6 Movie Characters You Didn't Know Died Horrible Deaths
For the past century, cinema has delighted us with thousands of the most creative ways to die, like being simultaneously impaled through the gut and electrocuted, getting rocketed into a warehouse full of deadly fireworks, or being hit by a car and torn apart by the engine of an exploding jet, to name a few examples from Disney movies.
But for every graphic movie death that graces our screens in glorious Technicolor, there's an even more gruesome one that happens just outside of frame. Like ...
The Lion King -- Simba Ate the Hyenas
We've previously pointed out that Scar must have done a remarkably bad job during his time as lion king in The Lion King, because after he kills the king (aka Simba's dad) and exiles Simba, the kingdom goes from a vibrant land to this:
"You didn't have to mark every plant with your urine."
Not only does the place look terrible, but the food has run out, and worst of all, the lions have to co-exist with a bunch of annoying hyenas that sound like Whoopi Goldberg. But then Simba returns and reclaims the (sadly metaphorical) lion throne by kicking Scar's ass, and some months later, the kingdom is back to its original state.
Tourism is booming again now that Scar's racist ban on giraffes and elephants has been lifted.
Hold on a Second ...
Two questions come to mind after watching this ending: A) How did the lions survive in the deserted wasteland without food after Scar died? It didn't turn back to normal overnight; and B) What happened to all the hyenas? There were hundreds of them, and they're the only animals who don't show up in the epilogue or the sequels. As it turns out, these two things are related.
"Hold still. I'm trying to figure out how many of you I can fit in my mouth."
Yep, we're pretty sure Simba and friends ate those hyenas. The math works out: Female lions can survive off of 18 pounds of food a day, and if they gorge themselves, they can go a week at a time between meals. The average hyena weighs between 90 and 190 pounds -- that's plenty of food with some careful rationing, especially considering that Disney lions are capable of building functional cages.
"Did you ever try lowering your wings and walking forward?"
By the way, in real life, lions fucking hate hyenas and will sometimes chase them for no particular reason. Other times, it's for the specific reason of eating them.
So now every time Simba looks into the sky, he doesn't just see his dead dad -- he also sees the hundreds of hyenas he probably murdered. And smiles.
Battlestar Galactica -- Every Single Character Dies
If you're sensitive about spoilers for a show that ended four years ago, you might want to avoid reading what comes next (also what you just read up there). At the end of Battlestar Galactica, the characters finally settle on a planet that they name Earth. We find out that the entire sci-fi series actually takes place in the past.
The History Channel was right!
We can ignore the fact that this turns the entire series into something of a logistical clusterfuck, because, hey, at least the surviving characters get a happy ending, right? They have a brand-new person-friendly planet, and all 38,000 survivors decide to throw their spaceships into the sun and get a fresh start as a species.
Except for the dozen or so guys who chose to burn with their ships instead of living a life without easily accessible porn.
So you see, that explains why our ancestors didn't have spaceships: They threw them into the sun! It all makes sense!
Hold on a Second ...
However, "spaceships" wasn't the only significant advancement these guys had: There was also their complex social structure, a common written language, and, oh yeah, a shitload of other technology.
The survivors split into colonies and said they were going to keep track of where the other colonies were, so they had the means to communicate with each other. Two characters discuss teaching their kid how to hunt, farm, and build a house, so there's some advanced understanding of agriculture and architecture. The problem, however, is that this was 150,000 years ago, and humanity didn't develop even the most basic forms of that stuff until about 10,000 years ago. So how did we go from "early humans being really advanced" to "humans not knowing shit"? The answer, of course, is that at some point they had to start over from scratch, because everyone who knew what they were doing got fucking murdered.
Hence why they cut to a shot of Central Park.
The show itself gives us a pretty solid explanation for how an entire culture could have gotten obliterated. When they're first settling on Earth, Badger from Firefly speculates that the Cylon Centurions (a group of enemy robots that they've decided to let find their own path in the universe) may "come back in a few hundred years and wipe us out." Bill Adama's response to that is basically "Yep, that seems pretty likely."
That's a pretty specific scenario the writers are giving us there, because they knew that the only way their ending made sense was if all of human civilization was wiped from history by murderbots.
