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14 Off-Screen Deaths That Still Pack A Major Punch

Updated July 29, 2021 2.4k votes 786 voters 95.4k views14 items

List RulesVote up the off-screen character deaths that hit you the hardest.

There are perhaps hundreds of memorable major character deaths on-screen, granted. But how many big demises transpire off-screen? Let's unpack a handful of memorable off-screen demises (frequently between franchise installments) and leave it up to you to assess just how powerful they are upon rewatching.

Vote up your favorite off-screen cinematic deaths below!

  • The love of intellectually disabled Forrest Gump's life, Jenny (Robin Wright Penn) has a rough go of it throughout the course of the Robert Zemeckis historical-fiction epic. From drug overdoses to meaningless sex, Jenny struggles to find her way in the eventful second half of the 20th century.

    She eventually marries Forrest after introducing him to his young son Forrest Jr. (Haley Joel Osment), though their idyllic family life is disrupted by Jenny's falling ill as a result of a mysterious illness. The film implies that this is another staple of the second half of the 20th century: HIV/AIDS. Jenny's passing happens off-screen, as did a lot of her life in relation to Forrest. She is ultimately an ancillary character, extant in the film to provide something for Forrest to react to.

    Off-screen gut punch?
  • 2

    Jack Twist, 'Brokeback Mountain'

    In Brokeback Mountain, Wyoming cowboys Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) embark upon a decades-long secret romance after working a fateful sheep herding gig in 1963. Though both men eventually marry women to keep up appearances, neither is truly happy. Jack eventually proposes starting a life together, though Ennis is reticent to leave his young family.

    Their affair continues on in fits for years. Eventually, Jack dies young in a car accident. Ennis, however, cannot stop himself from mournfully envisioning his lover dying in a hate crime. Whichever way it happened, it's a bittersweet finale to a bittersweet romance.

    Off-screen gut punch?
  • 3

    Tracy Mills, 'Se7en'

    In the twisted David Fincher-helmed Seven, grizzled one-week-away-from-retirement Detective Lieutenant William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) partners up with intense younger cop David Mills (Brad Pitt) to investigate a series of brutal murders (and some brutal not-quite-murders) inspired by the biblical seven deadly sins. Somerset befriends Mills's pregnant young wife Tracy (Gwyneth Paltrow), who voices her trepidation about raising a kid in their rain-soaked metropolis, and reveals that she has not yet told David about the baby.

    As Mills and Somerset close in, the killer, John Doe (Kevin Spacey), shows up to surrender at their office, his hands soaked in blood. He instructs them to drive him to a desert location, which he claims houses his final two victims (representing the sins of envy and wrath). When the team arrives, a delivery van drops off a box marked "Fragile." As Somerset opens the box, Doe informs Mills that it contains the severed head of Tracy; it is David's "normal life" that John Doe himself envied. He wants David to become wrath and kill him. David holds off as long as he can, before giving in and delivering John Doe to his maker. Tracy's off-screen demise is probably the single most memorable and poignant moment in a very, very memorable and poignant movie.

    Off-screen gut punch?
  • 4

    Rosie, 'Jojo Rabbit'

    Rosie Betzle (Scarlett Johansson), the mother of brainwashed Hitler Youth fiend Jojo Betzle (Roman Griffin Davis), is a covert member of the German resistance to Nazis near the end of WWII. Rosie has been harboring Jewish teen Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) against the rulers of her country, much to Jojo's chagrin.

    The Gestapo begin to look into Rosie's affairs as she heads into town. Jojo later discovers the dead body of Rosie, hung up in the town square.

    Off-screen gut punch?