Surprise! You’re Dead: Top 10 Unexpected Movie Deaths!


Every so often you’ll be watching a movie and all of a sudden somebody gets clipped. It’s a surprise for the viewer and generally more of a surprise for the movie character. Sometimes you might get tipped off a half second before the action takes place, but sometimes it comes out of the blue.

I decided to put together my list of top ten list surprises. It’s an utterly eclectic selection of memorable scenes from movies I’ve watched over the past several years. Just when you thought everything was Kool and the Gang . . . .you’re dead!

“Uh Oh, No Soda.”

This one of the early scenes in the atrocious, yet enjoyable Stephen King adaptation of “Trucks” called “Maximum Overdrive”. The basic premise is that a meteor passes by the Earth and all of the machines come to life and kill off their human oppressors. A little league softball game takes a break while the coach strolls over to a pop machine to get some refreshments for the kids. It has apparently malfunctioned after taking his money yet not producing any pops. He bangs and kicks it, but still no pop. He steps back a few feet to peer into the slot.

The first pop can shoots out at some absurd speed, nailing him square in the crotch. He doubles over and gets shot in the stomach. Sinking to his knees, his face is now in line with the dispensing slot. A great POV shot from the angle of the vending machine is used as the final killing can catches Coach right in the forehead, leaving a bloody circular impression about the size of the bottom of a pop can. I thought vending machines worked on some sort of gravity feed but Stephen King has proved me wrong.

Put a Fork in Him, He’s Done.

In the recent movie “Drive”, there is a scene towards the end where Bernie and Nino are discussing how to take care of business from here on in. The job’s gone wrong and they decide they need to get rid of everyone who knows anything. Cook happens to be in the room with them and he’s also unfortunately part of the team. In a brilliantly choreographed scene, Nino and Bernie decide on Cooks fate with no verbal communication. With just a few subtle facial movements and body language, Cook’s fate is determined.

The lack of dialogue and simple body language is pretty intense and gives us about half a second’s warning. Cook doesn’t even see this coming, pardon the pun, as Bernie comes at him from behind and stabs him in the eye with a fork. Not quite finished there, he grabs a huge kitchen knife and buries it to the hilt in Cooks neck. And then a few more times just for good measure. It’s a blinding flash of violence that is juxtaposed with the slow pace of the last few minutes of this great scene.

Road Kill

This one is from the movie “Taken”. Peter is one of the henchmen involved with kidnapping girls. Bryan (Liam Neeson) confronts him in a cab outside the airport. He kindly asks for information, but Peter is not forthcoming. Getting dragged out of the car by Peter’s accomplice gives Peter a few moments to run away – the wrong way up an off ramp.

At the top of the ramp in a move of sheer desperation, he jumps to the highway below, timing his landing on the top of a truck and rolling off to the pavement below. He looks up at Bryan, who is standing motionless, unable to make the jump.
“Man, that was close, almost got caught by . . . .”  A blue truck appears out of nowhere and puts an end to that foot chase.

Rooftop Dive

Before Matt Dillon got all cute and cuddly with “There’s Something About Mary”, he played a pretty decent villain in the 1991 version of “A Kiss Before Dying”. High on the roof of a building, Jonathan makes Dorothy sit on the ledge of the building. Looking down, she has seen a skylight roughly 20 stories below.

He briefly asks about her shoes before saying, “I’m sorry, Dorry. You only have yourself to blame.” Then shoves her over the side. She plummets 20 stories, through the skylight, then into what appears to be the lobby of the building. Some great camera work when her head makes contact with the tile, spraying blood and brain matter over an innocent bystander.

Oh Man, I Shot Marvin in the Face.

Pulp Fiction has some great moments, but none as good as this. Vincent and Jules are driving with Marvin in the backseat. They are having a philosophical debate about God’s intervention into the shooting that just took place back at the apartment. Vincent turns, resting his massive handgun on the back of the seat, to ask Marvin’s opinion. Just at the end of the question, the gun accidentally goes off, plastering Marvin’s brains all over the back window.


Dario Argento made some fantastic movies. Opera is no exception. The scene that stands out in this one (aside from the crow eating the eyeball) is where Betty is tied up by the murderer who tapes needles under her eyes, so she can’t blink. Her boyfriend comes back from making her a cup of tea to find her tied up. Confused, he slowly approaches her. As he gets close, a knife is thrust up into his neck so deep it ends up in his mouth. He drops to his knees and then gets absolutely butchered. Sadly, he gets killed to horrible 80s rock music which I don’t think he saw coming either.