The Wizard of Oz -- Miss Gulch Died in the Tornado
Miss Gulch is the old lady from The Wizard of Oz who wants to kill Dorothy's dog, Toto, after it bites her. As a result, Dorothy runs away from home until she meets a fake fortune teller who convinces her to return. But then a tornado strikes and Dorothy smacks her head, and when she wakes up, she's being transported to the magical land of Oz.
"Toto, I've a feeling that we're not in ... HOLY SHIT, MY DALTONISM IS CURED!"
Dorothy wastes no time in Oz, befriending some freaks, exposing a fraudulent wizard, and murdering a total of two witches. Of course, the whole thing turns out to be a dream, and when Dorothy wakes at the end of the movie, everything's back to normal.
Hold on a Second ...
Except for Miss Gulch, that is. She's dead.
Think about it: Before the tornado, Dorothy's aunt and uncle were pretty upset about Toto's impending execution, but that doesn't seem to be a problem at the end of the movie. Why? Because Miss Gulch is no longer around, probably having been crushed by a cow. The last time we see her is during the tornado when Dorothy sees a bunch of stuff flying by her window, including Miss Gulch herself, who transforms into the Wicked Witch before our eyes:
Meth: Not Even Once
But that's just part of the dream, right? Yeah, but the movie implies that Dorothy's stay in Oz was more than just a fantasy, and that there was some sort of connection between the characters that are played by the same actors in both worlds. For instance, the Wizard in Oz is played by the same actor as the fake fortune teller. Back in Kansas, Dorothy doesn't know that the fortune teller is a fraud: She follows his advice and almost dies in the process because she trusts him.
However, when she gets to Oz and meets the Wizard, he turns out to be a fake. If it was all just a dream, how did Dorothy know that the same guy was a fraud? It seems fair to assume that the Wicked Witches' deaths in Oz might be telling Dorothy something she doesn't already know about Miss Gulch in the real world. Namely, that she's dead.
Still don't believe us? Well, there's also the fact that the official website for the movie apparently agrees with us. Yeah, we probably should have started there.
Night at the Museum 2 -- Amelia Earhart Turned into Dust
If you've only been exposed to the Night at the Museum movies through the trailers, you probably assume that the museum's exhibits (dinosaurs, pharaohs, Robin Williams) come to life at night because fuck it, it's a fucking family movie and nothing has to make sense. However, the films actually give a perfectly logical explanation for these shenanigans: Within the museum resides the magical Tablet of Ahkmenrah, which come sunset grants life to everything from statues to bobble-head dolls.
They spend most of the movie, using their height, to try to prove the theory of Sacajawea not wearing underwear.
The only catch is that any exhibits that are left outside the museum walls after sunrise will turn into dust. In the second movie, the tablet winds up in the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., where one of the exhibits is Amelia Earhart's plane.
Pictured: Someone trying to convince the audience that they're a person, not just a living statute ... and Amy Adams.
Earhart comes to life and teams up with security guard Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) to take on an undead Egyptian prince in an epic battle. Afterward, Larry realizes that there is one hour until sunrise and asks Earhart for a ride back to New York City in her plane. Amelia drops Larry off in New York, they have a touching farewell scene, and mere minutes after Larry and his friends run into the museum, the sun is up and the exhibits are frozen again. They made it just in the nick of time!
Hold on a Second ...
Except for Amelia Earhart, that is. She's dead. Larry doomed her to a fiery plane crash all over again.
The last time we see Amelia, she's getting back on her plane and heading to D.C. For the record, this is what she was piloting:
"It was death or a threesome with Robin Williams and Ben Stiller. I chose well."
So let's break it down: The distance between Washington, D.C., and New York is 204 miles. Amelia Earhart's airplane, the Lockheed Vega 5B, had a top speed of 185 mph. Even under ideal flight conditions, that doesn't look good. But none of that matters, because we saw the sun come up two minutes after she left -- best case scenario, both Earhart and her plane turned into dust and they disappeared into thin air (literally, this time). Worst case, the thing landed on someone's head.
