12 Major Characters Who Died Surprisingly Early Deaths

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Vote up for the major character deaths that surprised you the most.

Grand exits and major character deaths are nothing new in Hollywood movies. Who doesn’t love a good over-dramatic or over-the top death scene? But in some cases, swan songs are sung far too soon. Whether it’s a trailer or movie poster that tricked us into believing our favorite A-list actor was going to lead the movie we purchased a ticket for, or perhaps the buzz surrounding a new character that seemed to guarantee a spin-off, sometimes we’re taken by surprise as a movie gut punches us with the abrupt exit of a likable character we were rooting for and/or just getting to know. Sometimes these out-of-left-field deaths happen halfway through the movie or before the first act is even over. In some cases, it’s even sooner. Sometimes - just minutes after the opening credits roll - big-name heads can roll, too. 

Warning: spoilers ahead for recent titles like The Lost City.

  • Shatterstar And the X-Force In 'Deadpool 2'
    Photo: Deadpool 2 / Twentieth Century Fox

    When Lewis Tan (Mortal Kombat) was announced to play Shatterstar in Deadpool 2, fans took notice. Not only was he hyped up to be one of the first male LGBTQ+ characters in Fox’s Marvel movies at the time, but many also assumed this would pave the way for a legit X-Force spin-off. After all, Shatterstar was one of the original founding members in the comics, something that can’t be said for any of the other cinematic X-Force members that Deadpool recruited, such as Domino (Zazie Beetz), Bedlam (Terry Crews), Zeitgeist (Bill Skarsgard), Peter W. (Rob Delaney), and Vanish (Brad Pitt). Trailers even showed Tan and Crews engaging in combat, again promising some X-Force ass-kicking. But when the film was released, we were all trolled in the most glorious way.

    In the scene, Deadpool and his team are skydiving from a plane to embark on a daring rescue mission (and ignoring warnings about high winds). He and Domino land safely, but the others are brutally dispatched one by one: Shatterstar is diced by helicopter blades, Bedlam is hit by a bus, Vanish gets electrocuted by power lines, and Zeitgeist lands in a woodchipper, but as Peter tries to rescue him, the acid-spewing mutant vomits on him, killing him in the process. As for all those X-Force fighting scenes you saw in the trailer? The filmmakers shot that footage quite simply to punk us. The X-Force’s bungling death scenes were always intended as a gag - and we all fell for it. As we all know, Deadpool undoes everything with time travel during the film’s conclusion, so perhaps we’ll see this iteration of the X-Force again someday.

    14 votes
  • Danson And Highsmith In 'The Other Guys'
    Photo: The Other Guys / Sony Pictures

    Dwayne Johnson, Samuel L. Jackson, Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, and Michael Keaton - that’s the all-star lineup of Adam McKay’s 2010 action-comedy The Other Guys. When you get star power like Johnson and Jackson in your movie, the last thing you expect is for them to kick the bucket within the first act. Yes, sometimes heads roll not long after the opening credits roll, but in the case of The Other Guys, heads go splat. In the opening scene, it’s clear that Christopher Danson (Johnson) and P.K. Highsmith (Jackson) are the two hotshot supercops of the NYPD: They dodge bullets from the roofs of moving cars and crash cars through buses. In one instance, Highsmith reads the Miranda warning, fires two guns, and defies gravity all at the same time while his airborne Chevy Chevelle SS hurls into a flaming building.

    Both officers walk away without a scratch, showing up to a press conference minutes later. In their next big sequence, they’re chasing criminals up an office building, only to find they escaped to the streets below using a zip line. The two cops decide to “aim for the bushes” and leap from the towering rooftop like Batman. As they plummet downward in slow motion (with no bushes in sight), you wonder how in the heck they plan to land safely yet assume these two badasses will somehow pull it off - but ultimately, they kiss asphalt - resulting in one of the most unexpected, laugh-out-loud deaths scenes ever.

    23 votes
  • Cyclops In 'X-Men: The Last Stand'
    Photo: X-Men: The Last Stand / Twentieth Century Fox

    By the time X-Men: The Last Stand was released in 2006, the franchise was already the Hugh Jackman/Wolverine show, but with the Dark Phoenix saga teased during the final moments of X2: X-Men United, no one ever really expected Scott Summers, AKA Cyclops  (James Marsden), to bite the dust during the third film. In fact, many hoped he would step to the forefront. After all, he was the leader of the X-Men and Jean Grey's main squeeze, making him a vital component in the original Dark Phoenix comic book storyline. But all hope for a faithful adaptation of the classic saga was thrown out the window within the first 15 minutes of the movie. In the controversial scene, a grieving Scott heads over to Akali Lake after hearing Jean’s voice in his head.

