Whether they’re used for shock value or play a huge part in a film’s storyline development, there is no doubt that deaths make for some of the most impactful scenes in movies, especially when they’re done well and when viewers least expect them. Over the years, many unforgettable movies have sent chills over audiences’ spines by providing gruesome, explicit, and affecting moments that remain engraved in viewers’ minds.



As always, there have been several discussions about this topic among moviegoers on Reddit. From the couple at the beginning of Zodiac to Deputy Nick in Bone Tamahawk, these are the most traumatizing movie deaths of all time, courtesy of cinephiles on the platform — needless to say, spoilers ahead.

Content Warning: This article discusses graphic content. Reader discretion is advised.

10 The Couple by the Lake in ‘Zodiac’ (2007)

A couple by the lake in Zodiac
Image via Warner Bros.

Regarded one of the most captivating crime movies of recent times, the David Fincher film is set in the late 60s and 1970s, following the search for the terrifying serial killer called Zodiac by investigators (Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Edwards) and reporters (Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr.) who do the most to bring him to justice.

RELATED: The True Story Behind David Fincher’s ‘Zodiac’

According to plenty of users on the website, the movie’s opening scene, which featured the heartbreaking death of an innocent couple, was one of the most easily engraved in their memories. “None of us know how the events unraveled in real life but I think Fincher gave us the closest portrayal of it,” a Redditor commented. “Not even particularly gory but made very memorable,” wrote xinxy under a different post.

9 Ted Treffon in ‘Burn after Reading’ (2008)

Richard Jenkins and Francces McDormand in Burn After Reading
Image via StudioCanal

Directed by the Coen Brothers, this 2008 movie seamlessly blends the comedy, mystery, and thriller genres to great results as it tells the story of a CIA agent’s (John Malkovich) disk with mysterious information that falls into the hands of two unscrupulous gym employees who attempt to sell it.

While some users, including samuraislider, highlighted Brad Pitt‘s character’s death in the film, Richard Jenkins‘ on-screen counterpart’s doomed fate was arguably the most shocking given that it caught many off-guard. “It was so viscerally human looking in a film that also had the almost comical Brad Pitt death, the way he shoots him then chases him into the street and axes him to death,” explained BeExcellentePartyOn.

8 Le Tenia in ‘Irreversible’ (2002)

Jo Prestia in Irreversible
Image via Bac Films

Irreversible is assuredly one of the most disturbing movies ever made due to its very triggering and graphic portrayals of abuse and sexual assault. Furthermore, it certainly does not shy away from depicting extreme violence either. The Gaspar Noe movie is told in reverse chronological order and chronicles a tragic night in Paris, following two men (Vincent Cassel and Albert Dupontel) who seek to avenge the rape of the woman (Monica Bellucci) they love.

When asked which is the most violent and disturbing death scene in a movie, several Redditors mentioned Le Tenia’s (Jo Prestia) death in the French feature. “The visuals, sound effects and the camera movement in that scene is nauseating,” Agingbull1234 said. “Dude’s whole face turned into pulp.”

7 Natalie in ‘Wind River’ (2017)

Kelsey Asbille in Wind River
Image via The Weinstein Company

In the R-rated crime mystery thriller Wind River, viewers follow Jeremy Renner‘s wildlife officer Cory Lambert as he finds the body of an 18-year-old woman on a Native American reservation and attempts to unearth the mystery revolving around her death alongside FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen).

As Legendary_Lamb2020 put it, the incredibly hard-to-watch sexual assault and murder scene in the 2017 film fills one with “so much anger and powerlessness,” making it one of the most traumatizing deaths in cinema. “The way it changes from a loving scene to suddenly uncomfortable when the guys show up in the trailer, and slowly escalates from ‘jokes,’ to threats, to full on violence is so real and horrifying,” added captainnermy.

6 The Sex Worker in ‘Se7en’ (1995)

The Lust trap in Se7en
Image via New Line Cinema

Also directed by David Fincher, Se7en is an incredible psychological thriller that is equal parts dark and gory. It centers around two detectives (Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman) who find themselves inside a string of disturbing murders, finding clues linking the deaths and the seven sins.

RELATED: Best Movies Like ‘Se7en’ For More Psychological Horror

What is so disturbing about Se7en is arguably how it lets the viewer’s imagination do the dirty work, which ultimately ends up being more effective and disturbing than explicitly showing all the gruesome details. While the movie counts on terribly cruel scenes, SomeDuderr highlights how incredibly distressing the scene where the sex worker is “impaled on a spike” is.

5 A Civilian in ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ (2006)

A man being hit in the face with a glass bottle in Pan's Labyrinth
Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

Guillermo del Toro‘s extremely dark fairytale revolves around a little girl named Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) who, five years after the Spanish Civil War, escapes from her sadistic officer stepfather (Federico Luppi) into a captivating fantasy world where magical creatures inhabit.

As it turns out, many users believe that del Toro’s seemingly harmless fantasy drama features one of the most vicious death scenes in cinema. “Wine bottle scene in Pan’s Labyrinth,” a user mentioned the scene where Ofelia’s cruel stepfather brutally murders a civilian’s son. “I knew nothing about this film when I saw it, I had assumed it was a kid’s movie, then this scene happened,” said Bodymaster.

4 Stanley Mellish and Irwin Wade in ‘Saving Private Ryan’ (1998)

Adam Goldberg in Saving Private Ryan
Image via DreamWorks SKG

Considered, by many, one of the best war movies of all time, Saving Private Ryan centers on Tom Hanks‘ character, Captain John Miller, as he leads a group of soldiers during World War II on a quest to locate Private James Francis Ryan (played by Matt Damon).

When asked what is the most disturbing depiction of murder and death in a film, several moviegoers did not hesitate to mention the tragic fates of two characters: Stanley Mellish (Adam Goldberg) and Irin Wade (Giovanni Ribisi). “Saving Private Ryan, Wade’s death. When he starts saying I don’t want to die, then mama… it haunted me for weeks,” hippiestitcher wrote. Under the same thread, a now-deleted account highlighted the former’s death, “Pleading with the soldier to stop, surrendering, but the soldier still plunging the knife slowly into his heart. Difficult to watch.”

3 Nick Santoro in ‘Casino’ (1995)

Joe Pesci in Casino
Image via Joe Pesci

Martin Scorsese‘s epic crime drama set in L.A. chronicles the feud between two best friends: a casino executive (Robert De Niro) and a mafia enforcer (Joe Pesci), who throw their hats in the ring for a gambling empire and a beautiful socialite (Sharon Stone).

In many users’ valid opinion, the death of Pesci’s character towards the end of Casino was massively disturbing. “Just the lack of music and noise, other than the sounds of aluminum bats hitting bone and flesh coupled with Joe Pesci’s screams and the hate-cursing from the assailants, make this scene insanely brutal and unsettling,” admitted Kennedy-Hair.

2 Charlie Graham in ‘Hereditary’ (2018)

Charlie's decapitated head in Hereditary
Image via A24

Not mentioning the most shocking and traumatizing Hereditary moment in this list would be a crime. While the Ari Aster film left many unsettled with its atmospheric plot revolving around a grieving family haunted by sinister forces, the most frightening scene was Charlie’s (Milly Shapiro) death, which left many speechless.

RELATED: Best Horror Movies That Are Also Great Dramas

What makes this poignant moment in the film so haunting (it seriously caused irreparable damage to audiences) is that it is a believable accident and something that viewers can picture happening to the average person. “Nothing paranormal or supernatural about it, it could actually happen,” a Redditor highlighted. “The mother’s screams the morning after. I turned the movie off at that point and could only go back to finish the movie a couple days later,” said mfb1973.

1 Deputy Nick in ‘Bone Tomahawk’ (2015)

Evan Jonigkeit in Bone Tomahawk
Image via Image Entertainment

An unconventional horror Western, S. Craig Zahler‘s Bone Tomahawk features strong performances from those involved (including Kurt Russell, Richard Jenkins, and Patrick Wilson) and an incredibly violent storyline with some of the most disturbing scenes in film. The movie follows a group of sheriffs who attempt to find the group of cannibals who kidnapped some of their townspeople.

“The one scene when one of the captives is hung upside down and cut in half from his genitals down [redacted] got me,” TheRealBissy commented when someone asked what are the most gruesome movie deaths. “The movie as a whole is very ‘realistic’ and had me going “Wow” for that entire latter half,” another user understandably remarked.

KEEP READING: Most Over-the-Top Villain Deaths in Movies, According to Reddit

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