Top 10 Film Death Quotes
Dying in a film’s a tricky business, balancing pathos and humour, depth with wit. You certainly don’t want to take all day about it, as we all know how annoying an endlessly drawn out death can be. Some characters get it right, though. These few go out on lines you wish you had the balls or the brains to think of. So let’s look at the top ten examples of the right thing to say before you die in a movie.
#10 – Terry (Final Destination)
“I’m moving on, Carter. And if you want to waste your life beating the shit out of Alex every time you see him then you can just drop fucking dead!” – BOOM! HIT BY A BUS!
A nice, juicy bit of poetic justice is one of the easiest and most memorable ways to go. Being a massive arsehole who’s instantly struck down for their words, or even better, wishing death upon another only to have it come knocking on your door (or more likely, your skull) is a great way to ensure the audience remember your death. Here we have one of the purest examples of the form. Learn from Terry, be horrible to someone, then messily expire. Sorted.
#9 – Alfred Borden (The Prestige)
“Abracadabra” – GETS HUNG.
Of course, it’s great if your death can provoke a reaction beyond humour and surprise. If you can really tug at the audience’s heartstrings, while at the same time having a real depth of thematic meaning, you’ve officially won Death. Christian Bale’s stage magician manages to achieve all this on the gallows with a single word. His character is simultaneously pulling off one of the greatest conjuring tricks of all time, while also dying (one might call it a Houdini-like escape from existence). In that word, there’s fear, there’s sorrow, there’s pride and there’s grim humour. Not bad for five syllables.
#8 – Cody Jarrett (White Heat)
“Made it, Ma! Top of the world!” – EXPLODES
At some point, you may have to make the choice between which is more remembered: your death or your quote. James Cagney’s psychotic gangster stands as a testament to the latter, yelling out a phrase that has entered common parlance despite coming from a film that only the most hardened of film buffs have heard of, let alone seen. Also, if you can die in a MASSIVE GAS TANK EXPLOSION, that’s another strong point in your favour.
#7 – Penguin (Batman Returns)
“Shit! I picked the cute one… The heats gettin’ to me… I’ll murder you momentarily… But first, I need a cool drink… of ice… water…” – DROPS DEAD
If all else fails, charismatic gibberish is a surprisingly moving method. Especially if you’re the villain of the piece, being reduced to a confused, pathetic wretch in the moments before you expire can really make the viewer do an emotional one eighty. You might even get a few tears as the Arctic birds reverently drag your corpse into the sewer.
#6 – Roy Batty (Blade Runner)
“All these moments will be lost in time. Like… tears in the rain. Time to die.” – EXPIRES GRACEFULLY
Never underestimate how effective a combination of melancholy, poetry and dignity can really be with a final line. Don’t go overboard on the pseudo-philosophical bullshit, though, or you’ll just come across as a dead wanker. If you pull this off right, it doesn’t matter how batshit mental you’ve been the rest of the film, people will remember you as full of misunderstood nobility. Also die in the rain with a dove (somehow) for maximum effect.
#5 – Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg (The Fifth Element)
“Oh no…” – EVERYTHING EXPLODES
What’s that you say? How can two little words that, let’s be honest, quite a lot of people probably say moments before their charred corpses are thrust violently into space, be worthy of the number five spot? What lesson could that possibly teach us? Well, friend, the lesson is simple: BE GARY OLDMAN. When he’s sees his last ten seconds tick past, he gets more effect out of those four letters than most actors get out of an entire terminal illness scene. If, due to some mix-up, you’re reading this and you’re not Gary Oldman, then… try harder.
#4 – Boris Grishenko (Goldeneye)
“I am invincible!” – IMMEDIATELY GETS FROZEN TO DEATH
For immediate, fantastic effect, there’s nothing that can quite beat declaring, in no uncertain terms, that you will not die. Then dying less that a second afterwards. It’s not as simple as it sounds, however, as to really get the moviegoer to remember, you need to have them hate you so much they almost jump for joy when it happens. I recommend being sleazy and Russian as a starting point.
#3 – The Terminator (Terminator 2)
Gives a thumbs up – THEN MELTS
Not all last lines have to be verbal. Proving this beyond a shadow of an Austrian doubt is the last action taken by the Terminator in this most excellent sequel. Add in the music, and it’s so effective that it even redeems the fact that his ACTUAL last like (“I know now why you cry, but it is something I can never do) is a pile of poo. You know why? Because none of the geeks are going to judge your writing when they’re sobbing like a baby. Your last movements are just as important as your last words.
#2 – Marv (Sin City)
“That the best you got, you pansies?” – GETS EVEN MORE ELECTROCUTED TO DEATH
If all else fails, be an insanely massive badass. If you can coolly stare down Death itself and give it the middle finger, it doesn’t matter that you’re strapped into an electric chair with a rubber nappy on. Because Death is comin’ to see ya and you are PSYCHED AS ALL FUCK to meet it. Take all they can give and ask for more, since not one of is tough enough to take you out on the first try.
#1 – Tadgh McCabe (The Field)
Says nothing – GETS STAMPEDED OFF A CLIFF BY COWS
I know what you’re thinking. How can Sean Bean have the top spot here when he doesn’t say anything before dying in a film no-one’s heard of? Simple: Sean Bean dies like a champion. He’s spent more time dying onscreen than most people have living offscreen, and he does it fantastically. Sure, there are roles where he does actually say stuff before he dies, but those roles don’t end with Death By Cow. And, let’s be honest, if you’re Sean Bean and you’re getting killed by a herd of cows, you don’t need to say a damned word.