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Top 10 Unusual Operating Room Movie Scenes

These unusual operating room movie scenes made us a little more afraid of paying the doctor a visit.

We’ve all had weird experiences with hospitals, but none like this. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 unusual operating room scenes.

For this list, there doesn’t need to be an actual operation occurring in these scenes—we’re looking at any weird, unexpected, or otherwise bizarre situation that happens to be set in an operating room. Whether they’re tinged in science fiction or dressed in the elements of horror, these big screen scenes take our understanding of a typical operating room setting and flip it on its head. Also, a SPOILER ALERT is probably in order.

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#10: The Miracle of Birth “Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life” (1983)

Isn’t childbirth a wondrous occasion? Monty Python’s final film starts off toying with that sentiment—at first by showing us a pregnant woman being wheeled through a seemingly endless corridor, and then by playing to our worst fears about medical staff. The Monty Python comedy troupe portrays doctors who have little interest in delivering a child, but are utterly enamored with various expensive machines and devices that go “ping.” It’s plenty amusing to watch so-called professionals care so little about their work, but the scene also surprisingly works as a cautionary tale about skewed priorities. 

#9: Barging in at Gunpoint “Lucy” (2014)

Coming in unannounced is plenty rude, but doing it at gunpoint is just not okay. Nevertheless, the titular Lucy does just that after having an experimental drug enter her body; she marches into a nearby Tri-Service Hospital, trotting into an operating room and threatening some unfortunate surgeons with her gun until they agree to aid her. Scarlett Johansson handles the scene like a professional, conveying the degree to which Lucy has shifted from ordinary girl to superhuman with ease. 

#8: Beverly’s Breakdown “Dead Ringers” (1988)

Someone get the man a psychiatrist, stat. In Dead Ringers, Jeremy Irons has the difficult task of playing twin brothers and gynecologists Elliot and Beverly Mantle. Beverly, having gotten close to a patient who left town due to her job, slowly undergoes a mental breakdown—and one fateful operation sends him right off the deep end. The entire scene has a menacing feel to it, with the bizarre instruments Beverly ordered for operations, all the surgeons wearing red, and Beverly’s slow descent into hysteria. We’ll be honest; this one was deeply unsettling for us.

#7: Unexpected Success “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle” (2004)

Score one for the well-meaning stoners. During their ongoing quest to locate a White Castle restaurant, best friends Harold and Kumar find themselves in doctors’ scrubs—and then get called in for an actual surgery. Accompanied by the ever-charming Ryan Reynolds as a supervising male nurse, Harold and Kumar awkwardly attempt to figure out how to save a gunshot victim. This leads to a welcome moment of true brilliance from Kumar, showing his unexpected talent for medical work. Oh, and Reynolds’ nurse tries to come on to Kumar.

#6: Copper and the Defibrillator “The Thing” (1982)

Leave it to the great John Carpenter to invent a gory scene in an operating room. In his cult classic film, Antarctic station member Norris suffers a heart attack during the increasingly stressful proceedings. His fellow worker Copper elects to use a defibrillator, trying to keep Norris alive... and then Norris’ chest caves in. What follows is a visually horrific sequence that also stands as a high achievement in practical special effects, as the titular Thing emerges from Norris’ chest cavity and threatens the other station members. Thank goodness for flamethrowers.

#5: Saving John Kramer “Saw III” (2006)

Nothing like mortal danger to motivate a person to success. That’s the setup for this scene from Saw III: Doctor Lynn Denlon, with a manufactured collar around her neck, is tasked with operating on John Kramer—who (SPOILER ALERT) is the Jigsaw killer. Lynn begins cutting into John’s skull, in a sequence that is as unpleasant as it is tense. It doesn’t help that Amanda, John’s loyal apprentice, has her eyes fixed on Lynn during the process—or that the collar will instantly kill Lynn should John die. Hang in there, Lynn.

#4: Farewell to the Arc Reactor “Iron Man 3” (2013)

At the opposite extreme, we have a relatively peaceful operation that concludes one man’s struggles. During the climax of this 2013 action blockbuster, billionaire Tony Stark begins the process of moving on from his life as Iron Man. A montage shows us the effects of Stark’s actions before settling on one image: that of Tony going through surgery to finally be rid of life-endangering shrapnel. It’s quite the pleasant scene, considering we’re watching doctors pull metal out of a person’s chest.

#3: Alien Baby “Prometheus” (2012)

Space explorers don’t have an easy go of things, least of all Noomi Rapace as our faith-driven heroine Elizabeth Shaw. As events proceed, Shaw finds herself pregnant... except she can’t have children. In incredible pain and desperation, the archaeologist pulls herself into a medical pod and commences an improvised C-section, which may go down as one of the most hard-to-watch sequences in film. Shaw squirms in pain, skin is precisely cut and pulled back, and the reveal of her “fetus” is something you’re unlikely to forget!

#2: A Quick Fix “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” (1986)

Step aside, old science; the future is here to save the day. In Star Trek IV, 23rd century space travelers James T. Kirk and Leonard McCoy infiltrate a San Francisco hospital in order to save their friend Pavel Chekov, who is unconscious from a head injury. Kirk and McCoy’s infiltration mission brings them at odds with the hospital’s medical staff, resulting in an entertaining exchange between the lead doctor and McCoy. Fortunately, the staff is relocated through Kirk’s quick thinking and Chekov makes a full recovery. Thank you, futuristic technology.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

  • Doctor Octopus Rises, Spider-Man 2 (2004)
  • Padmé Gives Birth, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
  • Alien Extraction, Evolution (2001)

#1: Swapping Faces “Face/Off” (1997)

It’s in the title—kind of. Meet FBI Agent Sean Archer, a noble man on a mission to bring the psychotic villain Castor Troy to justice. It just so happens that a promising doctor has a plan to help with this mission: swap Archer’s face with Troy’s, to allow Archer to stop Troy’s operations. Thus one of the most visually-impressive surgical procedures takes place, as the latest in computer-generated imagery is used to illustrate how odd yet awe-inspiring the process of switching people’s faces could be.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite unusual operating room scene? For more fascinating Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.

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Top 10 Unusual Operating Room Movie Scenes
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