The 5 Dumbest 'I Sacrifice Myself!' Deaths In Movie History
Here's the awful truth of Hollywood screenwriting: They often start with A Thing That Happens, and then much later fill in The Reason That Thing Happens. For example, a writer will know they want a beloved character to sacrifice themselves at the end of the second act, but they'll leave the details for later. What matters is the emotional impact, not the logic. This is why so many of these scenes make no dang sense at all when you give them even a little more thought ...
Quicksilver Dying By Bullets Is Like You Getting Run Over By A Glacier
In Avengers: Age Of Ultron, or "the movie Marvel made when someone bet a producer $20 he couldn't make a superhero movie starring James Spader AND Paul Bettany," the Avengers are evacuating a levitating city while a tornado of easily killable robots swarms them. Dozens, maybe hundreds of robots die every time Thor looks at them, while the Scarlet Witch, who can seemingly do anything, kills all the ones in the direction he's not facing. The stakes are so low that the movie has time to cut occasionally to Hawkeye.
Speaking of which, there's a scene wherein Hawkeye is picking up a child to move him. Unfortunately, he moves him right into the path of Ultron's fighter jet, which is spraying a lethal barrage of bullets his way. No superhero is ever prepared for bullets, so Hawkeye grimly closes his eyes, grits his teeth, and prepares to get ripped to shreds. But along comes dickish Hawkeye-hater Quicksilver.
Using his blinding speed, Quicksilver jumps in front of the bullets. Like most audiences, he didn't really like Hawkeye, but he gave up his life to save him. And with a heartbreaking callback to a mediocre line from earlier in the film -- "I bet you didn't see that coming" -- the speedster dies.
Why It's Pointless:
We bet you saw this coming, but this might be the dumbest, least-necessary sacrifice in the entire Marvel universe, or any universe. Quicksilver is literally the fastest man alive. We see multiple times how he perceives the passage of time and how boringly slow everything is compared to him. Every moment for us is like days of him watching the world buffer.
Let's start with the obvious. Instead of jumping in front of bullets, Quicksilver could have shoved Hawkeye and the boy out of the way. Or picked up something bulletproof and put it in the way. And while on the subject of bulletproof, aircraft guns shoot giant bullets intended to punch holes in other (metal) planes -- they barely slow down when passing through the mostly liquid meat of a fragile human body. If your plan to protect someone from a jet is "human shield," you most likely died years ago from assuming the suffocation warnings on a plastic bag were sarcastic. All Quicksilver would have done by standing in the way was make sure the two were killed by well-lubricated bullets.
To make matters worse, he catches a bullet earlier in this movie. He's fast enough to pluck speeding bullets out of the air, which means that standing still and letting them tear into him would be like one of us letting a sleepy tortoise slowly crawl over and chew through our neck. There are an infinite number of options to avoid not dying here if you have super speed.
One could argue it's almost dumb to have a second superhero in a movie when one of them can move faster than anyone else can see, and can thus influence any nearby event in any way they please. That means this act is almost certainly a suicide, which is understandable when you're a character who needs to wait their version of a week for other people to finish their sentences. Every TV show was constantly on pause for him, and his sex life was almost certainly a sandpapery series of apologies. Quicksilver just wanted to end it.
For more insight, producer Kevin Feige insisted in an interview that the plan was always for Quicksilver to die because it was necessary for Scarlet Witch's journey as a character. We don't know if you remember Scarlet Witch's involvement in the following Marvel movie, Captain America: Civil War, but it's mostly sitting at Avengers HQ while Vision wears a turtleneck sweater and offers to order her pizza. So even your needless sacrifice was somehow in vain, Quicksilver.
Charlie From Lost Could Have Easily Escaped His Drowning Death
The third season of Lost ends with one of the most heartbreaking moments in the entire series. Charlie and Desmond, aka these two guys ...
