If you're a fictional character, death can arrive rather swiftly and creatively. It's your job to go out like an absolute champ so that non-fictional readers and audiences remember your passing and holler your praises on the internet. Here are ten times science fiction and fantasy heroes lost their lives with panache. Some spoilers ahead.
10. "The Last Castle" from Fables
This comic book explained how the characters from Fables escaped their fairy tale homeland and ended up in New York City. In the course of this story, such fictional characters as Robin Hood, the Scottish knight Tam Lin, and Little John are gruesomely slaughtered fending off a goblin horde. The death of the Merry Men is particularly childhood-decimating.
9. A one-armed blacksmith takes down a giant
In George R.R. Martin's A Storm of Swords, Donal Noye — the hardy, one-armed blacksmith of the Night's Watch — is hopelessly outnumbered by invading Wildlings at The Wall. Along with his small band of men, he manages to hold the gate. The wizened giant Mag the Mighty crushes his spine — Noye returns the favor by stabbing Mag in the throat.
8. Dan Turpin tells off Darkseid
In what's widely considered to be the best episode of Superman: The Animated Series, Detective Dan Turpin — who is modeled on comic book legend Jack Kirby — tells the alien dictator Darkseid (who Kirby created) to get off his planet. (This is after Superman is enslaved and Turpin is hopelessly outnumbered, mind you.) Humanity is saved at the last minute by the New Gods, but Turpin pays the price for his boisterousness.
7. Hollis Mason clobbers some whippersnappers
In this poetic (and sadly unused) scene from Watchmen, retired crimefighter Hollis "Nite Owl" Mason is ambushed by the Knot Top gang. They overwhelm him, but not before he gives them a taste of his muscle memory.
6. Billy versus the Predator
After almost every single character has been systematically hunted down in Predator, the team's tracker throws away his gun and strips down for a final battle against the alien. It doesn't go exactly as planned — the audience hears Billy's screams off-screen seconds later — but he certainly scores an "A" for effort. For a similarly ill-fated scene, see the death of Hudson, Gorman, and Vasquez in Aliens.
5. Captain Falcon's final fisticuffs
At the end of the 2003-2004 anime F-Zero: GP Legend — after a series of events too elaborate to explain here — futuristic racers Captain Falcon (good) and Black Shadow (evil) are locked in a death spiral over the fate of the universe. Black Shadow attempts to escape, but Captain Falcon is having none of it. In under a minute, Falcon passes on his mantle to his fellow racer Ryu, leaps out of his vehicle, punches Black Shadow square in the kisser, and disintegrates seconds later. Truly some productive final moments!
4. Mr. Hyde eats the Martian invasion
In the second volume of Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's literary mash-up comic League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Martians have invaded London. After spending most of the series acting like a bloodthirsty lunatic, the monstrous Mr. Hyde realizes that there's no place for him in the world and sacrifices himself to hold off the alien tripods.
This death sequence involves Hyde having his skin burnt off and devouring them, before they fry him completely. As Captain Nemo opines, "We cannot know what feelings our enemies have, but we may be certain at least, that Hyde taught them terror."
3. Spike Spiegel kills absolutely everybody
One of the coolest death scenes every committed to screen also happens to be one of the most wonderfully over-the-top. In the series finale of Cowboy Bebop, bounty hunter Spike Spiegel settles his score with his nemesis Vicious by launching a suicide siege on the Red Dragon crime syndicate. Gangster upon gangster dies, Spike and Vicious duke it out, and the whole damn building is destroyed.
2. Skurge goes out guns blazing
For most of his career, the Marvel Comics villain Skurge the Executioner spent his days tussling with Thor, Asgardians, and the Avengers. But when it came time to defend Asgard from the invading skeleton armies of Hel, Executioner knocks out a severely weakened Thor and offers to hold the bridge of Gjallerbru in his stead.
What makes this scene from 1985's Thor #362 so magnificent is that Skurge achieves deathbed redemption by battling the skeletons with dual-wielded assault rifles the Asgardians imported from Earth.
Comic characters come back from the dead with clockwork regularity, but nobody's had the gumption to reverse Skurge's fabulous demise. (Images via Scans Daily)
1. "You shall not pass!"
Probably the finest moment in the history of acting.
Top image: Luke Sayers