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20 Movies Where the Main Character Dies

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  • October 10, 2023
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  • 9 min read


Most of the time, heroes win, inspiring and motivating viewers. Conversely, the main characters’ deaths in movies make it more thrilling and realistic.

As viewers, we’re often led to think that the main character or protagonist will make it through the story no matter how hard things get. 

Because this belief is deeply ingrained in us, it often comes as a terrible shock when the main character dies. 

Many filmmakers have cleverly used this belief of ours to make realistic, exciting stories with no happy or predictable ends. 

Top Best 20 Movies Where the Main Character Dies:

Regarding movies, the American Author House rule says that the audience knows about the monster but doesn’t see it in all its glory until the movie’s most exciting scene. But one plot twist will split people in two: one of the main characters has died.

1- Into the Wild

Christopher McCandless embarks on a heartbreaking survival drama in Alaska, ultimately meeting characters that shape his worldview. His journey mirrors the theme of overcoming challenges, a topic well-explored in articles like How to Write a Narrative Essay About Overcoming a Challenge.

Christopher McCandless, a 20-year-old college graduate, leaves his family and most valuable belongings on a long, dangerous journey into the Alaskan wilderness. This heartbreaking survival drama is based on his true story. 

He stays with and meets different types of people from different stages of life along the way, and the exchanges with them change the way he thinks about life and existence. But McCandless dies in Alaska because he cannot stay alive and eats a deadly plant. He learns what true happiness is.

2- The Uninvited

In The Uninvited, Anna is locked up in a hospital under close watch for almost a year because she tried to kill herself. When she gets out of jail, she finds out that Rachel, the nurse who cared for her late mother, is now dating her father and that her dreams are messages from her mother.

In the morning, Anna finds that Alex has killed Rachel. Rachel had put her to sleep. When Anna’s dad hears this, he tells her about the main character’s death in the movie, Alex, who died the same night as his wife.

3- Insomnia

Even though “Insomnia” isn’t one of Christopher Nolan’s most beloved movies, it’s still a fascinating crime story. It is about an intelligent psychopath who recently killed a young girl and a veteran cop who has trouble sleeping. 

The movie has a lot of action, and Robin Williams and Al Pacino give excellent performances that make the movie even better. 

4- Weekend at Bernie’s

In the movie Weekend at Bernie’s, Larry and Richard are on the financial team of an insurance business. They find out that Bernie, the CEO, is committing insurance fraud. Bernie puts a hit out on Larry and Richard when he finds out they are planning to report him. But the hitman kills Bernie at his vacation home in the Hamptons. Larry and Richard find his body.

5- The Matrix

Wachowskis’ sci-fi changes the rules of its genre. How does the Matrix work? Neo (Keanu Reeves) wants to know that but discovers that the whole world is a lie.

The main character deaths in movies, Neo finally faces the dangerous and dull Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving). They fight through an apartment building, and Smith shoots Neo in the chest.

6- Passengers

In Passengers, the airline asks Claire Summers, a therapist, to help five survivors of a terrible plane crash. The fifth person who made it out alive was a flight attendant. The other three were customers. During group treatment, one of the survivors is not there, making some other survivors think the airline is after them.

7- The Wicker Man:

Sergeant Neil Howie (Edward Woodward), looking into the case of a missing girl, finds that Summerisle is home to a group of pagans when he gets there.

At the movie’s end, Howie discovers he will be burned alive in a giant wicker man as an offering to pagan gods. Do not scream anymore. Both shocking and famous. There was no way Nicolas Cage’s version could have been close.

8- The Green Mile

The Green Mile is a powerful drama based on Stephen King’s book. Tom Hanks plays a jail guard on death row. The movie explores themes of right and wrong, kindness, and the supernatural. John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan), a prisoner with extraordinary healing powers, is wrongfully put to death. 

9- Braveheart

Mel Gibson plays William Wallace, the fighter from the 1300s who leads the Scots into a war against the King of England. The story in which the main character deaths in movies is bloody and based on questionable historical sources. Brave. 

Wallace is put on the cross-shaped rack and hung, drawn, and quartered in front of a howling crowd while still awake. It is a horrible, sticky, gut-wrenching end.

10- Beetlejuice

Barb and Adam just bought a house in the country that they must fix before moving in. They take a trip and crash their car into a river near their house. As soon as they wake up, they realize they are dead and can’t leave their house for fear of being eaten by sandworms.

