary's is cut short when she's diagnosed with a serious heart problem and can't get a transplant in time. Proving that they were the loves of each other's lives, C.C. adopts Hillary's daughter and then pays tribute to her during a concert, performing the first song Hillary heard her sing when they were both children: "The Glory of Love." And if you're not done shedding tears, revisit The Saddest TV Episodes of All Time.
Jack Dawson, Titanic
Whether or not you believe he could have fit on the door, you've probably shed a tear at the death of Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio), the boy who inspired Kate Winslet's Rose to reject the stuffy world of privilege she was born into and actually start living her life. Jack does this by taking life as it comes and embracing adventure, which is why it's so devastating to watch his frozen body sink into the ocean—that grand adventure over all too soon.
Bring this 2005 loss up to a Firefly fan and they'll probably tell you it's still "too soon." The Joss Whedon TV series wasn't long for this world, only lasting a single season. But its devoted fans ensured that there was enough interest for a feature-length spin-off that finds Captain Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) and his crew still trying to protect River Tam (Summer Glau), a mind-reading government asset. Hoban "Wash" Washburne, played by Alan Tudyk, is the crew's lovable pilot, so it's devastating and shocking when he's speared by a Reaver ship, dying right at his controls.
Marley, Marley & Me
If you're watching a dog movie, you can usually assume that it'll end in the death of the dog. (And even if it doesn't, it's best to prepare yourself for the worst!) This wasn't a surprise to the readers of the hit memoir this particular film is based on, but it's even worse watching it all play out onscreen. At least the movie's misbehaving yellow lab lives a long, full life and is loved by his human family. Regardless, the scene where Marley is finally put to sleep is at least a three-tissue affair.
Logan is unlike any other X-Men movie. Hugh Jackman appears as Wolverine for the final time in the franchise, and this brutal, somber farewell to the character pulls no punches. In this alternate timeline film, fans also lose Patrick Stewart's Charles Xavier, but most of the tears are reserved for Logan, whose superhuman healing powers have slowed to a crawl. He dies defending Laura (Dafne Keen), a young mutant created by his DNA, who he comes to see as a daughter. The final scene of the film shows Laura rotating the cross on his makeshift grave to make an "X."
Jamie Sullivan, A Walk to Remember
Like The Notebook, this teen weepie is also based on a Nicholas Sparks novel. It stars Mandy Moore and Shane West as a preacher's daughter and a popular bad boy who fall in love when they're forced together by the school play. Moore's Jamie reveals early in their relationship that she has leukemia, and when it worsens, Landon asks her to marry him. They spend one final summer together before Jamie succumbs. Making the story even more poignant, Sparks has revealed that A Walk to Remember was inspired by his younger sister, who died of cancer in 2000.
Mufasa, The Lion King
Yes, The Lion King is basically Hamlet. But in Hamlet, audiences don't have to watch the king be trampled to death in a stampede. It's the machinations of his villainous brother, Scar (Jeremy Irons), that lead to Mufasa's (James Earl Jones) untimely end, but it's Simba (Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Matthew Broderick) who carries the guilt—until he returns to Pride Rock to topple Scar's desolate empire. The stampede alone is enough to frighten young viewers, but the sight of Simba trying to rouse his father's lifeless body is hard for anyone to forget. And for gentler Disney memories, check out our Ranking of Every Disney Animated Movie, From Worst Reviewed to Best.
Artax, The NeverEnding Story
This 1984 kid-oriented fantasy film deals with some rather adult themes, especially in the scene where the young hero Atreyu (Noah Hathaway) loses his loyal companion, his horse Artax, in the Swamps of Sadness. The white horse is quickly overwhelmed by the relentless swamp, leaving Atreyu distraught. Fortunately, they're reunited in the end, but Artax's temporary demise can't be unseen.
John Coffey, The Green Mile
Based on the Stephen King novel, The Green Mile is primarily set on death row, where Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks) oversees the other guards looking after the men waiting to be put to death. Among them is John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan), a man with a mental disability and otherworldly powers who has been wrongfully convicted of murder. After coming to know him well enough to believe in his innocence, Paul must still oversee John's execution, during which the man requests not to have his head covered, because he's afraid of the dark.
