The human body is amazing. It’s almost completely autonomous, pumping the heart, circulating blood, breathing, and digesting entirely on its own while we go about our daily routines. It’s kind of like that rich benefactor who always has your back, gives you money, bails you out of trouble, and generally makes sure you live a rich and fulfilling life. And if you actually have one of those, congratulations, the rest of the world hates you.
As amazing as the human body is, it is also incredibly fragile. Bones can break, muscles can tear, and organs can rupture rather easily. When it comes to movies, however, we tend to forget just how frail the human body is. When a hero is hit in the head with the butt of a rifle we assume he’ll be fine because the only alternative is to assume he’s dead and the rest of the movie will focus on his friends arranging his funeral. Sometimes, though, movies push the limits a bit too far. Sometimes the hero is put in an absolutely ridiculous situation where the odds of survival are precisely zero. And then they survive, and it defies all logic.
Here are 15 Heroes Who Definitely Shouldn’t Have Survived Their Movies.
15. Jason Bourne (The Bourne Identity)
There’s no denying that Jason Bourne is a certified badass. He’s a weapons expert, a hand-to-hand combat aficionado, is capable of a one-punch knockout, and can even defend himself in a knife fight with a freaking rolled up magazine. In four movies, he has proven to be virtually indestructible, but there is one force that should have killed him in the very first film: gravity.
In The Bourne Identity, Bourne finds himself fighting his way out of an apartment building against three assailants. After disposing of the first two, Bourne is left with few options as the third climbs the stairs with a semi-automatic. Bourne decides to leap four stories to the ground, using the body of one of the dead assailants as a cushion and shooting the third on his way down. (Yes, that’s just as crazy as it sounds.) The fall should have resulted in broken bones, a cracked skull, or, at the very least, Bourne being knocked unconscious long enough for Chris Cooper to come down and finish him off. Instead, Bourne shakes it off almost immediately and walks away with nothing more than a small cut on his head.
14. John McClane (Die Hard)
Before A Good Day to Die Hard sucked all the fun out of the character and nearly killed the franchise, John McClane was one of the most popular heroes in film history. In an era when chiseled stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone reigned supreme, Bruce Willis’ John McClane was the perfect contrast: an average NYPD cop just trying to survive an extraordinary situation. He was cocky and brash and one of the main reasons Die Hard still holds up as open of the best action movies ever made. That being said, there’s no way he could have made it through the movie alive.
McClane survives a number of situations in which ten out of ten would have surely perished, but one of the earliest (and most glaring) occurs when he is crawling around the ventilation system. McClane positions his machine gun in one vent, and then uses the shoulder strap to extend his reach to the vent on the floor below. The strap becomes undone and McClane drops several stories before catching himself on another vent. Sorry Johnny boy, but the laws of physics make this impossible. Not only are the odds of McClane grabbing another vent highly unlikey, but his forward momentum would have caused him to bounce backward away from the vent and toward the center of the shaft. After which, he would have dropped like a stone.
13. Dr. Alan Grant (Jurassic Park III)
If there’s one thing the Jurassic Park has taught us, it’s that velociraptors are merciless killing machines that are not to be trifled with. In fact, Dr. Alan Grant tells us exactly that in the original film when he decides to scare the crap out of that annoying little “turkey” kid (you know the one). In explaining how raptors hunt, Grant says the initial attack comes “not from the front, but from the side, from the other two raptors you didn’t even know were there”. The scene is spine-tingling and teaches one of the series’ most important lessons: you don’t mess with raptors.
Then came Jurassic Park III where the raptors’ mystique went right out the window. In one of the film’s more bone-headed scenes, Grant finds himself in the exact predicament he described in the first film: face-to-face with a raptor while three others close in from all sides. Except instead of immediately pouncing on their meal, the raptors stand around and chit-chat (no seriously, the film goes out of its way to explain how raptors communicate) and allow Eric (the 12-year-old kid who’s been on the island for eight weeks [and who definitely should not have survived that long]) to save the day. No way! Grant is raptor food.