... board an underwater station and deactivate a signal jammer so the other survivors can communicate beyond the mysterious island they're all trapped on. Charlie unwittingly manages to contact Desmond's girlfriend, Penny, whereupon he learns that she's at home and the boat waiting offshore for them, which was claimed to have been sent by her, has nothing to do with her. So whose boat is it? Well, the first thing every character on Lost learns is that if you don't know anything about something, it's going to end up being weirdly magical and eventually try to kill you. So this is bad news.
Before Charlie can tell anyone, the villainous Mikhail, a character we just saw get shot with a spear gun, suddenly shows up in SCUBA gear outside the window with a hand grenade. Wait, what? Well, anyway, he pulls the pin, giving Charlie mere seconds to react! So Charlie heroically seals himself inside the room to save the entire station from flooding. Desmond, rightfully confused as hell, gets there in time to watch Charlie slam the door. As deadly water fills the room, Charlie's last act is writing "NOT PENNYS BOAT" on his hand. He dies a hero, though not a man who knows where to properly place an apostrophe.
Why It's Pointless:
Let's start with what will seem kind of obvious after you hear it. Water wouldn't fill the station at all due to the air pressure there, and if water could enter, it wouldn't rise above where the window was broken. Charlie could have comfortably stood in chest-deep water and breathed in the rest of the oxygen for hours. So he shouldn't have died AT ALL. But it's a spooky island, so maybe their ocean water and air pressure behave differently and we can ignore this. Fine.
So now, assuming his life was even in danger, why did he stay in the room at all? It's not like he was paralyzed with confusion. He instantly recognized the grenade and reacted with plenty of time to run out of the room and close the door behind him. The only reason to stay inside would be to hide his suicide in a story only confused idiots or generous apologists could find heroic. And we're not even done explaining all the reasons his death was ridiculously pointless.
Let's say he HAD to close the door for another magical island reason we can't understand. Who cares? The grenade left a person-sized hole in the wall. He could wait for the water to stop pouring in and then enjoy a nice swim home. Swimming between shore and there is not only humanly possible, but we saw that exact character do it two episodes before! It would have made more sense to swallow a note that said "NOT PENNYS BOAT" and then feed himself to one of the polar bears while screaming, "The secret will lie in this bear's shiARRRRRGHHH!!!!"
Walt's Death In Gran Torino Couldn't Have Been The Only Option
Gran Torino stars Clint Eastwood as a recently widowed, currently racist old man named Walt who slowly befriends a family of Hmong Americans and learns enough about their culture to think of them as people, but not enough to stop using ethnic slurs. Fun Fact: Despite all of said slurs, this movie has been used to teach Australian kids how racism is wrong. The film was thought indisputably great when it came out in 2009, back when Eastwood seemed well-meaning and wasn't insanely mocking President Obama by talking to an empty chair.
Soon, a gang of Hmong criminals start terrorizing Walt's new friends. He confronts them multiple times, but they escalate the conflict until they wind up kidnapping and raping one of them and doing a drive-by shooting on their home. The police won't help, unfortunately, because the community won't testify against the gang. Walt then comes up with a plan: He goads the gang into killing him in front of a bunch of witnesses who already consider him a hero. This way, they will testify in his murder trial, bypassing the loophole that the good Hmong people won't testify against the bad Hmong people.
In the final confrontation, Walt yells at the gang and then reaches into his coat pocket for a lighter, then rips it out like it's a gun. The gang fires, killing the shit out of him. Every member shoots him with every single bullet in their gun or guns. But the plan works! All of them are arrested for the murder, and due to the number of witnesses, they all face a lengthy stay in prison! He did it!
Why It's Pointless:
Let's start with the obvious: Walt had made a huge difference in these peoples' lives, and if this plan failed, he really wouldn't get a second shot. Once he's dead, he's no longer around to protect his friends or issue his cantankerous pearls of wisdom. That's why in the real world, suicide missions are usually a last resort. And while the end result was exactly to his design, it really does seem like there were multiple other, less-insane options.
