Moviegoers love a good villain. What would Star Wars be without Darth Vader, or Silence of The Lambs without Hannibal Lecter? Some of the deepest and most intriguing movie characters ever written are evil. And while we still like to see the good guys save the day in the end, what's a movie without a good 'ol fashioned villain death? Few things are more satisfying than seeing the bad guys finally get their comeuppance, hopefully in a suitably dramatic fashion. But not all villain deaths are up to scratch. Here are six iconic villains that met not-so-iconic ends:
1. Boba Fett - Return of the Jedi
The absolute first time we see him in action in any Star Wars movie, Boba Fett is accidentally nudged by a blind Han Solo, which sets off his jetpack, and sends him flying through the back of the next shot, screaming, and he gets eaten by a giant sand-vagina. I guess underneath all that armor and fake badassery, this intergalactic bounty hunter is actually just one of the Three Stooges is disguise. Oh, and the sand vagina? It burps. IT BURPS. Apparently, after The Empire Strikes Back got so many plaudits for being gritty and realistic, George Lucas decided a good follow-up would be burping sand-vaginas and fighting teddy bears. You want to know the moment the Star Wars franchise started going down the drain, this is it. Goofy Boba Fett leads to Ewoks, Ewoks lead to Jar Jar Binks, and Jar Jar Binks... actually, fuck it, there's nothing worse than Jar Jar Binks.
2. The Wicked Witch of the West - The Wizard of Oz
At no point in The Wizard of Oz, does anyone attempt to explain why the Wicked Witch of the West just... melts when she gets water thrown on her. She can fly, teleport, create explosions, and command an army of flying monkey-warriors. And she's finally defeated at the climax of the movie... by a bucket of water. That right there is the definition of anticlimactic. Why is there a bucket of water lying there? Tips for potential supervillains: If there's an incredibly common substance that can disintegrate you, don't keep buckets of it lying around in your evil lair, especially when you're confronting plucky farm girls from Kansas who wouldn't think twice about angrily tossing a bucket of water on someone who kidnapped their dog.
3. Judge Claude Frollo - The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Claude Frollo from Hunchback of Notre Dame is actually pretty evil for a Disney villain, and he dies a pretty nasty death for a Disney villain in a pool of molten lead. The problem is... it's an accident. He's chasing the good guys with a sword on top of Notre Dame, he steps on a gargoyle, it breaks, makes a mean face at him, and then he falls to his molten death. Call me a snob, but "death by architectural flaw" just isn't a very satisfying way to kill a villain and resolve the plot of a movie. And what's really annoying about this particular scene is that there's a very clear shot of Frollo when he's wildly swinging his sword where he cuts halfway through a gargoyle. If he had stepped on that one, and it broke, it would have been that perfectly karmic evil-is-its-own-punishment shit Disney loves to do. But nah, it's just some random other gargoyle that breaks. And you know, not like any of the 15 others that could support the combined weight of Quasimodo and Esmeralda.
4. Dr. Kanaga - Live and Let Die
The voodoo-obsessed evil Dr. Kanaga from Live and Let Die tries to kill 007 by lowering him into tank of sharks. (Because he'd already escaped the pit of alligators and the coffin of snakes was occupied. Protip: If you ever capture James Bond, just shoot him. Then you can feed him to whatever you want.) Unsurprisingly, Bond breaks free and briefly and awkwardly fights with the knife-wielding Kanaga before forcing him to ingest a shark pellet that for some reason rapidly inflates things with air. And then Kanaga, uh, well rapidly inflates with air, floats into the air like a giant, drug lord-shaped balloon and explodes with a gloriously silly pop. I mean, come on, Kanaga is a homicidal drug lord, not Harry Potter's great aunt Marge. Live and Let and Let Die was one of the sillier Bond Movies, I mean, the Bond girl is a psychic named Solitaire, (much sexier than Free Cell) but come on, the main villain's death at the climax of the movie shouldn't make you bust out laughing. Although Roger Moore does drop what may be the driest one-liner in the history of mankind afterwards, so, yeah, maybe it was worth it.
5. Saruman - Return of the King
In the 4-hour extended edition of Return of the King, the evil wizard Saruman, his armies destroyed and his fortress in ruins, gets stabbed in the back, falls off his tower, and gets impaled on the spoke of a giant water wheel, finally undone by a combination of the machinery with which he was he was obsessed and his irrational disdain for humankind. That's perfect, it's symbolic, unique, and suitably gruesome end for a good villain. My problem is that in the theatrical version of the movie, you know, the version that normal people who aren't huge nerds willing to drop $60 on a 4-disc special edition watch, this doesn't happen. Nothing happens. Nothing. After defeating the evil wizard's army and destroying his lair, Gandalf's just like "Eh, it's fine. We'll just leave him in his tower. He probably won't try to wipe out an entire race of people again." Come on Peter Jackson, Saruman was the antagonist of for like, 6 hours of movie. That's a major loose end you should have tied up in the real movie, not the director's cut. You make movies, not video games. You can't release major plot points as DLC.
6. Bane - The Dark Knight Rises
After getting his back broken, his ass kicked halfway across the world, and undergoing the really heavy-handed symbolism of climbing out of a giant hole in the ground, Bruce Wayne finally returns stronger than ever to fight the also-masked badass villain Bane in a truly epic hand-to-hand duel. Bane fights well, but he's finally outdone by Batman when Anne Hathaway shows up on a motorcycle and shoots him with a cannon. Seriously. Remember the scene in The Dark Knight where Batman is riding towards the Joker on the exact same motorcycle, and the Joker just stands there because he knows Batman doesn't kill people like that? I guess all your thematic integrity just goes down the drain when you cast Anne Hathaway in your movie. Imagine if, instead of Batman capturing him, one of the police snipers had just pegged the Joker at the end of The Dark Knight. Welp, villain's done, thanks for trying, Bruce, but guys with guns save the day again!