Nothing pulls a viewer into a story like a gruesome or unexpected death of a character. Directors have been astonishing film-goers with onscreen deaths since the invention of the medium. Some of the most memorable and shocking death scenes ever committed to film can be found in Hollywood classics like Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and Steven Spielberg’s Jaws.
However, the science fiction genre of movies is especially replete with sudden and unexpected film character deaths. Since the genre specializes in alternative universes, alien creatures, and futuristic technologies, it should come as no surprise that sci-fi stories offer filmmakers plenty of opportunities to stage imaginative and unexpected ways for movie characters to bite the dust.
Although it is difficult to say which of the many death scenes in the history of sci-fi films have unnerved audiences the most, here are seven sci-fi film deaths that still have the power to shock and amaze viewers today. Spoiler alert: Movie fans who haven’t experienced the following sci-fi death scenes in context may want to skip the film selections they haven’t seen yet, or watch all the films in full first.
1. Alien (1979) Kane’s “Chestburster” Death
Ridley Scott’s classic sci-fi film Alien spawned three sequels, two crossover films with the Predator franchise, and one prequel. It also spawned one of the most memorable and shocking death scenes in the history of science fiction films. The film stars Sigourney Weaver as Ripley, one of the crew members of the deep space vessel Nostromo. After landing on a supposedly uninhabited planet to investigate a mysterious radio signal, several of the crew members set out to explore an abandoned alien spaceship.
Kane, a character played by John Hurt, is attacked by a bizarre “facehugger” alien while inside the deserted spaceship. Unbeknownst to him and the rest of the crew, the creature has implanted an egg inside Kane that will later gruesomely “hatch” during the crew’s mealtime. Although Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley went on to become the primary character throughout the subsequent Alien movie sequels, John Hurt’s Kane may have left the deepest impression on sci-fi fans, thanks to this shocking death scene.