The gang needed to go to jail for its awful crimes, but there was already a way to send them there: for their awful crimes. It seems like it would have been easier to convince someone to testify than to convince a group of unpredictable gang members to commit a public homicide in exactly the way he needs it to happen. You may argue that the whole plot of the movie is in how nobody in this neighborhood testifies in court and how the cops don't give a shit about anything. But that's the problem -- Walt was a cranky, elderly man who kept to himself. The idea that his death would cause sweeping policy changes for law enforcement and the community is a wild Hail Mary of a play. Hell, he was making a threatening gesture on the suspects' own property! If you've been paying attention to the news, that's the kind of detail that could make a murder conviction unlikely, even if they didn't have an outright self-defense claim.
We realize this isn't the kind of movie in which Walt would stride over to the gang hideout and mow everyone down with his M1 Garand while Drowning Pool blasts over the speakers. (Though now that we think of it ...) The story arc requires some kind of emotional final sacrifice to make up for all of his prior racism, we get it. We're just saying that Walt put a hell of a lot of faith in the courage of his fellow man and the fairness of the justice system after both of them spent 75 percent of the movie letting him down.
Susan's Death In Deep Blue Sea Was Only Because Test Audiences Hated Her
If you haven't seen the movie Deep Blue Sea, you've probably at least seen the scene in which Samuel L. Jackson starts to give a rousing motivational speech and gets interrupted by a shark attack from out of nowhere. It's one of the greatest surprises in cinematic history. But here's another surprise: Outside of that clip, there are another 104 minutes of movie and one song about how LL Cool J's hat is like a shark's fin. No really, that's the title of the song.
So a genetically engineered super-intelligent shark is about to escape the confines of this remote marine laboratory and get into open waters, where it will presumably terrorize the world. Dr. Susan McAlester, the woman who violated scientific ethics codes in the name of lunatic shark research, decides on the perfect plan: She's going to cut her hand open so her delicious, fragrant blood will distract the beast.
She leaps into the sea and swims out to attract the shark with one last meal before it leaves through the gate. The second part of her plan is to climb out of the water before being eaten, but unfortunately, the ladder breaks and the shark gobbles her up while being super intelligent enough to know how fucking weird it is for her to feed herself to him. Still, it works! She prevents the super shark from reaching the open ocean!
Why It's Pointless:
Let's rewind to the part right before she decides to jump into waters inhabited by a super smart shark capable of swimming up to 60 miles an hour. Holy shit, 60? And she wanted to ... OK, let's think about this. Most people know sharks can smell trace amounts of blood from three miles away, but what you might NOT know is that shark noses can't detect whether that blood is attached to a fully submerged creature. This shark doctor didn't have to jump in the water. She could have "safely" dripped her blood into the water from the top of the platform. Or at worst, climbed down and dangled her hand in the water.
And OK, if she felt the need to jump ALL THE WAY INTO the water, why did she have to jump so far out? She leapt like ten feet out, and then swam another 30 feet away from her planned escape route? This shark scientist was fully capable of doing the math of "shark speed of 60 mph" versus "dumbass speed of 0 mph," and she decided that her plan should include an unnecessary 40-foot swim back. She wasn't even trying to lure the shark into a trap or anything -- there's nothing to gain from the shark swimming up right to her. To be clear, she's only trying to get the creature to turn around instead of getting out beyond the gate. No one will ever make a worse shark-distracting plan than this character, the world's leading shark scientist.
As a matter of fact, when Thomas Jane reveals the shark is too far out to shoot, she says that she knows how to get it closer. When Jane says "How?" She cryptically replies, "Bait." She is the worst. What do you gain from vagueness at this point? Shouldn't she tell him, "Hey, I'm going to swim super far out with a cut on my hand. Be ready to shoot the fastest shark species on the planet in the face with your gun so I don't get eaten. Cool?" instead of slicing her hand and diving to her certain doom?
