We’ve celebrated the best films of the year, laughed at the greatest lines and reminisced about our favourite characters. But now it’s time to change the tone somewhat and remember those (fictional) people we lost this year. Dinosaurs, sheepdogs and The Rock were to blame for some of 2015’s best kills: here’s our defining list.
Naturally, massive SPOILERS lie within, including one for Star Wars: The Force Awakens spoilers. If you have not seen The Force Awakens, stop reading now. Don’t say we didn’t warn you...
11 - All of the sheep (Far From The Madding Crowd)
There’s rather a lot of animal deaths at the start of Thomas Vinterberg’s Hardy adaptation, but none more upsetting than the sight of a mound of dead sheep. After an inexperienced sheepdog drives Gabriel’s (Matthias Schoenaerts) prized flock over a cliff, the young shepherd becomes penniless. Then to make things more unbearable, he has to put the dog down. With his gun. It’s like the most traumatic episode of One Man And His Dog ever.
10 - Kim Jong-un (The Interview)
If Kim Jong-un had had his way, the supreme leader of North Korea’s death in The Interview would never have been seen. The real-life supervillain caused an international incident (the largest corporate hacking scandal in history and a declaration of war) – all because of a silly Seth Rogen stoner comedy. The scene in question does not disappoint: played in slow-motion for maximum impact, Kim (Randall Park) is steadily cooked by a tank missile, a harmonious cover of Katy Perry’s Firework playing softly in the background.
9 - Ultron (Avengers: Age Of Ultron)
Before Bruce Banner blasted off to some unspecified location (Fiji? Actual space?), he made time to Hulk smash Ultron from a great height. Scarlet Witch then had her not-so-merry way with the bot, ripping the metal heart from his cold body before The Vision ended him for good with a blast from his Mind Stone. Job well done, Paul Bettany. Job well done.
8 - Insurgent marksman (American Sniper)
Clint Eastwood’s latest served up a healthy body count. None were quite as well shot or nerve-racking as Bradley Cooper’s third-act sniper vs. sniper rooftop showdown. Alright, there’s not a great deal of action within the scene, but Chris Kyle’s “impossible shot” weaves through the air for over a mile to only the sound of the American sniper’s breathing before meeting its target. As the cliché goes, he never saw it coming.
7 - The drone (Furious 7)
One thing is certain about Luke Hobbs: he doesn’t take on small fry. After busting out of the hospital and stealing an ambulance, Hobbs chases down the drone that's been trying to blow his crew sky-high in token Dwayne Johnson style. That being driving the ambulance off a bridge and crashing into said drone before shooting it between the eyes. As he rightly says, “I am the cavalry.”
6 - Rachel (Me And Earl And The Dying Girl)
Yes, the clue is in the title, but when Thomas Mann’s Greg kept promising us the titular girl would be okay, well, holding back the tears was impossible. Swerving prom in favour of an evening in the hospice with leukaemia-stricken Rachel, Greg finally gets to showcase the film he’s spent the majority of the running time making her. The Dying Girl slips into a coma, but not before making sure Greg’s college application is in, securing him the future that she'd never have.
5 - Lancelot (Kingsman: The Secret Service)
Turning up at the door of a snowy retreat all debonair and impossibly handsome, Lancelot (Jack Davenport) soon terminates a cluster of henchmen in his attempt to rescue Mark Hamill’s Professor Arnold. But things don’t end well for the Kingsman; his ill-fated mission culminating in a swift slice from top to toe courtesy of Gazelle’s (Sofia Boutella) bladed prosthetics.
4 - Daisy (John Wick)
Life could be better for John Wick, let’s be honest. After his wife gifts him a puppy from beyond the grave, little beagle Daisy is killed by Russian gangsters who break into Wick’s house after he rubs them up the wrong way earlier that day. Although Daisy was ripped from this mortal realm far too early, without her John Wick would never have sought revenge. So for that, Daisy, we are eternally grateful.
3 - Bing Bong (Inside Out)
As Joy gleefully escaped Inside Out’s Memory Dump, the same couldn’t be said for poor old Bing Bong. Everyone’s favourite cotton-candy elephant-cat-dolphin hybrid annihilated cinemagoers’ tear ducts this year when making the ultimate sacrifice for former best friend, Riley. Fading to black after his heart-breaking “take her to the moon for me”, Pixar proved that a film’s secret weapon didn’t necessarily have to be splashed all over billboards for maximum emotional effect.
2 - Zara (Jurassic World)
Donald Gennaro. Dennis Nedry. Dieter Stark… This year we finally witnessed the first woman to die in a Jurassic Park film. Welcome, Zara. After losing Gray and Zach - the boys in her care - multiple times, the hapless English nanny soon turns into dino food. Tossed from pteradon to pteradon and nearly drowned in the process, Zara is eventually put out of her misery by a hungry mosasaurus. Best death of the year? Nearly...
STAR WARS SPOILERS (last warning!)
1 - Han Solo (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
We hesitate to invoke the wrath of the spoiler gods but no list would be complete without reference to the most poignant death of 2015. Standing on a precarious bridge above a gaping chasm on Starkiller Base, Han Solo meets his end at the gloved hands of Kylo Ren, aka his son, Ben Solo. The grizzled smuggler bears his soul, reaching out to draw Ben back from the Dark Side and we hope, for a fraction of a second, that he might just manage it. Then, as the sun dies and light seeps from the room, Ben, now Kylo Ren in body and soul, runs him through with a lightsaber. With one final caress of his son’s face, Han Solo – an icon of the silver screen – tumbles silently into the abyss as millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced.