13 Movies That Tricked You By Killing The Main Character Early
Seriously, ALL OF THE SPOILERS.
If you were like me and thought you’d enjoy an hour and a half of staring at [spoiler] in the new movie Life, you ended up spending the majority of the film pissed off and silently cursing the person who thought killing ’em early on was a “good idea.”
Of course, Life is certainly not the first film to advertise a major star and later shock the audience by murdering him or her less than hour into the story. Referred to as “false protagonists” or “decoy protagonists,” this storytelling technique pops up in other pop-culture mediums besides film, including literature, video games, and TV (hi, Ned Stark). Every time it happens, it trips audiences up. Check out some more examples below.
Bae Ryan Reynolds was the first to die in this film about a group of crew members trapped on the International Space Station with an alien named “Calvin.” His gruesome death happened less than 40 minutes into the movie. Based on the trailer, it appeared Ariyon Bakare (Hugh) would die first, but surprise! Reynolds’s character Rory tried to save Hugh and look what that got him.
Arguably the most famous case of a “false protagonist,” Janet Leigh was murdered in the shower—cue the iconic music—approximately 47 minutes into the movie. Psycho is considered by many to be the first example of a film employing a “false protagonist.”
4. The Place Beyond The Pines
Ryan Gosling didn’t last too long in this 2012 crime drama. He was shot and killed by Bradley Cooper during the first third of the film.
Though Bryan Cranston was teased as a major star of the 2014 remake, playing monumental roles in the countless trailers, his character was killed off early on in the film. Cranston referred to his character’s premature death as a “mistake” and a “waste.”
6. The Godfather
Though Marlon Brando was considered the face of The Godfather franchise, his character, Don Vito Corleone, was shot early on, mostly spending the rest of the movie in a hospital bed. He eventually died of a heart attack. His son, Michael (Al Pacino), ended up being the true protagonist of the film.
In 1979, audiences didn’t expect Sigourney Weaver (Ripley) to survive the film, but that’s exactly what happened. Weaver was unknown at the time, unlike costars John Hurt and Tom Skerritt, who both died early into the movie.
In this underrated thriller, Christian Slater was the first of many deaths, thanks to a jug of liquid nitrogen bursting and hitting him dead-on, subsequently freezing him to death.
While it wasn’t a huge shock that Gwyneth Paltrow died early on, based on the trailer, audiences didn’t expect Kate Winslet to also die so soon.
Eric Dane’s character was literally called “Hero,” but he still died by being pulled through a window and decapitated by a monster during the opening scene. Ironically, he told the bar full of people, “I’m the guy who’s gonna save your ass,” a good 0.5 seconds before getting killed.
11. Deep Blue Sea
No one expected star Samuel L. Jackson to get eaten by a shark less than an hour into the movie while he was delivering a kick-ass speech.
12. G.I. Joe: Retaliation
Though Channing Tatum was the star of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, he didn’t last long in its sequel. Of course, there was no lost love there, as Tatum told Howard Stern he “fucking hate[d]” the first G.I. Joe film.
13. The Lion King
Don’t @ me on this. Going into that movie as a kid, there’s no way you knew James Earl Jones’s Mufasa was gonna die—gruesomely, might I add—before Simba was even a teen lion (unless you read Hamlet at 6 years old or something).