Content Warning: This article contains references/images of graphic violence
Movie villains tend to be over-the-top, on purpose, for the sake of creating tension, drama, and excitement. They tend to be charismatic and fascinating, no matter how awful their behavior is, and the only thing better is watching how they meet their maker at the hands of the hero in the film’s climax.
Many of these villains plunge to their deaths with varying degrees of dramatic flair, and they’ve been immortalized on screen in some of the most re-watched movie scenes in history. It’s not enough for a villain to fall, either. They’ve got to give it that extra-special level of dramatic impact before the actual impact occurs.
10 Saruman (Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King)
This dramatic death can only be viewed via the Extended Edition version of Return of the King, much to the chagrin of moviegoers who went to see it on opening night in theaters. The scene in question features Christopher Lee’s Saruman confronting Gandalf after his forces were defeated by the combined strength of the Ents.
They share a brief exchange where Saruman hints at Sauron’s next move, only for things to fall apart immediately afterward. When Gríma Wormtongue knifes Saruman in the back, he falls from the tower of Orthanc and impales himself on a water wheel’s protruding spike.
9 Alec Trevelyan (GoldenEye)
006 and 007 had a tumultuous history together, with the latter learning that the former had gone rogue after a botched operation. Under the name Janus, 006, aka Alec Trevelyan, sought to get his hands on GoldenEye, a satellite-based EMP weapon developed by the Russians prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The two squared off one final time on a giant communications dish in Cuba, ending with Bond catching Trevelyan by the leg. After delivering one of the coolest James Bond quotes of all time, Bond let Trevelyan plummet to his death with a spectacular death scream worthy of Sean Bean’s caliber.
8 Travis Dane (Under Siege 2: Dark Territory)
One of the silliest and most hilarious falling death scenes in any action film comes courtesy of the entertaining Steven Seagal action vehicle, Under Siege 2. This sequel takes place on a moving train that has been hijacked by terrorists, who have control of a top-secret satellite weapon that can trigger earthquakes anywhere on the globe.
The end sequence finds the train ready to derail, and Casey Ryback scrambling for an exit. He climbs a helicopter ladder to safety, only to discover the main antagonist, Travis Dane, also trying to get on board. Ryback slams the helicopter door, severing all his fingers in a comical fashion and sending Dane plummeting to a fiery death.
7 The Joker (Batman)
The Joker’s climactic fight against Batman in the final act of Tim Burton’s 1989 classic is one for the books. After taking out the Joker’s men, Batman turns his attention to the criminal who murdered his parents so many years before. Clearly outclassed in terms of physical strength, the Joker tips the scales in his favor by throwing both Batman and Vicki Vale over the edge of a church tower.
As they cling to the edge, the Joker laughs and dances, giving Batman the chance to zip-tie his leg with a grappling gun. As the Joker’s helicopter pulls him away from the edge, it catches on a stone gargoyle, which is enough to make him lose his grip, leading him to plunge to his death.
6 Hans Gruber (Die Hard)
The first Die Hard film ended with Alan Rickman’s indomitable and diabolical Hans Gruber falling to his death in super-slow motion, with a wide shot showing the plunge from another angle. It occurs when John McClane pretends to surrender to Gruber in the final act, only to surprise him with a service pistol taped behind his back.
Gruber goes through the window but threatens to take John’s wife Holly along with him. As Gruber prepares to shoot them both dead, McClane undoes Holly’s wristwatch, causing him to lose his grip and plunge to his death in shock. Director John McTiernan later revealed in the Die Hard commentary track that he dropped Rickman earlier than expected in order to capture a look of genuine fear on his face.
5 Goro (Mortal Kombat)
The 1995 Mortal Kombat film pitted Johnny Cage against the fearsome Goro for a fight to turn the tide back in Earth Realm’s favor. It came hot on the heels of Cage learning an important life lesson hinted at by Raiden, where he decided to take his destiny into his own hands and fight for something more than himself.
Clearly outmatched in terms of physical strength, Cage uses cunning and psychological warfare to whittle him down before kicking him off the edge of a cliff. Hanging on with one hand, Goro looked up to a victorious cage, who uttered the line “This is where you fall down.” The rest is history.
4 Dick Jones (RoboCop)
The unscrupulous Dick Jones had a lot to answer for in the first RoboCop film. Not only did he get Bob Morton killed out of spite after he was one-upped on the corporate ladder, but he also teamed up with Detroit’s most violent and sadistic criminal. By the time the dust settled, RoboCop was ready for some payback.
However, Jones had secretly implanted a Fourth Directive into RoboCop’s programming, preventing him from arresting any senior member of OCP. When Jones took the Old Man hostage, the latter fired him on the spot, which was enough to undo the Fourth Directive. RoboCop shot Jones to death and sent him plummeting out of the boardroom window.
3 Commander Kruge (Star Trek III: The Search For Spock)
Rescuing Spock involved doing whatever it took, and Captain Kirk and crew were ready for the challenge. After going rogue and stealing the U.S.S. Enterprise in contradiction of orders, they fled to the fledgling Genesis planet, where Spock’s body was in radical stages of resurrection.
The Klingon Commander, known as Kruge, had his own plans for the Genesis device, wanting to turn it into a weapon. After ordering Kirk’s son killed, the two fought violently while the Genesis planet tore itself apart. Kruge met his head when Kirk kicked him into a river of magma, then procured his ship.
2 Mace Windu (Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge Of The Sith)
When Chancellor Palpatine finally revealed himself as Darth Sidious, the Jedi were dispatched to remove him from power. The Sith Lord cut down several of them in an instant, leaving only Mace Windu, a hardened Jedi warrior. The two fought tooth and nail, until Windu gained the upper hand, and prepared to strike him down.
The untimely intervention of Anakin Skywalker gave Sidious the opportunity he needed to turn the tide. He unleashed the full power of dark side Force lightning on Windu, which knocked him clear out of the Chancellor’s chambers, and to his presumed death. Had Windu succeeded in arresting Sidious, his story would have played out quite differently.
1 The T-1000 (Terminator 2: Judgment Day)
One of the most dramatic falling villain deaths comes courtesy of Terminator 2, during the last scene in the metalworks factory. After taking the form of his mother, the T-1000 tried luring John Connor, his primary target, towards him for the final killing blow. The real Sarah Connor showed up to even the score, firing a grenade which blasted the T-1000 apart.
The damage done to the Terminator was extensive, and before it had time to recombine itself, it toppled into a vat of molten lead, dissolving molecule by molecule, whilst thrashing about in an attempt to save itself. The spine-tingling screeching was but a precursor to the final image of its face-melting away, ending the threat once and for all.
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