12 Times Characters Sacrificed Themselves To Save The Day (But Didn't Actually Die)

Everybody loves a selfless movie character. Everybody loves a heroic sacrifice scene. They illicit something primal, something pure in moviegoers' hearts. After all, is there anything more heroic than saving the day by giving up your own life? Talk about paying the ultimate price! With that being said, there are numerous film characters who sacrifice their lives for others, merely to end up not dying in the end.

Iron Man takes a nuclear missile into outer space in The Avengers and lives to tell the tale. Dom Toretto tries to crash his car into a helicopter to save his "family" in Furious 7 and, somehow, doesn't die. Superman takes one for the team in Dawn of Justice, but it's all good as he's resurrected in Justice League. Let's take a look at some of the film sacrifices that ended up not being so sacrificial in the end.

  • Tony Stark has always been and will forever be a self-involved egotist. This was doubly true when Robert Downey Jr. brought him to life in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Iron Man of the comics has proven to be an overly confident billionaire from the very beginning, but Downey's version was more cocky and far more in-your-face with the nonchalant quips. "You're not the guy to make the sacrifice play," Steve Rogers tells him in The Avengers. Well, Tony certainly ended up proving Steve wrong in the end, huh?

    Not only did he give up his own life to snap Thanos and his horde away during the finale of Avengers: Endgame, but he also was willing to sacrifice himself to save millions of lives during the Battle of New York. When a nuke gets launched towards NYC during the climax of the original Avengers film, Stark takes it out to space through a wormhole. A seemingly one-way trip, he falls back down to Earth and stops breathing in the process. Until, you know, the Hulk yells loudly to wake the genius/billionaire/playboy/philanthropist out of his breathless stupor... somehow.

  • Captains Picard, Janeway, Pike, and Sisko undoubtedly have their fans, but there is only one James Tiberius Kirk. Well, that's not true. There are two: William Shatner and Chris Pine. Anyway, the point is that Kirk is the main character of the Star Trek reboot series and rivals Spock in name recognition. So, did anyone really think Paramount Pictures was willing to let J.J. Abrams and his brain trust of writers kill off old baby-blue eyes during the climax of Star Trek Into Darkness

    We're talking about the fate of a profitable blockbuster franchise with the quite handsome and quite famous Chris Pine at the helm. There was no way Kirk was truly a goner. Even though Into Darkness is, at its core, a remix of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and the scene was paying homage to the original Spock's demise at the end of that movie, Kirk was always going to come back. The captain takes on a whole bunch of radiation to save his ship, dying in the process... but McCoy figures out Khan's blood can bring him back to life! So he's brought back to life! Hooray!

  • The Fast & Furious films have become more and more ridiculous as the franchise has ballooned in popularity. With higher budgets and higher expectations come crazier ideas. This was the franchise that began as little more than a street-racing knockoff of Point Break, after all. Now, cars leap from building to building as if they were Autobots and take almost no damage from a grenade launcher in the process.

    Still, there is something hilariously ludicrous about Dom Toretto surviving the finale of Furious 7. He jumps his black Dodge Charger from a crumbling parking garage towards a helicopter with the intent of using a bag full of grenades to blow it (and himself) sky-high. Okay, so far, so normal, at least where Fast & Furious is concerned. However, the helicopter veers out of the way, Dom attaches the bag to the aircraft, and he then proceeds to take a massive crash where his car flips and lands on its roof. The Rock then shoots the grenades, the helicopter blows up, Dom is ultimately fine, and everything is chill! In reality, it is not.

  • Agent K Lets 'Edgar' Eat Him Alive In 'Men in Black'

    Does it count as a sacrifice if you figure you have a pretty good chance of getting out of it alive? When Vincent D'Onofrio's bug, using the alias "Edgar" from the human body he stole, finally reveals himself at the end of Men in Black, it's a gruesome sight for our secret, governmental agents. How are they going to stop this giant alien from leaving the planet with the only thing that is stopping the Earth from being obliterated by the Arquillians? He eats their massive guns immediately! There goes plan A.

    Of course, Agent K has a plan B. Although, it probably isn't what would've crossed your mind at first. His grand idea is to let Edgar eat him so he can "get [his] gun back." Edgar, being a murderous bug-alien from outer space, promptly chows down on K, giving him what he wants. Will Smith's Agent J gets the crap beaten out of him for a while until K retrieves his gun from inside the alien and shoots his way out. The plan worked! Granted, J and K would've been bug food after this had Dr. Laurel Weaver not been there to grab a gun and save them from being unwittingly eaten. But still!

  • Can we talk about the ending of Hot Fuzz for a second? Nick Angel and Danny Butterman do a solid job of kicking some serious butt, but they wouldn't have saved the day without some highly respected British actors. Seriously, how cool is it that we get to see the likes of Olivia Colman, Paddy Considine, and Rafe Spall team with our heroes to stop a massive, town-wide conspiracy spearheaded by Jim Broadbent and Timothy Dalton? Hot Fuzz is an action-comedy with an astonishingly high level of acting talent involved.

    Anyway, after all the carnage is said and done, our small-town cops are doing some celebratory paperwork back at the station. Little do they know, they've forgotten to apprehend one of the conspirators, who comes out from the back to take out Angel with a blunderbuss. Danny, being the man he is, immediately jumps in front of him, taking the full brunt of the gunfire. One year later, it's revealed Danny didn't succumb to his injuries and all is well. Still, what a selfless act! Danny Butterman is just about the best friend any guy could possibly have. Nick Angel is one lucky guy, that's for sure. Hot Fuzz is a pastiche of the action genre, sure, but it's got heart where it counts, like all of Edgar Wright's films do. 

  • Tolkien fans knew this wasn't the end of Gandalf. It may have been the end of Gandalf the Grey, but Gandalf the White would return in his stead. However, some of us were pretty young when The Fellowship of the Ring was released in theaters and hadn't yet read the books. Some reading this weren't even born when Fellowship hit the big screen, perish the thought. Devastation at the sight of Sir Ian McKellen plummeting to the depths with the Balrog doesn't even begin to cover it.

    That was it! The end of sweet, heroic Gandalf right before our very eyes! How would the fellowship go on without him? Well, The Two Towers followed not long after and the non-book readers in the crowd got to marvel at the wizard's return. Alas, the first theatrical trailer for The Two Towers spoiled this reveal for those who were unaware of Gandalf's eventual resurrection. Still, pretty solid stuff nonetheless.