The death of Bruce Wayne/Batman had been a possibility since the Dark Knight Rises began to take shape. Would Nolan kill Bruce Wayne, only to have "Batman" live on thereafter? It seemed highly possible. However, Nolan pulled his usual 180° trickery and instead gave us tears of joy when Alfred (Michael Caine) finally gets his longtime wish to see Bruce sitting in an Italian cafe, freed from the pain and misery of Gotham City and Batman.
If Alfred's fatherly joy wasn't enough, Hans Zimmer's now-classic Dark Knight theme kicked in loud and booming one final time, as John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) stepped onto the altar of Batman and rose out of view - thereby inspiring fresh tears of sadness, as we realized that Nolan's Dark Knight Legend was well and truly ending.
RUNNER UP: Agent Coulson's death in The Avengers.
Image Source: Black Dandelion