12. Jack Quinn and Yaz (Double Team)
Believe it or not, there was a time when Dennis Rodman was one of the most popular athletes in the world. In 1997, with the Bulls in the middle of their second three-peat, Rodman (known as much for his success on the court as he was for his outlandish antics off of it) was given the chance to star alongside Captain Splits himself, Jean-Claude Van Damme, in the action-comedy Double Team. The film itself is rather disappointing, but the ending is pretty epic.
During the climax, Rodman and Van Damme square off against Mickey Rourke in the middle of a amphitheater filled with mines while a tiger roams about. (Now read that sentence back. Process it. And then go watch the movie.) Rourke ends up stepping on a mine and chooses to blow himself up just before the tiger can pounce. The mine sets off a chain reaction and the resulting explosion lays waste to almost the entire amphitheater. Rodman and Van Damme, however, manage to survive the blast by standing behind a Coca-Cola vending machine. That’s right, folks. If you’re ever in an explosion capable of decimating a building, just hide behind a vending machine. (Seriously though, don’t do that. You’ll die.)
11. James Bond (Casino Royale and Skyfall)
James Bond has had quite the storied career on film. The character has appeared in 26 films in 54 years with 12 different actors playing the role. He has literally been in dozens of situations in which death was a near-certainty before being saved by some sort of deus ex machina. Many of these near-deaths are forgivable, but some are too ridiculous to ignore.
In the most recent series of films, for example, Daniel Craig’s Agent 007 is portrayed as simply indestructible. The first example of Bond being a secret Terminator occurs in Casino Royale when he is in a car accident and his Aston Martin flips seven times! The second comes in Skyfall when Bond is accidentally shot by Eve Moneypenny and falls hundreds of feet off a bridge, landing on his neck in the water below. While the movies gains points for the swerve of having Moneypenny actually hit Bond, it loses some for having him survive such a deadly fall. (Unless the next film reveals Bond really is a machine sent back in time by John Connor. Then we’ll let it slide.)
10. Westley (The princess bride)
Nearly all of these heroes make our list because they somehow manage to survive absolutely ridiculous situations. Whether it be John McClane narrowly avoiding falling down a ventilation shaft, Dr. Grant miraculously lasting more than a few seconds at the mercy of four velociraptors before he’s rescued, or Yaz hiding behind an indestructible vending machine. The Princess Bride‘s Westley, however, is unique in that he doesn’t survive his situation. Instead he actually dies. The problem is he doesn’t stay that way.
Around halfway through Rob Reiner’s thirty-year-old classic, Cary Elwes’ Westley is hooked up to a machine that sucks the life from its victims and he dies in agony. Let us repeat: Westley dies in agony. It happens for all to see, and the film blatantly states that Westley is dead. Then he’s brought to a man named Miracle Max (who, well, works miracles), is given a pill coated in chocolate, and is resurrected. To quote Vizzini, “inconceivable!”
9. Bruce Wayne (The Dark Knight Rises)
Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight series is without a doubt the greatest superhero trilogy ever captured on film. (With Captain America coming in a close second.) His telling of Bruce Wayne’s journey from wayward billionaire to crime-fighting vigilante to cafe-going everyman is as realistic as such a story could possibly be. All three films are well-written and the story has a fitting conclusion (which seems to be a novelty these days with so may shared-universes seemingly set to go on forever).
But while the trilogy’s ending is desirable (Bruce deserves to be happy, damn it), it’s not without its flaws. Especially considering the fact that Bruce definitely should not have survived it. During the film’s ending, Nolan cuts from Batman sitting in the cockpit of the Bat, to the timer showing five seconds left to detonation, to John Blake looking on, to the Bat flying over the bay as the bomb detonates. Without the shot of Bruce sitting in the cockpit, an argument can be made that Batman put the Bat on autopilot and set it on course for the middle of the bay. With it, there simply isn’t enough time for him to escape the blast radius. Therefore, Bruce is dead. It looks like Alfred failed after all.
8. Bruce Wayne (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice)
Warner Bros. had quite the tall task when it decided to reboot the Batman franchise a mere four years after Nolan’s epic trilogy finally ended. Many said Ben Affleck simply wouldn’t be able to embody the role that Christian Bale so recently re-defined. Then all those people ate a heaping helping of humble pie when Affleck appeared in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and stole the show (all right, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman stole some of it too). That being said, the dark knight had no business surviving to the end credits.
During the film’s final battle that sees Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman team up to fight Doomsday, the latter unleashes an attack strong enough to vaporize every building in what looks like a five-block radius. A wide-shot literally shows the blast traveling through the city and absolutely obliterating everything in its path. Batman, who is standing well-within the blast zone, survives by…hiding under a piece of concrete. No no, Bruce. If that blast laid waste to everything around you, then that includes you. Good luck assembling the Justice League from the grave, buddy.
7. Chev Chelios (Crank)
Jason Statham is one tough son of a gun. In fact, rumor has it he was once bitten by a poisonous snake and after ten days of agonizing pain Chuck Norris died. (That doesn’t make a lot of sense, but just go with it.) The point is, the man is tough and so are the characters he plays on screen. Chev Chelios, the main character of 2006’s Crank, is no exception. In the film, Chelios is injected with a synthetic drug that inhibits the flow of adrenaline. Unless he performs increasingly dangerous and exciting acts to keep his adrenaline pumping, he’ll die.
The end of the film sees Chelios and the man who poisoned him fighting in a helicopter flying over Los Angeles. Both men fall out of the helicopter before Chelios snaps his adversary’s neck and free falls for about 105 seconds. He bounces off a car and lands inches from the camera with one eye open. The seemingly dead Chelios then blinks and his heart beats before the screen cuts to black. Simply put, this is not how physics works. After falling for that long and from that high Chelios would have hit the car at a speed of approximately 600 meters per second, which would have resulted in much less of a bounce and much more of a splat.
6. Indiana Jones (indiana jones and the kingdom of the crystal skull)
Indiana Jones has remained one of the most popular action heroes in the world for 35 years because he has a cool hat, he carries a whip, and he’s an educator (he’s changing lives, people). The fact that he is portrayed by Harrison Ford, the coolest 74-year-old in the world, is just the icing on the cake. That doesn’t excuse the fact that he should have died in every one of his films. There’s the water raft scene in Temple of Doom, the tank scene in The Last Crusade, and, of course, that wonderful little scene that takes place in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
At one point in the film, Indi finds himself in a model town that serves as the testing site of an atomic bomb. With only seconds until the bomb detonates, Indi’s only choice is to hide in a lead-lined refrigerator and hope for the best. Luckily, the bomb launches the fridge out of the blast zone and Indi emerges virtually unscathed. In a world where the rules of physics apply (i.e. ours), this is the least likely result. Instead, Indi most likely breaks his neck when the fridge is first launched, or he breaks his neck when it crashes to the ground, or he suffers multiple fatal contusions when it bounces around like a basketball, or he is scorched by molten lead, or he dies of radiation poisoning, and the list goes on and on.
5. The Ghostbusters (Ghostbusters)
When there’s something strange…in the neighborhood…who ya gonna call? Well, not the Ghostbusters…because they most definitely died at the end of their film. Ivan Reitman’s original 1984 classic has the perfect blend of humor and horror, and features excellent performances by the titular heroes. Much like the aforementioned Jurassic Park III, however, the film ignores its own rules in the climax.
Early on in the film, Egon tells Venkman not to cross their proton pack energy streams because doing so could result in “all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light”. In their showdown with Gozer, however, the ‘busters do just that. The result is a massive explosion that engulfs the entire roof and several stories below it. As for the Ghostbusters themselves. Well, considering they have nothing to protect them from the heat of the blast, and the fact that the explosion has enough force to launch them from the roof like popcorn kernels, let’s just say a new team should have been at the ready in 1985.