The Dark Knight -- The Joker Burned Mr. Lau Alive
Mr. Lau is the guy in The Dark Knight who was in charge of the mob's banking and whose catchphrase was "I'm good at calculations" (clearly he was meant to be a gritty reboot of silly Bat-villain the Calculator). When Lau escapes to China with all the mob's money, Batman just swoops in there and kidnaps him, CIA style, because 9/11 and stuff.
"Wow, he completely misunderstood when I asked about Chinese takeout."
The last time we see Lau, he's still in jail, and we are forced to assume that he either was deported or did his time and then went back to being a super rich criminal or whatever, because billions of dollars of embezzled money aren't so important when Batman has a more flamboyantly costumed fish to fry.
Hold on a Second ...
Except that, as observant viewers already know, that isn't really the last time we see Lau -- remember the scene where the Joker burns a huge pile of money?
He saves money by making his own face paint from hobo blood and old pigeon droppings.
And remember who we saw sitting on top of said pile moments earlier, bound and gagged?
"Wanna know how I got these paper cuts?"
And remember the part where the Joker kindly lets Lau out of the pile before pouring gasoline everywhere? No, you don't, because that didn't happen. Yeah, that guy is toast.
The movie doesn't show Lau writhing in pain as he burns alive or even acknowledge the fact that he's still there, but as this video points out, it makes perfect sense for him to die this way. Earlier, Lau had told the cops that the only reason he was still alive was "because of the money" -- however, once the Joker comes into town with his "Let's just blow shit up" attitude, money is no longer so important to the next generation of Gotham City criminals. They have no use for someone like Lau; it's all question mark costumes and facial deformities from now on.
So, you know the Russian mobster who watches broken-heartedly as the Joker burns down millions of dollars? Turns out he wasn't weeping for the money. He was just really close with Lau.
"Goodnight, sweet prince ..."
Alien: Resurrection -- Ripley Kills the World
Despite being pretty dumb, Alien: Resurrection ends on a fairly poignant note for fans of the series: At the very end, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), who has been trying to get to Earth since literally the first scene of the very first movie, finally comes home. Not only that, but she also stops the aliens from reaching the planet, thereby preventing a catastrophic infestation.
"If you think this movie is dumb, wait until you see what happens if Aliens get to Earth and fight Predators."
In the movie, Ripley finds herself aboard the USM Auriga, which of course ends up riddled with those pesky xenomorphs. The Auriga is programmed to land back on Earth, but Ripley and friends decide that they can't let that happen, so they reprogram the ship to crash on the planet instead while they leave in another vessel, killing the aliens in the explosion ...
Thus solving the problem forever.
Hold on a Second ...
... along with almost everyone else on Earth, apparently. Ripley saved the planet from the aliens, but not from the huge freaking explosion she caused on its surface.
And before you bring it up, no, Earth is not abandoned in this universe. It's a dystopian future, but all the drama in the film comes from the fact that the aliens can't reach the planet alive because that would be disastrous. But you know what would be even more disastrous? Worldwide extinction.
Or at least something close to it. Seriously, check out the size of that explosion. You can tell from that clip that the continent they're blowing up is Africa, meaning that the explosion is roughly 4,600 miles wide. For comparison, the crater from the asteroid that may have killed the dinosaurs is about 112 miles wide. We have no idea how to fairly compare an exploding spaceship to a meteor impact, but it's pretty safe to assume that that kind of devastation isn't something a planet can just shrug off, ecologically speaking.
But even if we're overstating the planet-wide consequences of the largest explosion mankind has ever seen, in the absolute best case scenario, this crash still makes Ripley responsible for more human deaths than all the aliens in all the other movies combined.
"You know, we probably could have done that sun thing like those Battlestar guys."
J.F. Sargent is a Cracked workshop moderator. Follow him on Twitter and Tumblr. Please help us stop him. Davidb Marchetti is a terrible playwright for The Contemporary Theater Company. Please, support your local theater.
For more not-so-happy endings, check out 6 Movies That Didn't Realize They Let The Villain Win and 6 Superheroes Who Completely Lost Their Shit.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 3 Scientific Advances Predicted by TV Shows.