In the real world, as we know all too well, 2016 took far too many wonderful people from us. But in the movies, at least, death is something everyone can enjoy. Here’s Empire’s end-of-year tally of the most memorably moribund.
Everyone in Green Room
There are few films this year that have murdered their players with quite the aplomb of nazi-punk thriller Green Room. A riot of eye-stabbing, abdomen-ripping, dog-chewing, hammer-bashing, throat-cutting, shotgun-blasting and head-shooting, it’s an ordeal-and-a-half, but the cast attack it with gusto.
Barb in Stranger Things
Barb began the hit Netflix series sitting on the sidelines while her pal Nancy got it on with local talent Steve. And her death happens in much the same circumstances: Nancy otherwise engaged in the bedroom while Barb is stalked through the snow by a growling creature and yanked down a dark pit. Fans have clung to conspiracy theories about her somehow having survived, Jon-Snow style. This is almost certainly wishful thinking.
Nicky Parsons in Jason Bourne
Killing established characters is a great way to raise the stakes: if people we’ve followed for years can suddenly check out, the danger quotient for our other heroes is exponentially increased. Farewell then Nicky Parsons: feisty Treadstone veteran and Bourne ally of years past. We will miss you.
Superman in Batman v Superman
And lo, it did come to pass that the sins of the world brought forth the death of Superman, who giveth his life for mankind so that we may go onward in the light of his sacrifice. BECAUSE SUPERMAN IS JESUS, DO YOU SEE?
The Ancient One in Doctor Strange
Tilda Swinton’s cueball mystic meets her violent end at the hands of Mads Mikkelsen… but the moment has been prepared for. While she can see the future, she’s never been able to see beyond this point, so it wasn’t much of a surprise to her. She gets to bid a fond farewell to Dr Strange in her astral form subsequently, before fading out. Still, we won’t be surprised if she fades back in again at some point.
The mercenaries in Deadpool
Lots of creative killery in the motormouthed X-Men spin-off, obviously. The six-bullets sequence at the beginning is a strong contender. But perhaps the bigger laugh comes later, as another collection of expendable goon corpses is put to creative use as a message inviting Francis “Ajax” Freeman out to play.
Gigi in The Neon Demon
Perhaps mercifully, we don’t actually see Elle Fanning meet her obviously very grisly end. What we do see is Jena Malone soaking in her blood like Elizabeth Bathory in the immediate aftermath. And then, in maybe the year’s single most arresting image, Bella Heathcote pukes up one of her eyeballs. METAPHOR KLAXON: the voracious fashion industry chews girls up and spits them out.
The potato in Sausage Party
Or in fact, the entire, appallingly funny kitchen massacre. Poor Potato is only the first casualty: the moment where the groceries realised they haven’t quite been delivered from the supermarket to the Nirvana they’d invested in. After being “bathed by a god” Potato is skinned alive and dropped into boiling water. Tomato is bisected, Bacon is fried, Cheese is grated, Nachos are microwaved, Wine is beheaded… The horror, the horror…
Tom in The Girl on The Train
Justin Theroux’s gaslighting bastard finally receives his comeuppance on the end of a corkscrew wielded by Emily Blunt. But he might have survived had Rebecca Ferguson not joined in to twist it deeper. It's always heartwarming when two previously opposed characters can discover the truth, put aside their differences and bond over a brutal revenge execution.
The bear in The Revenant
Weirdly one of the most affecting screen deaths of the year: perhaps we’re so desensitised that the senseless killing of a noble beast is more of a wrench than x number of skinheads or models or mercs. The bear that attacks Leo is, after all, only defending her young. The horrifying, protracted fight that follows is a wholly unnecessary tragedy.
Manny in Swiss Army Man
As a screen death, Manny doesn’t quite work, of course, since he’s already deceased by the time we find him washed up on shore. But if we take “death” as a state rather than an event, then Manny clearly excels, both in his useful flatulence and his hard partying. Fnar.
Ramsay Bolton in Game Of Thrones
After 20 episodes of mind-bending cruelty, Ramsay finally got his comeuppance, bringing out the inner fascist in all of us as we cheered his violent, bloody end. Satisfyingly, it was Sansa that finished him, hoisting him on the petard of his own vicious hounds. Her smile of satisfaction was priceless. And, you’d have to say, thoroughly deserved.
More from Empire's review of 2016: