There is nothing more emotional as a sacrifice done within a movie. These times five us all the sensations as he respect the selflessness of the character.
Cinema is built on eliciting emotional, visceral reactions in its viewers and a sure way to accomplish this is through a heroic sacrifice. Characters we’ve liked taking one for the team. Giving away their futures in the hopes of securing something significant. It can bring an audience more into the world of the film than anything else they’ve sat through. These are the sacrifices that would have even the steeliest heart feeling and the driest eye spilling a tear.
1. Yondu – Guardians Of The Galaxy 2
Guardians of the Galaxy 2 was all about fathers and the damage they can bring to their children. Gamora and Nebula’s troubles with Thanos, the entire squad coping with ‘child’ Groot, but nothing more dramatic than Peter’s encounters with Ego and Yondu. When Yondu makes the ultimate sacrifice to save the child he saved from Ego all over again, it all comes together in a heartbreaking way. As Peter scratches at his own chest to try to somehow give Yondu his breathing device, this sci-fi, superhero comedy got more tears than the sappiest oscar-bait could dream of.
2. Boromir – LotR: The Fellowship Of the Ring
Sean Bean has made a career out of dying in movies and this may still be his most dramatic finale. Mere minutes after The Ring had him attacking Frodo he redeems himself by coming to Merry and Pippin’s help. It’s all for naught though, as arrow after Uruk-Hai arrow pierces his torso until he collapses to his knees. When Aragorn momentarily saves him but can’t save the Hobbits, Borimir’s last words solidify the aim of his sacrifice as honourable. His words inspire Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli to continue the Fellowship even as it splinters into distinct routes and aims.
3. Harry Stamper – Armageddon
A massive, Michael Bay-Jerry Bruckheimer action romp on an asteroid manages to have a really good sacrifice to button the whole thing. With the fate of Earth hanging in the balance, Harry takes it upon himself to blow up the impending asteroid. To do so he has to trick the man dating his daughter out of the opportunity. As Harry shoves Ben Affleck’s A.J back into the ship so he can walk the last walk of his life, he does everything we’d hope someone in that position was capable of doing for the right reasons, and that literally means the world.
4. T-800 – Terminator 2
There’s something to be said for a computer being the key emotional figure in a story yet that’s what occurs in this superb sequel. Kyle Reese gave his life in the original for Sarah Conner and the future to survive, and the T-800 sacrifices itself for that ideal to live on. Say what you want about the sequels but they can’t touch this sacrifice and its meaning. When the aggressive T-1000 meets its end we take a breath only for Arnie to disclose his own need to die. The entire journey with Sarah and John feels bleakly gloomy but for the hope this death will inspire. Best ‘thumbs up’ in cinema history. For the record, Sean Connery’s Mason in The Rock has the second best.
5. Ken – In Bruges
A bad man saving another bad man from a worse third man. In Bruges is a weird little narrative and it’s ending, with Ken managing to fling himself out of a tower to warn Ray, meant everything. Ray’s suicide urges came from the same place as the order for his murder but demonstrating remorse, damage, and regret got under Ken’s skin enough to want to save the boy. Hilarious, morbid, beautiful, all these things you may say about In Bruges apply to Ken’s sacrifice as well.
6. Nux – Mad Max: Fury Road
For someone who felt he’d glimpsed paradise and ‘Valhalla’ so many times to come so close to bliss pulls at your heartstrings. The War Boy Nux sees his world upended by moments of generosity amid a frenzied chase that he successfully ends on his terms. Overturning the War Rig to collapse the tunnel back to The Citadel brings Nux’ journey full circle. He wanted to throw his life away on ‘Fury Road’ for Immortan Joe but ultimately gave it for those Joe persecuted. Thus, he likely became that legend he wrongly intended to be. He was Witnessed after all.
7. Tony Stark – Avengers: Endgame
The one in 14 million realities dictated that for trillions of lives around the cosmos, Tony Stark must give his own. Infinity War and Endgame tortured at our hearts for about 6 combined hours but it was Tony’s final finger-snap that caused a decade’s worth of tears. The Avenger who nearly sacrificed himself in the previous team-up found himself at the key moment and stood up to the plate. Knowing what it undoubtedly meant, knowing that it had to be done, knowing he couldn’t delay or waver, Tony disregarded any personal preservation for the sake of everything else. Surely, a ‘Mjolnir worthy’ performance if ever there was one.
8. Spock: Star Trek 2: The Wrath Of Kahn
It’s classic and eternal words like this that made Leonard Nimoy’s Spock an impenetrable character. Even here, in his ‘alleged’ death, he fashioned a tragedy in his irrepressible logic in service of the good. It is oddly soothing to have a force of absolute moral and ethical balance making life and death judgments, and thus equally horrible to see them pay the cost of it.
9. Everybody – Star Wars: Rogue One
We know ‘many Bothans perished’ to provide the designs for the second Death Star to the Rebel Alliance, but this narrative of the original Death Star’s plans gives us a horrible sacrifice all its own. Ever since the original Star Wars movie we didn’t know how close Vader had come to snaring the plans. With Jyn, Cassian, K-2S0, and Chirrut & Baze laying down their lives, much alone their accompanying Rebel troops lives, it puts the Rebel’s perilous existence into starker relief. When Jyn and Cassian hug as the world around them bursts into light their fall smacks as hard as any in the Saga.
10. Creasy – Man On Fire
John Creasy had given up on life, himself, everything. Until he met little Lupita Ramos and she gave him something to live for. Throughout Man On Fire, Creasy takes the kind of revenge seen only in dreams to avenge Lupita’s purported murder. When he discovers she is alive, he doesn’t hesitate to offer himself over to the kidnappers in exchange for her life. His ruthlessness and determination were John Wick-levels of concentration and they knew if they didn’t give her up for him, he’d finish them, and soon. Brutal beauty from Denzel Washington and a sacrifice that will make you feel all the feelings.