10 of the Most Memorable Movie Suicides

Movie Suicides

Now, this isn’t an article about actors like Owen Wilson Jonathan Brandis who actually did kill themselves; rather, it’s a rundown of ten memorable suicides in modern cinema. 

And unlike James Vance, these guys got it right.  Some characters off themselves to avoid humiliation, while others do it for a greater good.  Here are ten (or eleven?) characters who decided that living wasn’t an option:

1. Private Gomer Pyle – Full Metal Jacket

Movie Suicides - Full Metal Jacket

Perhaps the most memorable of any movie suicide is seen in Full Metal Jacket.  After weeks of abuse from his drill seargant and fellow soldiers, a broken-down Private Pyle blows his brains out with his rifle while sitting on the toilet.  Pyle’s death is a truly distubring scene.

2. The Predator – Predator

Movie Suicides - Predator

The only man remaining from his team, Dutch is left to fight The Predator alone.  The Predator beats the hell out of him, But Dutch manages to crawl to a trap he rigged and set it off, causing a humongous log to drop on the Predator’s head. 

In an awesome move that is saturated with spite, the Predator activates his self-destruct device while laughing manically (or, playing back a recording of Billy’s laugh?).  Dutch somehow manages to not only survive but to have no serious injuries after the nuclear blast. 

Also: am I alone in thinking that the movie is unrealistic only in the sense that there’s no way a group of hardass soldiers like Dutch’s team would run around with a cute female prisoner and NOT gang rape her? 

It’s tough for me to take the movie seriously because of that flaw.  An alien coming to Earth to hunt humans for sport, though?  Sure, I’ll bite.

3. Warden Samuel Norton – The Shawshank Redemption

Movie Suicides - Shawshank Redemption

The crooked Warden Samuel Norton exploited his prisoners for profit and money laundered, so you don’t feel too bad when he offs himself.  After learning that Andy had sent evidence of the Warden’s crimes to the newspapers, Warden Norton decides it’s better to be dead.  He makes a mess of his death, opting for the ol’ gun-under-the-chin method.

4. Ellen Ripley – Alien 3

Movie Suicides - Ripley

Ellen Ripley is pretty much the coolest movie heroine ever, so it’s fitting that it’s Ripley herself and not an alien that eventually kills her.  Well, sort of.  In Alien 3, Ripley’s got an alien queen growing inside of her.  Instead of letting the Wayland-Yutani Corporation quarantine and study the queen, Ripley falls back into a giant furnace like she’s taking the Nestea Plunge, killing herself and the alien.

5. Johann von Wolfhausen – Beerfest

Movie Suicides - Beerfest

At his funeral, Johann von Wolfhausen appears in a videotape with a message to those in attendance.  He addresses his grandchildren, instructing them to spread his ashes at Thereienwiese.  Johann then chugs a beer and pulls the plug to his life support, dying instantly.  And somewherein the world, some sick f*ck gets off on stuff like that.

6. Detective John Hobbes – Fallen

Movie Suicides - Fallen

In Fallen, Detective John Hobbes tracks down a spirit called Azazel that jumps from body to body and makes its host do horrible things.  Seriously.  This is a real movie for which Denzel Washington read the script and said, “Yeah, I’ll totally be in this sh*t.  This is a sweet idea.”  Anyway, Hobbes becomes possessed with Azazel, but not before he smokes a poison-laced cigarette. 

If he kills himself, Hobbes reasons, Azazel will have nowhere to jump and will die, too.  Hobbes dies, but Azazel lucks out and jumps into a cat that was in the vicinity.  I honestly think Fallen may have been ghost-written by Denzel’s six year-old kid.

7. Lt. Col. Matthew Markinson – A Few Good Men

Movie Suicides - A Few Good Men

OK, I know this picture of JT Walsh isn’t from A Few Good Men, but I just couldn’t find one of JT Walsh as Markinson.  I tried hard, too, but once I started finding pics of scenes from the gay porn “A Few Good Men,” I figured I had searched enough.  In the Rob Reiner version of this movie, Markinson was part of a cover up to hide the death of Santiago.  Rather than face exposure for this conspiracy, Markinson puts on his full uniform before blowing his brains out with a pistol.

8. Private Jenette Vasquez & Lt. William Gorman – Aliens


“You always were an asshole, Gorman.”  In an act of altruism, bad ass Vasquez and Lt. Gorman destory themselves – and a ton of aliens – with a grenade.  This buys time for Ripley and co. to escape from the remaining aliens.  I think Vasquez would just pulverize me in bed, by the way.  There’d be a lot of crying and self-doubt after that session.