    In the previous film, she seemingly drowned, but when he arrives, he finds a luminous Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) resurrecting from her watery grave. When the two kiss, something goes horribly wrong, but the scene cuts away to the X-Mansion where Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) experiences a psychic disturbance, urging Wolverine and Storm to get to the lake. When the two arrive, they find nothing but floating debris, along with Scott’s glasses. And just like that, he’s vaporized and written out of the movie entirely - without a doubt, one of the biggest creative missteps of the entire franchise. Thankfully, this was later retconned during the time-traveling antics of 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, when Wolverine successfully creates a new timeline where the events of X3 never happened and Scott lives.

    12 votes
  • Loki In 'Avengers: Infinity War'
    Photo: Avengers: Infinity War / Marvel Studios

    By the time Avengers: Infinity War came out in 2018, Loki had already appeared in a total of four MCU movies. After his adventure with his brother Thor in Thor: Ragnarok, it just seemed clear that the charismatic God of Mischief was here to stay. But things take an unexpected turn during the opening of Infinity War, when Thanos and his children show up to do business. We hear an Asgardian distress call, their ship is devastated, and Thor and Heimdall are seemingly defeated, but still alive. Loki is the only one on his feet and tries to distract Thanos long enough for his “We have a Hulk” moment.

    But even the Hulk is no match for the Mad Titan, who TKOs the big green Avenger in a matter of seconds. As Loki tries to smooth things over with a deal, trading the Tesseract as well as the Infinity Stone within it for his brother’s life, he makes one last failed attempt to kill Thanos after pledging his allegiance and offering his services as a guide on Earth. As he bows to Thanos, he swiftly leaps forth with a hidden blade, but not quickly enough. A displeased Thanos retaliates by crushing his neck before Thor’s very eyes, all within the movie's first 10 minutes. Now, some may argue that Loki later returned due to the time-travel conundrum introduced in Avengers: Endgame and explored further with the Multiverse and variants in his own Disney+ original series, but the fact of the matter is, the version of Loki who evolved into the complex antihero we’ve grown to love is gone.

    19 votes
  • Jack Trainer In 'The Lost City'
    Photo: The Lost City / Paramount Pictures

    In The Lost City, romance novelist Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock) is kidnapped by the goons of Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe), an obsessive billionaire who is convinced she can help him find the mysterious Lost City that’s mentioned in all of her books. Alan (Channing Tatum), the Fabio-esque cover model on all of Sage’s novels, witnesses the abduction, and decides to embrace and live up to Dash, the fictitious hero he portrays, and sets out to rescue her. But he’s going to need some help - enter Jack Trainer (Brad Pitt), a dashing, Thor-esque god-man with a militaristic background. To put it simply, Trainer is much more in line with the hero depicted in Sage’s novels than Alan could ever hope to be. So when Trainer flawlessly infiltrates Fairfax’s hideout and safely extracts Loretta, much to the dismay of Alan, she’s immediately smitten with him.

    As she engages in a sparkly-eyed chat with her suave savior, there’s a sudden loud bang and she’s sprayed with his blood - it’s a shocker, but also a bit of a shame. While many expected Pitt’s role to be a cameo, it was starting to seem like the A-lister might have a larger role after all. There was a tension brewing between Alan and Jack that was reminiscent of the macho rivalry between Star-Lord and Thor in Avengers: Infinity War - something that would’ve been fun to see play out. But if you stuck around for the post-credits scene, it seems a bullet to the cranium can’t keep Jack Trainer down. Let’s hope he’s back for a sequel.

    10 votes
  • Lieutenant Colonel Austin Travis In 'Executive Decision'
    Photo: Executive Decision / Warner Bros. Pictures

    In 1988, Steven Seagal burst onto the scene with Above the Law, which made him an unexpected action star overnight. In 1990, he released two more bone-crunching hits with Marked for Death and Out for Justice. But it was 1992’s critically well-received Under Siege that made him a bonafide action hero. In 1996, he was still sort of in his prime and starred opposite Kurt Russell in Executive Decision, a thriller about a special ops team tasked with retrieving a stolen nerve agent from a hijacked plane.

    Seagal plays Lieutenant Colonel Austin Travis, who is tasked with getting US intelligence officer David Grant (Russell) and his team onboard the ill-fated airliner using the Remora F117x, an experimental aircraft with midair insertion capabilities. During the mission, turbulence damages the docking tunnel that links the two planes. While David and the rest of the crew make it onto the airliner safely, Austin makes the heroic decision to stay behind and seal off the 747’s hatch before it decompresses. As the Remora detaches, the tunnel is destroyed with Austin jettisoned into the stratosphere, never to be seen again. Considering he was placed next to Russell in all of the major ads and trailers, no one ever expected Seagal's character to perish so abruptly.

    14 votes