The Most Controversial Deaths In Sci-Fi Movies, Ranked

Voting Rules
Vote up the deaths in sci-fi movies that made you genuinely upset.

Death scenes are part and parcel of sci-fi moviemaking. The dramatic stakes of science fiction are usually higher than traditional drama, so having beloved characters perish in one way or another is just kind of how it all goes. That doesn't mean these deaths always come without controversy, however. Some sci-fi movie deaths illicit fan outcry for various reasons, while others just make audiences really sad.

Maybe a true cinematic icon dies more than 30 years after debuting, causing emotional anguish for audiences everywhere (looking at you, Han Solo and Luke Skywalker). Maybe a character is given an unceremonious death while others in the same film are celebrated beyond belief (hello, Black Widow). Maybe some characters are killed off at the beginning of a sequel without a second thought (Hicks and Newt in Alien 3 come to mind). No matter the reason, we want you to vote up those sci-fi film deaths that just hit you a little bit harder than you'd ever expected.

  • While the cultural divide between critics and moviegoers over the quality of The Last Jedi only appears to be widening with age, there is one aspect of fan outrage that is pretty easy to understand: Luke Skywalker's portrayal. That isn't to say Skywalker's characterization in The Last Jedi doesn't make sense. If anything, Luke's dismissal of the Force provides some intriguing moments of introspection for Mark Hamill to play around with and his own character arc to go through in the film. Though Hamill himself has voiced displeasure over The Last Jedi, turning Luke into a new version of Obi-Wan would've been pretty boring.

    Of course, Luke Skywalker is a literal icon to millions of people around the world, so seeing him momentarily think about killing his nephew, subsequently turn his back on the Force, initially refuse to train Rey, and ultimately fade away into nothingness at the end of the movie was always going to ruffle the feathers of numerous fans. Does that mean Rian Johnson and company were wrong to take Luke down that road? We'll let you be the judge on that one.

    249 votes
  • After the outrageous success of Alien and Aliens, Fox's extraterrestrial film series was riding an obscene high. The first movie set the bar for sci-fi/horror while the sequel upped the ante for sci-fi/action seven years later. So, when it came time for the third picture to be released, fans certainly were hyped up to see what they'd get on screen this time around. Though unreachable, lofty expectations are often a film's worst enemy, Alien 3 didn't do itself any favors from the jump in some fans' eyes.

    Having the survivors of Aliens crash-land on the barren planet/correctional facility of Fiorina 161 proved to be an intriguing premise, but killing off Hicks and Newt before anything even happened was quite the misstep, at least in the eyes of fans. The 12-year-old Newt gave Ripley something to fight for outside of herself - and who doesn't love a little Michael Biehn every now and then? Fans of The TerminatorTombstone, and The Rock, raise your hands. Alien 3 has a ton of other problems to contend with, but kicking things off by doing away with two vital characters from the last movie isn't the easiest pill to swallow for fans you're hoping to win over.

    183 votes
  • Diehard Star Wars fans knew, deep in their heart of hearts, that this one was coming from the moment Harrison Ford was announced for The Force Awakens. Indiana Jones himself has been arguing for decades that Solo should've died in Return of the Jedi - so was it really all that shocking that everyone's favorite smuggler bit the dust via lightsaber wound? That being said, the Star Wars franchise has a massive amount of casual fans who probably didn't see that death coming. The Force Awakens was a phenomenon upon release, meaning everyone and their mother saw it.

    Killing off a beloved character like Han Solo was always going to be controversial, but doing it more than three decades after the last time he was on screen? Grandparents took their grandchildren to see The Force Awakens, extolling the virtues of Han Solo after his prominent inclusion in marketing materials, only to have him perish before the credits rolled. Star Wars may be pretty family-friendly, but "wars" is right there in the title... a little bloodshed should be expected, right? Some fans were alright with Solo moving on if that's what it took to get Ford back in the role, but others will most likely never get over it.

    228 votes
  • Marvel Studios had a lot of film to cram into a three-hour runtime, and though the Russo brothers and company did a fantastic job bringing Avengers: Endgame to the screen, that doesn't mean it is a perfect movie. And - along with the pandering "A-Force" moment - the death of Black Widow has proven to be a sticking point for some Marvel fans. Scarlett Johansson herself has said she's received "mixed reactions" about Black Widow's demise in Endgame. It's not hard to see why, with a little bit of context. Both Tony Stark and Steve Rogers are given their moments in the sun after the climax of the film has ended.

    Iron Man gets a huge funeral scene while Captain America finally gets to go back in time and live the life he always wanted with Peggy Carter. And what does Black Widow get for sacrificing herself so the Avengers could get their hands on the Soul Stone? Well, um, Hawkeye got pretty choked up about it and the Hulk threw a bench pretty far. That was kind of it. Even the Black Widow film only gave a few moments of its time to pay homage to Natasha Romanoff in a post-credits scene with Yelena Belova. Perhaps Hawkeye will close the book on the Widow for good?

    210 votes
  • The deaths of Wash and Book in Serenity weren't really all that surprising. Joss Whedon is known for killing off characters in unexpected ways in pretty much everything he does. So, if the man making decisions is well-known for doing away with characters in all of his major works, doesn't that take all of the shock out of their deaths? Everything from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel to Dollhouse and The Avengers fulfills this Whedon trope. Heck, Quicksilver basically taunts the audience as he gives up the ghost in Avengers: Age of Ultron when he proclaims, "You didn't see that coming?"

    That being said, killing off not one but two characters from the short-lived cult-classic television series Firefly in the 2005 big-screen continuation Serenity was just a little bit of a slap in the face to the fandom. Especially in the case of Shepherd Book. Ron Glass's Book proved to be one of the more interesting characters of the television series, but when it was time for the crew of the Serenity to do a little misbehavin' in theaters, the mysterious Shepherd hardly got to do anything but die. While Wash's demise was more abrupt, at least he got to pal around with everyone for the whole film. 

    122 votes
  • So, John Krasinski is Jim Halpert. Given how stupidly popular The Office remains to this very day, that means John Krasinski is Jim Halpert to millions of people across the globe. No matter how many movies and television shows the actor shows up in, he will always be Jim Halpert. With that in mind, you can see why a whole mess of people found the death of Krasinski's character in A Quiet Place to be quite a harrowing experience.

    To be fair, A Quiet Place is a fantastic movie and Lee Abbott's sacrifice to save his family is done so well, it is difficult to have any problems with his demise from a narrative or technical point of view. Alas, human beings are anything but rational and that was their beloved Jim Halpert (with a great, big bushy beard) who was killed. Some people see a dying John Krasinski on screen and all they can think about is what Pam would do without him in her life.

    131 votes