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Top 10 Actors Who Always Die Onscreen

Somebody's always gotta die in your favorite movies, and these actors who always die onscreen know how to do it best.

If you see these guys in a flick, don’t get too attached. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 actors who always die onscreen.

For this list, we’ve chosen actors who seem to bite it inordinately often in films and on TV, but we’re ranking them not necessarily based on the quantity, but on the quality of their on-screen deaths. And, it should go without saying, but spoiler alert!

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#10 – Bruce Willis

As John McClane, he’s unstoppable. Actually, y’might even call Willis “Unbreakable.” But unfortunately, that skill doesn’t carry over to all his movies: he’s had his fair share of on-screen deaths. Some are deserved, some are shocking, some are tearjerkers, some are black-and-white, some are patriotic, and more than one has been at the hands of his ex-wife. Either way, even if he just goes poof, it’s memorable. 

#9 – Danny Trejo

Trejo is used to dishing it out on the big screen. But if you’re gonna play a buncha bad dudes, you’re gonna get into trouble. Like head-on-a-turtle trouble. Like multiple-Tarantino-rage-stabs-to-the-chest trouble. Like pool-cue-through-the-heart trouble. Like clotheslined-with-a-gas-pump trouble. And sometimes, people are going to go through hell just to send you there.

#8 – Leonardo DiCaprio

Poor Leo: he cannot catch a break when it comes to his on-screen love life. Just when he finds the girl of his dreams, something gets in the way. Like death. Or icebergs. With his choice of roles, it seems this A-lister’s got something against sequels, since he consistently bites the big one, often in fairly painful ways. Honestly, put him out of his misery. Okay, that was unnecessary.

#7 – Gary Oldman

He’s a master-of-disguise, and a phenomenal actor, which is why when he kicks it in a flick; we definitely feel something—whether it’s madness, sadness, or just plain gladness. Oldman’s chameleon skills let him disappear into doomed biopic roles, doomed book-to-film roles and doomed eccentric/psychotic roles, where we’ve seen him die from drugs, guns, explosions, stabbings, pigs and, uh, well this. We really should be expecting this by now…

#6 – Steve Buscemi

It’s rare Buscemi makes it through a movie, and when he does he’s presumably creeping us out. But what makes this talented character actor a perfect candidate for an on-screen demise is his fantastic dying face, which he’s shown off as he’s been knifed, icepicked, axed and woodchipped, and shot—a lot. Actually, there are quite a few instances where we’re thinking: “really? Did he have to die?” 

#5 – Mickey Rourke

Even before he took one too many blows to the face, Mickey Rourke played the bad guy. And bad guys gotta die. They blow themselves up, or get strangled in diners, or go to the electric chair—pretty standard. Even when we identify with Rourke’s characters, they bite it. And although we might question whether he died in The Wrestler, this movie leaves less to interpretation.

#4 – Gary Busey

We’re not sure why, but there’s a certain satisfaction you get when Busey buys the farm on-screen. Especially when it comes after a mudwrestling match. Honestly, Busey knows how to take a bullet like a man. Alright, we’re not always happy to see him go, but when he pulls off something like this, well, he takes the cake—or cookie.

#3 – Robert De Niro

You may be thinking: “but De Niro doesn’t check out in his most famous movies!” And you’d be right. But it’s an occupational hazard the greats deal with: you make as many movies as De Niro; you will end up dead a lot. And, since De Niro is most adept at playing mobsters, he stares down the barrel of a gun enough—and rarely lives to tell the tale. 

#2 – John Hurt

The name says it all. For over half a century, this British actor has sacrificed himself for our entertainment. It’s not like he takes the easy way out, either: he’s been hanged, shot, stabbed, beaten, etc.—and most of these, more than once. In fact, not only does Hurt have over 40 on-screen deaths to his name; he’s also part of one of the most famous death scenes ever put to film.

#1 – Sean Bean

You may know him better as “that guy who dies in all movies.” Sure, sometimes he’s asking for it. But unlike many of our choices, Bean often plays beloved heroes who meet their makers and leave us wanting more. And he tops the list because he’s died so often and in such inventive ways: there are the standards, but he’s also been stampeded by cows, dismembered by horses, bow-and-arrowed, and—of course—beheaded.

Do you agree with our list? Which actors do you swim with the fishes most often? For more top 10s about your favorite stars, be sure to subscribe to

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