2014 was a bloody, bloody year in TV, movie, and comic book land. Beloved characters were eaten alive, sucked into space, and coated in liquid adamantium; they had their eyes gouged out, necks snapped, and heads decapitated, all in the name of keeping you entertained. Before a new year of gory theatrics unfolds, let's take a look back at the best, funniest, and most spectacular fictional deaths of 2014.
(Warning: Spoilers ahead.)
Wolverine in Death of Wolverine
Comic books have a long, proud tradition of (temporarily) killing off their main characters, but Wolverine always seemed untouchable—until a virus caused him to lose the regenerative abilities that made him practically invincible. Without his healing factor, Logan died slashing open a container of liquid adamantium in order to save three innocents, who were being experimented on by Dr. Abraham Cornelius, the man who “created” Wolverine. It wasn’t a glorious death, but it was heroic and true to Logan’s character.
William Cage in Edge of Tomorrow
This year’s smartest action movie knew exactly how boring it’s become to watch Tom Cruise save the world again. In Edge of Tomorrow, Cruise plays against type: He’s a cowardly military PR flack named William Cage, who gets shot, crushed, or blown apart countless times (onscreen, it’s about 30) as he relives the same day over and over again in a bid to survive.
Prince Oberyn in Game of Thrones
In case the evil boy-king of Westeros’ ugly purple death in April didn’t leave you scarred for life, Game of Thrones followed up in June with the unspeakably horrific death of Prince Oberyn. A duel between the vengeful prince and his sister’s rapist and killer, The Mountain, ended with Gregor Clegane’s thumbs stabbing out both Oberyn’s eyes, then cracking his entire head open like an egg. It was all brains, blood, and lifelong trauma from there.
Baseball Bat Man in The Raid 2
Indonesian thriller The Raid 2’s gorgeously choreographed fight between protagonist Rama and evil killers Hammer Girl and Baseball Bat Man ended with Rama slashing Hammer Girl’s throat open and smashing Baseball Bat Man’s face in with his own weapon. Silence takes over, then the best part comes: Rama takes his hands off the bat and, voila, it stays nicely lodged in his enemy’s skull as the corpse falls slowly over.
Bob Stookey in The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead piled up an impressive body count in 2014, with Lizzie, Hershel, and Beth among its major casualties. But the title of Best Death definitely belongs to Bob Stookey, who got bitten by a zombie then captured by cannibals. Imagine waking up to find a guy who looks like a tech startup employee eating your charred crispy leg. On the show, it led to this half-comical, half-horrifying, but 100 percent amazing moment. Oh, and then Bob died surrounded by his loved ones back at Father Gabriel’s church. It was sad.
Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Gwen never deserved this. Emma Stone as Peter Parker’s teenage love interest was the best part of an otherwise mixed bag franchise but there was no getting around it: Gwen Stacy had to die. In the comic book The Amazing Spider-Man #122, Peter’s attempt to catch her with his web after she fell from a bridge resulted in a whiplash effect that snapped her neck; this year’s film went with a slightly different approach, with Stacy’s head hitting the floor before Peter’s web could catch her.
Sara Lance in Arrow
Badass Sara Lance, a.k.a. Canary, was shot to death by an unknown assailant’s arrows in a Season 3 opening twist that was as heartbreaking as it was confusing. Finding out who killed her sister drove Black Canary-in-training Laurel through the first half of the season; when the show returns in late January, Laurel’s vigilante transformation will be complete.
Rabbi Hyman Krustofski in The Simpsons
In The Simpsons’ 26th season premiere, Krusty the Clown’s father, Rabbi Hyman Krustofski, bit the dust without ever granting his son the approval he craved. After enduring a harsh roast from fellow comedians, Krusty seeks out his father, whose dying words are simply, “If you want to know my honest opinion of you, you’ve always been…eh.”
Dr. Mann in Interstellar
What the hell was this guy’s problem? Matt Damon showed up unannounced halfway through Interstellar, decided to kill everyone around him, hijack their spaceship, then fistfight Matthew McConaughey in space. His subplot made little sense, but at least it ends with him stupidly opening an airlock and ejecting himself into space.
Jax and Gemma Teller on Sons of Anarchy
As far as melodramatic deaths go, it doesn’t get much better than being shot to death by your own son (after brutally killing his wife) or driving a motorcycle headfirst into an oncoming 18-wheeler. Mother and son Gemma and Jax Teller bowed out in true, batshit crazy Sons of Anarchy style.
Vitruvius in The Lego Movie
Vitruvius, as played by Morgan Freeman, is a loving parody of the wise elder, a trope in stories about “chosen ones” who save the world. Except that this wise elder, it turns out, has no idea what he’s doing. It doesn’t matter. Vitruvius busts out fight moves that would make both Neo and Yoda jealous, then comes back as a glow-in-the-dark plastic ghost after being decapitated by a penny. His last words still resonate: “What I’m about to tell you will change the course of history…Aargh!”
Vee in Orange Is the New Black
Conniving, manipulating, borderline incestuous Vee could not have died soon enough. She drove a rift between Taystee and Poussey, she killed the young man she helped raise, she raised hell at Litchfield, and almost killed Red. Watching cancer-stricken Rosa tear past a group of nuns (“SCATTER THE NUNS! RUN, NUNS, RUN!”) in a stolen van, then mow Vee down as she transformed for a moment into her younger self was a priceless ending to a near-perfect sophomore season.
Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy
Groot’s self-sacrifice to save his fellow Guardians of the Galaxy gave us dancing baby Groot. Have you seen dancing baby Groot?
Bert Cooper in Mad Men
Mad Men’s Bert Cooper, co-founder of Sterling Cooper, perished offscreen in the first half of the show’s final season while watching the Apollo 11 moon walk. While we’ll miss his one-liners and unexplained affinity for all things East Asian, Cooper at least got a fitting sendoff: a song-and-dance number set to “The Best Things in Life Are Free” that actor Robert Morse, a former Broadway star, pulled off with panache and grace.
Desi Collings in Gone Girl
Getting your throat slashed open with a box cutter in the middle of a sex scene is a terrible way to go, even for a creep like Desi Collings. On the plus side, that was really Neil Patrick Harris’s penis you saw onscreen!
Will Gardner in The Good Wife
Will and Alicia’s will-they-or-won’t-they relationship was extinguished for good in March when Will was gunned down by his own client, who was on trial for (irony!) murder. But as loved as Josh Charles’s character was, his grisly exit and its aftermath added a jolt of much-needed momentum back to the series.
Zoe Barnes in House of Cards
Poor D.C. journalist Zoe Barnes zeroed in on Frank Underwood’s role in the murder of Peter Russo, a Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate. Underwood staged a meeting at a train station, made sure she deleted his contact information and text messages from her phone, then shoved her in front of an oncoming train, leaving him free to settle peacefully into his new job: President of the United States.