9. Russell Casse – Independence Day


While maybe not as preposterous as Fallen, ID4 is a pretty silly movie.  It’s still very watchable, though, and one of my guilty pleasures.  Russell Casse claims to have been abducted by aliens that stuck things up his butt, so it’s pretty understandable that he’s looking for vengeance when they arrive.  Casse returns the favor, flying a jet right into the alien ship’s most powerful weapon – an obvious metaphor for anal probing.  The collision causes a giant explosion, killing Casse but bringing down the giant alien aircraft with him.

10. John Hatigan – Sin City


After re-castrating Junior Roark (aka That Yellow Bastard), Detective John Hartigan beats him to death.  To protect Nancy Callihan from the Roark family, who is sure to seek revenge, Hartigan shoots himself in the head.  With Hartigan dead, the Roark family will have lost its most valuable lead in the seach for Nancy.  “An old man dies, a young woman lives; fair trade.”  Especially when that young woman is Jessica Alba.

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  1. i love you so much madison…i am going to name my first daughter after you.

    also, i liked the sincity reference. i also suggest some high brow stuff like anything by bill shakespere

  2. I didn’t see the Guardian. Is that the one with Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher? Does Kutcher kill himself? Is it messy? I may have to see it, then.

  3. There are a couple good ones in Before the Fall (Napola).

    Not a super big blockbuster or anything, not too many have seen it. Good movie. I recommend it.

  4. What are you, 13 years old and still having delusional wet dreams? Just because you see crap like that in the movies or hear about it from some third world country, Kick Ass Military Squads do not typically gang rape female prisoners, cute or not. Unlike you, most men do not think about sex (especially rape) every 3 seconds. Soldiers like the ones described by the characters in Predator are very professional, not sick bastards.

    Grow up.

  5. Ben – Leon’s in The Professional was an oversight on my part. Excellent call.

    Troy – Was just joking, I thought that was clear. Dutch’s crew were a great bunch of dudes. I think about sex every 3 seconds, but rape maybe only once every 4 days or so. And even then, it’s thoughts about me being raped. So no offense meant to the good soldiers out there.

  6. @ Madison

    The Narrator never killed himself in Fight Club. That scene where he shoots himself in the face in the movie is pretty similar to how it ended in the book. Because the book doesn’t end with his death, i dont want to post any spoilers for those who havent read the book, but there is a scene after that where he is clearly alive.

  7. @ Saul

    I think it’s kind of unclear in the book. I don’t want to post any spoilers, either, but where he ends up and what people are wearing – well, it could be one of two things. Definitely agree that he doesn’t kill himself in the movie, though.

    @Jean Reno

    I know. I am ashamed.

  8. Fightclub’s narrator suicide should be num. 1. Though he didn’t die but it was done very well, cinematography-wise and served a purpose.

  9. Have any of you read Fight Club? He does not kill himself. It’s very clear about that and what happens to him…are you serious?
    And he doesn’t kill himself in the movie either, fucking christ, crack a book you lazy sons of bitches.

    As for suicide scenes…Cache, anyone? It should tie for the top spot. Or, um, a little movie called The Deer Hunter? Hey, what about fucking SUICIDE CLUB

    Also, Ian Curtis is shown doing himself in during both Control and 24 Hour Party People.

    Try watching something that wasn’t made by a suit with a hard-on for explosions.

  10. not trying to offend, but you should put more thought into your top ten lists. the comments here already took several suggestions out of my mouth. i know it’s just a matter of differing opinions, but i think you left out some real big movie roles. don’t rush your next list.

  11. What about the nanny in The Omen? The scene where she hangs herself in front of all of Damien’s guests at his birthday party is one of my top scary moments in film from when I was a kid.

  12. Not a bad list I suppose. Suicide is one thing, but if I had to choose the method of my death taken from movies, nothing….and I mean nothing…would top riding a nuclear bomb down to it’s target like Slim Pickens did in “Dr. Strangelove”.

  13. the suicide of the sonny (Heath Ledger ) in “Monster ball” was by far the most moving suicide scene i’ve ever seen, maybe only private pyle suicide can be compared to that

  14. @Andreas How is Dennis Hopper in True Romance a suicide? Granted one of the greatest scenes in cinema, but clearly homocide. Just because he takes the opportunity to insult Walken’s character does not make it suicide.

    What about Brenden Gleeson in “In Bruges”? Granted he was on his way out, but damn what a great scene.

  15. @catzDrCatz

    Hard Candy is a great movie; David Slade is definitely growing on me. Oversight on my part not to include that one — there’s a lot of movie suicides.

