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Movies That Kill Off the Main Character

Discussion in 'The Moving Picture' started by Bruce Wayne, Apr 16, 2012.

  1. Does anyone else for the most part dislike movies that spend the whole time making you like the main character & then turn around & off them? Some movies that do this I am okay with. Such as depp playing Dillinger in Public Enemies. I knew going into it how it was going to end. Then there is Cagney in White Heat. He played a gangster so chances were good that he wasn't going to see the end of the movie.

    Then there are movies such as Road to Perdition. The whole movie I thought Tom Hanks was the main character. Then at the end after he was shot I realized the real main character was his son who he was trying to keep from having to have the same life that he had.

    Thoughts? Comments?

  2. DesertDan

    DesertDan One Too Many

    I don't mind as long as it is well done and makes sense in regards to the plot.
  3. John Wayne was a central figure in The Cowboys. I guess the boys were the main characters but Bruce Dern sure earned his stripes by killing the Duke in that one. I guess in The Shootist, the main character had to die but at least he didn't let the cancer take him....
    I think it all depends on the story they are telling. Not all stories end with the hero riding off into the sunset......
  4. Sometimes it's the only possible way to resolve the plot. There can be no happily-ever-after ending for King Kong.
  5. . . . or Mighty Joe Young.
  6. "The Wrestler" (to cite a more recent example) ended exactly the way it should have. Adios, lead character.
  7. Edward

    Edward Bartender

    I agree. Nothing ruins a good film more than a senseless, shoe-horned in "happy" ending.
  8. A couple of examples come to mind

    One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
  9. "Broken Blossoms" -- *both* lead characters die. Emphatically.
  10. Rathdown

    Rathdown Practically Family

    Saving Private Ryan...
  11. DNO

    DNO One Too Many

    Gallipoli. Archy's fate was a stunner, but essential to the 'message' of the film.

    The same was true for Lt Terrien's fate in Intimate Enemies, or Morant's demise in Breaker Morant. Sometimes the death of the main character is essential to the film.
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2012
  12. And there's also "Greed" (1924) -- All three of the main characters die in the film. The miserly Trina (ZaSu Pitts) is murdered for her gold by her husband McTeague (Gibson Gowland) and then in a fight to the death in the middle of the desert McTeague kills his former friend and sworn enemy Marcus Schouler (Jean Hersholt). But before he dies Marcus manages to handcuff himself to McTeague who, stranded in the desert with no water, also presumably dies. The movie ends with McTeague staring bleakly at Marcus's body.


    Last edited: Apr 17, 2012
  13. Stearmen

    Stearmen I'll Lock Up

    The Sand Pebbles

    Steve McQueen in The Sand Pebbles.
  14. Edward

    Edward Bartender


    A Simple Plan, Gran Torino too.

    I love it when a studio has the nerve to stick with an ending that is fitting to the story, rather than butchering it for the same of some cheap and easy "happy" ending. For examples of the latter, see Breakfast at Tiffany's, and Little Shop of Horrors.
  15. But doesn't Mighty Joe live happily ever after?
  16. cbrunt

    cbrunt One of the Regulars

  17. DesertDan

    DesertDan One Too Many

    My favorite;
    John Carpenter's - The Thing
  18. bunnyb.gal

    bunnyb.gal Practically Family

    What came to mind when I saw the title of the thread were Psycho and Scream (I was thinking you meant films that killed off a "lead" or "star" before the end, as a plot device).

    Reservoir Dogs
    Operation: Daybreak (based on a true story, to boot)
    Requiem for a Heavyweight - the main character doesn't die, but it's as if...the main character's soul dies at the end of that film
  19. bunnyb.gal

    bunnyb.gal Practically Family

    Love it...often after seeing that film my brain turns around how those two could possibly survive...(The Thing, part 2...nah!)
  20. It's not certain that he dies though. It's left to the imagination, is it not?

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