The first 10 minutes of Pixar's Up will test anybody's tear ducts. It's a montage of the long and overall happy life of Carl (Ed Asner) and his wife, Ellie (Elizabeth Docter), from the moment they first bond as children. They share an intense curiosity and a love of exploration, but they keep putting off their dream trip to Paradise Falls. In their older age, Carl plans to take her at last, but Ellie gets sick and passes away before they're able to go. It's her memory that prompts Carl to rig their old house with balloons and fly it there, never mind his Wilderness Explorer stowaway.
Romeo and Juliet, Romeo + Juliet
You can't possibly be surprised when Romeo (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Juliet (Claire Danes) die in each other's arms at the end of Romeo + Juliet. But Baz Luhrmann's adaptation recontextualized the tale of woe for a new generation, who were suddenly able to see themselves in these star-crossed teenagers, and experience the pain of their loss. That soundtrack didn't hurt things either. And for more doomed romances, check out The Most Heartbreaking TV Breakups of All Time.
Thomas J. Sennett, My Girl
Vada Sultenfuss (Anna Chlumsky) goes through a lot of changes in the summer this coming-of-age movie depicts. The 11-year-old processes her guilt over her mother's death (she died just after Vada was born), bonds with her dad, gets her first serious crush, and has her first kiss with her sweet and geeky best friend, Thomas J. (Macaulay Culkin). But there's one more trial to come, when Thomas J. ventures out on his own to find the mood ring Vada lost, accidentally kicking a bee nest and triggering a fatal allergic reaction. Vada breaks down at the boy's funeral, crying out that he needs his glasses in the casket with him so he can see.
Hedwig, Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows – Part 1
There are many casualties in the Battle of Hogwarts and the events that lead up to it, but the loss of Harry Potter's (Daniel Radcliffe) trusty owl, Hedwig, is a tough one. She's completely innocent—a piece of collateral damage, really—and doesn't deserve to be hit by the killing curse while the Order of the Phoenix attempts to whisk Harry from his aunt and uncle's house to safety. The poor kid has already mourned so many people close to him, and Hedwig is just salt in the wound.
Augustus Waters, The Fault in Our Stars
When Hazel Grace (Shailene Woodley) and Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort) meet in a cancer patient support group, he's healthier than she is. Of course, the rules of drama dictate that the two lovestruck teens will eventually change places. Gus waits until he orchestrates a meeting abroad between Hazel and her favorite author to tell her that his cancer is back with a vengeance. Heartbroken though she is, Hazel gets to say a meaningful farewell when she and their best friend, Isaac (Nat Wolff), host a living funeral for him.
Ruth Jamison, Fried Green Tomatoes
The powerful relationship between Ruth (Mary-Louise Parker) and Idgie (Mary Stuart Masterson) in Fried Green Tomatoes—one that some viewers over the years have taken to be just a platonic friendship, but clearly runs deeper—is ultimately stronger than the tragedy that separates them. Still, it's gutting to watch Ruth slip away and die shortly after she's diagnosed with cancer.
Jack Twist, Brokeback Mountain
Though prejudice and the expectations of their gender keep them from being truly together, cowboys Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) never get over each other after falling into a passionate relationship during a sheep herding job. Jack is the one who pushes for more, believing that they could carve out a life for themselves, but Ennis is haunted by a story his father told him about two gay men who were beaten to death in the town where he grew up. He learns through a postcard that Jack has died—the movie leaves the nature of it ambiguous, but Ennis assumes the worst—and gives into his grief when he finds two of their shirts hanging together in Jack's closet. And for more movie memories delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Littlefoot's Mother, The Land Before Time
If the death of Bambi's mother set the standard for traumatic losses in animated films, The Land Before Time wrecked a new generation of '80s kids—years before The Lion King did the same for their '90s counterparts. Similar to the the other deeply upsetting examples, Littlefoot (Gabriel Damon) not only loses his mother (Helen Shaver), but has to come face-to-face with the dying dinosaur in her final moments.
Satine, Moulin Rouge!