11- Last Christmas

Kate wants to sing instead of becoming an elf at a year-round Christmas store. After a shift, she sees Tom glancing around, seeing things others miss.

After a big fight with her family, she runs into Tom and tells him she got a heart transplant last Christmas. This dialogue makes Kate reconsider how she treats others, including Tom. She discovers Tom is her organ donor’s ghost.

12- Safe Haven

People in Boston think Erin killed someone, so she’s on the run. She changes her name and gets a waitress job in a North Carolina town.

safe haven

Jo, her neighbor, tells her that her husband is coming to town, where he is killed. Katie’s boyfriend gives her a letter from Carly, his late wife. The letter has a picture of Carly, who turns out to be Katie’s neighbor Jo, a ghost.

13- Vanilla Sky

In Vanilla Sky, David (Tom Cruise), whose girlfriend wrecks their car, has a scarred face and dreams. After their first night together, he wakes up to find his dead lover, whom he strangles. 

Therefore, the main character dies in movies. This is when he starts seeing Sofia. His face seems to get fixed while he is in jail, and the court counselor helps him remember a business called Life Extension.

14- The Lion King

The Lion King, Disney’s animated classic, is about a lion cub named Simba who must return to being king. In a moving scene, Simba’s father, Mufasa, gives up his life to save his son from a stampede. This scene has a long effect on Simba’s growth and the movie’s emotional impact.

15- Children of Men

In this action drama set after the end of the world, Theo and Kee navigate challenges that lead to a poignant moment. If you’re keen on exploring impactful narratives, you might find valuable insights in articles like How to Write Resolution in a Story.

Action drama set after the end of the world based on the book by PD James. Theo (Clive Owen) has to look out for Kee (Clare-Hope Ashity), the last pregnant woman on earth.

The Death: When Theo and Kee get to safety in a sailboat, he tells them he was shot. Right in front of her eyes, he slowly dies.

16- The Great Gatsby

A fast-paced version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book about the mysterious rich boy Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his relationship with Daisy (Carey Mulligan) in the 1920s.

Gatsby is shot by George (Jason Clarke), whose wife Gatsby killed by accident, as his lies fall apart around him. His dead body falls into his lovely pool.

17- Logan

The movie is set in a wrecked world, and it follows an older Logan as he guards a young mutant girl from evil forces, giving up his own life to save her. 

Logan is a sad and reflective movie about death, forgiveness, and what we leave behind when we die. This movie is a star in the superhero genre because of its honest acting, intense action scenes, and moving story.

18- Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid

In the 1890s, Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid were in charge of a group of bad guys in Wyoming. When they try to rob a train but something goes wrong, they must run away because a group of people is after them. They think about their choices and then run away to South America.

19- The Devil’s Rejects

Horror from Rob Zombie that is gory. Sheriff Wydell, played by William Forsythe, wants to get payback on the Firefly family for killing his brother and tries to bring them down. “The Death”: Tiny (Matthew McGrory) kills Wydell, even though Wydell has already damaged Tiny’s family.

20- Seven Pounds

The tagline calls it an “extraordinary story” about Tim Thomas (Will Smith), who kills seven people in a car accident and then tries to improve the lives of seven strangers. Tim gets into the bath with a poisonous jellyfish and is killed quickly, though it hurts.

Main Attributes and Elaborate Information

Movie Title Main Character’s Fate Narrative Impact
Into the Wild Christopher McCandless dies from poisoning Highlights the harsh realities of nature and solitude
The Uninvited Anna discovers her sister Alex’s death Twists the viewer’s perception of reality
Insomnia Detective’s moral and psychological decline Explores the cost of guilt and sleeplessness
Weekend at Bernie’s Bernie is killed, leading to dark comedy Uses death as a means for humor and critique
The Matrix Neo dies but is resurrected Symbolizes rebirth and the fight against control
Passengers Claire Summers confronts survivor’s death Reveals deep-seated fears and psychological trauma
The Wicker Man Sergeant Howie is sacrificed Critiques societal conformity and blind faith


Above mentioned main character deaths in movies go beyond what we expect, show how much sacrifice and tragedy can hurt, and leave a lasting effect on viewers. If you’re interested in further exploring the art of storytelling, understanding the differences between fiction and nonfiction can be a great starting point.

For many movie fans, plot twists and cliffhanger ends make movies great. A story twist can make or break a movie because it is exciting and shocking. Some of these discoveries are more important to the story than others.

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