14 Times Action Movie Heroes Should Have Bitten The Dust But Didn't, Ranked By Cheapness

Voting Rules
Vote up the movies that used fake-out deaths solely for cheap emotional manipulation.

Action movies are known for their gory gunfights, high-stakes missions, and engaging characters. However, there's another element that makes for a good action movie: plenty of plot armor to cover the main characters.

It's an unavoidable truth. No matter how hopeless the situation might appear, you can pretty much bet the main character won't croak, if only because it will ruin the movie's happy ending. At times, the character in question magically just gets better, no explanation needed. Other times, the character might offer a halfhearted excuse that explains their survival, even if it's totally nonsensical. Still other movies allow characters to simply reappear, without addressing the fact that they obviously passed just moments before.

Sometimes it's better to let the movie's tough guy kick the bucket, rather than bringing him back and forcing the audience to collectively roll their eyes. Take a look at some of the most egregious examples of fake-out deaths and vote up the saves that are unbearably chintzy.

Photo: Independence Day / 20th Century Fox

  • At the end of Furious 7, a vulnerable Dom (Vin Diesel) is assailed by mercenary Mose Jakande (Djimon Hounsou). While Dom stands on the ground, Jakande shoots at him from his helicopter. Thankfully, Dom's team intervenes and his life is spared. When he realizes, however, that the love of his life, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), is in danger, Dom jumps into his car and launches the entire vehicle into the air to collide with Jakande's aircraft. Though he doesn't make direct contact, he does leave a bag of grenades latched onto the helicopter; the grenades explode and take Jakande down. But the maneuver also causes Dom to crash-land, flipping his vehicle repeatedly before coming to a halt.

    The team rushes over to Dom and pulls him from his car, but it doesn't look like he has any life in him. He's not moving or breathing, but when Letty gives a speech about finally remembering their whole relationship, he simply opens his eyes. What's more, he hardly has a scratch on him. Was he awake the whole time or was her love enough to bring him back? Either way, the sudden change from not moving at all to being totally fine is a pretty cheap save.

    • Released: 2015
    • Directed by: James Wan
    1,587 votes

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  • When Superman (Brandon Routh) arrives to confront Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) on his island of Kryptonite, he's quickly beaten into submission. He can't find his strength on the land mass made of his one weakness, and he's eventually pierced by a shard of Kryptonite. Although he regains enough strength to stop the impossible growth of Luthor's island, he quickly falls into a coma as a result of Kryptonite exposure. Doctors can't remove every shard and they're unable to revive him. From the looks of it, Superman's days are over. 

    When Lois (Kate Bosworth) tells Superman that Jason is his son, however, the hero makes a shocking recovery. Suddenly, he's completely fine! Apparently Kryptonite poisoning doesn't matter if you have something to live for.

    • Released: 2006
    • Directed by: Bryan Singer
    1,602 votes

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  • As longshoreman Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise) tries to shuttle his children to safety, the group is caught in the middle of an alien invasion. While the Marines try to fend off the foreign weapons, Ray's son, Robbie (Justin Chatwin), insists on joining the fight. He rushes onto the battlefield, which then erupts into a fire-filled explosion that would likely take out every living thing in its path.

    Despite being right in the middle of the explosion, Robbie survives. Without any explanation for his miraculous escape, he makes it to his grandparents' house on his own, reuniting with his father and sister at the end of the movie.

    • Released: 2005
    • Directed by: Steven Spielberg
    1,095 votes

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  • In the third installment of the Jurassic Park franchise, Dr. Alan Grant's (Sam Neill) assistant, Billy (Alessandro Nivola), tries to make up for his earlier mistake of nabbing two raptor eggs by sacrificing himself to the Pteranodon and saving Eric (Trevor Morgan) in the process. After Billy swoops in and safely deposits Eric in the water, his parachute malfunctions and he's trapped at the mercy of the Pteranodon. The flying dinosaurs strike and viewers see Billy's head dip under water as the Pteranodon picks at him. At that moment, it's safe to assume Billy didn't survive the fight.

    At the end of the movie, however, Billy is already on the ship that rescues the rest of the group. He's wrapped up in bandages and obviously bleeding, but he's very much alive and intact. How did he escape the dinosaurs? How did the Navy find him? These and more unanswered questions make his survival highly improbable.

    • Released: 2001
    • Directed by: Joe Johnston
    986 votes

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  • Gunner Jensen - 'The Expendables'
    Photo: Lionsgate

    When military veteran Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren), a member of an elite group of mercenaries, demonstrates that he's not entirely stable, he's cut from the team. Unwilling to let things end that way, Jensen lends his services to an ex-CIA officer who's keeping a dictator in power on a small island in the Gulf of Mexico. While helping the unscrupulous officer, Jensen comes face-to-face with his old team in an entanglement that ends with him being shot by his former boss, Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone). The result looks fatal, and Jensen himself believes his time has officially come. He turns on his new employer and gives Ross the information he needs to take down the agent. He even asks for a Viking funeral to celebrate his life.

    At the end of the film, however, Jensen is totally okay. He recovers from his seemingly fatal wound and joins the rest of his former team in celebrating their victory. The gunshot inflicted by his boss apparently didn't hinder their relationship.

    • Released: 2010
    • Directed by: Sylvester Stallone
    654 votes

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  • Rambo - 'Rambo: Last Blood' 
    Photo: Lionsgate

    In Rambo: Last Blood, Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) engages in one final clash, this time against a Mexican cartel. Although he rigs a variety of traps and manages to take down his foes, he endures a pair of gunshots in the process. Clearly weakened and tenderly holding his blood-covered torso, Rambo stumbles to the rocking chair on his front porch. He collapses into the chair and looks very, very close to the end. After an inspirational speech and a look back at his past skirmishes, however, Rambo hops up, jumps right back on his horse, and rides away. 

    How did the man go from nearly passing out, clutching his bleeding stomach, to riding off into the sunset? It's a poetic end, but not exactly a plausible one.

    • Released: 2019
    • Directed by: Adrian Grunberg
    887 votes