Alien Chest Burst

This one has to be on the list because this scene was a total surprise for everyone in the room. The whole crew of the ship is sitting around the table having a meal. Everyone is in good spirits and Kane seems to have suffered no ill effects from his encounter with the “Face hugger”. Happy team, bonding together, breaking bread . . . .until Kane starts to cough and convulse, ending up on his back on the table as the alien punches through his chest and escapes into the ship. What a terrible way to end a meal.

Los Bastardos (The Bastards, 2008)

Most movies have elements of hope, aspiration, glory or triumph. This one wallows in misery and suffering. There is no redemption here at all. From the beginning it feels oppressive and hopeless. There are two elements of surprise that happen here. I need to set this one up a little bit. What’s important here is that the timing of this movie is incredibly slow. I mean really slow; the opening scene is one long shot of Fausto and Jesus walking down an empty flash flood catch basin. It takes 4 minutes – that’s practically an entire MTV video.

The first surprise is when Fausto blasts Karen with a shotgun. We know its coming because that’s what he was hired to do. However, the pacing is so slow that we don’t really ever expect to see it happen. When it does, it’s a complete shock as it’s such a huge contrast to the rest of the movie. Karen’s teenage son is really a non character in the movie – he simply isn’t there. Except near the end where he blows away Jesus. We don’t even see him until after Jesus is killed. Swift, uber-violence contrasted against the plodding pace is what makes this one so good.

Oh No, Not Leo!

I found The Departed to be just OK, nothing really stood out for me except one scene. The elevator door opens as Marky Mark, formerly of the Funky Bunch, is talking to Leo Decaprio. The doors slide open and suddenly Leo’s head disappears in a red mist. Poor Leo, he didn’t survive the sinking of the Titanic either.

Gas Station

I’m still undecided on the movie “Rubber”; I just don’t know what to make of it. One thing is for certain; it’s a highly unusual premise. A used tire comes to life and kills people with psychokinetic powers. What? Don’t over-think it. One of my favorite scenes is where the older guy accidentally hits the tire off the road with his truck. It catches up with him later at a gas station. And it’s pissed. The guy gets in his truck and closes the door to find the tire sitting outside his door, seemingly staring at him. The tire starts to shake and suddenly the guy’s head simply explodes.  A lot of work went into this scene and a good amount of blood that was liberally sprayed around the inside of the cab.

That’s my list – let me know if something else should be included!


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      1. Bill Chapman July 4, 2012 at 7:40 am

        first off your a complete joke for nt liking the departed … second of all its not mark wahlberg aka marky mark who hes tlaking to in the elavator when he gets blown away its mad damon you retard no wonder you dont like the movie you know nothing about it……. and as for a surprising death samuel jackson in deep blue sea later moron

        • Weston Pope August 12, 2012 at 1:42 am

          when you can’t write a cohesive sentence or spell MATT correctly, don’t call other people retards. and for the record, The Departed sucked. 

        • Joshua 'Ikarai' Hawke August 27, 2012 at 12:11 am

          I just want to agree with Weston here. Don’t call people retards when, by the way you talk, you just sound like an illiterate, good-for-nothing piece of trash.

          The Departed really sucked, too. Highly disappointed.

        • Diane Champion Brocker September 9, 2012 at 2:12 am

          it’s “you’re” “talking” “elevator” “Matt” name calling makes you sound like you’re in jr high.

        • Carlos June 4, 2013 at 9:28 pm

          In the first few scenes of Meet Joe Black I was completely caught off guard when Brad Pitt’s character was hit by not one but two cars while looking at the girl he just had the long conversation with. He is tossed like a ragdoll as the latter of the two cars makes him airborne. I was surprised this one was not on the list. It definitely surprised me.

      2. Corrin Green July 6, 2012 at 11:49 am

        If you’ve seen Pitch black (the GOOD Riddick movie) you probably know about the death of the lead actress at the very end of the film. It’s genuinely surprising and not just because it comes at a moment when you least expect it. At first it appears that the injured Riddick (who she is currently rescuing) has accidentally stabbed her with the shiv that he’s holding by his side. however just a moment later she’s propelled into the sky, dragged into the dark night by one of the flying piranha-like bat monsters. It caught me off guard and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

        Disregard the guy above, (randomly Raging jackass…) he’s correct about it being MATT Damon but it’s honestly irrelevant anyway. I don’t agree that Samuel L’s death in deep blue sea was surprising though. most people saw it coming. I know I did. He stands directly next to a porthole that we JUST SAW a shark in. People were genuinely surprised that he was killed? Wow.

