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12 Times Action Movie Characters Had To Make Impossible Decisions

List RulesVote up the truly impossible choices action movie characters had to force themselves to make.

Life's all about making tough decisions. And any action movie worth its salt is highly aware of that reality. What follows, then, is a compilation of impossible choices in movies presented to the lead characters - particular scenes where a character was compelled to make an agonizingly tough choice.

In some instances, these heroes were able to have their cake and eat it, too, figuratively speaking.

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  • It's basically the end of Old Yeller (1957) meets the demise of Trooper DeMarco (Scott Reiniger) in Dawn of the Dead (1978), but darn it if this moment from the 2007 adaptation of Richard Matheson's post-apocalyptic horror sci-fi adventure I Am Legend doesn't still get to you every time you watch it. 

    Virologist Robert Neville (Will Smith) and his beloved German shepherd Samantha number among the very, very few uninfected survivors of a horrific plague that has leveled the planet. The dynamic duo wanders around the eerie ruins of Manhattan by day and occasionally slays vampire-esque people and pooches by night (or in shadowy spaces during the day). Unfortunately, the fun has to come to an end when Sam is bitten by a pack of infected dogs. Before Sam can fully turn, Neville sings her "Three Little Birds" and puts her down. Watch at your own risk, people.

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    Tough decision?
  • As Shaun (Simon Pegg) and his friends and family barricade themselves in their favorite local bar, the Winchester, to ward off a horde of attacking zombies, they struggle with occasional breaches. Unfortunately, during one such instance, Shaun's mother Barbara (Penelope Wilton) is viciously bitten and slain by a zombie. 

    Knowing Barbara will come back zombified, David (Dylan Moran), the roommate of Shaun's ex-girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield), tries to shoot her in the head to prevent such a transformation. Shaun fights back at first, but eventually relegates himself to the reality that Barbara has to go. Of course, he's not going to let David do it.

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    Tough decision?
  • While aboard the USS Alabama, the ship's new executive officer, Lieutenant Commander Ron Hunter (Denzel Washington), struggles with a series of difficult decisions. The ship is navigating some dicey diplomatic territory while circling a post-USSR Russia embroiled in a civil conflict. Hunter at one point finds himself needing to demote and imprison the guy who hired him, Captain Frank Ramsey (Gene Hackman).

    One of the toughest choices Hunter must make arrives when a Russian submarine launches a torpedo into the Alabama, disabling its main propulsion system. To prevent the entire ship from sinking, Hunter must seal off the open deck quickly taking on water, the bilge bay, with sailors still inside. He does what he needs to do to save the most people possible.

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    Tough decision?
  • The Joker (Heath Ledger), in a twisted test of Batman's loyalty, gives the Dark Knight his own impossible task: He must choose between his longtime childhood friend/not-so-secret crush, assistant DA Rachel Dawes, and her boyfriend, heroic DA Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart).

    We all think we know where the loyalties of Batman (Christian Bale) lie - but there's the rub: The Joker has fed him false information, swapping out the locations of the two kidnapped crusading lawyers.

    To be fair, Batman and Gotham Police Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) split up, and Batman goes to the location where he has been told Rachel is, leaving Gordon and his team to save Dent. Of course, it's not like Commissioner Gordon is on the poster - we know there is a risk Gordon will not reach his target in time because Gotham's cops are not as efficient as the Dark Knight. Rachel perishes, and while Harvey winds up a bit worse for wear, he ultimately survives.

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    Tough decision?