"The woman I loved is dead," Christian (Ewan McGregor) tells the audience in the opening of Moulin Rouge! So the ending of Baz Luhrmann's take on the Orpheus and Eurydice myth doesn't come as a surprise, nor does the courtesan-turned-actress' tuberculosis diagnosis. (If a character in a period piece coughs blood into a handkerchief, you know that's what you're dealing with.) But her lover doesn't know what's coming right in the moment of the Bohemians' artistic triumph over their evil patron, the Duke (Richard Roxburgh). Satine (Nicole Kidman) collapses onstage and is plunged back into the darkness that she was trying so hard to escape.
Captain Miller, Saving Private Ryan
In Steven Spielberg's World War II epic, a team of soldiers led by Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) is tasked with bringing home the only living son of the Ryan family, who have already lost the rest of their boys. Several of the men end up giving their lives to complete the mission, including their leader, who instructs Ryan (Matt Damon) with his last words to "earn" their sacrifice. It's revealed that the now elderly Ryan has never forgotten the man who did the most to save him—someone he had never even met.
Spock, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
This 1982 sequel ends with Spock (Leonard Nimoy) entering a radiation-tainted engine room to save his ship and all of his crewmates from being blown up into nothing. To make matters worse, Kirk (William Shatner) watches Spock go, separated from him by just a sheet of glass. "I have been and always shall be your friend," Spock says, before reminding Kirk to "live long and prosper. The 2013 film Star Trek Into Darkness reverses this scene, putting Kirk (Chris Pine) into danger, after which Spock (Zachary Quinto) revives him with the restorative blood of Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch).
Mei, House of Flying Daggers
Zhang Ziyi stars as Mei in this Chinese romance from 2004. Believed to be the daughter of the former leader of a Robin Hood-like gang, she's captured by a police officer with whom she falls in love. He doesn't know, however, that his best friend and fellow officer is an undercover member of the Flying Daggers and Mei's fiancé. The love triangle ends badly, as Mei tries to save her new lover from her old one, who's become bitter and enraged. Sadly, she's the only casualty of their fight when she removes a dagger from her heart and bleeds to death.
Han Solo, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Han Solo (Harrison Ford) was the first of the original Star Wars trio to go in the new trilogy, and his death was a painful one. In The Force Awakens, fans learn that the villain Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is none other than Ben Solo, the only child of Han and Leia (Carrie Fisher). Han, who's been estranged from his wife since not long after Ben turned to the dark side, makes one last appeal to their son. But instead of coming home, Kylo Ren runs his father through with his lightsaber in the hopes of snuffing out the pull he feels back to the light. And Chewie (Peter Mayhew) has to see it all go down! And for another look back at the classic series, check out our Ranking of Every Star Wars Movie, From Worst Reviewed to Best.
Rue, The Hunger Games
As it's all about a televised every-man-for-himself cage match and a long-simmering rebellion, The Hunger Games trilogy is heavy on the death scenes (and offscreen demises as well). The death of Rue (Amandla Stenberg), however, stands out. One of the youngest tributes in the first movie's Games, Rue becomes an ally to Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence). But they can't stay alive together for long, and Rue is killed by a spear meant for Katniss. The way in which Katniss reacts to her death—preparing her body with flowers and saluting the cameras—goes against the spirit of the event and ignites another uprising.
Bing Bong, Inside Out
Humans are bundles of conflicting emotions. Pixar's Inside Out is about how challenging it can be for children to accept that that's true. Most of the film takes place inside Riley's (Kaitlyn Dias) head, where different feelings battle for dominance and then learn to work together. In the place where Riley keeps her memories, Joy (Amy Poehler) meets and talks with Bing Bong (Richard Kind), Riley's imaginary friend. For Joy to escape the "Memory Dump," Bing Bong determines, he has to allow Riley to forget him, grow up, and use other mechanisms to work through her emotions. So he sacrifices himself to the past, adding to the bittersweetness of the movie.
Maggie Fitzgerald, Million Dollar Baby
Frankie (Clint Eastwood) is initially hesitant to train aspiring boxer Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank), but she eventually wears down his defenses and gets under his skin. Her career is on the rise until a wrongly placed stool and a sucker punch lead to her becoming paralyzed from the neck down. Her family is cruel and money-hungry, so the only person Maggie can ask to compassionately end her life is her gruff coach. Against the advice of many, Frankie does as she requests, telling her as she goes that his nickname for her—"mo cuishle"—means "my darling, my blood" in Irish.
