Heartbreaking Moments When Characters Realize They're Not Going To Make It

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Vote up the most emotional final moments of characters who know they're done for.

It happens in action films, comic book movies, and super heavy dramas - scenes where a character realizes that they're going to die. Some of these characters greet the Reaper like an old friend; others run in terror. Every single one of these scenes is absolutely heartbreaking.

There's nothing more upsetting than watching a beloved character lose their life. So what if they sacrifice themselves for the good of humanity or to save their closest friend? Audiences don't want to watch any of these characters drift out of existence. Each of the moments included here involve characters who know they're going to perish. Some of them include the saddest last words heard in film; others just show characters facing death with stoicism.


  • Has an MCU character undergone such a major change in as few movies as Yondu? When we meet him in Guardians of the Galaxy, he's a Ravager leader who kidnapped Peter Quill from Earth and taught him to be a thief. He's sort of a secondary antagonist, but he has a change of heart by the end of the movie and helps Quill and his crew defeat Ronan. And with Michael Rooker behind the makeup, it's hard not to like him.

    In the second film in the series, Yondu is down and out for the whole "kidnapping a child" thing, and he's placed in a Ravager prison. Yondu escapes with the help of Rocket and Baby Groot and races to help Quill defeat his father, Ego the Living Planet. Quill and his crew take out Ego like the bosses they are, but after Ego's demise, Quill loses his Celestial abilities and drifts into space to perish. Yondu sacrifices himself by giving Quill his lone breathing device before telling the Star-Lord that Ego may have been his biological father, but it was Yondu who raised him. And then he freezes to death in the vacuum of space. This isn't just a brutal way to go - it hits home for everyone in the audience.

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  • The cruel trick that Leon: The Professional plays on the audience is leading everyone to believe that Leon is going to get out of the movie safe and sound. After taking care of Mathilda, a young girl whose entire family was offed by a dirty DEA agent, he helps her get revenge against said DEA agent, Norman Stansfield.

    Leon's strike leads him to go to war with an effing SWAT team, and he rocks their world by playing dirty and doing whatever he can to stay alive. He even goes so far as to strip one of the members of the SWAT team of their gear so he can get out of his apartment building. That plan almost works. Leon is literally at the entryway to his building when Stansfield shoots him in the back and rocks him with a hail of gunfire. It's horrible, but it's at this moment that Leon knows he's not going to make it. Rather than bleed out and leave Mathilda to the wolves, he pulls a pin from a vest made of grenades that he's wearing on his chest and hands it to Stansfield before saying, "This is from Mathilda." It's rare that a movie that rocks this hard is also so emotionally fulfilling.

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  • Held in captivity by the Ten Rings in Afghanistan, Ho Yinsen is a world-renowned scientist who's given the responsibility of taking care of Tony Stark. Pre-Iron Man Stark is no treat to care for. He's a jerk with a messed-up ticker that requires intense work to save his life. 

    During their time in captivity, the two men grow close as they're tasked with building a Jericho missile for the Ten Rings. Rather than build the missile, Yinsen helps Stark construct the first prototype for the Iron Man suit so they can escape their captors.

    When it comes time for the duo to escape, it becomes clear that the Mark I Armor can't be powered up while they hold off the terrorists. Yinsen realizes the only way Stark can get out of captivity alive is to give his life by charging headfirst at the terrorists. After Yinsen is riddled with bullets, he uses his final breaths to tell Stark that he can't go on wasting his life - especially since Yinsen gave his life so Stark can live.

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  • Everyone knows that Spock returns from the grave in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, but in 1982, audiences were distraught in the final moments of Wrath of Khan. The second in a long run of Star Trek films is a fan favorite for a ton of reasons, but the one that's easiest to pinpoint is that it's a fun action film with one of the most recognizable villains in the franchise - Khan.

    In the film, Khan wants to use the Genesis Device as a doomsday weapon on anyone who gets in his way. You see, the Genesis Device can bring life to a dead planet, but it also has the side effect of destroying everything in its path if it's used on a planet that's thriving. The crew of the Enterprise puts the kibosh on Khan's plan, but not before their warp drive totally gives up. The only way to fix the warp drive is for someone to go inside the radiation-flooded engine room and make manual changes.

    Spock acts without thinking and goes so far as to immobilize the ship's doctor when he tries to stop the Vulcan. In the final moments of his life, he tells Captain Kirk, his closest friend and confidant, that there's no need to grieve because it's only logical that he sacrifice himself. Even though this was retconned two years later, the scene can still bring a Trekkie to tears.

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  • Armageddon tells the story of a group of roughnecks who are tasked with destroying a comet that's heading towards Earth. If they don't blow it up before it reaches a specific point in space, then it's curtains for us all. Harry Stamper leads the team of oil drillers into space and everything pretty much goes to plan until it's time to set off the explosives designed to destroy the giant rock.

    Initially, A.J. Frost offers to manually detonate the explosives, but there's no way that Stamper is going to let his daughter's boyfriend leave her alone on Earth, so he pushes Frost into an airlock and goes about detonating the explosives himself. Before sacrificing his life to save the world, Stamper speaks to his daughter, Grace, via video link so he can tell her that he loves her and that he'll be watching out for her. As heartbreaking as that is, it's not even the saddest part of the scene. The waterworks really start flowing right before Stamper ignites the explosives. He says to himself, "We win, Gracie," and he blows himself and the rock to kingdom come.

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  • When the audience meets Frank, a cab driver, and his daughter, Hannah, they've been dealing with an infected England for a solid month, but Frank still hasn't lost his faith in humanity. He's such a good guy that when he meets Jim and Selena, two other survivors of the Rage virus, he invites them along to check out the military blockade in Manchester.

    The trip to Manchester is stressful, but it's hard not to feel positive about this quartet getting to safety. When they arrive at the blockade, it's been long abandoned. As Frank explores the blockade, a drop of infected blood drips into his eye, sealing his death warrant. Frank knows he's done for, and he uses his last shred of sanity to tell Hannah he loves her. This is easily the most brutal moment in the film, even compared to about 10 seconds later when Frank gets filled with lead. Watching a father say goodbye to his daughter isn't just painful - it's soul-crushing.

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