Total Nerd

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

Jessica Bedewi
February 18, 2020 9.1k votes 2.2k voters 116k views 14 items

List 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.

Furious 7 is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 14 Times Action Movie Heroes Should Have Bitten The Dust But Didn't, Ranked By Cheapness
Photo: Universal Pictures

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

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Superman Returns is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 14 Times Action Movie Heroes Should Have Bitten The Dust But Didn't, Ranked By Cheapness
Photo: Warner Bros.

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

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War of the Worlds is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 14 Times Action Movie Heroes Should Have Bitten The Dust But Didn't, Ranked By Cheapness
Photo: Paramount Pictures

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

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Jurassic Park III is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 14 Times Action Movie Heroes Should Have Bitten The Dust But Didn't, Ranked By Cheapness
Photo: Universal Pictures

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

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