Guido Orefice, Life Is Beautiful
Before Jojo Rabbit, there was Life Is Beautiful. While the former features bumbling officers and an imaginary, over-the-top Hitler, the latter finds its comedy in the performance of Roberto Benigni, who plays an Italian Jewish man who turns surviving a concentration camp into a game for his young son. His efforts are rewarded when the boy is rescued by Allied soldiers, but Guido (Benigni) will never know it. He's executed by the Nazis with freedom just within reach. And for more highly acclaimed films, discover The Best Movies of 2020, According to Critics.
Andrew Beckett, Philadelphia
In the early '90s, it wasn't common to see the experience of living with AIDS portrayed on screen. So it was massively significant when Tom Hanks starred in Philadelphia as Andrew Beckett, a lawyer who sues his firm for wrongful termination. He and his representation, the initially hesitant and homophobic Joe Miller (Denzel Washington), prove that Andrew was discriminated against for his status and his sexuality. But Joe succumbs not long after the court rules in his favor, after bidding farewell to his family, Joe, and his partner, Miguel (Antonio Banderas).
Maude, Harold & Maude
Everyone seems opposed to the romantic love that develops between 18-year-old Harold (Bud Cort) and 79-year-old Maude (Ruth Gordon), but that doesn't stop them. The death-obsessed teen is taken with the older woman's lust for life, leading him to examine why it is that he stages his own demise for fun. It's unexpected then, when Maude reveals to Harold on her 80th birthday that she's purposely taken an overdose of sleeping pills, having no intention of getting any older. She put an expiration date on her life and holds herself to it, and there's nothing Harold can do but remember her.
Ricky Baker, Boyz n the Hood
Ricky Baker (Morris Chestnut) is a high school quarterback with a promising future. A college football scholarship will get him out of Crenshaw, where gang disputes are heating up. But John Singleton's acclaimed drama isn't a fairy tale, just a realistic portrait of life in South Central L.A. in the '90s. So it's a future Ricky never sees: He's shot by a gang that's rival to his brother's and dies without knowing that he scored high enough on the SATs to qualify for financial aid.
Shelby Eatenton-Latcherie, Steel Magnolias
This tale of the bond that exists among several generations of Southern women is packed with quotable moments ("You know I love you more than my luggage"), but it's not all laughter and sunshine. Julia Roberts plays Shelby, a young woman with type 1 diabetes who is determined not to let her condition prevent her from being a mother. She never does fully recover from giving birth to her son, despite the kidney she gets from her devoted mother (Sally Field). But she dies having experienced something she dearly wanted, and her friends can't begrudge her that.
Brooks Hatlen, The Shawshank Redemption
Hope is the key theme of The Shawshank Redemption—another Stephen King adaptation set in a prison. Unfortunately, hope doesn't sustain all the characters as it does Andy (Tim Robbins) and Red (Morgan Freeman). Brooks Hatlen (James Whitmore), the oldest inmate and prison librarian, finds it impossible to cope in the real world after he's finally released. He hangs himself after sending a letter to his friends back at Shawshank, describing the overwhelming fear he felt living outside. And for more classic adaptations, here are 23 Amazing Books That Made Even Better Movies.
Robbie Turner and Cecilia Tallis, Atonement
The romance between the high-born Cecilia (Keira Knightley) and her housekeeper's son, Robbie (James McAvoy), is doomed by a lie and by World War II. Spurred on by both her wild imagination and her own crush on Robbie, 13-year-old Briony (Saiorse Ronan) comes to believe that Robbie raped her sister and their cousin, unable to process that one encounter she witnessed was consensual and that the other was a case of mistaken identity. Briony proves to be an unreliable narrator in the film, too. A scene where she apologizes to Robbie and Cecilia years later is her fiction; Robbie dies before Dunkirk is evacuated, and Cecilia perishes during the Blitz.
Cleo Sims, Frankie Sutton, and T.T. Williams, Set It Off
In this bank robbery thriller, four friends tired of the hand life has dealt them decide to steal a better one. But with the police closing in, their glory days can't last forever. Only one of the crew, Stony Newsom (Jada Pinkett Smith), makes it out alive. Her friends Cleo (Queen Latifah), Frankie (Vivica A. Fox), and T.T. (Kimberly Elise) all die while attempting to carry out what they intended to be their last job.