  16. Rules of Attraction was definitely the most memorable, heart wrenching one for me. I thought of it as soon as I read the title of this list….and I can’t even hear that dang Air Supply song without getting an upset stomach.

  17. Though it’s not on-screen, the suicide of Billy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest really got me when I was youg. Messy, bloody, and key to the ending of the movie, as well as cementing the evilness of the Nurse Ratchett character.

  18. Once Were Warriors (the mother’s reaction upon finding her hanged daughter in the backyard tree shakes me up every time.)

    And I’m truly shocked that Life of David Gale hasn’t been mentioned yet.

  19. What about Resident Evil: Extinction towards the end? Carlos Olivera (Oded Ferh) lighting a joint and then exploding a shitload of zombies… what a way to go.

  20. OK, you all missed the absolute #1 best movie suicide ever, although it was off screen: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Certainly a suicidal act, if not pure suicide.

    I don’t fault you on the list, some very good calls here. Leon, The Professional, is a minor cult classic, but it is one of my all-time favorites. And #2 on my list of movie suicides.

  21. 2 more: Brittany Murphy’s character in Girl…Interrupted, and there’s a crazy one in Dead Zone where a guy jams his open mouth onto a pair of open scissors!

  22. How are we all forgetting Ritchie Tenenbaum from The Royal Tenenbaums? I mean, obviously it’s unsuccessful, but it’s beautiful and features amazing camera work and music.

  23. What about Mr. White (Harvey Kietel) in Reservoir Dogs? Or Doyle (Jeremy Kenner) in 28 Weeks Later? Anzor (Karel Roden) in Running Scared? Stan Obler (John Carroll Lynch) in Volcano? I think that these are all memorable.

  24. @Josh

    Mr. White’s and Anzor’s deaths weren’t suicides. You don’t think the gunmen who shot Anzor would be tried for murder? Oh, your honor, he walked away from us and we shot him. Total suicide.

    And White was killed by the cops.

  25. Yes, but, it was a suicidal act. Mr. White did what is commonly known as “Suicide by Cop.” Anzors death was a suicidal act by defiance. He refused to kill so instead he was killed. They may not have pulled the trigger, but they did what they did knowing they would die. To me that is suicide.

  26. Yeah “Running Scared” definitely surprised me. If Paul Walker did more films like that, I might actually like him. I do agree that I was arguing semantics, but that’s what I do. Though I do stand behind Mr. White, I think that if the cops weren’t there he would’ve offed himself. They just gave him an easier option.

  27. I agree–Thelma and Louise belong on the list.

    But the one I remember most vividly was a movie I saw when I was a kid (and far too young for it!): Jane Fonda, in “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” Okay, she didn’t do it herself in the end, but still…

  28. Armageddon anyone??

    Totally obvious and the only thing the hero of the movie could do but still….Taking out a huge asteroid and saving the Earth and your daughter’s fiancé in the process has to deserve some kudos.

    Tho Robert Duvall gets none, simply cause he took a bunch of people with him and Bruce Willis does it all by himself.


  29. Good list and interesting topic. I would add “The Big Chill” (Kevin Costner played the corpse) even though we don’t see it happen, just because the suicide was precipitant of rest of events in movie. Also, I would add Bruce Dern’s walk into ocean from “Coming Home.”

  30. Uh – when Richie slits his wrists in The Royal Tenenbaums, he doesn’t die. In order to be an actual suicide it has to be SUCCESSFUL. Otherwise it’s just attempted suicide.

    Really – they don’t give out Nobel Prizes for ATTEMPTED chrmistry, do they?

  31. What the writer of this piece needs to learn is (a) the value of having an “honorable mention” section for dumping a lot of material into and (b) the fact that provocative-but-lazy lists may get a lot of clicks,
    and may generate lots of comments, but long-term they damage the overall credibility of a site. The “comments” section is where to go to get a definitive list, although the mention there of Butch Cassidy doesn’t work for me, I believe those guys thought they’d get out of their situation, they were in denial about the pickle they were in for the whole last third of the film. Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove is also mentioned in the comments – actually he didn’t climb onto that bomb with the intention of riding it down, he just wanted to fix the thing; when it came loose he was caught off guard, there was nothing he could do, so he went with it; that’s not suicide. “Thelma and Louise” is definitely worthy of honorable mention as is “Boogie Nights.” “Coming Home” – that one is flat-out terrifying. “The Professional.” “Mishima” maybe. “Leaving Las Vegas” should absolutely, positively be there. The best one of all IMO is the priest in “The Exorcist” who deliberately allows the demon to enter his body and then hurls himself out the window down the steps to kill himself and the demon.

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