Arnold Schwarzenegger is a name that’s synonymous with the action genre and he’s produced some of the biggest movie moments from the past four decades. From a versatile career in machismo action, sci-fi, and even comedy, he’s racked up an impressive screen kill count over the years that just keeps growing. His back catalog of death is made all the more memorable by the creativity provided by a number of great directors behind the camera.
Here’s our countdown of his ten best movie kills, from nameless henchmen to iconic monsters. (Not counting Terminators, because can you really kill something that isn't alive? It’s debatable.)
10 Wacky Waving Electrical Arm Flailing Machine Gun Man
In the metacinematic action-comedy Last Action Hero, Schwarzenegger’s big-screen persona, Jack Slater, gets cornered in a shootout at home with a bunch of deliberately generic goons.
Stuck behind a chair with a dead goon in it, he rips out the wire from a nearby lamp and sticks it into the body, causing the muscles to seize and the machine gun in their hand to fire. The flailing body sprays bullets in front of it, killing the remaining enemies.
9 “Screw you!”
Paul Verhoeven’s cult sci-fi classic Total Recall was, like many of the director’s movies, famed for its excess. It’s far more strange, grotesque and bloody than not only your standard Schwarzenegger vehicle but your standard action or horror movie. As joyless as that may sound to someone who’s never seen it, it really is a movie famed for its humor too and the drill kill scene is a good example of all of those qualities colliding with one another.
Seemingly trapped by a giant tunnelling drill being driven towards him, Schwarzenegger’s hero makes a narrow escape and strikes back at the driver of the drill with his own smaller, hand-held mining drill through the door. The famous one-liner “Screw you!” being the icing on the cake.
8 The Vulture
Schwarzenegger’s first real hit, Conan the Barbarian, was another movie that was no stranger to unusual amounts of gore and grotesquery. Subtlety did not exist in John Milius’ big-screen adaptation of the Robert E. Howard fantasy character and that’s why so many people love it.
During the titular hero’s lowest moment, he’s tied to a tree to be crucified and left for dead in the desert. Vultures soon to begin to circle but learn a hard lesson when one begins to peck away at Schwarzenegger’s famous pecs only for him to turn and bite its neck out.
7 “You’re fired.”
The last movie – so far, hopefully – from Schwarzenegger and director James Cameron (discounting 1996’s work on material for the Universal Studios ride “T2: 3D – Battle Across Time”), True Lies was a remake of a French film called La Totale! But it contained all of the unique flair for elaborate, expensive, action sequences that the pair had become known for thanks to the first two Terminator movies.
The grand finale of the movie, involving Schwarzenegger taking out goons in a Harrier jet, culminates with the main antagonist dangling from one of the jet’s rockets before the inevitable happens.
6 Give the People What They Want
At the finale of the satirical sci-fi action movie The Running Man, Schwarzenegger’s hero comes face to face with the movie’s villain (the host of the titular game show that pits contestants in battles to the death for TV ratings).
The villain hides behind a rocket-powered chair that’s used to shoot contestants into the game and, after trying to talk his way out of it, gets locked into it and shot off down the tunnel to the game area. With no net to catch him, the chair slams into the villain’s own billboard in a fiery explosion.
The self-aware humor of Last Action Hero was its unique selling point and it never disappointed in its tongue-in-cheek parodies of action movie cliches.
During a high-speed pursuit with a truckful of even more deliberately generic goons, Schwarzenegger shoots one holding a bundle of dynamite and they fly from the truck and through the windshield of an ice cream van. When the van explodes, a flying ice cream cone lodges itself into the back of stuntman icon Al Leong. Schwarzenegger quips “Iced that guy. To ‘cone’ a phrase.”
4 One Punch
The Terminator was an instant hit as a movie monster, so much so that Schwarzenegger’s original transformed into a hero in the first sequel, and their first kills are entries into the genre movie Hall of Fame.
Freshly time-traveled and buck naked, the Terminator approaches some local punks and demands their clothes. When they resist, he shows off his strength for the first time. With one punch, his fist goes straight through one of their abdomens and up into their body, lifting them off the ground. The scene is also fondly remembered for featuring Bill Paxton, the only actor to be killed by a Terminator, an Alien and a Predator.
3 Letting Off Some Steam
There are so many great kills in Commando, producing so many memorable lines of dialogue. From the “Remember when I promised to kill you last” face-off on the cliff to a nearly incalculable slaughter in the finale, there are too many to mention here.
Commando’s most unique kill comes from the movie’s big confrontation between Schwarzenegger’s hero and main henchman Bennett. After throwing a metal pipe like a spear through Bennett’s stomach, impaling him to the boiler behind him, steam billows out of it. This prompts the immortal Arnie one-liner “Let off some steam, Bennett.”
Of all of Last Action Hero’s playful stereotypes, none was quite as on fire as Charles Dance’s Well-Spoken British Villain. He’s so perfectly suited for the smarmy assassin character that he gradually moves up from henchman to primary antagonist as the movie progresses.
Dance’s villain has a distinct gimmick in that his character’s false eye changes throughout the movie, at one stage being revealed to contain a concentrated explosive to be used as a bomb. After Schwarzenegger gets the villain’s gun during their final tussle, he takes one perfect shot to the eye still in his head and takes things out with a bang.
1 The Predator
Schwarzenegger’s gauntlet with the iconic alien hunter in Predator was one for the books. Having lost his entire elite team of commandos to the beast, his remaining hero goes back to primal basics and constructs a series of traps and weapons from the jungle around him.
After a lengthy fight, where both combatants are worn down to hand-to-hand confrontation, the Predator is moments away from being speared by one of the traps left for it. When it sidesteps it, things seems all over before Schwarzenegger’s character notices that it’s moved directly beneath the trap’s enormous counterweight. He triggers the trap and crushes the Predator, but his sportsmanlike decision to not crush its head with a rock is repaid by the Predator setting off its self-destruct device with a maniacal last laugh.