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The greatest death scene(s) in fiction

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  • The greatest death scene(s) in fiction

    Since these are the the final days before easter, I think this is a fitting topic to discuss this month. As usual I will add some questions, which you can answer if you want to. But it's also perfectly fine to just share your favourite death scene(s).



    Main question:
    • What is your favourite death scene in fiction?


    Extra questions:
    1. Is the character who dies in this scene a favourite of yours?
    2. Did they come back later? (And if they did: Does that influence the death scene for you?)
    3. Why did this one make such an impact on you?


  • #2
    I'll have to think about this more carefully, there are so many scenes. What comes to mind right now is Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Chronicle of A Death Foretold. But if we can include an example from a film, Michel's death in Breathless (Godard, 1960.) I'll come back to elaborate, unless I change my answer to something else.

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    • Stoney
      Stoney commented
      Editing a comment
      Would love to hear more about both as I'm not familiar with either.

    • SpuffyGlitz
      SpuffyGlitz commented
      Editing a comment
      Woops, I missed coming back to this thread! :P I'll come back and elaborate soon I'm still undecided but I think I'm leaning towards Breathless

  • #3
    It's really difficult because I'm not sure what I want to aim for to hit 'greatest'. There are three that spring to mind... (they're old so I haven't spoilered them, but just so anyone who wants to avoid them can, spoilers abound in the following for Alien, Lion King and one of the Blackadder TV seasons).....


    For an impactful and dramatic moment, rather than emotional, the one that stands out first is John Hurt's scene in Alien. The extra element of the cast not knowing what was going to happen really adds to the initial shocked pause before people start reacting. A total classic.

    But for an emotional wallop I do definitely have to care about the characters. And that can come from considering all the emotional beats they wrap into it, where the drama is really amplifying the emotions included. In this case, Mufasa's death in Lion King gets me, animation or not. There's the prospect of loss and guilt that you know Simba is going to be engulfed with as well as the drama of the moment in Mufasa's fear for his son that drives him to act so courageously and selflessly. Smash on a dose of jealousy and betrayal in the set up of it from Scar. Then top that off with the literal fast pace of the action, which is then slowed down for the impactful reveal of the body and Simba's realisation. There are so many layers to it that the whole thing is just incredibly well done.

    But the emotional whammy death scene can also come more quietly and almost sneak up on you. Despite previous incarnations of Blackadder not surviving, the final scene of Blackadder Goes Forth, with its wartime setting, makes the impact of the deaths of many of the characters really effective. The build up through the season touching on the futility of war and their wish to avoid being on the frontline builds into the emotional beats of 'the final push'. The opportunity to escape it finally being out of reach, and even potentially missed by not listening to Baldrick's actual cunning plan, just makes it so morose to watch. I do think coming to care about the individual characters really adds weight to this one. The way they chose to show them all going over and being killed, then fading out to finish with the poppy field, just brings such a meaningful conclusion to a comedy show that was exploring something quite serious all along. Bravo.

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    • #4
      Recently finished the last season of Unforgotten, a police procedural on UK tv and
      Spoiler:
      the main detective dies and I found myself sobbing. She was so natural and normal, not like the usual tv detective, and her death was shocking and so sad, so that hit me hard

      Comment


      • #5
        Originally posted by Priceless View Post
        Recently finished the last season of Unforgotten, a police procedural on UK tv...
        How many seasons were there? If it was a few, do you think knowing the character for that long played a part in it being impactful?

        Comment


        • #6
          Originally posted by Stoney View Post

          How many seasons were there? If it was a few, do you think knowing the character for that long played a part in it being impactful?
          There are four seasons, and you really get to know the characters. I don't want to say much more in case you watch it, I don't want to spoil it.

          Of course the death that had me sobbing was Debra Winger in Terms of Endearment. Oh God, and David Nicholls novel One Day, which I stupidly read at work and all my colleagues thought I was having a breakdown as I could not stop crying

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          • #7
            No one has mentioned The Body yet but it actually is one of the greatest death scenes in fiction for me. Not because of Joyce but because of Buffy's reaction to coming home and finding her.

            Another death I find quite poignant is that of Severus Snape in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. "Look ... at ... me." simply breaks my heart.

            flow

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            • #8
              It's hard to narrow down. Every time you come up with something, another pops up. Just to pick one, actually two, I'll go with True Detective S2. It's a heavily criticized season, but the last episode and the death scenes of two of the mains are among the best ever.

              Comment


              • #9
                Originally posted by flow View Post
                No one has mentioned The Body yet but it actually is one of the greatest death scenes in fiction for me. Not because of Joyce but because of Buffy's reaction to coming home and finding her.
                I love The Body for exploring the fallout of death, dealing with the shock and grief. It's an incredible exploration of someone's reaction to an important death and the moment when Buffy goes to tell Dawn is an incredible piece of acting from MT, it breaks my heart every time I see it. I adore the discussion between Tara and Buffy especially too. I suppose I wasn't thinking of it as a death scene as such.

                I did consider Spike's death in Chosen too because he's my favourite fictional character and it was a really significant one for me because of that. But, to be honest, as much as I think it was a really important moment for the character and obviously was where his BtVS TV journey concluded an incredible arc, I wasn't really satisfied with that as a finish for him. It felt like there was a lot of personal development lost if he sacrificed himself at that point. So in consideration of Nina 's additional questions, that death scene was important to me but the fact he returned was something that I was very pleased about. I was definitely happier watching the scene again on rewatches once I knew it wasn't the end of the character (I didn't know he was returning when I first saw it) and I was then very pleased there was personal development after it. So, I think knowing he returned definitely enabled me to appreciate the original death scene more, and what he was achieving in doing it.

                Originally posted by HardlyThere View Post
                It's hard to narrow down. Every time you come up with something, another pops up. Just to pick one, actually two, I'll go with True Detective S2. It's a heavily criticized season, but the last episode and the death scenes of two of the mains are among the best ever.
                I've never read any reviews of the season, but I've really enjoyed all the True Detective seasons. That failed upload is heartbreaking.

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