      3. Nguyen Stéphane July 7, 2012 at 12:27 pm

        poor Bullet-tooth Tony in Snatch …

        • Trent Dorkmen August 25, 2012 at 8:44 pm

          This is a bad list. It is not a misspelling he doesn’t even know which actor played which role. The Departed didn’t suck, other than Pulp Fiction and The Departed this list is made up of a lot of horrible movies. Who cares

        • Jezzer August 27, 2012 at 12:56 pm

          Obviously you do, since you took the time to sneer at it.

      4. Matthew Old July 7, 2012 at 8:02 pm

        How about Walsh in Serenity? Talk about just… boom. Gone.

        • Jim Laca January 27, 2014 at 3:19 am

          Completely agree. That death caught me completely off guard. Loved his character.

      5. ArtfulEric July 9, 2012 at 12:06 am

        Also, the blinding-fast conclusion of To Live And Die in L.A. where both hero William Peterson (Chance) and villain William Dafoe (Masters) are blown away in under 10 seconds. Oops, I spoilered the movie.

      6. Jezzer July 13, 2012 at 9:26 pm

        Bus out of Nowhere, in “Final Destination.”

        • Joshua 'Ikarai' Hawke August 27, 2012 at 12:12 am

          Not to mention the pane of glass, and the pipe through the back of the head.

        • NCBrian November 27, 2012 at 10:25 pm

          no way – every death in the Final Destination movies is supposed to be “out of nowhere” so much so that you’re expecting all of them.

      7. Nick Schiller August 1, 2012 at 1:40 am

        Deep Blue Sea, Samuel Motherfucking Jackson gets eatin by the Motherfucking Shark

        • Teats January 13, 2013 at 12:53 pm

          Nuff said.

        • Jim Laca January 27, 2014 at 3:23 am

          Saw it coming. All black people die in horror films. /s

          Except House on a Haunted Hill. But then again, he may have died on that ledge.

      8. GothicBelle August 10, 2012 at 2:50 am

        What about Brad Pitt in Burn After Reading. Totally was not expecting that!   OR  Drew Barrymore in Scream

        • ORen_Ishii August 17, 2012 at 10:43 pm

          Yes, Burn After Reading!

        • Teats January 13, 2013 at 12:53 pm

          How about Brad Pitt in Meet Joe Black, Did not expect that from a chick flick.

      9. ORen_Ishii August 17, 2012 at 10:46 pm

        How about The Forgotten, when the black lady explaining things to Julianne Moore gets sucked into the sky out of nowhere?

        • Joshua 'Ikarai' Hawke August 27, 2012 at 12:07 am

          Yes, that one made me jump! We had no idea it was coming, that was pure genius.

      10. Pablo Reyna August 20, 2012 at 12:47 pm

        I was shocked when Jullian Moore died in Children of Men

      11. Marianne Hord August 22, 2012 at 11:22 pm

        To add…Leo Di Caprio in The Departed. I mean the elevator doors open…and bam…shot dead.

      12. lowman September 5, 2012 at 11:07 am

        What about Ellen Page (Boltie)’s death in the film Super? Totally unexpected and extremely brutal!

        • Kyle Thompson October 18, 2012 at 7:11 pm


        • NCBrian November 27, 2012 at 10:35 pm


      13. Sara Regan October 7, 2012 at 2:20 pm

        Christina Hendricks in Drive!

      14. Ike October 8, 2012 at 4:10 am

        Obviously not a character, but the poor kitty cat in The Boondock Saints that gets blown away by Rocco. Classic.

        • NCBrian November 27, 2012 at 10:35 pm

          haha – yep

      15. Mr Renton October 11, 2012 at 11:33 pm

        Steven Segal in Executive Decision

        • Charles Baggett November 18, 2012 at 2:05 am

          A very pleasant surprise that one. All his movies would be better if he died suddenly ten minutes into each and every one of them.

      16. Nicole Johnson October 20, 2012 at 6:30 pm

        Jeepers Creepers & the Mist!! I hate the ending!!!

        • Jim Laca January 27, 2014 at 3:27 am

          The Mist. What a shitfest that ending was. “Let me waste my entire group, including my kid, because we ran out of gas.”

