Many movies kill off minor characters, but only a few get guys to the point they get all teary.
The goal of this series is to show that being “manly” and being disconnected with your emotions do not necessarily go hand-in-hand. While the approach to these articles is one of comedy and satire, the emotional core of these movies is very valid. Manly movies often times have the potential to make guys cry, for example:
“Death of Minor Characters”
Usually in film the threat of mortality is directed either towards the main protagonist or to their love interest. Without time to focus on backstory or fleshing out complexities, deaths of minor characters just can’t hold any real weight because the audience isn’t as invested in them. But like any exception to the rule, there are some deaths of minor characters that hit us so hard their passing becomes one of the more memorable parts of the film they hailed from. Refusing to go silent into that good night, or the stay in the background while the main characters take all the spotlight, here’s a list of minor characters who’s deaths rocked us to the core.
1. Hellboy – Agent Clay
Many remember the death of Hellboy’s dad, but to be fair that’s a death of a major character. The death that always keeps me from sleeping soundly was Agent Clay. This was the BPRD agent working with Hellboy, most remembered for talking with the big red guy about his recent hair implants. “So what?” you ask, if some random character dies while Ron Perlman is doing his thing? Well, here’s why this death in particular was so haunting.
Clay’s brief, mundane chat with Hellboy solidifies how little we regard coworkers until they suddenly aren’t there anymore. When he is brutalized by an undead biomechanical Nazi nightmare, it’s not so much that we didn’t expect it. It hits home because he isn’t even the hero. He’s just a normal guy with a less-than-normal job, and a personal life that the big red guy can only dream of.
On top of that, the bad guy did his deed while basically hugging Agent Clay, stabbing him in the guts at lightning speed while we get to watch the poor guy’s shock and horror cross his face. While the dialogue in the movie said Clay “probably won’t make it through the night,” Del Toro explained that yes, Clay did in fact die from this nightmare encounter.
HE WAS THE FINEST MAN I’VE EVER KNOWN! If you’ve seen the blooper reel of The Avengers, you know what I’m talking about. Before Agent Phil Coulson got his own TV spin-off, The world only knew him as “that guv’ment spook guy in the background in all the Marvel movies.” He was kind of funny, kind of nice, and kind of unimportant beyond his position as Agent Exposition for the real heroes. Naturally, nothing big was going to happen to him. Then Joss Whedon came along and decided people would suddenly love him retroactively if he were mercilessly slaughtered.
By adding little touches such as Tony Stark subtly mentioning that Coulson had a romantic prospect, and Coulson himself gushing about his Captain America trading cards, this background character slowly worked himself into our hearts. Then Whedon ripped our hearts out. HE SHALL BE AVENGED!
Anyone remember this horror film? It was pretty good, one of those slow burns where the hook is that the villain is a handful of creepy people wearing masks. Their motivation is never explained, when asked why they were committing such atrocities to innocent people, they respond “Because you were home.” Ok, I’m on board for this, but did you know Dennis from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” gets shot for no reason?
I was as surprised as you that Dennis was even an actor outside of that show, but when the main girl refuses a marriage proposal from the main guy, he calls Dennis to pick him up from the not-so-romantic vacation house. Then between then and Dennis showing up, the crazy peeps start their shtick, so everyone’s on edge.
What gets me is Dennis was just being a good friend. His bro calls and asks for a pick-up, and Dennis comes through. And ultimately being a good buddy gets him killed BY THE GOOD GUY, who had gotten his hands on a shotgun and thought Dennis was one of the murderers. Lesson learned: never do any favors for any friends, or else they will murder you.
The Mummy is a pretty enjoyable movie. It’s not going to win any Oscars, and it’s sequels descended into straight-to-DVD crap, but the first one was a big thing at the time. Brendan Fraser running around trying to be Indiana Jones and doing…not the worst job at it. Sure, some jerky Americans die due to the Mummy curse, but we’re never expected to care about them. Who were we supposed to care about? Winston.
Winston was the alcohol and PTSD-riddled World War I pilot that spent his days drinking himself into a fountain, recounting stories of his past glory. Fraser is running around doing whatever it is Fraser does, and asks Winston to fly him somewhere. Winston agrees, because what else is he supposed to do? Winston immediately dies due to Mummy-related hazards, and his body sinks into the sand. Sure they mention that he always wanted to die in action, but Winston got a raw deal. He wanted to die in action because he found the notion glorious; medals, posthumous knighthood, for Queen and country…all that rot. And he gets none of it. He just disappears into the sand with no one to remember his sacrifice.
5. The Matrix – Switch and Apoc
Remember how everyone in the first Matrix looked so cool? Everyone had sweet moves, cool clothes, and oddly amazing sunglasses at night. Everyone except Switch and Apoc. Switch tries to be emo and cool by calling Neo “Copper-top,” and we keep waiting for her and Apoc to actually earn their keep by doing something badass. Then they don’t.
These two get the honor of demonstrating the concept of what happens when someone jacked into the Matrix gets unplugged before they’re ready. Spoiler-alert: they die immediately. The fear of someone standing over your sleeping body, and flipping the “Off” switch while you’re talking to them over speakerphone, begging them not to is bad enough. Add the fact that they went out like such punks, when everyone else got to be 1,000% all about style, just makes it sad. Switch’s pleading little “Not like this,” plea is the real gut punch. After being freed from the virtual prison and learning how to bend the rules to become uber-fighters, nothing must have been more painful that just dropping dead without so much as a whimper.
Especially because Cipher wanted to be plugged back into the Matrix so he could eat steak all day as his new persona…Joe Pantoliano, the important actor.
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