If you want to argue that she might be panicking in the moment and not thinking clearly, reference the scene right before, in which the she sexily takes off her rubber wetsuit to insulate herself, then rips a conduit off the wall and uses it to electrocute a charging shark. This is a plan she thinks of on the fly in the face of certain death. That's how cool, clever, and eager to get nude this character is. So in seven minutes, she goes from the perfect action movie character to this fish food dingbat?
Does it seem like we're spending a lot of time on this movie you forgot even existed until right now? There's a reason for that. See, in the original script, Dr. McAlester's gambit works perfectly and the shark is drawn back into the water and killed, with both her and Jane's character surviving. The problem? Test audiences hated her. They wanted her to pay for playing Shark God, and were furious that she survived. The director said they even received comment cards that said "Kill this bitch." It's hard to argue with that kind of feedback, so he didn't. They recut the scene so that the doctor's stupid stupidness would get her bitten in half. That's right: She wasn't killed by a shark at all. She was killed by a focus group, making it arguably the saddest death in cinema history.
Obi-Wan Kenobi's Death Accomplished Nothing
We imagine you know this, but in the first Star Wars, the Millennium Falcon is dragged aboard the Death Star while travelling the wreckage of Alderaan. While Luke, Han, Chewie, and the droids work to free Princess Leia, Obi-Wan sneaks off on his own to shut down the station's tractor beam. Despite it being a moon-sized space facility, this all takes place within walking distance of their ship. With that little room to maneuver, there's no way for Obi-Wan to avoid running into the guy he once carved into pieces and left for dead on a lava beach, Darth Vader.
They begin an epic duel, completing the circular nature of their relationship as learner and master, but with far fewer spin moves, front flips, and lightsaber-juggling than in their last fight. They battle to a stalemate, drawing the attention of a small number of storm troopers, which allows the rest of the crew to run to the Falcon. Luke notices Ben and Vader fighting and stops, as if to say both "Hey, I know that guy" and "Sweet laser sword fight!" Ben sees Luke, then raises his lightsaber, opening himself for a death blow from Vader. In one swing, he's atomized and collapses into a pile of clothes? What!?
Whatever it was, it was the exact distraction and motivation they needed to get on the ship and escape the Death Star. His brave sacrifice made the entire future of the Galaxy possible and became one of the most iconic moments in movie history.
Why It's Pointless:
In a slightly less iconic moment in movie history, they cut away from the escaping heroes to show Grand Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader explain how they wanted the Falcon to escape so they can track its movements to the rebel base. The first exchange of dialogue is Moff asking Darth if they're sure the trespassers have escaped. The second is Tarkin confirming that they've stowed a homing beacon aboard the Falcon. The scene closes with Tarkin ominously telling Vader "this had better work." And it does! The next time we see Vader and Tarkin, they're rapidly approaching Yavin IV, the home of the Rebel base. And Obi-Wan's sacrifice had almost nothing to do with Vader and Tarkin's plan. His death made no difference whatsoever, and would be called a "happy accident" if Vader was a more whimsical character.
If you want to claim Obi-Wan's death allowed him to give Luke the message to use the Force when he fired at the Death Star's exhaust port, you know how else he could have told him that? Through a communicator. Or before he left. Really, it's not worth killing yourself simply so you can float around giving obvious advice as a space ghost.
We here at Cracked have already covered Obi-Wan's death being Alec Guinness' idea because he wanted to be involved with Star Wars as little as possible. Obi-Wan was originally intended to live on in sequels until Lucas had to write in his death. But you'd think Lucas would have done more than write a sticky note saying "REMINDER: Find good way to kill Ben?" and then forget about it until an hour before the shoot.
Wes Corwin is a stand-up comedian currently based in Dallas. You can like him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter, or if you live in Dallas and enjoy comedy and alcohol, check out his weekly show at Noble Rey Brewery on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.
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