      17. Oscar Luján November 3, 2012 at 5:16 am

        Now Matt Damon is Marky Mark,,,, pfffffff

      18. NCBrian November 27, 2012 at 10:34 pm

        great list! i saw the title of this and i immediately thought “i shot marvin in the face”

        glad to see it included :-)

        what about bill murray in zombieland ;-p

        as for serious suggestions: clooney shooting brad pitt in burn after reading about made me swallow my tongue

        also Assault On Precinct 13and deep blue sea

      19. JoshW December 14, 2012 at 7:14 pm

        The cat in Boondock saints…
        The skateboard kid that pasted by the bus out of no-where in End of Days…

      20. Jack Dawson December 19, 2012 at 8:11 pm

        what about “aim for the bushes” in the other guys?

      21. Glenn Griffith January 5, 2013 at 6:39 am

        How how Executive Decision where Steven Seagal dies in like the first 15 minutes? I about passed out. LOL

      22. Sebastian Michaelis January 9, 2013 at 4:06 pm

        The father’s decapitation scene at the end of “Phenomena” (AKA Creepers).

      23. Anonymouse January 18, 2013 at 2:02 am

        How about the invisible horseman in The Three Amigos

      24. Stephanie January 28, 2013 at 1:03 am

        What about Thelma and Louise in… Thelma and Louise?
        Didn’t expect them to give up LIKE THAT!

      25. James Larner February 7, 2013 at 5:54 pm

        What about the original surprise death – psycho?

      26. troy February 16, 2013 at 8:29 pm

        Wrong Turn 4, the double decap scene at the very end…wow

      27. mike February 17, 2013 at 5:38 pm

        Planet terror had a very unexpected death.when the little boy mother gave him a gun and said if anybody comes to the car shoot them. Moments later he shot himself in the face.. lol.. it was shocking and hilarious at the same damn time.

      28. MPetruniani February 20, 2013 at 6:02 am

        Where’s red dawn with Chris Hemsworth?

      29. Rob February 23, 2013 at 11:30 am

        The judge in Law Abiding Citizen,

      30. mojoschmee February 28, 2013 at 8:25 pm

        I vote for Drew Barrymore in Scream. The whole marketing for the movie at release had listed her as the lead character, then wham, ten minutes in and she’s hanging from a tree… Quintessential surprise death.

      31. Al March 10, 2013 at 2:01 am

        How about DeNero in 15 Seconds. His name was above the damn title and they offed him 12 thru the film.

        • Al March 10, 2013 at 2:03 am

          Sorry, meant to say “1/2 way thru the film.”

      32. whatwouldseando April 9, 2013 at 1:59 pm

        How did this awesome scene from an awful movie not make the list? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=waRRmXtw8VY

        • Herner Klenthur April 9, 2013 at 11:24 pm

          I will give Carrion hell for it :)

      33. Edwin Sallan April 9, 2013 at 11:53 pm

        How can you forget Brad Pitt’s horrible and totally unexpected death in Meet Joe Black?

        • Herner Klenthur April 9, 2013 at 11:55 pm

          Good call. Thanks for the suggestion I will be sure to give Carrion hell for this as well :)

      34. V April 10, 2013 at 8:56 pm

        Any of you above who thought The Departed was just okay should re-evaluate their lives and not watch movies anymore unless you like piles of shit

      35. Cody April 24, 2013 at 8:03 pm

        At the end of Paranah when the dude get eaten right as he says the fish were all dead

      36. Bella Stone April 28, 2013 at 11:37 am

        serenity; “i am a leaf on the wind………..”

      37. Allister Cooper May 21, 2013 at 9:54 am

        Interesting list! But dude…Dude! Where oh where is Samuel L Jackson’s position in Deep Blue Sea, where he was making that speech near the pool? He was talking about ice and…you know… :).

      38. SDWriter May 23, 2013 at 8:33 pm

        Godfather Part III, where the guy stripped of every weapon before entering the room kills a target with his own glasses. The Grifters, where Anjelica Huston’s angry swing of a briefcase breaks John Cusack’s glass and drives shards into his neck. Boba Fett. William H. Macy in Boogie Nights. Chris Penn bashing in the girl’s skull in Short Cuts. Plus Meet Joe Black, Psycho, Burn After Reading, Final Destination (the decapitation by flying debris ONLY), already mentioned.

      39. George June 15, 2013 at 5:51 am

        seriously, no ralph fiennes in Hurt Locker?

        • Kyle July 13, 2013 at 5:41 am

          No seriously the cat from the Boondock Saints

      40. kevin January 26, 2014 at 9:23 pm

        Miles Dyson in Terminator 2