In What Movies Does Tom Hanks’ Character Die?
He’s such a beloved actor, most people don’t want to see a movie where Tom Hanks dies. Fortunately, most of his movies are feel-good, uplifting stories, even the serious ones based on true stories. However, Hanks has range and some of his movies are tragedies, or at least bittersweet.
[Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for movies in which Hanks’ character dies.]
There are several movies in which Hanks dies. If you want to know ahead of time, or if you’re looking for Hanks’ deathbed scenes, here is a list of some of his tragic roles.
Tom Hanks dies on screen in these movies
Let’s start with the most obvious Hanks death scenes, the ones on screen. The most notable must be Philadelphia. It was Hanks’s first true drama, after a few dramedy attempts, and he won his first Oscar for it. Hanks played Andrew Beckett, a lawyer with AIDS who sues his firm for wrongful termination. The case changes the lives of everyone involved, but in the end the inevitable happens and Andrew dies of the disease.
Saving Private Ryan is another obvious example. It’s a World War II drama, so there’s already a good chance many of the cast members won’t make it. Hanks plays Captain Miller, leading a squad to find the last surviving Ryan brother (Matt Damon). The question the movie asks is: Is one life worth all the lives lost to save him? Ryan is the only one who survives.
Hanks took many lives in Road to Perdition. He played Michael Sullivan, an assassin for mobster John Rooney (Paul Newman), but when his Michael Jr. (future Superman Tyler Hoechlin) witnesses a murder, they go on the run. In the end, a hitman (Jude Law) takes Michael Sr. out.
In the 2004 Coen Brothers remake of The Ladykillers, Hanks led a gang of quirkily inept thieves renting a room from an old woman (Irma P. Hall) to plot their heist. In Coen fashion, each crook does himself in with his own incompetence, including the leader. It’s one of Hanks, and the Coens’, only duds.
Hanks played six characters in Cloud Atlas. Two of them die, we won’t spoil which ones.
Tom Hanks dies off-screen in these movies
There are a few more movies where Hanks’ character dies, but you don’t actually see it. Just before Phildelphia, Hanks stretched his acting in A League of Their Own. As Jimmy Dugan, the coach of a women’s baseball team, he got to be funny and heartfelt. When the team reunites in the present, we learn that Jimmy Dugan died a few years before the reunion.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was a drama about 9/11. Hanks played Thomas Schell a father who died in the World Trade Center attack. The movie didn’t need to show Thomas perishing in the Twin Towers. However, there is a fantasy scene where his son, Oskar (Thomas Horn) imagines his father jumping from the towers.
Dying is easy, comedy is hard
Here’s one more, even if it’s a stretch. Hanks plays an aspiring standup comedian in Punchline. In one scene, he bombs big time, so you could say he died on stage. It is an emotional breakdown for his character that showed he was on his way to great things in subsequent movies. At the time, Punchline was a good transition from Hanks’ comedy image to show there was more underneath.