11 Movies Where People Who Were Left For Dead Return For Some Bloodshed

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Vote up for the movies that featured a death-defying avenger who returned and exacted revenge in the most spectacular way.

“You should’ve gone for the head.” That’s the too-little-too-late advice Thanos tells Thor during the climax of Avengers: Infinity War. With Thor’s Stormbreaker ax buried in his chest, Thanos snaps his Infinity Gauntlet and lives to fight another day. In a lot of movies, we’ve seen this time and time and again. Whether it’s a good guy or a bad guy trying to finish someone off, no one ever goes for the old noggin. 

With revenge movies in particular, we’ve seen this trope - and other similar ones - play out in the opening scenes of many movies: The antagonist of the story often wounds the protagonist (or vice versa), almost killing them, but then flees the scene, never 100% sure they’ve defeated their foe. Of course, these left-for-dead characters often defy the odds stacked against them and come back for vengeance. Other times, in movies like The Crow or RoboCop, people actually do perish on-screen only to be revived for revenge thanks to some sort of supernatural phenomenon or technological enhancements. Another common revenge-movie plot device is when - whether it’s through deception or some sort of first-act cover-up - a character is often believed to be deceased, only to come back as a vengeful revenant years later. 

The list of movies below are all prime examples that perfectly prove that, even when a character is left for dead, thought to be dead, already dead, burnt to a crisp or, in the case of Kill Bill, even shot in the head, sometimes they come back…for payback. 

  • 1
    26 VOTES
    The Crow
    Photo: The Crow / Dimension Films

    "People once believed that when someone dies, a crow carries their soul to the land of the dead. But sometimes, something so bad happens that a terrible sadness is carried with it and the soul can't rest. Then sometimes, just sometimes, the crow can bring that soul back to put the wrong things right." That’s the monologue heard during the opening of The Crow as the camera swoops into the apartment of guitarist Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) and his fiancee Shelly Webster (Sofia Shinas). Eric lays lifeless in the streets below, clearly pushed out of his rooftop window, and a bruised and battered Shelly is seen barely alive as police investigate the crime scene. 

    One year later, a crow lands on Eric's grave, resurrecting him as a leather-clad supernatural avenger. One by one, he tracks down the four thugs who murdered him and his wife on the eve of their wedding. Unlike some of the other films on this list, where the heroes make miraculous recoveries and go on a revenge spree, The Crow is one of the best examples of a protagonist coming back from the grave via mystical forces.

  • 2
    17 VOTES
    Photo: Robocop / Orion Pictures

    When Detroit police officer Alex Murphy (Peter Weller) is thoroughly tortured and killed by a criminal gang, his remains are used to create RoboCop, a heavily armored law-enforcement cyborg brought to life by mega-corporation OCP. His three prime directives are simple: Serve the public trust, protect the innocent, and uphold the law. 

    But since RoboCop is partially made of human tissue, most notably Murphy’s face and cerebrum, the cybernetic super cop starts to experience nightmarish flashbacks of his former self - not only memories of his wife and son, but also images of those who killed him. Eventually, he has total recall and starts believing he is Murphy. He then hunts down the criminals who killed him with his new state-of-the-art body and firepower - and in one particularly gooey instance, the unintentional yet convenient aid of flesh-melting toxic waste.

  • 3
    14 VOTES
    Photo: Gladiator / DreamWorks Pictures

    In this Academy Award-winning sword-and-sandals epic from director Ridley Scott, Roman army general Maximus (Russell Crowe) is sentenced to meet his wife and child in the afterlife after refusing to pledge loyalty to the sniveling self-proclaimed emperor Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix). After evading capture and burying his crucified wife and son, a wounded Maximus collapses and ends up being picked up by slavers who sell him to a gladiator trainer. 

    Soon, he’s fighting blood-fisted gladiatorial battles to thunderous applause. Simply known as “The Spaniard,” he becomes the beloved star fighter of the Roman Coliseum with even Commodus taking notice. That’s when Maximus seizes the opportunity, revealing to the shock-stricken false emperor that he is very much alive and vows (and eventually gets) vengeance. 

  • 4
    13 VOTES
    Photo: Darkman / Renaissance Pictures

    Liam Neeson is certainly no stranger to revenge movies. Of course, the Taken franchise is probably what comes to mind when you think of the towering 70-year-old action star roughing up a bunch of hooligans who did his character wrong. But long before those movies, and years before he played the titular Scottish revenger in 1995's Rob Roy, he starred in a 1990 film written and directed by Sam Raimi called Darkman - a dark sort of superhero tale about a scientist who is horribly disfigured and presumed dead following a lab explosion caused by gangsters. 

    Utilizing his own artificial skin cell technology, he becomes a bandaged-faced antihero with the ability to mimic the appearance of anyone. Of course, he goes after the goons who destroyed his life and has some fun along the way by mimicking them and stirring up some trouble with his hyper-realistic masks. Eventually, vigilante justice is served and he becomes a full-on crime fighter.  

  • 5
    10 VOTES
    The Revenant
    Photo: The Revenant / 20th Century Studios

    The definition of the word “revenant” says it all: “One that returns after death or a long absence." Here, Leonardo DiCaprio earned the Oscar for best actor for his role as Hugh Glass, a 19th-century guide tasked with escorting a band of trappers and his son Hawk through the harsh, icy terrains of the Dakota wilderness. Along the way, he’s mauled by a bear, becoming a burden for his group, who decides to wait it out and give him a proper burial after he succumbs to his wounds. 

    Defying his agreement to look after Glass, trapper John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) decides to cut to the chase and smother him when the coast is clear, only to be caught in the act by Hawk, whom he stabs to death right in front of his helpless father. Fitzgerald ultimately abandons the fatally wounded Glass in a makeshift grave and cooks up a false story about what went down to cover up his misdeeds. Fueled by rage and the determination to avenge his slain son, Glass cauterizes his wounds and embarks on a grueling journey to hunt down Fitzgerald.

  • 6
    10 VOTES
    Photo: Revenge / Neon

    In the vein of films like I Spit on Your Grave, Revenge is another example of a female protagonist who is abused and disposed of only to come back and deliver exactly what the movie’s title simply states - good old-fashioned revenge. In this tale of bloody retaliation, Jen (Matilda Lutz) is the mistress of a wealthy and arrogant business tycoon named Richard (Kevin Janssens) who takes her on a romantic getaway to his Moroccan estate. 

    It’s also the eve of his annual hunting trip with his two best buddies, who unexpectedly show up a day early. With Jen now in the mix, things escalate when one of Richard’s sleazy friends rapes her. When Jen is bribed with money to stay silent about the assault,  she refuses and becomes the human target in their little hunting game. Eventually cornered, pushed off a cliff, and impaled by a tree, the three men leave her to perish, but - surprise! - she survives, licks her wounds, and decides to play a manhunting game of her own.