4. Just about everyone (Furious 6 and 7)
Benjamin Franklin once said, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” If the man were alive today he would likely add “and a Fast and Furious character will survive a stunt they had absolutely no business surviving”. (Yes, that’s exactly what he would say.) What started out as a serviceable action series has since evolved into a live-action video game where the main characters constantly die, and yet somehow live to tell the tale.
Let’s rattle off a few examples. Dom and Letty plummet to their deaths during the tank chase in Furious 6. Dom, Mia, and Brian die when the package (powerful enough to blow up their whole damn house) explodes roughly fifteen feet away from them in Furious 7. Hobbs and Elena die when they fall out of a window, drop several stories, and land on a car parked below. And Dom and Brian die again when they drive a ferrari off a building, into another building, then through that building and into another. And this is only a few examples. Basically, everyone dies. Over and over again. And we can’t wait to see how they’ll all die again in The Fate of the Furious.
3. Jack Traven and everyone else on the bus (Speed)
Sure 1994’s Speed may seem like it was conceived on a whim by a middle schooler (“the bus must travel faster than 50 miles per hour or it will explode”), but it was brilliantly executed and still holds up as one of the best action movies to come out of the 1990’s. Now that we’ve shown the film some love, let’s go right ahead and dump all over it because there is no chance in hell the bus’ occupants survive to the end.
Their deaths should have come when the bus failed to jump the fifty-foot gap on the freeway and instead plummeted to the ground below, simultaneously slowing to less than 50 mph and setting off the bomb. This is simple physics here. The moment that bus leaves its side of the freeway gap, gravity takes hold and pulls it downward. Sure, increasing the bus’ speed to 70 mph will allow it to travel a bit further (and possibly allow it to slam windshield-first into the freeway on the other side of the gap), but there’s no way it clears the gap entirely. There’s a bright side though. With Annie Wilkes dead, Sandra Bullock doesn’t have to return for the awful sequel.
2. Steven Hiller and the rest of humanity (Independence Day)
Independence Day is one hell of a fun movie. Not only does it feature top-notch performances from Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum (when each man was at the top of his game), but it also boasts some pretty amazing special effects for the time and has the aforementioned Smith punching an alien in the face! When you throw in Bill Pullman’s rousing “Today, we celebrate our Independence Day!” speech (one of the best of all time), you get a blockbuster for the ages.
It’s just a darn shame the movie should have ended on a compete downer with all of humanity being slaughtered by the alien invaders. The reason for this is simple: our technology would not be compatible with theirs. If you disagree, just bring your toaster abroad and try to plug it in. Odds are the socket won’t match the plug, and that’s on our own planet! Now picture Jeff Goldblum syncing his laptop with alien technology and try to keep your brain from erupting in a volcano of nonsense. Without Goldblum’s virus to deactivate the shields, all hope for humanity is lost. It’s still a fun movie though.
1. Harry Stamper and all life on Earth (Armageddon)
Armageddon, like Independence Day before it, is silly blockbuster movie-making at its best (and worst). It features an all-star cast (Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, and Billy Bob Thornton, among others), some stunning visuals, and a few tear-jerking scenes. Unfortunately, it also features one of the most nonsensical plots and endings in the history of film.
In the film, Harry Stamper and his crew are tasked with drilling a hole 800 feet into the asteroid, dropping a nuclear bomb, and detonating it at least four hours before the asteroid’s impact with Earth. Stamper ultimately accomplishes the goal with seconds to spare. The problem here is the amount of energy needed to successfully divide the asteroid in two and send both halves on trajectories wide enough to avoid Earth is roughly equal to the amount of energy produced by the sun every second. Needless to say, no such bomb exists on Earth. That means Harry, AJ, Grace, the rest of humanity, and pretty much all life on Earth is doomed because nothing is knocking that asteroid off course.
What other heroes had no business surviving to the end of their movies? Let us know in the comments below.