Fantine, Les Misérables
Life is no walk in the park for this tragic heroine of Victor Hugo's. Fantine (Anne Hathaway) has to give up her daughter for her own sake and is then fired from her factory job when her illegitimate child is discovered. She sells everything she can to stay alive and provide for her child: her teeth, her hair, and finally, her body. Valjean (Hugh Jackman) is able to give her the comfort of knowing that her daughter will be taken care of before she goes, and the audience gets Hathaway's crushing rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream."
Silas Trip, Glory
This Civil War film portrays the experience of black Union soldiers, who risked their lives without being sure whether or not the triumph of the North would even benefit them. Among the original characters created for the film is Silas Trip (Denzel Washington), a former slave who is bitterly realistic about what might await him after the end of the war. Still, he fights bravely, carrying the Union flag into battle at Ford Wagner, and he's shot dead not long after his Colonel, Robert Shaw (Matthew Broderick). And for more of the all-time greatest films, find out The Best Movie That Came Out the Year You Graduated, According to Critics.
Billy Flynn, The Champ
This boxing melodrama aims shamelessly for the heart, focusing on the relationship between washed-up boxer Billy (Jon Voight) and his son, T.J. (Ricky Schroder), who calls him "Champ." Despite being warned not to get back in the ring, Billy does it anyway to prove his worth to his kid. He collapses after he defeats his opponent, living just long enough to see T.J. one more time. If you can watch little Ricky Schroder tearfully imploring his dad to "wake up now" without shedding a tear, you're stronger than the rest of us.
Everyone, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
You don't have to be a math genius to work the numbers on Rogue One. An immediate prequel to A New Hope featuring characters who aren't present in the original trilogy? One guess what happens to them. Though they can't save themselves, Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen), K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed), and Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) do save the galactic uprising, successfully stealing the plans for the Death Star and beaming them to a certain rebel princess.
Neil Perry, Dead Poets Society
Inspired by his bombastic English teacher John Keating (Robin Williams), Neil (Robert Sean Leonard) resurrects the Dead Poets Society at his otherwise stuffy prep school. But his love of literature and performance isn't supported by his father, who is determined that Neil go to medical school. Neil goes against his father's wishes and takes the stage as Puck in the school's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, but that results in him being pulled out of Welton Academy. Rather than go to military school, Neil takes his own life with his father's gun.
Rufio (Dante Basco) is the Lost Boy who steps up to lead when Peter Pan decides to leave Neverland and grow up. He barely recognizes their old captain when the middle-aged Peter Banning (Robin Williams) returns and asks for help in finding his children, who were taken by Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman). Rufio is hostile to Peter at first, making fun of him for his age and everything he's forgotten about their home. But Peter proves himself, and Rufio acknowledges his authority. Hook stabs Rufio fatally during the battle to rescue the Banning kids. As Rufio dies in Peter's arms, he tells Peter he wishes that he had had a dad like him.
The Iron Giant, The Iron Giant
Kind of like a boy-and-his-dog story—if the dog were actually a 50-foot robot—The Iron Giant has a lot to say about humans' capacity for violence and fear of the unknown. Though he was most likely intended to be a weapon, the Iron Giant (Vin Diesel) found by nine-year-old Hogarth Hughes (Eli Marienthal) is gentle, protective, and curious. Their friendship leads the Giant to shoot himself up into the sky to intercept a military missile, completely destroying himself but saving Hogarth and his town. The Iron Giant does have a happy ending to offer, though: The Giant can be seen restoring himself in the final scene, and it can only be assumed that he'll end up back with his buddy.
Radio Raheem, Do the Right Thing
It's the death of Radio Raheem (Bill Nunn) that takes a match to the tension that simmers beneath the unbearably hot Brooklyn summer of Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing. Named for the boombox he carries, Radio Raheem is killed by police after a fight breaks out in Sal's, the Italian-American pizza shop where Lee's Mookie works and frequently clashes with the owner's racist son (John Turturro). The unjust murder inspires Mookie to throw a trash can through the window of the pizzeria, leading to the full-scale uprising that has been building throughout the film. And for more memorable movie moments, revisit these 23 Movies With Shocking Twist Endings We're Still Not Over.